Insider Threat / Espionage

Insider espionage

The ransomeware conundrum

A lack of universal standards means that local governments apparently are trying to cope with an increasing flow of “ransomware” on their computer systems. That suggests that as insurers opt to pay these ransom demands, they effectively make local governments a more appealing target. [node:read-more:link]

The mission against the West

A hitherto unknown unit within Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, is reported to be conducting operations to destabilize Europe and its allies. The New York Times quotes a retired GRU officer as saying that Unit 29155 is comprised of agents who carry out assassinations and other missions designed to foment unrest abroad. [node:read-more:link]

Iranian hackers active

Microsoft Corp. has confirmed that hackers linked to the Iranian government have targeted a U.S. presidential campaign, government officials, news media prominent expatriate Iranians. Declining to be more specific, Microsoft says the hackers tried to penetrate 241 accounts, but only four successfully but none associated with presidential candidates or government officials. Their activity occurred during 30 days bridging August and September. [node:read-more:link]

Immigrant Detainees’ DNA to be tested

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has confirmed an administration plan to collect detained immigrants’ genetic information in a national criminal database maintained by the FBI. DHS officials say the Department of justice is preparing regulations which would expand the database which hitherto has been used only for persons arrested, charged or convicted of serious crimes. [node:read-more:link]

Digital infrastructure threat

Secret Service Director James Murray says government leaders mustn’t ignore cyber criminals’ role in undermining U.S. digital infrastructure. Strressing that he is not downplaying the threats by nation-states, he says arresting and convicting transnational organized criminals is essential in a whole-of-government counterattack. [node:read-more:link]

Telecom “cleansing” in U.S.

Congress is being urged by legislators from both political parties to purge the U.S. telecom infrastructure of equipment manufactured by any foreign company the government considers a threat to national security. The proposed $1 billion cost of compensating small and rural service providers for replacing alternate equipment would be covered through the newly-proposed Secure & Trusted Communications Networks Act. [node:read-more:link]

Alleged spy’s computers encrypted

Cameron Ortis, the RCMP intelligence director accused of preparing to leak secrets to a foreign entity or terrorist group had dozens of computers at his home. The fact that most were encrypted creates legal issues for investigators and the prosecution. [node:read-more:link]

Upgraded power grid protection

A bill designed to establish an advisory group of public and private sector representatives, tasked with supporting federal efforts to improve protection of the U.S. electricity grid against cyber attacks, has been approved by the House of Representatives homeland committee. One of several such measures before Congress, it would rotate membership of the proposed advisory group every two years. [node:read-more:link]

Cyberskill shortage predicted.

The Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think-tank, is predicting a 1.8-million shortfall in cybersecurity positions by 2022. While acknowledging efforts by key agencies, universities and technical schools to fill the growing gap, the center says more effort is needed.  [node:read-more:link]

The promise and threat of 5G

While the U.S. government and the private sector are excited about the potential of 5G telecommunications, they also worry about its potential use as a weapon against networks. Among those expressing concern are former Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler, current FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, and former National Security Council Senior Director for Strategic Planning Robert Spalding. [node:read-more:link]

Trump rhetoric menacing?

The ongoing whistleblower controversy in Washington has taken a dark turn with President Donald Trump suggesting to a group of foreign sevice officers that whoever provided the whistleblower with information about his highly-publicized telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart is “close” to being a spy. [node:read-more:link]

Energy grid vulnerable

The U.S. government and “other relevant stakeholders” are being advised by the Government Accountability Office to develop a plan for implementing the federal cybersecurity strategy for the country’s electricity grid, which the GAO says is becoming more vulnerable to cyberattack. Noting that industrial control systems are particularly at risk, it warns that recent assessments indicate attacks could cause widespread power outages. [node:read-more:link]

Cyber Supply chain weaknesses

Guidelines for fighting a growing array of threats to the U.S. technology supply chain have been published by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Among other things, the agency says multiple legal and policy barriers keep industry and government from adequately sharing information about threats. [node:read-more:link]

USAF taking to the Cloud

The U.S. Air Force is seeking bids on a proposal to spend up to $95 million on cloud services from several companies as part of a Unified Platform. The technology could enable cyberwarfare teams to share information for planning and prosecuting missions. [node:read-more:link]

Syrian consul controversy

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has asked her officials to explain how an alleged Syrian government sympathizer has been appointed its honorary consul in Montreal. Freeland is reported to be “shocked” by public statements by Waseem Ramli, whose appointment was approved in August and who is in a position to influence the Syrian diaspora. [node:read-more:link]


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