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Posts Tagged ‘cyber’

US Security Expert Warns of Dangers in Israel’s Digital Plan

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The director of a Washington-based security forum warns that Israel’s innovative plan to go digital could compromise its national security.

“There is national security and innovation and you have to find the right balance,” Cyber Security Forum Initiative chief Paul de Souza told Bloomberg News. The government plans to work with Cisco System to make Israel the first total digital country with a fiber-optic network built for Israel Electric Corp.

Cisco CERO John Chambers said last month that his company would secure the network  and make it “the best there is in security on a global basis.” The company also created a technology incubator in Israel for cyber defense startups.

De Souza warned that a failure to build a multi-layered and complex security system would allow criminals or terrorists to “harvest millions of zombies,” referring to computers that are compromised so they can be remotely controlled. “Imagine Israel with millions of zombies that have super capability and can bring down countries,” he said. “Not only can these computers attack Israel itself, but they can at the same time use Israel as a way to attack other countries in the whole false flag thing and put the blame on Israel.”

#OPIsrael Cyberattack: Hackers Mostly #Fail

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The Hackers group Anonymous on Saturday night tried to make good on their threats and began to knock down a large number of Israeli websites, including government offices – for a few minutes at least. But mostly it’s more bluster than success.

Anonymous, in collaboration with pro-Palestinian cyber-terrorists initiated an attack on government sites and large organizations in Israel as “revenge” for Israel’s role in the Palestinian conflict, but really its about their Antisemitism.

Among other websites, they knocked down for a brief period of time include the Ministry of Defense’s, and the Ministry of Education’s, the Israeli EPA’s, military-industry’s, and the Central Bureau of Statistics’ websites.

They also took down the Israeli Cancer Association’s website and dozens of small Israeli sites. At some of the sites the hackers left pro-Palestinian messages and loud music.

The El Al website was downed as well, and that is one of the few that actually took a long time to go back online.

Access to some websites have slowed down, presumably due to the massive attacks, but they did not collapse.

Most of the sites returned to full activity after several minutes, a couple after several hours.

In fact, many of the sites the hackers are claiming via Twitter, that they’ve taken down, are actually working fine. Israel has been employing a number of tricks that have kept the cyber attacks at bay.

The Anti-Jewish Hacktivists are also publicizing what they claim are login passwords for various sites.

So far it appears that #OpIsrael is more bluster than success.

 

Israel’s security apparatus was prepared to face the cyber attack took place. There is concern among security experts that the attack, which began Saturday night, will encourage hackers and terrorist organizations around the world to join the “Anonymous” efforts, making it difficult for Israel’s security systems to withstand the pressure.

According to instructions given employees in the Defense Ministry and other outfits, work today might be disrupted in various computerized systems, and there may be some cessation of operations, in order to perform evaluations of incoming attacks.

A senior security official said in a closed forum a few days ago, that intelligence has been gathered against hackers and other entities that may participate in the attack. On Sunday there will be an assessments of the attack, to optimize the defenses and minimize the damage that may disrupt the systems’ activities.

 

On the other side of the fence, WhiteHat Israeli hackers have taken down or hacked a number of anti-Israeli sites in retaliation, including the OpIsrael website where they added facts about Israel and had the site play Hatikvah.

Cyber Warfare A Serious New Factor In Israel’s Already Complex Battlefield

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

As the frequency of suicide bombings increased in the 1990s, Israelis began to realize that their conflicts had shifted from the conventional battlefield to their streets, buses and cafes.

Now the country – along with the rest of the world – is adapting to a new battlefield, one that defense experts call the “fifth dimension”: computers.

The impact cannot be underestimated, said Dror Mor, CEO of the Sdema Group, an Israeli company that specializes in homeland security protection.

“A big part of the next war, wherever it is in the world, will be cyber warfare to silence infrastructure, electricity, communications, movement of planes and trains.”

Land, air, sea and even space have been battlefronts for decades or centuries, but cyber warfare has gained prominence in the past few years and will continue to advance.

Though some industries have been computerized for more than 50 years, increasingly complex viruses have made computers more vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks.

Several viruses already have figured prominently in the Middle East. In 2010, the Stuxnet virus hit computers in Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, and observers say it set back the Islamic Republic’s alleged nuclear weapons program by as much as two years.

Three months ago, Iran acknowledged that another virus, allegedly created by Israel and the U.S. and called Flame, had infected its computers. According to the Washington Post, the virus tapped into Iranian computer networks and accessed intelligence.

And earlier this month Gauss, a virus related to Stuxnet, hit personal computers in Lebanon and Israel, enabling the cyber attackers to access financial data and the social network profiles of tens of thousands of people.

“The tech sector has become more open, which is good for business, but when that happens it’s bad for security,” said Avi Weissman, chairman of the Israeli Forum for Information Security.

“States have learned to take advantage of this to create malicious code.”

As Gauss showed, cyber warfare threatens private companies and governments. Transportation systems are especially vulnerable, said Mors.

“Someone can go in the system, confuse the stoplights and create big economic problems,” he said.

A crisis also would ensue, he added, “if you get into the Israeli train system and put two trains on the same track that have no idea that they’re going toward each other.”

As to private companies, vulnerability to cyber attacks means that the actions of ordinary office employees could lead to a breach in a system’s security.

“It’s a cultural change as to how an organization deals with protection. You’re in an organization, you have a laptop and a flash drive. The flash drive you use with your computer and the computer in the office. How do we create a separation between the company network and the outside world?”

Mor noted that the dangers stretch even beyond national defense and safeguarding civilian infrastructure.

“If they stop the creation of cottage cheese, you think there will be a problem here?” he asked rhetorically, referring to a staple of the Israeli diet. “People can’t live without cottage cheese.”

Defense threats, however, especially concern information security experts in Israel, a country where national security issues dominate conversation. In fact, last year Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the National Cyber Staff, which is charged with improving Israel’s defenses against cyber warfare.

Israel has not fought a full-scale conventional war against another country in nearly four decades, principally fighting terror groups since the 1980s. Still, the biggest cyber threats come from countries, because countries have the necessary manpower to develop and execute a damaging attack, according to Isaac Ben-Israel, a professor of security and diplomacy at Tel Aviv University and former head of military research and development for the Israeli Defense Forces and Defense Ministry.

“Terror groups work with small groups of people, so the likelihood that they’ll attack our system is small,” said Ben-Israel.

Israel also is the birthplace of internationally well-regarded information security companies such as the Sdema Group. But some experts say the country remains unprepared to meet potential cyber threats.

“We’re OK relative to the world, but we are not OK relative to the threats in the region,” Ben- Israel warned.

Weissman of the Israeli Forum for Information Security pointed out that Israeli companies do not invest enough in cyber defenses because the dangers don’t seem as real as those of bombs.

New Worm Takes Down Iranian Nuke Plant, Plays Loud AC/DC

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The website NTG reported that an Iranian nuclear scientist told a colleague in Finland about the newest cyber worm which has paralyzed Iran’s nuclear plants.

The Finish scientist, Mikko H. Hypponen, from Helsinki, the chief security research officer at F-Secure, an anti-virus software company, has quoted an email he received from the Iranian scientist, saying “Our nuclear program has once again been attacked by a new worm, which hit the computer systems in Nataz and Fordo.”

According to the scientist, the worm comes with some unusual side effects: the infected computers started to play at high volume the song Thunderstruck by the band AC/DC, in the middle of the night and without any prior warning.

Hypponen said he had no way of confirming the veracity of the story, but he knows for sure that the email has indeed been sent by a real scientist from the Iranian nuclear program.

Israel Goes Public With Cyberwar Program, Strengthens Nuclear Sub Fleet

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

JERUSALEM – Despite the absence of an attack on Iranian military and nuclear facilities, Israel and the U.S. are engaged in a covert cyberwar campaign against a growing list of Iranian targets. The dual objective is to hamper the Iranian regime’s ability to build an atomic bomb while pressuring them to bow to Western and UN demands to downgrade their enrichment capabilities to less than 10 percent.

For the first time, the White House and the IDF acknowledged that America and Israel have launched independent cyber attacks on enemy nations engaged in creating rogue conventional and unconventional warfare programs. The Obama administration implied last week that a special cyberwarfare unit inside the Pentagon and CIA was responsible for launching the debilitating Stuxnet cyber bomb against Iranian computers, which controlled the centrifuges used in the uranium-making process.

Though Israel has not acknowledged that its expanding IDF cyberwarfare unit was responsible for the sophisticated Flame virus, which invaded computers inside the Iranian defense establishment in order to extract top-secret military information, the IDF said on its website: “The IDF has been engaged in cyber activity in a consistent and relentless manner, thwarting and disrupting enemy projects” that have targeted the IDF and the Israeli government. A high-ranking CIA official told the London Daily Telegraph that the cyberwar campaigns were “a preferable alternative to air strikes.”

Israel’s prowess as a cyberwarfare innovator prompted Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of Russian-based Kaspersky Labs, which discovered the existence of the Flame virus, to partake in the Second International Conference on Cyber-Security at Tel Aviv University this week.

“The very existence of our conference, and participants such as Kaspersky, is proof that Israel is perceived as a global cyber power,” said Professor Yitzchak Ben-Israel, head of The Yuval Ne’eman Science, Technology & Security Workshop at Tel Aviv University.

Israel’s cyberwarfare command has scored several other successes, including shutting off Syrian antiaircraft radar stations minutes before an Israeli Air Force attack obliterated a suspected Syrian nuclear facility several years ago. An offshoot of the various IDF cyberwarfare programs is the Israeli Air Forces’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons, which can jam communications and launch missiles deep inside enemy territory – including Iran. Another derivative is the Israeli navy’s mushrooming submarine program, which has the capacity to launch computer-guided cruise missiles, including nuclear-tipped ones, against targets across the Middle East.

Earlier this week, the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the German government is helping the Israeli navy build these advanced submarines in northern Germany’s Kiel Shipyards. Using advanced German submarine technology and Israeli military innovation, including cyberwarfare, the next generation of Israeli Dolphin submarines contain secret hydraulic systems that enable the virtually undetectable subs to launch their munitions on Iran or other enemy countries.

To date the Israeli navy has ordered three of these advanced submarines, one already completed and undergoing rigorous sea trials in European waters. Once added to Israel’s current submarine fleet, which has three earlier model Dolphin subs, the Israeli navy will possess a second-strike capability should Iran or another adversary decide to launch massive attacks against Israeli civilian and military targets.

IDF Redefining Cyber Space as Battlefield

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The IDF Operations Department has put together instructions for military operations in cyberspace against enemies of the Jewish state.

According to a document released by the department, the IDF will engage in consistent and continuous intelligence gathering operations online, and said it will handle cyberspace as a battlefield as important as those at sea in the air, and on the ground, executing attacks when necessary.

Among the goals of Israel’s cyber warfare program are thwarting and disrupting enemy projects limiting the operational freedom of the state and the IDF, reducing the capabilities of Israel’s enemies online and on the ground, conducting public diplomacy, advocating for Israel, and assisting in IDF military operations in combat.

In January, the Israeli Defense Ministry established a special cyber warfare administration, to conduct cyber warfare in a coordinated effort between the IDF and Israeli security agencies.

January saw a significant increase in cyber attacks on Israeli interests.  Hackers broke into the Israel Fire and Rescue Services website, threatening a war between Israel and Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad, writing “Death to Israel”, and posting a picture of an armed Palestinian Authority man.  They also broke into the website of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon .

In an attack causing grief throughout Israel, a group of Saudi hackers published the credit card information of many thousands of Israelis, urging haters of Israel and other hackers to use the credit card information to make purchases online.  Israeli banks froze the accounts of those who were hacked, and compensated owners of cards which were used to make illegal purchases.

According to senior security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Isaac Ben-Israel, the state of Israel suffers 1,000 cyber-attacks every day.  Ben-Israel said the increased number of attacks have led Israel to pass laws requiring that major Israeli infrastructures institute measures to protect themselves from cyber terrorism.

Israel’s involvement in cyberwarfare has not been limited to its victimization, however.

In June 2010, Israel gained international admiration for its alleged involvement in the Stuxnet virus which caused severe damage to the Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems utilized by Iran’s uranium enrichment infrastructure.

In September 2007, Israel carried airstrikes on Syria dubbed Operation Orchard. Sources in US industry and military speculated that Israeli cyberwarfare had allowed Israel to pass under Syrian radar undetected.

Thousands of Computers in Iran, Mid-East, Attacked by ‘Flame’ Virus

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Russian computer security giant Kaspersky Lab announced on Monday the discovery of a highly sophisticated malicious program that is actively being used as a cyber weapon attacking entities in several countries. The complexity and functionality of the newly discovered malicious program exceed those of all other cyber menaces known to date.

Kaspersky’s research shows that the largest number of infected machines are in Iran, followed by the Israel/Palestine region, and Sudan and Syria.

Kaspersky Lab  is a Moscow headquartered and owned multi-national computer security company, co-founded by Natalia and Eugene Kaspersky in 1997. It is the world’s largest privately held vendor of software security products.

The malware, dubbed Flame, was discovered by Kaspersky Lab’s experts during an investigation prompted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The malicious program, detected as Worm.Win32.Flame, is designed to carry out cyber espionage. It can steal valuable information, including but not limited to computer display contents, information about targeted systems, stored files, contact data and even audio conversations.

Kaspersky was unable to name the maker of the Flame, but experts suspect that the complexity of the program means that it took the resources of a major industrial country, such as China, The U.S., Russia or Israel to create and deploy it.

Last Tuesday, the Iranian oil ministry said that its IT systems had suffered no lasting damage from a suspected cyber-attack, but its experts would require two or three days to investigate and address the impact of the virus.

The virus hit the internet and communications systems of the oil ministry and national oil company late on Sunday of last week, forcing Iran to disconnect the control systems of Kharg Island, which handles the vast majority of Iran’s crude exports, and a number of other oil facilities.

ITU and Kaspersky Lab were following up on a series of such incidents, which they suspect were born by another, still unknown, destructive malware program – code named Wiper – which deleted data on a number of computers in the Western Asia region. This particular malware is yet to be discovered, but during the analysis of those incidents, the experts came across the Flame.

According to Kaspersky Lab, preliminary findings indicate that this malware has been “in the wild” for more than two years – since March, 2010. Due to its extreme complexity, plus the targeted nature of the attacks, no security software detected it.

Although the features of Flame differ from the previous notable cyber weapons, the Stuxnet virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear facilities back in 2010, and the data-stealing virus Duqu, the geography of the Flame attacks, the use of specific software vulnerabilities, and the fact that only selected computers are being targeted, indicate that Flame belongs to the same category of super-cyberweapons.

CEO and co-founder of Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky said that “the risk of cyber warfare has been one of the most serious topics in the field of information security for several years now. Stuxnet and Duqu belonged to a single chain of attacks, which raised cyberwar-related concerns worldwide. The Flame malware looks to be another phase in this war, and it’s important to understand that such cyber weapons can easily be used against any country. Unlike with conventional warfare, the more developed countries are actually the most vulnerable in this case.”

The primary purpose of Flame appears to be cyber espionage, by stealing information from infected machines. Such information is then sent to a network of command-and-control servers located in many different parts of the world.

The diverse nature of the stolen information, which can include documents, screenshots, audio recordings and interception of network traffic, makes it one of the most advanced and complete attack-toolkits ever discovered. The exact infection vector has still to be revealed, but it is already clear that Flame has the ability to replicate over a local network using several methods, including the same printer vulnerability and USB infection method exploited by Stuxnet.

Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Kaspersky Lab, commented: “One of the most alarming facts is that the Flame cyber-attack campaign is currently in its active phase, and its operator is consistently surveilling infected systems, collecting information and targeting new systems to accomplish its unknown goals.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/thousands-of-computers-in-iran-mid-east-attacked-by-flame-virus/2012/05/28/

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