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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘government’

Hackers Stole Personal Data of All US Federal Workers, Past & Present

Friday, June 12th, 2015

That cyber attack on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, revealed to the American public just a few days ago, turns out to be a mammoth violation; worse than the White House is willing to admit.

The personal information of every single federal worker, retired, current, past and present has been stolen in one of the biggest heists by hackers the U.S. has ever faced — affecting far more than the initial report of “at least four million government employees,” according to a report in the Friday edition of the New York Post.

It is believed the attack was traced back to China, according to myriad American media reports. The Obama administration has to yet to formally accuse China of the cyber security attack, however.

China has been involved in numerous industrial cyber attacks on corporations in the United States. Hackers traced to Russia have also carried out a number of cyber attacks in the U.S.

In Israel, cyber warfare has long been considered a major threat — one the Jewish State geared up to deal with by creating an entire government division devoted solely to cyber defense and cyber warfare.

The U.S. OPM breach apparently occurred in December; but it was not until April that it was discovered, and the news did not reach the public until this month.

Among the personal details stolen by the cyber thieves were the social security numbers, dates of birth and addresses, according to J. David Cox, head of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Military records, employment histories, gender, race and insurance information was also taken from the records penetrated in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

In a letter that Cox wrote to OPM director Katherine Archuleta, he charged the agency with not encrypting highly sensitive personal data of those who work for the government.

“We believe that Social Security numbers were not encrypted, a cybersecurity failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous,” Cox said.

Personnel data files contain up to 780 pieces of information about each federal employee, according to the NY Post.

OPM has signed a $20 million deal with a private cyber security firm to provide 18 months of identity fraud protection for those who are affected.

Gen. Dempsey Tells Netanyahu ‘Friendship with IDF a Gift’

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Visiting U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday morning with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, “The greatest gift has been the friendship that we’ve managed to forge with the leaders in the IDF, and I know you’re proud of them but we are too. It’s our constitution, and you know that that’s what inspires us as I know service to your nation inspires you.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu told Dempsey, “You’ve been a wonderful friend and a grand champion of America and of America-Israel relations. We appreciate it. I want to take this opportunity to also express our respect and deep admiration for America’s fighting men and women.

“We know you’re extended around the world, including in our region. We know we have no better friends than the American people, the American governments, the American fighting men and women. You fight for America, but you also fight for freedom.”


Cyber Attack Strikes More US Govt Offices , 4 Million Affected

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Do you or any of your family work for the federal government? If so, prepare to change all of your computer passwords and consider doing the same at your bank.

At least four million current and former civil service workers have had their privacy violated by hackers who breached computer systems at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the Department of the Interior.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the attack was carried out by Chinese hackers, as have previous U.S. industrial breaches.

OPM notified those whose “personally identifiable information” may have been compromised, offering 18 months of credit monitoring for those who were affected.

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta told journalists at a news conference the government is working on trying to improve its cyber security. “We take very seriously our responsibility to secure the information stored in our systems,” she said.

The breach was first detected in late April and confirmed in early May. It is unclear when the attack began.

It is the Department of Homeland Security that is tasked with cyber defense. DHS officials said they were working with the FBI to get to the bottom of who was behind the current attack.

“DHS is continuing to monitor federal networks for any suspicious activity and is working aggressively with the affected agencies to conduct investigative analyses to assess the extent of this alleged intrusion,” DHS spokesperson Sy Lee said.

Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said “The cyber threat from hackers, criminals, terrorists and state actors is one of the greatest challenges we face on a daily basis, and it’s clear that a substantial improvement in our cyber databases and defenses is perilously overdue.”

Netanyahu Tells Israelis Military Challenges Due to Iran Are ‘Piling Up’

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Israelis Tuesday in an interview aired on Channel 2 television that the US-brokered deal with Tehran will “pave the way for Iran to atom bombs.”

Speaking at Home Front Command headquarters during the week-long “Turning Point” nationwide military defense drill, Netanyahu said challenges from the rising risks of imminent attacks are “piling up.”

The threat of rocket and missile fire has hung over Israel for decades. Most of the weapons have been supplied to the terror organizations by Iran, both north and south of the border.

“When speaking of the security of the citizens of Israel I rely first and foremost on us only. Proof of the wisdom of this is the agreement emerging between the world powers and Iran,” said the prime minister. He pointed out that the deal would inject billions of dollars into the Iranian economy, in addition to “paving the way for Iran to atom bombs.”

With the funds it receives, Iran “can continue to arm our enemies with high trajectory weapons and other arms, while also arming its own war and terror machine which is acting against us and the Middle East, and which is much more dangerous than the Da’esh (ISIS) terror machine, which is also dangerous,” Netanyahu said.

U.S. President Barack Obama is slated to present his case for the deal with Iran on Israel’s Channel 2 television later in the evening on Tuesday night.

Netanyahu Warns Campaign to De-Legitimize Israel Will Become Existential Threat

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a grave warning at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday (May 31) that Israel is facing a “great struggle” that will be an existential threat.

“We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the State of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name. It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence,” he said.

“It does not matter what we do; it matters what we symbolize and what we are.

“This is a phenomenon that we have known in the history of our people – what hasn’t been said about the Jewish People? They said that we are the focus of all evil in the world. They said that we are the poisoners of the wells of humanity. They said that we drink the blood of little children. All of these things are being said about us today as well. It was not true then and it is not true today. This does not have a shred of truth,” Netanyahu continued.

“I read again the poem of the great Alterman, about the accusations that are hurled at us, and he says that the most important thing is that we do not believe the awful things aimed at us because in the end that will be the victory against us. As long as we do not believe, as long as we reject these things and do not flagellate ourselves, we will be strong and steadfast.

“I think that it is important to understand that these things do not stem from the fact that if only we were nicer or a little more generous – [since] we are very generous, we have made many offers, we have made many concessions – that anything would change. [Because] this campaign to de-legitimize Israel entails something much deeper that is being directed at us and seeks to deny our very right to live here.

“I think that one must ask how can it be that Israel is accused over homes in Gilo, or over this or that action that we take to defend ourselves from terrorists, but that when a hundred times more victims – a hundred times more, not twice or ten or 50 times as many, but a hundred times – more people are being slaughtered in Syria, just in Syria – there are no protests, no condemnations, no 80% of decisions by United Nations human rights committees, against Syria.

“It is we who are accused, IDF soldiers who are accused of killing children. I saw the IDF delegation to Nepal which rescued Nepalese children and brought babies into the world. I did not see a delegation from Boko Haram. I did not see delegations from Iran there. I did not see delegations from Al Qaida and I did not see delegations from Syria.

“There is no justification for the campaign of de-legitimization being waged against the State of Israel, in which they are trying to suspend us from international organizations.

“The last thing we need to do is to bow our heads and ask where we went wrong, where we erred.

“We have done nothing wrong and we have not erred. We are not a perfect country; we do not pretend to be such, but they are setting standards for us that are both twisted and higher than those for any other country, any other democracy.

“There is no democracy that is more challenged than the State of Israel, which respects human rights, which respects pluralism, which respects humanity even in the most difficult war situations, even when thousands of missiles are being fired at our cities.

“Therefore, here we are not dealing in justifications, here we are telling the truth.

“This past weekend we had to rebuff a major international effort to oust us from FIFA and I am pleased that we succeeded. This was part of the continuing effort; I am not deluding myself that these efforts will cease, and we need to act on a very broad front, but the first thing that we must arm ourselves with is the truth — the truth, and also with the inner pride that we know who we are and what we represent, and that we will not capitulate to libels.

“And therefore, an accomplishment must be noted, an important accomplishment, but it must also be noted that this was a milestone in a long campaign in which we will insist on our rights and in which we will uphold the truth – not on our truth alone, but on the truth and we will not allow ourselves to be ousted from important sports organizations nor from those which are not important.”

Netanyahu Cabinet Approves Ministerial Committee on Arab Affairs

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

For foreign pundits not intimately familiar with the composition of the new Netanyahu government, one might think at first that Israel’s cabinet is comprised of left-center politicians. But despite the hard-nosed reputation of the leader of the Jewish State, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu led his cabinet Wednesday in approving the formation of a new ministerial committee Wednesday to deal with issues affecting Israel’s Arab sector.

The ministerial committee, proposed by Senior Citizen Affairs Minister Gila Gamliel, is to be chaired, in fact, by Netanyahu. Gamliel will serve as vice chairperson.

Gamliel, who called the cabinet’s vote of approval “welcome news,” said the formation of the new committee was a “genuine mission.” She added that she believes it “will have a direct influence on reducing gaps, and on equality in the State of Israel.”

Future plans include “in depth discussions with sector representatives” to evaluate what moves the government should take to “reduce the gaps that currently exist in Arab society.”

Gamliel added that she will schedule meetings with Israeli Arab Mks “so we might cooperate in advancing our common goal.”

IRS Hacked, Info Stolen on 100,000 Taxpayers

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Chalk up another one for the IRS. In addition to refund delays, unnecessary audits and reams of ridiculous red tape, the government agency has just scored another consumer nightmare: its computer system was hacked, and the agency does not exactly know when.

Personal data belonging to tens of thousands of American taxpapers was stolen by the hackers, believed to part of an organized crime syndicate.

Congress was notified last week, ahead of releasing the information to the media, but stayed mum in order to allow investigators to open and pursue a criminal case.

Nevertheless — perhaps even unbelievably — Federal Tax Commissioner John Koskinen told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday, “This is not a security breach. Our basic information is secure.”

Legislators do not agree.

“That the IRS – home to highly sensitive information on every single American and every single company doing business here at home – was vulnerable to this attack is simply unacceptable,” said U.S. Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT). Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees the IRS, Hatch told reporters the agency has been warned repeatedly to do more to protect taxpayers, but “fell short.”

According to the commissioner, the hackers exploited the recently developed ’Get Transcript’ application to access tax returns of taxpayers going back five years or more.

The app was praised in 2014 as part of President Barack Obama’s initiative to streamline the government. At the time, the IRS insisted it was taking strong security steps to backup the app, which used the kind of information requested and stored by credit ratings bureaus.

Out of some 200,000 attempts to access individual records, said Koskinen, the hackers succeeded 104,000 times.

In order to cover their tracks, they filed fraudulent returns, although it appears they only managed to submit some 15,000 or so.

But the breach wasn’t even noticed until mid-May; it was only picked up when IRS workers picked up odd Internet activity from the tax filing season.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/irs-hacked-info-on-100000-taxpayers-stolen/2015/05/27/

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