Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cyber Attackers and Cyber Warriors

Fort Gordon is rebuilding its website after their server crash
In what is likely the largest data breach known today, a group of hackers has stolen an estimated 1.2 billion Internet credentials from major US companies and others around the world. The group based their operation in south central Russia, flanked by Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The Times said the group includes fewer than a dozen men in their 20s and that their computer servers are believed to be in Russia.

According to the report on 8/6, the hackers gained access to 500 million email accounts.

The target was not only US companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites.

In February 2014, Hold Security also discovered 360 million compromised login credentials for sale in underground crime forums. The haul, which included an additional 1.25 billion records containing only e-mail addresses, came from multiple breaches. Stolen data was gathered from 420,000 websites, but the names are not being released.

In October 2013, the same firm discovered the circulation of 153 million user names and passwords stolen during a massive breach of Adobe's corporate network. A month later, the security firm uncovered 42 million plaintext passwords taken during a hack on niche dating service Cupid Media.

The group appears not related to the point-of-sale breaches that have taken place at Target and other major American retailers.

U.S. Government Contractor  

8/6, 2014 — The main provider of background checks for the U.S. government is the latest victim of a cybersecurity attack – possibly launched by a foreign power.  US Investigations Services, LLC (USIS) issued the following statement:

“Our internal IT security team recently identified an apparent external cyber-attack on USIS’ corporate network. We immediately informed federal law enforcement, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and other relevant federal agencies. We are working closely with federal law enforcement authorities and have retained an independent computer forensics investigations firm to determine the precise nature and extent of any unlawful entry into our network. Experts who have reviewed the facts gathered to-date believe it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack.

“Cybercrime and attacks of this nature have become an epidemic that impacts businesses, government agencies, and financial and educational institutions alike. The protection and safeguarding of our networks, our data and the data of our customers is always of the utmost importance, and we have invested heavily in security measures. Our systems and people identified this attack, and, in response, we are working alongside OPM, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and federal law enforcement authorities in redoubling our cyber security efforts.

We are working collaboratively with OPM and DHS to resolve this matter quickly and look forward to resuming service on all our contracts with them as soon as possible. We will support the authorities in the investigation and any prosecution of those determined to be responsible for this criminal attack.

“Given the involvement of law enforcement and the active nature of this investigation, we cannot provide any additional information at this time.”

USIS is the largest commercial provider of background investigations to the federal government. It has more than 5,700 employees providing services in all 50 states and U.S. territories and overseas. USIS offers a variety of adjudication support, including background checks, investigative analytics and biometric services, as well as customized solutions that help government clients manage litigation support requirements, records management and automated information management services.

It is suggested, just in case, everybody doing transactions online to change their password, not only to access emails but any other accounts, such as banks, credit cards, retails and others.

Cyber Command Center

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence in Augusta, Georgia, on Aug. 4 was formally organized into separate signal and cyber schools. Fort Gordon is one step closer to becoming the headquarters for Cyber Command. The Army put two new commandants in place on post and cut the ribbon on the new Cyber School Headquarters building.

Colonel Jennifer G. Buckner (pictured right) became commandant of the Cyber School and officially cut the ceremonial ribbon to open its headquarters building along with Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, and Maj. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, commanding general of Cyber CoE and Fort Gordon. Col.

Thomas Pugh became the 37th Chief of Signal and Signal School Commandant.

“The Cyber COE is the U.S. Army's force modernization proponent for Cyberspace Operations, Signal/Communications Networks and Information Services, and Electronic Warfare (EW) and is responsible for developing related doctrine, organizational, training, material, leadership/education, personnel, and facility solutions.

A major aspect of the COE's mission is the training, education, and development of world-class, highly skilled Signal, Cyber, and EW professionals supporting operations at the strategic, operational, and tactical level. Today's broad and rapidly changing global operational environment means the Department of Defense and the nation are required to function within an increasingly competitive, congested, and contested cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum.

Ultimately the Cyber COE must enable the commanders and leaders to seize, retain, and exploit freedom of action in both the land and cyberspace domains, while simultaneously denying and degrading the adversary use of the same.”

No information about the cost to taxpayers for the new school of “cyber warriors” was provided.

Soldier Found Dead

A 27-year-old member of the Mississippi Army National Guard was found dead Friday 8, 8, 2014 in the Georgia base’s training area.

Second Lt. Anthony Thomas Scardino failed to report to his designated location Friday, triggering a search that involved about 90 soldiers as well as emergency services personnel, according to a Fort Gordon news release sent out Sunday. His body was found at about 10 p.m. in the training area; installation officials did not provide further details, saying that “the causes and circumstances of Scardino’s death are under investigation.”

Scardino was temporarily assigned to 442nd Signal Battalion, 15th Regimental Signal Brigade, at Fort Gordon for training in the Signal Basic Officer Leadership Course.

He enlisted in the Guard in 2003, deployed to Iraq in 2006, deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and received a direct commission to second lieutenant as a signal officer in November 2013, the release states. He earned a Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal among other honors.  

In the latest edition of The Signal, the military post newspaper, one of the headlines reads:
August is Anti-terrorism Awareness Month.

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