Monthly Archive: December 2016

States re-examine cybersecurity after alleged Russian hack

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Several states around the country on Saturday asked cybersecurity experts to re-examine state and utility networks after a Vermont utility’s laptop was found to contain malware that U.S. officials say is linked to Russian hackers.

The Burlington Electric Department, one of Vermont’s two largest electric utilities, confirmed Friday it had found on one of its laptops the malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name the U.S. government has given to malicious cyber activity by Russian civilian and military intelligence services.

A Burlington Electric Department spokesman said federal officials have told company officials the threat was not unique to them.

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security would not say whether any other utilities, organizations or entities had reported similar malware on their systems following the report. The official said any such information would be confidential.

Officials in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut said they are more closely monitoring state and utility networks for anything suspicious.

“We specifically have been looking for signatures that match those reported last week by DHS and the FBI related to Russian actors,” Connecticut governor’s office spokesman Chris Collibee said. “We have not detected any activity matching the reported malware at this time.”

In New York, a spokesman said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed all state agencies to re-examine their computer systems for any security breaches. Nothing had been found.

An attack on a U.S. power grid has long been a nightmare scenario for top U.S. officials. The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command chief Adm. Michael Rogers have previously warned it’s not a matter of if but when attackers will also target U.S. power systems.

On Dec. 23, 2015, a highly sophisticated cyberattack on the power grid in Ukraine hit three regional electronic power distribution companies within 30 minutes of each other, blacking out more than 225,000 customers.

Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said his administration has been in touch with the federal government and the state’s utilities. He said people should be “alarmed and outraged” that Russia “has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health and safety.”

Burlington Electric noted it wasn’t connected to the grid system and didn’t explain how the malware got onto the computer.

The company said U.S. government authorities alerted American utilities about the malware code Thursday in a report released when Democratic President Barack Obama announced the U.S. response to election hacking. Obama ordered sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies, closed two Russian compounds and expelled 35 diplomats the U.S. said were really spies.

A Russian state television channel on Saturday sought to discredit reports linking the malware to the Kremlin.

If Russia is found to be connected to widespread hacking of U.S. utilities, it will make it more difficult for Republican President-elect Donald Trump to soften anti-Russian sentiment on Capitol Hill, where hearings on hacking are scheduled next week.

Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont, said the incident proves Obama’s response was warranted.

“This attack shows how rampant Russian hacking is. It’s systemic, relentless, predatory,” Welch said in a statement. “They will hack everywhere, even Vermont, in pursuit of opportunities to disrupt our country.”

The Washington Post first reported on the Vermont utility’s discovery of the malware.

The Rossiya state television channel said the Post provided no confirmation Russia was involved. It said the Post report spoke only about the identification of malicious software code that Washington previously concluded had been used by the Russian intelligence services in the cyberattack on U.S. political institutions.

In a report released Thursday, Homeland Security and the FBI provided technical details about the tools and infrastructure they say Russian civilian and military intelligence services have used to compromise and exploit networks “associated with the U.S. election as well as a range of U.S. government, political and private sector entities.”

“This activity by the Russian civilian and military intelligence services is part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. government and its citizens,” the report said.

A review of country’s defense, security in 2016

RAWALPINDI: The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Saturday issued review of year 2016 outlining defense and security achievements in the outgoing year towards a ‘secure and peaceful Pakistan’.

Director General of the ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, in his tweets, highlighted the achievements of the armed forces in their war on terror, advancement in defense technology, ensuring of construction and security of billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor besides numerous other things.

Below are some noticeable events from year 2016 that ensure an impregnable Pakistan:

1.            Pakistan successfully tested enhanced version of Babur cruise missile and indigenously developed air-launched Ra’ad missile.

2.            Arrangements for actualisation and security of CPEC, construction of 870km road network, along with raising of Special Security Division.

3.            Pakistan Navy successful test-launch of Shore-based anti-ship missile “Zarb” & surface-to-surface anti-ship missile firing in the North Arabian Sea from Sword Class Frigate PNS ASLAT.

4.            Navy proved its vigilance and operational preparedness by detecting and blocking Indian submarine from entering into Pakistani waters in the south of Pakistani coast.

5.            Raising of Task Force 88 for CPEC maritime security.

6.            PAF targeted strikes on terrorist hideouts in support of operation Zarb-e-Azb.

7.            Groundbreaking air power sign of excellence to enhance PAF cap to undertake complex, demanding future challenges and counter-terrorism operations.

8.            PAF C-130 won best AC trophy at Royal international tattoo show UK among 50 nations.

9.            Defense collaboration with Nigeria for provision of Mushshak trainer jets.

Moreover, the ISPR issued images further illustrating the gains:

 

A review of countrys defense, security in 2016

RAWALPINDI: The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Saturday issued review of year 2016 outlining defense and security achievements in the outgoing year towards a ‘secure and peaceful Pakistan’.

Director General of the ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, in his tweets, highlighted the achievements of the armed forces in their war on terror, advancement in defense technology, ensuring of construction and security of billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor besides numerous other things.

Below are some noticeable events from year 2016 that ensure an impregnable Pakistan:

1.            Pakistan successfully tested enhanced version of Babur cruise missile and indigenously developed air-launched Ra’ad missile.

2.            Arrangements for actualisation and security of CPEC, construction of 870km road network, along with raising of Special Security Division.

3.            Pakistan Navy successful test-launch of Shore-based anti-ship missile “Zarb” & surface-to-surface anti-ship missile firing in the North Arabian Sea from Sword Class Frigate PNS ASLAT.

4.            Navy proved its vigilance and operational preparedness by detecting and blocking Indian submarine from entering into Pakistani waters in the south of Pakistani coast.

5.            Raising of Task Force 88 for CPEC maritime security.

6.            PAF targeted strikes on terrorist hideouts in support of operation Zarb-e-Azb.

7.            Groundbreaking air power sign of excellence to enhance PAF cap to undertake complex, demanding future challenges and counter-terrorism operations.

8.            PAF C-130 won best AC trophy at Royal international tattoo show UK among 50 nations.

9.            Defense collaboration with Nigeria for provision of Mushshak trainer jets.

Moreover, the ISPR issued images further illustrating the gains:

 

Las Vegas New Year’s Will See Much Partying, sk© Security SAVER SALE and Legalized Marijuana

Skift Take

Recreational marijuana gets legalized in Nevada starting January 1. The development shouldn’t hurt tourism to Sin City and may provide a boost.

— Dennis Schaal

More than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant party that features some of the biggest names in music and an eight-minute fireworks show launched from the tops of half a dozen high-rise casinos.

Federal officials have ranked the high-profile celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square, focusing resources on protecting Sin City on one of its biggest days of the year. National Guard, Secret Service and FBI agents will work alongside local police officers for the big night.

The heart of the Las Vegas Strip[1] will be closed to vehicle traffic starting Saturday evening and police are ramping up barriers this year to prevent cars from reaching the pedestrians strolling the famous boulevard. Large bags, strollers, coolers, backpacks and glass bottles are banned by county ordinance for six hours before and six hours after the stroke of midnight.

Las Vegas police aren’t allowed to take vacation during the New Year’s weekend. The entire force will be on-call or working — some in uniform and others wandering the crowds undercover.

Casinos are pulling out all the stops for the celebration. Headliners at Las Vegas’ swanky nightclubs include DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars.

The city’s celebrity chefs are rolling out elaborate prix fixe menus complete with caviar and champagne.

A fireworks show synchronized to music — including the standard Auld Lang Syne — will usher in 2017. Revelers can drink in the spectacle from unusual vantage points, including from the windows of a helicopter tour and the cabin of the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel.

There’s also a new way to celebrate in Nevada this year. On Jan. 1, recreational marijuana becomes legal[2] for adults 21 and over, although tourists should take heed — it’s still banned in public places, and a violation carries a fine of up to $600.

This article was written by Michelle Rindels from The Associated Press[3] and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

References

  1. ^ Las Vegas Strip (en.wikipedia.org)
  2. ^ recreational marijuana becomes legal (www.reviewjournal.com)
  3. ^ The Associated Press (www.ap.org)

Concrete bollards to prevent copycat London lorry attack on New Year’s Eve

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has moved to reassure New Year revellers amid a massive security operation surrounding the capital’s celebrations.

The extra security measures are in place due to fears of a lorry attack similar to that seen at a Christmas market in Berlin[1] earlier this month.

More than 100,000 people are expected to line the banks of the River Thames for the capital’s sold-out fireworks display.

Armed police will be deployed on London Underground trains for the first time on New Year’s Eve, and a record number of concrete bollards have been placed at junctions in central London to keep vehicles away from the crowds.

British Transport Police said officers would work extended hours on New Year’s Eve for the second year in a row.

Mr Khan said the fireworks would be “the best any city in the world is having tonight”, adding he had seen “no evidence” that Londoners and visitors to the city had been discouraged from celebrating the start of 2017 due to recent terror attacks.

:: New Year celebrations around the world[2]

He said the display would pay tribute to some of the artists who died in 2016.

Mr Khan told Sky News: “Our police and security services do an amazing job learning the lessons from some horrific incidents in other cities around the world – Berlin recently, Nice earlier this year, Paris last year.

“We adapt to make sure we preserve our way of life but keep our citizens and those visiting safe.

“We will have more than 3,000 visible police officers on the streets of London and at stations, but also we don’t want to stop people having a good time.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t allow terrorist or people who want to destroy our way of life to stop us enjoying what’s going to be a great night.”

And forces across the country are also on alert.

West Midlands Police said: “While the security status remains at severe we have further resources in place should they be needed.”

In Scotland, some 80,000 people are expected to pack into Edinburgh city centre to celebrate Hogmanay.

Police Scotland said it had “reviewed” safety plans following the recent truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin.

Chief Superintendent Kenny MacDonald said: “We are absolutely confident that the plans that we have in place are proportionate and appropriate, and we will make sure that we deliver a safe event.”

The celebrations in Hull will focus on New Year’s Day when the city kicks off its tenure as City of Culture with a huge fireworks display it says will rival London’s New Year’s Eve party.

UK authorities say they are not responding to any specific intelligence of a threat[3], but are taking precautions after recent events in Europe.

In July, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel killed 86 people when he drove a 19-tonne lorry into crowds on Nice’s seafront promenade.

Earlier this month, Anis Amri killed 12 people when he drove a hijacked lorry into a Berlin Christmas market.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed security plans for the capital’s New Year’s Eve celebrations had been “adjusted” in the last few days.

Superintendent Phil Langworthy said: “Clearly we have been looking at what has happened around the world in terms of Berlin, Nice etc … and have adjusted our plans and continue to adjust our plans.”

He added that there were “both overt and covert” measures in place for security.