homeland-securityPresident Obama is currently reevaluating the country’s cyber security to protect both citizens and the government from harmful cyber attack.

One such exercise that is strengthening the nation’s cyber security is the “U.S. Cyber Challenge.” This multi player video game inspired challenge takes kids from age 17-21 who have above average computer skills or even hacking abilities and challenges them to a game called NetWars, where competitors play against each other in a game that tests their hacking skills.

Organizers say “the competition is aimed at identifying young people with exceptional computer skills and inspiring them to join the country’s woefully understaffed ranks of cyber security specialists needed to protect systems used by the military, industry and everyday people.”

While President Obama attempts to ameliorate this system, there are a few basic precautions you can take to better protect yourself from a cyber security breach. One such thing would be putting a credit freeze on your account if you suspect suspicious activity. This makes you Social Security number less susceptible to online theft. Another way to protect yourself would be to continually change your passwords  and create secure passwords when using online accounts. Besides these tips, basic common sense comes into play when entering sensitive banking or personal data and monitoring what exactly happens to this information after its submitted.

(Via the Examiner)

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credit-card-lcdVisa plans to release a new version of the credit card that will cut down online shopping fraud. This new credit card will be the same basic size and form, but with one huge difference – it will have a built in LCD and keypad on the back of the card. Powered by a built in battery that will last up to three years, these cards will work until they expire and there is no need to worry about charging them.

The way the that these new credit cards will prevent fraud is by making it necessary for the users to input their pin every time they make an online purchase. The card will then display a unique security code, which must be entered into the website, which will forward it to Visa’s servers, where the purchase will be approved.

“We hope this new card will help allay those fears, and give consumers more confidence when shopping online” said Sandra Alzetta of Visa.

The company hopes that the card will boost shopping over the Internet and it will be tested in Britain early next year by the company MBNA.

(Via DailyMail)

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normal-brittany-murphyEver since the news of Brittany Murphy’s untimely death has made its rounds, the internet has surged with search queries under her name. Never missing an opportunity, hackers have used her death as a new method of performing Black Hat SEO attacks for directing web site visitors to scareware portals.

These attacks can easily affect Windows users who search for Brittany Murphy and click on one of the many links to poisoned search results. These search results expose the user to a fake anti-virus scan. The fake anti-virus scan is designed to make users panic into downloading rogue anti-virus software with little or no value.

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iwormJailbroken iPhone users in the Netherlands beware, a new worm is luring itself by redirecting users from the ING bank web site. When users visit the bank’s home page they are redirected by the worm which leaves them vulnerable to criminals that can capture their banking log-in information. Security experts at F-Secure are also warning that the worm can potentially turn infected iPhones into a “bonnet”, which is a network of compromised computers at the mercy of hackers or cybercriminals that can be accessed and controlled without the permission of the user. The worm can also be easily spread from one jailbroken iPhone to another when the jailbroken iPhones are connected to the same wireless internet connection.

Although this iPhone Worm is far from the first iPhone security threat to come out recently, Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure says that this is worm is the first seriously malicious virus for the iPhone. “There’s a clear financial motive behind it,” he told the BBC. “It’s fairly isolated and specific to the Netherlands, but it is capable of spreading.”

(Via the Telegraph)

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security-issueThe threat of cyber warfare is becoming more apparent every day as the world becomes more dependent on technology. And now there are growing concerns as to whether or not the United States would be ready for such an attack.

President Obama said during a speech “It is now clear this cyber threat is one [of] the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”

Likewise Mike McConnell, who until February of this year, was the nation’s top spy, told CBS correspondent Steve Kroft that he did not believe the United States was prepared for a full scale cyber attack. To further push that point, the President stated “We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness.” The Obama administration is currently heading a division of the government specifically devoted to stopping cyber criminals before any real damage is done.

The concern of Americans is that another 9/11 type of situation could happen in which terrorists could potentially take advantage of the weaknesses in our defensive structures to cause severe damage to the country. However citizens should take comfort knowing that the current administration is working to actively prepare for for cyber warfare.

(Via CBS News)

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hackedThe U.S. is preparing a new report for the Congressional panel that shows evidence of China launching cyber attacks to steal U.S. government and industry secrets. Since these attacks are using a lot more resources than your average hacker would have access too, the evidence points to the fact that these attacks are not being performed by some regular hacker who happens to just be based out of China.

The report says: “The problem is characterized by disciplined, standardized operations, sophisticated techniques, access to high-end software development resources, a deep knowledge of the targeted networks, and an ability to sustain activities inside targeted networks, sometimes over a period of months”

These attacks have been made on government computers, including those belonging to the Department of State, the White House, NASA, and Department of Defense agencies. Most of the files stolen were defense and policy related which further suggests that it was a government doing this and not just some random hacker. The hackers also knew exactly what they were doing and had total access to everything. The report states that:

“Analysis of the operation suggests that the adversaries previously identified specific directories, file shares, servers, user accounts, employee full names, password policies, and group memberships on the network, likely during their detailed reconnaissance phase”

It’s a known fact that China has been working on strategies for “information warfare” for the last 10 years, which might just be the case here. In response to this and other possible threats the U.S. government has also been developing its own cybersecurity and cyberwar capabilities, most recently bringing cyberwar responsibilities under the leadership of a new Cyber Command, headed by NSA director Keith Alexander.

(Via InformationWeek)

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sqlBecause of the struggling economy, many companies have been making cutbacks. But at the same time that cyber security concerns are rising, companies continue to cut IT funding.

According to an anti-fraud command company RSA in Tel Aviv, Israel, there has been a recent rise in attacks on U.K. businesses.

Oren Parag, an analyst for RSA stated “It’s always on the rise. It’s been specifically high in the past year. Much higher than before.”

The U.K. is the second most attacked country in the world, trailing only to the great U.S. of A. The U.K. has received 20% of all cyber attacks in the past year. However despite the increase in attacks on these companies it seems that the amount of money being allocated towards the IT development is not increasing. According to¬†Chris Young, Head of Security Product Development at RSA, said: “For a lot of large enterprises, security spending is flat on where it was a year ago, or even a couple of years ago.”

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phishingNearly 100 people were charged with aiding a national identity theft ring that attacked thousands of bank accounts and stole millions of dollars.

An indictment released Wednesday charged 50 people in Los Angeles with running the “phishing” program in conjunction with another 47 people that were arrested in Egypt. The phishing scam works like most, where Egyptian hackers would direct people to fake bank sites and get them to enter sensitive financial information. The FBI says it’s the largest number of defendants ever charged in a cyber crime case.

The identity theft has supposedly affected thousands of accounts and drained millions of dollars. This mass arrest across country lines has proven that governments worldwide are being more diligent when it comes to cyber crimes and computer safety.

(Via Associated Press)

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hitbmalaysiaHackers around the world have stepped up their game by targeting computer applications and services hosted on the Internet such as mobile services and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. To combat this development, IT professionals and government officials held a conference in Kuala Lumpur called Hack In The Box that aimed to address the growing concerns in cyber security.

Hackers have been enjoying time in their new playground dubbed “the cloud,” which refers to computer applications and services hosted on the Internet. Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran, the host of the Hack In The Box conference said, “The focus [of security] is definitely moving towards ‘the cloud’ and to the security of embedded devices (Android, iPhone) to more advanced client-side attacks which leverage on Web 2.0 technologies, such as attacks on Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites.” The conference this week hopes to spend specific time attacking this problem specifically.

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screen-option-alarmA while back we talked about technologies designed to deal with laptop theft. Here is yet another way to keep your laptop safe by using a simple software application that can help stop a laptop theft in its tracks and also guarantee that your data is safe if it should ever be stolen. The software is called, LAlarm, and it utilizes audible alarm systems, data retrieval, and remote deletion technology to make sure that your laptop and its data remain safe and secure.

The protection begins with the software’s alarm system that notifies you whenever your laptop is taken outside a predetermined safe area, it also sounds an alarm when your laptop has been left alone for too long. As a bonus, LAlarm even helps you save battery life on your laptop by notifying you when your battery is close to depletion. It can also send an alert to a users cellphone notifying them whenever one of the alarms is triggered, effectively guaranteeing that a laptop owner remains in the know at all times. But probably the best feature that LAlarm has to offer is its data recovery and deletion. This feature allows a user to delete and recover information from a laptop that has been stolen.

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