smartgridAs cyber security becomes increasingly important in the fabric of American culture and government, more money and research is being put towards securing the smart grid. This so-called smart grid refers to the system that delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology. This is modernized electrical system being used to address problems of energy independence, global warming, and emergency resilience issues. Cyber attacks on such a system could

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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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uscyberchallengeInstead of prosecuting hackers, the US government is hoping to wrangle these people into working for the US government. Organizers of the event called the US Cyber Challenge, invited 10,000 of America’s best computer whizzes in an attempt to persuade them from illegal activities and turn them into security “top guns.” A similar conference is planned for next year in Britain.

Entrants are asked to play a series of video games to highlight their potential hacking skills. Using games to look at the kids’ abilities, the kids are asked to analyze hard drives, collect evidence, and extract passwords from the computer.

If eventually recruited, they could earn up to six figures from the US government.

“Government and business need more and better security experts to protect intellectual property and business continuity and keep private communications private,” Judy Baker, a security consultant and organizer of the UK branch stated.

The winner of the first US Cyber Challenge was 17-year-old Michael Coppola from Connecticut. What sealed the deal was his ability to break into the scoring system to award himself 10,000 extra points.

(The TimesOnline)

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