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LORCA Announces Fourth and Largest Cohort of Cybersecurity Innovators

LORCA Announces Fourth and Largest Cohort of Cybersecurity Innovators

The London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA) has announced the 20 scale-ups selected to join its fourth cohort of cyber-innovators.

The latest group is LORCA’s largest and most international yet – including companies from the UK, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Singapore and the US – using technologies such as automation and quantum to protect UK industry against the latest threats.

LORCA is hosted and delivered by Plexal at Here East in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The year-long project will support the 20 new companies to scale, secure investment, access new markets and participate in overseas trade missions, with the ultimate aim of growing the British cybersecurity industry.

The scaleups will also receive technical and commercial support from the program’s delivery partner Deloitte and engineering expertise from the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast.

LORCA lanched in June 2018 with backing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and has enrolled 55 companies into its program.

The latest cohort includes scaleups with a range of cutting-edge solutions, invited to apply based on three innovation themes identified by industry leaders from various sectors:

  • Connected Economy
  • Connected Everything
  • Connected Everyone

Saj Huq, program director, LORCA, said: “LORCA exists to bring cutting-edge technology to market and to enable the most promising cyber-innovators to become globally competitive businesses. The international reach and the variety of solutions within our incoming fourth cohort is an exciting demonstration of both the strength and attractiveness of the UK market, as well as an illustration of the increasingly prominent role that LORCA plays as a convener and collaborator within the global innovation ecosystem.”

The 20 companies enrolling in the latest cohort are:

  1. Acreto
  2. Anzen Technologies Systems
  3. Avnos
  4. Contingent
  5. Continuum Security
  6. Darkbeam
  7. Heimdal Security
  8. Keyless
  9. Kinnami
  10. L7 Defence
  11. Orpheus
  12. Osirium
  13. Risk Ledger
  14. ShieldIOT
  15. SureCert
  16. ThreatAware
  17. ThunderCipher (Licel)
  18. Variti
  19. VIVIDA
  20. Westgate Cyber Security

Source: Information Security Magazine

Bill for New Orleans Cyber-Attack $7m and Rising

Bill for New Orleans Cyber-Attack $7m and Rising

The December cyber-attack on the southern city of New Orleans has caused over $7m of damage.

New Orleans mayor Latoya Cantrell said yesterday that the already alarmingly high figure continues to grow as the city recovers from the incident. 

A cyber-insurance policy taken out by New Orleans prior to the attack has allowed the Big Easy to recover $3m, but the popular vacation city will still be left cruelly out of pocket as a result of the incident. According to Cantrell, the cost is just something that the city will "have to eat."

"This is something that we have to deal with as a city and it is an expense that we also have to eat as a city. It speaks to the priority of infrastructure that has always been a priority of mine and it also speaks to the real push for maintenance of infrastructure. This will be ongoing," Cantrell told Fox8.

The $7m figure does not include the cost of paying a ransom to the attack's perpetrators, who, despite using ransomware to cripple the city's computer networks, never issued a ransom demand. 

In a stoic display of optimism, Cantrell told Fox8 that the ravages wrought by the attack, although bad, could have been far worse. 

She said: "The early detection and the intrusion helped us one. IT halted our networks, shut them down completely, which prevented this cyber-attack from being catastrophic."

Recovery from the attack is still a long way off, according to the city’s chief administrative officer, Gilbert Montano, as New Orleans is currently wading through a significant backlog of work that resulted from the forced reversion to manual governance.

"Now, we’re in the stabilization period. We are trying to rebuild what we had to turn off essentially and that is a long, laborious, time-sensitive process and that’s where I am telling staff and employees we’re looking maybe at a six to eight month window before actual normalcy starts to integrate all of our systems," said Montano.

Expenses that are included in the $7m figure are the cost of purchasing 3,400 new computers and improving the city's IT infrastructure in an effort to prevent future cyber-catastrophes.

Source: Information Security Magazine

ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance Triples Membership

ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance Triples Membership

A worldwide cybersecurity alliance established last year by the International Society of Automation (ISA) has tripled its membership in just six months. 

The ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA) drew its first breath in July 2019. The organization was set up with the intention to provide an open, collaborative forum to advance cybersecurity awareness, readiness, and knowledge sharing. 

Founded with six initial members, ISAGCA announced on Tuesday that its ranks have since swelled to include an additional 23 companies and organizations. 

As of the end of 2019, the original vanguard of Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Claroty, and Nozomi Networks had been strengthened by the addition of aeSolutions, Bayshore Networks, Beijing Winicssec Technologies Co. Ltd., Digital Immunity, Dragos, exida, ISA Security Compliance Institute, ISA99 Committee, Idaho National Laboratory, LOGIIC (Linking the Oil and Gas Industry to Improve Cybersecurity), Mission Secure, Inc., Mocana Corporation, Munio Security, PAS Global, Radiflow, Senhasegura (supporting member), Tenable, TiSafe, Tripwire, WisePlant, Wallix Group, and Xage Security.

The new adherents to the cause have all joined as founding members. Alliance membership is open to all end users, asset owners, government agencies, and other cybersecurity-focused organizations. 

"The cyber threat to critical infrastructure has never been greater," said Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO of newly welcomed ISAGCA member PAS Global

ISA executive director Mary Ramsey said: "When we pair ISA's standards expertise with the real-world experience of companies like PAS, we can make major strides in advancing cybersecurity.

"Our founding members are united in their belief that security is a journey, not a destination, and they are committed to developing the resources that asset owners need to make progress." 

New alliance member Tripwire was sensible of the organization’s potential to influence cybersecurity around the globe. 

A Tripwire spokesman said: "In becoming a founding member of ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance, Tripwire will participate in creating initiatives to increase industry awareness, creating education and certification programs, and advocating for sensible cybersecurity approaches with regulatory bodies and world governments."

ISAGCA is organized into four general focus areas: Awareness & Outreach, Compliance & Prevention, Education & Training, and Advocacy & Adoption. Each area has an attached working group, actively working on projects that include creating an easy-to-follow, condensed guide to implementing the ISA/IEC 62443 series of standards and setting up a database of speakers with expertise and experience in automation cybersecurity and associated commitments to wax lyrical at industry events.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Business Disruption Attacks Most Prevalent in Last 12 Months

Business Disruption Attacks Most Prevalent in Last 12 Months

Business disruption was the main objective of attackers in the last year, with ransomware, DDoS and malware commonly used.

According to the CrowdStrike Services Cyber Front Lines Report, which offers observations from its incident response and proactive services, a third (36%) of incidents often involved ransomware, destructive malware or denial of service attacks. Crowdstrike determined that these three factors to be focused on “business disruption,” and while an adversary’s main goal in a ransomware attack is financial gain, the impact of disruption to a business can often outweigh the loss incurred by paying the ransom.

Also observed in 25% of the investigated incidents was data theft, including the theft of intellectual property, personally identifiable information and personal health information. IP theft has been linked to numerous nation state adversaries that specialize in targeted intrusion attacks, while PII and PHI data theft can enable both espionage and criminally-motivated operations.

“Typically, this type of data may be used by a cyber-espionage actor to build a dossier on a high-profile target, or a cyber-criminal may sell or ransom the information,” the report said.

To get on to a network, the most popular vector was spear-phishing, accounting for 35% of investigated cases, compared to 16% using web attacks and another 16% using compromised credentials.

Jack Mannino, CEO at nVisium, told Infosecurity that in many cases, we’re struggling with many of the same issues from a decade ago, while we’re seeing an increase in attacks against cloud infrastructure and systems.

“While many organizations have been in the cloud for a while, countless teams are still undertaking transformation and are attempting to replicate security controls that they have developed internally within a new architecture,” he said.

The report also found that organizations that meet Crowdstrike’s 1-10-60 benchmark — detect an incident in one minute, investigate in 10 minutes and remediate within an hour — are improving their chances of stopping cyber-adversaries. However, it found that the vast majority of organizations struggle to meet the 1-10-60 standard in another recent survey, despite the vast majority of organizations seeing adherence to the rule as a “game changer” in ensuring protection. “Adhering to the rule is a challenging benchmark that requires speed and experience,” the report said.

Shawn Henry, chief security officer and president of CrowdStrike Services, said: “The report offers observations into why ransomware and business disruption dominated headlines in 2019 and gives valuable insight into why issues with adversarial dwell time remain a problem for businesses around the world. Strong cybersecurity posture ultimately lies within technology that ensures early detection, swift response and fast mitigation to keep adversaries off networks for good.”

Rui Lopes, engineering and technical support manager at Panda Security, said that the use of cyberspace to carry out all kinds of malicious activities is not going anywhere in 2020, “and while cybersecurity players work to mitigate attacks, organizations struggle on their end with a gap in security experts which may not be covered even if they have a budget for it.”

Source: Information Security Magazine

China Promises Action on Tech Transfers and IP Protection

China Promises Action on Tech Transfers and IP Protection

Phase One of the US-China trade deal has finally been signed, with promises from Beijing that it will improve protection of IP and trade secrets and end forced tech transfers, although security experts will be skeptical.

The majority of the headlines focused on the scrapping of some mooted tariffs on goods from China including mobile phones and computers, as well as promises to increase imports of US goods by $200bn.

However, in the document itself, major sections are devoted to several areas of concern for many US businesses over the past decade or more.

These include the forced transfer of IP to a local Chinese partner that many foreign businesses have been required to follow in order to gain access to the country’s vast market. In the new document, both parties recognize that such transfers should only happen on “voluntary, market-based terms.

“Neither Party shall require or pressure persons of the other Party to transfer technology to its persons in relation to acquisitions, joint ventures, or other investment transactions,” it continued.

The new deal also contains significant new promises by China to improve protection of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information and combat counterfeiting and piracy online.

“China recognizes the importance of establishing and implementing a comprehensive legal system of intellectual property protection and enforcement as it transforms from a major intellectual property consumer to a major intellectual property producer,” it said.

Specifically, China has agreed to impose “heavier punishment” including jail time and monetary fines to deter IP theft.

However, it remains to be seen whether any of the promises made by Beijing are adhered to.

Both the US and UK famously signed an agreement with China in 2015 promising it would cease all economic espionage activity. Experts revealed that activity began to ramp up again from the Chinese side soon after.

China is also increasing its collection of sensitive corporate data from all firms operating within its borders, under a new corporate social credit system, which recently raised alarm bells at the EU Chamber of Commerce in China.

This could effectively achieve the same end for the Chinese government as forced tech transfers, it warned.

“The system of regulatory ratings necessitates the collection of massive amounts of company data, mostly through mandatory data transfers to government authorities, creating an increasingly complete disclosure of a company’s profile,” the report claimed. “Large data transfers are likely to include some sensitive data points, such as technological details and personnel information.”

Researchers have also recently revealed how Chinese state hacking groups are increasingly using local companies as a front for their espionage activities.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Trump Takes on Apple Over FBI's Backdoor Request

Trump Takes on Apple Over FBI's Backdoor Request

Donald Trump has hit out at Apple after it refused to unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist shooter who killed three sailors last month, setting the firm on another collision course with the authorities over its stance on user privacy.

In a developing story reminiscent of the San Bernardino shootings four years ago, Apple declined to help the FBI unlock the smartphone of 21-year-old Royal Saudi Air Force lieutenant who went on a killing spree at Pensacola Air Force base.

Although it claimed to have given the FBI “all of the data in our possession” when approached by agents a month ago, Apple maintained that bypassing the killer’s passcodes would create a dangerous precedent.

“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” it said in a statement.

“Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users' data.”

However, that wasn’t good enough for attorney general William Barr, who has previously slammed tech companies for their stance on encryption, and Trump, who took to Twitter to share his ire with the world.

“We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW!” he wrote.

The world’s leading encryption experts agree with Apple and other tech firms that creating backdoors for law enforcers would ultimately undermine security for hundreds of millions of legitimate business and personal users.

In 2018 they penned an open letter to FBI director, Christopher Wray, asking him to explain the technical basis for the Feds’ repeated claims that encryption backdoors can be engineered without impacting user security.

That request remains unanswered.

Source: Information Security Magazine

WEF Fears Cyber-Threats and Digital Fragmentation

WEF Fears Cyber-Threats and Digital Fragmentation

Digital fragmentation and cyber-threats are among the top 10 biggest risks facing global businesses over the coming decade, according to the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) report.

The annual Global Risks Report is compiled from interviews with business leaders, academics and others from around the world.

This year there was a heavy focus on environmental concerns, but cyber-related risks also featured strongly, as they have done for years.

In total, 76% of respondents claimed that cyber-attacks disrupting operations and infrastructure would increase in 2020, while a similar number (75%) said the same about online data and financial theft.

Cyber-attacks were also placed in the top 10 risks table in terms of likelihood and impact over the coming decade, while data theft/fraud made it into just the former category.

Information infrastructure breakdown also made it into the top 10 most impactful risks for the coming decade, reflecting respondents’ concerns around the increasingly fragmented online world brought about by geopolitical rivalries and competing standards.

The WEF report pointed to fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies as bringing tremendous gains to society and the global economy, but also unintended cyber-risk, as the attack surface grows exponentially.

Quantum computing, 5G, cloud computing, AI and IoT were all highlighted as areas of concern, as was the lack of an effective and unified global cyber-governance framework.

Fragmentation of the digital world threatens to stifle the development of 4IR technologies and will add extra cost for businesses, it warned.

“Businesses are facing the challenge of implementing existing cybersecurity and 4IR standards (where they exist), while ensuring compliance with fragmented regulations on accountability, transparency, bias and privacy for developing — or simply applying — 4IR technologies,” the report continued.

“Because government and corporate leaders equally share the responsibility for promoting global cybersecurity and digital trust, cooperation between the public and private sectors is more vital than ever in areas such as information-sharing, collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and skill and capacity development.”

Renaud Deraison, CTO at Tenable, said the report’s findings made sense.

“As the world seeks continued growth and competitiveness in the global economy, we’re seeing many new projects take off, including building modern factories that are highly automated. This innovation can’t happen without a good grasp of the security and integrity of the digital components those factories rely on,” he argued.

“It’s not just about stopping bad actors from damaging these mission-critical services, as experienced in cities across the world, it's also about preventing them from getting a foothold in our environments to cause harm, be it physical, data theft or financial gain.”

Source: Information Security Magazine

Dagenham Duo Jailed for Hacking Bank Accounts

Dagenham Duo Jailed for Hacking Bank Accounts

Two Dagenham residents have been put behind bars after compromising more than 700 bank accounts and cell phone accounts to commit fraud in a six-year crime spree.

Nigerian-born Oluwaseun Ajayi, aged 39, and 49-year-old Inga Irbe hacked into bank accounts then applied for loans, credit cards, and additional bank accounts in the names of their victims. 

An investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Central Specialist Crime—Cyber Crime Unit revealed that the duo also committed multiple incidences of phone upgrade fraud by gaining unauthorized access to strangers' cell phone accounts and ordering £12,000 worth of new devices. 

Police searches of the address shared by Irbe and Ajayi resulted in the seizure of numerous items, including multiple cell phones, SIM Cards, iPads, and a laptop. Correspondence and bank cards in other people’s names were also confiscated, along with £1,200 cash in £50 notes.

The pair, who both reside at Orchard Road, Dagenham, and who may be romantically involved, were found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation between February 1, 2012, and May 14, 2018. Ajayi was further found guilty of failing to comply with a Section 49 RIPA notice to disclose his phone's PIN number to police.

The guilty verdicts were reached by a jury at Croydon Crown Court on November 27. In the same court, on Friday, January 10, Ajayi was sentenced to five years and six months in prison, while Irbe was handed a community order of 12 months and ordered to complete 170 hours of unpaid work.

Detective Inspector Gary Myers said: "Ajayi and Irbe committed these offences in a manner that showed a lot of pre-planning and deception.

"However, they were not able to deceive officers, who carried out a thorough investigation which has brought these two criminals to justice.

"While cybercrime can often be complex and investigations take months, Met officers will not relent in pursuing those that hide behind their keyboards to steal other people's money and make their lives a misery."

Source: Information Security Magazine

Hidden Hotel Room Cameras Spark Investigation

Hidden Hotel Room Cameras Spark Investigation

An investigation has been launched by the Wisconsin Department of Justice and local police after hidden cameras were found in a downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, hotel room.

The creepy discovery was made by a group of high school students who were staying at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis hotel on 7th Street while on an overnight field trip with their school's business club. The trip took place over the first weekend of December last year. 

Police confirmed that students found multiple cameras in the room but have not disclosed exactly how many devices were involved in the incident. 

After East High School DECA students informed the school of the discovery, the Madison school district placed an unidentified staff member who had accompanied the students on the field trip on an administrative leave as a precautionary measure. 

DECA is an international organization that aims to educate youngsters about jobs in marketing, finance, and hospitality. The organization runs events and competitions to encourage student interest in the business world. 

The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DoJ) agents and Minneapolis police are investigating the incident, along with previous trips run by East DECA. 

In an email sent to students' parents on December 16, interim principal of East High School Brendan Kearney wrote: "We are sorry to have to contact you in this way and can only imagine what you must be feeling. 

"We want you to know that East and (the Madison school district) will do whatever we can to protect and support both our current and former students."

Included in Kearney's missive was a message from DoJ agent Jesse Crowe, which confirmed that the agency’s Division of Criminal Investigation was leading an investigation into any events that occurred prior to the business club's December trip, including anything that occurred outside the state.

According to CBSN Minnesota, a search warrant was served on a home in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, on December 12 in connection with the incident, but no arrests were made. Police later asked a judge to seal the contents of the warrant.

Former DECA trip participants have been provided with an email address to which they were invited to submit any relevant information regarding former events and excursions. 

The Madison school district intends to carry out its own investigation into the incident after the investigation by law enforcement concludes.

Source: Information Security Magazine

UK Announces AI Warship Contracts

UK Announces AI Warship Contracts

Britain's Ministry of Defense today announced contracts to create "revolutionary" warships that use artificial intelligence (AI) to make quicker decisions.

The Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said that an initial funding wave of £4m had been allocated to the project.

"The funding aims to revolutionize the way warships make decisions and process thousands of strands of intelligence and data by using Artificial Intelligence," said DASA.

The contracts are part of DASA’s Intelligent Ship—The Next Generation competition, which seeks to uncover inventive approaches for Human–AI and AI–AI teaming across a variety of defense platforms, such as warships, aircraft, and land vehicles. 

The competition was set up to source tech-based solutions that will prove effective in 2040 and beyond, with the possibility to completely change the way warships are built and how they operate. 

DASA, on behalf of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is looking at how future defense platforms can be designed and optimized to exploit current and future advances in automation, autonomy, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. 

Nine projects will share an initial £1m to develop technology and innovative solutions capable of overcoming the increasing information overload faced by Royal Navy crews. 

"Crews are already facing information overload with thousands of sources of data, intelligence, and information. By harnessing automation, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the real-life skill and experience of our men and women, we can revolutionize the way future fleets are put together and operate to keep the UK safe," said Julia Tagg, technical lead from Dstl.

Despite being titled Intelligent Ship, a warship is just the prototype demonstrator for this competition. Effective technological solutions born from the project could be rolled out to the British Army and also the Royal Air Force.

"The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology. The funding will research pioneering projects into how A.I and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work," said Defense Minister James Heappey.

Source: Information Security Magazine