Tag Archives: information

President Obama signs cyber-security executive order

While visiting Stanford University on Friday, President Obama announced he was signing an executive order meant to encourage the sharing of information, regarding cyberthreats, between private sector companies and the government.

The order was signed at the first summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, which focused on consumer protection and private-public partnerships against cyberthreats.

While at the summit, the president likened the internet to the “Wild West,” and said the public are looking to the government for protection against cyber attacks. President Obama also called these cyber attacks one of the greatest threats to national security, safety, and economic issues.

“Everybody is online, and everybody is vulnerable,” said President Obama, according to NBC News. “The business leaders here want their privacy and their children protected, just like the consumer and privacy advocates here want America to keep leading the world in technology and be safe from attacks.”

However, groups in Silicon Valley are not jumping on board with the president’s push for new digital securities.

Ben Desjardins, the director of security solutions with the cyber-security firm Radware, said, “The new proposals face significant headwinds, both legislatively from Congress and cooperatively from heavyweights in the tech sector.”  Desjardins also said many companies in Silicon Valley already feel “burned” by the government after the companies learned of the various government surveillance programs through the Snowden leaks.

Scott Algeier, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Information Sharing and Analysis Center, also said this new executive order sounds like a federal takeover of information sharing among people and companies in the private-sector.

The White House has said the executive order is only a framework, and with it the White House aims to allow private companies access to otherwise classified cyber-threat information and ensure information sharing is strongly secure, all while protecting the civil liberties of citizens.

The text of the executive order can be found here for more details.

U.S. Cybersecurity Expert Calls Sony Hack an Inside Job

Following the major hack on Sony Pictures, some experts in the United States are skeptical of the FBI’s claim that North Korea is responsible.

Instead of blaming Pyongyang for the hack, the Cybersecurity firm Norse, based in California, believes that the hack was actually an inside job, led by a former Sony employee identified as “Lena.”

On Wednesday, a senior vice president of the Norse firm, Kurt Stammberger, told CBS News that the firm’s investigation has led them to believe that the Sony hack was so devastating, it was something that could have only been accomplished by someone on the inside.

Sony was not just hacked, this is a company that was essentially nuked from the inside,” said Stammberger. “We are very confident that this was not an attack masterminded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history.”

Stammberger identified the main hacker as a woman who calls herself “Lena,” claims she is connected to the “Guardians of Peace” hacking group, and was a Sony employee in Los Angeles for ten years, before leaving in May 2014.

This woman was in precisely the right position and had the deep technical background she would need to locate the specific servers that were compromised,” Stammberger said.

The FBI released a statement last week, blaming the breach on North Korea:

Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks. The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. Government has previously linked directly to North Korea.”

Stammberger contested the claim, saying that any clues leading in that direction, such as the malware used to attack Sony having been used by North Korea before, have been easily ruled out by his firm, due to the fact that the same malware is used by hackers worldwide daily.

There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings,” Stammberger said.

The massive hack on Sony came shortly before the company’s release of the movie “The Interview.”  While the movie’s plot involved an assassination attempt on the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, CBS News reported that the “original demand of the hackers was for money from Sony in exchange for not releasing embarrassing information,” and that there was “no mention of the movie ‘The Interview.‘”

Reporters claim the White House changes reports before they are released

The current White House administration has been lauded as the “most transparent administration in history,” but a number of journalists are coming out, saying they have been intimidated or coerced into altering their stories for the sake of making the White House look good.

Brain Carovillano is the managing editor for US news with the AP, and spoke during a panel discussion recently on the White House’s transparency claim.  “The White House push to limit access and reduce transparency has essentially served as the secrecy road map for all kinds of organizations — from local and state governments to universities and even sporting events,” said Carovillano.

Sally Buzbee, the AP’s Washington chief of bureau, has said the administration has extended its control of information to other government agencies in an indirect manner.  Buzbee has said sources from these other agencies which might be willing to share information, have been warned they could be fired for simply talking to a reporter.

Many people have also asked Buzbee to compare the level of transparency present within the Obama administration and the level present during the Bush administration.  “Bush was not fantastic… The (Obama) administration is significantly worse than previous administrations,” she said.

A recent Washington Post article has also said press-pool reports have been tampered with as White House aides have “demanded- and received- changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists.”

It is important to note, press-pool reports are written by reporters for other reporters, and they are used by news outlets every day to aid in the coverage of the White House and the president.

The article from the Post does say most of the demands for changes in these press-pool reports have involved trivial matters, but what is disturbing is these demanded changes are happening in the first place.  Instead of allowing journalists to report on matters from the White House with as unbiased of an opinion as they can muster, the White House has deemed it appropriate to filter and make changes to reports which concern the administration.

White House reporter Tom DeFrank said, according to the Daily Signal, “My view is the White House has no right to touch a pool report… If they want to challenge something by putting out a statement of their own, that’s their right… But they have no right to alter a pool report unilaterally.”