Cyber Security Institute

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dell to Bundle Skype on new XPS Laptops

Skype and Dell agreed today to ship Skype’s video Internet calling software as an option to Dell’s new XPS mobile systems, the XPS M1210 and XPS M2010.  Under the terms of the agreement, Dell will offer to pre-load Skype on the XPS 1210 and 2010 as part of an optional audio-video communications package that also includes an integrated rotating webcam, noise-isolation earbuds and mobile broadband capability.  The move comes just after Dell agreed on Thursday to pre-install Google’s search application for scouring a computer hard drive and emails, and a Web browser toolbar linking to Google’s online search engine and other services.


Enterprises Should Ditch Skype: Gartner

The most recent bug in Skype is another clue to enterprises that they should steer clear of the VoIP service, research firm Gartner recently warned.  Two weeks ago, Skype patched a critical vulnerability that could let an attacker send a file to another user without his or her consent, and potentially obtain access to the recipient’s computer and data.  “This vulnerability follows three in 2005 (two high-risk, one low-risk) and highlights the risk of not establishing and implementing an enterprise policy for Skype,” wrote Gartner research director Lawrence Orans in an online research note. “Because the Skype client is a free download…most businesses have no idea how many Skype clients are installed on their systems or how much Skype traffic passes over their networks.”  The problem, said Orans, is that Skype doesn’t demand that vulnerable clients be updated, and sans administrative management controls to force this, the VoIP client leaves corporate networks open to attack.


Identity crisis - what crisis?

Identity management is predicted to be a major growth area: according to research from IDC, the anticipated worldwide sales for identity and access management systems will have approached US$550 million in 2005 and will rise to more than US$950 million by 2009.  This predicted level of growth is not that surprising: as organisations, supply chains and customers have become welded together in the digital networked economy, IDM has become one of the cornerstones of security.  On average, large companies have more than 75 applications, databases and systems that require authentication.  The indirect cost of time spent repeatedly logging on has been estimated to be around US$670 a year for each member of staff.


Euro Security Initiatives Proposed

The European Commission today issued a report that calls for greater education on IT security, and the creation of a common framework for collecting incident data.  The commission calls for a cross-border effort to educate users about security and to unify disjointed national efforts to track exploits.  The EC also proposes to benchmark security-related policies and practices among its member nations, “to help identify the most effective practices so they can be deployed wherever possible on a broader basis throughout the EU.”


Symantec Sets Out Roadmap

Symantec has a roadmap for a slew of new enterprise security and storage products, as well as new consumer offerings designed to lock down user devices. Jeremy Burton, Symantec’s group president for enterprise security and data management, revealed that the firm is hard at work on a new product, code-named “Project Hamlet.”  The software, which is scheduled for launch in early 2007, will combine technology from the vendor’s Sygate and WholeSecurity acquisitions as well as Symantec’s existing anti-virus offerings.  “It’s a fully-integrated piece of security software to protect every endpoint,” he explains, adding that Symantec also plans to launch a mobile version of the technology about a quarter after the initial release.  But Burton, who wrestled with microphone problems throughout his talk, noted that the vendor is still thrashing out the specifics of the new product line.  Symantec’s plans suggest that the vendor is looking to claw its way into the Network Admission Control (NAC) market, largely off the back of Sygate’s technology.


Forecaster sees nine Atlantic hurricanes in 2006

A noted U.S. storm forecaster on Wednesday predicted the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will produce nine hurricanes, the same as his previous forecast issued around two months ago.


Microsoft officially launches paid security product

Microsoft will announce that it is releasing software that aims to better protect people who use its Windows operating system from Internet attacks.  Windows Live OneCare, which will protect up to three computers for $49.95 per year, marks the latest step in Microsoft’s effort over the years to make its operating system less vulnerable to crippling Internet attacks. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

EU discusses email tax

A proposal by Alain Lamassoure, a French MEP with the European People’s Party, the Euro parliament centre-right group, includes a tax on text and email messages.  According to the proposals, an SMS could be taxed to the tune of 1.5 Eurocents per text, while email would be far cheaper at 0.00001 Eurocents for every message sent.


McAfee Reveals ‘OneCare’ Competitor

McAfee announced today an all-in-one security subscription service codenamed Falcon will contain all major security suite components as well as PC backup and tune-up tools.  It’s essentially a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows OneCare, expected soon, and Symantec’s Genesis (also a codename), due out this fall.  In fact, with a beta due out in a few weeks and an expected summer launch, McAfee may beat Symantec out of the gate.


Securify Updates Network Monitoring Appliance

Risk detection specialist Securify unveiled the latest version of its network security appliance on May 30, promising more comprehensive behavior monitoring tools and new identity management features.  Known simply as the Securify Monitor, the newest iteration of the security appliance represents a marked improvement over earlier models based on its ability to provide more detailed network analysis reports to system administrators, according to company officials. Along with bolstered capabilities for detecting rogue internal behavior and outside attacks, the device adds expanded functions for mapping any inappropriate computer activity back to specific end users.  For instance, said company officials, whenever a laptop computer logs onto a network running the Securify device, it is automatically scanned to see if any malicious programs have been hidden on the machine, or even if its configuration settings have been improperly manipulated.


Arizona Leads U.S. in Identity Theft

One man arrested for identity theft in Scottsdale last December showed detectives how he simply went to the county Web site and obtained victims’ names, addresses and bank account numbers, along with scans of their signatures from divorce filings.  A survey by Javelin Strategy and Research, a private research company, found one in six Arizona adults had their identities stolen in the last five years, which is double the national average. A Federal Trade Commission survey in 2003 said about 10 million U.S. citizens had their identities stolen in the previous year, with losses to the economy of $48 billion.




Card fraudsters: A world unto themselves

Some 12 online credit card fraud networks are in operation today with active traders on some Web sites numbering between 7000 and 9000, according to a Secret Service agent going by the name of Jake Jacobson.  With quasi-military business models, alleged parliamentary links and even feedback forums on the more current “carding forums,” the proceeds of some heists have reaped more than $15.9 million from stolen data, according to the interior minister of “one country.”  At times Jacobson had those attending his presentation at this year’s Australia Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCert) conference in Queensland last week laughing out loud—not at the terrible crimes of teenage Ukrainian youth, but at the extent of the operations with one crudely-named network even sponsoring state-endorsed cultural events and advertising an online site.


Macro virus aims at OpenOffice, StarOffice

An unknown virus writer has created the first macro virus that targets computers running the alternative word processors OpenOffice and StarOffice, antivirus firm Kaspersky Labs said on Tuesday.  Viruses that attack word processing applications have returned to center stage after the disappearance of macro viruses in 2000.


Symantec squashes antivirus bug

Symantec Corp. has patched a widely reported flaw in the English versions of its corporate antivirus software.  The flaw, which affects recent versions of its Client Security and Antivirus Corporate Edition products is considered serious, and could be exploited by hackers to run unauthorized software on unpatched PCs.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bank buying its customers antivirus software

Scared by the recent report of 56% of online banking users not running any antivirus protection, Barclays has decided to buy not only the antivirus software, but to pay for two years of virus database updates for almost 1.6 million of its customers.


Friday, May 26, 2006

MicroWorld Futuristic Network Firewall

The developers of the world’s most advanced AntiVirus and Content Security Solutions, MicroWorld Technologies, launches its futuristic, enterprise class firewall eConceal, today, on 26th of May, 2006. The release has been increasingly attracting great fanfare and enthusiasm from its global client base, media and well-wishers.  Govind Rammurthy revealed “eConceal is a perfect fusion of some refreshingly new ideas, ‘out of the box’ thought processes and our Pioneering knowledge in Information Security.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Exploit Of Windows 2000 Zero-Day To Hit In June

Symantec warned its enterprise customers that an unpatched vulnerability in Windows 2000’s file sharing protocol has surfaced, with details of an exploit expected to show next month.


State of Technology: Beating Back Hackers Collaboration

At one point, Jeanson James Ancheta, a 21-year-old California hacker, had more than 400,000 compromised computers at his command.  He and his “botmaster underground” cohorts would sell access to their “botnet” to third parties, which would use it to launch massive distributed denial-of-service attacks, disseminate a torrent of spam and install adware on unsuspecting users’ machines.  Earlier this month, Ancheta became the first person successfully prosecuted for building and using a botnet for malicious purposes.  While the G-men got their man, there are thousands of other Anchetas on the Internet, each using innovative attack tools, techniques and technologies to compromise networks and steal their way to more bandwidth, information and money.  Fortunately, security VARs have a wide range of innovative technologies to protect their customers’ IT infrastructures.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Free Anti-Virus Software For Vista From CA

Security company CA is bringing out a free beta version of eTrust EZ Antivirus for Windows Vista Beta 2.  The beta is usable free for one year, by which time a wider offering should be available and Vista should be in general release.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Desktop defenses: Host-based intrusion prevention may be last best defense

Network- and server-based intrusion prevention may still be necessary, but companies are moving IPS down to the desktop level for better protection.  Patching is supposed to secure your organization from the latest batch of malicious code.  “We were expending a huge amount of effort cleaning up the infections in our machines,” says Darrel Davis, chief security officer for the state.  “Some exploits were out there yet no patches were available.”  Like a growing number of IT security managers, to address those problems, Davis deployed host-based intrusion-prevention system (HIPS) software on 19,000 desktops scattered throughout the state.  Its definition hasn’t been settled upon, however, and several vendors advocate very different approaches.  “The ultimate point we are heading toward is to prevent all zero-day attacks.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Ballmer Talks Linux, Security, SaaS

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer pegged three key areas of focus for Microsoft this year: competing with Linux in the high-end server market, software as a service (SaaS) and Internet advertising.  In the case of open source, Ballmer said Microsoft has made a decision to stick with a more traditional corporate business model vs. going the open source route.  He said Linux has been outselling Microsoft in areas such as file services, e-mail security and e-science, and that demonstrates that the Redmond, Wash., software marker needs to innovate.  “We need to have a better high-performance cluster technology that Linux does,” he said.  “It hard to beat open source on initial cost of procurement; it is not hard to beat open source on total cost of ownership,” he said.


Researchers: spend to protect against one attack, not many

In an academic paper to be presented next month at the University of Cambridge in England, a research team will make a compelling and somewhat surprising mathematical case for how enterprises should spend their IT security budgets.  The three researchers, from the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, looked at how companies can evaluate their vulnerabilities, analyze the risk and calculate the potential for damage.  Rather than spending evenly to guard against all attacks, it’s not necessarily the right approach if one kind of breach could cause many times more damage than another kind.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Do Not Intrude Registry gives up

Blue Security has given up fighting for its Blue Frog and Do Not Intrude Registry free anti-spam services after they’ve suffered gruesome attacks from spammers.  The Blue Frog service, and the attached Do Not Intrude Registry, seemed as a gift from heaven for all those who were fed up with all that spam e-mail filling their computer mailboxes.  Soon after the Do Not Intrude Registry collected more than 450 thousand members, spammers began to send out spam threatening to flood members if they do not unsubscribe from the Blue Frog service.  He first launched a denial of service attack against Blue Security website and managed to get it invisible to the rest of the world (only people in Israel, country of Blue Security origin, could access the site).


Research Says Cisco, Microsoft Lead Security Spending

The continued push into the security sector by IT leaders Cisco Systems and Microsoft is making hay with chief security officers, as a new poll of the executives finds that most will consider the well-known vendors’ products in 2006 as they budget network and applications defense technologies.  In its inaugural survey of ranking CSOs at 50 Fortune 1000 companies in the United States, New York-based Citigroup Investment Research found that 32 percent of the IT leaders said they plan to increase their security budgets this year, while 54 percent said they expect to maintain their current level of spending.  According to Citigroup, some 64 percent of the CSOs interviewed said they plan to buy applications from security software vendors, while 33 percent said they are planning to purchase security products from companies that specialize primarily in data networking technology.  While only 33 percent of the executives interviewed said they prefer to buy from data networking vendors, 44 out of the 50 respondents said they have made at least some security purchases from Cisco.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Experts: Exchange patch OK, despite glitches

Several security companies are urging Windows managers to install the latest Microsoft Exchange Server patch, despite reports that the fix is causing problems for some mobile devices.  “This is a critical flaw and administrators should test and install the patch as soon as possible,” said David Litchfield, a U.K.-based security consultant with Next Generation Security (NGS) Software Ltd. “Until the patch is installed, administrators should consider blocking or quarantining calendar-based mail messages as an interim solution.”


Id theft: 13.3 per minute

U.S. identity theft cases: 19,178 per day, 799 per hour and 13.3 every minute.  A silent stalker of victims, identity theft is receiving growing attention from members of law enforcement in the Coastal Bend.  In April, about 142 cases relating to financial theft were filed with the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Kaspersky Lab launches new generation of security products

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 protects PCs against all malicious programs, combining traditional signature-based methods (detection of viruses based on their descriptions) with proactive protection.  Kaspersky Anti-Virus 6.0 monitors all critical areas of the operating system for potential threats, and can detect hidden code, such as rootkits; and ensures that data transferred to and from the computer is safe by scanning in real-time all incoming and outgoing emails, as well as files and web pages downloaded from the Internet.  Additionally, the scanning speed of the new software, and the time taken to download antivirus updates, is faster than its predecessor.  New to Kaspersky Internet Security 6.0 is a personal firewall, which controls data exchanged between the user’s computer and the Internet.


Check Point Bundles Up Security

Most small businesses don’t know from security. They don’t know from DSL, either. So Check Point is putting all the stuff they don’t know in one box.  Check Point’s SofaWare Technologies unit today unveiled Safe@Office 500 ADSL and 500W ADSL, two new appliances that bundle unified threat management (UTM) capabilities with a full-scale ADSL modem to give small businesses a single safe, fast interface to the outside world.  The Safe@Office 500 ADSL series includes a firewall, intrusion prevention system, antivirus tools, content filtering, wireless security, anti-spam tools, and other security capabilities in a single box. Unlike other entry-level UTM appliances, however, the Safe@Office 500 ADSL also includes the device that connects many small businesses to the Internet: a built-in ADSL modem.


Credit card security rules to get update

The update to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, due this summer, responds to evolving attacks as well as to challenges some businesses have with the encryption of consumer data, Tom Maxwell, director of e-Business and Emerging Technologies at MasterCard International, said.  The proposed update includes a requirement to, by mid-2008, scan payment software for vulnerabilities, Maxwell said in a presentation at a security conference hosted by vulnerability management specialist Qualys.  The new version of PCI will offer merchants more alternatives to encryption as a way to secure consumer data.


Social engineering replaces guns in bank heists

Australia’s banking industry is under threat due to a heavy reliance on Single Socket Layer (SSL) encryption that hackers increasingly find their way around.  There are no ‘stick-em-up’ dramatics in today’s million-dollar bank heists, it simply involves the use of SSL-evading Trojans and refined phishing techniques.  While banks are reluctant to quantify financial losses, Australia’s Computer Emergency Response Team (AusCert) admits its own research proves attacks are on the rise.  AusCert general manager Graham Ingram said a false sense of security surrounds SSL encryption, a technology in use right across the financial services industry.  This reliance on Internet browser encryption means banking sessions can be hijacked by Trojans and key-logging programs especially if users engage in lax security protocols and don’t use current anti-virus signatures.  The bottom line is that social engineering tricks are circumventing Internet banking encryption.