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Analytics for Cyber Conflict

 

The emerging use of Analytics and Knowledge Discovery in Databases for Cyber Conflict and Trade Negotiations

 

The blog post is the first in series or articles on cyber conflict and the use of analytics for targeting in both offense and defense in conflict situations.

 

It covers knowledge discovery in four kinds of databases (so chosen because of perceived importance , sensitivity, criticality and functioning of the geopolitical economic system)-

  1. Databases on Unique Identity Identifiers- including next generation biometric databases connected to Government Initiatives and Banking, and current generation databases of identifiers like government issued documents made online
  2. Databases on financial details -This includes not only traditional financial service providers but also online databases with payment details collected by retail product selling corporates like Sony’s Playstation Network, Microsoft ‘s XBox and
  3. Databases on contact details – including those by offline businesses collecting marketing databases and contact details
  4. Databases on social behavior- primarily collected by online businesses like Facebook , and other social media platforms.

It examines the role of

  1. voluntary privacy safeguards and government regulations ,

  2. weak cryptographic security of databases,

  3. weakness in balancing marketing ( maximized data ) with privacy (minimized data)

  4. and lastly the role of ownership patterns in database owning corporates

A small distinction between cyber crime and cyber conflict is that while cyber crime focusses on stealing data, intellectual property and information  to primarily maximize economic gains

cyber conflict focuses on stealing information and also disrupt effective working of database backed systems in order to gain notional competitive advantages in economics as well as geo-politics. Cyber terrorism is basically cyber conflict by non-state agents or by designated terrorist states as defined by the regulations of the “target” entity. A cyber attack is an offensive action related to cyber-infrastructure (like the Stuxnet worm that disabled uranium enrichment centrifuges of Iran). Cyber attacks and cyber terrorism are out of scope of this paper, we will concentrate on cyber conflicts involving databases.

Some examples are given here-

Types of Knowledge Discovery in -

1) Databases on Unique Identifiers- including biometric databases.

Unique Identifiers or primary keys for identifying people are critical for any intensive knowledge discovery program. The unique identifier generated must be extremely secure , and not liable to reverse engineering of the cryptographic hash function.

For biometric databases, an interesting possibility could be determining the ethnic identity from biometric information, and also mapping relatives. Current biometric information that is collected is- fingerprint data, eyes iris data, facial data. A further feature could be adding in voice data as a part of biometric databases.

This is subject to obvious privacy safeguards.

For example, Google recently unveiled facial recognition to unlock Android 4.0 mobiles, only to find out that the security feature could easily be bypassed by using a photo of the owner.

 

 

Example of Biometric Databases

In Afghanistan more than 2 million Afghans have contributed iris, fingerprint, facial data to a biometric database. In India, 121 million people have already been enrolled in the largest biometric database in the world. More than half a million customers of the Tokyo Mitsubishi Bank are are already using biometric verification at ATMs.

Examples of Breached Online Databases

In 2011, Playstation Network by Sony (PSN) lost data of 77 million customers including personal information and credit card information. Additionally data of 24 million customers were lost by Sony’s Sony Online Entertainment. The websites of open source platforms like SourceForge, WineHQ and Kernel.org were also broken into 2011. Even retailers like McDonald and Walgreen reported database breaches.

 

The role of cyber conflict arises in the following cases-

  1. Databases are online for accessing and authentication by proper users. Databases can be breached remotely by non-owners ( or “perpetrators”) non with much lesser chance of intruder identification, detection and penalization by regulators, or law enforcers (or “protectors”) than offline modes of intellectual property theft.

  2. Databases are valuable to external agents (or “sponsors”) subsidizing ( with finance, technology, information, motivation) the perpetrators for intellectual property theft. Databases contain information that can be used to disrupt the functioning of a particular economy, corporation (or “ primary targets”) or for further chain or domino effects in accessing other data (or “secondary targets”)

  3. Loss of data is more expensive than enhanced cost of security to database owners

  4. Loss of data is more disruptive to people whose data is contained within the database (or “customers”)

So the role play for different people for these kind of databases consists of-

1) Customers- who are in the database

2) Owners -who own the database. They together form the primary and secondary targets.

3) Protectors- who help customers and owners secure the databases.

and

1) Sponsors- who benefit from the theft or disruption of the database

2) Perpetrators- who execute the actual theft and disruption in the database

The use of topic models and LDA is known for making data reduction on text, and the use of data visualization including tied to GPS based location data is well known for investigative purposes, but the increasing complexity of both data generation and the sophistication of machine learning driven data processing makes this an interesting area to watch.

 

 

The next article in this series will cover-

the kind of algorithms that are currently or being proposed for cyber conflict, the role of non state agents , and what precautions can knowledge discovery in databases practitioners employ to avoid breaches of security, ethics, and regulation.

Citations-

  1. Michael A. Vatis , CYBER ATTACKS DURING THE WAR ON TERRORISM: A PREDICTIVE ANALYSIS Dartmouth College (Institute for Security Technology Studies).
  2. From Data Mining to Knowledge Discovery in Databases Usama Fayyad, Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, and Padhraic Smyt

Denial of Service Attacks against Hospitals and Emergency Rooms

One of the most frightening possibilities of cyber warfare is to use remotely deployed , or timed intrusion malware to disturb, distort, deny health care services.

Computer Virus Shuts Down Georgia Hospital

A doctor in an Emergency Room depends on critical information that may save lives if it is electronic and comes on time. However this electronic information can be distorted (which is more severe than deleting it)

The electronic system of a Hospital can also be overwhelmed. If there can be built Stuxnet worms on   nuclear centrifuge systems (like those by Siemens), then the widespread availability of health care systems means these can be reverse engineered for particularly vicious cyber worms.

An example of prime area for targeting is Veterans Administration for veterans of armed forces, but also cyber attacks against electronic health records.

Consider the following data points-

http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/dhs-warns-about-threat-mobile-devices-healthcare-051612

May 16, 2012, 9:03AM

DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) issued the unclassfied bulletin, “Attack Surface: Healthcare and Public Health Sector” on May 4. In it, DHS warns of a wide range of security risks, including that could expose patient data to malicious attackers, or make hospital networks and first responders subject to disruptive cyber attack

http://publicintelligence.net/nccic-medical-device-cyberattacks/

National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Bulletin

The Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector is a multi-trillion dollar industry employing over 13 million personnel, including approximately five million first-responders with at least some emergency medical training, three million registered nurses, and more than 800,000 physicians.

(U) A significant portion of products used in patient care and management including diagnosis and treatment are Medical Devices (MD). These MDs are designed to monitor changes to a patient’s health and may be implanted or external. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates devices from design to sale and some aspects of the relationship between manufacturers and the MDs after sale. However, the FDA cannot regulate MD use or users, which includes how they are linked to or configured within networks. Typically, modern MDs are not designed to be accessed remotely; instead they are intended to be networked at their point of use. However, the flexibility and scalability of wireless networking makes wireless access a convenient option for organizations deploying MDs within their facilities. This robust sector has led the way with medical based technology options for both patient care and data handling.

(U) The expanded use of wireless technology on the enterprise network of medical facilities and the wireless utilization of MDs opens up both new opportunities and new vulnerabilities to patients and medical facilities. Since wireless MDs are now connected to Medical information technology (IT) networks, IT networks are now remotely accessible through the MD. This may be a desirable development, but the communications security of MDs to protect against theft of medical information and malicious intrusion is now becoming a major concern. In addition, many HPH organizations are leveraging mobile technologies to enhance operations. The storage capacity, fast computing speeds, ease of use, and portability render mobile devices an optimal solution.

(U) This Bulletin highlights how the portability and remote connectivity of MDs introduce additional risk into Medical IT networks and failure to implement a robust security program will impact the organization’s ability to protect patients and their medical information from intentional and unintentional loss or damage.

(U) According to Health and Human Services (HHS), a major concern to the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector is exploitation of potential vulnerabilities of medical devices on Medical IT networks (public, private and domestic). These vulnerabilities may result in possible risks to patient safety and theft or loss of medical information due to the inadequate incorporation of IT products, patient management products and medical devices onto Medical IT Networks. Misconfigured networks or poor security practices may increase the risk of compromised medical devices. HHS states there are four factors which further complicate security resilience within a medical organization.

1. (U) There are legacy medical devices deployed prior to enactment of the Medical Device Law in 1976, that are still in use today.

2. (U) Many newer devices have undergone rigorous FDA testing procedures and come equipped with design features which facilitate their safe incorporation onto Medical IT networks. However, these secure design features may not be implemented during the deployment phase due to complexity of the technology or the lack of knowledge about the capabilities. Because the technology is so new, there may not be an authoritative understanding of how to properly secure it, leaving open the possibilities for exploitation through zero-day vulnerabilities or insecure deployment configurations. In addition, new or robust features, such as custom applications, may also mean an increased amount of third party code development which may create vulnerabilities, if not evaluated properly. Prior to enactment of the law, the FDA required minimal testing before placing on the market. It is challenging to localize and mitigate threats within this group of legacy equipment.

3. (U) In an era of budgetary restraints, healthcare facilities frequently prioritize more traditional programs and operational considerations over network security.

4. (U) Because these medical devices may contain sensitive or privacy information, system owners may be reluctant to allow manufactures access for upgrades or updates. Failure to install updates lays a foundation for increasingly ineffective threat mitigation as time passes.

(U) Implantable Medical Devices (IMD): Some medical computing devices are designed to be implanted within the body to collect, store, analyze and then act on large amounts of information. These IMDs have incorporated network communications capabilities to increase their usefulness. Legacy implanted medical devices still in use today were manufactured when security was not yet a priority. Some of these devices have older proprietary operating systems that are not vulnerable to common malware and so are not supported by newer antivirus software. However, many are vulnerable to cyber attacks by a malicious actor who can take advantage of routine software update capabilities to gain access and, thereafter, manipulate the implant.

(U) During an August 2011 Black Hat conference, a security researcher demonstrated how an outside actor can shut off or alter the settings of an insulin pump without the user’s knowledge. The demonstration was given to show the audience that the pump’s cyber vulnerabilities could lead to severe consequences. The researcher that provided the demonstration is a diabetic and personally aware of the implications of this activity. The researcher also found that a malicious actor can eavesdrop on a continuous glucose monitor’s (CGM) transmission by using an oscilloscope, but device settings could not be reprogrammed. The researcher acknowledged that he was not able to completely assume remote control or modify the programming of the CGM, but he was able to disrupt and jam the device.

http://www.healthreformwatch.com/category/electronic-medical-records/

February 7, 2012

Since the data breach notification regulations by HHS went into effect in September 2009, 385 incidents affecting 500 or more individuals have been reported to HHS, according to its website.

http://www.darkdaily.com/cyber-attacks-against-internet-enabled-medical-devices-are-new-threat-to-clinical-pathology-laboratories-215#axzz1yPzItOFc

February 16 2011

One high-profile healthcare system that regularly experiences such attacks is the Veterans Administration (VA). For two years, the VA has been fighting a cyber battle against illegal and unwanted intrusions into their medical devices

 

http://www.mobiledia.com/news/120863.html

 DEC 16, 2011
Malware in a Georgia hospital’s computer system forced it to turn away patients, highlighting the problems and vulnerabilities of computerized systems.

The computer infection started to cause problems at the Gwinnett Medical Center last Wednesday and continued to spread, until the hospital was forced to send all non-emergency admissions to other hospitals.

More doctors and nurses than ever are using mobile devices in healthcare, and hospitals are making patient records computerized for easier, convenient access over piles of paperwork.

http://www.doctorsofusc.com/uscdocs/locations/lac-usc-medical-center

As one of the busiest public hospitals in the western United States, LAC+USC Medical Center records nearly 39,000 inpatient discharges, 150,000 emergency department visits, and 1 million ambulatory care visits each year.

http://www.healthreformwatch.com/category/electronic-medical-records/

If one jumbo jet crashed in the US each day for a week, we’d expect the FAA to shut down the industry until the problem was figured out. But in our health care system, roughly 250 people die each day due to preventable error

http://www.pcworld.com/article/142926/are_healthcare_organizations_under_cyberattack.html

Feb 28, 2008

“There is definitely an uptick in attacks,” says Dr. John Halamka, CIO at both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in the Boston area. “Privacy is the foundation of everything we do. We don’t want to be the TJX of healthcare.” TJX is the Framingham, Mass-based retailer which last year disclosed a massive data breach involving customer records.

Dr. Halamka, who this week announced a project in electronic health records as an online service to the 300 doctors in the Beth Israel Deaconess Physicians Organization,

Stuxnet DeMystified

Detail of a New York Times Advertisement - 1895

Image via Wikipedia

A fascinating article in New York Times details the fascinating details of the Stuxnet virus, apparently the most successful cyber weapon in recent times.

Given that Industrial Controllers are a part of a everything from factories to missile launch configurations, I believe this is a fascinating area of study for the world’s research scientists including creating variants and defenses for this.

https://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html

Also a 2008 presentation by Siemens that the NYT was kind enough to link to- (whither Wikileaks ??)

India to make own DoS -citing cyber security

After writing code for the whole world, Indian DoD (Department of Defense) has decided to start making it’s own Operating System citing cyber security. Presumably they know all about embedded code in chips, sneak kill code routines in dependent packages in operating system, and would not be using Linus Trovald’s original kernel (maybe the website was hacked to insert a small call k function ;)

as the ancient Chinese said- May you live in interesting times. Still cyber wars are better than real wars- and StuxNet virus is but a case study why countries can kill enemy plans without indulging in last century tactics.

Source-Manick Sorcar, The great Indian magician

http://www.manicksorcar.com/cartoon33.jpg

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms

BANGALORE: India would develop its own futuristic computer operating system to thwart attempts of cyber attacks and data theft and things of that nature, a top defence scientist said.

Dr V K Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, said the DRDO has just set up a software development  centre each here and in Delhi, with the mandate develop such a system. This “national effort” would be spearheaded by the  Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with software companies in and around Bangalore,  Hyderabad and Delhi as also academic institutions like Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and IIT Chennai, among others.

“There are many gaps in our software areas; particularly we don’t have our own operating system,” said  Saraswat, also Director General of DRDO and Secretary, Defence R & D. India currently uses operating systems developed by western countries.

Read more: Security threat: DRDO to make own OS – The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/news/software-services/Security-threat-DRDO-to-make-own-OS/articleshow/6719375.cms#ixzz1227Y3oHg

 

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