Friday Five 3/12
Ransomware legislation, the world's most powerful supercomputer, and a ransomware gang's doxing of bank employees - catch up on all of the week's infosec news with the Friday Five!
1. The Dire Possibility of Cyberattacks on Weapons Systems by Lukasz Olejnik
This story argues that the concept of threats against cyber weapons systems has flown under the radar, as many are computerized and possibly networked. While it may be harder to break into weapons systems than say a phone or local infrastructure, there are almost certainly vulnerabilities that can be exploited and the end result of a malicious actor gaining access to a weapons system would be catastrophic. As the information around these programs is highly guarded, there is currently a lack of a management process for discovering vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to sharing information between countries that could help their overall security posture. The story notes the likely security vulnerabilities that exist in the nuclear munitions carrying B-2 Spirit bomber. The problem is global; vulnerabilities likely exist in every countries’ weapon systems, and even with relatively isolated networks, there is always a risk of a supply chain compromise. It’s important that nations put assessment frameworks in place and double down on information sharing to help manage cybersecurity risks.
2. Ransomware Gang Fully Doxes Bank Employees in Extortion Attempt by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
In the latest escalation of ransomware tactics, attackers doxed members of a bank by releasing their social security numbers and home addresses. The attackers also posted other documents containing private information and emailed reporters to advertise their aggressive tactics. The change is notable; in an attempt to extort money from a business, cybercriminals have gone beyond targeting a company and are now threatening employees as collateral. The news further complicates the politics of whether to negotiate with ransomware attackers, especially if they are going to act in bad faith and continue to increase the pressure on a company to the point of threatening employees if the company refuses to pay.
3. Is Congress finally ready to pass meaningful ransomware legislation by Tim Starks
As the number of ransomware attacks continues to mount, there may finally be some movement in Congress towards passing legislation addressing the issue. The push comes from the fact that ransomware affects every district in the country and critical public services like schools and hospitals. The issue seems to have bipartisan support, but so far, legislation addressing ransomware has mostly been tacked on as an afterthought on cybersecurity legislation. Some state legislation, such as bills laying out specific criminal penalties for ransomware and prohibiting certain kinds of companies from paying an extortion attempt, could serve as a guide for Congress. The hope is that nudging from outside groups, like the US Chamber of Commerce, and recommendations from the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, will spur Congress to act this session and pass comprehensive anti-ransomware legislation.
4. The world's most powerful supercomputer is now up and running by Daphne Leprince-Ringuet
After seven years, the world’s fastest supercomputer is now up and running. Researchers plan to use the computer for projects as varied as discovering new drugs and fighting climate change. To start, the Fugaku Supercomputer has already selected seventy-four research projects that it’ll start next month. Fugaku boasts up to one hundred times the performance of its predecessor, the K supercomputer, and three times the performance of the current number two supercomputer in the world, IBM’s Summit. Researchers have high hopes for the machine’s ability to solve complicated problems at a new scale, it has already been at work testing the efficacy of drugs against Covid-19.
5. Microsoft Hack: Biden launches emergency taskforce to address cyber-attack by Kari Paul
In an attempt to respond to an ongoing malicious campaign affecting hundreds of thousands of Microsoft customers, the Biden administration has launched an emergency taskforce. The exploit allows attackers unfettered access into emails and then total remote control over the system. Microsoft has released patches for the vulnerabilities and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is encouraging all organizations to scan their devices. Microsoft has attributed this breach to a government-backed group out of China. Indications are that the attack began in January, at first controlled at a few large organizations, and has since grown more widespread. Though patches have been released, they do not undo the damage that has already been done. The extent is still unknown, but the hack is significant, and there will sure to be more news to follow in the coming weeks.