Social Media Security: Follow Basic Safety Rules to Protect Your Home from Intruders

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Social Media Security: Follow Basic Safety Rules to Protect Your Home from Intruders”, In Cyber Defense, 22 February 2018, Web, https://incyberdefense.com/james-lint/social-media-security-basic-safety/

By James Lint
Senior Editor for InCyberDefense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Although it’s fun to post pictures and messages on social media about trips you take, you are also vulnerable to household theft at the same time. For example, imagine that you take your family on a week-long trip.

Your kids post a message on Facebook that they are happy to be on vacation. Your wife takes an interesting picture at a rest stop and posts it to her Instagram account. Also, you send out a tweet upon arrival that you are at the convention hotel and plan to see your work friends tonight.

Unfortunately, all of this information tells a social media-savvy thief that your house is empty. As a result, you might receive a late-night text from your home security company that your home alarm went off, but you missed the text because you were away.

Social Media Gives Thieves Good Data about Houses to Target

We give social media a lot of information. We tell thieves when we are not home. We tell thieves when we leave, when we hit rest stops, when we go to airports and when we go to parties.

But we need to maintain some privacy to prevent others from misusing social media information. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you know your current privacy settings on each of your social media accounts?
  • Do you know the last time each of your social media sites changed its privacy settings?
  • Do you know if your privacy setting really did port over to your new phone?
  • Are you sure that no unintended visitors are looking at your sites and content?

Compromise between Social Media Security and Entertainment

It takes work to maintain a balance between your privacy and the public nature of social media. Here are some potential solutions:

Solution #1: Wait Until You’re Back Home

Take your pictures, write your content, and place the written content in a Word doc or Google Docs file. Then, post the images and written content AFTER you get home. While some people will say this defeats the purpose of social media, it is a safer way to protect your home and belongings.

Another possible option is to post only if you’re a short distance from home. For example, if you’re only out for the day and it’s a quick 20-minute drive to get home, it might be an acceptable risk to post from your location just before you leave.

Solution #2: Use a Social Media Management Tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer

There are online tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer that allow you to schedule social media posts at times you prefer. Both of these tools have free plans for individuals. Also, both tools are available as mobile apps.

Solution #3: Ask Social Media Companies to Add in a ‘Send Later’ Feature to Personal Accounts

Ideally, social media companies should build in a “send later” feature into their platforms. This feature does not currently exist for personal accounts (although Facebook administrators can pre-schedule posts to appear on pages for an organization).

The ability to send posts at a later time would be a useful social media security feature for personal accounts. In addition, it would be a proactive measure that would provide security even if your privacy settings had not been recently updated.

Consider sending a message to your social media companies’ feedback email or “contact us” pages. This information could be easily found through a Google search.

Stay secure!

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 49th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

InfraGard: Helping the Nation’s IT Security Professionals

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “InfraGard: Helping the Nation’s IT Security Professionals”, In Homeland Security, 12 Oct. 2016, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/infragard-helps-nations-security/

By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Contributor, In Homeland Security

On August 25, InfraGard Las Vegas had an interesting event where they discussed a report about current threats to information technology. InfraGard is an organization that serves the security community.

New or old security managers and intelligence professionals may desire to join InfraGard. InfraGard not only provides networking opportunities, but it also helps members to learn current information and threats outside of the normal information flow in organizations.

InfraGard is a non-profit organization and federal information sharing program dedicated to protecting national cybersecurity by sharing information among businesses, academic institutions and law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. In addition to cybersecurity, InfraGard members also review the big picture of security threats, threat movements and the impact of threat actors in areas outside of members’ organizations.

InfraGard was founded by the FBI in 1996 and has more than 80 chapters in the U.S. This organization is led by local industry leaders with support from the local FBI office.

Careful Screening Process Ensures Members Receive Quality Information

Membership in InfraGard is free, but, participants must go through a screening process in order to join this association. Prospective members must be U.S. citizens and work in the security field. For example, they can work in a security company or in the security office of a corporation.

FBI Special Agents often have security briefs during the meetings, so the FBI does a background check (including a criminal history check) on all members to ensure that the sensitive information they provide remains confidential. All members have a requirement to protect information as “business confidential” and not disclose it beyond the intended scope. In turn, federal agencies exercise care to protect sensitive information they receive from InfraGard members.

InfraGard has subcommittees pertaining to 16 critical infrastructure sectors, as defined by President Obama. Protecting these sectors advances a national policy to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning and resilient critical infrastructures. Since most members’ parent organization aligns with one of the sectors, the sector subcommittees are a method for members to learn from their peers in their sector.

InfraGard Membership Encourages Knowledge Development and Growth

Membership into InfraGard also has a web portal used for sharing information. Contributors to the web portal include the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Information provided by the FBI and DHS is both timely and official, allowing corporate members to gauge threats.

The portal also provides access to many sector publications, allowing security professionals to access information that can be used to protect their own organizations. InfraGard also holds webinars to encourage the professional growth of its members.

InfraGard’s main value comes from the ability to learn and share quality information with other security professionals. InfraGard also allows professionals to give back to the organization by mentoring each other, further encouraging the growth of its members.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded their 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence within the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, contractor and civil service.

James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. In 2016 he was accepted as a member of the Military Writers Guild. He has served in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and at the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office. James had an active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”

Government Misuse of Credit Cards Affects National Security

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Government Misuse of Credit Cards Affects National Security”, In Homeland Security, 07 Sept. 2016, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/government-misuse-of-credit-cards-affects-national-security/

By James R. Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

On August 30, 2016, Military Times published an article about a Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) report pertaining to the improper use of government credit cards. This report found that many people used their government credit cards in strip clubs and casinos and requested government reimbursement for their charges. Cardholders often used these credit cards to prevent their spouses from discovering their visits to either a strip club or a casino.

Misuse of Credit Cards Not Reported

The article also described how the report from the IG assessed how military officials took action to cope with this misbehavior. One of the IG report’s suggestions was to conduct a review of past credit card misconduct, a much-needed action. In the corporate world, a manager or leader would behave in a similar manner, working to determine if this misconduct was a first-time event or a long-term problem.

Also, the IG report discusses multiple individual cases of credit card misuse while the owner was traveling. According to Andrew Tilghman, the author of the Military Times article, “The IG also concluded that the credit card misuse revealed “potential national security vulnerabilities.” Credit card misuse is a violation that can warrant revocation of a security clearance, but the misconduct is not routinely reported to the personnel overseeing security clearances for the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), according to the IG report.”

Criminal or Unethical Activity Leads to Potential Security Threat

Any time people conduct criminal activity, especially when they are embarrassed about a certain type of activity, the situation has the potential for blackmail. For counterintelligence personnel, this is a strong concern because it means that   flawed employees could be potentially controlled by foreign intelligence entities (FIE).

The IG is correct; this type of activity should be reported to JPAS. This behavior could show other past indicators of possible hostile control or indicators leading to the discovery of an insider threat.

In fact, Department of Defense (DoD) personnel (which includes active and reserve military personnel) are legally obligated to report security concerns. The Counterintelligence Awareness and Reporting DoD Directive 5240.06 Paragraph 4c states, “Failure to report FIE threats as identified in this Directive may result in judicial or administrative action or both pursuant to applicable law or policy.”

Sometimes managers try to use removal of a security clearance to punish military or civil service personnel. This practice is ineffective, because the investigation and hearings involved in a revocation of a security clearance are long and exhaustive. This extensive process is necessary to ensure no misuse occurs in the revocation process, because the removal of a security clearance has a significant impact on a person’s employment and future.

The proper method of handling credit card fraud from one of your employees is to press criminal investigative authorities to charge that employee with a crime. That gives the human resources office at your organization the necessary information to conduct the employment removal process.

Any results from a criminal investigation and conviction should be forwarded to an organization’s security manager or facility security officer. They will ensure it is put into the JPAS system of record for security information, which is used in future security clearance adjudication actions.

Criminal Misconduct Is an Ongoing Security Concern for US Government

In my 36 years of work as a counterintelligence special agent and an intelligence community senior manager, I often saw security clearance and insider threat problems. These security issues were poorly handled by managers and leaders and festered into counterintelligence problems later on.

After most insider threat or espionage incidents that occur involving government employees, it is common for a review to be conducted by Counterintelligence Special Agent and reported to. It is often amazing that people saw indicators of criminal activity, but they failed to report it to their superiors.

We will have additional insider threat events in the future. When criminal activity is not handled correctly, that gives foreign intelligence entities an opportunity to hurt both our organizations and our country.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded the 40th scholarship for national security students and professionals. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence within the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contractor environment and civil service.

James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. In 2016, he was selected to be an associate member of the Military Writers Guild. He has served in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and at the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office. James had an active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”

Espionage against the US Continues, Even After the Cold War

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Espionage against the US Continues, Even After the Cold War”, In Homeland Security, 21 July 2017, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/espionage-against-the-us-continues-even-after-the-cold-war/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

This article is the first in a series on espionage.

There are still people who think of espionage as part of the old Cold War and in the past. The reality is that espionage is all around us.

It’s widely assumed that foreign espionage is focused solely on the U.S. military and State Department to gain insight on military actions and foreign policy. Sadly, that thinking is also incorrect.

Foreign espionage agents not only target the military’s current actions and future movements, but also military research and development (R&D) to learn what emerging technologies are a potential threat to their hostile countries. R&D information is stolen to protect or strengthen the countries that steal it.

Spying Is a Way to Understand Foreign Politics and Increase Wealth

Espionage is also a way for nation-states to understand the current geopolitical situation and to prevent wars. Some countries, however, commit economic espionage to increase their wealth by targeting information that can expose national or industrial intentions and capabilities.

The FBI reports that “as a result of a string of high-profile espionage arrests by the FBI and its partners, the press dubbed 1985 as the ‘Year of the Spy.’” With a string of apprehensions, hostile nations were put on notice that espionage against the United States would not be tolerated; spies who were caught would be sentenced to long prison terms or deported.

The string of arrests in 1985 was a blow to those hostile countries – mainly China and the Soviet Union – because the apprehensions shut down some of their intelligence gathering into U.S. intentions.

At the same time, it is often counterproductive to arrest espionage agents because U.S. intelligence agencies then have the always difficult task of identifying and capturing their replacements. It’s no wonder that U.S. counterintelligence agents often prefer to leave foreign agents in place and provide them with false intelligence or, even better, turn them against their own country.

The “Year of the Spy” was a good reminder to the public and to our enemies that we know espionage agents operate against the United States. The publicity surrounding the spies’ arrests helped educate the next generation of homeland security, military and intelligence professionals and provided memorable case histories for instructors to use as real-world espionage examples.

What Is the Current Espionage Situation in the US?

In a March 2016 speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, Mike Rogers, former head of the House Intelligence Committee, stated that there are more spies in the United States today from foreign nation-states than at any time in our history — including the Cold War. “And they’re stealing everything. If it’s not bolted down, it’s gone,” Rogers said. “And if it’s bolted down, give them about an hour — they’ll figure out how to get that, too.”

In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine reported that several thousand foreign intelligence officers operate openly in Washington, D.C., from dozens of embassies and international organizations.

What few people realize is that we have little privacy or rights from foreign intelligence agencies. The Russians have targeted U.S. political and military intelligence organizations for many decades. Chinese spies target intellectual property in addition to political and military intelligence. While the Russians send skilled intelligence officers, China often relies on people untrained in espionage, but who have access to targeted information or to those who know how to gain that access.

Recent Successes in Hostile Espionage

The Chinese intelligence service created what is known in spycraft as a “honey trap” for 59-year-old Benjamin Bishop, a married defense contractor with a top-secret security clearance. Bishop was a retired lieutenant colonel working at the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii when he met a 27-year-old Chinese national in the U.S. on a student visa. Bishop provided her with numerous classified documents during their three-year affair.

“In court, Bishop’s attorney, Birney Bervar, characterized the couple’s exchange of secret information as an act of love, not espionage,” Foreign Policy reported.

But in 2014, a military court in Honolulu sentenced Bishop to more than seven years in prison “for passing national defense secrets to his Chinese girlfriend and illegally keeping numerous classified documents at his home,” according to the Reuters news agency.

Similarly, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning conducted espionage or participated in the loss and distribution of classified information to non-cleared actors, including foreign intelligence services. Distributing classified information to the public or anyone without proper security clearance is a crime. Some people call this action the “insider threat,” but it mostly falls under theft and espionage.

This article was adapted from my article, “The Espionage Threat Is Real: Strategies for the Next Insider Task Force.” That article placed second in the Military Writers Guild 2017 Competition.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

No Holiday Season Break for CES Tech Show Preparations

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “No Holiday Season Break for CES Tech Show Preparations”, In Cyber Defense, 14 December 2017, Web, https://incyberdefense.com/featured/no-holiday-break-ces-preparations/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 InCyberDefense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

CES, the gathering convention for people thriving in the consumer technology business, begins in 30 days’ time in Las Vegas.

This annual trade show has been the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years. CES introduces next-generation innovations to the marketplace. Hosted by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CES collects the world’s business leaders and pioneering thinkers.

This year’s show starts on January 9, 2018, and runs for a full week. Last year, CES attracted 184,000 attendees from all over the world, including global technology industry leaders from 150 countries.

In 2017, CES drew a wide variety of attendees, including:

  • Fortune 500 company executives
  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Venture capitalists
  • Engineers
  • Government officials
  • Advertising and marketing executives
  • Media sources

Size of CES Requires Ample Preparation

You do not get 184,000 attendees into one convention center without a lot of preparation and planning. Tech firm exhibitors and event planners begin preparations long before the show opens because the logistics involved are extensive.

To assist participants get ready for the show, CES provides a checklist for exhibitors that includes pages of requirements that need to be met starting in October.

The Reach and Breadth of CES

CES is a platform for innovators to build their brands. Almost every major technology company participates in CES in some way — by exhibiting, speaking, sponsoring, attending or holding co-located events and business meetings.

Show Content Spotlights Diversity of Technology

At CES, content and learning opportunities are available regarding diverse elements of technology, including 3D printing, digital imaging/photography, robotics and drones. Attendees can also pick up new information on sensors, augmented and virtual reality, electronic gaming, smart homes, audio, fitness and sports.

There are booths and displays for startup companies, as well as for major manufacturers whose names have become household words. Visitors will see innovations in:

  • Communications infrastructure
  • Health and biotech
  • Vehicle technology
  • Computer hardware/software/services
  • Internet
  • Video
  • Content creation and distribution
  • Cybersecurity
  • Wireless and other devices

Cybersecurity Industry Expected to Provide More Employment Opportunities

As CES has grown, so too has the cyber defense industry. So today’s cyber defenders in government and industry must continue to learn. Some of the products at CES are newly created, first versions.

Cyber defenders are the ones looking for the problems that may occur. They must look at, assess and determine if there are vulnerabilities that will affect other systems. Frequently a program or app is created that has no security problems. But when it is combined with other systems unforeseen vulnerabilities might appear.

Talks and demonstrations at CES allow professionals to see new cyber devices. CES also is the global stage where startups can get funded, new partnerships formed, and new acquisitions mergers and acquisitions take place.

In the future, we will need more and smarter cyber defenders who can keep up with the rapid evolution of technology. A formal college education and a continuing situational awareness of changes and vulnerabilities in technology are standard requirements for most cyber defender positions today.

What is new this year will likely be redundant in the not-too distant future. Events like CES offer an opportunity to glimpse the future of our ever-changing world of technology and its needs.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 49th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

A New Trojan Horse: The Kaspersky Software Hack of US Intelligence

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “A New Trojan Horse: The Kaspersky Software Hack of US Intelligence”, In Cyber Defense, 18 October 2017, Web, https://incyberdefense.com/james-lint/kaspersky-hack-us-intelligence/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
InCyberDefense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

According to legend, when the warring Greeks were unable to pierce the defenses of the city of Troy, they presented Troy with a gift — a huge, hollow wooden horse known as the “Trojan Horse.” Since then, the term “Trojan horse” has come to refer to subversion or sabotage from within.

Beginning in the late 20th century, the term was applied to deceptive computer codes that seemed like legitimate applications. However, this software was actually written to deliberately damage or disrupt a computer’s programming or to steal information from it.

If Software Seems Too Good To Be True, It Is When it’s Made in Russia

Sometimes when something looks too good or is priced too low, it usually is too good to be true. So imagine a large nation-state that was the West’s main foe during the Cold War creating software to help the West. Would you buy its software to protect your systems?

Can Antivirus Software Be an Espionage Tool?

Amazingly, U.S. government agencies and others did just that; they bought expensive enterprise packages of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus cyber security software from Russia. According to US-CERT, “anti-virus software scans files or your computer’s memory for certain patterns that may indicate the presence of malicious software.”

Now, as the result of new revelations, buying Russian-made software is reminiscent of the Trojans taking their equine gift inside their city walls. Of course, that did not work out so well for the people of Troy. That night, Greek soldiers hidden inside the Trojan horse got out, opened the city gates and allowed their army to take the city.

A recent New York Times article revealed how the Israelis hacked into Kaspersky Lab’s own network and alerted the National Security Agency (NSA) to the Russian intrusion into U.S. government computer systems.

“The Russian operation was known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on his home computer, on which Kaspersky’s antivirus software was installed,” the Times story said. “What additional American secrets the Russian hackers may have gleaned from multiple agencies, by turning the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information, is not yet publicly known.”

Who Paid Kaspersky for This Russian Espionage?

The revelation exposed how easily Russia was able to target American individuals and government organizations for espionage. The irony here is that Americans paid Kaspersky Lab for the privilege of using its antivirus software that sucked out their information and sent it to Russia. Russia ran an espionage operation against the U.S. sponsored by a Russian business and possibly by the Russian government.

As the Times reported: “For years, there has been speculation that Kaspersky’s popular antivirus software might provide a back door for Russian intelligence. More than 60 percent, or $374 million, of the company’s $633 million in annual sales come from customers in the United States and Western Europe. Among them have been nearly two dozen American government agencies — including the State Department, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Justice Department, Treasury Department and the Army, Navy and Air Force.”

The Greeks gave Troy the Trojan Horse for free; the Russians did the Greeks one better. They made the West pay millions of dollars for their digital Trojan horse.

Kaspersky’s business was a wonderful way to help boost the Russian economy and add jobs at a time when oil prices had dropped. It was also a brilliant espionage operation, which could bring further income to Russia from the theft of Western research and development (R&D) information and economic espionage.

Although Their Espionage Succeeded, Russian Creators Won’t Receive Public Recognition

When you look at the U.S. government agencies that used the Kaspersky Lab software, you see a textbook list of targets for a hostile nation-state or competitor. You rarely see, however, this group of espionage targets paying a foreign power to take their information, intelligence and research and development materials.

The Russians who thought up and perpetrated this Trojan horse operation probably received a wonderful reward from a very grateful Russian government. As is common in the intelligence field, the creators probably will never be able to talk about or share their award outside the Kaspersky offices or the Kremlin walls. After all, they do not want a foreign power learning their secrets.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016, “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017, Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

Regular Software Patches Could Have Prevented Equifax Breach

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Regular Software Patches Could Have Prevented Equifax Breach”, In Cyber Defense, 3 October 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/james-lint/regular-software-patches-prevented-equifax-breach/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

We often think of Equifax as a company that can be trusted to securely save and control our personal information. But as CNN Money’s Kaya Yurieff reported in September, “A huge security breach at credit reporting company Equifax has exposed sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers and addresses, of up to 143 million Americans.”

It seems that some rookie mistakes were made. However, this breach provides good lessons that can be used to protect future victims.

Splitting Up Your Security May Make for a Weaker Brand

Wired Magazine reported that Equifax started directing potential victims of the breach to a new, quickly constructed website called “equifaxsecurity2017.com.” However, “quickly” often does not mean securely built. Bugs were found in the new site, which was ostensibly designed to discuss protection from breaches.

This revelation is not a confidence builder for Equifax victims. It would have been logical to put the information on the website Equifax.com, which was already online and branded. Using the existing Equifax website would have given customers more confidence that they were getting the correct information.

One possible reason for this change to a new website might have been that Equifax did not trust its own security on its branded website. Yes, Equifax was hacked, but it was the databases containing personal information that were hacked. Normally, the main website could be secured again quickly from a backup disk.

The new website asked people to input the last six digits of their Social Security number to check if their information was compromised in the breach of Equifax servers. But the website asking for this information also had bugs.

Again, that was not a confidence builder for Equifax. Future organizations in Equifax’s situation will probably try to remain on their branded sites.

Using an Established Branded Website versus a Non-Branded Website

Nick Sweeting, a web developer, thought it strange for Equifax to set up a non-branded website. He set up “securityequifax2017.com” (note: the fake site’s name was a simple transposition of two words) to show how traffic could be driven to a wrong or malicious website. Sweeting created the site not to cause harm, but to show the potential damage a non-branded website could do.

Sweeting set up the bogus phishing site to expose vulnerabilities that existed in Equifax’s response page. “I made the site because Equifax made a huge mistake by using a domain that doesn’t have any trust attached to it [as opposed to hosting it on equifax.com],” Sweeting told The Verge.

Compounding the confusion for Equifax victims, customers were sent to Sweeting’s website when they called the Equifax help desk. One Equifax employee even tweeted Sweeting’s fake website four times. Luckily, the alternate URL was not malicious.

“A day after the breach and launch of the legitimate help website, scammers had created 194 phishing websites that shared similar addresses with equifaxsecurity2017.com,” USA Today reported on September 21.

Equifax Acknowledged that It Failed to Ensure Software Patches Were Properly Installed

According to a September 24 Wired article by Lily Hay Newman, “The fact that attackers got into Equifax’s systems through a known vulnerability with a patch available galls security analysts. But the company also acknowledged that it knew about the patch when it was first released, and had actually attempted to apply it to all its systems.”

The fact that the company failed to ensure that the patches were properly installed and tested does not bode well for any future court actions against Equifax.

Newman also quoted Michael Borohovski of Tinfoil Security, who commented on Equifax’s mistake of tweeting out the wrong website for victims of the hack: “When your social media profile is tweeting out a phishing link, that’s bad news bears.”

We like to believe that large companies holding the credit history of over 100 million Americans is incredibly strong. Sometimes, that is an illusion.

In this case, just as in the WannaCry ransomware attacks, the Equifax security breach could have been prevented if the company had installed updates on all of its systems. However, this did not happen and Equifax became the latest victim of a preventable hack.

Former Equifax CEO to Face the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on October 4

Equifax’s former CEO, Richard Smith, is scheduled to talk with a Senate committee on October 4. Their discussions will cover Equifax’s security lapses and the Equifax executives who sold stock before this breach was discovered. Currently, there is no proof of insider trading on privileged information, but the appearance of wrongdoing is there.

One of the worst management mistakes made by Equifax in the handling of this incident was stated in CNN Money. Journalist Jackie Wattles noted that “Equifax initially asked affected customers to give up their right to sue the company in exchange for credit monitoring services.”

The concept of breaking even or making a profit during a crisis breach is unusual. Many victims viewed it as outrageous that Equifax wanted to charge fees for doing credit freezes to protect themselves from Equifax’s errors.

Additionally, the idea of giving up the ability to sue for damages in exchange of protection created a public relations nightmare. The company stock has rapidly fallen by 32%. This shows that crisis management and cyber defense failures are costly to executives who are often paid bonuses based on stock prices.

Did State-Sponsored Espionage Play a Role in the Equifax Hack?

While investigations are still continuing, the hackers who penetrated Equifax used techniques that are similar to the techniques used by nation-state hackers. Bloomberg reported, “One person briefed on the probe being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. intelligence agencies said that there is evidence that a nation-state may have played a role, but that it doesn’t point to China. The person declined to name the country involved because the details are classified.”

Later, the same article showed that “One of the tools used by the hackers — China Chopper — has a Chinese-language interface, but is also in use outside China.” Most espionage hacks have layers to hide the true identity of the nation-state doing the hack. It will take a few more months to hopefully work towards the attribution of a nation-state identity.

The Golden Rule of Cybersecurity: Patch Now, Patch Often

If this were a humorous article, it might be worth mentioning that in Argentina, Equifax had a system running on weak credentials. Both the login and the password were “admin.”

Of course, this is not a humorous article. The havoc caused by the Equifax breach will last for years. And it could all have been avoided by simply updating the system with the new software patches.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

Kasparov Urges DEFCON Participants to Use AI More and Kaspersky Security Software Less

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “Kasparov Urges DEFCON Participants to Use AI More and Kaspersky Security Software Less”, In Cyber Defense, 3 August 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/james-lint/kasparov-urges-defcon-participants-use-ai-kaspersky-security-software-less/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

Between July 27 and July 30, the annual DEFCON Hacker Conference celebrated its 25th anniversary in Las Vegas.

DEFCON began in 1992, when Platinum Net, a Fido protocol-based hacking network, held a party in Las Vegas for members of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and their users. The party was organized by Jeff Moss, an American hacker, computer and Internet security expert.

Since then, the DEFCON community has grown to more than 20,000 attendees. The talks and skills of the presenters have grown over the years along with technology.

Featured Speaker Garry Kasparov Says AI’s Power Should Be Harnessed for Cybersecurity

Garry Kasparov, a chess Grand Master who was beaten at his own game by IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer, spoke on the first day. He called for using artificial intelligence (AI) for cyber security. Kasparov’s new book, “Deep Thinking,” forecasts a bright future once we use the full power of computing and AI.

Kasparov acknowledged that machines and computers likely will eliminate some jobs in the future. However, technology also will create new jobs for people with an understanding of how to harness and expand AI.

He also called for banning Kaspersky Internet security software from U.S. government offices. Kasparov wants the new administration to ban the software because he believes Eugene Kaspersky is connected to Russian intelligence, a statement backed up by U.S. intelligence services and news reports.

Safe-Cracking Robots Discover Combinations in Less than One Hour

DEFCON also featured a 45-minute demonstration of how a robot could open a security container or safe. It was so successful that the exhibition ended early. The robot opened the secure container in about 30 minutes.

Originally, it took the robot three hours to break into the safe. But through applied mathematics, the robot’s creators, first-time DEFCON participants, solved the combination manipulation process. The demonstration also made the federal employees in the audience worry if government security systems could be defeated in such a short time.

25 Years of Continued Education

I’ve attended DEFCON since 2005 and I’ve found each year’s gathering was a learning event. Attendees return home smarter employees.

DEFCON is where you can see new threats to security and solutions to some security issues. The admission price is low, the networking is impressive and learning happens every year.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

DEFCON Hacking Conference Features Diversity as Its Mission

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “DEFCON Hacking Conference Features Diversity as Its Mission”, In Cyber Defense, 3 August 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/news/defcon-hacking-conference-features-diversity-mission/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

The DEFCON Hacker Conference in Las Vegas celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 28-30, 2017, in Las Vegas.

People keep coming back to DEFCON because of the unique quality of the conference presentations. They are often on topics that most organizations would not want to publicize: computer hacking, robots hacking safes, implanting passwords and cognitive memory. The speakers are all experienced in the hobby and profession of hacking into computers.

Yesterday’s ‘Hackers’ Are Today’s ‘Security Researchers’

DEFCON attendees who stroll DEFCON’s villages for information and new security ideas are sometimes called “hackers.” Many of the old “hackers” now have titles like information technology “researchers” as industries fight to hire those who can think outside the box and discover computer vulnerabilities before they become problems. Brilliant people discovering problems to be solved are important, but how they label their “hobby” is no longer important.

Multiple ‘Villages’ Are Devoted to Diverse Topics

DEFCON’s mission of diversity is fostered by “villages,” a series of conference areas devoted to specific topics. For example, the Biohacking Village website describes it as “a biotechnology conference focused on breakthrough DIY, grinder, transhumanist, medical technology, and information security along with its related communities in the open source ecosystem.”

Cars Hacking Village Offers Information to Correct Auto Industry Vulnerabilities

The Car Hacking Village, now in its third year at DEFCON, has been helpful to the auto industry in exposing vulnerabilities before a crisis. The wireless interfaces built into today’s vehicles make them virtual computers on wheels.

Computers have been hacked for decades, so why would anyone expect cars not to be hacked? One of the talks this year, “That’s no car. It’s a network!” explained how auto manufacturers try to discover software and network vulnerabilities from improperly written software code before there is a fatal crash.

Crypto and Privacy Village Provides Platform for Discussing Privacy Maintenance

The Crypto and Privacy Village provides little information online, which says something about its focus. One of the scheduled talks, “Privacy is Not An Add-On: Designing for Privacy from the Ground Up,” described different ways to maintain privacy using a variety of tools.

Hardware Hacking Village Discusses VoIP, Reverse Engineering and Sustainability

Discussions in the Hardware Hacking Village ranged from VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone hacking to reverse engineering. An unusual workshop explained component desoldering and recovery, which are useful techniques as landfills are filling up with technology waste.

Internet of Things (IoT) Village Promotes Security Advancements

According to its website , “IoT Village delivers advocacy for and expertise on security advancements in Internet of Things devices.” This is one area that has many people in business worried about security being an afterthought. Over the years, the DEFCON IoT Village has displayed and discovered 113 new vulnerabilities in connected devices that were reported to manufacturers so they can make their devices safer and more secure.

Packet Hacking Village Pinpoints Security Vulnerabilities

The Packet Hacking Village featured talks and hands-on workshops. It also had an interesting presentation schedule that included its “Wall of Sheep” display, highlighting vulnerable systems that are ready “for slaughter.” Visitors were able to have a free security assessment to ensure that their system was not listed on the Wall of Sheep.

Other Villages Offer Additional Topics of Interest to Attendees

Other villages included social engineering (also known as human hacking), wireless, lock picking, Industrial Controls Systems and the Packet Hacking Village. To show the ability of DEFCON to evolve and stay current, there was even a Voting Machine Hacking Village.

Multiple Villages Provide a Variety of Information for Hackers and Security Researchers

The multitude of villages helps DEFCON to improve each year. These improvements provide both hackers and security researchers with learning and growth areas, while they exchange topics and new tools to improve the security of our networks and cyber programs. As the skills of DEFCON attendees improve, they will be better able to handle current and emerging cyber threats.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”

BSidesLV Information Security Conference Provides Useful Job Information

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “BSidesLV Information Security Conference Provides Useful Job Information”, In Cyber Defense, 27 July 2017, Web, http://incyberdefense.com/james-lint/bsideslv-information-security-conference-provides-useful-job-information/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Military University
Senior Editor for
 In Cyber Defense and Contributor, In Homeland Security

In addition to learning more about information security, the BSidesLV Information Security Conference in Las Vegas is a target-rich environment for gaining information about jobs. In some cases, you might even have the chance to interview with potential employers as well.

Amazon Offers Jobs to Military, Military Spouses and Dependents

I saw someone at BSidesLV wearing a shirt that read “Warriors@Amazon.” He was a former Marine who now works for Amazon. He talked about how Amazon offers some of the same camaraderie that most military members miss after getting out of the service.

In fact, Amazon has three job websites that relate to the military. One website discusses the military community within Amazon. It states that “Amazon Warriors is made up of Amazonians who have served in their respective country’s military forces, those who are still serving and all Amazon employees who support them. The group’s mission is to provide its members a professional network and a means to organize community outreach programs, to aid veterans during their transition into the Amazon workforce and to be a resource for recruiting top military talent.”

The second website is about jobs for service members transitioning out of the military, veterans and military spouses. The website includes a quote from owner and founder Jeff Bezos about the military needs of Amazon. Bezos says, “We actively seek leaders who can invent, think big, have a bias for action and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles look very familiar to men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we find that their experience leading people is invaluable in our fast-paced work environment.”

Amazon’s third website offers support to military dependents, often called military brats. In Amazon’s Career Choice program, Amazon pre-pays up to 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. The website also states, “Investing in our employees is one of the many reasons Amazon is an employer of choice for military families.”

#brainbabe – Advocating and Supporting Women in Cyber Jobs

Cyber or information technology conferences often lack many female participants. One organization that supports bringing women into the information security profession is the nonprofit #brainbabe.

Its mission statement notes that “#brainbabe is directly impacting three statistics:

10% of the cyber security workforce [are] women, 1% of the cyber community are women leaders, 53% of women end up leaving the industry.”

#brainbabe supports changes that will attract and utilize women in cyber security. On #brainbabe’s website, Deidre Diamond, #brainbabe’s founder and CEO, discusses her background and states, “As a woman who was hired as an entry-level employee with a liberal arts degree and trained to lead sales teams for tech companies, who has been the CEO of a software company, and who is currently the Founder and CEO of a cyber security company, I have a lot of content and enthusiasm to offer the tech community about training people — specifically, women.”

Diamond is a motivated person who strongly believes in training. She and her crew often attend conferences such as BSidesLV and speak about how to increase the cyber workforce by training and bringing more women into cyber security.

She says on the website, “We can attract more women into cyber security while fostering the interpersonal and communication skills needed to retain them.” The training and improved communication skills may be a solution for growing our future cyber workforce in both the corporate world and government sector.

New People You Meet at Conferences Are a Rich Source of Industry Information

Attending conferences such as BSidesLV is more than just about learning in a conventional manner as you listen to scheduled talks. It is also about meeting people in the booths, on the floor or at lunch tables.

By meeting others at the conference, you sometimes learn just as much information as you do at formal presentations. Conferences show that learning happens everywhere, if you keep your eyes and brain open to new ideas.

About the Author

James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.

Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. In 2017, he was appointed to the position of Adjutant for The American Legion, China Post 1. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”