Friday, September 28, 2007

Daily Report

reports that a mock cyber attack orchestrated in a DOE Idaho lab showed that the nation is vulnerable to coordinated attacks that could destroy the entire electrical infrastructure of large geographic areas for months. (See item 1)

The Associated Press reports that Chicago’s video surveillance equipment will soon be upgraded with smart software manufactured by IBM. The new surveillance system would be capable of “alerting emergency officials if the same car or truck circles the Sears Tower three times or if nobody picks up a backpack in Grant Park for, say, 30 seconds,” among other things. (See item 31)

Information Technology

31. September 27, Associated Press – (Illinois) Chicago video surveillance gets smarter. On Thursday, the city of Chicago and IBM Corp. announced the initial phase of what officials say could be the most advanced video security network in any U.S. city. Chicago already has thousands of security cameras in use by businesses and police—including some equipped with devices that recognize the sound of a gunshot, turn the cameras toward the source and place a 911 call. However, the new system would let cameras analyze images in real time 24 hours a day. For example, the system could be programmed to alert the city’s emergency center whenever a camera spots a vehicle matching the description of one being sought by authorities. The system could be programmed to recognize license plates. It could alert emergency officials if the same car or truck circles the Sears Tower three times or if nobody picks up a backpack in Grant Park for, say, 30 seconds. It is unclear when the system will be fully operational. Existing cameras could be equipped with the new IBM software, but additional cameras will likely be added as well.

32. September 26, Computerworld – (National) Gmail’s zero-day flaw allows attackers to steal messages. Accounts on Google Inc.’s Gmail can be easily hacked, allowing any past and future e-mail messages to be forwarded to the attacker’s own in-box -- a vulnerability researcher said Tuesday. Dubbed a “cross-site request forgery” (CSRF), the Gmail bug was disclosed Tuesday by a U.K.-based Web vulnerability penetration tester. He said attackers can use Gmail’s filtering feature to exploit the bug. An attack, he said, would start with a victim visiting a malicious Web site while also still logged into his Gmail account. The malicious site would then perform what Petkov called a “multipart/form-date POST” -- an HTML command that can be used to upload files -- to one of the Gmail application programming interfaces, then inject a rogue filter into the user’s filter list.” This filter will automatically transfer all e-mails matching the rule. Future e-mails will be forwarded as well. The attack will remain present for as long as the victim has the filter within their filter list, even if the initial vulnerability, which was the cause of the injection, is fixed by Google,” he said.


33. September 26, Computerworld – (National) Cyber criminals turn to smaller botnets. Online criminals setting up botnets, networks of computers they have hijacked using malicious software, are downsizing those networks in an attempt to counter security software firms. Virus writers typically try to build the largest possible botnet to make it more powerful and therefore more valuable to rent out to criminals. However, researchers have reported seeing these large groups broken down into smaller units. “Most botnets are controlled by internet relay chat,” said an F-Secure researcher. “The problem for the owners is that if the central IRC server goes down they lose the whole botnet. These people do not want to put all their eggs in one basket, and are therefore running smaller botnets.” He explained that online gangs are increasingly trying to take over botnets run by other people, and that running numerous smaller botnets makes this less of a problem.
Source: Wait.

Communications Sector

34. September 26, The Houston Chronicle – (National) Man pleads guilty to hacking Cox’s telecom systems. A former Cox Communications Inc. employee has pleaded guilty in federal court to hacking into the company’s telecommunications system and causing phone service failures around the country. The shutdown caused a loss of computer and telecommunication services — including 911 access — for Cox customers in Dallas, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. For nearly two hours, Cox customers were unable to make emergency calls before Cox technicians could restore service, according to information provided in court.

35. September 26, Associated Press – (Tennessee) FAA says Memphis outage caused by AT&T. AT&T Inc. manages the telephone line that went down at a Memphis air traffic control center causing nationwide airline delays Tuesday, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration told lawmakers. The communications failure, which limited the center’s ability to talk to flights passing through its airspace and to other air traffic control facilities for about three hours, shut down all airline traffic within 250 miles of Memphis, causing dozens of delays, diversions and cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and in Nashville. A National Air Traffic Controllers union spokesman on Tuesday called the outage a major safety problem and said controllers had to use their personal cell phones to talk to other air traffic control centers.