Dark Reading: Biometrics Regulation Heats Up, Portending Compliance Headaches

This year might be a boon for biometric privacy legislation. The topic is heating up and lies at the intersection of four trends: increasing artificial intelligence (AI)-based threats, growing biometric usage by businesses, anticipated new state-level privacy legislation, and a new executive order issued by President Biden this week that includes biometric privacy protections.

But things could backfire: A growing thicket of privacy laws regulating biometrics is aimed at protecting consumers amid increasing cloud breaches and AI-created deepfakes. But for businesses that handle biometric data, staying compliant is easier said than done. I explore the issues surrounding implementing and regulating biometrics in a post for Dark Reading today.

CSOonline: How to strengthen your Kubernetes defenses

Kubernetes-focused attacks are on the rise. Here is an overview of the current threats and best practices for securing your clusters. The runaway success of Kubernetes adoption by enterprise software developers has created motivation for attackers to target these installations with specifically designed exploits that leverage its popularity. Attackers have become better at hiding their malware, avoiding the almost trivial security controls, and using common techniques such as privilege escalation and lateral network movement to spread their exploits across enterprise networks. While methods for enforcing Kubernetes security best practices exist, they aren’t universally well known and require specialized knowledge, tools, and tactics that are very different from securing ordinary cloud and virtual machine use cases.

In this post for CSO, I examine the threat landscape, what exploits security vendors are detecting, and ways that enterprises can better harden their Kubernetes installations and defend themselves.examine the threat landscape, what exploits security vendors are detecting, and ways that enterprises can better harden their Kubernetes installations and defend themselves.

Book review: Micah Lee’s Hacks Leaks and Revelations

There has been a lot written about data leaks and the information contained therein, but few books that tell you how to do it yourself. That is the subject of Hacks, Leaks and Revelations that was recently published.

This is a very unique and interesting and informative book, written by Micah Lee, who is the director of information security for The Intercept and has written numerous stories about leaked data over the years, including a dozen articles on some of the contents of the Snowden NSA files. What is unique is that Lee will teach you the skills and techniques that he used to investigate these datasets, and readers can follow along and do their own analysis with this data and others such as emails from the far-right group Oath Keepers. There is also materials leaked from the Heritage Foundation, and chat logs from the Russian ransomware group Conti. This is a book for budding data journalists, as well as for infosec specialists who are trying to harden their data infrastructure and prevent future leaks from happening.

Many of these databases can be found on DDoSecrets, the organization that arose from the ashes of WikiLeaks and where Lee is an adviser.

Lee’s book is also unique in that he starts off his journey with ways that readers can protect their own privacy, and that of potential data sources, as well as ways to verify that the data is authentic, something that even many experienced journalists might want to brush up on. “Because so much of source protection is beyond your control, it’s important to focus on the handful of things that aren’t.” This includes deleting records of interviews, any cloud-based data or local browsing history for example. “You don’t want to end up being a pawn in someone else’s information warfare,” he cautions. He spends time explaining what not to publish or how to redact the data, using his own experience with some very sensitive sources.

One of the interesting facts that I never spent much time thinking about before reading Lee’s book is that while it is illegal to break into a website and steal data, it is perfectly legal for anyone to make a copy of that data once it has been made public and do your own investigation.

Another reason to read Lee’s book is that there is so much practical how-to information, explained in simple step-by-step terms that even computer neophytes can quickly implement them. Each chapter has a series of exercises, split out by operating system, with directions. A good part of the book dives into the command line interface of Windows, Mac and Linux, and how to harness the power of these built-in tools.

Along the way you’ll learn Python scripting to automate the various analytical tasks and use some of his own custom tools that he and his colleagues have made freely available. Automation — and the resulting data visualization — are both key, because the alternative is very tedious examination line by line of the data. He uses the example of searching the BlueLeaks data for “antifa” as an example (this is a collection of data from various law enforcement websites that document misconduct), making things very real. There are other tools such as Signal, an encrypted messaging app, and using BitTorrent. There is also advice on using disk encryption tools and password managers. Lee explains how they work and how he used them in his own data explorations.

One chapter goes into details about how to read other people’s email, which is a popular activity with stolen data.

The book ends with a series of case studies taken from his own reporting, showing how he conducted his investigations, what code he wrote and what he discovered. The cases include leaks from neo-Nazi chat logs, the anti-vax misinformation group America’s Frontline Doctors and videos leaked from the social media site Parler that were used during one of Trump’s impeachment trials. Do you detect a common thread here? These case studies show how hard data analysis is, but they also walk you through Lee’s processes and tools to illustrate its power as well.

Lee’s book is really the syllabus for a graduate-level course in data journalism, and should be a handy reference for beginners and more experienced readers. If you are a software developer, most of his advice and examples will be familiar. But if you are an ordinary computer user, you can quickly gain a lot of knowledge and see how one tool works with another to build an investigation. As Lee says, “I hope you’ll use your skills to discover and publish secret revelations, and to make a positive impact on the world while you’re at it.”

SiliconANGLE: Here are the major security threats and trends for 2024 – and how to deal with them

What a year 2023 was for cybersecurity!

It was a year the world became obsessed with generative artificial intelligence — and a year that brought new breaches with old exploits, a year that brought significant consolidation in the security tools marketplace, and a year when passkeys finally took hold, at least for consumers.

Are businesses better secured than before? Hardly. Attackers have continued to get more sophisticated, hiding in plain sight and using sneakier ways to penetrate enterprise networks. Ransomware is still a thing, and criminals are getting clever at using multiple tactics to extort funds from their victims.

In this story for SiliconANGLE, I’ve has collected some of the more notable predictions for 2024, and offer my own recommendations for best security practices.

This week in SiliconANGLE

Here are the ones from the first part of the week.

  1. I did a video interview for a sponsored virtual event for TheCube here, talking about ransomware, air gapped networks, and other reasons to secure your data. 
  2. An analysis of Infrastructure As Code — where it comes from, why it is important, and why it can be both blessing and trouble for IT and devs.
  3. An analysis of everyone’s least favorite hacking group, Lazarus of North Korea, and how they are changing tactics and using Telegram as a command channel, and scooping up millions of dollar-equivalents.
  4. This week, Ukraine’s largest telecom carrier got hit with a massive cyberattack. They are gradually bringing stuff back on line, including the ordinary (like people’s cell phones and bank’s ATMs) and the war-related stuff to target the people most likely to have originated the attack (you know who they are).
  5. A new report from Cloudflare shows their growth in internet traffic along with other interesting stuff such as outages and the percentage of those poor souls who are still using ancient TLS versions.
  6. Another report that examines the past year or so of various cyber attacks and other assorted breaches from a very well respected source at MIT.

This week in SiliconANGLE

Here are this week’s stories in SiliconANGLE.  My most interesting story is about one man’s effort to improve the power grid in Ukraine, thanks to a very clever collection of Cisco networking gear that provides backups when the GPS systems are jammed by the Russians.

This week in SiliconANGLE

Here are four stories that I wrote this week.

This week in SiliconANGLE

Happy holidays! Here are my stories for the week:

  • The group behind LockBit ransomware is now exploting the Citrix Bleed vulnerability, which made big news last month and still at risk for thousands of devices around the world. US and Australian cybersec officials released a security advisory this week that provide the details, and my article follows up with what is going on with this very dangerous and prolific ransomware operation.
  • The group behind the Phobos ransomware is also stepping up its game too.
  • I examine a series of recent cloud security reports, some surveys of IT managers and some taken from actual network telemetry of customers and public sources, to show a not very rosy picture of the situation. Secondary issues such as security alerts take too much time to resolve, and risky behaviors fester without any real accountability to prevent or change.

The latest ransomware ploy

Say your company has just been attacked by a ransomware gang, and they are demanding payment or they will do various criminal acts. So whom do you call first?

  1. The corporate security manager, to lockdown your network and begin the process of figuring out how they got in, what damage they have caused, and what your company needs to do to get back to normal operations,
  2. The chief legal officer, to activate law enforcement solutions,
  3. Your insurance agent, to find out the specifics of your cybersecurity policy and to begin the claims process
  4. The chief compliance officer, to begin the process of letting the various regulatory authorities know that a breach has occurred.

Ideally, you should make all of these calls in quick succession. But a situation involving a finserv firm’s ransom attack earlier this month has brought about a new wrinkle in what is now called the multipoint extortion games. This term refers to ransomware gangs using more than just encrypting your data as a way to motivate a company to pay up. Now they file a complaint with the SEC.

Say what? You mean that the folks who caused the breach are now letting the feds know? How is this possible? Read this story by Ionut Ilascu in Bleeping Computer for the deets. They have the victim on the record that they were breached, and information from the ransomware group seems to match up with a complaint that was filed with the SEC at about the same time period. So how annoyed were the ransomware gang that they decided on this course of action? The victim says they have contained the attack. The one trouble? Apparently the breach notification law doesn’t come into effect until next month that requires the mandatory disclosure. Someone needs to provide legal assistance to the bad guys and at least let them know their rights. (JK)

But seriously, if you have a corporate culture that prevents breach disclosure to your customers — at a minimum — now is the time to fix that and become more transparent, before you lose your customers along with the data that the ransomware folks supposedly grabbed.

This week on SiliconANGLE, I covered major security announcements adding AI features to the product lines of Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks, and Wiz. All are claiming — incorrectly — to be the first to do so.

This week at SiliconANGLE

I had an unusually productive week here at SA. This is the rundown.

First and foremost is my analysis of kubernetes and container security, which describes the landscape, the challenges, the opportunities for security vendors to fill the numerous gaps, and what else is going on here. There is a lot going on in this particular corner of the infosec universe, and I think you will find this piece interesting and helpful.

There were some shorter pieces that I also wrote: