cybersecurity news

9th December 2018.

“Cyber terrorism. This is going to be one of the biggest kinds of problems facing the world in the future. We're very vulnerable to cyber attacks from everything to a terrorist group pushing a button and taking away all of our investments, all of our savings, making all of our accounts just disappear. That could cause massive panic in the United States, it could make the stock market crash but they could do other things too.”

Michael Scharf, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Global Legal Studies, Case Western Reserve University.

The current news on cybersecurity is concerning.

In November and December 2018, there has been news that:

  • After the Kerch Strait incident, the websites of the Ukrainian Navy and Defence Ministry were taken down in apparent cyber attacks.

  • The US Department of Justice are in the process of indicting two Iranian hackers facing six counts of extortion and fraud in relation to ransomware attacks. They seized data on computers and held it to ransom.

  • New Zealand’s intelligence agency Government Communications Security Bureau prevented Huawei from using their 5G mobile network equipment in Spark New Zealand, a large New Zealand telecommunications provider, citing national security reasons.

  • The daughter of the founder of Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada pending extradition to the US, after concerns over potentially breaching US sanctions. China has responded by saying that there would be “severe consequences” if Canada did not immediately release her. This happened a few days after the New Zealand intelligence agency prevented Huawei from using its 5G mobile network in Spark New Zealand. A coincidence?  

  • Telecommunications giant O2’s data network was down for one day in the UK. The failure was said to be from expired software licence certificates. One website said this affected 31 million users’ ability to connect to mobile internet. Most concerning, this affected London bus timetable screens. I am most concerned with the London bus timetable screens being affected because if other parts of society rely on a data network system, such as traffic lights, it would be a frightening tool in cyber warfare.

  • The EU and UK recently agreed continued intelligence sharing on cybersecurity after Brexit. This is important amid threats from foreign adversaries and cybercriminals. The UK will continue to work with the Computer Emergency Response Team – European Union (CERT-EU)

  • The Marriott hotel has disclosed a data breach that may have compromised up to 500 million guests’ data. Hackers accessed information from the company’s Starwood reservation system. Reuters suggested that this was a Chinese government intelligence gathering operation.

  • The website Quora also revealed a data breach, compromising up to 100 million users’ data. It was announced by CEO Adam D’Angelo’s blog post.

  • The Australian government are to seeking to pass controversial decryption legislation, which compels companies to develop backdoors that decrypt information for the government.

  • France is taking the lead in cyber co-operation. Macron launched an initiative entitled Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace at the UN Internet Governance Forum in November 2018. It has already gained hundreds of signatories from governments and tech companies. The US, Russia and China have not signed up to this.