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SolarWinds Attack by Russian Hackers Highlights Need for Better Cyberhygiene



Screenshot of Captain David Tan in the Government Executive webinar

January 24, 2021 – A recent cyberattack against SolarWinds—a Texas-based company which sells software that allows organizations to see what’s happening on their computer networks—serves as an urgent reminder that the United States needs to maintain top-notch cyber hygiene, said speakers at a Government Executive event on Thursday.

Reports claiming that the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, State, Commerce, and Treasury, among many U.S. corporations and governments worldwide, are victims of a malicious Russian cyberattacks have recently circulated.

Allegedly, in a supply-chain attack, Russian hackers slipped malicious code into a legitimate software update as it was under assembly.

Efforts to address and prevent issues like the SolarWinds cyberattack are being fueled by the Department of Defense Information Systems Agency’s “Comply-2-Connect” program. The program utilizes software created by Forescout’s Technologies, Inc. which provides the highest level of assurance for authentication, authorization, compliance assessment and automated remediation of devices connecting to the DoD information network.

The Defense Information Systems Agency  has already deployed C2C capabilities with the Navy and Marine Corps to help the U.S. government manage over 20,000 endpoints of smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers. Yet, according to Marine Corp’s C2C Project Manager, Captain David Tan, more limited use cases need to be discovered and more automation needs to be built out, to ensure C2C will deliver.

To implement the C2C system, engineers start from scratch learning the systems abilities from the ground up, said Tan. He used a common military phrase, “we own the night,” to explain the importance of C2C, saying “we need to see our digital environment in real-time and see who is connected, what is connected, and where people and things are connected.”

Part of the challenge to implementing C2C is understanding how to deploy 802.1X, added Carmen Santos-Logan, a team lead for Enterprise Cybersecurity Capabilities at the Department of Defense. 802.1X is an IEEE Standard for Port-Based Network Access Control, which provides protected authentication for secure network access. 802.1X will interrogate the security framework of C2C and is expected to ensure the software is meeting manufacturing standards, she said.

There have been efforts with the National Security Administration to figure out how automation can be deployed to assist with cybersecurity efforts and find improvements that can be made to endpoints connected to networks’ backbones.

The government further recognizes it is imperative to national security efforts to know where its endpoints are, and where the software and network components it utilizes are developed.

When there are Chinese-based products in U.S.-deployed systems, we need to remember that those do not always have the best interests of the U.S. government in mind, said Santos-Logan, adding that the government needs to know where their technology is coming from.

According to the panel, there is still much work to be done on developing technical implementation protocols, security policy libraries, and interrogation work for automated security policies as C2C is implemented.

Born in China and adopted to American Fork, Utah, Reporter Derek Shumway graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in international strategy and diplomacy. At college, he started an LED lightbulb company. word


CES 2023: Consumers Need to Understand Personal Cybersecurity, Says White House Cyber Official

Consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, said Camille Stewart Gloster.



Photo of John Mitchell, Tobin Richardson, Amit Elazari, and Camille Stewart Gloster (left to right)

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – In addition to building a more robust cybersecurity workforce, policymakers should consider consumer education, said Camille Stewart Gloster, deputy national cyber director for technology and ecosystem for the White House, speaking Saturday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2023 has featured numerous discussions of cybersecurity in sectors ranging from transportation to Internet of Things home devices. On Thursday, an official from the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufactures should design and pre-configure devices to be secure, thus reducing the security burden on consumers.

For their own protection, consumers must better understand how to weigh risks and protect themselves in the digital world, Stewart Gloster said Saturday. “The sooner that people understand that their physical security and digital security are inextricably linked the better,” she argued. According to the panel’s moderator, Consumer Technology Association senior manager for government affairs John Mitchell, 82 percent of data breaches in 2021 involved “the human element, stolen credentials, phishing, misuse.”

Stewart Gloster’s team is working on a national cyber-workforce and education strategy, she said, which will address the federal cyber workforce, the national cyber workforce, cyber education, and “digital safety awareness.”

Stewart Gloster said workforce initiatives should promote the participation of “people of a diverse set of backgrounds who are highly skilled and multidisciplinary who can take a look at the problem space, who can apply their lived experiences, apply the things they’ve observed, apply their academic backgrounds to a challenging and ever evolving landscape.”

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CES 2023: Cybersecurity for IoT Devices Should be Market-Driven

NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT prescribe desired outcomes, rather than specific and ‘brittle’ standards.



Michael Bergman (left) and Katerina Megas

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2023 – Cybersecurity protocols for Internet of Things devices should be industry-driven, Katerina Megas, program manager of the Cybersecurity for Internet of Things Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023.

The popularization of IoT devices gives cyber-criminals increasing opportunities to breach networks, many say. Network-connected household devices – e.g., lightbulbs and home security devices – can be entry-points if security protocols are lacking. On CES panel on Thursday, a cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security argued that manufacturers should design and preset devices to be safe, shifting much of the burden from the consumer.

“For a long-term, sustainable solution, the best approach really is for demand to be market driven,” she said, adding that NIST is “happy” to support the market when called on. To preserve flexibility, NIST’s cybersecurity guidelines for IoT manufacturers in general prescribed desired outcomes, rather than specific and “brittle” standards, Megas said.

“How you achieve those [outcomes] will vary depending on the maturity of your organization, the architecture of your product, perhaps preferences that you might have for you own internal processes,” she explained.

Megas said manufacturers, who well know their devices’ technical capabilities, often lack an understanding of how consumers actually use their devices. Megas said she has examined how to “help a manufacturer who has no insights into the final contextual use of this product, how can we help them…understand, ‘Here are the risks associated with my device.’”

At an American Enterprise Institute panel held in November, Megas endorsed an “ecosystem approach” to cybersecurity, arguing that network security is also indispensable.

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CES 2023: Railroad Industry Needs Cybersecurity Update

Shawn Smith advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the rail industry.



Photo of Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of Cylus

LAS VEGAS, January 5, 2023 – To keep pace with today’s technological innovations and cyberthreats, the railway industry must retool its cybersecurity defenses, said Shawn Smith, vice president of business development of rail cybersecurity company Cylus.

The railway industry is working to patch old vulnerabilities as well as the new ones that have been create by developing technologies, Smith told Broadband Breakfast at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The need for enhanced cybersecurity has been a recurring theme at the conference, as have the implications of the ever increasing number of devices and technologies now relying on connectivity.

“We’re really fast-tracking an operator’s ability to keep pace with the change in the digital environment that they’re operating in (and) the interconnectivity that they’re seeing,” Smith said, adding that his team works to provide “visibility, threat detection, and response capability to keep pace with the change in their organizations.”

Smith said that many of the large rail players have developed responses for some cybersecurity risks, but lack the automation and planning tools necessary to maximize their effectiveness. He advocated heavily tailored, industry-specific approaches that can address to the unique needs of the industry.

Governments and industry players worldwide have of late been on high alert for cyberthreats, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Railways, like other infrastructure, are potential targets for nefarious actors, Smith said.

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