Cyber wrap
22 Feb 2017| and

Image courtesy of Pixabay user MALCOLUMBUS.

Russia’s been ruffling feathers across Europe again this week, with Ukraine accusing the Russian government of using a new virus to target its critical infrastructure as part of Russia’s ongoing cyber sabotage campaign against the country. Ukraine’s security service chief of staff claimed that Russia’s Federal Security Service collaborated with corporate entities and criminal hackers on this effort, exemplifying the blurred lines between state and non-state activity in cyberspace. Further west, France is becoming increasingly concerned that Russia is meddling in its upcoming presidential election. Leading pro-Europe candidate Emmanuel Macron experienced a wave of cyber incidents against his campaign website and email servers earlier this month. Responding to the allegations, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that France would consider retaliatory measures if necessary, ‘because no foreign state can choose the future president of the Republic’. Similar concerns over the integrity of political campaigns have been voiced in Germany and the Netherlands.

Microsoft President Brad Smith recently encouraged the international community to establish a ‘digital Geneva Convention’, as a way of establishing international rules to protect civilians from nation-state activities in cyberspace. Smith’s provocative suggestion, delivered during his address to the RSA Conference in San Francisco (also attended by the inflatable #cyberroo), is a continuation of Microsoft efforts to advance the debate around international cyber norms. The company proposed a normative framework in 2014 and then followed up with a range of implementation measures in 2016. Microsoft’s proposal of a digital Geneva Convention fits into a broader international debate over whether secure access to the Internet should be considered a human right.

Cyber cooperation continues in the Asia–Pacific with Japan announcing plans to provide cyber defence training to some lucky ASEAN countries. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has selected NEC Corporation as the official capacity building provider for Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. The training, to take place in Japan over the next three years, will include lectures on the regional threat landscape, cutting-edge facility tours and cyber incident response drills that simulate attacks on government organisations. The project is expected to commence immediately, and is a promising example of public–private sector collaboration on cyber capacity building.

Austrade launched its Cyber Security Industry Capability Report this week. The government report, written in partnership with corporate representatives, showcases the competitive advantages of the Australian cybersecurity industry including its skilled workforce, government support, robust R&D, software development, consultancy and education. A joint media release from Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan explains that ‘these strengths demonstrate Australia’s global leadership in cutting-edge IT services.’ Check out the full sales pitch here.

It hasn’t been a great week in cyber for those in uniform. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps reportedly lost control of their website, which now features a fake recruitment campaign and job postings from the hackers, putting thousands of hopeful job seekers at risk. Similarly hopeful young servicemen in the Israeli Defense Forces have been targeted by ViperRAT. The campaign compromised Android devices through a social engineering campaign whereby attractive women on social media ask soldiers to install a specific app for more “discreet” messaging. The Trojan is then used to lift files from the compromised devices. Cybersecurity firm Lookout found that 97% of those files were encrypted images taken on the device’s camera and other analysts have suggested that the attack is state-sponsored in nature.

Some timely reports and research efforts this week have revealed troubles for cyber workforces, public hygiene and industry investment. The Global Information Security Workforce Study, which surveyed over 19,000 cybersecurity professionals around the world, projects that 1.8 million cyber security jobs will go unfilled by 2020, 20% higher than the 2015 forecast. Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency has found there’s ‘room for improvement‘ in the country’s public cyber hygiene, based on a survey of 2000 people. Risky practices persist amongst Singaporean citizens: nearly half fail to conduct virus scans on files and devices, and 6 in 10 respondents reporting having connected to open, non-password protected non-familiar public Wi-Fi networks, exposing them to man-in-the-middle attacks. Symantec also released its Cybersecurity Report, finding that the healthcare industry continues to lag behind in their cybersecurity practices and expenditures, despite a sharp spike in cyberattacks on such organisations in the last year.