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SANS NewsBites is a semiweekly high-level executive summary of the most important news articles that have been published on computer security during the last week. Each news item is very briefly summarized and includes a reference on the web for detailed information, if possible.

Spend five minutes per week to keep up with the high-level perspective of all the latest security news. New issues are delivered free every Tuesday and Friday.

Volume XI - Issue #87

November 03, 2009

For our more technically advanced readers:

Have you ever written a new Snort rule but had no test traffic to see if it alerts? Or tried to craft traffic to perform some pen testing using a restrictive command line packet crafting tool, but gave up because it couldn't do what you wanted it to do? A new one-day, hands-on course by network security guru Judy Novak, called SEC567 Power Packet Crafting with Scapy will be offered in Sacramento (

And for the CISOs and security tools vendors:

On November 12-13 at the 1105 Summit on the Critical Security Controls (, we'll announce the 2009 selection of products that have been user-verified to automate one or more of the continuous security controls now being prioritized by federal and DIB and critical infrastructure employers. There are about 48 hours left to get any other tools that work into the list. If you market a product that automates one of them, make sure George King ( has had the chance to vet it with a major federal user.



Microsoft Report Says Worms Top Threat List in Enterprise Environments
European Commission Wants UK to Beef Up Privacy
House Ethics Committee Report Accidentally Leaked Through P2P Network


Global Information Security Report Sees Security Spending Stabilizing
Facebook Awarded US $711 Million in Damages in Spam Case
Former YouSendIt CTO Indicted on Charges Related to DoS Attacks Against Company
Former Bank of New York Mellon Employee Indicted on Identity Theft Charges
IP Address Indicates North Korean Involvement in July Cyber Attacks
National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Opens
Automated Tools Will Help Reduce Costs of FISMA Compliance

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Microsoft Report Says Worms Top Threat List in Enterprise Environments (November 2, 2009)

According to Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report, Conficker was the top threat to enterprise computers during the first half of 2009. Worm infections overall doubled between the second half of 2008 and the first half of this year; worms rose from the fifth most prevalent cyber threat to the second most prevalent. Worms are not as big a security concern to home users; the most prevalent cyber security threat in the home environment during the first half of 2009 was miscellaneous Trojans, including rogue security software. The volume of phishing was four times higher in May and June of this year than in the preceding 10 months due to concentrated attacks on social networking sites.



[Editor's Note (Schultz): It's funny how just two or three years ago many information security professionals, myself very much included, falsely proclaimed that the worm threat was vanishing. ]

European Commission Wants UK to Beef Up Privacy (November 2, 2009)

The European Commission says that the UK government has not adequately protected citizens' privacy. The concerns centers on 2006 and 2007 trials of the Phorm targeted behavioral advertising technology in which people were not informed that their surfing habits were being tracked. European Union telecommunications commissioner Viviane Reding wants "the UK authorities to change their national laws to ensure that British citizens fully benefit from the safeguards set out in EU law concerning confidentiality of electronic communications." The UK has two months to respond to the Commission's letter.
[Editor's Note (Schultz): With all the emphasis on privacy in the UK, it seems odd that the UK government has not pushed protecting privacy in computing more than it has so far. ]

House Ethics Committee Report Accidentally Leaked Through P2P Network (October 30, 31 & November 2, 2009)

A confidential House Ethics Committee report was inadvertently leaked through a P2P file-sharing network. The report details inquiries into ethics issues involving more than 30 legislators and legislative aides. Ethics Committee members sign oaths not to reveal activities relating to any investigations past or present. Committee chairman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) interrupted a series of House votes on Thursday afternoon to notify legislators of the breach. The leak is being blamed on a junior staff member's use of P2P software while working from home. That staff member has been fired. The leak has prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to call for an "immediate and comprehensive assessment" of cyber security policies.



[Editor's Note (Pescatore): This is just one of many incidents where the use of consumer PCs and consumer web services without security controls ends up in a critical business information disclosure. Relying on policy ("we told them not to do that") is just passing the buck, especially when you know they *will* and often *have to* do that. There are many ways to support secure telework. ]

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Global Information Security Report Sees Security Spending Stabilizing (November 2 & October 30 & 14, 2009)

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers's 7th Annual Global State of Information Security Survey 2010, 63 percent of CIOs around the world say that they intend to maintain or increase information security spending, despite economic conditions. The study surveyed more than 7,200 executives at companies in 130 countries. The report also indicates that while social networking and cloud computing are increasing in popularity and hold promise for increased productivity, they are also the source of increased security threats.

Facebook Awarded US $711 Million in Damages in Spam Case (October 30 & November 2, 2009)

A California court has awarded Facebook US $711 million in damages for spam sent through its network. Sanford Wallace accessed Facebook accounts without authorization and used them to send spam to other Facebook users. Wallace has been ordered to pay the damages, but as he has declared bankruptcy, it is unlikely that Facebook will see much of the money. In May 2008, Wallace and a business associate were ordered to pay US $223 million in damages for a similar spam campaign that targeted MySpace users.



[Editor's Note (Schultz): From all appearances, sentencing Wallace to jail time would be a much more appropriate punishment than assessing him a fine that he cannot pay. ]

Former YouSendIt CTO Indicted on Charges Related to DoS Attacks Against Company (October 30, 2009)

A US federal grand jury has indicted Khalid Shaikh on four counts of mail fraud for allegedly launching denial-of-service (DoS) attacks against servers at YouSendIt, a company Shaikh co-founded in 2004. He served as CEO and then CTO until November 2006 following disagreements with company investors and other executives. The attacks took place between December 2008 and June 2009. If he is convicted of the charges against him, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a US $1 million fine. Shaikh denies the allegations.


Former Bank of New York Mellon Employee Indicted on Identity Theft Charges (October 28 & 30, 2009)

Adeniyi Adeyemi has been charged with grand larceny, identity theft and money laundering in connection with the theft and misuse of Bank of New York Mellon employee information. Adeyemi had worked as a computer technician at the bank's headquarters. He allegedly stole and used the information between November 2001 and April 2009. The stolen information was used to open phony bank and brokerage accounts in which Adeyemi allegedly deposited stolen money.


IP Address Indicates North Korean Involvement in July Cyber Attacks (October 30 & November 2, 2009)

The July cyber attacks that targeted US and South Korean websites have been traced to an IP (Internet protocol) address at North Korea's Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. The attacks affected government websites in both the US and South Korea, including the US White House site and that of South Korea's presidential Blue House. The IP address was leased from China. South Korean police plan to ask China for help in determining the source of the attacks.


National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Opens (October 30 & 31, 2009)

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has unveiled a cyber security operations center designed to help the government coordinate cyber attack response. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center merges the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications. Legislation currently being drafted would require agencies and private companies to establish a system to share cyber threat information.

Automated Tools Will Help Reduce Costs of FISMA Compliance (October 30, 2009)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has introduced a Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) reporting tool that automates the process and significantly reduces the amount of paper used in compliance reporting; the system is expected to cut associated costs as well. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra says that the White House also plans to release a security dashboard in spring 2010, possibly modeled on one already in use at the US Department of State, to help agencies address cyber security issues effectively.


[Editor's Note (Pescatore): The updates in 800-53 rev3 and the proposed FISMA enhancements are much more important to the security of federal systems than is making it easier to produce reams of reports, or have a dashboard that is not connected to the engine. Like many compliance regimes (see Sarbanes Oxley), FISMA has stayed static and the goal becomes compliance vs. security - the money spent has brought way less increase in security than it should have. ]


The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

Eugene Schultz, Ph.D., CISM, CISSP is CTO of Emagined Security and the author/co-author of books on Unix security, Internet security, Windows NT/2000 security, incident response, and intrusion detection and prevention. He was also the co-founder and original project manager of the Department of Energy's Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC).

John Pescatore is Vice President at Gartner Inc.; he has worked in computer and network security since 1978.

Stephen Northcutt founded the GIAC certification and currently serves as President of the SANS Technology Institute, a post graduate level IT Security College,

Dr. Johannes Ullrich is Chief Technology Officer of the Internet Storm Center and Dean of the Faculty of the graduate school at the SANS Technology Institute.

Ed Skoudis is co-founder of Inguardians, a security research and consulting firm, and author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker Exploits and Incident Handling course.

Rohit Dhamankar is the Director of Security Research at TippingPoint, where he leads the Digital Vaccine and ThreatLinQ groups. His group develops protection filters to address vulnerabilities, viruses, worms, Trojans, P2P, spyware, and other applications for use in TippingPoint's Intrusion Prevention Systems.

Prof. Howard A. Schmidt is the President of the Information Security Forum (ISF) and author who has served as CSO for Microsoft and eBay and as Vice-Chair of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

Tom Liston is a Senior Security Consultant and Malware Analyst for Inguardians, a handler for the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, and co-author of the book Counter Hack Reloaded.

Dr. Eric Cole is an instructor, author and fellow with The SANS Institute. He has written five books, including Insider Threat and he is a senior Lockheed Martin Fellow.

Ron Dick directed the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) at the FBI and is the incoming President of the InfraGard National Members Alliance - with 22,000 members.

Mason Brown is one of a very small number of people in the information security field who have held a top management position in a Fortune 50 company (Alcoa). He is leading SANS' global initiative to improve application security.

David Hoelzer is the director of research & principal examiner for Enclave Forensics and a senior fellow with the SANS Technology Institute.

Mark Weatherford, CISSP, CISM, is Chief Information Security Officer of the State of California.

Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute.

Marcus J. Ranum built the first firewall for the White House and is widely recognized as a security products designer and industry innovator.

Clint Kreitner is the founding President and CEO of The Center for Internet Security.

Brian Honan is an independent security consultant based in Dublin, Ireland.

David Turley is SANS infrastructure manager and serves as production manager and final editor on SANS NewsBites.

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