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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 XIV - Issue #60

July 27, 2012

Do you have positive answers to any of three key questions that
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3. Can you explain the five key errors that people make in implementing
the 20 Critical Controls, and how to avoid them?

If you can say yes to any of these questions, we would like to consider
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The people who can say "yes!" and prove it, to all three questions will
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US Senate Votes to Move Forward with Cyber Security Bill
Sequestration Budget Cuts Would be "Devastating" to Cybersecurity Efforts
Chinese Hackers "Vacuuming Up" Huge Quantities of Proprietary Data


New Air Traffic Control System Has Security Problems
Mahdi Malware Updated
AC/DC Malware Reportedly Hits Computers at Iranian Nuclear Facilities
Apple Releases Safari 6
Japan's Finance Ministry Finds Evidence of Malware Infection on 123 Computers
Siemens Fixes Software Vulnerabilities
Group Wants UK to Stop Supplying Suppressive Regimes with Surveillance Technology
Gamigo Gaming Platform Acknowledges Data Security Breach
Firefox 14 Has 46 Percent Share of Mozilla Browsers After One Week

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US Senate Votes to Move Forward with Cyber Security Bill (July 26, 2012)

The US Senate voted 84-11 to advance Senator Joe Lieberman's (I-Connecticut) Cyber Security Act. The lawmakers voted on the issue after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nevada) agreed to allow open amendments. Lieberman introduced a revised version of his original bill last week to appease Republican opposition to imposing mandatory cybersecurity requirements on private companies that operate elements of the country's critical infrastructure. The revised version would establish an incentive program for the organizations to implement cybersecurity measures.

Sequestration Budget Cuts Would be "Devastating" to Cybersecurity Efforts (July 26, 2012)

Sequestration budget cuts would be "devastating" to the Pentagon's efforts to combat cyberthreats, according to top officials from each branch of the US military who testified at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing earlier this week. Legislators were informed that not only would the cuts derail plans to bolster cybersecurity efforts, but that they could potentially undo cybersecurity efforts that have already been implemented.

Chinese Hackers "Vacuuming Up" Huge Quantities of Proprietary Data (July 26, 2012)

US intelligence has been monitoring Chinese hacking groups for years. The operation is called Byzantine Candor, also sometimes known as the Comment group for their preferred method of gaining access to computers through hidden webpage computer code called comments. The attacks date back as far as 2002, and the depth and breadth of the scope of the attacks is astounding, from data pertinent to financial crises in the European Union to Halliburton to lawyers who were initiating trade claims against Chinese exporters. The attackers breached computers at law firms, investment banks, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and technology companies. The sheer volume of information that has been stolen could prove damaging to the US and European economies. The details of the hackers' methods and their targets have been known in the US only to a few select investigators who have classified clearances.

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New Air Traffic Control System Has Security Problems (July 26, 2012)

Speaking at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, researcher Andrei Costin described serious security issues in a new air traffic control system known as Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B). The system is already being used in Australia and is being deployed in the US and other countries around the world. ADS-B uses radio frequencies to allow communications between planes and between planes and ground control. However, the system has serious vulnerabilities that could allow spoofing attacks that would cause air traffic controllers to see planes where there are none. The communications between planes and ground control is sent in cleartext and does not require authorization of transmission sources.

Mahdi Malware Updated (July 25 & 26, 2012)

The newest version of the Mahdi malware has some new features, according to researchers. It is now capable of monitoring VKontakte and Jabber conversations and seeks users who visit web pages that have "USA" and "gov" in their titles and takes screenshots of those sites. The updated Mahdi also uploads all stolen data immediately rather than waiting for instructions from a command-and-control server. Mahdi also appears to be more widespread than first thought.


AC/DC Malware Reportedly Hits Computers at Iranian Nuclear Facilities (July 25, 2012)

Computer systems at Iranian nuclear facilities have reportedly been hit with malware that shuts down computers and plays music by the band AC/DC. Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, says he received several email messages from someone with access to an account within Iran's Atomic Energy Organization that provided information about the malware. Hypponen acknowledged that he "can't confirm that the person was who he said he was
[or that ]
any of the things he said actually happened." The name used by the individual corresponding with Hypponen is that of someone who has published many papers and articles on nuclear science.


Apple Releases Safari 6 (July 25, 2012)

Apple has released an updated version of its Safari browser. Safari 6 for OS X 10.7 (Lion) addresses more than 120 security issues present in 5.x versions of the browser that could have been exploited to allow cross-site scripting attacks, arbitrary code execution, and file theft. Safari 6 also incorporates several new features, including a "Smart Search Field" that can be used to search and to input site addresses, and an Offline Reading List that allows users to save pages to a list to be read even when an Internet connection is not available. Internet Storm Center:

Japan's Finance Ministry Finds Evidence of Malware Infection on 123 Computers (July 24 & 25, 2012)

The Japanese Finance Ministry has told local new outlets that its computer systems were infected with a Trojan horse program that went undetected for nearly two years. Of 2,000 computers checked, 123 have been found to be infected with the unspecified malware. Those machines have had their hard drives traded out for clean ones. The malware is believed to have been in place since January 2010 and was able to steal data from then until November 2011, when the attacks stopped for reasons not yet known. The infection was discovered last week during a security audit. No details have been released about how the computers became infected.

Siemens Fixes Software Vulnerabilities (July 24 & 25, 2012)

Siemens has fixed vulnerabilities in its Simatic STEP7 and Simatic WinCC software that are similar to those exploited by Stuxnet. The two advisories say that the issues were first detected in 2010 and that subsequent updates have addressed the problems, which allowed attackers to load malicious dynamic-link library (DLL) files.


Group Wants UK to Stop Supplying Suppressive Regimes with Surveillance Technology (July 24, 2012)

Privacy International (PI), an organization devoted "to defend
[ing ]
the right to privacy across the world, and to fight
[ing ]
unlawful surveillance and other intrusions into private life by governments and corporations," has given the UK government three weeks to respond to a request to take action to prevent the export of surveillance technology to countries where it is being used by repressive regimes. PI has made such requests of the UK government in the past, all of which have been ignored. This time, if the government has not responded at the end of the three weeks, PI will file for judicial review and possibly seek an injunction that would prohibit British companies from maintaining and updating surveillance products already in use in the designated countries.

Gamigo Gaming Platform Acknowledges Data Security Breach (July 24, 2012)

Users of the Gamigo online gaming platform are being urged to change their login details after a file containing 11 million password hashes belonging to Gamigo users was found on the Internet. The file also includes 8.2 distinct email addresses. The file was posted to a forum which in previous months has seen the posting of similar information from LinkedIn, eHarmony, and other websites. Gamigo has confirmed that the data in the file are authentic, and has acknowledged a breach in March 2012, in which an older version of a database was copied.

Firefox 14 Has 46 Percent Share of Mozilla Browsers After One Week (July 24, 2012)

Just one week after Mozilla released Firefox 14, nearly half of users running the browser are running the latest version, indicating that Mozilla's automated, silent updates are effective. Firefox 14 was released on July 17, and by July 23, it had a 46 percent share of all Mozilla browsers.


The Editorial Board of SANS NewsBites

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 is President of STI, The Premier Skills-Based Cyber Security Graduate School,

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 CounterHackChallenges, the nation's top producer of cyber ranges, simulations, and competitive challenges, now used from high schools to the Air Force. He is also author and lead instructor of the SANS Hacker Exploits and Incident Handling course, and Penetration Testing course..

William Hugh Murray is an executive consultant and trainer in Information Assurance and Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Rob Lee is the curriculum lead instructor for the SANS Institute's computer forensic courses ( and a Director at the incident response company Mandiant.

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 founder with Secure Anchor Consulting. 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.

Alan Paller is director of research at the SANS Institute.

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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