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Arcsight comments on sophisticated IT security attacks.

ArcSight : 25 January, 2008  (Technical Article)
Power grid hacking and "drive-by pharming" are two of the latest IT security threats created by hackers to bring further chaos direct into the country's infrastructure.
This week has seen two more examples of cybercriminals upping the ante, as security vendors try to keep up with increasingly sophisticated attacks as detailed below.

1. The CIA reports that cybercriminals pulled the plug on power grids - This month, a CIA analyst reported that cybercriminals have been able to knock out power in multiple overseas locations by hacking computer systems - news that came as a shock to many security experts. As a result, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved new cybersecurity standards for US bulk power systems.

A number of initiatives are under way in the United Sates to bring together leaders in the government, academia, industry, and vender community to develop stronger security strategies regarding incident prevention.

Project LOGIIC was created to keep US oil and gas control systems safe and secure and to help minimise the chance that a cyber attack could severely damage or cripple America's oil and gas infrastructure.

The DATES DOE project designed to develop and integrate technologically-advanced controls and cyber-security devices into our electric grid and energy infrastructure.

I3P brings together cross-disciplinary research at leading national organisations to make the control systems used in critical national infrastructures more resilient, allowing for rapid recovery in case of successful cyber attacks

2. First drive-by pharming attack reported - It has been claimed by Symantec that it has identified the first drive-by pharming attack, against one of the largest Mexican banks. The significance of this attack is far-reaching as this had previously been thought to affect home users only (whereby the hacker changes the DNS settings on a customer's broadband router or wireless access point and directs the link to a fraudulent website).

Iain Chidgey, VP & General Manager EMEA at ArcSight, admits that this is a very sophisticated attack and comments, "Attacks such as this demonstrate how many vulnerabilities happen through simple things like not resetting the factory password. Performing the basic security checks would close many holes, for both organisations and individuals. This also highlights the value of a centralised approach to security management. ISPs could deploy network configuration management technology to detect many security holes in their customers' home equipment, including holes such as not resetting the router factory password. We find that customers who have deployed network configuration management solutions enjoy better protection, and there is no reason why ISPs can't provide some of this same protection to home users."

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