Cyber News Roundup: A Geneva Convention for Cybersecurity

Editor’s Note: This is your cyber news roundup with the latest cybersecurity news and tips from the Cyber Oregon team to help you and your organization stay safe online and protect your digital assets. We examine cybersecurity news and developments from across the Northwest and the Nation that are important to all Oregonians including individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, government entities, and educational institutions. Sign up to receive ongoing updates here.

While cybersecurity continues to dominate the news, there is growing concern about the rise of government cyberwarfare. Rogue nations like North Korea and Russia have captured headlines for their role in major cybersecurity attacks, but the question becomes what can anyone, or any company or government, do to protect themselves? One thing is clear and that is technology companies are not going to help governments when it comes to cyberwarfare.

A group of high tech companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, announced that they would not help any government mount cyberattacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises from anywhere.” The new set of principles understate the high tech community’s desire to distance itself from government cyberwarfare.

According to the New York Times, “The principles, which have been circulating among senior executives in the tech industry for weeks, also commit the companies to come to the aid of any nation on the receiving end of such attacks, whether the motive for the attack is “criminal or geopolitical.” Although the list of firms agreeing to the accord is lengthy, several companies have declined to sign on at least for now, including Google, Apple and Amazon.”

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, has stated that there should be a “digital Geneva Convention” that outlines acceptable behavior for cybersecurity that is similar to the Geneva Convention’s rules about physical warfare. In the past year cyberattacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya have caused major problems for counties around the world.

Intel ramps up Malware protection

After tackling Meltdown and Spectre attacks in the past few months, Intel has upped its game to increase security. The company announced Intel Threat Detection Technology (TDT) which focuses on addressing security threats.

As highlighted in Ars Technica, “Intel announced two specific TDT features. The first is “Advanced Memory Scanning.” In an effort to evade file-based anti-virus software, certain kinds of malware refrain from writing anything to disk. This can have downsides for the malware—it can’t persistently infect a machine and, instead, has to reinfect the machine each time it is rebooted—but makes it harder to spot and analyze. To counter this, anti-malware software can scan system memory to look for anything untoward.”

A second new security feature is Advanced Platform Telemetry which “tracks machine behavior to find usage patterns that seem anomalous, even if they’re not known to belong to any specific piece of malware.” All of these new technologies will be housed under Intel’s new Security Essentials umbrella. These technologies are part of a “common set of hardware security features, firmware to enable them, and software libraries to make use of them.”

Routers, Firewalls and National Security

Another week, another round of finger pointing at other nations. After seemingly playing nice with Russia when it comes to cybersecurity, the U.S. government went on the offensive. According to Wired, the U.S. “warned that hackers tied to the Russian government have attempted to compromise millions of routers and firewalls across the internet, from enterprise-focused network equipment to the humble routers in homes and small businesses across the world.”

The alert was issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the White House, the FBI and the UK’s National Cyber Security Center. The report states that recent cybersecurity attacks are driven by Russia’s espionage program which supports the country’s national security and economic goals.

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