The Bachelor of Applied Science with an emphasis in Cyber Operations prepares graduates for cyber-related occupations in defense, law enforcement, and private industry.
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DoD Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP)The DoD CySP is a yearly scholarship program aimed at Juniors and Seniors pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cyber-related academic disciplines. The CySP is a 1-year scholarship, which grants selected Cyber Scholars tuition and mandatory fees (including health care), funding for books, a $25K annual stipend, and guaranteed employment with a DoD agency upon graduation.
Two hacking groups, including one with ties to China, have in recent months exploited popular enterprise software to break into defense, financial and public sector organizations in the U.S. and Europe, security firm FireEye warned Tuesday.
Attackers are exploiting old vulnerabilities — and one new one — in virtual private networking software made by Pulse Secure. Corporations and governments alike use the technology to manage data on their networks, though it has proven a popular foothold for spies over the years.
One of the hacking groups in question uses techniques similar to a Chinese state-backed espionage group, according to FireEye incident response unit Mandiant. “We have also uncovered limited evidence to suggest that [the hacking group] operates on behalf of the Chinese government,” Mandiant said in a blog post. The company did not say, specifically, what evidence it uncovered tying the incident to China.
More broadly, Mandiant Senior Vice President and CTO Charles Carmakal said, “We suspect these intrusions align with data and intelligence collection objectives by China.”
There are at least 12 different families of malicious software linked to the exploitation of Pulse Secure VPN software, Mandiant analysts said. Various hacking groups have likely written their own code to gain persistent access to networks running the software, according to Mandiant. The analysts said the hacking groups may not be related to each other.
While Ivanti, the firm that owns Pulse Secure, has recommended mitigating measures for the new vulnerability, a final fix for it won’t be available until next month. “A very limited number” of Ivanti customers are affected by the new flaw, Ivanti Chief Security Officer Phil Richards said. Richards encouraged customers to use a security tool to check for any impact from the vulnerability.
Pulse Secure VPN was among the vulnerable software that hackers associated with the China’s Ministry of State Security used to infiltrate U.S. government and private networks last year. Operatives with Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service have also exploited the software in their spying, U.S. officials said last week.
The exploitation of Pulse Secure comes after U.S. cybersecurity specialists have responded to alleged Russian and Chinese hacking operations exploiting software made by SolarWinds and Microsoft, respectively.
UPDATE, 11:51 a.m. EDT: This story has been updated with a comment from Ivanti.
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The Biden administration is buckling down on cyber threats to U.S. power infrastructure.
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a 100-day plan to help shore up the U.S. electric power system against cyber threats Tuesday.
The plan, rolled out with the private sector and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), is meant to help owners and operators develop more comprehensive approaches to detection, mitigation and forensic capabilities, according to the National Security Council.
As part of the plan, the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, will focus on getting industrial control system (ICS) owners and operators to select and use technologies that will help gain real-time awareness of cyber threats, and response capabilities, according to a release.
The DOE will also be encouraging the deployment of technologies that boost visibility into threats in both ICS and operational technology networks.
“The United States faces a well-documented and increasing cyber threat from malicious actors seeking to disrupt the electricity Americans rely on to power our homes and businesses,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “It’s up to both government and industry to prevent possible harms — that’s why we’re working together to take these decisive measures so Americans can rely on a resilient, secure, and clean energy system.”
The 100-day plan comes as the energy industry and DOE grapple with an alleged Russian government sweeping espionage campaign involving the federal contractor SolarWinds. DOE is one of several federal government agencies that found malicious software on its networks linked with the hacking operation — which officials have warned could have turned destructive.
The 100-day plan also coincides with the U.S. intelligence community’s warning last week that Russia has been targeting industrial control systems, and amid concerns that Chinese hackers have recently been probing the energy sector in India. The U.S. intelligence community also recently assessed that Chinese government hackers are capable of causing damage to critical infrastructure in the U.S.
The Biden administration is also revoking an executive order issued during the Trump administration meant to limit foreign-sourced equipment in the electric sector. The order, which targets the bulk-power systems that deal with electricity generation and transmission, would allow the Energy Secretary to vet equipment before it is installed to check for potential national security threats.
It also would allow the DOE to check gear already in use.
The Biden administration is seeking input before issuing a new executive order on the matter. The DOE issued a Request for Information on Tuesday to receive industry and expert feedback on next steps to improve the country’s electric power system supply chain risk management efforts. In the meantime, the administration urged industry leaders to utilities to exercise caution around foreign influence or foreign-sourced gear.
Tobias Whitney, a former North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) official said input from stakeholders would be key to moving forward.
“It is reassuring to see that Biden’s process appears to seek robust industry dialogue to enable industry stakeholders of all sizes to be part of the solution,” said Whitney, now vice president of energy security solutions at Fortress Information Security. “The 100-day plan is appropriate for setting the strategy while seeking input from industry stakeholders to refine the tactical execution of the final policy ruling.”
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Over the course of six weeks earlier this year, fraudsters repeatedly stole driver’s license numbers from a database maintained by Geico. Now, the motor vehicle insurer is warning customers that the scammers could apply for unemployment benefits using the pilfered data.
“If you receive any mailings from your state’s unemployment agency/department, please review them carefully and contact that agency/department if there is any chance fraud is being committed,” Sheila King, a manager for data privacy at Geico, wrote in a breach notice letter posted to the website of California’s attorney general on April 15.
The perpetrators of the breach used personal information on Geico customers that they acquired elsewhere to access Geico’s sales system and steal the driver’s license numbers, according to King. Geico has taken “additional security enhancements” to guard against fraud on its website in light of the incident, King added.
It was unclear how many people were affected by the breach. Geico did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Fraud has been a recurring issue during the coronavirus pandemic as states distribute billions of dollars through relief programs. A Nigerian crime network committed fraud against multiple state unemployment insurance programs, “with potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” independent journalist Brian Krebs reported last May, citing a Secret Service notice.
The collection and sale of drivers’ personal data has itself been a source of privacy concerns. The California DMV alone has made $50 million a year from the sale of driver information to third parties, according to a report from Vice’s Motherboard.
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