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CYBER WARS
Hacking the election: security flaws need fixing, researchers say
By Rob Lever
Washington (AFP) Oct 10, 2017


Nearly 700,000 UK nationals affected by Equifax breach: company
Washington (AFP) Oct 10, 2017 - Nearly 700,000 British consumers may have had personal data compromised in the massive breach at Equifax, the US credit reporting agency said Tuesday.

"Although our UK business was not breached, the attack regrettably compromised the personal information of a range of UK consumers," the company said in an emailed statement.

The company, which last month announced one of the most potentially damaging data breaches affecting some 145 million Americans, said the attackers also accessed a file containing 15.2 million records on 693,665 British nationals.

"Equifax takes this illegal and unprecedented breach of consumers' data extremely seriously and has begun writing to the groups of consumers outlined below to notify them of the nature of the breach and offer them appropriate advice," the statement said.

The company said it waited for a forensic analysis of the cyber attack before determining its course of action for Britons.

"Once again, I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to anyone who has been concerned about or impacted by this criminal act," said Patricio Remon, president for Europe at Equifax Ltd.

"It has been regrettable that we have not been able to contact consumers who may have been impacted until now, but it would not have been appropriate for us to do so until the full facts of this complex attack were known, and the full forensics investigation was completed."

Last week, former Equifax chief Richard Smith blamed a combination of human and technical error for the breach, which is not the largest on record but which could have leaked sensitive financial information on consumers.

An internal investigation determined the unauthorized access occurred from mid-May through July 2017, according to the company.

Equifax collects information about people and businesses around the world and provides credit ratings used for decisions regarding loans and other financial matters.

Hackers could have easily infiltrated US voting machines in 2016 and are likely to try again in light of vulnerabilities in electronic polling systems, a group of researchers said Tuesday.

A report with detailed findings from a July hacker conference which demonstrated how voting machines could be manipulated concluded that numerous vulnerabilities exist, posing a national security threat.

The researchers analyzed the results of the "voting village" hacking contest at the DefCon gathering of hackers in Las Vegas this year, which showed how ballot machines could be compromised within minutes.

"These machines were pretty easy to hack," said Jeff Moss, the DefCon founder who presented the report at the Atlantic Council in Washington.

"The problem is not going away. It's only going to accelerate."

The report said the DefCon hack was just the tip of the iceberg -- with potential weaknesses in voter databases, tabulating software and other parts of the system.

The researchers said most voting machines examined included at least some foreign-manufactured parts, raising the possibility that malware could be introduced even before the devices are delivered.

"This discovery means that a hacker's point-of-entry into an entire make or model of voting machine could happen well before that voting machine rolls off the production line," the report said.

"With an ability to infiltrate voting infrastructure at any point in the supply chain process, then the ability to synchronize and inflict large-scale damage becomes a real possibility."

- No certainty on 2016 -

Harri Hursti, a researcher with Nordic Innovation Labs and a co-author of the report, said it's impossible to say with certainty if votes were tampered with in 2016 because many systems "don't have the capacity" to be audited.

The report said five US states operate entirely on paperless systems which have no paper trail to be reviewed and another nine states are partially paperless.

"The only way to know is if the hacker tells you," he said, adding that "it can be done without leaving tracks."

Douglas Lute, former US ambassador to NATO who presented the report, said in a forward to the report that the findings highlight "a serious national security issue that strikes at the core of our democracy."

Although some researchers in the past have shown individual machines could be breached, this report suggests a range of vulnerabilities across a range of hardware, software and databases.

"What the report shows is that if relative rookies can hack a voting system so quickly, it is difficult to deny that a nefarious actor -- like Russia -- with unlimited time and resources, could not do much greater damage," said University of Chicago cybersecurity instructor Jake Braun, another co-author.

The threat becomes all the more grave "when you consider they could hack an entire line of voting machines, remotely and all at once via the supply chain," he added.

In presenting the findings, the researchers said members of the DefCon hacker community would work with academics and security researchers in a new coalition aimed at improving election security.

CYBER WARS
US reviewing better tech identifiers after hacks: Trump aide
Washington (AFP) Oct 3, 2017
US officials are studying ways to end the use of social security numbers for identification following a series of data breaches compromising the data for millions of Americans, a Trump administration official said Tuesday. Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, told a forum at the Washington Post that officials were studying ways to use "modern cryptographic identifiers" to re ... read more

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