Weekly Executive Summary as of February 18, 2016

By John Atienza on February 18, 2016

Targeted Industries

  • Information Technology
  • Internet
  • Software
  • Media and Entertainment
  • Telecommunications

Active Threats

  • Anonymous
  • APT28 Pawn Storm – Tsar Team
  • Lizard Squad
  • Titan Rain
  • Cyber Caliphate

There are very important conversations going on this week within technology businesses, law enforcement, and government. This conversation has pretty much overshadowed
any other cyber news because of its importance. This week Apple has denied the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) request through the Department of Justice (DOJ) to manipulate its firmware in a way that would give them access to the San Bernadino assailants’ iphones. Apple is providing support for the investigation, but this request went a little bit too far. Reprogramming code to function this way is no easy task, and this situation leads to many ethical questions. Like most Americans I loathe the idea of terrorism in our country or any other country for that matter, but the consequences of complying with such action without stringent consideration could put people at even greater risk. For the past couple of years law enforcement agencies have been trying to find a way to backdoor systems using encryption. The problem with that is that encryption protects every aspect of our daily lives, and who’s to say that these weaker security controls won’t be abused? Encryption is used in the storage of healthcare information, in our daily purchases, in our banking transactions, and more importantly our communications. Weakening the security controls behind cellphones and putting backdoors in encrypted systems would be very troublesome.

This whole situation could set up a dangerous precedence for oppressive regimes and criminals to take advantage of. We already saw what happened when a backdoor was setup in Juniper firewalls this past year. Criminals took advantage of that knowledge and created their own backdoors to intrude, decrypt, and spy on all organizations that were using Juniper’s firewall solutions.
Expand that idea to your mobile phone. What if unsavory characters were able to know every little thing you texted, who you called, what pictures you took, and where you were. That’s a scary thought, but what’s scarier is that Russia, China, or some other oppressive regime could use this instance to force Apple and other mobile manufacturers to give them full access to the private data and communications of its people. What is important here are the implications of such an order on the rest of the world. The future of encryption and our national security is in need of serious discussion. Please review the sources for a more detailed idea of what is going on.