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European firms take proactive security stance on APTs

European firms are taking a proactive approach to information security in the face of targeted attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs), according to research firm Frost & Sullivan.

These threats take the form of cyber attacks that lie dormant inside the network for months and even years, exfiltrating valuable company data for illicit financial gain.

The severe repercussions have prompted managed security service providers (MSSPs) to expand their offerings to protect organisations against APTs, according to the company’s latest report.

The report, entitled A service-centric approach to APTs, concludes that a greater portion of market participants’ revenues in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be devoted to threat intelligence research, detection and remediation to enable organisations to counteract the effects of APTs.

The report also predicts that intelligence and forensics will become the most important differentiators for companies selling APT defence systems and services.

Understanding how threat actors work is vital to identifying indicators of compromise during the early stages of an attack, the report said.

As a result, companies are deploying technologies such as advanced data analytics and event correlation alongside sandboxing to detect and remediate attacks once they are inside the network.

“European organisations have a more relaxed approach to cyber security than US organisations, wherein there is greater awareness of the threat of targeted cyber attacks,” said Beatriz Valle, information and communication technologies senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“Slowly, however, European companies are coming to grips with the fact that they are prime targets – just as much as their US counterparts,” she said.

In the US, the possibility of a class action lawsuit resulting in large aggregate losses and the strength of the legal professional services sector have had a positive impact on the security posture adopted by organisations.

Frost & Sullivan expect this environment to reach western Europe soon and have an encouraging impact for MSSPs.

However, the analyst firm believes MSSPs should nevertheless create customer awareness of the damage a threat actor can cause in a short time to quickly expand their market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“For now, MSSPs are partnering more than ever with product vendors to offer compelling APT solutions for the complex European market,” said Valle.

“This trend is becoming entrenched in the security landscape, with more product vendors joining forces with service providers to enhance their customer reach and exploit the rising demand for greater investment in analytics, APT research and behavioural modelling,” she said.

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Pakistan to shut down BlackBerry services on “security” grounds

bbry.jpg (Image: CNET/CBS Interactive)

Pakistani authorities are planning to shut down BlackBerry’s secure messaging services in the country towards the end of the year, citing national security reasons.

A leaked memo dated July 22 from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), seen by ZDNet but its authenticity can’t be immediately verified, purports to show minutes from a meeting a week prior, calling on three of the largest major cell phone providers to shut down BlackBerry’s encrypted messaging service (BES).

“Due to serious concerns by the security agency, Mobilink, Ufone, and Telenor Pakistan are requested to offer 90 days notice as per the existing provisions to their BES customers for closing their BES connections, and ensure that all BES connections of their customers must be closed by or before November 30 without fail,” the official memo reads.

The named cell providers were asked to submit compliance reports due at the end of the month.

Citing an official at the PTA who asked not to be named, Reuters also confirmed the news.

There are thought to be only a few thousand BES customers in the country — most of which are government or business users, or attached to foreign embassies. But authorities are concerned that criminals are also using the encrypted service, which cannot be intercepted, amid almost daily terrorist attacks and abductions from both domestic threats and foreign fighters.

The country remains on high alert following recent bombings and numerous gun attacks in 2014.

News of the shut down comes just days after British civil liberties group Privacy International said Pakistan’s main intelligence branch was pushing for greater surveillance powers.

In a blog post, the privacy watchdog said the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was moving to “tap all internet protocol (IP)-bound communications traffic entering or travelling through Pakistan and corresponding monitoring capacities.”

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“It means capacitating the country’s most notorious intelligence service to spy on more of the country’s citizens and expecting it to police its own actions,” the post read.

It’s not the first time BlackBerry has faced being shut down by a government.

The Canadian smartphone maker’s secure messaging service has faced disruption in India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia, after their governments expressed concern that criminals and terrorists were using the service.

BlackBerry spokesperson Kara Yi said in an emailed statement: “BlackBerry provides the world’s most secure communications platform to government, military and enterprise customers. Protecting that security is paramount to our mission. While we recognize the need to cooperate with lawful government investigative requests of criminal activity, we have never permitted wholesale access to our BES servers.”

When asked to comment specifically on the reported upcoming Pakistan ban, Yi declined to comment further.

Representatives from Mobilink, Ufone, and Telenor Pakistan did not respond at the time of writing.

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Wi-Fi Global Congress: Hotspot 2.0 standard addresses wireless security holes

At Wi-Fi Global Congress in London, supplier Ruckus Wireless unveiled what it claimsis the first Wi-Fi Alliance Passpoint-certified wireless local area network (WLAN) system for the second release of Hotspot 2.0, offering network owners a number of enhanced network security features.

Hotspot 2.0, also known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint, is based on the IEEE 802.11u standard. It was developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to allow devices to automatically join a wireless subscriber service on entering a Hotspot 2.0 area, which gives users better bandwidth and services-on-demand and alleviates traffic congestion.

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Release 2 of the standard streamlines and secures client provisioning and fundamentally changes how user credentials are loaded onto a Wi-Fi-enabled device using WPA2 encryption, while assuring users they are connected to a secure network.

Ruckus said that despite the popularity of Wi-Fi, publicly available networks and hotspots could still “be frustrating and subject to security concerns” due to a lack of encryption and the inability for a client device to validate it.

The new technology will give users the ability to sign up to connect to a Wi-Fi service simply and securely, using standards-based methodology for automatic loading of credentials – including social media log-ons – and mobile configuration parameters onto their devices.

Up to now, there had been no standard methodology to perform those functions and no format to manage Hotspot 2.0 credentials on a mobile device.

In theory, this will offer a higher level of Wi-Fi security for both public access and enterprise networks. Meanwhile, operators gain the ability to control service policy preferences to optimise the overall experience.

“Hotspot 2.0 effectively democratises public Wi-Fi access on a global scale, fundamentally changing how Wi-Fi services will be used and offered going forward,” explained Dan Rabinovitsj, chief operating officer at Ruckus Wireless.

“Several strong growth factors are feeding the rapid acceleration of the Wi-Fi market, and Hotspot 2.0 is clearly one of them,” added Richard Webb, research director for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research, now part of IHS.

“By simplifying and securing the client connection experience, while providing seamless roaming between disparate Wi-Fi networks, we expect Hotspot 2.0 will have a profoundly positive impact that will drive a new stage of Wi-Fi deployments,” said Webb.

Ruckus has modified a number of its ZoneFlex indoor and outdoor access points, including the 7372, T300 Series and R700 devices, as well as its SmartCell Gateway 200, to achieve certification on Release 2.


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Charlotte Prepares for an ‘Extraordinary Event,’ With All the Security That Entails

As the nation’s second-largest banking city, Charlotte has been the scene of several large protests.  Demonstrators marched during the Bank of America shareholders meeting in May.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The variety of demonstrators planning to invade this Southern city for the Democratic National Convention is wide and deep.

When the party gathers on Sept. 4, both anarchists bent on bringing down government and radical evangelical groups bearing down on homosexuals and abortion doctors will be here.

In between, others will protest a range of issues that includes war, increases in college costs, immigration reform, labor practices, antigay laws, the nation’s policies on marijuana and the jailing of a soldier accused of leaking classified material.

There will be the “UndocuBus,” filled with illegal immigrants, and the Values Bus, sponsored by the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation.

Counting a Muslim day of prayer that begins before the convention starts and a conservative country music concert and rally that starts a day after President Obama is expected to accept the nomination on Sept. 6, the numbers of people showing up to protest in Charlotte will most likely be in the tens of thousands.

Even with 6,000 delegates and another 30,000 estimated associated visitors, it will not be the largest gathering ever in this city of 760,000, but it certainly promises to be the most difficult to manage.

“We have not seen anything like this, no,” said Carol Jennings, the city’s liaison to the convention. In true Southern fashion, she added, “We welcome all our visitors.”

But it won’t be all barbecue and bourbon. The city will spend $50 million in federal money on security, the same amount the Republicans gathering in Tampa, Fla., have received. It will be used to hire as many as 3,400 officers from outside departments, build about five miles of nine-foot fencing and pay for, among other things, steel barriers strong enough to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour.

The city is also relying on a recent law that gives its manager the power to declare a large-scale gathering an “extraordinary event.” When that happens, a section of the city is marked off and the police have wide powers to search and possibly arrest people in that zone who carry items capable of hiding weapons or inflicting injury.

On the long list are backpacks, hammers, coolers, chains, glass bottles and water guns known as Super Soakers. Face-concealing scarves could also be tagged.

Since the law was put into place in January, the city has used it a handful of times, including the annual shareholders’ meetings for Duke Energy and Bank of America and for Speed Street, a May street party featuring Nascar drivers and food booths that in 2011 resulted in more than 100 arrests. The police said arrests were down by half this year.

On Wednesday, the city and the Secret Service announced the perimeters of the security zone, which covers about 60 percent of the city’s Uptown commercial district and dips south to cover the special areas the city has set aside for protesters.

The extraordinary events measure has rankled enough people that the city offered reassurances in a news release.

“For example,” it said, “residents will be able to walk their dog within the extraordinary event boundaries without fear of arrest.”

People were not appeased.

“We’ve never had anything of this caliber, and they didn’t know how to handle it so they over-handled it,” said Timeka Moore, 24, a waitress at a Mexican restaurant who has to travel through Uptown to get to her job.

Tampa has its own version of an event zone, and both cities have grappled with trying to prevent concealed weapons inside them despite state laws that allow people to carry permitted weapons. They have also set up special protest and parade areas, even providing a stage and microphones for demonstrators.

In both cities, people organizing protests have criticized the areas as being too far from the action, too restrictive and not particularly comfortable or conducive for expressing opinion to the people attending the convention, although city officials say the areas and the permitting process meet legal standards for such public expression developed after protests in other cities.

Not so, says Michael Zytkow of Occupy Charlotte. The security zone covers “every part of Uptown that anyone would normally walk through,” he said. And the area set aside for the so-called free speech zone is so remote “we’re calling it a parking lot tour,” he said.

Having free speech zones implies the rest of the city is not, critics say. Issuing permits for people to protest and using special event zones as a regular part of convention business concern some who believe such controls border on selective oppression of free speech.

“The biggest problem is the use of seemingly neutral laws to control protests to restrict certain kind of protests or keep inconvenient protests out of the public eye,” said Gabe Rottman, a policy adviser and legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. “How they are going to use these laws is absolutely of concern.”

A similar law was used at the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver. That convention, as well as the Republican convention in St. Paul, were marred by hundreds of arrests and violence and resulted in a series of lawsuits over the government’s attempts to investigate protest groups and its use of arrests to quell demonstrations and journalists covering them.

All of which party and city officials have on their minds.

“It has been a growing issue for folks every four years,” said Stephen Kerrigan, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, who also ran the event in Boston in 2004. “Our approach from the very beginning has been about increasing the engagement of people all across the board.”

Unlike Tampa, two major events in Charlotte — a kickoff festival and the final speech by President Obama at the Bank of America Stadium — will be open to the public, he said.

By many accounts, the crowds could be greater here than in Tampa, too.

For one thing, Charlotte will have a sitting president. And it is the second-largest banking city in the nation, home to both Bank of America and Wells Fargo — a designation that is driving at least 80 national groups, many from the Occupy movement and organized loosely as the Coalition to March on Wall Street South, to show up for a Sept. 2 protest.

Conversely, conservative Christians are planning a conference called Charlotte714, a reference to a biblical passage that promises God will forgive sins if people turn from their “wicked ways.” An estimated 40 churches will gather in the 20,000-seat Verizon Wireless Amphitheater the night before the convention for a church service.

That event is being organized by David and Jason Benham, twin sons of Flip Blenham, a well-known antigay and anti-abortion protester whom the city has battled in court over public assembly, noise and picketing regulations.

“In many ways, both Flip and the Occupy movement in Charlotte were really good preparation for the D.N.C.,” said Robert E. Hagemann, the city attorney. “Legally, I’m totally unconcerned. From a policy standpoint, we have to make sure we respect different perspectives.”

For some residents who plan to have nothing to do with the convention, however, the tightening of security has gone too far.

“It seems like they are going to turn it into a concentration camp around here,” said Malachi El-Bui, 56, who moved to Charlotte from New York City several years ago. “They act like we are the ones to arrest. They’re talking about we can’t have backpacks or they could arrest us? They’re tripping.”

Charlotte Prepares for an ‘Extraordinary Event,’ With All the Security That Entails

Down Under-surveillance: Australian govt seeks confidential online data

Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

nternet users in Australia may be forced to share every aspect of their online lives with the government. If passed into law, a new security measure would require service providers to retain customers’ phone and internet data online for two years.

A paper released by the Attorney-General’s Department shows that if passed, the law would require Australians to hand over their computer passwords to authorities.

Everything from networking sites to emails would be stored, and intelligence agencies would be given increased access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The paper was written for a parliamentary joint committee which is considering ways to reform the country’s national security legislation.

Another proposal under consideration is whether to allow the country’s foreign intelligence services to monitor citizens overseas, if an officer from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) is not available.

Until now, ASIO has been the only agency allowed to collect data on Australian citizens.

The Federal government has defended the need for intelligence agencies to have access to internet and phone records. However, not everyone agrees with the plans laid out in the document.

“I think it’s unjustified. Australians should have a right to privacy online,” Greens party senator Scott Ludlam told ABC.

If the measures pass, it will be the greatest expansion of Australia’s security laws since 2001, when the country implemented strict security measures following the 9/11 attacks.

The government claims the proposals are important to maintain security, but says it wants citizens to be able to air their opinions on the subject.

“We must stay one step ahead of terrorists and organized criminals who threaten our national security, said Attorney-General Nicola Roxon in a statement.

Submissions into the inquiry are due by August 6. The committee intends to hold a series of public and closed hearings.

Down Under-surveillance: Australian govt seeks confidential online data

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Drake beefs up security with bulky bodyguards at his side after Chris Brown club fight

Following his brawl with Chris Brown, Drake takes bodyguards on day trip in Washington, D.C.

BY 

 	Rapper Drake takes cover behind his bodyguards while he goes shopping in Washington D.C. on June 19th, 2012.

Rapper Drake takes cover behind his bodyguards while he goes shopping in Washington D.C. on June 19th.

Drake’s got a new kind of beef going on.

The 25-year-old rapper was spotted out in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday with a pair of bulky bodyguards by his side.

One stone-faced guard walked in front of the rapper, while a second musclar man followed just behind him throughout their daytime shopping trip.

Drake

Beefy bodyguards stood by Drake’s side on June 19.

Despite Drake’s show of muscle, the rapper mainly tried to keep his head down. Drake kept himself covered by a hooded sweatshirt, looking up only to say the fight hasn’t tainted his image.

“My image is good, man,” he told a TMZ cameraman.

The rapper has called in extra protection just days after being involved in a bloody, bottle-throwing brawl with Chris Brown inside a crowded Manhattan club

Drake

Drake keeps his head down while he’s followed by the paparazzi

The fight broke out at Club W.i.P. in Manhattan on June 14 after Drake sent Brown a note stating he’s “still f—— Rihanna.” At least eight people were injured in the melee, including Chris Brown, who suffered a gash to his chin.

Now, it appears Drake is heavily armed on the off-chance any trouble comes his way.

Chris Brown

Chris Brown tweeted a photo of his cut after the fight with Drake. (@ChrisBrown via Twitter)

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Drake beefs up security with bulky bodyguards at his side after Chris Brown club fight

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