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Facebook is struggling to meet the burden of securing itself, security chief says

Facebook Is Struggling To Meet The Burden Of Securing Itself, Security Chief Says

Facebook is Struggling to live up to the responsibility it faces for adequately securing the vast amount of personal information it amasses, the social network’s top security executive said in a leaked phone call with company employees.

“The threats that we are facing have increased significantly and the quality of the adversaries that we are facing,” Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said during a taped call, which was reported Thursday by ZDNet1. “Both technically and from a cultural perspective, I don’t feel like we have caught up with our responsibility.”

He continued:

The way that I explain to management is that we have the threat profile of a Northrop Grumman or a Raytheon or another defense contractor, but we run our corporate network, for example, like a college campus, almost . We have made intentional decisions to give access to data and systems to engineers to make them “move fast,” but that creates other issues for us. Stamos also discussed a report on the state of Facebook’s security posture and described it as a “very painful process.” He said the report will be updated every six months and that the company’s management team will be briefed on its contents. Stamos told ZDNet reporter Zack Whittaker2 he used the words “college campus” as a figure of speech several times during an internal discussion to describe challenges that the company faces. “My team runs network security for the company, and of course we secure it thoroughly,” Stamos said . The leaked comments were made during an internal talk with employees discussing the challenges Facebook had protecting its networks from the growing threat of nation-sponsored hackers.

In 2014, Russian intelligence agents orchestrated a hack on Yahoo that compromised 500 million user accounts, federal prosecutors have alleged3 . Google said in 2010 that it was on the receiving end of a highly targeted attack by Chinese hackers that was aimed at accessing the Gmail accounts of activists and stealing the company’s intellectual property . Researchers have presented evidence strongly suggesting that dozens of other breaches on defense contractors, security companies, and others have also been carried out by state-sponsored attackers.

In a series of tweets Thursday4, Stamos said a basic challenge Facebook and similar companies face stems from the freedom they give engineers to customize their environments and experiment with new tools and development processes.

“As a result, we can’t architect our security the same way a defense contractor can, with limited computing options and no freedom,” Stamos wrote. “Keeping the company secure while allowing the culture to blossom is a challenge, but a motivating one, I’m happy to accept .

The ‘college campus’ wording is just a figure of speech to make the point.”

The headline and first sentence of this post were updated in an attempt to better paraphrase Stamos’s comment “Both technically and from a cultural perspective, I don’t feel like we have caught up with our responsibility.”

This post originated on Ars Technica5

References

  1. ^ reported Thursday by ZDNet (www.zdnet.com)
  2. ^ Zack Whittaker (twitter.com)
  3. ^ federal prosecutors have alleged (arstechnica.com)
  4. ^ series of tweets Thursday (twitter.com)
  5. ^ Ars Technica (arstechnica.com)

Homes evacuated in Belfast security alert

  • Homes evacuated in Belfast security alert

    BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

    Homes have been evacuated in a Belfast security alert. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/homes-evacuated-in-belfast-security-alert-36166284.html

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/incoming/article36166680.ece/f7104/AUTOCROP/h342/securityalert-003.jpg

  • Email1

Homes have been evacuated in a Belfast security alert. Police are currently in attendance at the alert in Horn Drive in the west of the city following the discovery of a suspicious object.

The road has also been closed to traffic. SDLP West Belfast Councillor Tim Attwood has said that the discovery of a suspicious object in the Horn Drive area is causing significant disruption for local people. He said: “A number of homes around Horn Drive have been evacuated following the discovery of a suspicious object .

This is causing significant disruption for local people trying to go about their daily lives.

“This should not be part and parcel of daily life in this city .

People have the right to expect to be able to live free from the threat of violence.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

References

  1. ^ Email (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

Cyber security: Policing the internet

Yorkshire is waging a war on criminals who could wreak havoc on the UK s economy. Sometimes it pays to be slightly paranoid . In an age when crippling cyber-attacks can be launched from a teenager s bedroom, there is much to be said for creating a chain of distrust to protect yourself and your colleagues. A Yorkshire seminar about the rise of ransomware a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a ransom is paid heard that many firms still needed to take tougher action to vet files and data that could have been sent by criminals. Earlier this year, more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries were infected with the WannaCry ransomware virus after a cyber-attack crippled organisations, government agencies and global companies. The NHS was also badly affected . Some 47 trusts in England including a number in Yorkshire and 13 Scottish health boards were compromised when the virus targeted computers with outdated security.

This crisis provided food for thought when experts in the field of cybersecurity gathered at the Leeds head office of smart telecommunications business aql, whose CEO, Dr Adam Beaumont, is the regional business champion for CiSP, the Cyber Information Sharing Partnership. CisP is a national initiative operated by CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team, which is part of the Cabinet office. One of the speakers, Thomas Chappelow, the director of Leeds-based Nimbox, a provider of cloud-based secure file collaboration and storage tools, said companies could make ransomware attacks pointless by securing data in a chain of distrust . He said companies should never take for granted where a file has been. Stuart Hyde, the regional leader for CiSP, who was appointed by aql, said there was every likelihood of further attacks, although not necessarily of the same type as the attack which hit the NHS. He said: It s a call out to say these types of attacks can occur and there are lots of things you can do to protect yourself.

Attacks do take place in Yorkshire and the Humber, but luckily we ve got quite a good level of skills to be able to tackle some of those. A number of Yorkshire firms are doing their bit to thwart cybercriminals of all sizes. The Leeds-based technical marketing agency SALT.agency has expanded its services into cybersecurity by releasing a CyberScanner service. CyberScanner is a tool designed by SALT.agency s in-house team which has the ability to scan and analyse websites to test thousands of security vulnerabilities. John Ward, director of operations at SALT.agency, said: Yorkshire is a diverse and forward-thinking region that s attracting some of the most talented people in the industry . It stands the chance of becoming a leader in cybersecurity.

However, he warned that many sizeable businesses were still being complacent about the issue. He said: There s always going to be some sort of hole in the net that will let in the sharks and of course, the bigger the net, the more damage there is going to be. He believes that many leading professionals are unaware of the risks of using unsecure wifi in public places. He recalled: A member of our team set out to simply capture all the wifi signals in a well-known coffee shop in Leeds, to see what we could discover . We found about 85 per cent of all the traffic that came from laptops was unprotected, so we could see exactly which websites they were visiting, and over 72 per cent of the mobile traffic was the same. Although the majority of people were looking at websites like the BBC and LadBible, two per cent contained sensitive information including websites, passwords and other personal information.

Although a number of people use VPN apps (virtual private networks) to communicate, there are still a surprising amount of people who don t. There might only be a handful of companies dedicated to cybersecurity throughout the region, but it s the damage prevention that will really help the economy grow . Cybercrime cost UK businesses 29bn last year and that s not acceptable . Businesses close and people lose their jobs because of preventable security flaws and mild negligence . Take those issues away and we re set for a bright future. David Wall, professor of criminology at Leeds University, believes that smaller SMEs sometimes lack computer security awareness.

He said: Nation-state attacks tend to be on infrastructure, like utilities and other services . Britain seems to be well equipped to counter such attacks, although you do not hear about many of these. Businesses and organisations can be attacked, but they do seem to have, or they are developing, business continuity plans . The recent WannaCry ransomware attack was a major wake-up call with regard to cyber-attacks in the region. Prof Wall believes Yorkshire has built up a critical mass of talented people who can send cybercriminals packing. He added: We have a history of developing experience in this area . Don t forget that we have had a number of major online banking and finance businesses in the region for many years, and the security experience from these has helped motivate others to think about cybersecurity. We have also had the two main universities in Leeds working on different aspects of cyber-security. It is now 20 years since Leeds University first started researching and teaching cyberlaw and cybercrimes, subjects that have remained popular ever since.

Leeds Beckett has recently developed a cybersecurity unit in its computing department and there is also expertise in Sheffield Hallam University. David Porter, the cybercrime investigator at Yorkshire & Humber Regional Cybercrime Team, added: The businesses I have interacted with across the region take cybersecurity seriously, and invest heavily in their systems, processes and people to safeguard personal data, business infrastructure and their clients. Recent events in the UK have tested organisations and businesses, but it s a testament to their approach to cybersecurity that there has been minimal impact in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire s businesses are increasingly exposed to cyber-attacks, accidental breaches, and an ever-changing regulatory environment, according to Thomas Chappelow of Nimbox, which specialises in protecting confidential data. Mr Chappelow said: According to the Government s 2017 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, just under half of all UK businesses admitted at least one cybersecurity breach or attack in the last 12 months . This number rises to two-thirds among medium-sized and large firms . In short, cyber-breaches affect most businesses. We are living in an age of big data , whether we re prepared for it or not . We re all collecting more and more data, without necessarily adapting our business systems and processes to protect.

We started our company in Yorkshire, because we saw an opportunity to tap into the huge pool of both qualified and aspiring and I dare say, underused cyber-professionals in the region . In Leeds, we have access to three university cybersecurity centres, filled with academics who produce valuable research into the issues we re all facing; a vibrant technology hub; and a specialist police unit that helps businesses to fight back against the tide of attacks.