George C. Dimitriou

Technology and Strategy Consulting

Archive for the ‘Security’

Ban of Internet Social Networking Sites on Marine Corps Enterprise Network.

August 06, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

«Internet SNS are defined as Web-based services that allow communities of people to share common interests and/or experiences (existing outside DOD networks) or for those who want to explore interests and background different from their own. These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries. »

Read the rest of this post on the original site.

Social Networking Sites Can Reveal Your Social Security Number.

July 10, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

A new study says that mundane information like birthdays and hometowns on social-networking profiles can be used to accurately predict a user’s Social Security number, a key to identity theft.

In the study, researchers correctly guessed the first five digits of a person’s Social Security number about 40% of the time, just by knowing his or her hometown and birth date. Given those two pieces of information, they could predict all nine digits of his or her SSN 8.5% of the time with fewer than 1,000 attempts.

The authors, Alessandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and researcher Ralph Gross, initially were interested in looking at the kinds of information that people make public on sites like Facebook and MySpace, and noticed that many provide personal data such as birthdays and hometowns. While those are not necessarily sensitive, they wondered if they could be used in dangerous ways in combination with other personal information culled from public databases.

Messrs. Acquisti and Gross looked at a pool of numbers of deceased people born from 1973 to 2003, which the Social Security Administration provides to the public. They found many similarities between people who were born in the same state and around the same time, probably because the first three digits of a SSN are assigned by ZIP Code of birth. In the cases of people born more recently and in less populated states, the patterns were even stronger, which was likely due to the Enumeration at Birth Initiative of 1989, which encouraged parents to sign their newborns up for SSNs before someone else fraudulently assumed their identities.

In a second study, he and Mr. Gross used the birth dates and hometowns of 621 real university students, which they mined from social-networking sites and public databases. Similarly, using the pattern they established with the SSNs of the deceased, they could accurately guess the first five digits of a student’s SSN on the first try in 6.3% of the sample.

EU Wants Tighter Privacy on Social Networks.

June 28, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

Are social networks such as Facebook and MySpace doing enough to protect their users’ privacy? A panel of European regulators has laid out operating guidelines for social networks, which will ensure their compliance with strict online privacy laws in the European Union.

 According to the guidelines, social networks must set security settings to high by default; they must allow users to limit data disclosed to third parties, and they must limit the use of sensitive information (race, religion, political views) in behavioral advertising.

 These latest guidelines from the European Union will definitely make life harder for social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, but will most likely have a positive impact on user privacy in the long run.

You can read the entire set of guidelines created by the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party  here.

G20 Summit Becomes Targeted Trojan Topic.

May 06, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

In the MessageLabs Intelligence Report for April 2009, highlights include spam levels increasing by almost ten percent in one month to 85.3 percent, levels not experienced since September 2007. Also in April, the high profile G20 summit was the subject for a rise in targeted malware attacks. Finally, the number of malicious websites intercepted per day continued to increase significantly, taking the average number of intercepted each day to 3,561.

The G20 summit was the subject of intense global media attention and also the subject for a rise in targeted malware attacks over the last two months, peaking in early April. On average in 2008 the number of such attacks was approximately 53 per day, rising to around 60 per day in Q1 2009. In the run-up to the G20 summit held in London on April 2, and the days following, the number rose to approximately 100 per day.

The full report can be freely downloaded at

Cybergang Operates a Network of 1.9 Million Infected Computers.

April 23, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

Yesterday Finjan’s Malicious Code Research Center announced a recent discovery of a network of 1.9 million infected computers controlled by cybercriminals. This is one of the largest bot networks controlled by a single team of cybercriminals (or cybergang) that MCRC found this year.  In this blog post MCRC will provide you with additional details about this network, the malware in use and how the operators are using it to make money – after all, this is the main drive for cybercrime today.

MCRC found that the botnet’s command and control server is hosted in Ukraine. As folders on this server were left open, they were able to get more information for research.

Protecting Europe from Large Scale Cyber-Attacks and Disruption.

April 01, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

Electronic Communication services and networks provide the backbone of the European economy and are vital to citizens, businesses and governments. They are often referred to as critical information infrastructure. Information infrastructures like telephone lines, fiber optic cables and computer networks rule our lives, and they have to be safe. Large parts of the EU economy are relying on this. Many services and processes have become increasingly dependent on the functioning of information and communication technology (ICT) networks. As these networks tend to be decentralized, highly interconnected and interdependent, failures of these infrastructures could cascade and spread beyond national borders. To address this, the European Commission is launching a policy initiative to protect these Critical Information Infrastructures.

The Critical Information Infrastructure Protection (CIIP) policy proposed by the Commission focuses on prevention, preparedness and awareness and defines a plan for immediate actions to strengthen the security and resilience of CIIs.

“Protecting Europe from large scale cyber-attacks and disruptions: enhancing preparedness, security and resilience”, COM (2009)149 EN FR DE

Impact Assessment Summary EN

CIIP preparatory activities

Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network.

March 30, 2009 By: George Category: Digital World, Security No Comments →

This report documents the GhostNet – a suspected cyber espionage network of over 1,295 infected computers in 103 countries, 30% of which are high-value targets, including ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations, news media, and NGOs.

The capabilities of GhostNet are far-reaching. The report reveals that Tibetan computer systems were compromised giving attackers access to potentially sensitive information, including documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama. The report presents evidence showing that numerous computer systems were compromised in ways that circumstantially point to China as the culprit. But the report is careful not to draw conclusions about the exact motivation or the identity of the attacker(s), or how to accurately characterize this network of infections as a whole. The report argues that attribution can be obscured.

The report concludes that who is in control of GhostNet is less important than the opportunity for generating strategic intelligence that it represents. The report underscores the growing capabilities of computer network exploitation, the ease by which cyberspace can be used as a vector for new do-it-yourself form of signals intelligence. It ends with warning to policy makers that information security requires serious attention.

See also.