Summary of “Collateral Damage: When Cyberwarfare Targets Civilian Data.”

This is a summary of a blog post I read recently, called “Collateral Damage: When Cyberwarfare Targets Civilian Data,” by Terry Ray at Dark Reading. This post was about nation-state hackers shifting from attacking critical infrastructure, and stealing military technologies, to targeting “civilian” targets, such as business, hospitals, and universities.

Ray starts his post by discussing the warnings issue three years ago by the U.S. Department of Defense, and FBI about nation-state hackers targeting academic institutions, and commercial enterprises in the US. He also talks about why these hackers are shifting gears.

Ray states that there are three reasons nation-state hackers are attacking civilian targets. First is to steal intellectual property to get a competitive edge in the economy or military might. The second reason is to get compromising information on a well-placed individual in government or elsewhere, to blackmail them for a bigger dividend later on. The third reason is commercial enterprises and academic institutions are generally an easier target than a government agency.

At the end of his post, Ray explains how these institutions can better protect themselves. He explains that companies need to watch their data constantly. They will need to figure out the normal usage of the data they have and then watch for any abnormalities.

You can find the blog post here.

~ Ryne Krueger

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Setting Windows Firewalls – An Improvement

I am a Computing Security student, so my future career should be in security. I’ve been in two security competitions so far, with a third coming up, and in all of them I have secured Windows. Within the first 5 minutes of having access to my server, I like to change passwords, disable extraneous accounts, and set up firewalls. The first two are easy, but setting up firewalls is a pain.

Windows firewalls are complex. This is a benefit, I can allow only specific applications to communicate, but it is also a bad thing because there is no quick way to set up these firewalls. Windows had a Security Compliance Manager, which I believe could make firewalls easier to implement, but they have retired it in June of 2017. It was also a massive program that I did not have time to use in the first 5 minutes of a competition.

What I need is a simple way to configure firewalls on a server that can be pulled from the cloud and run in a competition environment. This probably exists as a tool, but I have not (and will not) look for one until after trying to make one myself.

The way this process can be improved is if firewalls were configured based upon services installed and their required ports/protocols as services were installed. A tool that can do this would make the first part of competitions on a Windows device easier

~ Connor Shade

What TechComm Has Taught Me

At the beginning of this course, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what Technical Communication was. However, I was wrong in my thinking that “technical” restricted it to engineering and other technology-related fields. Since then I have realized that the techniques we have been learning can be applied to any document or even speech in which there is communication between two or more individuals. The topic that has stood out the most to me is identifying the reader or audience. I’ve chosen this topic simply because your decisions on just about everything else, from organizational structure to tone to even the form of communication utilized, stem from who your intended audience is. Like we saw with our gold and silver bad sales letter example, a document which does not properly suit its audience might as well never be created. After this course, I plan on taking more time before beginning communications to figure out exactly who my audience is and how to best suit their needs.

– Matt Williams –

Smartphones Are The New Cellphones

RJ Jacquez was one of the bloggers I chose to follow and he blogged about smartphones out selling traditional cell phones for the first time in history. I’m not surprised by this because during this day and age smartphones are becoming more of a necessity. Smartphones are becoming more affordable so that can contribute to the sales increases also. RJ predicts that soon enough traditional cell phones will become nearly extinct and smartphones will be the “common” phone to have, which I agree with. Smartphones are not only a way to communicate, but a GPS, camera, and computer in your pocket as well. You have the world at your fingertips and can find any information on your phone that would be able to look up on your computer at home. This can be so helpful to an engineer, for example if you needed to look up metal specifications, formulas or even send photos of your project to colleges you would be able to do so instantaneously with a smartphone. The manufacturing cost of smartphones is also decreasing so smartphones are becoming more economical to consumers.  This article also commented on Microsoft overtaking Blackberry for the third place in smartphone market share, behind Android and Apple.

Tallon Rood

http://rjacquez.com/key-mobile-milestone-smartphone-sales-exceeded-feature-phones-for-the-first-time-mlearing/

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2573415

Growth of the “Forgotten” Renewable Energy

The article i read was about the forgotten renewable energy source of geothermal energy, written by Robert Dechant. This article explains how geothermal energy has been put to the back burner and left there, while other energy sources are growing increasingly in technology and in usage around the globe. It has been known to be the far least popular and well known kind of renewable energy source when compared to solar and wind power.

Geothermal energy is an alternative energy source that used the power of water that is heated at high temperatures until it turns into steam which spins a set of turbines that produce electricity. In today’s world geothermal energy only produces around 1% of the electrical power worldwide. In recent studies the geothermal industry has started to slowly increase in the amount of projects that are taking place. Such as certain countries taking interest in this kind of renewable energy, for example china. China is trying to increase its amount of geothermal energy to help reduce the amount of smog and help reduce the dependency on other kinds of fuel to help its fast growing population. Another country looking into the usage of geothermal is Munich, Germany who plans on running completely off of renewable energy by the year of 2025 with the plan of running mostly off of geothermal energy.

Every renewable energy source has its advantages and disadvantages, that come along with it because if one did not we would not be consistently looking for the best way to produce energy that will be the least harmful for our environment and be able to produce enough energy for the increase of usage and growth in population. Some advantages of geothermal energy is that it can heat and cool homes at lower temperatures when compared to other sources. As well as can consistently produce energy 24 hours a day. Which has the potential to fill the gap that other renewable energy sources have in regard to produce energy production. Disadvantages of geothermal energy is that a typical drill has a chance of 10-30% that the drill be unsuccessful, because

“You can put out a meter and measure easily how much wind and solar is at a site.  You can get real data.”  But it is “much harder to understand” how much geothermal hot water is available in a certain area (Dechant, Geothermal).

The link of this blog is, http://teckdeck2008.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/growth-of-the-forgotten-renewable-energy/

Kaity Wolford