Covert Communications: Using Gaming Networks to Plot Terror

With all of the monitoring software that has been turned from legend into fact in the recent years, it can be perplexing that terroist organizations are still able to remotly plan and, as we have seen in recent days, execute attacks on high profile targets. However, officials in Belgum have come up with a way they were able to plan attackes such as Paris: using gaming networks such as Sony’s Playstation Network used on their Playstation 4

This is just the most recent in commercial networks and applications being used to plan terrorist activities. Before the use of the Playstation Network, terrorist organizations have been seen using a mobile application called WhatsApp, which uses the internet to send messages from person to person, and has been shown to be difficult to monitor due to its high traffic and method of sending messages.

The Playstation Network, however, has proven more difficult than WhatsApp when it comes to intercepting terrorist communications, due to their lack of ability to intercept peer-to-peer IP based voice chat. This would mean that a terrorist meet up could happen in something as simple as an online game, and authorities would never know about it.

This doesn’t mean that they haven’t tried to gain legal access to VoIP communications. In 2010, the FBI pushed to have all lanes of communication monitoried, though the FCC had declined to give them access to the network then.

The main issue, however, is beyond the legal scope. While we are able to profile potential terror affiliates based on their internet usage, it is very hard to do so based on their console usage (uless we already know a terror affiliate uses a certain account). This, along with the Playstation Network having over 110 million users (for scope, that would make it the 11th largest country in the world), makes it a really hard field to narrow down.

And that is just for voice communication. If you start thinking about it, there are even ways to conduct non-verbal communication over a gaming network, from in-game destructables to placing items to form words or symbols that could mean something, that would not be traceable later, as they would be reset according to the loading of the game.

With these in mind, communicating over gaming networks may be the next large step in clandestine communications between persons or bodies that do not want anyone listening in to their conversations, as there are currently no real steps to trace anything that might happen there. This could lead to governments and groups not being able to trace the traditonal methods of communication, and increases the likelyhood of an unexpected attack on a high profile target.

-Will G. Eatherly


Daily Mail article on topic:

List of Countries according to population:

Forbes article on topic:


The Implications of the Paris Attacks in Respect to Consumer Encrypted Communication Services

It is highly probable that the effects of the recent Paris attacks will be seen throughout all aspects of cyber-security and privacy. In particular it is rather interesting to consider the effects in regards to consumer encrypted messaging services. It is often the case that there is change in security policy and measures that commensurate with a terror attack. Therefore it is reasonable and practical to envisage western governments to express interest and attention in encrypted messaging services.

On the market today there is a significant amount services that offer the consumer end to end encryption. Examples of such services are: What’s App, Silent Circle, and Wickr. What end to end encryption is, in respect to communications, is the ability for users to communicate to both end completely encrypted. The result of this technology is that the only users able to read and interpret data are either the sender or the receiver. The implications of this is that there is no method of which any organization has the ability to read and interpret the communications being sent, even the company hosting the service.

In the wake of these attacks, there will be a greater desire of law enforcement agencies of the western civilizations to have access to intercept these messages. Senator Dianne Feinstein from California is calling for a “back door” into these services, stating that it is a problem that these services can “create a product that allows evil monsters to communicate in this way.” It his highly reasonable to extrapolate that this is only the start of a conversation on consumer encrypted communication services.

These government agencies are calling for these “back doors” in the wake of these attacks because it allows terrorists to communicate and coordinate with the messages being completely encrypted. An organization named Middle East Media Research Institute has released a report stating that a significant number of radical groups are using these services to communicate. However it is important to review these reports with caution, because the institute who released these reports are a not for profit political organization located in Washington.  In addition it is dubious how the information was found, because according to the mechanics of end to end encryption this information is impossible to recover. However regardless of the verisimilitude of these reports, it is important to acknowledge the potential implications of these technologies.

In final it is significantly important to consider the technical implications of creating this “back door”. Creating this back door also creating an additional set of probable problems in regards to this topic. Nickolas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, stated “You cannot hack a back door that lets only the good guys in… If you add one, it becomes usable by Chinese intelligence, Russian intelligence, and criminals.” Therefore if following these calls for an intercept-able encrypted messaging, would also ruin the purpose of using these services for communications.

In conclusion the future of consumer encrypted messaging services is uncertain in the wake of these attacks. The conversation in regards to public safety, in respect to these service is just beginning. It is also important to consider the technical consequences of creating a “back door.” The Paris attacks will a have a wide-reaching effect in the realm of information security, consumer encrypted messaging is only one of the many aspects that may be altered in the wake of these attacks.

Michael Henry Boc


Security in Healthcare

According to a recent survey, Healthcare is the latest favourite of the hacking community. There’s a shortage of security professionals in the healthcare business, and while many respondents involved in tech are worried about personal records and other data, the ones who aren’t involved in tech, while worried, do not believe their corporations to have been hit.

The tech respondents have a right to be worried. Recently, it’s come to light that Healthcare experiences 340% more security attacks and incidents than any other sector, and advanced malware is suspected in 1 of every 600 attacks, making Healthcare four times more likely to be hit by advanced malware than any other sector.

There are many ways that hackers can get in. With the digitalization of patient records, as well as the addition of wearable technology, such as smart watches and smartphones, hackers are finding many new avenues to break into the system. While security for wearable technology is a separate issue, Jonathan Collins, a principal analyst for ABI Research says that they can pave the way for easier access to Healthcare records.

By Kathleen H. Justen

Visa Exploitation Gang Exposed!!!

FireEye dubbed gang name, FIN5, has been causing headaches by obtaining valid user credentials to exploit their targets.  They created their own malware dubbed RawPOS used to target point of sale machines.  In existence since 2008, FIN5, used target organizations Remote Desktop Protocols, Virtual Private Networks, Citrix, or VNC to gain access to their targets.  All of these things deal with networking computers in some form or another.  The interesting thing about this group is that they don’t use spearphishing or remote exploits.

One tool they use is the GET2 Penetrator.  This is a tool that searches, using brute force, for credentials.  These credentials can be hardcoded or remote access. They also use EssentialNet.  EssentialNet is free tool that scans networks for layouts.  As for the RawPOS malware it contains several components.   Duebrew keeps the malware installed on the machine.  FiendCry scrapes memory to steal credit card data.  Driftwood hides the stolen data from analysis tools.

This software works on a multitude of POS systems and is coded to evolve with new systems.  Something unusual about the RawPOS malware is that it is very well commented.  It is coded in an older Russian text.  Authorities believe this is to make the malware seem a legitimate program and for support as well.  Using Windows Credential Editor and the Active Directory, they access legitimate user credentials.  They also sophisticated tools that erase their tracks.

Among those struck by the hacker group are Visa, Goodwill, and an unnamed Casino in Las Vegas.  FireEye is partnering with Visa to create a threat intelligence service.  It will combat this group and others like it.

to see the full article visit:

-Brian Lustick

Apple watch security risks (and benefits)

In short, this article is informing the public about an issue that is overlooked when it comes to apple smartwatches, how “weak” the security on those watches actually is. There are several openings in these apple smartwatches that can be exploited due to their lack of actual security. For example, an apple smartwatch can be easily “bluejacked” a term used to describe a 3rd party gaining access said watch. As a result, the 3rd party can access many parts of the phone and send things like images,sounds, or even viruses to the smartwatch (some of which can take over the phone and listen in on conversations or block out owners control of the phone for however long the hacker chooses). The worst part is, this is not even the worst thing that could happen, when it comes to loopholes in the security of the device. Like all devices that can download apps without restraints, the apple smartwatch is capable of downloading apps which can contain harmful malware that could take on a variety of forms and become difficult to combat. There seems to be a claim that even if the smartwatch is vulnerable to many variations of malware, viruses, and other methods of attack used by hackers, since the smartwatch is tied to apple which is already a target of hackers it does not seem to cause much concern. In fact, since the smartwatch will automatically lock if taken of the users wrist it is presumed to be more safe than a phone if both are left unaccounted for in a public place.