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Jul 20, 2015

US-CERT: Vulnerability Summary for the Week of July 13, 2015

Bulletin (SB15-201)

The US-CERT Cyber Security Bulletin provides a summary of new vulnerabilities that have been recorded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) National Vulnerability Database (NVD) in the past week. The NVD is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) / United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT). For modified or updated entries, please visit theNVD, which contains historical vulnerability information.
The vulnerabilities are based on the CVE vulnerability naming standard and are organized according to severity, determined by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) standard. The division of high, medium, and low severities correspond to the following scores:
  • High - Vulnerabilities will be labeled High severity if they have a CVSS base score of 7.0 - 10.0
  • Medium - Vulnerabilities will be labeled Medium severity if they have a CVSS base score of 4.0 - 6.9
  • Low - Vulnerabilities will be labeled Low severity if they have a CVSS base score of 0.0 - 3.9
Entries may include additional information provided by organizations and efforts sponsored by US-CERT. This information may include identifying information, values, definitions, and related links. Patch information is provided when available. Please note that some of the information in the bulletins is compiled from external, open source reports and is not a direct result of US-CERT analysis.

Read more . .
https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/bulletins/SB15-201

Jul 18, 2015

Are smart infrastructures experts in cyber security? — ENISA

2015-07-16
Are smart infrastructures experts in cyber security?
Udo Helmbrecht discusses the IoT at the 1st annual conference and launch event for the funding priority on “IT security for Critical Infrastructures” taking place on the 15th-17th July 2015, at the premises of the SGL Arena in Augsburg.
The networking event includes representatives from the political, industry and scientific sector, taking a deeper look into critical infrastructures and IT security risks associated with new technologies and products, and the new business models.
Udo Helmbrecht took part in panel discussion on the security of smart infrastructures, exchanging views on "The look into the future" and the Internet of Things (IoT) from smart homes to smart cities, as applications are allowing smart living in all aspects of daily lives:
  • In smart homes we see media enabled devices that allow users to access data anywhere and anytime, making use of cloud services. Cyber physical devices allow the interaction of software controlled equipment to interact with the physical world.
  • Smart cities create significant impact through smart transport and car-to-car communicationssmart grids, that allow for lower energy consumption; and smart hospitals, providing better health services. All these rely on ICT services whose operation has to be secured against possible vulnerabilities which may result to economic and societal impacts depending on the case.

Prof. Helmbrecht said: “Currently there is no clear definition of cyber security for smart infrastructures at an EU level. It will be beneficial to increase information sharing and coordination for example on public transport. As new technologies and applications are developed, their security aspects also need to be developed from the design phase, allowing for improved services, user experience and safety in a connected online world”.
 Are smart infrastructures experts in cyber security? — ENISA: Are smart infrastructures experts in cyber security? — ENISA

Jul 15, 2015

An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis

An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis

"An Empire Strikes Back: Germany and the Greek Crisis is republished with permission of Stratfor."
 
A desperate battle was fought last week. It pitted Germany and Greece against each other. Each country had everything at stake. Based on the deal that was agreed to, Germany forced a Greek capitulation. But it is far from clear that Greece can allow the agreement reached to be implemented, or that it has the national political will to do so. It is also not clear what its options are, especially given that the Greek people had backed Germany into a corner, where its only choice was to risk everything. It was not a good place for Greece to put the Germans. They struck back with vengeance.
The key event was the Greek referendum on the European Union's demand for further austerity in exchange for infusions of cash to save the Greek banking system. The Syriza party had called the vote to strengthen its hand in dealing with the European demands. The Greek government's view was that the European terms would save Greece from immediate disaster but at the cost of impoverishing the country in the long term. The austerity measures demanded would, in their view, make any sort of recovery impossible. Facing a choice between a short-term catastrophe in the banking system and long-term misery, the Greeks saw themselves in an impossible position.
In chess, when your position is hopeless, one solution is to knock over the chessboard. That is what the Greeks tried to do with the referendum. If the vote was lost, then the government could capitulate to German demands and claim it was the will of the people. But if the vote went the way it did, the Greek leaders could go to the European Union and argue that broad relaxation of austerity was not merely the position of the government, but also the sovereign will of the Greek people.
The European Union is founded on the dual principles of an irrevocable community of nations that have joined together but have retained their national sovereignty. The Greeks were demonstrating the national will, which the government thought would create a new chess game. Instead, the Germans chose to directly demand a cession of a significant portion of Greece's sovereignty by creating a cadre of European bureaucrats who would oversee the implementation of the agreement and take control of Greek national assets for sale to raise money. The specifics are less important than the fact that Greece invoked its sovereign right, and Germany responded by enforcing an agreement that compelled the Greeks to cede those rights.

Germany's Motivations

I've discussed the German fear extensively. Germany is a massive exporting power that depends on the European free trade zone to purchase a substantial part of its output. The Germans had a record positive balance of trade last month, of which its trade both in the eurozone as well as in the rest of the European Union was an indispensible part. For Germany, the unraveling of the European Union would directly threaten its national interest. The Greek position — particularly in the face of the Greek vote — could, in the not too distant future, result in that unraveling.
There were two sides of the Greek position that frightened the Germans. The first was that Athens was trying to use its national sovereignty to compel the European Union to allow Greece to avoid the pain of austerity. This would, in effect, shift the burden of the Greek debt from the Greeks to the European Union, which meant Germany. For the Germans, the bloc was an instrument of economic growth. If Germany accepted the principle that it had to assume responsibility for national financial problems, the European Union — which has more than a few countries with national financial problems — could drain German resources and undermine a core reason for the bloc, at least from the German point of view. If Greece demonstrated it could compel Germany to assume responsibility for the debt in the long term, it is not clear where it would have ended — and that is precisely what the Greek vote intended.
On the other hand, if the Greeks left the European Union, it would have created a precedent that would in the end shatter the bloc. If the European Union was an elective affinity, in Goethe's words, something you could enter and then leave, then the long-term viability of the bloc was in serious doubt. And there was no reason those doubts couldn't be extended to the free trade zone. If nations could withdraw from the European Union and create trade barriers, then Germany would be living in a world of tariffs, European and other. And that was the nightmare scenario for Germany.
The vote backed the Germans into a corner, as I said last week. Germany could not accept the Greek demand. It could not risk a Greek exit from the European Union. It could not appear to be frightened by an exit, and it could not be flexible. During the week, the Germans floated the idea of a temporary Greek exit from the euro. Greece owes a huge debt and needs to build its economy. What all this has to do with being in the euro or using the drachma is not clear. It is certainly not clear how it would have helped Europe or solved the immediate banking problem. The Greeks are broke, and don't have the euros to pay back loans or liquefy the banking system. The same would have been true if they left the European Union. Suggesting a temporary Grexit was a fairly meaningless act — a bravura performance by the Germans. When you desperately fear something in a negotiation, there is no better strategy than to demand that it happen.

The Resurrection of German Primacy

I have deliberately used Germany rather than the European Union as the negotiating partner with the Greeks. The Germans have long been visible as the controlling entity of the European Union. This time, they made no bones about it. Nor did they make any bones about their ferocity. In effect they raised the banner of German primacy, German national interest, and German willingness to crush the opposition. The French and the Italians, among others, questioned the German position publicly. In the end, it didn't matter. The Germans consulted with these other governments, but Berlin decided the negotiating position, because in the end it was Germany that would be most exposed by French or Italian moderation. This negotiation was in the context of the European Union, but it was a German negotiation.
And with this, the Germans did something they never wanted to do: resurrect fairly unambiguously the idea that Germany is the sovereign and dominant nation-state in Europe, and that it has the power and the will to unilaterally impose its will on another nation. Certainly the niceties of votes by finance ministers and prime ministers were adhered to, but it was the Germans who conducted the real negotiations and who imposed their will on Greece.
Germany's historical position was that it was one nation among many in the European Union. One of the prime purposes of European integration was to embed Germany in a multinational European entity so that it could develop economically but not play the role in Europe that it did between 1871 and 1945. The key to this was making certain that Germany and France were completely aligned. The fear was that German economic growth would create a unilateral German political power, and the assumption was that a multilateral organization in which France and Germany were intimately bound together would enable German growth without risking German unilateral power.
No one wanted this solution to work more than the Germans, and many of Germany's maneuvers were to save the multilateral entity. But in making these moves, Germany crossed two lines. The lesser line was that France and Germany were not linked on dealing with Greece, though they were not so far apart as to be even close to a breach. The second, and more serious, line was that the final negotiation was an exercise of unilateral German power. Several nations supported the German position from the beginning — particularly the Eastern European nations that, in addition to opposing Greece soaking up European money, do not trust Greece's relationship with Russia. Germany had allies. But it also had major powers as opponents, and these were brushed aside. 
These powerful opponents were brushed aside particularly on two issues. One was any temporary infusion of cash into Greek banks. The other was the German demand, in a more extreme way than ever before, that the Greeks cede fundamental sovereignty over their national economy and, in effect, over Greece itself. Germany demanded that Greece place itself under the supervision of a foreign EU monitoring force that, as Germany demonstrated in these negotiations, ultimately would be under German control.
The Germans did not want to do this, but what a nation wants to do and what it will do are two different things. What Germany wanted was Greek submission to greater austerity in return for support for its banking system. It was not the government's position that troubled Germany the most, but the Greek referendum. If Germany forced the Greek government to capitulate, it was a conventional international negotiation.  If it forced the government to capitulate in the face of the electoral mandate of the Greek public, it was in many ways an attack on national sovereignty, forcing a settlement not in opposition to the government but a direct confrontation with the electorate. The Germans could not accommodate the vote. They had to respond by demanding concessions on Greek sovereignty.
This is not over, of course. It is now up to the Greek government to implement its agreements, and it does so in the face of the Greek referendum. The situation in Greece is desperate because of the condition of the banking system. It was the pressure point that the Germans used to force Greek capitulation. But Greece is now facing not only austerity, but also foreign governance. The Germans' position is they do not trust the Greeks. They do not mean the government now, but the Greek electorate. Therefore, they want monitoring and controls. This is reasonable from the German point of view, but it will be explosive to the Greeks.

The Potential for Continental Unease

In World War II, the Germans occupied Greece. As in much of the rest of Europe, the memory of that occupation is now in the country's DNA. This will be seen as the return of German occupation, and opponents of the deal will certainly use that argument. The manner in which the deal was made and extended by the Germans to provide outside control will resurrect historical memories of German occupation. It has already started. The aggressive inflexibility of the Germans can be understood as an attitude motivated by German fears, but then Germany has always been a frightened country responding with bravado and self-confidence.
The point of the matter is not going away, and not only because the Greek response is unpredictable; poverty versus sovereignty is a heady issue, especially when the Greeks will both remain poor and lose some sovereignty. The Germans made an example of Cyprus and now Greece. The leading power of Europe will not underwrite defaulting debtors. It will demand political submission for what help is given. This is not a message that will be lost in Europe, whatever the anti-Greek feeling is now.
This is as far from what Germany wanted as can be imagined. But Greece could not live with German demands, and Germany could not live with Greek demands. In the end, the banking crisis gave Germany an irresistible tool. Now the circumstances demand that the Greeks accept austerity and transfer key elements of sovereignty to institutions under the control or heavy influence of the Germans.
What else could Germany do? What else could Greece do? The tragedy of geopolitical reality is that what will happen has little to do with what statesmen wanted when they started out.

Jul 8, 2015

The Greek Vote and the EU Miscalculation

"The Greek Vote and the EU Miscalculation is republished with permission of Stratfor."

The Greek Vote and the EU Miscalculation

JULY 7, 2015 | 08:00 GMT                                                                                By George Friedman    
In a result that should surprise no one, the Greeks voted to reject European demands for additional austerity measures as the price for providing funds to allow Greek banks to operate. There are three reasons this should have been no surprise. First, the ruling Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza party, is ruling because it has an understanding of the Greek mood. Second, the constant scorn and contempt that the European leadership heaped on the prime minister and finance minister convinced the Greeks not only that the scorn was meant for them as well but also that anyone so despised by the European leadership wasn't all bad. Finally, and most important, the European leadership put the Greek voters in a position in which they had nothing to lose. The Greeks were left to choose between two forms of devastation — one that was immediate but possible to recover from, and one that was a longer-term strangulation with no exit.

The Europeans' Mistaken Reasoning

As the International Monetary Fund noted (while maintaining a very hard line on Greece), the Greeks cannot repay their loans or escape from their economic nightmare without a substantial restructuring of the Greek debt, including significant debt forgiveness and a willingness to create a multidecade solution. The IMF also made clear that increased austerity, apart from posing an impossible burden for the Greeks, will actually retard either a Greek recovery or debt repayment.
The Greeks knew this as well. What was obvious is that austerity without radical restructuring would inevitably lead to default, if not now, then somewhere not too far down the line. Focusing on pensions made the Europeans appear tough but was actually quite foolish. All of the austerity measures demanded would not have provided nearly enough money to repay debts without restructuring. In due course, Greece would default, or the debt would be restructured.
Since Europe's leaders are not stupid, it is important to understand the game they were playing. They knew perfectly well the austerity measures were between irrelevant and damaging to debt repayment. They insisted on this battle at this time because they thought they would win it, and it was important for them to get Greece to capitulate for broader reasons.
No other EU country is in a condition as bad as Greece's. However, a number of EU countries, particularly in Southern Europe, carry a debt burden they would like to renegotiate. They are doing better than Greece this year, but with persistent high unemployment — for example, 22.5 percent in Spain as of May — two things are not clear: first, what shape these countries will be in next year or the year after that, and second, what governments would come into office, and what the new governments' positions would be. Greece accounts for less than 2 percent of the European Union's gross domestic product. Italy and Spain are far more important. The problem of restructuring debt is once it is done for one country, others will want to restructure as well. The European Union did not want to set any precedents for future crises or anti-EU governments.
In Greece, Europe's leaders had a crisis and a hostile government. It was the perfect place to take a stand, they thought. They became inflexible on debt restructuring, demanding prior increased austerity measures in a country where unemployment exceeded 25 percent and youth unemployment was over 50 percent. The EU strategy in the past had been psychological: spreading fear about what default might mean, spreading fear of the consequences of leaving the eurozone and arguing that it was the European Union that lacked the ability to make concessions. In the past, the EU strategy had been to make agreements that it never thought the Greeks would be able to keep in order to kick the problem down the road. Europe's leaders demanded austerity measures but tied them to postponing repayments. They expected Greece to continue playing the game. They did not realize, for some reason, that Syriza came to power on a pledge to end the game. They thought that under pressure, the party would fold.
But Syriza couldn't fold, and not just for political reasons. If Syriza betrayed its election pledge, as the European leadership was sure it would, the party would split and a new anti-European party would form in Greece. But on a deeper level, the Greeks simply could not give any more. With their economy in shambles and Europe insisting that the solution was not stimulus but austerity — an increasingly dubious claim — the Greeks were at the point where default, and the short-term wrenching crisis that would ensue, would be worth the price.
The European leaders miscalculated. They thought Greece could be more flexible, and they wanted to demonstrate to any other country or party that might consider a similar maneuver in the future just what the cost would be. The Europeans feared the moral risk of compromising with the Greeks. They created a more dangerous situation for themselves.

New Threats to the European Union

First, in its treatment of Greece, the European Union has driven home — particularly to rising Euroskeptic parties — that it is merely a treaty organization and in no way a confederation, let alone a federation. Europe was a union so long as a member didn't get into trouble. As I have said, the Greeks were irresponsible borrowing money. But the rest of Europe was irresponsible in lending it. Indeed, the banks that lent the money knew perfectly well the condition Greece was in. The idea that the Greeks pulled the wool over the bankers' eyes is nonsense. The bankers wanted to make the loans because they made money off of transactions. Plus, European institutions that bought the loans from them bailed out those that made the loans. The people who made the loans sold them to third parties, and the third parties sold them to EU institutions. As for the Greeks, it was not the current government or the public that borrowed the money. And so the tale will help parties like Podemos in Spain and UKIP in the United Kingdom make the case against the European Union. The European Union appears both protective of banks and predatory to those who didn't actually borrow
Second, having played hardball, the Europeans must either continue the game, incurring the criticism discussed above, or offer a compromise they wouldn't offer prior to the Greek vote. One would lead to a view of the European Union as a potential enemy of nations that fall on hard times, while the latter would cost the bloc credibility in showdowns to come. It is likely that the Europeans will continue discussions with Greece, but they will be playing with a much weaker hand. The Greek voters have, in effect, called their bluff.
It is interesting how the European leaders maneuvered themselves into this position. Part of it was that they could not imagine the Greek government not yielding to the European Union, Germany and the rest. Part of it was that they could not imagine the Greeks not understanding what default would mean to them.
The European leaders did not take the Greeks' considerations seriously. For the Greeks, there were two issues. The first issue was how they would be more likely to get the deal they needed. It was not by begging but by convincing the Europeans they were ready to walk — a tactic anyone who has bargained in the eastern Mediterranean knows. Second, as any good bargainer knows, it is necessary to be prepared to walk and not simply bluff it. Syriza campaigned on the idea that Greece would not leave the eurozone but that the government would use a "no" vote on the referendum to negotiate a better deal with EU leaders. However, all political campaigns are subject to geopolitical realities, and Syriza needed all options on the table. 
The EU leadership was convinced that the Greeks were bluffing, while the Greeks knew that with the stakes this high, they could not afford to bluff. But the Greeks also knew, from watching other countries, that while default would create a massive short-term liquidity crisis in Greece, with currency controls and a new currency under the control of the Greek government, it would be possible to move beyond the crisis before the sense of embattlement dissolves. Many countries do better in short, intense crises than they do in ordinary times. The Greeks repelled an Italian invasion in October 1940, and the Germans didn't complete their conquest until May 1941. I have no idea what Greece's short-term ability to rally is today, but Syriza is willing to bet on it.

Greece's Options in Case of a Grexit

If Greece withdraws from the European Union, its impact on the euro will be trivial. There are those who claim that it would be catastrophic to the euro, but I don't see why. What might be extremely dangerous is leaving the euro and surviving, if not flourishing. The Greeks are currently fixated on the European Union as a source of money, and there is an assumption that they will be forced out of the global financial markets if they default. But that isn't obvious. 
Greece has three alternative sources of money. The first is Russia. The Greeks and the Russians have had a relationship going back to at least the 1970s. It was quite irritating for the United States and Europe. It was quite real. Now the Russians are looking for leverage to use against the Europeans and Americans. The Russians are having hard times but not as hard as a couple of months ago, and Greece is a strategic prize. The Greeks and the Russians have talked and the results of the talks are murky. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit began July 6 in Russia, and the Greeks are sitting in as observers — and possibly angling for some sort of deal. Publicly, Russia has said it will not give a direct loan to Greece but will take advantage of the crisis to acquire hard assets in Greece and a commitment on the Turkish Stream pipeline project. However, bailing out Greece would give Russia a golden opportunity to put a spoke in NATO operations and reassert itself somewhere other than Ukraine. In Central Europe, the view is that Russia and Greece have had an understanding for several months about a bailout, which could be why the Greeks have acted with such bravado.
Another, though less likely, source of funds for Greece is China and some of its partners. The Chinese are trying to position themselves as a genuine global power, without a global military and with a weakening economy. Working alone or with others to help the Greeks would not be a foolish move on their part, given that it would certainly create regional influence at a relative low cost — mere tens of billions. However, it could come with the political cost of alienating a large portion of the European Union, making Chinese assistance a slight possibility. 
Finally, there are American hedge funds and private equity firms. They are cash-rich because of European, Chinese and Middle Eastern money searching for safety and are facing near-zero percent interest rates. Many of them have taken wilder risks than this. The U.S. government might not discourage them, either, because it would be far more concerned about Russian or Chinese influence — and navies — in the eastern Mediterranean.
Having shed its debt to Europe and weathered the genuinely difficult months after default, Greece might be an interesting investment opportunity. We know from Argentina that when a country defaults, a wall is not created around it. Greece has value and, absent the debt, it is a high-risk but attractive investment.
The European leaders have therefore backed themselves into the corner they didn't want. If they hold their position, then they open the door to the idea that there is life after the European Union, and that is the one thought the EU leaders do not want validated. Therefore, it is likely that the Europeans, having discovered that Syriza is not prepared to submit to European diktat, will now negotiate a deal Greece can accept. But then that is another precedent the European Union didn't want to set.
Behind all this, the Germans are considering the future of the European Union. They are less concerned about the euro or Greek debt than they are about the free trade zone that absorbs part of their massive exports. With credit controls and default, Greece is one tiny market they lose. The last thing they want is for this to spread, or for Germany to be forced to pay for the privilege of saving it. In many ways, therefore, our eyes should shift from Greece to Germany. It is at the heart of the EU leadership, and it is going to be calling the next shot — not for the good of the bloc, but for the good of Germany, which is backed into the same corner as the rest of the European Union. 

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