Cyber Arms Intelligence Report for July 19th

Top story is the new Windows Zero Day Exploit, a nasty little critter that exploits windows shortcuts. China is making headline news again. The majority of the stories are about its growing cyber security force. Also, a talk about the Chinese cyber army entitled, “The Chinese Cyber Army: An Archaeological Study From 2001 to 2010” has been pulled from the Blackhat security conference for sensitivity issues. Check it out:

Windows Zero Day Exploit

Sophos Labs has released a YouTube video of the new Windows Zero-Day shortcut vulnerability with rootkit. According to an article on The Register:

Security shortcomings in the Windows shortcut (.lnk files) are being exploited by the Stuxnet rootlet, an information stealing threat that targets industrial and power plant control systems. The malware – which has been detected in the wild – executes automatically if an infected USB stick is accessed in Windows Explorer.

The attack features rootkit components designed to hide the presence of the information-stealing payload on compromised systems. The digital certificate, assigned to legitimate firm Realtek Semiconductor, used to sign the rootkit components in the malware was revoked by VeriSign last week following discovery of the attack.

China’s Cyber Threat Growing
China is directing “the single largest, most intensive foreign intelligence gathering effort since the Cold War” against the United States, according to a report released yesterday by Medius Research… Intelligence gathering “is a core mission of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).” This is substantiated by numerous PLA documents, including one that described “seizing control of an adversary’s information flow as a prerequisite to air and naval superiority.”

Talk on Chinese Cyber Army Pulled From Black Hat
The presentation was to be delivered by Wayne Huang, CTO of Armorize, an application security company with R&D operations in Taiwan. The talk was billed as an in-depth, historical look at the offensive capabilities and operations of China’s so-called cyber-army. The description of the presentation on the Black Hat site promises an interesting presentation.

Cyberwarrior Shortage Threatens U.S. Security
The cyber manpower crisis in the United States stands in sharp contrast to the situation in China, where the training of computer experts is a top national priority. In the most recent round of the International Collegiate Programming Contest, co-sponsored by IBM and the Association for Computing Machinery, Chinese universities took four of the top 10 places. No U.S. university made the list.

Air Force streamlines Cybersecurity hiring for 680 open positions
The Air Force today said its managers hiring civilian federal employees for certain cybersecurity openings can use a streamlined method to rapidly fill more than 680 positions. Known as Schedule A, it lets Department of Defense jobseekers with disabilities to be considered for jobs without using the traditional competitive procedures.

White House meeting aimed at asserting Cybersecurity leadership
The White House meeting on cybersecurity held on Wednesday appears to have been as much about assessing progress on the president’s cybersecurity agenda as it was on showing executive branch leadership on the issue.

US Air Force Assigns 30,000 Cyber Warriors

According to an Air Force Times article, 3,000 Air Force officers will join 27,000 enlisted airmen on the cyber front lines. The troops were pulled from communication and maintenance specialties and will receive special cyber warfare training. The move is part of solidifying the majority of the Air Force’s cyber warfare capabilities under Space Command’s 24th Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base.

“It’s not just spray paint, it’s a new mindset,” said Brig. Gen. David Cotton, director of cyberspace transformation and strategy at the Air Staff.

Communications officers often saw themselves as others saw them: airmen who made sure the base computer network worked, said Cotton, who began his career a computer programmer.

Cyberspace officers will continue to provide support but they also will be the go-to experts on how a computer or communication network can improve war-fighting capabilities.

The 24th Air Force joins the Navy 10th fleet, the Army and Marine Corps cyber commands to make up the United States Cyber Command. This unified command is to be led by National Security Agency Director General Keith B. Alexander and should be fully functional later this year.

For more information see the Air Force Times.

US Air Force Cyber Warrior Badge Revealed

The Air Force has revealed the new “Cyber Wings” badge which will be worn on our nation’s top military cyber warriors. According to an article on The Register:

The new “Cyberspace Badge” features lightning-bolt wings extending from a central globe encircled by orbiting blobs – presumably surveillance or communications satellites – and a heraldic thunderbolt with ordinary feathery wings stuck on the front.

Apparently this symbolizes “the projection of cyber power world-wide”, “the space dimension of the cyberspace domain” and “striking power through air, space and cyberspace”.

It seems that some people aren’t thrilled with it, “It Sucks” said Wired Magazines defense editor. I dunno I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s missing something, maybe a skull with a network card in its teeth or a flaming server or something intimidating looking. What do you think?