As the Year Comes to an End, Check Out Some Fascinating Reading for Cybersecurity

CYRIN Newsletter

As the Year Comes to an End, Check Out Some Fascinating Reading for Cybersecurity

As we approach the end of the year, we’ve collected a brief look at some of the more interesting cybersecurity and scientific stories of 2022. From books to videos to news stories, these have captured our attention and we think they should intrigue and fascinate you as they have us. (Please note that some of these links may fall behind paywalls and, in some cases, you may only have one attempt to see the full story.)

Wired – The Hunt for the Dark Web’s Biggest Kingpin, Part 1: The Shadow

If you’re into crime stories and “who done it,” one of the more engrossing stories of 2022 involves the dark web and a notorious figure called Alpha02. In a two-part series that started in the October issue of Wired, we’re taken from an obscure outpost in central California where a bored DEA agent spends his days listening to an endless stream of narcotics traffic before stumbling into an opportunity to take down the newest and biggest kingpin of the dark web. For cybercrime detectives, Alpha02 was public enemy number one—and a total mystery.

With patience, luck, and tenacity, we see how authorities identify and lure Alpha02 into a trap and take down one of the most significant actors who built the largest digital drug and crime bazaar in history, known as AlphaBay.

BBC – Inside a US military cyber team’s defence of Ukraine

Since 2014, Ukraine has witnessed some of the world's most significant cyber-attacks, including a first when a power station was switched off remotely in the dead of winter. Despite many analysts’ predictions at the start of the war, Russia has largely failed in taking down the Ukrainian computer system.

In early December of 2021, a small US military team led by a young major arrived in Ukraine on a reconnaissance trip ahead of a larger deployment. But the major quickly reported that she needed to stay. They had come to detect Russians online and their Ukrainian partners made it clear they needed to start work straight away.

First rate reporting from the BBC details how US agents were deeply rooted into Ukraine’s security services as the impending threats from Russia grew ever closer.

Video - 60 Minutes – The Grid

This well written and fast-paced mix of information and entertainment features 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker’s report on the security of America’s grid, what some call the biggest machine on the planet. In this segment, first reported in February and then re-run in August, we learn about a brazen attack on a PG&E substation in California in 2014. We also hear some alarming facts like the U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if just nine substations were knocked out. A cast of interesting commentators includes Michael Maybee, an Iraq war vet and former cop and self-taught grid security expert. Maybee is a citizen sleuth who runs a website called Grid Security Now to share information about potential threats. The story makes clear the need for deliberate and thoughtful action to protect the grid from physical and technology threats.

Bloomberg Businessweek - What Happens When Russian Hackers Come for the Electrical Grid

This story has been covered in various places over the past several years. In this version, from Business Week, we learn about efforts by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under a program called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS), to train people in the utility sector for the worst-case scenario of a successful cyberattack.

Bloomberg Businessweek depicts a dystopian scene centered on Plum Island, just off the tip of New York’s Long Island, where a large part of the power grid has gone down, leaving critical facilities such as hospitals in the dark and growing desperate. A team of utility operators and cybersecurity experts, some initially feeling very confident, find out very quickly how tough it is as they scramble not only to get the grid back up but to keep it running while hackers try to bring it down.

The drill illustrated how hackers could hijack safety equipment, shut down communications and send fake data to operators to confuse the situation. This against reports that an increasing number of hacking groups have targeted the grid, as well as other critical infrastructure. Although the RADICS training stopped when the program ended in October 2020, the concern has not. See what was learned and what might come next.

Book – Tesla, His Tremendous and Troubled Life, by Marko Perko and Stephen M. Stahl

Perhaps one of the more fascinating and enigmatic scientists of the last 100 years was the scientist, creator, and inventor Nichola Tesla. Many believe he was 50 to 100 years ahead of his time and some have called him the architect of the modern world. Countless modern inventions (some originally credited to others) are credited to Tesla including wireless transmission of power and data, radio, laser, remote control, x-rays, power generators to develop hydroelectric power, induction motors, and, of course, his best-known invention – AC or alternating current.

Find out how this Serbian immigrant who, according to legend, was born at the stroke of midnight in a raging electrical storm in the tiny village of Smiljan, in what was then part of the Austrian empire in 1856, left his mark on the 20th century with scientific breakthroughs that still impact us today.

Although his makeup (including a probable bipolar disorder) left him both talented and troubled, he has impacted history and mankind in ways that some believe put him on the same plane as Einstein, Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and other great thinkers of their time.

MarketWatch - How Russia’s war in Ukraine helped the FBI crack one of the biggest cybercrime cases in years

As depicted in this still unfolding story, three weeks after Russia started dropping bombs on Ukraine in late February, a talented young computer programmer named Mark Sokolovsky and his girlfriend fled the scene to get away from the fighting. The pair made their way to Poland and then Germany before stopping in the Netherlands, where they thought they were safe. Little did they know that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators in Europe had been watching them all along.

Sokolovsky, 26, was named late last year in a sealed criminal indictment in federal court in Texas that alleged he was a key figure behind a pervasive type of malware known as Raccoon Infostealer. Prosecutors say this malware has infected millions of computers around the world, stealing financial login credentials and money from an untold number of victims.

Video - The Wall Street Journal - The Anatomy of a Cyber Attack

It is every executive’s nightmare. You come into the office one day and discover that your computer systems have been locked by cybercrooks—and they want you to pay up to get your network back.

That is what happened to Dain Drake, president of steelmaker and design firm United Structures of America. The ransomware attack that occurred that day in May of 2019 essentially wiped-out United Structure’s business data including accounts receivable, accounts payable, current orders, customer information, and current CNC machinery files.

In this engaging video interview, Drake gives a frank, honest assessment of what he knew, what he thought he knew, what he did and what he wished he’d done, including the fact that he was focused on the business, but not the cybersecurity part of it; for example, he didn’t have cyber insurance, the passwords were outdated, and weaknesses were not routinely tested. Drake learned the hard way that to be ready for this situation there is no substitute for real cybersecurity training and preparedness when it comes to dealing with real attackers and real attacks.

See What CYRIN Can Do

At CYRIN we know that as technology changes, a cybersecurity professional needs to develop the skills to evolve with it. We offer that development with “hands-on” training and our courses teach fundamental solutions that integrate actual cyber tools from CYRIN’s labs that allow you to practice preparedness 24/7, in the cloud, no special software required. For companies these tools and our virtual environment are perfect for a mobile, remote work force. People can train at their pace, with all the benefits of remote work, remote training, and flexibility. For colleges nothing is better than offering students this hard to experience hands-on learning. Cyber is a team effort; to see what our team can do for you take a look at our course catalog, or better yet, contact us for further information and your personalized demonstration of CYRIN. Take a test drive and see for yourself!

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