“Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies that are running at high speeds — between 807 Hz and 1210 Hz. Such high speeds are used only for select applications. Symantec is careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but notes that “frequency converter drives that output over 600 Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”
Making progress towards finding “a set of floating point calculations [that] can uniquely identify any processor…They can’t yet spot specific processors but they can use this technique to identify families of them…this kind of approach would allow much more specific cyberattacks than are possible today.”
I popped in for a couple of stretches at Mandiant’s MIRcon incident response conference today and yesterday and was struck by a panel discussion on Tuesday about defenders going on offense. The gist was half a) it’s of dubious legality and wisdom and half b) you’ve got be an expert to do it properly. Now politics and economics being what they are, a) will ultimately be irrelevant without a prohibition and b) will govern the dynamics.
I recalled Mandiant’s model: they have a bunch of people constantly working on highly technical stuff in a field that changes rapidly—this level of expertise requires economies of scale. The same is true for black hat hackers: economy of scale drives the less skilled to leverage off-the-shelf capabilities, and it drives the more highly skilled to collaborate on the most demanding projects.
Because defense costs more than offense, “offensors” could benefit from the same economies of scale. I can imagine a future in which people not only pay for but subscribe to offense as a service, where a group of (nominally) white hatters have their own organizations that do nothing but attack designated black hatters, thereby raising the costs of doing malicious business. The economics might work for the white hatters in much the same way it does for insurance companies, and the product would not be entirely dissimilar. If this sort of activity were tolerated by authorities it might often be preferred by many hackers over black hatting, even if the latter gave bigger paychecks. This could further affect the economics in a good way.
If it will make sense for corporations to go on network counteroffensives themselves, it will make more sense for them to outsource that role if they possibly can. And they might end up being able to.
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“Individual users who do not want to enroll could stay in the ‘wild, wild west’ of the unprotected internet…I think it’s gonna have to be voluntary…People could opt into protection – or choose to stay out. Individual users may well choose to stay out…But it’s the vulnerability of certain critical infrastructure – power, transportation, finance. This starts to give you an angle at doing that.”
The idea that deploying Einstein more widely is anything more than a step towards a government-sponsored security monoculture escapes me. There is no way that this will get any real traction because it’s not like the USG can credibly claim that its own networks are secure. If Einstein is free, then companies might use it. But that’s about as far as that goes.
“there is now a significant body of work showing how to break conventional quantum cryptography systems based on various practical weaknesses in the way they are set up…while the known loopholes can be papered over, it’s the unknown ones that represent threats in the future…[researchers have shown that it's easy] with a little malicious intent to bend the assumptions behind perfect quantum cryptography.”