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A Brief Summary of The Potential Threats Revealed in Black Hat 2020 Conference


Cybersecurity experts had a lot to say about possible cybersecurity threats in the USA Black Hat Conference.




Main Highlights

US Presidential Elections
As the US awaits its presidential elections, cybersecurity has become a significant issue. In the conference, experts came out with various solutions to election-related cybersecurity threats that might arise during the campaigning and offered new ideas to strengthen the infrastructure.

Exploits and Vulnerabilities 
Cybersecurity expert Matt Vixey presented research on cybersecurity exploits. The main idea is that cyberattacks can only be prevented if there's a proper system involved; in other words, a plan-of-action. Here, the 'Human factor' risk is involved, and the hackers attack it.

DNS Attacks 
In recent times, DNS encryptions and its security have come into question. Hackers have come with a new way to breach the encryption; the technique is known as DOH (DNS-over-HTTPS). The key speaker for the topic was Mr. Eldridge Alexander, Cisco's Duo Labs, Security Research, and Development manager.

Cyberthreats and COVID-19 
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a surge in cybersecurity threats. With people working from home, hackers saw new targets that were easy to attack. Keeping this particular issue in mind, Shyam Sundar Ramaswami presented several ways to identify pandemic based malware or malspam, including a rapid statics analysis approach.

A world without passwords 
Imagine a world with no passwords, a world where all the systems are integrated with a unique authorization model. Wolfgang Goerlich and Chris Demundo presented their 'Zero Trust' theory, where systems would not need to require passwords, making a secure cyber world.

Possible Threats

  • Influence Campaigns- Misuse of social media platforms to disseminate fake news and misinformation has become a critical problem, especially during the election campaigns. 
  • According to James Pevur, satellite communications are open to surveillance and monitoring. Hackers can easily bug communication using a few sophisticated gadgets. 
  • Botnets- Hackers can use high watt devices and turn them into Botnets, attacking energy campaigns. 
  • Experts say that open source tools can be used by hackers to create fake websites or channels that look the same as the original. It can allow the influence of public opinion.

The Moscow Mayor’s Office claims that electronic voting is safe


According to Alexey Shaposhnikov, the Chairman of the Moscow Parliament, the experiment to conduct electronic voting in the elections of deputies of the Moscow City Duma will take place, despite the detection of weaknesses in its system during testing.

Shaposhnikov said, “I am a supporter of the development of e-democracy; e-voting is one of the elements of its development.”

Recently, Alexei Venediktov, the Deputy Chairman of the Public Chamber, said that the electronic voting system from July 11 will be available in test mode for everyone. Hackers will be able to try to hack it for a fee of 1.5 million rubles.

Artem Kostyrko, the Deputy Head of the Department of Information Technology Department of Moscow, said that the guarantee of security of the electronic voting system is the fact that it will be held on the website of the Moscow Mayor’s Office mos.ru.

The speaker of Moscow City Duma noted that he did not know of any cases of hacking into the site mos.ru. Specialists, who are responsible for the functioning of the security system, guaranteed correct operation during the counting of votes.

People wishing to participate in the electronic voting must pass verification in advance on the official website of the Mayor of Moscow.

The Moscow City Duma Chairman added that according to preliminary forecasts, up to 6% of the voters in Moscow will participate in the experiment on conducting electronic voting.

It should be noted that the Moscow authorities plan to arrange an online broadcast of electronic voting, during which it will be possible to find out the number of voters.

Experts believe that it remains unclear how the voter authentication, the secrecy of the vote and freedom from being forced to vote will be ensured.

In addition, the technical side of the e-voting process is provided by the Moscow Mayor’s Office, which is a structure of the Executive branch of Government, the head of which represents one of the political parties. According to experts, this is a violation of the principle of independence of election organizers and the principle of separation of powers.

Elections to the Moscow City Duma are scheduled for September 8, 2019. An experiment on electronic voting will be conducted in three districts of Moscow.

Automated accounts sharing fake news ahead of French polls: Experts

French voters are being deluged with false stories on social media ahead of the country’s presidential election, though the onslaught of “junk news” is not as severe as that during last year’s U.S. presidential campaign, according to a study by Oxford University researchers.

A man looks at campaign posters of the 11th candidates who run in the 2017 French presidential election in Enghien-les-Bains, near Paris, France April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann.

The study to be published Friday and another published on Wednesday add evidence to complaints by officials in France, Germany and the United States that Russia is trying to replicate its cyber-powered election meddling in American politics.

Just days before France votes in the first round of a presidential election, the study said misinformation at times has accounted for one-quarter of the political links shared on Twitter in France. It defined “junk news” as deliberately false stories and those expressing “ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan or conspiratorial” views with logical flaws and opinions passed along as facts.

“French voters are sharing better quality information than what many U.S. voters shared and almost as much quality news and information as German users share,” according to the study by the Oxford Internet Institute, which will be published on Friday but was made available on Thursday to Reuters.

The French study uses data from a recent week on Twitter but a greater role is being played by Facebook, said Kevin Limonier of the University of Paris VIII, who is studying social media manipulation in the election with a grant from the French government.

Facebook recently suspended 30,000 suspected automated accounts in France. Although it characterized the cleanup as an objective move against spamming, many of the profiles were distributing politically driven misinformation and propaganda.

On Twitter, where automated accounts are allowed, many of the same accounts that promoted Republican Donald Trump in the U.S. campaign last year have turned their attention to pushing conspiracy theories and far-right viewpoints, according to Limonier and Clinton Watts, a former FBI agent and now a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.

Not Sure How to Run an Election Campaign? “CAMPAIGN MANAGER” Is Right Here, to the rescue

Elections have knocked the country's doors!

There is a rising need to acknowledge all the raging political demands and needs of the citizens of the country.

To satiate the burning requisites of the nation, a comprehensive dash-board, open source platform(https://github.com/CSPF-Founder/CampaignManager) is here.

Brought to you by AVS Labs pvt ltd, Campaign Manager is available at a minimal price.

CAMPAIGN MANAGER works for the erudite management of election campaigns.

The versatile open source application is super user-friendly and is easy to install on one's own server.

One of the best aspects of this open source platform is that it's also available in customized versions on demand.

This is a substantial initiative towards meeting the political requisites of the population in need.

This application is specifically designed to work extensively in under-developed and developing countries.

WHY CAMPAIGN MANAGER?

Other e-government portals and campaign solutions are ruinously expensive. But CM is an open source.

Political parties and individuals could in a hassle-free way download and install it on their servers.

CM owners also entertain host servers and provide training in case of lack of proficiency on the downloader's part.

CM'S INTERFACE!

The application significantly proposes three roles for the users:
• Admin
• Data Entry Person
• Feeder

The ADMIN keeps a close and regular check on the issues entered and prioritizes them. Also it's their job to instruct the right person for the job via the dash-board.

The FEEDER is any individual who reports issues or problems according to the area/ ward/ constituency.
The feeders include people like party members, media-men etc.

The DATA ENTRY PERSON is that person who shall be instructed by the feeder to report an issue on their behalf in case they can't.

Supremely Outstanding Benefits of CM

It's an amazing utility that caters to the political needs of the citizens.

It aids the political leaders to comprehend and view the problems feeded in by the citizens.

It's an excellent mechanism for managing and resolving the peoples’ current issues.
 
Get the Source code and guide from here:
https://github.com/CSPF-Founder/CampaignManager

Facebook cannot guarantee interference-free EU elections: Zuckerberg

Facebook Inc is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the site will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday.

Chastened since suspected Russian operatives used Facebook and other social media to influence an election that surprisingly brought Donald Trump to power in the United States, Facebook has said it has ploughed resources and staff into safeguarding the May 26 EU vote.

Zuckerberg said there had been a lot of important elections since 2016 that have been relatively clean and demonstrated the defenses it has built up to protect their integrity.

“We’ve certainly made a lot of progress ... But no, I don’t think anyone can guarantee in a world where you have nation states that are trying to interfere in elections, there’s no single thing we can do and say okay we’ve now solved the issue,” Zuckerberg told Irish national broadcaster RTE in an interview.

“This is an ongoing arms race where we’re constantly building up our defenses and these sophisticated governments are also evolving their tactics.”

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia ran a disinformation and hacking operation to undermine the American democratic process and help Republican Trump’s 2016 campaign. Moscow denies interfering in the election.

Under pressure from EU regulators to do more to guard against foreign meddling in the bloc’s upcoming legislative election, Facebook toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe last week.

It also announced plans to ramp up efforts to fight misinformation ahead of the vote and will partner with German news agency DPA to boost its fact checking. 

Campaign Manager (CM) - Intelligent IT based Approach a must for all Political Parties

In 2016 assembly elections we were working for the IT wing of a leading political party.

Even though the party had money, since most of the senior politicians, who were holding the purse strings, did not comprehend technology money was not forthcoming. They were sitting on the budget demands and the IT wing was getting desperate with hardly a month to go into polling.

After a small trickle of funds was released a team was formed within a few days and we got cracking. What we realized was there were so many tasks to be managed on many fronts.

Apart from managing posts on social media, and analyzing the engagement there were demands cropping up in a dynamic manner – from all over the state. The demand could be from a district secretary of the party, a senior functionary going for a TV debate, a party speaker who was to address a public meeting in a sensitive constituency, damage control of fake news from opposition, managing the logistics of flow of promotional material, providing key speech points for the party leader on whirlwind tour in the final run-up.

The party heads need a reliable and trackable way of allocating and monitoring the work. They also need a way to get on ground data from party cadres and supporters, press, private sources.

This is where the Campaign Manager comes in. It allows communication both way.


     Key Benefits for political party leadership –
  • Delegates different tasks to party hierarchy with delivery deadlines
  • Tracks progress and provides auto alerts to leader on tasks’ status
  • Prioritizes Constituency Tasks in a criticality matrix, for better focus
  • Provides Simple Dashboard to manage election campaign, by any parameter – Issue/Delegate/Constituency/Criticality
  • Media Monitor - Monitor all news media for specific constituencies(identify issues for political party).
 Key Benefits for political workers –
  • Provide easy and achievable tasks and objectives.
  • The party workers who work hard automatically get the visibility of the top leadership. Which in turn will increase their future prospects within the party.  
  • Report ward level/constituency level and district level issues and allow direct access to party leaders. 
  • What does the party leadership want political workers to speak at Ward level/Constituency Level on daily basis(SPIN Module).
Managing ad campaigns on social media should also be done intelligently. It is important the Ad campaigns are run in coordination with information available from campaign manager.

That was the time AVS Labs visualized a campaign management tool which can enable the party leadership to manage the various activities of the campaign chaos.

S Sreeram
Chairman
AVS Labs Pte Ltd
chairman{at}avslabs.co

US sanctions Russians for interfering with elections

The trump administration on Thursday sanctioned 19 Russian individuals and five groups for interfering with the 2016 US elections and other “malicious cyber attacks.”

Experts say that this comes as the US joined Britain, France, and Germany in denouncing Russia for its alleged role in a nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in southern England. They called it a “clear violation” of international law, but nothing was said about their actions in response.

While President Trump seems to agree that Russia was behind the incident, he has still not given any comments regarding the sanctions.

Russia denies meddling in the US elections but US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia used hacking, propaganda, and social media to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement, “The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure.”

He said that there would be additional sanctions against Russian government officials and oligarchs for their “destabilizing activities” in the US, though he did not provide a specific time-frame.

The sanctions will supposedly sever their access to the US financial system.

The United States failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference

The United States of America has yet again neglected to build up deterrence in the consequence of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. And there is no surprise as to why it failed to do so. Which it did in light of the fact that Russia proceeded to forcefully employ the most noteworthy part of its 2016 toolbox: the utilization of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda intended to debilitate or in simpler words weaken their country.

Former CIA Director Michael Morell and former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said that Russia has continued its cyber-attacks against the United States. Both of them serve on the advisory council for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, say that the U.S. has neglected to prevent Russia from utilizing social networking to "disseminate propaganda designed to weaken their nation”.

"There is a perception among the media and the general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year's election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia's information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day," they wrote on Tuesday for The Washington Post.
As reported by them, the Russian government is as yet sending viable and effective tactics that focus on particular gatherings and politicians, much as they did earlier by controlling social media in the race to the 2016 election.

As per Rogers and Morell, Russian-influenced Twitter accounts were leading members in November's #BoycottKuerig movement via social media. The boycott started to dissent the coffee-maker organization pulling its advertisements for Sean Hannity's Fox News show.

"This was a Russian attack on a U.S. company and on our economy," Morell and Rogers said.

Morell and Rogers warn that Russia's utilization of web-based social networking as a "political weapon" that will continue pushing ahead in the future, with more nations expected that would stick to this same pattern, unless and until the U.S. intervenes.

"The sanctions that the Obama administration and Congress put in place in the aftermath of the 2016 election are steps in the right direction, but they were not significant enough to check Russian President Vladimir Putin," Morell and Rogers suggest.


Additionally included saying that true deterrence requires arrangements or such policies that keep adversaries from accomplishing their targets all the while imposing noteworthy expenses on their regimes, out of which they have done neither.