A second major intrusion into U.S. government employee records, this one designed to root out names of those who might be willing to spy for a foreign government, was uncovered during the investigation into the first such breach announced this month, two officials said Friday.
Chinese hackers sought information to blackmail U.S. government workers, officials believe
Nation Chinese hackers sought information to blackmail U.S. government workers, officials believe
The newly discovered breach compromised financial histories and information on family members and foreign trips for up to 4.1 million federal employees, according to a senior administration official and an FBI official.
China says hacking claims made by U.S. ‘baseless,’ ‘slander’
China says hacking claims made by U.S. ‘baseless,’ ‘slander’
Though the U.S. government has not announced publicly who is behind the two cyberattacks, officials have said privately it is China.
The senior official, who like the FBI official would not be named because the case is continuing, said the administration was reviewing what happened and trying to determine how deep the impact might be.
After the discovery of the breach, which occurred in December, the Office of Personnel Management “immediately implemented additional security measures and will continue to add protections for the sensitive information it manages,” the official said.
As Ollie said to Stan”This is another fine mess you’ve got us into!”
Last week, the OPM announced that a major intrusion had occurred into the agency’s personnel files of both current and former federal employees. That breach was discovered in April, and it was during an investigation into that intrusion that the officials learned of the earlier breach.
Also on Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget announced it was leading a “broad strategy to combat cyberthreats” and strengthen the federal government’s computer security.
Cyberattack on federal workers linked to foreign government, Schiff says
“Recent events underscore the need to accelerate the administration’s cyberstrategy and confront aggressive, persistent malicious actors that continue to target our nation’s cyber infrastructure,” the office said in a statement.
Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) has created a Kickstarter in hopes of funding a unique concert performance of the landmark album, OK Computer by Radiohead.
YOSA asks San Antonio’s for help bringing the event that will likely not be forgotten. On June 27, YOSA will collaborate with some of San Antonio’s best-known musical acts to produce the notorious blend of classical music and alternative rock throughout each song of the iconic Radiohead album.
The San Antonio Current previously covered the event’s well-known local musicians which include Nina Diaz, Demitasse, Pop Pistol, Lonely Horse, Octahedron, Nicolette Good, Alyson Alonzo, Femina-X, Jaime Ramirez, The Lavens and Jonathan Raveneau.
In order to create this one-time event, YOSA has launched their Kickstarter campaign to fund the substantial initial investment, which covers the rental of rehearsal space and performance venue, live audio recording, plus pay for the stage crew, lighting director, and audio engineer.
YOSA calls their backers “a key role in positioning YOSA to bring this exciting project to the stage.” The concert proceeds will benefit the YOSA scholarship fund, who is devoted to the education of youth through music.
Currently, the campaign has received $705 of their $5000 goal. There are 18 days remaining to donate.
Tickets for the event are already on sale at the Tobin Center box office, however, the project will only go on if YOSA receives funding by 11 p.m. on June 23.
Microsoft wants to help more University of Washington students study computer science, and it’s making a big donation to help make it happen.
The Redmond-based company is announcing a $10 million gift to help the UW’s overcrowded Computer Science & Engineering department construct a second building on campus.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, called the UW’s computer science department “one of the crown jewels of our local economy” and an “incredible asset for this region and state.”
In an interview with GeekWire, Smith said it’s important to provide UW students with the opportunity to learn computer science and ultimately help increase the local talent pool.
“The growth of the University of Washington is important for Microsoft and every single tech company in this state,” he said. “That’s a big part of the reason why we are investing in this.”
This is the first official corporate gift for the new building, which is expected to cost roughly $110 million. More than a decade ago, Microsoft also provided first corporate gift for the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, which opened in 2003 and currently houses the CSE program.
“The partnership between UW and Microsoft goes back more than 40 years — to the pre-Microsoft days when Bill Gates and Paul Allen were high school students at Lakeside and roamed UW’s computing facilities,” said Ed Lazowska, the department’s Bill & Melinda Gates Chair. “We can’t thank them enough for once again leading the way.”
With the gift from Microsoft, the campaign to raise necessary funds is now public, Lazowska said. He cited the increasing interest for computer science degrees — there were more than 1,000 people enrolled in the intro to computer science class this spring quarter — and noted that the program can only accommodate one out of three qualified students who apply to the major.
In the decade since the current UW CSE building opened, the demand for computer science graduates has skyrocketed in the Seattle region, thanks to a strong startup ecosystem, Amazon’s rapid growth, and the opening of Seattle-area engineering offices by Google, Facebook, and many other tech companies based outside the region.
“UW CSE desperately needs to expand,” Lazowska said. “Student demand and employer demand both are extraordinary. Kids who grow up in the state of Washington deserve the opportunity to be educated for jobs at the forefront of our region’s innovation economy. That’s what we do in UW CSE.”
The program expects to hand out 364 degrees this year, up from 317 last year. Lazowska said he wants to see that number get to 600 “as rapidly as possible” and also dramatically increase the availability of upper-division courses to non-majors — but that can’t happen without a new space and more legislative support for growth. He hopes construction on the new building can be completed by fall of 2018.
The new 130,000 square-foot building will be paid for by both public and private money, similar to how the 160,000 square-foot Paul G. Allen Center was funded. The UW is asking the state for $40 million and several major individual gifts have already come through. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee set aside $40 million in state funding for the project in his proposed budget for 2015-to-2017.
“The goal should be to build this building as quickly as we can,” Smith said. “What’s at stake is whether high school students in Washington state have the opportunity to earn this degree the way they should.”
In January, the UW Board of Regents approved funding to hire Seattle-based LMN Architects and begin developing a plan for the school’s second CSE building. The school is looking at several potential building sites around campus, including one that raised concerns from those who don’t want to see a historic landmark demolished.
“We are considering multiple sites, and we are considering multiple ways to utilize the preferred site while respecting important historical preservation goals,” Lazowska said.
Lazowska said the Seattle’s tech community has been “extraordinarily generous” with their support of UW computer science and hopes that other companies and individuals will follow Microsoft’s lead.
Tom Alberg, co-founder of Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, who also co-chaired the capital campaign for the Paul G. Allen Center, said Microsoft’s gift was “great news for our state.”
“Companies, big and small, need more computer science graduates and this gift is an incredibly important first step to expanding the education opportunities in our state,” he said. “UW CSE plays a very important part of this region’s technology ecosystem. Madrona has funded 15 companies that came out of UW CSE and we expect to invest in many more in the future.”
GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Besieged FIFA on Wednesday said that computer information has been handed over to Swiss justice authorities investigating allegations of corruption at the sport’s ruling body.
“FIFA today provided, as planned, data requested by the attorney general,” said a spokesman for the global football body.
FIFA has been in turmoil since last month when 14 current or former officials and sports marketing executives were charged in Zurich as part of an investigation by US authorities into alleged corruption.
The fallout led to the resignation of FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
The decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Qatar and Russia respectively is also currently the subject of an investigation.
The BBC claimed that documents were seized from the offices of Blatter, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke and chief financial officer Markus Kattner.
Questioned by AFP, a spokesman for the Swiss public prosecutor confirmed that documents had been handed over but without identifying individuals.
“FIFA has today presented documents and computer data to the public ministry,” said a justice spokesman.
Washington: Hackers linked to China appear to have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, several US officials said Friday, describing a second cyberbreach of federal records that could dramatically compound the potential damage.
The forms authorities believed to have been accessed, require applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of US intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s national identification number and that of his or her cohabitant is required.
#China #cyberbreach #cybertheft #hack attack
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the security clearance material is classified.
In a statement, the White House said that on June 8, investigators concluded there was “a high degree of confidence that … systems containing information related to the background investigations of current, former and prospective federal government employees, and those for whom a federal background investigation was conducted, may have been exfiltrated.”
“This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance,” said Joel Brenner, a former top US counterintelligence official. “That makes it very hard for any of those people to function as an intelligence officer. The database also tells the Chinese an enormous amount of information about almost everyone with a security clearance. That’s a gold mine. It helps you approach and recruit spies.”
The Office of Personnel Management, a central personnel database, which was the target of the hack, has not officially notified military or intelligence personnel whose security clearance data was breached, but news of the second hack was starting to circulate in both the Pentagon and the CIA.
The officials said they believe the hack into the security clearance database was separate from the breach of federal personnel data announced last week — a breach that is itself appearing far worse than first believed. It could not be learned whether the security database breach happened when an OPM contractor was hacked in 2013, an attack that was discovered last year. Members of Congress received classified briefings about that breach in September, but there was no mention of security clearance information being exposed.
The OPM had no immediate comment Friday.
Nearly all of the millions of security clearance holders, including CIA, National Security Agency and military special operations personnel, are potentially exposed in the security clearance breach, the officials said. More than 2.9 million people had been investigated for a security clearance as of October 2014, according to government records.
In the hack of standard personnel records announced last week, two people briefed on the investigation disclosed Friday that as many as 14 million current and former civilian US government employees have had their information exposed to hackers, a far higher figure than the 4 million the Obama administration initially disclosed.
American officials have said that cybertheft originated in China and that they suspect espionage by the Chinese government, which has denied any involvement.
The newer estimate puts the number of compromised records between 9 million and 14 million going back to the 1980s, said one congressional official and one former US official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because information disclosed in the confidential briefings includes classified details of the investigation.
There are about 2.6 million executive branch civilians, so the majority of the records exposed relate to former employees. Contractor information also has been stolen, officials said. The data in the hack revealed last week include the records of most federal civilian employees, though not members of Congress and their staffs, members of the military or staff of the intelligence agencies.
On Thursday, a major union said it believes the hackers stole national identification numbers, military records and veterans’ status information, addresses, birth dates, job and pay histories; health insurance, life insurance and pension information; and age, gender and race data.
The personnel records would provide a foreign government an extraordinary roadmap to blackmail, impersonate or otherwise exploit federal employees in an effort to gain access to U.S. secrets —or entry into government computer networks.
Outside experts were pointing to the breaches as a blistering indictment of the US government’s ability to secure its own data two years after a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, was able to steal tens of thousands of the agency’s most sensitive documents.
The national identification numbers, known as Social Security numbers, were not encrypted, the American Federation of Government Employees said, calling that “an abysmal failure on the part of the agency to guard data that has been entrusted to it by the federal workforce.”
OPM said it was increasing its use of encryption.
The Obama administration had acknowledged that up to 4.2 million current and former employees whose information resides in the Office of Personnel Management server are affected by the December cyberbreach, but it had been vague about exactly what was taken.
Former congressman Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last week that he believes China will use the recently stolen information for “the mother of all spear-phishing attacks.”
Spear-phishing is a technique under which hackers send emails designed to appear legitimate so that users open them and load spyware onto their networks.
Manu Prakash, an assistant professor at Stanford University has built a computer that operates on water. It gains its energy from moving water droplets.
The idea stuck Mr. Prakash when he was a graduate student. In his work, he has combined droplet fluid mechanism with the basic element of computer science – the CLOCK.
He has named his new device “The droplet computer”. The droplet computer can hypothetically achieve any process that an electronic computer does.
Prakash built arrays of iron bars on a glass plane. It looked like a maze.
A glass was laid over the arrangement. The air gap between the planes was filled with oil.
The next step was his biggest challenge. He had to inject the water droplets into the maze. In order to achieve this, he infused the water droplets with magnetic nano particles and carefully injected the droplets manually.
Now the arrangement was placed in a magnetic field created by copper coils.
Any current carrying conductor has a magnetic field around it. And the magnetic field can be controlled by the current direction and the amount of current.
Applying this principle, the movement of the infused magnetic droplet was now controlled by the field.
The following is a microscopic image of the injected magnetic droplet
The black dots are the droplets.
The droplets move because of the controlled magnetic field. Every time the magnetic field changes, the polarities of the iron bars change and thereby the droplets are kept in motion.
In simple terms…
The main concept used is, “Opposite poles attract.”
The water droplets are magnetic. Meaning, they have a north pole and a south pole.
The iron bars are magnetized by the current in the copper coil. How? Iron is a ferro magnetic material. Whenever a ferro magnetic material is placed in a magnetic field, the smaller domains align themselves in a particular direction and thereby adapting magnetic properties.
So we have two magnetized components. One, the iron bars and the other water droplet.
The motion of the droplet is explained as follows.
The presence and absence of the droplet is coded as 1s and 0s.
There he has found his clock. A computer clock is nothing but a continuous 1 and 0. The professor thus found his clock running on a water droplet and thereby a computer running on a water droplet.
The professor is waiting for investors to join hands to enable him reach the concept to the broader market.
You can check the introductory video on ‘The Droplet Computer’ below
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hackers breached the computers of the U.S. government agency that collects personnel information for federal workers in a massive cyber attack that compromised the data of about 4 million current and former employees, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
A U.S. law enforcement source told Reuters a foreign entity or government was believed to be behind the cyber intrusion against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and media reports said authorities suspected it originated in China.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had launched a probe and would hold the culprits accountable.
OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information systems in April and the Department of Homeland Security said it concluded at the beginning of May that the agency’s data had been compromised.
The breach affected OPM’s IT systems and its data stored at the Department of the Interior’s data center, which is a shared service center for federal agencies, a DHS official said on condition of anonymity. The official would not comment on whether other agencies’ data had been affected.
OPM had previously been the victim of another cyberattack, as have various federal government computer systems at the State Department, the U.S. Postal Service and the White House.
“The FBI is working with our interagency partners to investigate this matter,” the bureau said in a statement. “We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace.”
A law-enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonmity, said the cyber attack was believed to have been launched from outside the United States, but would neither confirm nor deny that it had originated in China.
The U.S. government has long raised concerns about cyber spying and theft emanating from China and has urged Beijing to do more to curb the problem. China has denied U.S. accusations.
There was no immediate comment from the White House on the latest cyber attack.
Since the intrusion, OPM said it had implemented additional security precautions for its networks. It said it would notify the 4 million people affected and offer credit monitoring and identity theft services to the people affected.
“The last few months have seen a series of massive data breaches that have affected millions of Americans,” U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.
But he called the latest intrusion “among the most shocking because Americans may expect that federal computer networks are maintained with state of the art defenses.”
“It’s clear that a substantial improvement in our cyber databases and defenses is perilously overdue,” Schiff added.
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, Peter Cooney and Jeff Mason; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Peter Cooney)
A week after the government disclosed a massive hacking breach on government computer systems containing sensitive information on federal employees, the head of the country’s biggest union representing some of those workers shed some new light on what kind of information was compromised.
David Cox, president of the American Federation of Federal Employees, in a letter to Katherine Archuleta, director of the Office of Personnel and Management, wrote that the hackers appear to have made off with information on every single active non-military federal employee, former employee and every retiree who used to work for a federal agency.
The letter says the attack has “every person’s Social Security Number, military records, veterans’ status information, address, birth date, job and pay history, health insurance, life insurance and pension information.”
It goes on to say the organization believes that the Social Security numbers in particular were not encrypted, calling that a “cyber security failure that is absolutely indefensible and outrageous.” The attack breached the government’s Central Personnel Data File, Cox writes in the letter.
The FBI announced that it was investigating the attack on the OPM on June 4. Initial estimates said that information on more than four million people was involved.
The FBI hasn’t said who might be responsible, but Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who is among a group of lawmakers that gets briefed on intelligence information, has publicly attributed the attack to “the Chinese,” without elaborating if he meant that country’s government or hackers acting alone within its borders.
The OPM hasn’t commented on the scale of the information, saying that the incident remains the subject of an active criminal investigation. A spokesman for the agency didn’t immediately return a message left outside of business hours.
In the letter, Cox, whose organization represents 670,000 federal workers, called for the government to provide employees with lifetime credit monitoring services, instead of the 18 months of monitoring they have been offered, and liability insurance to cover costs stemming from the breach. He also criticized OPM for outsourcing the response to address concerns of federal employees to a contractor.
AMD has launched its sixth-generation A-Series APU line, codenamed Carrizo, at an event alongside the 2015 Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan. AMD will be targeting mainstream notebooks with the promise of extended battery life, as part of its efforts to claw itself out of the low-margin budget ends of the PC and notebook markets.Carrizo will be the company’s first SoC (System-on-a-Chip) design, integrating functions including CPU cores, GPU cores, cache memory, IO controllers, a hardware HEVC video decoder, a security core, and other functions on a single processor die. The architecture is also the first to be compliant with AMD’s industry-spanning Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) effort, which aims to drastically improve performance by allowing a system’s CPU and GPU to contribute to workloads more easily through a common memory pool, rather than repeatedly copying data from one dedicated memory pool to another.
Carrizo’s four CPU cores are based on the new Excavator architecture, and are accompanied by eight GPU modules based on the Graphics Core Next 1.2 architecture derived from the company’s discrete Radeon GPU line. The integrated GPU is DirectX 12 ready and discrete graphics chips are supported as well. The chip is fabricated on the relatively old 28nm process but AMD says its engineers have been able to squeeze more efficiency out of their designs, and Carrizo thus stays within a 15W TDP envelope.
The company has not disclosed how many SKUs will be available, or what clock speeds they will run at. There is also no target window for when devices based on Carrizo APUs will be available in the market.
According to AMD, the mainstream notebook segment accounts for two out of every five notebooks sold, and is the largest share of the overall PC market as well. Intel has dominated this market for years and AMD has been forced to compete by cutting prices. The company has identified workloads that users typically expect their computers to be good at today, such as video streaming and online gaming.
The HEVC block is an example of measures taken to perform these tasks while still lasting all day on a single battery charge. AMD claims over twice as much video playback time on a Carrizo APU than on its predecessor, Kaveri, thanks to decreased CPU core utilisation.
The security core, which AMD calls TrustZone, is actually an ARM Cortex-A5 which enables secure boot and resume, network connectivity while in sleep mode, drive encryption, and application security – all of which will appeal to business customers.