It's your what in a box? Here's a thing to make your bosses think about malware responses

You mean they already do? Pull the other one


Cyber UK 2019 Ever-exciting Cabinet Office minister David Lidington has put his name to a new infosec response testing tool developed by the NCSC, called (wait for it) Exercise in a Box.

In a speech due to be delivered to the Cyber UK conference in Glasgow later today, Lidington will inform the world: "This new free online tool will be critical in toughening the cyber defences of small businesses, local government, and other public and private sector organisations."

Exercise in a Box, or so Lidington will say, "provides scenarios based on common cyber threats facing the UK, which organisations can practice in their own time, in a safe environment, as many times as they want". You can pick from a technical simulation or a tabletop discussion.

"Just like having a fitness tracker, the tool enables players to monitor their progress," burbled the Cabinet Office in its explanation of the tool.

We do not yet know if it's available on Xbox or Apple Watch but doubtless readers will want to seek further information for themselves about that.

Gentle mockery aside, the idea is to get organisations large and small thinking about what to do if when Something Bad Happens to their IT infrastructure, whether as a result of drive-by ransomware or a targeted attack. Although the version currently available from the NCSC website was developed for SMEs and the emergency services, we are told the general concepts can be applied to most other organisations too.

"By practising your defence and response mechanisms, you can understand how effective they really are and where there are areas for improvement," said NCSC chief exec Ciaran Martin in a canned quote. "We're committed to building the UK's cyber resilience and continuing our work to make the country the hardest possible target for our adversaries."

As NCSC tech director Ian Levy expressed the underlying problem while talking to the press yesterday about industrial control malware: "There's kind of a mantra in the cybersecurity community that says [people working on safety critical systems] will never patch because they're just too scared to ever patch anything. There's a mantra in the [Operational Technology] world that says cybersecurity are cowboys because they patch instantly. It's about bringing them together and having that conversation."

It might not be as exciting as Stuxnet or zero-day vulns ("Why use a zero-day if you can spearphish an admin and log in from the internet?" asked Levy, rhetorically) but getting the less security-aware parts of the UK more savvy about infosec practices can only be a good thing. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022