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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

US government grants $3 million to fight future cyberattacks

Algorithmic vulnerabilities, or the emerging hacking threat, can do a lot of damage on computer systems. It is considered as more complex, more challenging to detect and more effective at damaging different nation’s computer systems.

Additionally, it is extremely hard to detect with the existing security technology according to the Dyman & Associates Risk Management Projects.

These attacks can only be achieved by hackers hired by nation states which have resources essential to mount them, but perhaps not for very long.

Computer scientists at the University of Utah and University of California, Irvine are given $3 million by the U.S. Department of Defense to produce software that will detect or fight future cyberattacks.

The University of Utah team will be composed of 10 faculty members, postdoctoral and graduate students. Of the $3 million grant, which is over four years, $2 million will go to the Utah team and $1 million to the Irvine team.

The project is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in a new program called STAC, or Space/Time Analysis for Cybersecurity.

The team is tasked with creating an analyzer that can fight so-called algorithmic attacks that target the set of rules or calculations that a computer must follow to solve a problem.

The analyzer needs to perform a mathematical simulation to predict what’s going to happen in case there is an attack and it must conduct an examination of computer programs to detect algorithmic vulnerabilities or “hot spots” in the code. It is more like a spellcheck but for cybersecurity.

University of Utah’s associate professor of computer science and a co-leader on the team, Matt Might said that the military is looking ahead at what’s coming in regards of cybersecurity and it seems like they’re going to be algorithmic attacks. He also stated that the current state of computer security is a lot like doors unlocked into the house so there’s no point getting a ladder and scaling up to an unlocked window on the roof.

"But once all the doors get locked on the ground level, attackers are going to start buying ladders. That's what this next generation of vulnerabilities is all about."

Hackers will make use of programmers’ mistakes while creating their programs on the software. For instance, the software will get a programming input crafted by a hacker and use it without automatically validating it first which can result in a vulnerability giving the hacker access to the computer or causing it to leak information.

Algorithmic attacks are very different since they don’t need to find such conventional vulnerabilities. For instance, they can secretly track how much energy a computer is utilizing and use that information to gather sensitive data that the computer is processing, or they can secretly track how an algorithm is running within a computer. These attacks can also drive central processing unit (CPU) to overwork, or they can disable a computer by forcing it to use too much memory.

Suresh Venkatasubramanian, who is also a co-leader from the team, states that these algorithmic attacks are very devious because they could exploit weaknesses in how resources like space and time are utilized in the algorithm.

Algorithmic attacks are really complex, costly, and use the most amount of time, so most hackers these days are not using this kind of attacks however, they take the easier route of exploiting current vulnerabilities.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dyman Associates Risk Management review: Manufacturers Should Upgrade Practices

A new report from Deloitte and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation recommends that manufacturers convert their risk management practices to "an ongoing conversation rather than a periodic presentation."

The study, titled "Understanding Risk Assessment Practices at Manufacturing Companies," said the evolution of technology within the manufacturing sector presents vulnerabilities as well as opportunities, and that new threats can strike with unprecedented speed.

The report argued companies should improve their use of technology in risk management, consider increasing the frequency of assessments and embed those practices within all levels of company operations.

"In short, risk assessment and management techniques should advance at a rate equal to or greater than the underlying business," the report said.

Companies surveyed by Deloitte and MAPI identified cyber security as the biggest IT risk three years from now, with product design and development innovation as the top business risk over that span. The report said companies should utilize cyber security controls, but that they should also increase their insight into potential threats and how to appropriately respond to them.

They study also noted that 93 percent of companies indicated oversight of their risk management rested with the full board or an audit committee, and suggested that "given the rising complexity facing most manufacturing organizations ... it may be time to give risk management a clear subcommittee."

The involvement of a committee, meanwhile, could result in such panels becoming increasingly involved in day-to-day operations. The report called for a "proper executive champion" for that role, potentially including the creation of a chief risk officer.

Improved risk management and audit practices, meanwhile, could also help create a more resilient supply chain, as well as improve employee recruitment and retention amid ongoing concerns about a manufacturing skills gap.

Although improving risk management practices wouldn't dramatically alter a company’s bottom line, the report said the potential benefit to competitive advantages and shareholder confidence "will naturally make its way into earnings."

"Organizations should establish a risk assessment program that fits into its unique culture and risks," said MAPI deputy general counsel Les Miller. "Since change is constant and can occur suddenly, ongoing efforts to enhance the sophistication and variety of risk assessment techniques are needed."

The study conducted an online poll of 68 members of MAPI's Internal Audit and Risk Management Councils in June of 2014. The respondents ranged from less than $1 billion in annual revenue to more than $25 billion; the majority ranged between $1 billion and $10 billion.