Archive for September 2013

Experts Say Cybersecurity Must Go Beyond Attack Prevention

A pair of former government officials on Thursday pushed companies to focus less on preventing cyberattacks and more on building systems that allow them to quickly identify and rebound from intrusions, in response to a new survey suggesting current corporate security safeguards aren’t working.

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Language-Action Causal Graphs for Trustworthiness Attribution in CMC

Dr. Shuyuan Ho, Assistant Professor at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS), Florida’s iSchool, has been awarded a two year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant team will be led by Dr. Ho (Principal Investigator) and includes Dr. Xiuwen Liu (Co-Principal Investigator) and Dr. Mike Burmester (Co-Principal Investigator), both from FSU Computer Science. The team is working in partnership with a leading visionary in online deception research; Dr. Jeffrey Hancock from Cornell Information Science Department.

This collaborative research between Florida State University and Cornell University is to identify language-action features from text-based messages that can be used to dynamically infer a social actor’s perceived trustworthiness. The team will investigate using optimal analysis techniques to calibrate trustworthiness reasoning, which can be used to computationally model actors’ deceptive behaviors in cyber space and to infer actors’ intent based on their words and actions.

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“You don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people [like Snowden] get you in trouble.”

Edward Snowden accessed some secret national security documents by assuming the electronic identities of top NSA officials, said intelligence sources.

The NSA still doesn’t know exactly what Snowden took. But its forensic investigation has included trying to figure out which higher level officials Snowden impersonated online to access the most sensitive documents.

The NSA has as many as 40,000 employees. According to one intelligence official, the NSA is restricting its research to a much smaller group of individuals with access to sensitive documents. Investigators are looking for discrepancies between the real world actions of an NSA employee and the online activities linked to that person’s computer user profile. For example, if an employee was on vacation while the on-line version of the employee was downloading a classified document, it might indicate that someone assumed the employee’s identity.

The NSA has already identified several instances where Snowden borrowed someone else’s user profile to access documents, said the official.

Each user profile on NSAnet includes a level of security clearance that determines what files the user can access. Like most NSA employees and contractors, Snowden had a “top secret” security clearance, meaning that under his own user profile he could access many classified documents. But some higher level NSA officials have higher levels of clearance that give them access to the most sensitive documents.

As a system administrator, according to intelligence officials, Snowden had the ability to create and modify user profiles for employees and contractors. He also had the ability to access NSAnet using those user profiles, meaning he could impersonate other users in order to access files. He borrowed the identities of users with higher level security clearances to grab sensitive documents.

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The Science of Lying: The type of lie actually matters

Lying can be an art, but it’s also a science. Researchers have taken a closer look at what happens to a person when they tell a lie and have found out exactly what occurs in an individual’s brain. Yet exactly what happens doesn’t just depend on lying in general–it depends on what type of lie the person tells.

There are, in general, two types of lies. There are false descriptions and false denials. While false descriptions are deliberate flights of the imagination that we invent for something didn’t happen, false denials are brief lies that actually deny something that happened. False descriptions, surprisingly, are far more easily remembered.

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Obama Says Current Safeguards Against Surveillance Programs May Be Insufficient

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that, as technology continues to proliferate, the United States may have to update safeguards against its surveillance programs.

But Obama, speaking at a news conference in Stockholm with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, once again asserted that despite some cases of overreach there are already checks and balances on the books “designed to avoid a surveillance state.”

“What I can say with confidence is that when it comes to our domestic operation, the concerns that people have back home in the United States of America, that we do not surveil the American people or persons within the United States, that there are a lot of checks and balances in place designed to avoid a surveillance state,” Obama said. “There have been times where the procedures, because these are human endeavors, have not worked the way they should and we had to tighten them up. And I think there are legitimate questions that have been raised about the fact that as technology advances and capabilities grow, it may be that the laws that are currently in place are not sufficient to guard against the dangers of us being able to track so much.”


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U.S. Marines Website Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army

The official website for the U.S. Marines was hacked by a group purporting to be the Syrian Electronic Army on Monday, following President Obama’s announcement that he would seek congressional approval for a military strike on Syria, the Independent reported.

The homepage of, the official Marines recruitment site, was changed to a page signed “delivered by the SEA,” according to a screen shot posted by the Independent. The message on the page called for support from the Marines for their “brothers, the Syrian army soldiers.”

The entire message is here from