Watching the Watchers: FBI Warns of Massive Government Breach

By Eric Noonan • April 20, 2016

In a recent article by Motherboard, the FBI warned of massive government data breaches from a group that has had access to US Government files for years.  APT6 have “compromised and stolen sensitive information from various government and commercial networks since at least 2011”.  While it is unclear from the article just which government agencies are involved, the FBI has released an alert that details several domains that are associated with command and control (C2) of customized malicious software and any activity related to these domains “detected on a network should be considered an indication of a compromise requiring mitigation and contact with law enforcement”.

It is important to note that there have been no official notifications from US Government Agencies, other than the FBI warning, but it brings up a good point about allowing government agencies to have back door access to encrypted data.  If these very same government agencies can’t keep their own data secure, why should they be able to have access to encrypted data?   Huge breaches within government networks are nothing new, and the thought of giving a special key for encrypted systems to the government is a little frightening.

This article comes at a time when the US government is demanding access to encrypted data and the ensuing fight over whether the access to said data should be granted using special government-appointed backdoors.  Such as the proposed bill from Senators Diane Feinstein (D-California) and Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), covered entities receiving court orders from the government for information or data shall provide such information or data in an intelligence format or provide technical assistance to obtain such information or data in an intelligence format.  This means that a device manufacturer, software manufacture, an electronic communication service, etc. must give the requestor (the Federal Government) the data that is clear and human-readable.  Encrypted data is unintelligible.  Under this bill manufactures would have to give the government special backdoor access.  Additionally, any “unbreakable encryption” or sale of services that include it would be outlawed.   While the chance of this bill going anywhere is very low, it creates an awkward situation – how can the government expect to be in charge of special backdoor access to private data, when they can’t even secure their own data?

Regardless of your stance on the issue, your data needs protecting.  CyberSheath can assist you and your organization in securing your data. Start with an assessment today to identify your weaknesses and gaps.

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