Sponsored by Spectra Group
03 Aug 22. Remember 5G? Pentagon backs 6G hub tied to Army Research Lab.
As telecom companies struggle to complete the transition to the fifth-generation, or 5G, mobile standard, the Pentagon is backing an effort focused on 6G research and technologies amid a military-wide push to modernize communications and connectivity.
The Department of Defense on Aug. 2 said it committed $1.77 m to the Open6G industry-university cooperative, which will serve as a hub for development, testing and integration, and “aims to jumpstart 6G systems research on open radio access networks,” or Open RAN.
The Open6G venture is part of the defense community’s Innovate Beyond 5G Program, under the purview of the under secretary of defense for research and engineering.
“The DoD has a vital interest in advancing 5G-to-NextG wireless technologies and concept demonstrations,” Sumit Roy, the IB5G program director, said in a statement. “These efforts represent our continuing investments via public and private sector collaboration on research and development for critical beyond 5G technology enablers necessary to realize high performance, secure, and resilient network operations for the future warfighter.”
Open6G is managed by Northeastern University’s Kostas Research Institute alongside the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Technical work will be housed at the university’s Institute for Wireless Internet of Things. The institute specializes in 5G and 6G, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and unmanned aerial systems for both civil and defense use.
The Defense Department has for years invested in 5G while keeping eyes on the horizon. The fifth generation of wireless technologies — now available to hundreds of ms of Americans, with Verizon, AT&T and other carriers spending bns of dollars to rapidly expand their 5G networks — touts faster speeds and the ability to accommodate advanced devices. Future generations are expected to be even better.
Watchdogs such as the Government Accountability Office have warned of pitfalls, though. They include steep infrastructure costs, difficulties with implementation and cybersecurity woes.
Military leaders have promoted 5G, and what’s beyond, as a means to better connect forces on the battlefield and shuttle vital information between them, a tenet of Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The fifth generation is also being used to improve logistics in so-called smart warehouses, where private networks are powering experiments with virtual and augmented reality, high-definition video surveillance and artificial intelligence extended from the cloud.
The Defense Department secured approximately $338 m for 5G and microelectronics in fiscal 2022. It requested $250 m for fiscal 2023.
The department in 2020 announced a $600 m investment in 5G testing across a handful of U.S. military installations. Follow-up investments were made in 2021. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Aug 22. August Spectrum Sitrep. Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.
Mercury’s mPOD electronic warfare training system is commencing its final flight testing. It is designed to replicate the hostile jamming signals pilots might encounter in air combat.
Mercury’s new mPOD electronic attack training system has begun final flight testing according to reports. The pod is reprogrammable. It is designed to train pilots on the jamming waveforms they may encounter from near-peer adversaries during air combat. The pod can be attached to an aircraft’s weapons stations. Alternatively, the mPOD’s architecture can be installed within an aircraft. The company says it can also be rapidly integrated with the aircraft’s cockpit display and control systems. Mercury added that it is now accepting orders for the mPOD.
WL Gore and Associates has unveiled a new 40 gigahertz/GHz Gore-Flight microwave assembly. A press release announcing the news said the product is aimed at electronic warfare users, among others. Specifically, “customers who want to transport electrical signals reliably with minimal size, weight and power.” The assemblies have been qualified to the most stringent specifications for airframe assemblies, the release continued. The company says it controls the entire manufacturing process from purchasing raw materials and creating and applying the proprietary dielectric material, through testing and shipping the final cable assembly.
The US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has announced a request for proposals for the commercial provision of space-based Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection. The NRO is looking for providers using satellites to track emissions from devices or platforms emitting radio frequency energy. Plans are afoot to award contracts to selected providers towards the end of this year. The NRO’s interest in space based commercial SIGNT is unsurprising given the emergence of such services in recent years. The use of commercial SIGINT offloads some of the collection burden from dedicated government SIGINT satellites. This allows the latter to concentrate on specific missions while routine SIGINT is collected via the private sector.
Several of the Thales Bushmaster armoured vehicles used by the Australian Army will be converted into electronic warfare platforms.
Looking toward Australia, Canberra has approved the conversion of several Thales Bushmaster armoured vehicles into electronic warfare platforms for the Australian Army. The initiative falls under the army’s Project Land 555 Phase 6 programme. The conversion will be performed by Raytheon’s Australian subsidiary. More details on the Project Land-555 Phase-6 programme can be found here in one of Armada’s previous articles.
The new G-650 jet which the Royal Netherlands Air Force has on order will receive Elbit’s J-MUSIC DIRCM and IR-PAWS self-protection systems.
Elbit Systems announced via a press release on 14th July that it will provide its J-MUSIC Direction Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (RNAF/Royal Netherlands Air Force). The DIRCM will be installed on the RNAF’s forthcoming Gulfstream G-650 jet. The air force has a single platform on order that will be used to transport of dignitaries. The G-650 replaces the Gulfstream-IV currently used by the RNAF for this mission. Alongside J-MUSIC, the aircraft will receive Elbit’s IR-PAWS infrared missile approach warning system.
On 13th July, the US Army announced the conclusion of an agreement with Lockheed Martin to support a manufacturing proof of concept for the force’s forthcoming Terrestrial Layer System – Brigade Combat Team. This will equip US Army brigade combat teams with a combined cyber and electronic warfare capability housed onboard a General Dynamics M-1133 variant of the Stryker armoured fighting vehicle. A US Army press release said the agreement is worth $58.8 m and will conclude in October 2023. It will cover prototype systems integrated onto M-1133 vehicles which are ready for operational assessment. These vehicles will constitute the first units to be delivered to the army’s manoeuvre force.
The Barents Observer reported in early July that an increase in Global Navigation Satellite Signal (GNSS) jamming has been detected in north-eastern Norway. The jamming was blamed on Russia and affected civilian aircraft flying over this part of the country. It is believed to emanate from Pechenga, a town in Russia just over eleven kilometres (six miles) from the Russo-Norwegian border. The surrounding area is home to the Russian Army’s 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade. It is also the base for Russia’s 61st Naval Infantry Brigade. The report said that GNSS jamming is more frequent than previously encountered in this region. GNSS jamming has been observed in north-eastern Norway since 2017. Russia is known to deploy GNSS jammers to protect militarily- or strategically-important sites. This is done to help safeguard them against potential attack by GNSS-guided ordnance.
Russian news sources have confirmed that the Stupor counter-UAV system has been deployed in the Ukraine theatre of operations.
Elsewhere in Europe, Russian news sources say the country’s armed forces have deployed the Stupor Counter-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (CUAV) device in the Ukraine theatre of operations. Stupor is a handheld directional jammer with a rifle-like design. The user aims it towards a UAV and shoots a jamming beam. This disables the radio link connecting the UAV to its operator. Reports say the weapon was first seen at defence exhibitions in Russian in 2017. The apparatus has a reported range of 1.1 nautical miles (two kilometres). It can jam radio links connecting the aircraft to the pilot on frequencies of 2.4GHz or five gigahertz, along with Global Navigation Satellite System signals. Stupor is thought to be deployed in the western part of the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. It may be used to protect troops at the tactical edge from UAVs, along with defending point targets. More details on the electronic war against UAVs in Ukraine can be found this Armada article. (Source: Armada)
04 Aug 22. Colombia-Guatemala: Risk of hacktivist attacks against energy and mining companies will continue to increase amid growing environmental scrutiny. On 3 August, Latin America-based hacktivist group known as Guacamaya claimed that it hacked and leaked 2 terabytes of sensitive data from five mining companies and two environmental oversight public agencies in Colombia and Guatemala. In a follow-up statement, Guacamaya has confirmed that this is a response to the growing environmental damage that these companies, along with the US government, are causing to areas in which they are operating. The group also blames the Colombian and Guatemalan governments for not properly managing this situation. As such, this incident is consistent with the growing resurgence of politically motivated hacktivist activity in the first half of 2022, with groups such as Anonymous engaging an ongoing cyber campaign in support of Kyiv during Russia’s invasion (see Sibylline Weekly Ukraine Cyber Update – 3 August 2022). With the scrutiny of companies’ environmental impact likely to remain high in light of the growing popularity of groups such as Extinction Rebellion (XR), there is a heightened risk of further environment-related hacktivist attacks targeting firms, such as mining or energy companies. (Source: Sibylline)
04 Aug 22. Global: Theft of crypto assets underlines the threat posed by software supply chain attacks in light of increasing digitalisation in business. On 3 August, industry reports claimed that unknown hackers stole an estimated USD 5.2 m worth of crypto assets from nearly 7,936 crypto-wallets on the Solana blockchain platform. Initial investigations have revealed that this incident has only impacted users’ software wallets and that the hardware variant, also known as a cold wallet, remains unaffected as of the time of writing. It remains unclear how the threat actor was able to gain access to these wallets. However, given the focus on software wallets and the discovery that all the money-siphoning transactions were “signed by the rightful owner”, there is a notable probability that these attacks were enabled by issues such as a software supply chain attack or browser zero-day. If the former is discovered to be true, this would be indicative of the findings in security firm Sonatype’s 2021 report, that software supply chain attacks increased by 650 percent over the previous year. Further such cyber campaigns are highly likely to emerge in the coming six months, especially as the growing digitalisation of businesses’ platforms provides cyber threat actors with a series of vulnerabilities to exploit and gain access to their and their client’s sensitive data. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Aug 22. USAF conducts operational assessment for updated Angry Kitten pod. The test validated effectiveness of the system, whose future still remains undecided. The US Air Force (USAF) has completed the operational assessment (OA) of an updated version of the Angry Kitten combat pod electronic warfare (EW) system. The OA was conducted as part of the app-enabled rapidly reprogrammable electronic warfare/electromagnetic systems experiment campaign, called AERRES.
Conducted in April to demonstrate rapid reprogramming between flights, the OA has been funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office.
The updated version of the Georgia Tech Research Institute-developed Angry Kitten pod simulates enemy electronic attack signals during the USAF’s test and training operations.
Experiment programme manager Keith Kirk said: “AERRES is assessing the operational utility and competitive advantages of open hardware/software architectures and standards to provide app-enabled EW/electromagnetic solutions.”
Following the success of the pod’s ability to be reprogrammed, the Air Combat Command recommended the conversion of four pods into combat pods to deliver attack capabilities against enemy radio frequency threat systems.
The test was conducted to validate the pod’s ability to be used as an improved counterthreat system to make identifying and attacking it more difficult for aircraft operated by the US forces.
Furthermore, the pod’s open architecture provides flexibility to update the system in accordance with changing EW environments, unlike traditional systems that needed time and funding to integrate upgrades.
Angry Kitten operational assessment test director lieutenant colonel Stephen Graham noted that the government-owned software allows programmers to update software and quickly install new mission data files.
The data files use open-source programming language to enable programmers to design jamming techniques against threats. The techniques were tested for months to enhance accuracy and efficiency.
Overall, 30 sorties were conducted by the test team to demonstrate post-flight reprogramming, to further improve effects recorded in previous flights. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
03 Aug 22. China-US-Taiwan: Beijing-endorsed cyber attacks will remain a high priority concern for Taipei as Nancy Pelosi’s visit further strains US-Sino relations. On 2 August, industry reports claimed that the official website of the administration of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was subjected to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Taipei has refrained from attributing this activity to a specific threat actor. However, this incident occurred hours before US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi was set to arrive in Taiwan, marking the highest-ranking US official to visit the island in 25 years and a notable escalation in US-China tensions. As such, there is a realistic probability that this DDoS attack was launched by either a Chinese state-linked actor and/or one of Beijing’s several patriotic hacktivist groups. Further such disruptive cyber attacks are highly likely to emerge in the coming days, especially with Pelosi scheduled to meet with high-ranking Taiwanese officials, business people – such as Chairman of the TSMC Mark Liu – and several pro-democracy and human rights activists during her visit. These attacks will likely be aimed at expressing Beijing’s political grievances over Pelosi’s visit and primarily target Taiwanese government agencies and private sector firms supporting their operations, such as technology or telecommunications firms. (Source: Sibylline)
03 Aug 22. Germany: Encryption of German electronics manufacturer’s network highlights growing threat posed by the Gold Northfield ransomware group. On 2 August, industry reports claimed that the German power electronics manufacturer Semikron was subject to a ransomware attack. This incident reportedly encrypted the company’s IT systems and files and resulted in the exfiltration of sensitive data. While Semikron has refrained from providing further information about this campaign, including tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), an alert issued by the German Federal Office of Information Security indicated that the company may have been encrypted with LV ransomware. LV is a strain of ransomware operated by the Gold Northfield cyber criminal group. While forensic investigations revealed that LV is a repurposed version of the REvil ransomware, there is currently no indication that the two groups are connected. This incident underscores the growing threat posed to all businesses by cyber attacks, with the average weekly attacks per organisation worldwide increasing by 32 percent year-on-year according to cyber security firm Check Point. With this trend set to persist, there is a realistic probability of ransomware threat actors launching further attacks against industries of interest, such as technology or manufacturing, in the coming six months. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Aug 22. Three New Projects for DOD’s Innovate Beyond 5G Program.
The Department of Defense’s Innovate Beyond 5G (IB5G) Program recently kicked off three new projects that continue to advance DoD collaborative partnerships with industry and academia for 5G-to-NextG wireless technologies.
“The DoD has a vital interest in advancing 5G-to-NextG wireless technologies and concept demonstrations,” said Dr. Sumit Roy, IB5G Program Director. “These efforts represent our continuing investments via public and private sector collaboration on research & development for critical Beyond 5G technology enablers necessary to realize high performance, secure, and resilient network operations for the future warfighter.”
Open6G is a new industry-university cooperative effort that aims to jumpstart 6G systems research on open radio access networks (Open RAN). The effort will focus on Open RAN research and open source implementation of 5G protocol stack features to support emerging beyond/enhanced 5G applications. Open6G will serve as the DoD’s hub for development, testing, and integration of trusted enhancements, supporting an industry and federal government NextG ecosystem pursuing 6G technology goals. Led by a $1.77 m anchor award from IB5G, the project is managed by Northeastern University’s Kostas Research Institute through a cooperative agreement with the Army Research Laboratory. The technical effort will be housed at Northeastern University’s Institute for Wireless Internet of Things.
IB5G also started a new Spectrum Exchange Security and Scalability project with Zylinium Research. Spectrum-sharing technologies are becoming more critical as wireless networks face increasing user demand. Zylinium Research developed Spectrum Exchange—a network service appliance that receives, schedules and allocates spectrum resources—in response to this need. Zylinium Research recently demonstrated Spectrum Exchange for dynamic spectrum allocation on the Platform for Open Wireless Data-drive Experimental Research (POWDER) at the University of Utah, which is part of the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research program funded by the National Science Foundation. This current effort will leverage blockchain in order to provide data persistence, scalability, and robustness to create a secure and distributed Spectrum Exchange. Zylinium’s Spectrum Exchange research was funded $1.64 m by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), representing a prime example of government inter-agency and industry collaboration in the interest of advancing spectrum sharing techniques and machine-driven network capabilities.
IB5G, in collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs, also established the resilient, large-scale, Massive Multi-Input/Multi-Output (MIMO) from MHz to GHz project. Massive MIMO is a critical enabler for the warfighter due to its ability to increase resiliency and throughput for wireless tactical communications. This project was awarded $3.69 m by OUSD (R&E)/IB5G under an Open Broad Agency Announcement solicitation for Advanced Wireless Communications research. The effort will explore key technology components that enable scaling MIMO technology across different bands/bandwidths and DoD-oriented use cases.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the United States military’s technological advantage. Learn more at www.cto.mil, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/ousdre. (Source: US DoD)
02 Aug 22. Pentagon’s secret communications network to get upgrade from Booz Allen. The Defense Information Systems Agency extended its Thunderdome cybersecurity contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, citing lessons learned from the Russia-Ukraine war and the need to better secure the Pentagon’s communication system for secrets.
The addition of six months to the deal accounts for the inclusion of the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, in the zero-trust program and the “complete development, testing and deployment planning for the original unclassified prototype,” DISA said in an announcement July 28.
SIPRNet is a communications network used by the Defense Department to transmit classified information across the world. DISA, the Pentagon’s top IT office, described the framework as “antiquated” and in need of updating.
The agency awarded Booz Allen a $6.8 m contract in January to develop a Thunderdome prototype, its approach to zero-trust cyber protections. Folding in SIPRNet is a significant evolution. The extension lengthens the pilot to a full year, with completion now expected at the start of 2023.
“With this additional time, we can conduct operational and security testing that was not originally planned for in the initial pilot,” Jason Martin, director of DISA’s Digital Capabilities and Security Center, said in a statement. “It will also permit us the necessary time to strategize on the best way to transition current Joint Regional Security Stacks users who will be moving to Thunderdome.”
The Pentagon in 2021 decided to sunset Joint Regional Security Stacks — meant to reduce cyberattack surface and consolidate classified entry points — in favor of the zero-trust Thunderdome approach, C4ISRNET previously reported.
The six-month add-on comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was preceded by cyberattacks that jeopardized command and control and forced offline government websites. Ukrainian networks continue to be buffeted, with hackers often targeting the defense, financial and telecommunications sectors.
Such attacks, DISA said in its announcement, highlight the importance of SIPRNet and the Pentagon’s need for a modernized, classified network with steadfast data protections. Defense Department systems are under constant attack, as is the defense industrial base.
“DISA has made clear that we will not forget that the ‘fight’ is fought on SIPRNet,” said Christopher Barnhurst, the agency’s deputy director. “While we have been working on developing a zero trust prototype for the unclassified network, we realized early on that we must develop one, in tandem, for the classified side. This extension will enable us to produce the necessary prototypes that will get us to a true zero trust concept.”
SIPRNet is already undergoing several other renovations. The secure network was among those accessed by Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who provided thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
Zero trust is an approach to cybersecurity that assumes networks are always at risk and, thus, continuous validation of users and devices is necessary. The model is often likened to “never trust, always verify.”
President Joe Biden last year ordered federal agencies to move toward zero trust and to produce the requisite plans. His executive order included several other cybersecurity provisions, as well. The Biden administration followed up in January with a memorandum focused on improving the cybersecurity of Defense Department and intelligence community systems.
“Thunderdome will be a completely comprehensive and holistic approach to how the network operates,” DISA said, “a major shift from the current architecture.” (Source: Defense News)
25 Jul 22. The US Navy Is Testing 5G For Future Forward Operating Bases.
From drone-deployed 5G networks to digital twinning, a small 5G pilot is rewriting the rules for battlefield connectivity.
The Navy’s SoCal Tech Bridge at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is experimenting with new 5G networks carried on the back of autonomous vehicles, so that when future robo-amphibs storm the beach, they can bring their own 5G network with them.
The program, called E4, looks to “generate a private 5G network that supports forward operating bases,” via an electric autonomous vehicle, Marine Capt. Benjamin Cohen, director of the NavalX Southern California TechBridge, said during a Defense One event this week.
Future forward operating bases in dangerous spots will need a lot of connectivity to help human operators use drones, sense intruders, and coordinate with jets, ships, or other forces faster than the enemy. And they’ll need that connectivity in an environment where the adversary owns the phone lines and is likely using advanced electromagnetic warfare to jam incoming and outgoing signals.
The Marine Corps has been experimenting with autonomous and semi-autonomous land, sea, and flying drones for beach assault for years. But commanders have been upfront on the limitations. Both autonomous and semi-autonomous drones need a lot of data to perceive their environment. The act of sensing and perceiving works best when it can be pooled collectively, so data that one drone picks up can be instantly shared with teammates, and everyone “sees” the same threat or object, at the same time.
It’s the basic principle that electric vehicle company Tesla is employing to accelerate autonomous driving—collecting as much data from all of their cars as possible. But that Tesla data, collected in civilian street settings, can safely be sent back to cloud farms elsewhere. The military needs a way to recreate that phenomenon, locally.
The SoCal Tech Bridge team wants “to create the opportunity for leadership in the DOD, Navy, and Marine Corps to see these things in action on a daily basis where they build a comfort level to know [what will happen] when they do begin to employ these things downrange,” Cohen said.
The lab at Miramar is a first-of-its-kind experimentation hub for testing 5G for military applications. Those include efforts like perimeter defense and decreasing the base’s carbon footprint. The group also is looking to create a digital twin of the entire installation, Cohen said, similar to the way the Air Force used digital twinning to quickly produce a prototype next-generation fighter in 2020 by creating it virtually first.
An effort to collect massive amounts of data from sensors around the base will give the Navy a much better sense of not only how the buildings on base use energy, but also the people, vehicles, etc.
“That allows us to make really well-informed decisions about what happens to the installation if we change certain things. So, through a digital twin, we’ll be able to ask ‘What happens if we took a stoplight that is currently at this intersection and actually move it to this intersection? What is the impact on traffic flow based on the historical analysis? Or what happens if the temperature rises another four degrees over the next year on average? What is the increase in AC going to do to impact the installation ecosystem?” 5G, he said, “allows us to actually collect that sensor data.”
Of course, not everyone is entirely comfortable with 5G in military applications, since 5G cellular signals are considered less secure than encrypted radio. But new paradigms for testing security are challenging the definitions of what is and what is not secure.
A big part of the effort is trying to understand the security vulnerabilities of 5G, Cohen said. They’re taking the same approach now that big tech companies have adopted to understand the hackability of their own products: much more red-teaming.
“We have to think as if we are an opposing force or a foe,” he said.
Simulating attacks from adversaries will help the team better understand where the vulnerabilities are and are not in 5G networks. But that practice could expose weaknesses in supposedly “secure” systems as well, Cohen said.
“What happens if the system is compromised? What are the impacts on the Marines and sailors that are operating there? What do they lose? What do we lose in the sensor to shooter network that we’re really concerned about? So these are the questions that we come into, that we want to explore with that…We know that we cannot just look at it from the winner’s circle only. We have to go look at it from a grassroots perspective.” (Source: Defense One)
02 Aug 22. Europe: Ransomware gangs’ intensifying attacks against energy firms will exacerbate global energy supply chain woes. On 1 August, industry reports claimed that the BlackCat ransomware gang claimed responsibility for the cyber attack against natural gas pipeline and electricity network operator Creos Luxembourg S.A. and its parent company Encevo. While these attacks impacted both firms’ customer portals, they did not disrupt their business operations. Initial forensic investigations revealed that a “certain amount of data” was exfiltrated from the companies’ systems during the intrusions; however, the scope of this incident, including whether customer data was compromised, is currently unclear. If officially confirmed, this would be BlackCat’s most notable attack against the energy industry since three Europe-based firms claimed their terminal operational systems in Belgium, Germany and Netherlands were subject to cyber attacks in February (see Sibylline Cyber Alert – 4 February 2022). While this incident has yet to impact Creos’ or Encevo’s operations, there is a realistic probability of ransomware actors’ targeting of the sector exacerbating the global energy crisis. Such a scenario could have knock-on consequences for businesses across all industries, including increased transport and manufacturing costs and subsequent product shortages. (Source: Sibylline)
02 Aug 22. US: Investment fraud will retain popularity among cyber criminals despite SEC’s latest Ponzi scheme indictments. On 1 August, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that charges against 11 people for the creation of a Ponzi scheme called Forsage that defrauded global retail investors by more than USD 300 m. This scheme reportedly allowed investors to enter into smart contracts via transactions with cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Tron, and Binance. The SEC also claimed that Forsage “used assets from new investors to pay earlier investors in a typical Ponzi structure”. This announcement follows the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) warning in July that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting US investors with cryptocurrency investment schemes (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 19 July 2022). This trend is indicative of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2021 findings that businesses and individuals lost more than USD 2 bn from investment and confidence fraud in 2021. The ongoing depression of the cryptocurrency market is likely to see a decline in these types of fraud schemes in the coming six months. Nevertheless, investment fraud’s low technical requirements and potentially high pay-out rates will sustain its popularity amongst cyber criminals, and therefore, the threat it poses to global investors for the foreseeable future. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Aug 22. US-South Korea: Email browser malware attack highlights cyber espionage threats from North Korea. Industry reports in recent days revealed an ongoing cyber espionage campaign attributed to North Korean state-linked threat actor, known as Kimsuky. Researchers at cyber security firm Volexity have found that Pyongyang-backed hackers are using a malicious extension on Chromium-based web browsers, identified as SHARPEXT, to steal email content form Gmail and AOL. Targeting Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Naver’s Whale browsers, the malware allows the hackers to monitor and exfiltrate data from the victims’ email accounts as they use them. This campaign, which began in September 2021, aligns with previous cyber espionage activity by Kimsuky, which typically targets government entities and think tanks of a strategic interest to Pyongyang, including those in South Korea, the US, and Europe (see Sibylline Cyber Daily Analytical Update – 11 November 2021). Such attacks provide a way for Pyongyang to access and evaluate foreign governments’ information and policies pertinent to North Korea, including intelligence on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons’ programme. Volexity’s investigation follows recent renewed warnings by the US intelligence agencies of North Korea’s cyber threats. Amid stalled diplomatic dialogue with North Korea, Pyongyang-sponsored cyber groups will continue to target foreign governments and research institutions in cyber espionage attacks. (Source: Sibylline)
01 Aug 22. China’s FH-95 Electronic Warfare Drone Passes Performance Test. China’s domestically developed FH-95 electronic warfare unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) passed a milestone test that examined the aircraft’s performance, with experts saying that the new UAV’s electronic warfare capabilities will add a new dimension to the popular armed reconnaissance drones.
Independently developed by the Aerospace Times Feihong Technology Co (ATFTC) under the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the medium-range, electronic warfare armed reconnaissance drone FH-95 successfully completed a performance test at an undisclosed test base, Beijing-based magazine Unmanned Vehicles reported on Monday.
The FH-95 series drone has a ton-class takeoff weight, can carry more than 250 kilograms of a wide selection of mission payloads, and has an endurance of more than 24 hours, allowing the operator to conduct complex combat missions including comprehensive reconnaissance in highly contested battlefield environments, as well as electronic warfare and pinpoint elimination, the report said.
In addition to traditional missions like armed reconnaissance, border patrol and maritime surveillance, the FH-95 electronic warfare drone can work in a formation with other types of drones, providing electronic jamming and cover for the latter as they conduct other missions, the magazine said.
Electronic warfare is a vital component of modern combat, Chen Jianguo, the ATFTC’s general manager and researcher, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview at the Airshow China 2021 held in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong Province, where the FH-95 was on display.
Drones capable of electronic warfare, reconnaissance and early warning will become essential in combat as they can conduct remote detection outside the defense area or carry out tactical feints and saturated attacks in coordination with manned aircraft, Chen said.
Contemporary popular drones are mainly designed for reconnaissance and attack roles, so a drone capable of electronic warfare will provide a new dimension to drone deployment, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday.
In a possible combat scenario, the FH-95 electronic warfare drone could conduct electromagnetic interference first, providing cover for the FH-97, a high-speed stealth drone, to penetrate and destroy hostile defense lines. The FH-92A, a type of traditional armed reconnaissance drone, can then conduct follow-up attacks, the Global Times learned from the ATFTC.
The FH-95 series drone completed its first test flight in 2017, was delivered to a key client in 2019, and received its first export contract in 2021, according to Unmanned Vehicles.
A new variant in the FH-95 series has been carrying out test flights in a test base in Northwest China recently, the report said, without giving more details. (Source: UAS VISION/Global Times)
Spectra Group Plc
Spectra Group (UK) Ltd, internationally renowned award-winning information security and communications specialist with a proven record of accomplishment.
Spectra is a dynamic, agile and security-accredited organisation that offers secure Hosted and Managed Solutions and Cyber Advisory Services with a track record of delivering on time, to spec and on budget.
With over 15 years of experience in delivering solutions for governments around the globe, elite militaries and private enterprises of all sizes, Spectra’s platinum and gold-level partnerships with third-party vendors ensure the supply of best value leading-edge technology.
Spectra was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise (Innovation) in 2019 for SlingShot.
In November 2017, Spectra Group (UK) Ltd announced its listing as a Top 100 Government SME Supplier by the UK Crown Commercial Services.
Spectra’s CEO, Simon Davies, was awarded 2017 Businessman of the Year by Battlespace magazine.
Founded in 2002, the Company is based in Hereford, UK and holds ISO 9001:2015, ISO 27001:2013 and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.