Monthly Archives: June 2014

India Opposes Proposal To Include Cyber Security Technologies Under The Wassenaar Arrangement

India Opposes Proposal To Include Cyber Security Technologies Under The Wassenaar ArrangementOne of the ways to prevent technologies and weapons from falling into wrong hands is to restrict and regulate their export out of the jurisdictions possessing the same. By putting export restrictions, weapons and technologies can be exported according to set norms and under scrutiny.  The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (Wassenaar Arrangement) is one such arrangement between many western countries.

The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability. Participating States seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of restricted items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities. The decision to transfer or deny transfer of any item is the sole responsibility of each Participating State. All measures with respect to the Arrangement are taken in accordance with national legislation and policies and are implemented on the basis of national discretion.

The Wassenaar Arrangement is focusing primarily on the transparency of national export control regimes and not granting veto power to individual members over organisational decisions. It is not a treaty, and therefore is not legally binding. However, through its collective decision making process, it can prohibit the transfer of a particular technology to non member nation(s). India is one such non member Nation and she has keen interests in import of technologies like cyber security software and hardware.

UK, France have now proposed amendments to Wassenaar Arrangement to include cyber security technologies. Naturally, India has expressed her concerns regarding this attempt as India is primarily dependent upon foreign nations for her cyber security related requirements. Changes were made to the Wassenaar Arrangement in December 2013 at a plenary meeting held at Vienna following the Snowden revelations.

”These changes could have severe impact on India’s cyber security programme — both software and hardware — as these would come under export control regime, the entire inventory of high-end cyber technology is with the Western countries like the US and they may deny products to Indian organisation,” said a senior Government official.

A high level meeting of the National Security Council was recently held to discuss the next course of action. The problem is that the products included in the control list have not yet been made public and the next round of plenary meeting to be held at the end of this month is expected to see the formal adoption of this agreement.  Since India is not part of the agreement, it does not have access to the decisions or means to influence the proceedings. Therefore, Indian may seek membership to the exclusive club.

“The best way to deal with this would be to have our own technologies and invest in R&D but that would take time. We would like to engage with countries like US and UK to take our view on board before listing out products under export control,” said a Government official directly dealing with the issue.

The official also said that as a pre-emptive move India was looking to purchase critical technology before the new arrangement is finalised. An expert committee has been set up to figure out the future course of action, including negotiating with six countries — the US, the UK, Israel, Germany, France and Canada.

CERT-In has claimed that some softwares supplied to India are tweaked which become prone to hacking. India was given a solution of the “Heart Bleed” malware, which impacted security of softwares, by vendors after a year of its discovery. Software companies under the product sale agreement are bound to provide solution of any vulnerability found in their product(s) immediately after detection.

Sources said Ministry of External Affairs was of the view that high technology items are always an issue for the US but India could influence the decision by seeking membership of the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Intelligence Agencies Reforms In India Are Urgently Needed

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBIntelligence Agencies play an important role in protecting National Security of a country. They help in maintaining Internal and External Security of a Nation. The very nature of their functioning and work requires some degree of Anonymity, Secrecy and Confidentiality. However, this must not be confused with “Non Accountability” and “Lack of Transparency”. Unfortunately, Indian Intelligence Agencies have become synonymous to Non Accountability and Lack of Transparency.

World over it has been accepted that there must be a balance between National Security and Civil Liberties Protection. The United Nations (UN) Third Committee has also approved a text titled Right to Privacy in the Digital Age. This is in recognition of the Privacy Right in the Information Era that has gained prominence off late. It also means that the Big Brother must not “Exceed its Limits” as prescribed by the Human Rights and Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace.

India is clearly inclined to become an “Endemic E-Surveillance State” with no respect for Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties. The journey of India “From Welfare State to E-Police State” began in 2009 with the notification of Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 and it became complete in the year 2014 with the introduction of E-Surveillance Projects like Central Monitoring System (CMS) and Internet Spy System Network And Traffic Analysis System (NETRA) of India. I even suggested in May 2013 that Indian CMS must be subject to Prime Minister Office (PMO) “Scrutiny and Intervention”.

Nevertheless, the Big Brother Initiatives in India remained unaffected. In fact, the Congress Government made it “Absolutely Sure” that various E-Surveillance Projects are not only “Kept Alive” but they should also be “Made Immune from Judicial Scrutiny”. Our Constitutional Courts also did not consider it necessary to interfere and take appropriate actions.

To make the matter worst, we have no E-Surveillance Policy of India. It is now well known that Indian Government forced Telecom Companies like Vodafone to install “Secret Wires” to indulge in Unconstitutional E-Surveillance and Phone Tapping. Similarly, Indian Telecom Infrastructures have been constantly used for indulging in Unconstitutional E-Surveillance Practices as we have no implementable Telecom Security Policy in India.

In other jurisdictions, new methods of E-Surveillance are devised on regular basis. For instance, use of Radio Waves and Malware United State’s NSA for World Wide E-Surveillance is well known. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently announced a New Reporting Methods for National Security Orders. India on the other hand, is not at all interested in making its Intelligence Agencies and E-Surveillance Projects “Accountable to the Parliament”. This is a situation that needs to be urgently changed as it “Undermining the Constitution” and “Rule of Law” has no meaning and significance in these circumstances.

Indian Government does not understand and accept that Law Enforcement and Intelligence Work is “Not an Excuse for Non Accountability”. For some strange reasons Intelligence Infrastructure of India has become synonymous to Unaccountability and Mess. There is neither any Parliamentary Oversight nor and Transparency and Accountability of the working of Intelligence Agencies of India.

Perry4Law has already provided a “10 Point Legal Framework for Law Enforcement and Intelligence Agencies in India” (PDF) to the Government of India in September 2009. However, the Indian Government failed to act upon the same and to formulate a Techno Legal Framework accordingly.

In a Recent Landmark Judgment (PDF), the constitution of CBI was held Unconstitutional by Gauhati High Court. In my personal opinion, the decision of Gauhati High Court declaring CBI unconstitutional is “Legally Sustainable”. Although almost all have criticised this decision of Gauhati High Court yet it is “Neither Absurd nor an Uncalled One”. Parliamentary Oversight of any Law Enforcement Agency is the “Core Requirement” under Indian Constitution. However, our Intelligence Agencies and many Law Enforcement Agencies, including CBI, are not governed by any sort of Parliamentary Oversight.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court of India stayed this decision. This may be for a good cause if the Modi Government utilises this opportunity to formulate suitable Law for CBI and other Intelligence Agencies of India. However, this exercise of Supreme Court would be the “Most Unfortunate One” if there is no action in this regard by the Modi Government. So what should be the Modi Government’s next step?

Firstly, there is an urgent need to repeal draconian laws like Telegraph Law and Indian Cyber Law. Secondly, there is a dire need to formulate dedicated Telephone Tapping Law of India as soon as possible. Thirdly, India “Must Reconcile” the Civil Liberties and National Security Requirements but the same is presently missing. Indian Government is also “Not Serious” about formulating a dedicated Privacy Law for India. Data Protection and Privacy Rights in India are in real bad shape.

Fourthly, India’s own Projects like Aadhar, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Central Monitoring System (CMS), Centre for Communication Security Research and Monitoring (CCSRM), NETRA, etc are violative of Civil Liberties Protection in Cyberspace. None of them are governed by any Legal Framework and none of them are under Parliamentary Scrutiny. In short, Intelligence Infrastructure of India needs Transparency and Strengthening to make it “Effective and Accountable”.

With the new Government some action in this regard is expected but only time would tell whether Modi Government would “simply step into the shoes of Congress” or actually protect the Constitutional Rights of Indian Citizens.

Cyber Security Of Banks In India Needs Strengthening

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBIndian Cyber Security has been ignored for many years by the previous Governments making Indian computer systems and critical infrastructures vulnerable to sophisticated cyber attacks. One of the critical infrastructures is banking sector of India that has miserable cyber security infrastructure. The Cyber Security Trends and Developments in India (PDF) have proved this point very well.

We have no dedicated cyber security laws in India and this is creating numerous troubles for various stakeholders. The banking sector of India is also neglecting cyber security in the absence of stern and effective cyber security regulatory norms in India. Some basic level guidelines and recommendations have been issued by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) but they are far from satisfactory and being effective. These include Internet banking guidelines, formation of a RBI Working Group on Information Security, Electronic Banking, Technology Risk Management and Cyber Frauds, RBI Recommendation on Information Security and its implementation in India, etc.

RBI has also mandated establishment of Steering Committees on Information Security by Banks in India and appointment of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) for all banks in India.  However, banks in India have failed to comply with the directions of RBI so far and even RBI has allowed them to take this liberty. In effect, this means that there is neither a legal framework nor any compulsion to ensure cyber security of banks in India. Naturally, the online banking system of India is not at all cyber secure and banks in India are not following cyber security due diligence and cyber law due diligence (PDF) at all.

Sophisticated malware are targeting banking industry around the world. For instance, Malware Dump Memory Grabber has been targeting Indian banks and POS Terminals. Similarly, the Gameover Zeus or GOZ botnet is also capable of stealing sensitive banking and financial information and details. Recently, the US Justice Department even charged a Russian national for creation of Gameover Zeus (GOZ) Botnet.

India is considering wide scale adoption of mobile banking, Internet banking and other online banking and financial transactions methods. However, India has not considered the issues of mobile banking cyber security, internet banking cyber security, legal aspects of Internet banking, cyber security of e-governance services, etc.

There is no doubt that Indian online banking transactions are vulnerable to cyber attacks. The cyber security for banking and financial sectors of India must be ensured as soon as possible. Online payment market of India and e-commerce and online business legal compliances have further increased the requirements of banking cyber security in India. Similarly, cyber due diligence for Paypal and online payment transferors of India must also be ensured by these stakeholders. The sooner this is done the better it would be for the larger interest of banking sector of India.

Techno Legal Analysis Of Gameover Zeus Or GOZ Botnet And P2P Malware

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBThe present era belongs to highly sophisticated and accurately targeting malware that are compromising computer systems at will. Not only they have the capabilities to infect even the most secured and sophisticated systems, they are also designed to remain under the radar and work in a stealth mode. Malware like Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, Uroburos/Snake, Blackshades, FinFisher, etc just few examples that we are aware of and there are many more still operating that we are not aware of at all. Some of them are operating in the hidden Internet or deep web using encryption and anonymous systems.

Financial institutions and financial credentials are widely targeted by Malware for obvious reasons. Besides targeting financial organisation, botnet are used for all sorts of illegal activities over the Internet. For instance, for online advertisement industry alone, botnet are causing losses upto the extent of $6 million a month.

One such Malware is known as Zeus that is well known for stealing banking information by man-in-the-browser keystroke logging and form grabbing. It is also used to install the CryptoLocker ransomware. Zeus is spread mainly through drive-by downloads, spam and phishing techniques. Infected systems can also be used to engage in other malicious activities, such as sending spam or participating in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. The latest variant of Zeus is known as Gameover Zeus, or GOZ botnet.

According to a good research analysis (PDF) of GOZ botnet, Zeus is a family of credential-stealing trojans which originally appeared in 2007. The first two variants of Zeus are based on centralized command servers. These command servers are now routinely tracked and blocked by the security community. In an apparent effort to withstand these routine countermeasures, the second version of Zeus was forked into a peer-to-peer variant in September 2011. Compared to earlier versions of Zeus, this peer-to-peer variant is fundamentally more difficult to disable.

Due to its lack of centralized C2 servers, P2P Zeus is not susceptible to traditional anti-Zeus countermeasures, and is much more resilient against takedown efforts than centralized Zeus variants. The main P2P network is divided into several virtual sub-botnets by a hardcoded sub-botnet identifier in each bot binary. While the Zeus P2P network is maintained and periodically updated as a whole, the sub-botnets are independently controlled by several botmasters.

The Zeus P2P network serves two main purposes. These are: (1) Bots exchange binary and configuration updates with each other and (2) Bots exchange lists of proxy bots, which are designated bots where stolen data can be dropped and commands can be retrieved. Additionally, bots exchange neighbor lists (peer lists) with each other to maintain a coherent network. As a backup channel, P2P Zeus also uses a Domain Name Generation Algorithm (DGA), in case contact with the regular P2P network is lost.

According to researchers, P2P Zeus has evolved into a complex bot with attack capabilities that go beyond typical banking trojans. They believe that P2P Zeus is used for activities as diverse as DDoS attacks, malware dropping, Bitcoin theft, and theft of Skype and banking credentials. Researchers have also found that till recently bot traffic was encrypted using a rolling XOR algorithm, known as “visual encryption” from centralized Zeus, which encrypts each byte by XORing it with the preceding byte. Since June 2013, Zeus uses RC4 instead of the XOR algorithm, using the recipient’s bot identifier as the key. Rogue bots used by analysts to infiltrate the network typically use continuously changing bot identifiers to avoid detection. The new RC4 encryption is a problem, because a rogue bot may not always know under which identifier it is known to other bots, thus preventing it from decrypting messages it receives. In addition, RC4 increases the load on botnet detection systems which rely on decrypting C2 traffic.

Zeus uses RSA-2048 to sign sensitive messages originating from the botmasters, such as updates and proxy announcements. In all P2P Zeus variants researchers studied, update exchanges and C2 messages feature RC4 encryption over an XOR encryption layer. For these messages, either the identifier of the receiving bot or a hardcoded value is used as the RC4 key, depending on the message type. Each Zeus bot runs a passive thread, which listens for incoming requests, as well as an active thread, which periodically generates requests to keep the bot up-to-date and well-connected.

The researchers have concluded (PDF) that P2P Zeus is a significant evolution of earlier Zeus variants. Compared to traditional centralized versions of Zeus, P2P Zeus is much more resilient against takedown attempts. Potential countermeasures against P2P Zeus are complicated by its application of RSA-2048 signatures to mission critical messages, and rogue bot insertion is complicated by the Zeus message encryption mechanism which makes the use of random bot identifiers impossible. Poisoning attempts are forced to use widely distributed IPs due to a per-bot IP filter which only allows a single IP per /20 subnet. The network’s resilience against takedown efforts is further increased by its use of a Domain Generation Algorithm backup channel, and by an automatic blacklisting mechanism. P2P Zeus demonstrates that modern P2P botnets represent a new level of botnet resilience, previously unseen in centralized botnets.

On the legal side, the creator and users of Gameover Zeus are difficult to prosecute. This is because the cyber attack scenario has shifted its nature and territorial scope from being fun and regional to become a potential tool of cyber warfare and cyber espionage. We have no globally acceptable international legal regimes for cyber attacks as on date. Thus, international legal issues of cyber attacks are yet to be resolved.

Cyberspace also put forward complex problems of authorship attribution for cyber attacks and anonymity. Cyberspace also gives rise to conflict of laws in cyberspace where multiple laws of different jurisdictions may be applicable at the same time. Thus, cyber security and international cooperation cannot be separated in these circumstances. Nevertheless international cooperation among law enforcement agencies of different Nations and entering of extradition treaty among themselves can be a good beginning. Some success has already been achieved in this regard and more international cooperation is expected very soon in the cyber law and cyber security fields.