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Old 05-10-2012, 10:27 AM   #1
vicsinad
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Default Vermont Training Macedonians to Fight Cyber Crime

Pretty neat. I live about 30 minutes from this university, didn't know they had some Macedonian students there.


http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/a...xt|FRONTPAGE|p

NORTHFIELD — Norwich University computer systems were hacked in a cyber attack April 30.

The attack from former Communist Macedonia in Eastern Europe was not an isolated incident. Previous attacks have also come from Islamist Oman in the Arabian Gulf.

In pre-Cold War and post-9/11 eras, the attacks would be worrying. The good news is that the attacks were anticipated, defended and finally repelled.

Most surprisingly, the attacks were welcomed. They were part of Norwich University’s cyber-terrorism training program for students to help protect America in the Internet age, in tandem with its European and Arab allies.

Students from Norwich, Macedonia and Oman, have all participated in computer “attack-and-defend” exercises. Estonian students in northern Europe will soon join them online.

So just how did students in Macedonia penetrate Norwich’s formidable defenses?

“That’s easy to answer,” laughed Dr. Peter Stephenson. “I trained them.”

As director of Norwich’s Advanced Computing Center, and its chief information security officer, he heads up an international student program to defend the online world.

As former Norwich spokesman Tom Greene noted when the program launched 10 years ago: “We are training the next generation of cyber warriors.”

A decade later, it has helped make Norwich a “Center of Innovation” for several reasons:

• Norwich University is one of a few select academic centers chosen to train students to protect the country from cyber terrorism. The top-flight ranking comes from the Department of Defense, NSA (National Security Agency) and the Department of Homeland Security;

• A conscious commitment by Norwich trustees, led by university President Rich Schneider, to fully embrace new technology has brought digital applications across-the-board to all students;

• Campus-wide wireless Internet access is available to all students and faculty;

• Every undergraduate degree (and there are 30 of them) now has a required component in computing competency, or “information assurance,” as it is known.

Take Cover!
There is a certain old-style bunker mentality to the university’s approach to cyber crime, coupled with new buzzwords of the day, like “cyber-terrorists,” “network forensics” and “information warfare.”

Its search-and-destroy and stand-and-defend strategies are taught like any other course in conventional classrooms, with desks, chairs, books and blackboards.

But when it comes to mobilization, the real action takes place in the Cyber Weapons Range War Room, in the basement of Dewey Hall on campus.

“Cyber cadets” are now seated at standard desktop computers, while three wall-mounted large flat-screens, connect remotely to the operations manager, and display readouts of network system sensors that track any “invasion.”

(A back room houses racks of servers, and the equivalent of a mini-supercomputer, capable of enormously fast number-crunching to quickly crack passwords to ward off attacks from an online aggressor).

Compared with conventional warfare with set-piece battles, armies and military hardware, this really is New-Age.

Divided into three teams — Red (attack), Blue (defense) and White (monitors) — battle is about to begin.

But unlike noise of real warfare, things actually go quiet as cadets focus.

The object of the exercise is for the Red team to attack the Blue team’s network defenses. The White team monitors the progress of both.

Typically, the Red attack consists of “data flooding” where the Blue team’s computer servers are barraged with information in an effort to crash the system. More covert operations include trying to penetrate an unprotected server through a “back door,” steal data, and crack passwords that allow access to files and data.

On April 30, Macedonian students were the Red team, and Norwich the blue team. Within just 90 minutes, the Red team was able to defeat the Blue team by penetrating the system and create a file containing the words: “Hello from Macedonia!”

“The problem for us is the Macedonians had some old files,” said president Schneider, who attended the session. “Normal procedure would have been to disable those accounts (to protect ourselves).”

Present with him at the time was Macedonian Ambassador to the U.S., Zoran Jolevski, a frequent visitor to the university to observe the program that currently has three Macedonian students at Norwich; and also confer with the Vermont National Guard with whom Macedonian troops are embedded in Afghanistan.

“These are very smart people,” Jolevski said of the students both at Norwich and in Macedonia. “It’s great to have them on our side.”

He said computer crime was still relatively new in Macedonia, hence the need to train in readiness. “Ten years from now, the real danger is now knowing who is attacking us or being able to defend ourselves,” he added.

Macedonian student Dejan Stefanoski, 23, is a sophomore in the program. “The teaching here is on a very high level here,” he said. We use advanced tools that are not available for everyone to use. This is a very big experience for me.”

Norwich wasn’t totally beaten. A month ago, the tables were turned when the university similarly “data-flooded” the Macedonian team, while one student “snuck in under the wire,” found an unprotected server, stole some passwords, and accessed the system.

As Stephenson noted: “It’s always easier to attack than defend. When you attack, you only have to find one weakness. When you defend, you have to protect to every weakness.”
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:49 AM   #2
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Macedonia has some really skiled IT people, for example the film-industry graphics company FX3X in Skopje, as well as the youngest ever certified microsoft engineer Marko Calasan from Skopje - 7 years old!!!
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