Whitepaper on "Active Cyber Defense"

As a result of the Russian attack on Ukraine, the discussion about active cyber defense has also flared up again. Politicians are calling for improved capabilities. In their white paper "Active Cyber Defense" our CEO Prof. Michael Waidner and our cybersecurity expert Prof. Haya Shulman provide concrete examples of the technical options available for improving cyber defense in Germany.

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ATHENE researchers present document protection with colorful barcode

At this year's it-sa in Nuremberg, Fraunhofe SIT is showcasing DocSeal, a new solution for protecting against document forgery that enables companies and public authorities to quickly and easily add anti-counterfeiting protection to digital and paper documents. For this purpose, a colorful barcode (JAB Code) is printed on the document, which records important document contents and their placement in the document in a tamper-proof manner. An app can then be used to check document authenticity and automatically detect tampering.

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RPKI is insecure - Mechanism for Internet security broken

ATHENE has found a way to break one of the basic mechanisms used to secure Internet traffic. The mechanism, called RPKI, is actually designed to prevent cybercriminals or government attackers from diverting traffic on the Internet. Such redirections are surprisingly common on the Internet, e.g., for espionage or through misconfigurations. The ATHENE scientist team of Prof. Dr. Haya Shulman showed that attackers can completely bypass the security mechanism without the affected network operators being able to detect this. According to analyses by the ATHENE team, popular implementations of RPKI worldwide were vulnerable by early 2021. The team informed the manufacturers, and now presented the findings to the inter­national expert public.

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Client Side Scanning and Deep Perceptual Hashing Vulnerabilities

ATHENE scientists at TU Darmstadt have identified significant vulnerabilities and manipulation possibilities in client-side scanning and deep perceptual hashing. The process came into focus when Apple introduced "NeuralHash" in 2021, a new approach to detecting child abuse imagery, but withdrew the introduction after massive criticism. The research results of the scientists now prove the dangers of client-side scanning methods for users.

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Fragile protection of our communications via submarine cables

ATHENE researchers study states' vulnerability to submarine cable failures
Today, we take it for granted that we can call up a website, stream a movie or be active in social networks within seconds. Many people are often unaware that the data transfer takes place via thousands of kilometers of cable laid at the bottom of the ocean. Today, around 98 percent of inter­national Internet traffic is handled via undersea communication cables. Coastal and island states are highly dependent on this physical infrastructure to provide Internet connections. However, although an annual average of about 100 submarine cable failures of human or natural origin occur, there is currently no global analysis that assesses the vulnerability of individual states to failures on a global scale.
ATHENE scientists Jonas Franken, Thomas Reinhold and Prof. Christian Reuter from the Chair of Science and Technology for Peace and Security (PEASEC) at TU Darmstadt have tackled this issue.

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Post by ATHENE researcher on APNIC Blog: Stalloris: RPKI downgrade attack

Cyber­security expert Prof. Haya Shulman and her team have demonstrated that RPKI deployments in the Internet are vulnerable to downgrade attacks: adversaries can disable RPKI validation exposing networks to BGP prefix hijacks attacks. Haya Shulman describes the findings and conclusions the researchers draw from their attack in her latest blog post on APNIC. 

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ATHENE scientist issues new commentary on data protection

Data protection law presented in an comprehensible way – this is what a new commentary on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other data protection standards offers. Until now, there has been no work that explicitly addresses not only students and graduates of law, but also those outside the field. This gap has now been closed by the new commentary published by ATHENE researcher Dr. Annika Selzer. The data protection expert has been working intensively on questions of legal and technical data protection for more than ten years. At ATHENE, she leads projects in the research area User-centered Security and Privacy (UCSP).

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AirGuard declares war on stalkers

AirTags are small Bluetooth transmitters from Apple that people can use to quickly and easily find lost items, misplaced keys and bags. But what is intended as a help can also be used to track people unnoticed. Apple itself warns against AirTag stalking. A research-team at the Secure Mobile Networking Lab at TU Darmstadt is conducting research on this topic in ATHENE. Last year, the team published AirGuard, an app that also warns users of Android devices about unwanted AirTag tracking. Now, in a new paper, the researchers use user reports and data donations from 38,000 users to show that the app works well - and even warns faster than the Apple protection mechanism.

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Post by ATHENE researcher on APNIC Blog: Resurrection of injection attacks

In his blog post ATHENE researcher Philipp Jeitner, scientist at Fraunhofer SIT and TU Darmstadt, describes how the Domain Name System (DNS) can be exploited for injection attacks against a variety of different applications. He also shows why countermeasures aren't as easy as to apply patches to vulnerable implementations. A tool to test DNS resolver for vulnerabilities is also linked in the post.

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Optimizing cybersecurity through visual analytics

Six hours without Facebook, Instagram and Co.: For the US-based Meta Inc. this meant losses in the billions. But how do such problems occur and how can they be identified as quickly as possible? ATHENE researchers at Fraunofer IGD have been working on this complex of issues for several years with the goal of making network data more understandable. This will enable more people to assess what is happening in their own network. Current and future possibilities for visual analysis should simplify the work of security experts.

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