Time Out – Delft Blue(s)

Voor de twaalfde keer alweer staat het Bluesfestival voor de deur. Het recept is onveranderd. Sinds de eerste editie is het Delft Bluesfestival uitgegroeid tot een festival van formaat. Ruim 25 duizend bezoekers worden verwacht op het ‘De Koninck Bluesfestival’.

Het is inmiddels dan ook het grootste indoor bluesfestival van Nederland. Vanwege de recessie hebben veel festivals de neiging om een stapje terug te doen in omvang. Zo niet het Delft Bluesfestival. Met 55 optredens, verdeeld over 28 locaties in Delft, is het een grotere happening dan ooit.

Barrelhouse, Keith Dunn Band, Big Blind, Jeroen Sweers Boogie Woogie Band, Fried Bourbon. Dat is slechts een greep uit de top-acts die het festival dit jaar naar Delft brengt. Wellicht niet de meest bekende namen bij het grote publiek, maar de ware blues liefhebber weet ze zeker op waarde te schatten. Er is ook ruimte voor echte Delftse blues; Groover, de Delftse Studenten Jazzvereniging, verzorgt zaterdagavond een bluesnight (vanaf 22.00 uur, De Klok).
Bluesadepten kunnen hun favoriete optredens alvast online uitzoeken in het festivalprogramma. Als de bovengenoemde artiesten je niks zeggen, kun je ook gewoon op de bonnefooi gaan. Op tientallen locaties in Delft, van de Oude Jan tot Speakers, en van Kobus Kuch tot Vlaanderen is op de vrijdag- en zaterdagavond van alles te beleven. Dit weekend kun je in Delft simpelweg niet om de blues heen. 

Delft Blues festival, 5 en 6 februari op diverse locaties. Gratis. Zie

Protecting our computers and networks from cybercriminals is big business: a recent report estimates that the global Internet security market will be worth 58.1 billion by 2010. The man responsible for protecting TU Delft from these relentless cyberattacks is Alf Moens (50), together with his information security team, which includes an ICT Operations Control Center that investigates daily security incidents and a ‘Computer Emergency Response Team’ that is on-call 24/7.

What’s a working day in the life of an information security manager like? “I’m responsible for setting up and stimulating policies for information security, and reviewing whether they’re efficient and everyone follows the rules. I mainly look at trends, in order to prevent possible harm to TU Delft, and there are always several projects running aimed at improving our information security.” 

Given that TU Delft is continuously under cyberattack, your job must be rather stressful.“It can indeed be stressful, but it’s also fun. Once you realize that you can’t prevent everything from happening, you can start to enjoy it. And I don’t believe it’s possible to stop everything they fire at us, but I can still sleep at night, because I know we’re working hard to prevent things from happening.”

What are some Internet security threats the TU regularly faces? “The two most common threats are infected computers and spreading copyright protected materials. Each month there are about 150 information security incidents: 70% copyright related, and 20% infected computers. The threat of infected computers is growing, however, and these machines are mainly infected with botnet software, which means they’re controlled by cybercriminals.”

Are there any Internet security issues unique to a university of technology? “Since we have a mixed environment, with student houses on the same university network, we also have lots of ‘private’ traffic on the network. Unique compared to non-academic use are our quarantine facilities: TU Delft PCs that are infected or have been distributing copyright-protected materials are put in quarantine until the problem is fixed.”  

Do you regard the people sending phising emails and trying to hack into the TU’s system as ‘terrorists’? “They’re criminals for sure. Until about two years ago, all this could be labeled as ‘vandalism’, but nowadays big money is involved. Organized crime has taken over. The general opinion among my colleagues internationally is that terrorists are not yet using cybercrime as a weapon, although terrorists are definitely heavy Internet users.”

The fake emails that TU Delft email account holders receive, asking for our login names and passwords, do seem pretty authentic. “Indeed, some really do look legitimate and use ‘real’ TU Delft terms like NetID, which is the name of our email account system. The messages also seem to be coming from TU Delft addresses, like info

When cybercriminals gain access to a TU Delft email account, what do they do? “The account is used for sending spam, and sometimes dedicated spam messages to everyone in your address book, asking them to send some money. If others have your password/login, they can take over your digital identity and steal personal information from your files.”

Have any TU Delft students been tricked and given their passwords to cybercriminals?“Unfortunately, some people have fallen for these scams, and their accounts were taken over.”

Will this ever end, or rather just keep evolving into new and improved methods of attack and deception?   “The abuse of e-mail will continue and increase. Future threats will be those that combine multiple methods; for example, you’ll receive a phone call from a real person or automated voice-messenger saying they’ll be sending you an important email.”

Other than fake emails, what are some other ‘tricks’ of this cybercriminal trade? “The most frightening is a new ‘attack vector’, in which malware – a small virus – is inserted into legitimate websites. If you visit that site, you’re infected. Another scary trick is malicious middleware software that spies on your telebanking and tries to alter transactions.”

How else do hackers attempt get into the TU’s computer network? “Hackers try to do their ‘job’ in several ways. Some is just by brute force, guessing passwords, and some involves testing our systems for vulnerabilities. Clever hackers also exploit the naivety of users, trying to persuade them to click on malicious links.”

Are TU Delft’s systems especially attractive to hackers?“Our systems aren’t as interesting for hackers as they used to be, when the hackers purpose was to gain access to huge storage and large bandwidth. Today’s business model for hackers is based on controlling lots of computers via botnets, for spreading spam or organizing paid attacks on high profile institutions like banks, the Microsoft’s of this world, and governments. There’s also an entire industry in which money is paid for developing new viruses, harvesting computers for botnets, and harvesting financial information on these computers, like credit card and bank account numbers. And some hackers simply earn money by making toolkits for other hackers.”

Is there one particularly egregious hacker attack on TU Delft you can tell us about?“In one incident, three different hackers used a compromised TU Delft computer; they probably ‘sold’ the computer to each other. The first one was clever, hacked into the computer, but we couldn’t find a trace of how he did it. The second one gained control over this computer and installed malicious software for controlling it remotely, but he wasn’t so clever and left lots of traces, though none that we could use to nail him. The third one used this controlled computer for attacking and trying to break into other computers, outside TU Delft.”

In what country are most cybercriminals based? “The common opinion among the security community is that 90% of spam, phishing, etc, is controlled by two or three criminal rings, of which at least one is based in Russia. But it’s a highly multinational ‘industry’, and the brains of the organizations are based in countries that have limited legislation or limited investigative capabilities.”

Do you think some national governments are directly involved in cybercrime?“Not actively, although some governments might use these facilities for their own purposes. But I don think governments are the key players.”

Editor Redactie

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