Uber case: Medical report of girl manipulated, claims accused

Virtually ‘impossible’ to stop viewing of documentary online: Experts

NEW DELHI: Armed with a judicial order, the government has stepped in to prevent the viewing of the controversial documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’, on the internet but cyber experts believe it may be virtually “impossible” to block its content.

BBC broadcast the documentary — which is based on the December 16, 2002, gangrape in Delhi — in the UK yesterday and the video has since gone viral on the internet. YouTube has, however, begun blocking it after being asked by the Indian government.

According to cyber crime experts, it is now very difficult to block all the content.

“Once the video is public, it is impossible to stop the circulation of the interview. There are tools which can search a particular content on the web but complete blocking is difficult.

“Government and police can at the maximum ask the hosting site to block it, but in the cyber world, it will keep popping up,” said Ishan Sinha, a cyber expert who imparts cyber crime training to various state police forces.

The controversy surrounding the interview increased the curiosity among the general public and, following the UK telecast of the 60-minute long video, the film went viral on Youtube, social media and torrent sites even though a court has banned its broadcast in India.

Experts claimed that cops will also have to struggle in finding the origin of video uploads as most of the servers are located abroad.

“Most websites, including the social media ones and WhatsApp, have their servers outside India and they are reluctant to share their logs with the police. As the interview is available on many websites, it is only going to spread further even though the sharing and transfer of a banned video is a violation of the IT act,” said advocate Prashant Mali, a Mumbai-based cyber law and cyber security expert.

This article was from The Economic Times, India and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Enforcement cut global banking Trojans 53 percent

Enforcement cut global banking Trojans 53 percent

Coordinated global enforcement efforts reduced the number of financial Trojans by more than half — 53 percent — in 2014, according to a new report from Symantec, and phishing email rates fell 74 percent.

Despite a common perception that cybercriminals can safely hide overseas, this is no longer the case, said Candid Wueest, threat researcher with Symantec Security Response.

“It’s clear that it’s not yet perfect,” he added. “We’re not living in an age yet where it’s impossible to get away. But law enforcement agencies from different countries are now working pretty well together.”

Last year, for example, there were arrests of cybercriminals in Russia, Ukraine and Romania, among other countries, he said.

If the legal case is clear and solid, then all countries agree that illegal acts should be prosecuted, he said.

“For example, if people are stealing money of someone’s bank account, it’s obvious that they’re cybercriminals,” he said.

The primary targets for the authorities are specific families of malware, often connected via a botnet to command-and-control servers.

“If you can shut them down, then all of those will not receive any commands or be manipulated by the attackers,” he said.

Law enforcement agencies are also focusing on the authors of malware toolkits.

“They’re breaking the supply chain and making it harder for lower criminals to get their hands on the tools and use them,” said Wueest.

Not all countries improved at the same rate, he added.

In the United States, the decline was about on a par with the global average. But financial Trojan activity did not drop as much in Japan, China, and South Korea.

“The attackers moved to different markets because it’s starting to get more difficult to get money out of the US or UK-based financial institutions,” he said.

However, the US is still the primary target for cybercriminals, he added.

Last year, financial Trojans compromised the computers of 4.1 million individual users, with variants of the Trojan.Zbot malware accounting for about 4 million of that number.

Nearly a million of those compromised computers were in the U.S., followed by the U.K. with just under 400,000, and Germany with 300,000.

A total of 595 financial U.S. financial institutions were targeted last year including one bank that unfortunately was targeted by 95 percent of all Trojans because the malware authors used it as a model for how to set up attacks.

Wueest declined to provide the name of that bank.

Meanwhile, although mobile payments and digital currencies were in the news last year, neither was a major target for cybercriminals.

“Bitcoin’s market value is still high enough that we would expect more attacks against people using it,” he said. “But, to our surprise, we haven’t see a lot of attackers going after Bitcoin.”

One reason, he suggested, is the Bitcoin users haven’t hit critical mass, and the effort of writing malware targeting it is not currently worth it.

“Attackers are still making enough money from banking accounts,” he said. “And if you infect someone’s laptop, the chances of them using online banking is pretty high. But the percentage of people using digital currency is really a tiny fraction.”

Meanwhile, as Apple, Google and Samsung begin to roll out mobile payments, he expects to see criminals to start paying attention soon.

“At the moment, we haven’t seen the Trojans targeting those yet,” he said. “But we do expect this year for attackers to look into it. If you can infect a mobile phone that can be used as a credit card, that is real money for attackers.”

This article was written by Maria Korolov from CSO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

E-commerce firms new driver for BPO firms as demand, prices improve

India’s tech capital Bengaluru has no cyber crime police station

BENGALURU: The city, for all its claims to being India’s Silicon Valley, lacks a basic yet essential feature to back that up: A cyber-crime police station.

Bengaluru has a cyber-crime cell at the CID headquarters on Palace Road, but that’s the head office with jurisdiction across Karnataka. It doesn’t take routine cyber-crime complaints, its powers having been heavily diluted as its officers struggle to cope with a deluge of cases.

DC Rajappa, superintendent of police, cyber-crime division, CID, said he has written to the office of the Director General and Inspector General of Police for establishing a full-fledged cyber-crime police station in Bengaluru. “We are waiting for a reply,” he said.

Bengaluru Police Commissioner MN Reddi said office space for a cyber-crime police station has been allotted in the new commissioner’s building, and all the required technology and equipment have been installed, but the department is still searching for a suitable official to handle cyber-crime cases.

Diluted powers

The state issued a notification in 2001 to establish a cyber-crime head office that would handle all kinds of offences falling under the Information Technology Act. But as cyber-crimes increased over the years, the head office couldn’t handle all the cases and the DG & IGP office in 2013 issued a standing order specifying what kinds of offenses could be handled.

Under this new order, the cyber City police crime cell only registers complaints of cheating through misuse of credit and debit cards if the fraud amount exceeds Rs 1 lakh, and cases of fraudulent money transfers if the amount exceeds Rs 5 lakh. Last year, the cybercrime head office received 50 complaints under these categories from across the state – of which only 10 were disposed of – and two this year.

Poor training

A police inspector in Bengaluru said the department has not given any training to officers to handle cases related to social media abuses or online money transfer frauds. “We find it very difficult to handle these types of cases. In one month, we receive around 15 complaints related to cyber-crime but we don’t have equipment or knowledge to deal with these cases,” the inspector said. “Cybercrime officials send the complainants back to jurisdictional police stations.

But as we don’t know how to investigate these cases, the complaints remain pending for years.” “I agree that police officials are finding it difficult to handle cyber-crime cases,” admitted city police commissioner Reddi.

“There are a lot of online frauds happening every day so police should be well-trained and equipped to handle such crimes,” said Amit Nath, country manager, India and SAARC, at F-Secure, a cyber security firm.

This article was written by Umesh Yadav from The Economic Times, India and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Luxury Hotel Chain Says Guests’ Credit Cards Were Stolen

Luxury Hotel Chain Says Guests’ Credit Cards Were Stolen


Luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental said today that a number of its hotels were subject to a major security breach, and hackers have made off with guests’ credit card information. The company didn’t say which locations were affected, or when cybercriminals made off with the data.

A number of fraudulent charges began appearing on credit card accounts, and cybersecurity blog Krebs On Security reported that banking industry sources said the Mandarin Oriental was the common factor for many. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group confirmed its findings on Wednesday, the blog said. 

“We can confirm that Mandarin Oriental has been alerted to a potential credit card breach and is currently conducting a thorough investigation to identify and resolve the issue,” the company told the blog. “Unfortunately incidents of this nature are increasingly becoming an industry-wide concern. The Group takes the protection of customer information very seriously and is coordinating with credit card agencies and the necessary forensic specialists to ensure our guests are protected.”

Nearly all of Mandarin Oriental’s 24 locations worldwide may have been subject to the cyberattack, but the report claims all of the chain’s U.S. locations — including New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and Las Vegas — were affected. Sources told the blog that the hack may have started sometime in December 2014.

Stolen credit card numbers often end up on black markets around the world, and the ones stolen from Mandarin Oriental could fetch big bucks due to the chain’s upscale clientele. The average price of a room at the New York City location is $850, according to the Forbes Travel Guide.

This article was written by Thomas Halleck from International Business Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The cybercrime economy personified

The cybercrime economy personified

While the Center for Strategic & International Studies and McAfee estimated the annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime at $375 billion conservatively and $575 billion maximally as of June 2014, at least one expert stands by cost figures that are many times those numbers.

“U.S. companies and the U.S. economy lose approximately $500 billion each year to theft of trade secrets and innovation. This includes all forms of economic espionage where cybercrime plays a major factor. When you factor the 10-year life of the investment in innovation, the total value of the theft reaches $5 trillion or one-third of the U.S. GDP – each year,” says T. Casey Fleming, CEO, BLACKOPS Partners Corporation, a Washington, D.C.-based Information Security Advisor to senior executives & boards of the Fortune 500, U.S. government agencies, and universities.

[ Annual cost of cybercrime hits near $400 billion ]

While the enterprise can’t stop cybercrime it can become a hard target. To that end, CSO maps the cybercrime economy with its major components, incentives, and seats of power, finalizing with the means for enterprises to avoid victimization by keeping cyber goons from absconding with their digital goods.

Cybercrime entities

Cybercrime entities include countries such as India, France, Sweden, North Korea, Syria, Russia, and China as well as smaller groups inside eastern-block countries. “Organized crime includes the offshoots of the Russian Business Network, who have a very clear understanding of the financial payment supply chain,” says Bob West, CISO Emeritus Fifth Third Bank & Bank One, now Chief Trust Officer, CipherCloud.

Cyber spying by public and private concerns is also a piece in the cybercrime economy puzzle. “Cybercrime targets include U.S. companies in the Fortune 500 & 100, small- to medium- businesses, universities, thank tanks, and government agencies,” says West.

Cybercrime incentives

“The hyper-connected world, the adoption of digital banking, the connection of operational technologies to the Internet, and a surge in mobility have greatly increased the attack surface available to digital criminals, which has led to a gold rush mentality in criminal fraternities,” says Colin McKinty, vice president of Cyber Security Strategy, Americas, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.

The ready availability of free cybercrime applications invites participation in the cybercrime economy by just about anyone. “This creates a services-based cybercrime economy, meaning that even those with limited personal expertise can still achieve significant results,” says McKinty.

The enterprise needs to attack the economics that drive and sustain cybercrime by making it too costly in terms of resources and time for cybercrime to be profitable.

Colin McKinty, Vice President of Cyber Security Strategy, Americas, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 

In addition to a growing attack surface and increasing numbers of free tools, the cybercrime economy thrives due to the profit motives of the thieves who grab an organization’s enticing personal identifiable information and intellectual property. “Cybercrime feeds on human weakness and on weak security controls, which are the result of enterprises choosing convenience over security. There are many people in large companies who don’t understand what they need to do to protect information as part of their daily routine,” says West.

To safeguard data, executives and employees must first know what is most precious. Then, learn good general security habits as well as the specific measures for protecting each type of data in so far as using those measures lies within duties and responsibilities you will face in your position.

Seats of power

“Cybercrime is a multifaceted, decentralized, global phenomenon,” says McKinty. Still, there are stealthy leaders behind the attacks that criminal hackers carry out.

The nefarious heads of these hacker groups include Russians in seats of power and Chinese communists inside the People’s Liberation Army. Members of various criminal syndicates globally work with little or no outside guidance or prompting.

[ Interview with a Mob CIO ]

People who want to avoid muggings don’t walk dark alleys alone at night in the wrong part of town. People who want to stay safe travel in groups, take extra measures (carrying pepper spray), and have a game plan, such as run, dial 911, or scream, “fire!” to attract attention and help. Enterprises must be aware of how the information highway as the world itself has changed, and not for the better. They must do the ‘must dos’ of cyber safety: offer the least amount of privileges necessary to any one person or entity; trust no one; and segregate networks.

“Requiring the use of a reference model that includes governance, such as the NIST Cyber Security Framework ISO 27000, is a good starting point for comprehensively protecting critical infrastructure and the data it carries,” says West.

Perimeter defenses alone are insufficient. Use methods instead that locate attacks in progress based on anomalous behavior that you measure against a baseline. “Companies such as Cyveillance, FireEye, and CrowdStrike offer useful technologies,” says Fleming.

Methods and tools that remove incentives are very important. “The enterprise needs to attack the economics that drive and sustain cybercrime by making it too costly in terms of resources and time for cybercrime to be profitable,” says McKinty. Use risk assessments tailored and targeted to cybercrimes. Make cybercrime too expensive a proposition for attackers by using two- and three- factor authentication, long, strong passwords, and stronger (higher-bit) encryption than your competitors (so you’re no longer the lowest hanging fruit). “The enterprise should also find and fix its weakest links in the security chain,” says McKinty.

“The CEO must be an information security change agent,” says Fleming. Reward people who discover and help to close your vulnerabilities. “Stage annual assessments by unbiased, experienced, intelligence-based outside firms,” says Fleming.

Non-technical options for pushing back against cybercrime are largely limited to trade sanctions against nation-states and prosecution of bad actors within the U.S. “The FBI will prosecute any U.S. firm acting in retaliation. The answer is for companies to redefine their information security strategy from perimeter security to data-centric security,” says Fleming.

Unite to fight

“In the battle against cybercrime, shared knowledge is a crucial power for slowing digital criminals down,” says McKinty. No enterprise should fight armies of cyber-villains, botnets, and nation-states alone. By broadly sharing threat intelligence, tools, and techniques with the global business and law enforcement communities, enterprises plug into a much stronger force for defending their data.

This article was written by David Geer from CSO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Forever episode 17 review: Social Engineering

Forever episode 17 review: Social Engineering

Forever’s recent uptick in quality is reflected in this week’s well-written and engaging episode about a cybercrime-related murder…

This review contains spoilers.

1.17 Social Engineering

When I read the synopsis for this story I groaned a little inside, because the focus on cyber-criminality when Henry doesn’t even own a mobile phone seemed concerning. Movies and TV shows are notoriously bad at representing anything to do with computers, as if those involved in creating them have never actually used one.

Thankfully, the amount of made-up-junk surrounding computers was kept to a reasonable minimum in what turned out to be one of the strongest stories so far. 

Someone connected has his dirty washing aired on TV by a hacktivist group, and then ends up dead, unexpectedly. The suspicion quickly falls on the politician, except it is pretty obvious he comes from the Gerald Ford School of Presidential hopefuls, and not the Richard Nixon one.

While Henry, Jo and Lucas are still dealing with the body, a two person team from the ‘Cyber-crimes Division’ arrive, and without showing any ID, take up residence in the homicide department.

That seemed odd for a start, since surely the point of most computer work, unless it involves physically plugging stuff in, can be done anywhere. But, I accept that for the narrative to work these people needed to be visible, even if them actually being there was an anachronism.

Soon, it turns out that the hacker was killed by someone he knew, and not the sleazebag, and the hunt is on for the real perpetrator.

After being entirely side-lined last week, it was good to see Jo reassert herself as Henry’s potential romantic interest, with them lying in bed together, with gas masks on. Actually, they weren’t gas masks, as they’d have been suffocated by the lack of breathable air, instead these were full respirators, which made perfect sense under the circumstances. In addition to being mildly amusing, this scene opened up the possibility that Henry will one day confide in Jo his dilemma, but for the nth time it was a tease.

Henry’s ability to trust people with this knowledge was well explained by the flashback segments, where his original wife Nora turns up some fifty years after she had him committed to an insane asylum, with ultimately tragic consequences. What we’re not shown is what ultimately happens to her, but it seems oddly appropriate that she probably ends up in an asylum too given what transpires.

The theme that this presents is one of being revealed, and how dangerous that would be for Henry, something the current case threatens to do from numerous directions.

Of the various threats, the most compelling is from Liz Chamberlain, played really skilfully by Erin Darke, a hacktivist who realises that Henry’s past isn’t what it seems. She doesn’t work out the full story, but she realises that he’s got plenty to hide, and threatens to out him if he doesn’t provide her with a death certificate. I’m not sure why she’d need one of those, given her skill set, but it creates some apparent jeopardy for Henry, which is duplicated when he works out who the real killer finally is.

What the writers got right was to generally stay away from the hacking side of these events, and instead focus on the characters and the motivations, while asking a few pointed and timely questions about the nature of privacy.

That Liz ends up obscuring his past might actually undo Henry at some point, because while the chance of running into someone from the University of Guam is quite remote, intersecting with someone who went to Oxford is much more likely.

Overall, this was one of the best stories this season, and another step towards someone else knowing his secret.

There are just three episodes left in the season now, and we’ve got a short three week wait until these are shown. While it has recently improved, Forever still isn’t achieving the viewing figures that would justify a second season, though it’s been picked up by the French TF1 network on a positive note. I do hope it does get another, even if shortened season, but I’m not overly optimistic.

Read Billy’s review of the previous episode, Memories Of Murder, here.

This article was written by Billy Grifter from Den of Geek and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

US authorities probe involvement of a hacker in Morgan Stanley breach: Report

Over Rs 490 crore involved in cyber fraud cases since 2011: Ravi Shankar Prasad

NEW DELHI: As many as 37,721 cyber fraud cases involving Rs 497 crore have been reported by the RBI and CBI in the last four years, Parliament was informed today.

Several cyber attack techniques are used in committing frauds and losses and are normally reported such as ATM/Debit cards, credit cards, Internet banking, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

“As per information provided by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), 10,048, 8,765, 9,500 and 9,362 cyber fraud cases and losses of Rs 38 crore, Rs 67 crore, Rs 78 crore and Rs 60 crore have been reported to the RBI during 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and April-December 2014, respectively,” he added.

In a separate reply to the house, the Minister said: “CBI has also registered 46 cases (14 PEs (Preliminary Enquiry) and 32 RCs (Regular Case)) relating to cyber crime in various parts of the country during the last 3 years that is 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (till date).”

In these cases 34 persons have been arrested, he said. “An amount of Rs 90 crore, Rs 158 crore and Rs 6 crore was involved in these cases registered during the year 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively,” Prasad added.

Incidents of malware infections in India cyber space are reported to and tracked by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), which works with the Internet Service Providers (ISps) to identify the infected systems and organisations, the Minister said.

“Cert-In, Department of Electronics and IT has initiated action with active participation of service providers and industry to set up a centre for detection of computer systems infected by malware and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end users to prevent further malware infections,” he added.

Besides, more than 26,000 police officers and 600 judicial officers have so far been trained in the training labs established by the government, Prasad said.

This article was from The Economic Times, India and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tor users advised to check their computers for malware

Phishing scam targets routers that use default security settings

Internet users are being warned to ensure that their routers have unique passwords, after email spammers have been spotted sending phishing links, which try to hijack the devices using default passwords, in order to harvest personal information from their victims.

The phishing emails attempt to trick the user into clicking a carefully crafted link, which will log the spammer into a home router if it’s set up with the default security settings and a known password. From there, the spammer can eavesdrop on communications by altering the router’s settings to pass all traffic through their owner servers.

Californian information security firm Proofpoint discovered the attacks, which primarily targeted Brazilian internet users.

Security reporter Brian Krebs wrote: “The emails were made to look like they were sent by Brazil’s largest internet service provider, alerting recipients about an unpaid bill. In reality, the missives contained a link designed to hack that same ISP’s router equipment.”

But the attack isn’t likely to remain in Brazil, says Proofpoint: “The limited size and geographic scope of this initial sample do not mean it will remain so: the history of malware is the story of the spread of techniques from a local blip to [a] global threat as attackers continually adopt new techniques that demonstrate their effectiveness against existing defenses [sic].

“The fact that in this case the attackers chose email as their initial vector for attempting to compromising vulnerable routers – normally viewed as a network-based attack best defended by network IPS solutions – demonstrates both the continued evolution of attack techniques and the continued pre-eminence of email as the go-to attack vector for cybercriminals.”

Most routers sold today ship with a unique password, which protects against this type of attack. But older routers were frequently sold with standard sign-in credentials such as “admin” and “password”, and websites such as RouterPasswords make finding the information easy.

As a result, hacked routers have become a popular tool for online mischief: most notoriously, the hacking collective Lizard Squad used a network of routers captured through applying default sign-in credentials to launch a distributed denial of service attack against Sony and Microsoft which took down their gaming services over the Christmas period.

But even if the router is one that ships with a unique password, such as BT’s Homehub range, users should still be careful about what email links they click on. The phishing attack discovered in Brazil made use of a vulnerability in the ISP’s routers to enter the default credentials, but vulnerabilities for other brands may not require that much information.

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk

This article was written by Alex Hern from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Fake speeding fines: Warning from the NSW Office of State Revenue

Scammers are masquerading as the NSW Office of State Revenue and sending bogus speeding fines to consumers globally, as well as the revenue agency’s own employees.

NSW Commissioner for Fines Administration Tony Newbury said he was first notified about the suspected phishing scam last October, but a recent surge in reports prompted him to issue a public warning.

At least 20 people have reported the scam in the past week.

“This scam is designed to trick people into paying money or giving out personal and banking information such as bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers,” he said.

“Don’t do it, don’t respond or they could steal your money. Just delete the email.”

The agency never sends fines by email – only on-the-spot or by post.

If a user clicks on link in the scam email, the agency’s IT experts say a virus called cryptolocker will lock the computer and hold it to ransom.

Even if the user pays money, the “key” may not work and identity information may be stolen.

“It’s a sophisticated email scam. You wouldn’t instantly think it’s a rort. It does look realistic,” he said.

Yu Qing Li, 25 from Zetland, opened the “real-looking” scam email mid-February and clicked on the ‘View camera images’ button. Because she was on a work computer, online security software blocked the website.

“I just opened it because the email address looked real and there was a long penalty number in the subject line,” she said.

“I’ve never received a speeding fine before, so it was a surprise. It looked real, and it made me question myself because it happened at least 15 days before.”

Mr Newbury is not aware of victims who have lost money through the scam – yet.

The agency has received reports from consumers in Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. The NSW Office of State Revenue-marked scam emails have also been sent to the agency’s own staff.

It has also received reports from recipients in New Zealand, Vietnam, France and Greece.

Mr Newbury said the IP addresses raised suspicions the emails were from scammers based in Europe.

“So this scam and impersonation of Office of State Revenue is global,” he said.

“It is also common for scam emails to contain links to websites that are convincing fakes, with an URL that is similar to but not the same as the real organisation’s site.”

If you want to check the authenticity of an infringement notice, you can call 1300 138 118.

This article was written by Esther Han from Sydney Morning Herald and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

US-Israel ties fray over Netanyahu's planned speech on Iran

US-Israel ties fray over Netanyahu’s planned speech on Iran

Washington/Occupied Jerusalem: Signs are growing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress against a possible nuclear deal with Iran could damage his country’s broad alliance with the United States.

The right-wing leader’s acceptance of a Republican invitation to address the US legislature already brought Netanyahu’s long-strained relations with President Barack Obama to a new low due to the overture’s partisan nature.

And while US and Israeli officials insist that key areas of cooperation from counter-terrorism to intelligence to cyber security will remain unaffected, the deepening divide over the Iran talks is shaping up as the worst in decades.

Israel fears that Obama’s Iran diplomacy, with an end-of-March deadline for a framework nuclear agreement, will allow its arch foe to develop an atom bomb. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.

Previously Israel has always been careful to navigate between the Republican and Democrat camps. The planned address, however, has driven a rare wedge between Netanyahu’s government and some congressional Democrats. Some two dozen or more of them plan to boycott the speech, according to unofficial estimates.

Embarking on Sunday on what he described as “a fateful, even historic mission”, Netanyahu, who is running for re-election in a March 17 ballot, has framed his visit as being above partisan politics or to win votes.

“I feel that I am an emissary of all Israel’s citizens, even those who do not agree with me, and of the entire Jewish people,” Netanyahu said as he boarded his plane in Tel Aviv.

Hard-line US supporters of Israel insist Netanyahu should take center-stage in Washington on Tuesday to sound the alarm over the possible deal, even at the risk of offending the White House and long-time Democratic supporters.

But a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the “politicised” nature of Netanyahu’s visit threatens “what undergirds the strength of the relationship”.

As one former US official put it: “Sure, when Netanyahu calls the White House, Obama will answer. But how fast will he be about responding (to a crisis)?”

At the same time, many people on both sides of the debate over Netanyahu’s speech point to the two countries’ history of being able to “compartmentalise” diplomatic disputes to preserve cooperation on other shared priorities.

Last month, US officials accused the Israeli government of leaking information to the Israeli media to undermine the Iran negotiations and said it would limit further sharing of sensitive details about the talks.

And Israelis have long fretted over the possibility that Washington might not be as diligent as before about shielding Israel at the United Nations and other international organisations.

One Israeli official said this was becoming more worrisome as the Palestinians are resorting increasingly to global forums like the International Criminal Court (ICC) to press grievances against Israel and as Europe is losing patience with Israel over settlement building on occupied land.

Netanyahu is expected to use his speech to urge Congress to approve new sanctions against Iran despite Obama’s insistence that he would veto such legislation because it would sabotage nuclear talks.

Using strong language, Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice called the political partisanship caused by Netanyahu’s coming address “destructive to the fabric of the relationship” with Israel.

“What the prime minister is doing here is simply so egregious that it has a more lasting impact on that fundamental underlying relationship,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel lobbying group aligned with Obama’s Iran policy.

Netanyahu, who will address the influential pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Monday, has remained defiant. Even so, he is expected to try to keep tensions from spiraling.

© Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2015 Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

This article was written by Reuters from Times of Oman and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.