Security News for Friday, April 10 2015

According to this article, and base on a recently released report by news organization USA Today,  the US national power grid is subject to physical or online attacks approximately once every four days. From the article:

Although the repeated security breaches have never resulted in the type of cascading outage that swept across the Northeast in 2003, they have sharpened concerns about vulnerabilities in the electric system. A widespread outage lasting even a few days could disable devices ranging from ATMs to cellphones to traffic lights, and could threaten lives if heating, air conditioning and health care systems exhaust their backup power supplies.

By now most people are familiar with ransomware. This type of malware encrypts your files on your hard drive and forces you to pay money in order to obtain the decryption key. This article is reporting on a new strain of ransomware found in the wild. Fortunately, this strain was coded poorly which can allow victims to unencrypt their data without coughing up cash for the decryption key. From the article:

The Scraper ransomware, originally known as Torlocker, was discovered in October last year and granted the name Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Scrape. The ransomware encrypts a victim’s files — including documents, video, images and database copies — and demands a ransom of at least $300 to unlock and decrypt documents.

However, due to errors in encryption algorithms, in 70 percent of cases files can be unlocked without submitting to the attacker’s demands.

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Security News for Monday, April 6 2015

According to this article, President Obama announced an executive order last week that would allow the Treasury Department yo impose financial sanctions against hackers that pose a “significant threat” to national security. From the article:

This Executive Order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that engage in malicious cyber-enabled activities that create a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States,” Obama said In a statement announcing Wednesday’s executive order.

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Security News for Tuesday, March 24 2015

So far this year there have been 2 major security breaches affecting healthcare organizations. Last month, Anthem announced 80 million records containing customer information had been breached and this month Premera Blue Cross suffered a breach that affected 11 million customer records. This article examines 4 common tactics that were used by the bad guys to pull these breaches off.

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Security News for Tuesday, March 17 2015

According to this article, Britain’s spy agencies are warning companies to strip employees of smartphones and USB thumb drives in order to better protect themselves from cyber attacks. From the article:

Advice issued by GCHQ, the government’s listening post, and other departments warns firms that staff are the “weakest link in the security chain” and protective action must be taken.

If you recall, there were several high profile data breaches last year that affected consumers of Home Depot, Michael’s Stores, and Target. Based on recently released research by IBM X-Force, this article is reporting that approximately 1 billion records were compromised in data breaches in 2014. From the article:

IBM researchers say cyberattackers are more often applying creative ways and new approaches to fundamental attacks including DDoS and the use of malware in order to steal valuable information, ranging from sensitive data which can be used in identity theft to financial account details. As a result of the evolving threat landscape, 2013 saw a surge in leaked records, with approximately 800,000 stolen. However, there was a rise of 25 percent in leaked records, reaching a staggering one billion.

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Security News for Wednesday, March 11 2015

This article takes a look at the evolution of hackers. Once a hobby for curious teenagers, hacking is now a tool for government spies, thieves, and others. from the article:

Today, it’s all about the money. That’s why Chinese hackers broke into Lockheed Martin and stole the blueprints to the trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet. It’s also why Russian hackers have sneaked into Western oil and gas companies for years.

This article discusses the recently discovered vulnerability dubbed FREAK (Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys) that  affects a flaw in SSL/TLS protocols that are used to encrypt sensitive data sent over the Internet. From the article:

When you use the Internet, your computer communicates with your server on how best to protect your data. Due to the FREAK flaw, some software, including Apple’s Secure Transport, can be manipulated into accepting the weaker encryption program, which can then be hacked by a sophisticated hacker to steal your data. This type of hacking is called a “man-in-the middle attack” and is used to steal and unencrypt what the victim believes is protected, encrypted communications.

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Security News for Monday, March 9 2015

More and more home solutions (such as surveillance systems, heating, air conditioning, etc.) offer options for control over the Internet. While convenient, these devices can also introduce security risks. This article provides 7 steps to boost the security of these devices. From the article:

According to research architect Brandon Creighton, with application security provider Veracode, “At the end of the day, you’re installing a device that is really just a tiny computer.” Even with something as simple as a smart light socket that you can control remotely with your phone, what makes that possible is the little computer in the switch that can talk to the Internet—which means that Internet users can talk back.

This article examines a new trend where loyalty cards for shopping establishments are now being targeted by those with malicious intent. From the article:

Going forward, consumers could be hearing more about rewards points hacks. Late last year, American Airlines and United Airlines began notifying customers through e-mails that hackers stole usernames and passwords from a third-party source. Some customers lost miles as a result.

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Security News for Wednesday, March 4 2015

This article is reporting that Google ha withdrawn encryption-by-default for Android Lollipop the next update of the operating system for Android devices. The idea of default encryption was dropped due to performance issues.

According to this article, D-Link has released security patches for several of its home router products to correct vulnerabilities discovered by an independent researcher. From the article:

D-Link has now acknowledged the existence of a problem, saying that three new firmware updates have been released for its DIR-820L router.

In an advisory, the company said it will release additional firmware updates over the coming week…

Additionally, the article goes on to list the flowing models of D-Link routers that are vulnerable to the newly discovered flaws:

– DIR-626L
– DIR-636L
– DIR-808L
– DIR-810L
– DIR-826L
– DIR-830L
– DIR-836L

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Security News for Friday, February 27 2015

According to this article, Facebook paid out about $1.3 million in bounties last year to whitehat hackers who submitted security flaws in that affected the popular social network. From the article:

Facebook’s bug bounty program was started in 2011 and has since awarded more than $3 million, helping to maintain a social network used by 1.39 billion people.

Among the bugs submitted were flaws that could have allowed hackers to view users’ private messages, post to their timelines and upload content to Facebook and Instagram’s servers, reports Sky News.

This article is reporting that earlier this week the website of Lenovo, a Chinese multinational computer technology company, was hacked. Traffic to the Lenovo site was re-directed to another site and corporate emails were intercepted. From the article:

Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails.

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Security News for Tuesday, February 24 2015

This article discusses recently released research from Stanford that claims a mobile device (in this case cell phone) can be geographically tracked by the power that it consumes. From the article:

Computer scientists from Stanford, realising that Android devices make it easy to grab regular readings of your battery’s voltage and current, wondered what that might tell them.

As you will be acutely aware from your own mobile phone, one of the biggest “invisible” power drains is the phone component itself.

According to this article, and based on research from security vendor FireEye, hackers impersonating IT staff is a popular tactic in data breaches. From teh article:

Within FireEye’s sixth annual M-trends report, which tracks the threat landscape and emerging threat actors, the firm says that cybersecurity has now gone beyond the boardroom and has entered the mainstream thanks to the number of high-profile security breaches in 2014. While companies are taking less time to discover a data breach, hackers are smarter about the way they conduct themselves — and a lack of basic security safeguards are leaving businesses vulnerable.

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Security News for Wednesday, February 18 2015

Time was that most security professionals warned people that visiting Internet sites “off the beaten path” could lead to system infections. Today it is becoming more and more commonplace for legitimate sites to serve up malware when they are visited.

According to this article, the website of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been dishing up malware since December of 2014. From the article:

Quite how the malicious code got to be there is open to question – but hopefully the people responsible for administering Jamie Oliver’s website will ensure that they don’t stop at cleaning up the infection, but also discover the underlying problem to ensure that the site does not get compromised again.

According to this article, and based on recently released research by Russian security vendor Kaspersky, the group that compromised over 1 million payment cards from office supply store Staples last year made up to 1 billion in bank raids. From the article:

The hacker crew that breached Staples last year and made off with data on as many as 1.16 million payment cards appears to have robbed banks of far more than initially thought. The cybercriminal gang, known as Anunak or Carbanak, may have made up to $1 billion in their exploits, which are ongoing, according to Russian security firm Kaspersky.

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