If you're a heavy Google user like myself, you might be concerned with your data privacy. But, it looks like the Mountain View-based company is building themselves a privacy "red team" for such matters.
Google's new division comes hot on the hells of the FTC's $22.6 million record-setting fine, where the company was accused of a tracking cookie incident that allegedly occurred sometime in 2011 and 2012.
The 'Red Team' plans were found from a recent job posting, and according to ZDNet, a red team would normally work internally at a company to go over everything from policies and products, to services and the workforce in general. The job is usually described as a quality control measure taken a bit further, to make the company work more efficiently.
Google have announced the second Pwnium hacking competition after widthdrawning from this TippingPoint's annual Pwn2Own which was previously held back in February. Google have thrown $2 million in rewards for anyone who can find bugs in their popular Chrome browser, exploit them and detail how they achieved the hack.
The first Pwnium that was held in March, in Vancouver, only had $1 million up for grabs, and only a slice of that was handed out. This was because there were only two submissions, requiring Google to sign over just $120,000 of the $1 million they had up for grabs. So, what are Google offering? $60,000 for a full Chrome exploit using only bugs found in the web browser itself. $50,000 for a partial Chrome exploit using Chrome itself, or other browser, or Windows flaws such as Webkit or kernel-level flaws.
Finally, $40,000 for a non-Chrome exploit for a bug found in Flash, Windows or a driver. In addition incomplete or unreliable exploits may be eligible for a prize, where Google have said "our rewards panel will judge any such works as generously as we can". Sounds like Google just want to give money away! Rules have changed from the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition, with TippingPoint no longer requiring entrants to reveal all the details about exploits used to compromise security. Google has said that this change is "worrisome" and decided to leave the competition, promoting their own Pwnium challenge instead.
Saudi Aramco, who has the title of the world's largest oil company, has been struck by a cyber attack. The company has reported that nearly all of their workstations have been hit by malware, and the breach is said to be similar to the attack on Iranian systems back in Apri, but oil-production industrial equipment was not affected.
Saudi Aramco have said they've disconnected their entire network from the Internet as a precautionary measure, and expect a full recovery of their systems before the end of the week. The oil company hasn't said who is involved, but have insisted that the production of oil has not been altered as a result of the breach. The company said in a statement:
The company employs a series of precautionary procedures and multiple redundant systems within its advanced and complex system that are used to protect its operational and database systems.
There are other networks connected to the Aramco system, with companies Chevron and Schlumberger Ltd attached, and vulnerable. Most of the oil industry companies across the world have moved over to Windows-based systems during the Y2K scare, and could face similar problems. Also, the rapid expansion of Internet connectivity mixed with the nature of Windows has increased the chances of a cyber attack to the energy industry.
Malware is bad. It's created by people who want to cause you trouble or steal your information. It's a fact of life that Windows will always be a target of malware, but how about Android? It seems as more hackers and scammers are now targeting the mobile operating system with varying degrees of success.
In the second quarter of 2012, Kaspersky Labs found that the number of malware out there targeting Android has tripled. Likely this is the result of an increased number of Android phones giving malicious programmers a wider base to attack. This is the same reason so many different malwares are written for Windows.
During the three months that make up the second quarter, the number of new malware increased to nearly 15,000. 49 percent of the malware were multi-functional Trojans designed to steal data such as contact names, phone numbers, and e-mails. 25 percent were SMS Trojans which send texts to premium numbers to gain money for the programmer.
Trojan Spy malware only constituted 2 percent of the newly found malware and this is a good thing for users as Trojan Spy malware is the most dangerous to users. It is able to transfer information to the programmer which gives access to bank accounts and other sensitive accounts.
WikiLeaks unveils TrapWire, a very scary surveillance system, gets taken down by DDoS attack, coincidence?
This is something that I've read with great interest, and to anyone who has seen the TV show "Person of Interest", you'll understand that these types of systems are not just fiction, but they can be used for wrong-doing, too.
Last week, WikiLeaks talked of, and released internal documents and e-mails by hackers regarding TrapWire. TrapWire is a privately-owned surveillance technology that is used by various private and public agencies. TrapWire seems to work by collecting surveillance data from 'participating' private and public sources, such as CCTV cameras.
The data is then poured into the system, where TrapWire can analyze the data, detecting changes in patterns such as noticing a certain vehicle is not on its usual morning commute to work, which can then be looked at as 'suspicious behavior'. The technology is owned by Abraxas, who were eventually acquired by Cubic. In 2005, Abraxas Corp. CEO Richard Hollis talked about TrapWire:
TrapWire can help do that without infringing anyone's civil liberties. It can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists. The application can do things like "type" individuals so if people say "medium build," you know exactly what that means from that observer.
The developer behind successful titles such as the recently released Diablo III, and World of Warcraft, oh I suppose we can't leave out StarCraft, has posted an "important security update" to its official website. Blizzard have announced that their security team found an "unauthorized and illegal access into our internal network here at Blizzard".
The developer quickly took appropriate steps to close off access, and started working with law enforcement and security experts to investigate into the matter. At the moment, Blizzard have found no evidence that financial information (such as credit card details) or billing details and real names were compromised. Blizzard's investigation is ongoing, but there's nothing suggesting that these pieces of information were accessed.
What was accessed, were lists of email addresses for global Battle.net users, outside of China. This mens that players on North American-based servers, such as North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia had their personal security question, and information regarding to Mobile and Dial-In Authenticators were accessed. Blizzard have noted that based on what they currently know, this information is not enough for anyone to access Battle.net accounts.
Apple slap 24-hour suspension on phone-based resets of Apple ID passwords in a bid to stem more hacks
And so they should. After having the joy of a daisy-changed hack, Mat Honan has been keeping the tech world up-to-date on the going ons of the recent hack over at Apple, and what companies are doing to make sure that it doesn't happen to anyone else.
Apple have improved their services, issuing a 24-hour ban on calling Apple support to change your Apple ID password. Honan's hack involved some social engineering, meaning that a hacker actually made a voice call, setting up accounts pretending to be him. Wired reported on the ban, saying:
Apple on Tuesday ordered its support staff to immediately stop processing AppleID password changes requested over the phone, following the identity hacking of Wired Reporter Mat Honan over the weekend, according to Apple employees.
An Apple worker with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Wired that the over-the-phone password freeze would last at least 24 hours. The employee speculated that the freeze was put in place to give Apple more time to determine what security policies needed to be changed, if any.
It's a sad reality that there's always someone trying to break into Windows. This is due to the wide use that Windows has over other operating systems. Even before the official release, people are doing their best to break into Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8, and sadly, they've found three exploits to do just that.
With three months left before the actual release of Windows 8, Microsoft has time to take care of these exploits that have been found. Sung-Ting Tsai of Trend Micro is the person who found the exploits, so he's helping Microsoft patch them rather than working on exploiting them for nefarious reasons.
The exploits are in the kernel level advanced local procedure call, the component object model (COM) application programming interface, and the Windows Runtime API. Tsai worked on several methods to attack the vulnerabilities, and while he wasn't completely successful, he says that someone with enough time could find a way to compromise the system.
Earlier today, stories were hitting the web that Ubisoft's DRM installed a browser plug-in that contained a backdoor. Ubisoft acted quickly and has released a patch to fix the security hole as it turns out that the backdoor was an accident and was in no way meant to be there, or at least not exploitable as it was.
The list of games which come with Uplay, and the vulnerability, are as follows:
Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
Assassin's Creed Revelations
Assassin's Creed III
Beowulf: The Game
Brothers in Arms: Furious 4
Call of Juarez: The Cartel
Driver: San Francisco
Heroes of Might and Magic VI
Just Dance 3
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
Shaun White Skateboarding
Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved
Apple have been hit again, with security firm Intego and their virus team identifying yet another Trojan horse that attacks Apple's Mac platform. The new Trojan called "Crisis", hasn't been seen in the wild yet, but Intego says that the Trojan is engineered to make analysis of the malware difficult for security experts.
Intego have stressed alertness regarding Crisis, as it appears to be quite smart, having the ability to bypass OS X security features and install itself, all without any user interaction.
Crisis has been tracked, back to the IP address of 220.127.116.11, which it then calls back to every five minutes for instructions. There's only two OS X versions that are said to be susceptible to Crisis, OS X 10.6 and 10.7. Crisis can install and run itself without the need for the user to enter in their password. It's also resistant to reboots, and will run until it is detected and removed.
A word of warning to our readers: next time you check into a hotel room, realize you're probably not the only one that can get in. Take a moment to run your fingers along the bottom of the keycard lock and check for a power port. If you find one, it means a hacker with a couple of cheap hardware parts could gain access to your room without leaving a trace.
24-year-old Mozilla software developer and self-described hacker Cody Brocious has issued this warning after he found the vulnerability while reverse engineering Onity-manufactured locks. By connecting $50 in hardware to the DC port, the door will supposedly unlock and provide access. However, in practice, it's not quite that reliable.
While demonstrating it to a Forbe's journalist, it only worked on one of the three doors they tried and only on the second try after Brocious tweaked his software. Still, with a bit of time, a hacker could perfect the software and technique and somewhere around 4 million doors would immediately be able to be opened.
The method to do this will be released by Cody Brocious at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Thursday. Once released, other hackers can begin working on perfectly the method. Furthermore, the NSA and other governments most likely already know about this exploit and could have already perfected it and be using it.
Earlier this year, German gaming company Gamigo was hacked where over 11 million e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords were stolen. It has been the biggest breach of its kind for 2012.
Gamigo is a free-to-play MMORPG site, and after the hack security researchers analyzed the dump, which included 3 million US (.com) e-mail address, 2.4 million German (.de) addresses, 1.3 million French (.fr) addresses, and 100,000 t-online.de addresses. Gamigo have forced password resets ahead of time, meaning if you're a member of the site, you don't have to worry just yet.
But, for people who use the same e-mail address and password on multiple sites may have something to worry about. The leak contains addresses for various services including Windows Live Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, as well as other accounts at companies like Allianz, Deutsche Bank, ExxonMobil, IBM and Siemens.
Security firms Sophos, and F-Secure have both noted that there's a new piece of malware floating round that is targeting Mac, Windows and Linux users all at the same time. The malware pretends to be a required add-on.
Of course, it's not, and in reality its victims are opening up a Java archive file, which then detects the platform the victim is using, before connecting to a remote server to fetch the additional code, creating a back door for hackers. THe Mac-based malware is identified by F-Secure is "Backdoor:OSX/GetShell.A."
What makes this new piece of malware stand out from the very crowded sea of infectious crap that is out there is that this particular code is targeting multiple platforms at once. Most hackers usually stick to attacking Windows, or OS X. Hopefully it doesn't get too much more widespread, and people continue to educate themselves on what to, and what not to, click, open or accept.
We've seen some serious hacking over the last few years, with the last notable tech-related hack being Sony, but now Yahoo! have joined the ranks of victims being hit. Yahoo! confirmed that it had the usernames, and passwords of over 400,000 accounts stolen from its servers earlier this week, and that data from these accounts were posted online briefly.
The data has since been yanked offline, but it turns out that it wasn't just for Yahoo! accounts, as Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, BellSouth and Live.com login info was also taken on the day and placed online. Those who hacked the servers said that they did it simply to show Yahoo! the weaknesses in their security software, elaborating:
We hope that the parties responsible for managing the security of this subdomain will take this as a wake-up call, and not as a threat. There have been many security holes exploited in Web servers belonging to Yahoo Inc. that have caused far greater damage than our disclosure. Please do not take them lightly. The subdomain and vulnerable parameters have not been posted to avoid further damage.
NVIDIA have just announced they've "suspended operations" of the NVIDIA Forums, for what seems like a breach of their systems. They've run a preliminary investigation, where they've identified that unauthorized third-parties gained access to some user information including usernames, e-mail addresses, hashed passwords, and public-facing "About Me" profile information.
NVIDIA state that they didn't store any passwords in clear text, and that their "About Me" optional profiles could include a user's title, age, birthdate, gender, location, interests, e-mail, and website URL, all of which was publicly accessible. NVIDIA also add that they're continuing their investigation, and hope to restore the Forums soon. They're also implementing additional security measures in order to minimize the impact of future attacks.
All passwords will be reset when the Forums go live again, and at that time NVIDIA will send out an e-mail with a temporary password, as well as instructions on how to change the password. NVIDIA (as well TweakTown) recommend that if you have any identical passwords on any other site, that you change them as soon as possible.
Spam e-mail is nothing new. Most users have figured out ways to combat it either through the use of spam boxes or spam blockers on the e-mail servers themselves. This spam is traditionally sent out via compromised computers that have been pulled together into a botnet. The botnet can be ordered to do whatever nefarious activities its commander wants.
With Windows becoming more secure, however, it has been harder for hackers to gain these computers for botnets. Terry Zink of Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog on the MSDN noticed something interesting about the spam he has been receiving lately. At the bottom of the message it says "Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android."
Furthermore, he examined the headers of the e-mail and found "Message-ID: 1341147286.19774.androidMobile(at)web140302.mail.bf1.yahoo.com" I'm sure you can see where this is going. A spammer somewhere has a botnet that lives on Android devices, much like the rumors we've all heard. What's even more interesting is where these devices are located.
Yahoo places the IP of the device in the header so Terry Zink took a gander at where these IPs were located on the globe. The IPs come from Chile, Indonesia, Lebanon, Oman, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The majority of these countries are developing countries and Zink has an explanation:
Once again, Apple's OS X is being confronted with a security risk. The latest backdoor has been discovered by Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs and is being used as part of a Advanced Persistent Threat campaign. This is just the latest in a series of security risks present in the Mac OS X operating system.
Kaspersky researchers found that Uyghur activists in China were being targeted by hackers. These hackers sent e-mails with a compromised attachment that was in the form of a JPEG. The code hidden inside the JPEG was a new form of the MaControl backdoor and is compatible with both the PowerPC and i386 Mac variants.
Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research & Analysis at Kaspersky Lab:
Macs are growing in global popularity, even amongst high-profile people. Many choose to use Mac OS X computers because they believe it's safer. However, we believe that as the adoption increases for Mac OS X, so will both mass-infection attacks and targeted campaigns. Attackers will continue to refine and enhance their methods to mix exploits and social engineering techniques to try and infect victims. Just like PC malware, this combination is commonly the most effective and cybercriminals will continue to challenge Mac OS X users' security, both technically and psychologically.
In case you needed more examples of why the United States needs to focus on cyber security, take a look at a virus discovered in Peru. "ACAD/Medre.A" is a virus that is committing espionage by sending blueprints to China from companies in Peru. It has already stolen tens of thousands of blueprints, according to ESET.
The virus targeted the software AutoCAD which is a primary tool used by industrial designers and architects. It is believed the virus was first distributed to Peruvian companies through the use of an AutoCAD template given to public bodies. The virus was detected several months ago but has just seen a spike in usage.
The virus sends back blueprints to e-mail accounts provided by two Chinese internet firms, 163.com and qq.com. However, this doesn't prove China or the Chinese were behind the virus. What it does prove is that companies and governments alike need to strengthen their cyber security measures to prevent things like this from happening.
"[It] represents a serious case of industrial espionage," said ESET researcher Righard Zwienenberg. "Every new design is sent automatically to the operator of this malware. Needless to say this can cost the legitimate owner of the intellectual property a lot of money as the cybercriminals have access to the designs even before they go into production."
Flame, a highly sophisticated virus that was first discovered in Iranian oil refineries, and is supposedly the result of a U.S. and Israel joint effort to slow down Iran's nuclear program, reports The Washington Post. The information comes from multiple Western officials who purportedly have knowledge of the project, but of course want to remain anonymous.
This shouldn't come as a surprise considering the U.S. were unveiled as using the volatile Stuxnet virus, where The New York Times reported about Operation: Olympic Games, which is a project that used Stuxnet and Duqu, both sophisticated viruses. These viruses targeted Iranian SCADA systems, that allowed the creators of this virus to gather intelligence and even control aspects of Iran's nuclear and oil refining facilities.
Stuxnet code has been found within the Flame virus, according to security researchers, which is an unofficial confirmation that the creators of the Stuxnet virus (the U.S. government) are also behind this new nasty virus. Once this was discovered, in Get Smart fashion, the virus began to self-destruct, hastily removing itself from infected computers... not suss, huh?
LulzSec, a hacking group responsible for many hacks last year, has been fairly quiet this year after their leader allegedly worked with law enforcement to bring charges against its members. Now, however, LulzSec Reborn has taken over and started hacking, mainly compromising user accounts and leaking the details.
LulzSec Reborn has had two major hacks this year and otherwise has been quiet. The first was a leaking of 170,000 MilitarySingles accounts on Pastebin and now they are taking responsibility for the leaking of 10,000 Twitter accounts on Pastebin. The latter, today's leak, features much more information than a traditional password hack.
The leak comes in the form of an SQL dump which features usernames, passwords, real names, bios, locations, avatars, security tokens used by the service for authentication with Twitter and the user's most recent Tweet. The hack comes from compromising a third-party site that required the login information to work.
LulzSec Reborn compromised TweetGif, a site which allows users to post animated GIFs to their feed. TweetGif isn't a very large service and only has around 75,000 global visitors. The company's Twitter only has around 700 followers. Often compromises such as this come from third-party services which require a username/password combo to work.
It's not known if LulzSec Reborn features any of the members in the original hacking collective.
A new discovery has been made by a Cambridge University researcher that a chip used by the US military features a security backdoor which could have massive implications on on national security. The chip, which was built in China, cannot simply be reprogrammed as the security backdoor is physically present on the silicon.
Sergei Skorobogatov of Quo Vadis Labs at Cambridge University said:
Our aim was to perform advanced code breaking and to see if there were any unexpected features on the (US Military) chip. We scanned the silicon chip in an affordable time and found a previously unknown backdoor inserted by the manufacturer. This backdoor has a key, which we were able to extract. If you use this key you can disable the chip or reprogram it at will, even if locked by the user with their own key. This particular chip is prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport. In other words, this backdoor access could be turned into an advanced Stuxnet weapon to attack potentially millions of systems. The scale and range of possible attacks has huge implications for National Security and public infrastructure.
Now, let's be fair: it isn't a sure thing that the backdoor was introduced by the Chinese. It's more probable that the backdoor was present in the original design as a debugging tool for the designer. This is a common practice and these backdoors are often present and not malicious.