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A nasty self-replicating ransomware, dubbed "VirRansom," is now making the rounds - utilizing the functionality of CryptoWall and Cryptolocker, able to self-replicate after infecting machines. Victims must pay 0.619 bitcoin before files are restored, as it compromises machines. The VirRansom parasitic virus encrypts hundreds or thousands of files on each PC, with criminals ensuring they are able to continually change encryption keys.
"Ransomware gets nastier all the time," said Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 CEO, in a press statement. We can expect a VirRansom 2.0 with 'new features' like industrial-strength CryptoWall-like encryption where files are held hostage until payment is made and email server infections where emails are converted to a worm for maximum dissemination of their malicious code. The legal ramifications could be horrific."
Companies are recommended to verify offsite backups are working, consider asynchronous real-time backups, remove mapped drives on shared folders, whitelist software, and update security policies.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has learned a brutal lesson that cybercriminals can successfully launch organized attacks, crippling networks. Meanwhile, hackers temporarily dropped the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live, disrupting online activity for millions of console gamers.
Unfortunately, hackers are having their way with networks, while consumers are becoming more desensitized due to the large number of users being victimized.
"Obviously it's not something that anybody wants, for any of the partners," Slatoff recently said. "We certainly wouldn't want it for Sony or Microsoft or Steam or us for that matter. Or any of our competitors. Sadly, it's a reality of life. And I think it's a reality of connected networks."
Companies are desperate to find new solutions to keep their networks safe from cyberattacks, and there is a strategy that can be utilized: assume a data breach has occurred, with foreign cybercriminals or government snooping behind the breach. This allows companies to take a unique angle in trying to defend their networks, fixing problems that potentially make it easier for criminals to gain access.
"You must assume something is going on and you have to start looking for it," said Patty Hatter, McAfee CIO and senior VP of operations. "Be paranoid - it helps."
As cyberattacks continue to evolve, companies struggle to teach employees on accurately defending against phishing attacks. Trying to keep a network 100 percent secure is virtually impossible, so business leaders need to make sure data is properly backed up, security protocols are constantly upgraded, and security holes are fixed as soon as they are found.
The FBI has tried to crack down on the Anonymous hacker collective, including turning a former high-ranking member into an informant - but the group is still alive and well. Hector Monsegur, operating under the hacker name of "Sabu," admits to a large number of attacks against select targets.
Since being flipped by the FBI, Sabu spent three years communicating with Anonymous and LulzSec members, with the government listening in. His actions reportedly helped prevent more than 300 major cyberattacks against government and NASA PCs and networks.
Sabu says he didn't identify Anonymous members and turn them over to the FBI - and cooperated to help identify attacks, and work to prevent them in the future. "It wasn't a situation where I identified anybody. I didn't point my fingers at nobody. My cooperation entailed logging and providing intelligence. It didn't mean, 'Can you please tell me the identity of one of your mates?'"
China and Russia are two of the largest cyberespionage threats to the Western world, but countries like North Korea are able to cause significant damage on relatively modest budgets, cybersecurity experts warn.
As witnessed by the successful breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has caused the company significant financial damage - and continued downtime - foreign attackers are finding easy targets to compromise. In North Korea, the reported 1,800 members of Bureau 121, the secret North Korean hacker brigade, live a pampered lifestyle in Pyongyang - with high levels of motivation to carry out cyberattacks.
"While North Korea's massive conventional forces have been declining due to aging and lack of resources... North Korea is emphasizing the development of its asymmetric capabilities," said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, United States Forces Korea commander. "Cyber warfare is an important asymmetric dimension of conflict that North Korea will probably continue to emphasize - in part because of its deniability and low relative costs."
Cyberattacks will continue in 2015, and there will be increased interest in nation states using cyberespionage to attack and compromise one another. Established countries will work to "enhance their ability" to launch attacks and remain hidden on compromised networks - and researchers believe smaller countries and terrorist groups will develop their cyber warfare capabilities.
The McAfee report indicates: "Cyber espionage attacks will continue to increase in frequency as long-term players will become stealthier information gatherers, while newcomers to cyberattack capabilities will look for ways to steal sensitive information and disrupt their adversaries."
Cybercriminals will evolve their abilities to learn from organized state-sponsored attacks, and look to steal intellectual property, operational intelligence, and conduct intelligence gathering on specific targets.
Even with increased awareness from phone manufacturers and wireless carriers, smartphone theft remains a significant problem in the United States. There are more than 1 million smartphones stolen in the United States every year, with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rather unhappy about it.
"There is no single technology 'silver bullet' that will eliminate phone theft and therefore a complementary suite of technical and operational mitigation techniques will need to be made available and applied to gain additional impact to this issue," the report indicated.
Some US states have become more aggressive regarding smartphone theft, requiring manufacturers to include anti-theft technologies in new phones - but that will slow theft - and more must be done to prevent snatch and grab, armed robbery, and other crime.
Things just don't seem to be getting better for Sony. Hot on the heels of a shocking data theft at Sony Pictures, a new attack occurred today on the PlayStation store. Suspicions are centered around North Korea for the Sony Pictures hack, and the custom malware designed for that hack is now on the loose, threatening the world at large with a devastating over-write malware.
A group called The Lizard Squad is taking responsibility for the latest attack on the PlayStation Store this morning via a Twitter message that simply reads: "PSN Login #offline". This latest attack appears to be a denial-of-service attack, which overruns the website and prevents users from logging in. However, the full scope of the attack is not yet known, and Sony is currently investigating the breadth of the assault. Word on whether there was a data breach associated with the attack will come forward in the next few days. Sony and The Lizard Squad have a contentious history, to say the least. Earlier this year Lizard Squad issued a warning there were explosives on a domestic flight, resulting in its diversion. There just so happened to be a Sony executive on the flight.
The hack against Sony has been all over the news for a couple of weeks now, but it has reportedly all been tracked back to a single, posh hotel in Bangkok. North Korea has stepped up saying that it was not responsible for the hack, which had people thinking the country had attacked Sony over its movie "The Interview" with Seth Rogen and James Franco.
The hackers were traced back to St. Regis Bangkok, which is a 4.5-star resort where even the most basic rooms cost over $400 per night. We don't know if the hack was done from inside of one of these hotels, or outside in a public area of the hotel, but we do know they came from the St. Regis Bangkok. The investigations into the breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment servers took place on December 2, at 12:25AM local time.
Pro-North Korean hackers could be responsible for a cyberattack that crippled Sony Pictures, according to a statement broadcasted on a state-run television channel. The successful breach will likely cost SPE millions from interrupted business operations, data theft, and screener versions of the movie that have leaked online.
The KCNA news agency said that the "hacking into Sony Pictures Entertainment might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK in response to its appeal."
There are digital fingerprints that point towards North Korea, and cybersecurity experts and the FBI are helping SPE investigate the incident. Despite extreme poverty that most of the country's citizens endure, the controlling government has reportedly invested a great deal into developing hackers with developed cyberattack capabilities.