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Criminals that compromise networks and steal large amounts of information are finding easier and more organized methods to quickly get rid of the data. Data dumps are one of the most popular products found on these underground forums, where buyers and sellers communicate in an organized fashion similar to an official business from the legitimate world.
Many cybercriminal groups are trying to steal bulk data, such as the Target and eBay breach, looking to offload the information as quickly as possible. Using organized underground hacker forums, many based in Eastern Europe and China, they are able to sell and trade the data.
"When we think about the markets themselves they are organized in a unique fashion," said Tom Hold, Michigan State University associated professor specializing in cybercrime. "At the individual level, we're talking about a process where we're seeing peers and colleagues; at the formal forum level, we're seeing a more formal organization that takes place."
Cybersecurity experts Jakob Lell and Karsten Nohl have demonstrated a new vulnerability that makes it extremely difficult for users to defend against USB-based attacks. The current USB standard's vulnerability makes it hard to defend against attacks, even if manufacturers should begin developing additional security layers.
Specifically, empty USB flash drives can contain malware even if formatted - a troubling sign for many of the companies that rely on flash drives to transfer data.
"USB is ubiquitous across all devices," said Mike McLaughlin, First Base Technologies, in a statement to BBC. "It comes down to the same old saying - don't plug things in that you don't trust. Any business should always have policies in place regarding USB devices and USB drives. Businesses should stop using them if needed."
The high-profile security data breaches of Target and eBay, among others over the past year, caused alarm among security experts wanting to see better government intervention to prevent future problems.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosing massive government surveillance angered some Black Hat users, but sophisticated malware used by China, Russia and other state-sponsored are of greater concern. Cyberespionage attacks continue to increase in an effort to steal government and corporate secrets, while IT staff struggle to keep up.
"Either software houses deliver quality and back it up with product liability, or they will have to let their users protect themselves," said Dan Geer, venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, as he spoke for himself during the event. "The current situation - users can't see whether they need to protect themselves and have no recourse to being unprotected - cannot go on."
Many people are very focused on security and keeping their communications private. Some of the focus on privacy and security came after Edward Snowden leaked documents to the world that showed the US government was capturing information on the internet from unencrypted websites.
Yahoo announced this week that users of its email service will have the option of encrypting emails sent from start to finish. The encryption will be available starting next year and will be enabled via a browser plug-in.
Yahoo's announcement comes only a short while after Google made a similar announcement. Yahoo says that it will bootstrap Google's code and that the Yahoo and Google encryption services will be compatible. Once the encryption is complete, the people will be able to send emails that only the intended recipient can read. Yahoo will use PGP encryption for its email.
When it comes to getting better rankings for their websites, you can bet many business users will do anything that Google tells them to. Google has a formula that it uses to determine the page raking for the sites that are returned in its listings when you type in a word or phrase.
Exactly what Google uses to rank the pages is a secret, but it will occasionally give site owners an idea what they need to do to get better rankings. Such is the case with an announcement made this week that involves a change to the formula used to rank pages online.
Google has said that web pages that automatically encrypt their services will get a ranking boost in the Google recommendation system. Google says for now the encryption will be a small factor in ranking, but the company says that it may put greater emphasis on encryption in the future. Sites that start with "https" are going to get rankings boost.
A security consultant speaking at the Black Hat event has outlined how he gained access to the controls of 200 luxury hotel rooms in China.
At a session called Learn How To Control Every Room At A Luxury Hotel Remotely at Black Hat, Las Vegas, Jesus Molina spoke of the time he spent staying at the St Regis hotel, Shenzhen. Molina became "bored" - at which point he picked up a complimentary iPad granted to guests and reverse engineered a home automation protocol, KNX/IP. He then had access to the lights, temperature and more in his room - but by simply changing one digit of the iPad's IP address he could control rooms all over the hotel.
Molina thought about testing the methods with the door lock mechanism but decided not to. "I thought about looking to see if a similar system controlled the door locks but got scared," he said, according to Sky News. Later he made sure to inform the parent company of the security flaw, which is apparently now shut.
An American web security company, Hold Security, claims Russian criminal rings have built enormous databases of 1.2 billion stolen usernames and passwords, along with half a billion email addresses.
This heist will be the biggest identity theft of data in the history of the internet, according to Hold Security, and it is thought to have compromised roughly 420,000 websites. Hold has not named the companies it believes were hit but asserted brands both big and small are among those affected.
"We were amazed when 10,000 passwords went missing," company founder Alex Holden said. "Now we're in the age of mass production of stolen information. These guys did nothing new, they just did it better and on a mass level so it affects absolutely everybody."
The Mozilla Foundation has made a mistake that left the credentials of about 76,000 developers using its Mozilla Developer Network vulnerable to hackers. During a sanitation process on the server where the data was stored, some sort of error cause an emergency dump of the data on that server to be sent to a backup server.
That emergency dump is something that many servers do to prevent data loss. The catch is that the backup server where the data was dumped was unencrypted. That means that the details of those 76,000 developers were available to be copied by anyone along with 4,000 encrypted passwords.
Mozilla has removed the data now, but the information sat there for a month before developers noticed the issue. Mozilla says that the passwords would not work and that it hasn't seen any sort of breach using the data.
Tech heavyweights Apple and SAP are being taken to task in Russia, with officials from the government demanding the two hand over their source code to allay fears they can be exploited for surveillance purposes.
Russian communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov insisted a thorough check is necessary to determine just how private the data of users is, in particular those in the government and figureheads of Russian industry.
Nikiforov made clear in his comments that the revelations exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden are a driving force behind the demands. "The revelations of Edward Snowden in 2013 and public statements of US intelligence to strengthen [the] surveillance of Russia in 2014 raised the question seriously [of] confidence [in] foreign software and hardware," he said, ZDNet reports. "It is obvious that those companies that disclose the source code of their programs, not hiding anything, but those who did not intend to cooperate with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products." The agency also asserted companies that do not agree to the tests could well find their products leaving the Russian market.
Russia has posted an official bounty that offers a 3.9 million ruble sum - almost 200,000 USD - to the first people who can identify and track users on Tor.
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which posted the bounty, requires applicants to pay a hefty application fee - and they must be either a Russian citizen or a Russian company to apply. The competition runs from August 13 to August 20, and the deadline for submission is November 30.
Tor has been a persistent thorn in the side of intelligence agencies around the world. Tor, or The Onion Router, has taken in a lot of cash from America's department for defense, as well as having been utilized by police and other authorities. But it is also used as a way to anonymize traffic among dissenting citizens and human rights activists. Vladimir Putin recently approved a law that would open up access to data within Russia to Russia's intelligence service - as well as his administration insisting high-circulation bloggers with over 3,000 visits a day formally register with the government.