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Unknown cybercriminals breached the Lizard Squad's LizardStresser distributed denial of service (DDoS) service, which serves customers as an attack-for-hire tool. There are more than 14,000 registered users, with $11,000 collected via bitcoin to help pay for DDoS attacks against thousands of website URLs and IP addresses.
The Lizard Squad reportedly brought down Microsoft Xbox Live and Sony PlayStation Network (PSN) to promote its service.
Lizard Squad appears to have a number of younger members contributing to its cybercriminal operation, though several reported members have been arrested across the world. However, core members of the group still haven't been identified and arrested, so future cyberattacks are expected to continue against higher-profile targets.
Russian hacker Vladimir Drinkman faces a final extradition ruling later this month, where US officials hope he is transferred from a Dutch prison to the United States.
Drinkman and an alleged accomplice in the cybercriminal ring that stole millions of debit and credit card numbers, Dmitriy Smilianets, were arrested while on holiday in Amsterdam. They were part of a group that caused more than $300 million losses to companies, while selling cards for $10, $15, or $50 apiece.
"'Hacker' is an elastic notion," Drinkman told Bloomberg Businessweek. "Now every third person is called a hacker because he has technical skills, and not because he is actually using them."
Moneyhorse, the developer of the Glorious Leader! 2D video game featuring Kim Jong-un from North Korea, was hacked and its Kickstarter campaign page was deleted. The game title collected $16,816 of its hopeful $55,000 goal - not likely to reach the anticipated goal - with mistakes made during its Kickstarter campaign.
The game developer doesn't think the Guardians of Peace (GOP) hacker group played a role in the breach, but admitted it is reevaluating its decision to move forward with the title.
"The hackers destroyed data pertaining to Glorious Leader! And other projects we had in development and locked us out of our own computers and website," according to a Moneyhorse update. "The timing couldn't have been worse as it hampered our ability to attend to the Kickstarter project."
Malware threats continued to grow in 2014, and cybercriminals are working on developing new generations of mobile malware, according to Lookout Security. The company noted a whopping 75 percent jump in Android-based malware threats throughout the year, with criminals shifting focus from SMS scams to new ways to compromise users.
Cybercriminals have found ransomware, though harder to compromise victims, proves more valuable when it comes to return on investment (ROI). End users and business employees are desperate to regain access to compromised devices, so they are more likely to pay a ransom immediately.
Cybersecurity experts recommend mobile users install anti-virus and anti-malware software on their smartphones and tablets, along with being cautious when clicking links and installing apps from unknown sources.
"It could be used for legitimate reasons, right?" was the first thought that went through my head when looking at this website - well that's apparently not the case. If you're looking to seek revenge or hold a grudge and have money to spend - Hackers List will enable you to list up your task and a price - helping you search for the most suitable hacker for your needs.
As described by the New York Times, there are potential clients on here including a Sweedish man offering up $2,000 for someone to hack into his landlord's website and even a lady from California ready to pony up $500 for someone to gain access to his Facebook and Gmail accounts - talk about a healthy relationship!
With over 500 jobs currently listed, everything is completed completely anonymously, with the website working as the 'middle man' when it comes to jobs, correspondence and payment.
The FBI insists North Korea is responsible for breaching Sony Pictures, while some cybersecurity experts aren't so sure. John McAfee, an eccentric cybersecurity pioneer, says he knows what group is responsible for breaching SPE - and it wasn't the North Koreans.
"I can guarantee they are wrong,"McAfee recently told IBTimes UK, while speaking about the FBI's assertion that North Korea is involved. "It has to do with a group of hackers - I will not name them - who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it."
McAfee spent much of his career defending users and companies against hackers - but has a mutual respect for hackers today, saying "they want freedom, freedom of expression, freedom to live unobserved."
Kim Jong-un became "supreme leader" of North Korea at a young age, and has shown political instability since his reign began in 2011. The North Korean government, meanwhile, has steadily invested time and resources into its Bureau 121 hacker division, aiming to compromise political rivals.
"In the case of the DPRK, the paranoia is amplified to the extreme," according to a commentary written about North Korea's cyberattack motivations on InformationWeek's Dark Reading. It's true that the North Korean government, which strives to maintain full control of its citizens, is suspicious of all outsiders - and launching cyberattacks to steal information has evolved into a valuable asset.
The FBI continues to say North Korea is behind the major data breach of Sony Pictures - and whether the reclusive government is responsible - foreign governments and cybersecurity companies are paying attention to Pyongyang's rising cyberattack capabilities.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) and British GCHQ intelligence agencies plan to step up their cybersecurity cooperation, as both governments face increasing numbers of cyberattacks. The agencies plan to launch cyber war games to test the cybersecurity of financial institutions, hoping to defend against the "biggest modern threats that we face."
"We have got hugely capable cyber defenses, we have got the expertise and that is why we should combine as we are going to, set up cyber cells on both sides of the Atlantic to share information," said British Prime Minister David Cameron during a press conference.
Following mass surveillance operations detailed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, critics said the US and UK government should focus on beefing up cybersecurity efforts - instead of spying on citizens, residents, and foreign governments - as cyberespionage campaigns target both countries.
The Lizard Squad made waves with their massive DDoS attacks on PlayStation and Xbox Live networks over the Christmas holiday. These attacks spoiled Christmas for untold millions of people as the DDoS attacks crippled servers and left shiny new game consoles unable to connect to online services. These attacks appear to be part of a larger marketing scheme for the Lizard Squad's DDoS-for-hire services.
The Lizard Squad isn't afraid to taunt authorities and that has drawn even more scrutiny. However, they have been very successful at remaining in the shadows, until now. UK police with the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU) cyber crime unit apprehended an 18-year-old male connected with the recent PlayStation and Xbox Live DDoS attacks. The man was also charged with several swatting incidents, in which a fake police call is made to instigate police raids against others.
Cybercriminals want to breach US companies, stealing data and customer records, and have found surprising levels of success. Some breached companies eventually discover that criminals spent months poking aroun compromised systems, taking their time before stealing large amounts of data.
The US government wants companies to be more forthcoming about data breaches once they are discovered, but some companies - if they actually know about it - remain quiet. Companies will be given some leeway if they inform the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about cybersecurity incidents after they do occur, according to changes the Obama Administration plans to put in place.
"There is an element of embarrassment at work here," said Robert Cattanach, partner at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm, in a statement published by reporters. "But hacking is not a problem that any one company can solve alone."