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Apple iMessage now accounts for more than 30 percent of all mobile spam messages sent to users, with cybercriminals easily able to send messages to a large number of users. To better combat spam messaging, Apple previously put in place iMessage rate-limiting, as hackers last year were able to send a large volume of messages with little resistance. However, it still remains a lucrative tool for cybercriminals to use for spam and phishing attacks, with the problem seemingly out of control.
To register for an iMessage account, a criminal simply needs a victim's linked email address - a mobile phone number isn't required. Security experts have seen message come from U.S. companies such as Microsoft's Hotmail to China's Yeah.net, indicating a large number of accounts have been created to send out spam.
Trying to report iMessage spam abuse is a tiresome, annoying process: users must email Apple, including a screenshot of the spam message, email address or phone number of sender, along with the date and time the message was sent by the spammer.
U.S. universities face a bigger threat of security data breaches than the retail and healthcare sectors, according to a recent study published by BitSight. As the school year begins again, hackers are preparing to target universities once again, the report said.
Using data based on major athletic conferences, including the Pacific-12, Big 10, Big 12, Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and Ivy League from July 2013 to June 2014, all divisions saw a drop in cybersecurity performance.
"From Social Security and credit card numbers to health records and intellectual property produced by research departments, colleges and universities house a vast amount of sensitive data," said Stephen Boyer, BitSight co-founder and CTO, in a statement to FierceCIO. "While not surprising given the unique challenges universities face securing open campus networks, it's concerning to see that they are rating so far below other industries that we've seen plagued by recent security problems."
The UPS Store suffered a data breach at 51 retail locations across the United States, with 105,000 customer transactions, ranging from January 20 to August 11, at risk due to the security incident. If you've shopped at the UPS Store, you're urged to visit the company's website to identify if your UPS Store location was compromised - individual notification letters will not be sent out.
To date, there has been no evidence of fraud related to the incident, with malware found on the company's network. Names, postal addresses, payment information and email addresses are at risk, but it's unknown how many customers might have been affected.
"As soon as we became aware of the potential malware intrusion, we deployed extensive resources to quickly address and eliminate this issue," said Tim Davis, UPS Store President, in a statement. "Our customers can be assured that we have identified and fully contained the incident."
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was "successfully hacked" at least three times in the past few years, with two of the data breaches conducted by hackers overseas, according to records. One breach took places due to a phishing attack that was sent to more than 200 NRC employees, with a successful logon-credential harvesting attempt. At least 12 employees opened an enclosed link in the email, indicating there is still work to be done to better educate employees against opening suspicious emails.
A different attack also utilized a phishing attack that redirected employees to malware spread via Microsoft SkyDrive, with "one incident of compromise and the investigation tracked the sender to a foreign country."
"The few attempts documented in the OIG Cyber Crimes Unit report as gaining some access to NRC networks were detected and appropriate measures were taken," said David McIntyre, NRC spokesman, in a statement to the media.
The healthcare industry is still being slammed by cyberattacks, with 90 percent of organizations losing patient data at one time or another, according to research from the Ponemon Institute. It's a frightening thought because the medical industry faces more data breaches than the military and banking industries combined.
Cybercriminals have shown great interest in targeting the healthcare industry, as stolen records are worth more on the underground market. Credit card information can fetch around $1 per stolen record, but medical data earns up to $50+ per stolen credential.
"They can't keep up [with hackers]," said J.D. Sherry, Trend Micro security firm adviser for hospitals and healthcare organizations. "Their resources are tremendously overwhelmed. With day-to-day business, IT security is not top of mind."
Pro-Syrian hackers are using WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Viber to share malware that is aimed at activists fighting for a regime change in Syria. In addition to Syrian Internet users, people were also targeted in the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Morocco and Lebanon, security researchers noted.
The malware is using remote access tools (RATs) and being shared to groups that support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The RAT technology are able to compromise PCs and systems in which they are installed, with attackers stealing credentials, remotely turning on microphones and video cameras, and controlling the infected PCs.
"Total Network Monitor (which is a legitimate application) is inside another sample found, being used with embedded malware for spying purposes," according to Kaspersky Lab researchers. "Offering security applications to protect against surveillance is one of the many techniques used by malware writing groups to get users desperate for privacy to execute these dubious programs."
Coordinated state-sponsored cyberattacks are nothing new, but it looks like Pakistan wants to evolve from simple hacktivism and mature into official cyberespionage. Recent collaborative research from FireEye and ThreatConnect noted advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks dating back to early 2013, which is more common from organized cyberattackers.
The Bitterbug malware, for example, uses US virtual private servers and is designed to steal information and send it back to its operator overseas. It appears that a hosting provider in Pakistan leases the ability to operate a command and control server from a U.S. provider.
"Adversaries are masking their exploitation operations behind U.S. infrastructure and targeting U.S> and international victims," said Rich Barger, ThreatConnect Director of Intelligence Research, in a press release. "These adversaries are purporting to be legitimate organizations and abusing unwitting service providers."
The Community Health Systems (CHS) suffered a data breach in April and June that has affected up to 4.5 million of the company's patients. Although payment information wasn't taken, patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers were compromised during the breach.
The attack likely was an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) originating from China, in an effort to steal bulk data which can be used later. APTs are targeted attacks designed to circumvent modern firewalls, antivirus and antimalware solutions used by companies.
"The company has confirmed that this data did not include patient, credit card, medical, or clinical information," Community Health noted in a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has become popular news in the western world and on social media, with three current malware and phishing campaigns currently underway, according to Symantec.
The first campaign utilizes the Trojan.Zbot malware, infecting users when they mistakenly click on a fake report related to the ongoing Ebola problem in Liberia and other countries.
The second campaign utilizes an email that mimics something sent out from Etisalat, a telecommunications provider that serves the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. However, it's not a real email and instead has an attached zip file, titled "EBOLA - ETISALAT PRESENTATION.pdf.zip," which is the Trojan.Blueso software. It will also inject W32.Spyrat that logs keystrokes, records audio and video from the Webcam, captures screenshots, create processes, opens Web pages, and other tasks.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden would "volunteer" for prison but only under the right circumstances, he said in a recent interview with Wired Magazine. Considering he faces charges that include conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, theft of government property and disclosing communications intelligence information, he would likely face significant prison time if convicted.
"I told the government I'd volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose," Snowden told Wired earlier this month. "I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can't allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal is. I'm not going to be part of that."
Earlier in the month, Russian officials announced Snowden's asylum was extended for an additional three years - allowing him to remain in a safe location as he tries to figure out what to do long-term. Most U.S. politicians have been less than kind when describing Snowden's actions, and it seems unlikely he would receive a fair trial if he returns back to the United States. However, they are still keen to see him return home, because they certainly seem to have a lot of questions they would like him to answer.