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Cybercrime is maturing while those interested in launching attacks are better organized and skilled with their ability to breach networks. There are a growing number of paid cyberattack tools available on the black market, which can be custom scripted for additional payments, broadening the scope of these attacks.
Following its success of dropping the Microsoft Xbox Live and Sony PlayStation Network on Christmas, the Lizard Squad hacker group showed off its distributed denial of service (DDoS) tool. The DDoS-for-hire attack service, dubbed Lizard Stresser, put the for-pay cyberattack market in front of a larger audience - and it appears people are interested.
"I really feel Lizard Squad has upped the ante on the DDoS for hire market," said Terrence Gareau, Chief Scientist at NexusGuard, in a statement to SiliconANGLE. "They have taken an approach much like Silicon Valley startups that focuses on marketing and media to push a product and make their stresser appear better than competitors."
The US Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts were compromised on Monday morning, with hackers posting threatening messages and officer contact information. CENTCOM servers and classified data remained intact, and the FBI and Department of Defense (DoD) are now investigating the issue. If nothing else, this is a rather embarrassing issue for the US military, as cybersecurity protocols are being taken more seriously.
"It's embarrassing as all get-out for CENTCOM," said Matthew Aid, a cybersecurity specialist, in a statement to the USA Today. "It looks like rather low-level classified documents. They came off a protected network. Regardless of the low level of sensitivity, the fact that it was done should scare the crap out of people."
However, CENTCOM officials note that the account's username and password were compromised, but its networks were not breached in the incident: "This is little more, in our view, than a cyber-prank," said Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Pentagon. "It's an annoyance. We wish it wouldn't happen because we have to spend our time on it. But in no way compromises our operations in any way shape or form."
President Barack Obama wants cybersecurity to have a more prominent role among companies and federal agencies, including cybersecurity information sharing. As part of the proposal, Obama wants streamlined threat intelligence sharing between the private sector and government agencies.
In addition, Obama wants to disrupt botnet operators - including the sale or rental of botnets for criminal use - to be investigated, disrupted and prosecuted by federal courts.
Obama yesterday announced an updated proposal so national data breach reporting is modified following a cyberattack and data breach. Instead of a mix of state laws, a single federal statute would be created, so businesses better understand their responsibilities while informing customers.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is warning everyone to be careful when receiving emails that have anything to do with an "ISIS threat," after numerous reports of people becoming infected when opening emails containing the subject "ISIS attacks in Sydney?" have surfaced.
The Australian Government's Stay Smart Online service statement reads "new emails referring to ISIS terrorism activities carry a malicious attachment that can be used to infect your computer," further commenting that "clicking on the attachment could result in malicious code being installed that allows an attacker to take control of your computer."
The body of the email in question goes on to mention "ISIS has warned Australian Police today about new attacks in Sydney," further stating that "attached the places in word file which ISIS planning to attack in Sydney this year 2015."
The Russian FSB intelligence security service reportedly tried to recruit former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, approaching him while he was stranded in the Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2013. The American fugitive declined the offer.
Snowden was reportedly approached only once and he "didn't give anything to the Russians at all," according to WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison, a close friend to the stranded American.
Snowden was granted temporary asylum to stay in Russia in August 2013, and he remains inside of Russian borders.
United Airlines says it wasn't breached as several MileagePlus members have discovered fraudulent activity on their accounts. It appears usernames and passwords were compromised from a third-party, and the unauthorized purchases began sometime in December 2014, the airline has confirmed. The California Office of the Attorney General was notified about the incident last week.
United is still trying to determine how the information was compromised, as criminals have increasingly targeted loyalty programs for airlines, hotels and other travel industry businesses. The accrued points are easy to cash out for restaurants, rental cars, air travel, hotels, and other perks.
Cybercriminals are finding new methods to find usernames and password credentials to steal - and the fraudulent activity suffered by MileagePlus members is an indication that trend will continue.
It appears the US Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts were hacked by the Islamic State, corresponding with President Obama preparing to deliver a speech regarding cybersecurity. Both accounts have been temporarily suspended, as threatening messages were posted aimed at US soldiers.
One of the messages posted on the US Central Command Twitter page included: American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back. ISIS. #CyberCaliphate" and included a link to a Pastebin link.
This effort was designed to be an annoyance to the US government and US Central Command systems remain secure from attack. Meanwhile, US officials are looking into the breach, including extent of the incident and any messages that may have been sent from the hijacked accounts.
The FBI continues to say North Korea is responsible for a crippling cyberattack and data breach of Sony Pictures, and the Obama Administration vowed revenge, but Washington didn't drop the North Korean Internet, sources claim. However, those responsible for hitting North Korea likely didn't need to work very hard, and future attacks could be imminent.
"It looks more like the result of an infrastructure attack than an infrastructure failure," said James Cowie, chief scientist of Dynamic Network Services, in a statement to the AP. "There's nothing you can point to that says it has all the hallmarks of an attack by a nation state. It could have been anybody."
The entire country of North Korea only has four principal access point to the Internet, and while the US government has the capabilities to impact them, so do multiple other nation states - and smaller hacker groups.
Before Sony Pictures had its data released to the Internet, the Guardians of Peace offered to simply disappear if they were paid a ransom - an extortion attempt that Sony promptly denied. However, this type of criminal activity is overshadowed by the new forms of malware customized to encrypt files and demand payment from compromised victims.
Ransomware attacks tend to get the most attention when a new piece of malware hits the Web, infecting end-users and corporations. The ransoms range from as low as $200 up to thousands of dollars, with a short deadline before the files are permanently encrypted.
Cybersecurity experts warn these types of attacks will continue to increase in popularity, as many victims provide payment to the criminals.
The Anonymous hacker collective has publicly launched a campaign against Islamic extremists tied to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, which has killed 12 people. The group plans to target al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorists, with a focus on bringing down their social media accounts and websites used to spread propaganda.
"We, Anonymous around the world, have decided to declare war on you the terrorists," the group declared in a YouTube video. "We intend to take revenge in their name, we are going to survey your activities on the net, we are going to shut down your accounts on all social networks."
#OpCharlieHebdo has already claimed one victim, though the victimized website returned to service after an hour or two of downtime. However, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and other cyberattacks are expected to target the terrorist groups operating in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.