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Sony Pictures was having a decent year until the crippling cyberattack that made the company's operations go sideways to end the year. To help keep things operating, Sony embraced its old stash of BlackBerry smartphones to support day-to-day operations moving ahead. It's possible, following the breach, some executives will begin embracing BlackBerry smartphones because of the enhanced security protocols.
Despite losing steam among consumers - and in the business workplace - BlackBerry smartphones still rely on a secure infrastructure, making it a popular device for government employees, even with the domination of Apple iPhone and Google Android devices.
"CEO Michael Lynton routinely received copies of his passwords in unsecure emails for his family and his family's mail, banking, travel, and shopping accounts," according to the Associated Press. "Experts say such haphazard practices are common across corporate America." Using a BlackBerry device, however, could help alleviate some of the poor cybersecurity practices suffered by many company executives.
The FBI believes North Korea played a major role in the breach of Sony Pictures, while the reclusive North Korean government not surprisingly denied any involvement. The Norse cybersecurity firm spoke with the FBI at the start of the week, and believe a piracy group and disgruntled insiders, at least one laid-off Sony Pictures employee, were more likely the cause of the data breach.
"We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history," said Kurt Stammberger, Norse senior vice president, in a statement to CBS News.
In a statement meant to Reuters, the FBI offered the following statement: "The FBI has concluded the government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment."
Biometric security just took a big blow to the chin. Fingerprint scanners are increasingly used for security in Apple and Samsung devices, along with many others, and are even used for voter identification in some countries. At a recent conference in Hamburg, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network revealed they had copied German Defense minister Ursula von der Leyens' fingerprint from publically available photos of a press conference she held.
The photos were taken from standard cameras, and several images were used to stitch together the copied thumbprint. One fingerprint may have taken a bit of work to accomplish, but now that the proof-of-concept experiment has succeeded it would be relatively easy to refine the process. This isn't the best news for politicians and others who are regularly photographed, and it might be wise to move to other technologies to secure access to devices.
Roll up Lizard Squad and Anonymous members, it's time to put your skills to the test. MasterCard has just announced through a press release that they will be running massive hacker collective competition across 10 cities with the ultimate prize being $100,000 in cold, hard cash.
Conducted through the use of MasterCard-supplies APIs, the entrants will compete to "create innovative prototypes that demonstrate artful coding and design skills while also articulating clear business use cases - all focused on driving the next generation of commerce applications" as according to their release.
The compilation of sensitive data secreted out of the NSA by Edward Snowden continues to be a big thorn in the side of spying agencies. Recent disclosures in Der Spiegel, the newspaper that has leaked the majority of the Snowden information, reveals several programs that the NSA has found to be very difficult, or totally impossible, to decipher. The information is complete as of late 2012, so the NSA may have already overcome these limitations, but the information is interesting.
Some emails are still indecipherable, notably the Zoho encrypted email service. The NSA has also noted that following targets across the Tor network is difficult to impossible, which means it works as advertised. The NSA has been very proactive in their dealings with encryption programs, primarily by working with vendors and committee's to have backdoors installed into the major encryption programs before they are even released to the public. One of the most surprising findings is that TrueCrypt, an open-source program, is largely safe for encrypting data. The NSA apparently didn't have as much luck penetrating an open-source project, which isn't entirely surprising considering the peer-reviewed nature of open source programs. It would be hard to insert a secret back door into a program that is actively worked on by a large group of people without company/government affiliations. PGR encryption tools and OTR chat encryption were also notable exceptions to the NSA's decryption schemes.
Military targets in Europe and Israel have been hit by cyberespionage attacks that could have been aided by commercial security-testing software released by Core Security, according to a report from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). Israeli officials are unsure who launched the attack, but Iran is on the short list of suspects - as the Iranian government routinely tries to conduct surveillance and steal information from Israel.
"The most likely answer is they didn't have the capability to do it on their own," said Tilmann Werner, CrowdStrike analyst, in a statement, also adding "there is no risk of leaving tool-marks."
Cybercriminals trying to compromise government and military departments, corporations, and other major targets are greatly improving their attack capabilities. Iran has invested a large amount of resources in developing internal cyberespionage efforts, with Israel a popular target for new attacks.
South Korea reported cyberattacks against its nuclear power operator are still underway, with non-critical operations being targeted - but the Korean nuclear power plants are safe and secure. The company faced a cyberattack and data breach last week, but hackers were able to only steal non-critical data, while reactors and other critical infrastructure were untouched.
"We cannot let cyberattacks stop nuclear power operation," said Cho Seok, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. President and CEO, during a press conference. "We will continue operating nuclear plants safely against any attempted foul play, including cyberattacks. Cyberattacks on KHNP's (headquarters) operations and administration are still continuing now."
The Korean government currently has an investigation underway, and is asking for cooperation from China, as it's possible North Korea was responsible for the incident.
Norse has developed a network of 8 million sensors worldwide designed specifically to absorb various types of internet attacks. These sensors analyze the malicious traffic and trace it back to its source. This vast network of global trackers is called the DarkMatter Platform, and it delivers real-time threat tracking and intelligence within five seconds.
Norse provides this service to companies to protect their web services, but they also provide an amazing real-time view for everyone of malicious traffic at their comprehensive monitoring site. The view of ongoing attacks is amazing due to the sheer scale of the attacks, and their continuing nature highlights the intense threats companies face every day. The site identifies each type of attack, and DDoS attacks are easily visible as attacks from multiple locations worldwide converge on a single target.
Right about now you've really got to feel sorry for Sony. Alongside numerous hacking scandals surrounding their pictures department, they've been targeted by the infamous North Korea and even had their PlayStation Live Network service taken down on the 26th of December thanks to a timely DDoS. Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, hackers have released 13,000 username-and-password combinations alongside stolen credit card details, claiming these were stolen from large-scale websites like Sony's PlayStation Network, XBOX Live and Amazon plus more.
Released via the Twitter account "@AnonymousGlobo", this hack is also said to target some of the largest porn websites alongside these gaming and retail web portals. This gives the hack yet another tie to the group known as Anonymous, who have been involved in recent Klu Klux Klan altercations alongside many other large-scale operations in recent years.
For the second time in less than one week, it appears the fragile North Korean Internet infrastructure has been dropped offline from cyberattacks. Reports from Chinese media indicate the Internet and 3G mobile phone networks in North Korea have gone offline, following the US government's accusations that Pyongyang had a direct hand in breaching Sony Pictures.
In the incident reported earlier in the week, it appears a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack stopped Internet access for a brief period. Most Internet access in North Korea is reserved for high-ranking government officials and military personnel, reports indicate.
Despite countries focusing on developing cyberespionage weapons able to target foreign companies and governments, clearly not enough is being done to help improve cybersecurity. The United States, UK, North Korea, China, Russia, Iran, and other nations have greater cyberattack capabilities - but fall prey to their own data incidents on a frequent basis.