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Even though companies are becoming increasingly aware of cyberattacks and the rising threat they pose, many decision makers are hesitant to spend money to improve security - until a data breach or theft occurs. If an attack doesn't lead to massive financial losses, cybersecurity experts warn, cyberattacks are still being shrugged off. Unfortunately, companies don't think the cost of building a stronger cybersecurity defense is a worthwhile expense, instead focusing on more pressing business matters.
"Until it hits them at home, it won't matter much," said Scott Goldman, security company TExtPower CEO, in a statement. "The very fact that people are becoming numb to the constant stream of breaches indicates the pathetic level of security provided by most online services."
U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin said the attacks it faces has quadrupled since 2007, and public utilities also are being caught up in the chaos. Security typically won't lead to increased revenue or profit, and despite looming cyberthreats, it will continue to take a major incident before change is made.
Even though western cybersecurity experts confirm China is a major threat for cyberattacks, the Communications Security Establishment Canada chief was warned not to say China participates in cyberespionage. It's a difficult situation for John Forster and his staff, as public discussions over Chinese-based cyberattacks are becoming more commonplace.
This decision was made in February, and had nothing to do with the U.S. government charging five Chinese Army officers with cyberespionage charges earlier in the week. Meanwhile, the Canadian government has been targeted by likely Chinese attacks, at a time when government agencies are struggling to defend against organized cyberattacks.
"There are now more than 100 nations that possess the capability to conduct cyberoperations on a persistent basis," Forster noted, adding that "our government systems are probed millions of times a day and there are thousands of attempts to compromise these systems every year."
Following its massive data breach, eBay is now reportedly being investigated in at least three U.S. states and an investigation is opening up in Europe. So far, Florida, Connecticut and Illinois are the first, though other states will most likely begin to investigate the breach and how it happened. Consumers are still urged to change their passwords as soon as possible, and not rely on any state or Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigations just yet.
"The magnitude of the reported eBay data breach could be of historic proportions, and my office is part of a group of other attorneys general in the country investigating the matter," said Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, in a press statement.
Media reports indicate UK officials also plan to investigate the massive breach, which compromised more than 100 million users. After the breach was disclosed earlier in the week, eBay confirmed it is currently working with law enforcement officials already.
So much news focuses on end-user security practices, and choosing a password is a very important step to try and keep data secure. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly savvy in compromising users, relying on a mix of malware and social engineering to steal information.
Instead of a password, choosing a "passphrase" is a good first step; for example, "SantaMonicaBeach," or something that doesn't just rely on a single-word password. Users should also forget about relying on names of pets or family members, as social engineering leads criminals to troll social media accounts to gain additional information on users.
As users tend to have even more passwords, using some type of password manager is a good method to keep passwords under control. If possible, using two-step verification, whenever offered, is an important additional layer of security for users.
The House today clamped down on the National Security Agency's bulk phone surveillance techniques, marking the first time former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures have led to a government change. It's an important step forward, with a 303-121 vote, as politicians on both sides don't want the NSA being able to collect bulk surveillance information on U.S. citizens.
The USA Freedom Act will now go to the Senate, though some are concerned that this is simply a "watered down" version of the bill - and could still allow the government to weasel through loopholes.
"This legislation was designed to prohibit bulk collection, but has been made so weak that it fails to adequately protect against mass, untargeted collection of Americans' private information," said Nuala O'Connor, Center for Democracy and Technology president and CEO, in a statement.
Although companies are learning of malware infections and other security breaches faster than previous years, very few companies are able to detect these issues on their own, according to a study by security firm Trustwave. It took an average of 134 days from intrusion until the breach was detected, which is two and a half months faster than what it took in 2013 - but with malware becoming increasingly sophisticated, this is still a rather worrisome trend.
Malware self-detection is just 29 percent, according to the study, with third-party companies informing those exposed of the security breaches.
"That's just a horrible statistic in general," said Karl Sigler, Trustwave manager of threat intelligence, in a statement to CSO. "That's a phenomenal statistic compared to in the past. Sometimes breaches would take months to actually contain."
The University of California, Irvine student health center was reportedly compromised, with a form of keylogger malware running for at least six weeks. In the breach, student ID numbers, contact information and bank numbers of up to 1,800 students and a small number of others at risk, according to UC Irvine spokespeople.
No UC Irvine medical records were compromised, with the malware operating from February 14 to March 27, according to officials.
Universities are having a hard time trying to keep their networks secure, with cybercriminals finding large amounts of information that is increasingly easy to compromise. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was recently hit by a data breach, while Iowa State University also suffered a data breach as criminals tried to mine for bitcoins. University of California at San Francisco also suffered a breach, and University of Hawaii officials are warning of increasingly clever phishing attacks.
Security experts cannot seem to agree whether or not anti-virus software today is adequate to defend against sophisticated malware attacks, with another industry leader saying most anti-virus simply isn't effective. Lastline Labs researched malware samples for one year from May 2013 to May 2014, using 47 anti-virus signatures, and found that no solution detected every malware sample on any of the test days.
Also of note, the first day of testing, just 51 percent of anti-virus software products detected malware samples - and took two days, on average, for an AV scanner to alert to malware that slipped by in previous tests.
Here is what Engin Kirda, co-founder of Lastline Labs said: "I heartily encourage further testing and analysis of advanced malware detection techniques - by CIOs, CSOs and the broader security community in addition to my own team - in order to battle test detection technology. In order to protect our organizations, our people and our resources, we have to collaborate, integrate and share intelligence in order to begin to close the gap."
Facebook wants to keep its users secure from online malware threats, and has teamed up with security firm F-Secure to provide a free browser-based malware scanner. The No. 1 social networking website also is working with Trend Micro, so it's a two-pronged defense method that will be closely analyzed to ensure effectiveness.
It's great to see Facebook step up and work with security companies to try and keep its users secure in an evolving cyberthreat landscape. If a Facebook user is compromised, it's not uncommon to have malware collect personal information, post status updates, or send messages to friends, in a clever attempt to compromise more users.
Here is what Arto Saari, F-Secure Product Manager said: "Facebook's dramatic global growth has significantly changed how people interact with their friends and family. In turn, Facebook's popularity has made it a major target for online criminals. We are pleased to partner with Facebook to stop cybercriminals from taking advantage of Facebook's user base for malicious ends."
Major defense contractor Lockheed Martin recently said it has seen cyberattacks targeting its PCs and networks quadruple over the past seven years, indicating a steep rise in the need for stronger cybersecurity efforts. So far in 2014, there have been at least 43 hacker groups and organizations targeting Lockheed, according to Chandra McMahon, Lockheed information systems vice president of commercial markets.
Not surprisingly, Lockheed also saw a rise in malware attacks, with Microsoft noting that malware infection tripled in 2013 - and threats are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace.
"While we haven't seen specific action on objectives in terms of damage, what we have seen over the last several years (is) malware created and deployed to damage critical infrastructure," McMahon also added.