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Hacking & Security Posts - Page 48

NSA denies posing as Facebook to compromise user HDDs

Of all the spying programs revealed by former IT contractor Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) was quick to deny exploiting users by impersonating Facebook.

 

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Shortly after reports surfaced accusing the NSA of mimicking a Facebook server to help infect user PCs, users were upset - and the NSA wanted to offer a public statement.

 

"Recent media reports that allege NSA has infected millions of computers around the world with malware, and that NSA is impersonating U.S. social media or other websites, are inaccurate," the NSA said via its Public Affairs Office. "NSA uses its technical capabilities only to support lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations, all of which must be carried out in strict accordance with its authorities."

Continue reading 'NSA denies posing as Facebook to compromise user HDDs' (full post)

NoMoreRack.com reportedly hit by data breach

Online retailer NoMoreRack.com was hit by a second reported data breach in the past seven months, and has been notified by Discover regarding customer card data has been compromised, according to a report on the KrebsOnSecurity website.

 

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Following the first reported attack, NoMoreRack teamed with information security compliance company Trustwave, and the forensic audit turned up "no clear cut evidence" of a successful data breach.

 

"So, as of last week, we engaged with Trustwave again to undergo another audit," said Vishal Agarwal, NoMoreRack Director of Business Development, in a statement. "We have been hearing the complaints from banks, but apart from that, and we've done our analysis and due diligence, and there is nothing seriously we can find that may have resulted in customer cards being compromised."

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Google begins encrypting search results, especially in China

In an effort to keep user privacy more secure, search giant Google plans to encrypt searches in China, an effort that will rollout worldwide, to try and limit government snooping.

 

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The Chinese government is well known for its censorship and spying activities, with tech-savvy users already relying on proxies and anonymous Internet browsers to slip past the "Great Firewall of China."

 

"No matter what the cause is, this will help Chinese netizens to access information they've never seen before," noted Percy Alpha, GreatFire.org co-founder, a group designed to monitor Chinese censorship. "It will be a huge headache for Chinese government authorities. We hope other companies will follow Google to make encryption by default."

 

Following reported spying activity from the National Security Agency (NSA), Google and other search companies have been blamed for their role in organized spying efforts. However, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others have boosted search encryption efforts to help boost privacy in an age where government surveillance is a frightening reality.

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Universities slow to inform students, faculty of data breaches

Colleges and universities are popular targets for cybercriminals trying to compromise a large amount of users, stealing as much personal information as possible. However, university officials, after learning of a breach, often are unsure what to do - and struggle to alert students and faculty members in a streamlined manner.

 

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Most recently, hackers compromised North Dakota University and Johns Hopkins University, with hackers stealing personal information.

 

In the Johns Hopkins University breach, hackers stole information on 850 current and former students, though no Social Security Numbers or highly sensitive information was taken. The breach reportedly took place sometime towards the end of 2013, but university officials didn't publicly report the incident until early March.

 

The North Dakota University System breach compromised students from different colleges and universities in North Dakota, hitting a few hundred staff members around 300,000 students - no financial data was stolen, but personal information, including Social Security Numbers, was compromised in the breach. There was a delay in reporting the incident so a forensic analysis could be conducted, according to security specialists.

Continue reading 'Universities slow to inform students, faculty of data breaches' (full post)

'Internet of things' needs anti-virus and security measures

Security experts are keen to try and help traditional anti-virus software evolve into a layer of added defense for breach detection systems (BDS), though the industry is having trouble finding its way there.

 

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If hackers are unable to gain access to PCs, they are finding success targeting voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones in the office - which sometimes leads to direct access to computer networks.

 

Red Balloon, founded by researchers from Columbia University, are interested in developing security for embedded devices, helps companies keep devices more secure.

 

"Now that we know that these phones can be hacked and used as eyes and ears by the attackers, it's time we started demanding real security on the phones," noted Ang Cui, Red Balloon chief scientist, in a statement to the media. "These phones, like mother other embedded devices I've looked at, are about as protected as my laptop back in 2006, without anti-virus."

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Experian duped into handing over customer records to identity thief

National credit reporting company Experian endured a data breach dating from 2007 to 2013, with a man posing as a private investigator reportedly purchasing consumer data. Vietnamese citizen Hieu Minh Ngo pleaded guilty last week, after reportedly selling the stolen information to a group of 1,300 customers.

 

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The information Ngo offered up included full names, addresses, previous mailing addresses, phone numbers, e-mail information, birth dates, and Social Security Numbers. It's unknown how many people were affected, though security experts believe up to 30 million American records could have been shared.

 

Ngo faces up to 45 years in jail, and will be sentenced on June 16.

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NSA allegedly poses as Facebook to help spread its malware

The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly wants to infect millions of computers with malware, and the TURBINE program is based on hacking routers, impersonating Facebook, and other shady practices. Not surprisingly, the information was made public based on revelations released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

 

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The NSA posed as a fake Facebook server, and successfully infected a user's computer to gain access to stored files on a HDD, according to a report posted on The Intercept. Previously, the NSA would use this tactic for a small number of select targets that couldn't be tracked with regular wiretaps, but greatly expanded use over the past 10 years.

 

Security experts are disheartened by yet another data snooping case from the NSA, potentially opening up additional security issues by intentionally infecting computers with malware.

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162,000 legitimate WordPress websites used to launch DDoS attacks

Legitimate WordPress sites can be compromised and turned into a weapon to use as part of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, according to security researchers. A HTTP-based distributed flood attack from more than 162,000 attacks recently brought down a larger site, with the victim WordPress site forced offline due to a tremendous amount of traffic.

 

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Compromised websites likely didn't realize they were hijacked and used as part of the attack, though administrators can search for XML-RPC "POST" requests in website logs.

 

"Any WordPress site with XML-RPC enabled (which is on by default) can be used in DDoS attacks against other sites," said Daniel Cid, Sucuri CTO, wrote in a blog post. "Note that XML-RPC is used for pingbacks, trackbacks, remote access via mobile devices and many other features you're likely very fond of."

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Two arrested following successful data theft of phone company KT Corp

Two men have been arrested and are allegedly involved in a cyberattack and data theft of KT Corp, a major South Korean phone company, with 12 million users affected. The breach took place over a long period, and the criminals took up to 300,000 piece of information at a time, and the South Korean government forced KT Corp to create an online database for users hit by the breach.

 

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One of the suspects reportedly broke into the KT Corp computer system using custom-coded software he developed himself. During the breach, the accused hacker gained bank details, employment information and home addresses on 12 million KT - around 75 percent of the company's customers.

 

The information was later sold to another criminal, and he allegedly used the data to pose as a KT sales rep and sell mobile phones - the criminal scheme generated an estimated $10.8 million, according to reports.

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Banks, financial institutions increasingly researching biometrics

Banks and other financial institutions are embracing biometrics as a next-level security platform, helping prevent against fraud and theft, according to a report published by the Global Industry Analysts (GIA) research group.

 

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Fingerprint recognition is the most popular form of biometrics security, with high accuracy and relatively low deployment costs.

 

Most common biometric security tend to be fingerprint verification, hand-geometry recognition, speech recognition, and iris and retina scanning technologies. Each has significant advantages and disadvantages, leading some companies to adopt multiple types of biometrics. However, it's not cost-effective to install and maintain multiple layers of security, unless necessary, with each different solution needing a complex infrastructure.

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