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Electronic filing of federal tax returns has become even more complicated, as fallout from a number of high-profile data breaches continues. The Social Security numbers and other stolen personal information from these issues has led to more fraudulent tax returns - and the IRS is informing unknowing victims that someone else filed their tax return for them.
Tax refund fraud is the most prevalent form of identity fraud the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received since 2012, according to the National Consumers League. To make matters worse, it's extremely difficult to avoid, so it will remain an appealing crime for cybercriminals.
"Tax fraud this year is very prevalent, primarily because of these recent high-profile data breaches," said Julie Miller, spokesperson for Intuit, in a statement published by the San Jose Mercury News. "We are seeing tax refund fraud being driven by identity theft. That has implications for people who use TurboTax online or any online tax preparation."
The Xtube adult entertainment porn website, a top 800-ranked website in the United States, appears to have recently suffered a malware infection. Hackers have injected malicious code directly into Xtube, and visitors are being redirected with rotating domains towards an exploit landing page.
"Contrary to a malvertising issue where the problem is external, XTube admins need to look at their own server to identify the issue," said Jerome Segura, senior security researcher at Malwarebytes, in a statement to SCMagazine.com. "Based on what we saw, this [is] a dynamic infection that injects [a] malicious iFrame 'on-demand.' In other words this is not hardcoded in the page's source code, but added on-the-fly."
Porn websites are popular targets for cybercriminals due to high amounts of Web traffic, with RedTube recently suffering an issue earlier in 2015. Towards the end of 2015, another popular adult website, xHamster, also suffered a successful malvertising campaign.
The business communication platform Slack confirmed a data breach which left users vulnerable - with usernames, email addresses, passwords, phone numbers, Skype logins, and other information compromised.
It's unknown if the cybercriminals actually decrypted any of the passwords, with no payment information accessed. "We are very aware that our service is essential to many teams," Slack said in a blog post. "We deeply regret this incident and apologize to you, and to everyone who relies on Slack, for the inconvenience."
Slack has added two-factor authentication today, and users will need to enter a verification code along with their traditional password. It's recommended all users begin using it immediately.
Despite South Korea blaming North Korea for hacking its nuclear power operator, officials in Pyongyang have denied their involvement. In a data breach in late 2014, hackers were able to steal employee personal information, physical designs and manuals of the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co.
The Korean Central News Agency said Seoul fabricated evidence saying Internet protocol addresses were linked to the north - even though the recent data breaches were "believed to have been caused by an [unidentified] group of North Korean hackers."
North Korea is believed to have a budding cyberespionage program, with most of its efforts targeted at South Korean banks and other critical infrastructure.
The US government wants additional help from private sector companies in a growing effort to fight cyberattacks.
Financial institutions and healthcare firms face a significant threat, and there needs to be a better strategy to incorporate cybersecurity to keep employees and users safe. Cyberattacks are a global problem that can create legal headaches for businesses once they have been breached by cybercriminals.
"Each of us must recognize this risk is perhaps the most pressing operational risk of our time," said US Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, when speaking at the CityWeek conference in London. "We now need to develop consensus around ways to respond to this threat."
The Google Android mobile operating system is vulnerable to a new flaw that allows criminals to hijack the Android Package File (APK) and replace it with apps the criminals choose. Hackers are able to quietly gain unlimited permissions, and trick users into possibly installing malware instead of a third-party app.
The Palo Alto Networks security firm posted details of the issue, which affects almost half of all current Android users - and can be used to steal user data, distribute malware, and compromise smartphones and tablets.
"This Android vulnerability means users who think they're accessing legitimate applications with approved permissions may instead be exposed to data theft and malware," said Ryan Olson, Intelligence Director of Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 research wing. "We urge users to take advantage of the diagnostic application provided by Palo Alto Networks to check their devices, and we thank Google, Samsung and Amazon for their cooperation and attention."
Twitch reportedly suffered a cyberattack and some user data may have been breached, and an investigation is currently underway.
The company sent an email to potentially affected users, though did say that debit and credit card payment information is safe. Twitch noted that usernames, passwords, email addresses, physical mailing addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth could have been accessed in the incident.
"We are writing to let you know that there may have been unauthorized access to some Twitch user account information," the company confirmed on its blog. "For your protection, we have expired passwords and stream keys and have disconnected accounts from Twitter and YouTube. As a result, you will be prompted to create a new password the next time you attempt to log into your Twitch account."
Ransomware attacks, relying on custom malware able to encrypt files, continues to pose a significant threat to business users.
New ransomware types are popping up, including Crypto Wall and Torrent Locker, being distributed via email spam, watering hole attacks, and malvertising. Due to the financial benefit of compromising victims, hackers are always on the lookout for new methods to infect victims.
"One researcher likens it to turning on the kitchen light and having the cockroaches scatter," said Andrew Conway, research analyst at Cloudmark, in a statement published by Baseline. "Now, instead of one ransomware package, there are three or four of them out there. Occasionally, there will be a bug on ransomware that will enable people to get their data back. But, if you don't have another copy of that data, pay the ransom if you need [the data]."
Hackers want to steal the personal information of US residents, and are finding healthcare companies especially vulnerable to attack. Both Anthem and Premera have suffered data breaches so far in 2015, and experts are concerned the problem will only get worse.
Since 2009, more than 1,100 separate data breaches led to personal data of more than 120 million people to be stolen, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"We are certainly seeing a rise in the number of individuals affected by hacking/IT incidents," said Rachel Seeger, spokesperson for the HHS's Office for Civil Rights. "These incidents have the potential to affect very large numbers of health care consumers, as evidenced by the recent Anthem and Premera breaches."
Greatfire.org, a Chinese non-profit group designed to help users circumvent the "Great Firewall of China," endured a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The group is facing charges up to $30,000 per day for bandwidth from traffic related to the cyberattack, it says.
The group's website reported traffic 2,500 times higher than usual - and while it's unknown who is behind the attack - it wouldn't be surprising if the Chinese government was found to be responsible. Greatfire.org has received public criticism from China, which is notorious for strict control of access for its growing number of Internet users.
To help keep its services online, Greatfire.org has hosted websites on major tech companies, such as Amazon, which would receive far too much public criticism if they started censoring data.