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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.
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.
Most cybercriminals want to exploit vulnerable networks and make a profit as quickly and easily as possible - and that includes compromising non-profit groups, even trying to conduct organized extortion. Hackers recently hijacked the crisis line of The Bridge for Youth, a Minnesota non-profit aimed at helping homeless adolescents in the state.
It seems The Bridge was hit with phone spam that was able to hijack phone lines and Internet access - and criminals will hold the lines for ransom, in exchange for monetary payment. Instead of paying the criminals, under police guidance, they refused - and then redirected the line to an answering machine - and worked with other non-profits to set up a new phone line.
"We had to shut down our crisis number of 35 years last Tuesday," said Dan Pfarr, The Bridge for Youth Executive Director, in a statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "The guys who took over our crisis line wanted money. We told them we work with distressed families and kids at the low point of their lives. That we deal with lives. We can't have abused kids or parents... calling in and getting a busy signal."
Defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox was under continued cyberattack prior to having its loot and source code stolen, enduring up to 150,000 DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks per second, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.
Cybercriminals attacked Mt. Gox by launching thousands of massive DDoS attacks to help cover attempts to steal bitcoins, which led to the Mt. Gox system to go down. Following the attack, Mt. Gox representatives announced 750,000 customer bitcoins were gone, along with 100,000 owned by the company.
Since its inception, bitcoin values have ranged from $40 per coin up to $1,100 in 2013, though is hovering around $610.
Up to 168,500 patients of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services are at risk after thieves broke into the Sutherland Healthcare Solutions (SHS) office and stole PCs with personal information.
Included in the data breach: Names, Social Security Numbers, birthdates, addresses, medical diagnoses, medical and billing information. The Southern California SHS office was broken into on February 5, and the company is now working with law enforcement - and reviewing its internal policies to try and prevent a similar breach from happening in the future.
"We take this incident very seriously and are taking the necessary precautions to protect all patient related information from theft or criminal activity," SHS said in an open memo. "We and Los Angeles County are actively working with law enforcement."
Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas) doesn't want SXSW organizers to interview former NSA IT contractor Edward Snowden, saying Snowden cares more about personal fame than personal privacy of US citizens.
SXSW officials wanted to open a debate focused on government surveillance and how important it is to help develop the online ecosystem.
"Mr. Snowden's appearance would stamp the imprimatur of your fine organization on a man who ill deserves such accolades," Congressman Pompeo said in an open letter. "Rewarding Mr. Snowden's behavior in this way encourages the very lawlessness he exhibited. Such lawlessness - and the ongoing intentional distortion of truth that he and his media enables have engaged in since the release of these documents - undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster. I strongly urge you to withdraw this invitation."
During his speech at the SXSW technology conference in Austin, Texas, Google chairman Eric Schmidt had some damning words to say about the Chinese, and the NSA. SChmidt said that government attacks from China, and the US, forced Google to boost its security protocols.
Schmidt said that governments around the world have come to the realization that trying to block Internet access to its citizens are futile, and that they have moved onto other methods of control. He said: "You don't turn off the Internet: you infiltrate it. The new model for a dictator is to infiltrate and try to manipulate it. You're seeing this in China, and in many other countries."
The Google chairman was pressed about the role of technology in uprisings, such as the one in the Ukraine right now, where he said that the spread of mobile devices has allowed people to organize much more easily, but although "revolutions are going to be easier to start," they'll also be "harder to finish."
Researchers from North Carolina State University have created the Practical Root Exploit Containment (PREC) tool aimed to look for root exploits in malicious apps.
Since most malicious apps targeting Google Android are based on C programming, not Java, researchers can compare apps with a database that describes how apps are expected to operate. Software anomaly detection isn't new, but researchers focused strictly on C code, greatly reducing the number of false positives by searching for C only.
"We have implemented PREC and evaluated our methodology on 140 most popular benign applications and 10 root exploit malicious applications," researchers wrote in their paper. "Our results show that PREC can successfully detect and stop all the tested malware while reducing the false alarm rates by more than one order of magnitude over traditional malware detection algorithms."
European Union law enforcement agency Europol is urging citizens to be careful using public Wi-Fi hotspots, due to an increase in the number of cybercriminals trying to steal information.
There is even greater concern when people use these hotspots to log into social media, make online purchases, or use online banking. However, the majority of consumers don't tend to focus on security, and aren't aware of the risks.
"We should teach users that they should not address sensitive information while being on an open insecure Wi-Fi Internet," said Troels Oerting, head of the Europol cybercrime unit, in an interview with BBC Click. "They should do this from home where they know actually the Wi-Fi and its security, but not if you are in a coffee shop somewhere you shouldn't access your bank or do all of these things that actually transfer very sensitive information."
First American Bank sent out a public memo warning members to be on alert when paying for taxicabs in Chicago using debit or credit cards - and urge those traveling in the Windy City to use cash payments.
First American Bank made the issue public almost three weeks after it was alerted of fraudulent behavior in Chicago cabs. To date, more than 200 new cards have been issued and at least $62,000 in suspected fraudulent activity has been flagged by the bank.
"We have become aware of a data breach that occurs when a card is used in Chicago taxxis, including American United, Checker, Yellow, and Blue Diamond and others that utilize Taxi Affiliation Services and Dispatch Taxi to process card transactions," said Tom Wells, First American Bank chairman, in a statement.
Companies infected with the Cryptolocker ransomware are willing to pay up, with 40 percent of companies hit sending around $500 to recover files.
Cryptolocker is plaguing companies, encrypting certain file formats that cause workplace disruption, which is likely why companies are so quick to make a payment to cybercriminals overseas.
"If the results reported on the rate of Cryptolocker victims who pay a ransom are to be strengthened by further research, these figures would be extremely troubling, netting criminals behind the ransomware hundreds of millions." said Dr. Julio Hernandez-Castro, University of Kent School of Computing professor, said in a statement. "This would encourage them to continue with this form of cybercrime, potentially prompting other criminal gangs to jump into an extremely profitable cybercrime market."
Cryptolocker is extremely tricky because a malware scan will remove the malware, but the encrypted files stay encrypted until the countdown ends.