President Barack Obama announced an overhaul of the National Security Agency (NSA) phone surveillance program following classified data leaks by former IT analyst Edward Snowden.
"Let us chart a way forward that secures the life of our nation, while preserving the liberties that make our nation worth fighting for," Obama said during his Friday morning press conference. "The United States is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security ... unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies."
Obama's administration has endured a tremendous amount of criticism following NSA data leaks, courtesy of Snowden's disclosure last year. Even with a promised overhaul, many Internet users - and foreign government leaders - expect continued distrust from regular Internet users. Furthermore, Obama's promise of not spying on "close friends and allies" only applies to "dozens" of foreign leaders and high-ranking government officials.
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reportedly first had its computer network accessed by hackers dating back to July 2013, with the security hole only recently plugged, according to recent stories. The security breach likely compromised customer names and credit card information used in-store only, and online shoppers reportedly remained safe.
The company didn't reportedly receive an alert about the cyber intrusion until mid-December - a shocking reality check for retailers, as five months elapsed from the first date-stamped data intrusion.
Retailers are facing increasingly sophisticated physical and online security threats - and consumers rightfully demand companies handle personal information carefully - though security experts warn this is only the beginning.
Microsoft has given Windows XP users a brief reprieve by announcing anti-malware support for the 12-year-old operating system will be extended into 2015. The XP end of life scheduled for April 8 will still take place as scheduled, but anti-malware protection will give stragglers an additional layer of much-needed security.
Anti-virus vendors already stepped up support for XP, saying they would continue to provide anti-virus and anti-malware defense - but Microsoft won't provide updates, and that could still leave users vulnerable.
"Our research shows that the effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited," Microsoft said in a recent blog post. "Running a well-protected solution starts with using modern software and hardware designed to help protect against today's threat landscape."
There are still millions of users using XP worldwide, and many businesses are still scrambling trying to migrate from the aging OS.
The threat of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against enterprise users from mobile applications is increasing as more users go mobile, according to DDoS security company Prolexic. Cyber criminals are finding mobile devices can make for a powerful attack tool - and surprisingly easy to use.
"Mobile devices add another layer of complexity," said Stuart Scholly, Prolexic President, in a press statement. "Because mobile networks use super proxies, you cannot simply use a hardware appliance to block source IP addresses as it will also block legitimate traffic. Effective DDoS mitigation requires an additional level of fingerprinting and human expertise so specific blocking signatures can be developed on-the-fly and applied in real-time."
DDoS attacks can lead to website and server downtime, interruption in day-to-day business operations, and lead to lost revenue and wasted manpower. Prolexic discovered a 26 percent increase in DDoS attacks from Q4 2012 to Q4 2013, with a significant number of advanced DDoS attack weapons.
Online chat service Snapchat has apologized for increased spam hitting users, but denies there is a connection to a recent username data breach.
"We've heard some complaints over the weekend about an increase in Snap Spam on our service," the company said in a recent blog post. "We want to apologize for any unwanted Snaps and let you know our team is working on resolving the issue. As far as we know, this is unrelated to the Find Friends issue we experienced over the holidays."
Snapchat engineers are likely working to crack down on spam accounts - and prevent future data breaches - though some users have been rattled and abandoned the service. Snapchat said increasing spam is a sign of a "quickly growing service," and recommended users switch to "Only My Friends" in the account settings panel.
The Snapchat user database was recently compromised and affected 4.6 million users, with contact information published online.
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus recently confirmed a data breach in which an unknown number of in-store shoppers potentially affected from data theft. Prior to Christmas 2013, Neiman Marcus received a report from its credit card processor informing the company of unauthorized payment activity.
Neiman Marcus also didn't disclose what type of personal information is at risk, and didn't' confirm if retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, and other Neiman Marcus-owned brands that may have suffered a breach.
"The security of our customers' information is always a priority and we sincerely regret any inconvenience," Neiman Marcus officials said in a Twitter statement. "We are taking steps, where possible, to notify customers whose cards we know were used fraudulently after purchasing at our stores."
The Neiman Marcus breach is the second major retailer hit by a significant data breach, after Target confirmed a breach left 70 million customers at risk. Shoppers are increasingly familiar with online shopping threats, but criminals also look to exploit retail stores in an organized effort to steal personal information.
Snapchat is one of the most popular image sharing services in the mobile ecosystem, and today more than 4.6 million users are learning that their contact information has been hacked by unknown persons. A website called SnapchatDB.info has popped up that list out usernames and phone numbers of each account that was compromised.
Originally thought of as a hoax, SnapchatDB.info has been confirmed as real and its creators say that they stole the information and created the website to raise awareness around the security issues surrounding Snapchat. SnapchatDB.info did censor the last two digits of each phone number to reduce spam, and unwanted messages to users, but with only 10 numbers per spot, it would only take a few minutes to figure out which is correct.
A group of hackers who are known as DERP, used DDoS attacks on a few large games and gaming sites, taking a few of them down. EA's home page was victim, Battle.net, League of Legends and Club Penguin were all affected.
It looks like a single gamer by the name of Phantoml0rd is the target of these multiple attacks, with DERP attacking all of the games he streams through Twitch, which include World of Warcraft and League of Legends.
A new DDoS Botnet has the ability to infect both Microsoft Windows along with Linux-based systems, according to the Poland Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). Unlike many cyber-based attacks, this botnet is only interested in launching DDoS attacks to knock certain servers and websites offline.
The Linux-based botnet reportedly handles dropping servers, while the Windows-based botnet easily hijacked consumer PCs. "Most servers that are injected with these various scripts are then used for a variety of tasks, including DDoS, vulnerability scanning, and exploiting," according to security expert Andre Dimino, in a blog post. "The mining of virtual currency is now often seen running in the background during the attacker's 'downtime.'"
Seeing DDoS attacks to turn zombie PCs into an effective botnet isn't Earth-shattering news, but this cross-platform attack is relatively unique. As bitcoin mining and launching attacks to impact certain companies is easily done when using unsuspecting machines.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University confirmed it's possible to turn on a laptop's web camera without turning on a light that informs users the camera is on. Just a few years ago, it didn't seem possible to hack a webcam like this, but it's something consumers need to be somewhat vigilant about.
The team focused on Apple MacBook and iMac models available before 2008, but said the exploit can be used on a variety of different models. Although Apple initially opened up communication with Johns Hopkins University to discuss the problem, there reportedly haven't been any further updates.
Using a Remote Administration Tool (RAT), for example, works around the computer's security and remotely controls the computer webcam.
For users worried about being remotely spied on, security researchers recommend simply placing a piece of tape over your web camera when it isn't in use. It may seem like a rather archaic method, but is successful in case the camera has been compromised.
Target today confirmed that 40 million customers might be at risk of credit and debit card fraud, due to cyber criminals reportedly gaining access to the Target system. Customers that made purchases from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 with a debit or credit card are at risk, with stolen data including customer names, credit and debit card numbers, three-digit security codes, and card expiration dates.
With a data breach nationwide, it seems unlikely that a credit card skimmer device was used - and seems more likely that criminals accessed the company's servers - or installed malware on point-of-sale machines. The company is now working with a third-party forensics team to identify how the breach occurred, and to ensure it doesn't happen again in the future.
Customers should contact their banks and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if any fraudulent activity is detected. The U.S. Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are currently helping with the ongoing investigation. Online Target shoppers do not need to worry about the data breach.
Bogdan Alecu, a system administrator at Dutch IT services company, Levi9, has discovered an issue that leaves Google Nexus devices open to DDoS attacks that would reboot the smartphone, or fail to connect to mobile Internet services.
Alecu discovered the issue in all Android 4.x firmware versions of Google's Nexus, Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 smartphones. If a Nexus smartphone was to receive the message, it would display itself on top of every other active window, and is surrounded by a semi-transparent black overlay that has a dimming effect on the screen. If this message isn't saved, or dismissed, a second message is received, which is placed on top of the first message, and the dimming effect continues.
These messages will hit the Nexus phones without a notification, so if they're being sent when you're asleep, or the phone is in your pocket, you'll be none the wiser. Most of the time, Alecu says the phone will reboot, and if a PIN is required to unlock the SIM card, the phone won't connect back to the network for hours. During this time, the phone is useless, as it is unable to receive messages, phone calls, or any other notifications.
Alecu is taking his findings to the DefCamp security conference in Bucharest, Romania today.
If you happened to visit WhatsApp's website early this morning, you might have noticed things looked a little bit different. Some time in the wee hours of Thursday morning, a pro-palestinian message replaced the websites homepage with political rhetoric and the message "You Got Pwned."
The hacker group known as KDMS Team took responsibility for the hack, and boasted that "no security measures could stop them from attacking again." The hack was not a direct intrusion of the company's web server, but rather an exploit conducted on the website's DNS records to spoof the DNS and hijack the website's URL. As of this writing, WhatsApp's website has been restored to normal and no further attacked on the messaging service have been reported.
Adobe has been hit with a cyber attack, with the hackers taking information from up to 2.9 million Adobe customers. The hackers were able to access Adobe IDs and encrypted passwords, but customer names, encrypted debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates and order information was stolen.
As you can imagine, this is quite bad. Adobe says that the intruders most likely didn't access any decrypted information, which means your credit card details should be safe. The 2.9 million affected customers will see their passwords reset, with Adobe offering one year of free credit card monitoring to make sure that malicious purchases aren't made.
A separate, but possibly related attack also saw the source code to a number of Adobe's products taken, including Acrobat and ColdFusion. Adobe says there is no "specific increased risk to customers" due to its source code being stolen.
There has been a complaint filed in a San Jose federal court, with a group of people alleging that LinkedIn hacked into their e-mail accounts and took their contact lists so that LinkedIn could send spam-like e-mails.
The suit claims that "Linkedln is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external email accounts or obtaining users' consent." The complaint argues that this is hacking, since "the users' email accounts and downloading of all email addresses associated with that users' account is done without clearly notifying the user or obtaining his or her consent."
Once the e-mail account is hacked, endorsement e-mails follow. The document goes on to explain: "These endorsement emails contain the name and likeness of those existing users from whom Linkedln surreptitiously obtained the list of email addresses." We don't know how LinkedIn is hacking into these accounts, but the suit has claimed that LinkedIn "pretends" to be its users in order to download contact lists "if a LinkedIn user leaves an external email account open."
Google has finally provided the ability for Android users to remotely change their passwords on any Android device. The Android Device Manager is what you'll require, which allows you to track and locate any Android device associated with your Google account.
This is all done without the need of a third-party application, which is nice, but until now Google has held back the ability to remotely lock or change your password. The Mountain View-based giant is slowly rolling this new feature through its Google Play Services, but if you'd like to check now, you just have to go into the Device Administrators panel under the Security section in your settings.
Early Sunday morning, the Chinese government says that it faced what is described as the largest Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that the country has ever seen. The attackers targeted China's Top Level Domain (TLD) .cn and effectively took down all Chinese websites using the .cn TLD.
China's Internet Network Information Center said that the attacks began around 2 AM early Sunday morning and lasted for about two hours with the DDoS attack falling off around 4 AM. The Wall Street Journal spoke with web host CloudFlare about the incident and how it affected Internet traffic. It said that there was a 32 percent drop in traffic across all the Chinese domains hosted on its network during the attack. "It is not necessarily correct to infer that the attacker in this case had a significant amount of technical sophistication or resources," CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince wrote to the Journal. "It may have well have been a single individual."
At the moment, Chinese officials and industry analysts are not sure why the attacks occurred or if there was a specific target they were hoping to take down. With the attacks lasting only two hours, not much damage occurred, but we've seen this sort of thing in the past with short attack serving as a way to test the waters for a much larger future attack. In 2013, China has come under several major cyber attacks but has also led several cyber attack campaigns itself.
UK-based developer Robb Lewis is behind the site, which is a directory of URLs that highlight links to pages you can remove yourself from so that you don't have to go through the usual clicks and hassle that would be associated with disconnecting yourself from those sites. These sites include the big ones like Facebook, Foursquare, Dropbox and Feedly.
Some sites are hard to remove yourself from, and this is intentional and something called a "dark pattern" technique. But, JustDelete.me makes this easier by ranking each site's removal from 'easy' to 'impossible' so that you know what to expect.
Something that just hit my inbox minutes ago is from Riot Games, announcing that they've had their US-based servers hacked. The attack didn't hit all of its servers, but just a 'portion' of its US servers.
The hackers were able to access usernames, e-mail addresses, salted password hashes, and some first and last names. Riot Games is also investigating that approximately 120,000 transaction records from 2011 that contained hashed and salted credit card numbers has been accessed. The League of Legends developer is contacting these players to alert them.
In order to hopefully escape more issues, Riot Games will require players in the US to change their passwords within the next 24 hours. Once this time hits, you'll be automatically prompted to change your password anyway.
Today, TOR began advising its users to avoid using Microsoft Windows at all cost. The advisory comes after NSA spying was discovered that used malware injected by using the Firefox zero-day vulnerability to gather users' machine names and Mac addresses, which were then being sent back to US government servers.
In the ongoing saga of NSA spying, it appears that not even the darknet is safe. Today, reports came in that an exploit has been discovered in the Tor version of Firefox 17 that comes packaged with the Tor browser bundle. An exploit in the browser's code allowed malware to be injected into the system which then beamed the machine's hostname and MAC address back to a remote server in Reston, Virginia.
The vulnerability is only present in the Windows version of the Firefox Extended Support Release 17 browser that was bundled with the Tor Browser Bundle before June of this year. Because automatic updating is turned off in this version, anyone who downloaded the Tor Browser Bundle before June is susceptible to the spying. Tor recommends that users download the new version of the Browser Bundle to stay secure.