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The lure of easy pickings in online cybercrime has drawn many criminals to the Internet, where they look to compromise users, steal debit and credit card information along with other personal data. The use of social engineering to manipulate victims remains popular, but many Internet users provide information to criminals too easily.
The basic tips apply: don't provide personal information when you don't have to, such Social Security numbers; always monitor bank accounts; avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails, or other suspicious messages; and choosing a secure password are important.
"Con artists are going online to steal your hard-earned money," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director, in a press statement. "Common sense should tell us that if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. But AARP's nationwide Fraud Watch Network can also help you beat con artists at their own game and get critical information to fight back and protect your money."
Cybercriminals in Nigeria are continually evolving their attack strategies, and have created next-generation malware able to compromise businesses and organizations that they previously ignored. The old school "419" phishing tactics once infamously deployed by Nigerian spammers still occurs, but the criminals want to steal data from a larger number of victims using better designed strategies.
Utilizing Remote Administration Tools (RATs) from online hacker forums, Nigerian cybercriminals aim for full control of compromised systems. Silver Spaniel is able to circumvent legacy firewalls and typical anti-virus and anti-malware software because it has been modified to ensure it can evade them efficiently.
"These Silver Spaniel malware activities originate in Nigeria and employ tactics, techniques and procedures similar to one another," said Ryan Olson, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 Intelligence Director, in a statement. "The actors don't show a high level of technical acumen, but represent a growing threat to businesses that have not previously been their primary targets."
The continued political unrest in Iraq has led to armed conflict, but has led to a rise in something a bit more surprising: a cyberwar that has used social media and coordinated malware and other cyberattacks against rival political factions.
The use of the "Njrat" malware, to compromise PCs and create a rudimentary botnet, has drawn interest among cybersecurity experts - and other similar tactics are being deployed. The criminals are interested in stealing data and using hijacked microphones and cameras to see what is happening in select regions.
"The key parties are local groups within Iraq using malware for targeted intelligence on each other," said Andrew Komarov, Intel Crawler chief of security, in a statement. "It is very hard to confirm who is the author, as some of the malware is used from public sources, but it is very visible that it is used within Iraq, and not outside against foreign countries, which may explain the beginning of internal local cyberwar."
Nonprofit organization Goodwill Industries reportedly suffered a data breach and customer credit card data is at risk. The company was first contacted last Friday by federal authorities, informing them of the potential data theft affecting American stores.
It's unknown how many stores have been impacted, but fraud details have been tracked to a pattern that hit at least 21 states, including California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and others spread across the country. Goodwill is investigating with a newly created "response team":
"We are proactively engaged with the payment card industry contacts, the Secret Service and all Goodwill headquarters to identify what problem, if any, exists so that we can take prompt and appropriate actions as well as communicate appropriately to any affected parties."
Cyberattacks are increasingly difficult to detect and defend against, with foreign state-sponsored hackers sometimes able to compromise large amounts of data. Both businesses and customers struggle following data breaches, and the direct cost of cybercrime negatively hurts everyone, security specialists continue to warn.
Heartbleed gained attention because of the threat it posed to casual consumers, but these issues remain a significant problem for businesses and security leaders.
"I think that these kinds of issues are really symptoms of a bigger problem," said Richard Ford, head of Florida Institute of Technology's Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity, in a press statement. "Our entire computing infrastructure - and that includes embedded devices and control systems - is highly vulnerable to attackers. We have built a very complex ecosystem around us, and it is both critical to the smooth functioning of our lives and very fragile. I worry not about a cybercriminal, but an attacker who simply wants to destroy."
The man and woman involved in an Apple-themed phishing scheme, in which they sent emails that looked like Apple warning of security issues, were sentenced to a combined 14 years in prison. Both Radu Savoae, 28, and Constanta Agrigoroaie, 23, plead guilty to six counts of possessing fraudulent ID cards, equipment to make fake bank and ID cards, and conspiracy to commit fraud.
In addition to the phishing operation, police authorities found cloned credit cards and fake Spanish and Romanian identification cards in their apartment. A spreadsheet found on the pair's computer also listed out fraudulent transactions for flights, vehicle insurance and other data given to to local pickpockets operating in the area.
For every major cybercriminal yanked off the streets, federal and local law enforcement struggle to keep up. Unfortunately, it usually takes a large amount of victims before banks and authorities catch on and launch investigations.
The Anonymous hacker group reportedly hacked the official Kenya Defense Ministry Twitter account that is used to share information about the military's operations. The breach is now being investigated by Kenyan military technicians, and no internal military systems were compromised by the breach. Anonymous supporters have targeted Kenya, Zimbabwe and Twitter accounts used by other African governments.
In a tweet posted to the KDF website today: "Account hacked Again by @anon_0x03 and Anonymous Kenya F**K YOU ARMY!"
The @kdfinfo account was hacked by @Anon_0x03, with Kenya political actions mocked and criticized, including the following topics: animal poaching, ivory trafficking, corruption, drugs, and continued tribalism. Anonymous has taken offense to Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, claiming he's only interested in defending the rich - and not doing enough to keep regular civilians safe and secure.
For the second time in the past month, AskMen.com was compromised, with malicious code injected on the company's server sending out attacks. AskMen is reportedly looking into the security issue after being contacted by security software company Malwarebytes.
In the previous attack, visitors were being targeted by malicious code courtesy of the Nuclear Pack exploit kit, Websense researchers discovered. The attack started by redirecting users to another website, and then a Java exploit (CVE-2013-2465) and Adobe PDF exploit would be installed.
Cybercriminals are capitalizing on media attention of the Malaysia Airlines MH17, with a constant barrage of tweets, Facebook status updates, and emails promising additional information about the crash. Most recently, a reported "video" of the Malaysia Airlines crash posted on Facebook actually links to a pornographic website - and other similar spam efforts are likely on the way.
"When a disaster like this happens it's a great opportunity for all sorts of scammers," said Ken Gamble, Australian chapter chairman of the International Association of Cybercrime Prevention, in a statement to the media. "It's a great opportunity to prey on people's vulnerabilities and emotion is the greatest one."
Cybercriminals typically launch spam attacks following major international incidents - and it's becoming easier - as news is so frequently shared via email and social media. As emotions run high, criminals want to compromise users as they try to learn more about the incident and share details with friends online.
The battle continues against the use of card skimmers to steal debit and credit card information from customers, with data being stolen at ATMs, gas stations, and other similar locations. Data skimmed often is sold online or used to clone the credit card for use locally, with customers, banks, and law enforcement typically one step behind.
Criminals are using handheld skimmers and small devices that can be installed to compromise point-of-sale (POS) systems. The newer generation electronic skimmers can be installed and remotely controlled inside of ATMs or other POS machines - and often times can be very difficult to detect. Banks and security experts recommend customers always pay attention to their bank statements and credit card bills, in case mysterious charges begin to appear.
"[The skimmer is] hidden, the person using it will never see it, it's simple to add, it's simple to modify it," said Dan DeFelippi, a former credit card hacker. "It only takes seconds to open it up and put it in there. They're ubiquitous. There are gas pumps everywhere. You can easily find a gas station to do it at and go back and gather."