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The United States is again the best at something, though this probably isn't something we want to be the best at. According to data from McAfee, the United States is home to the largest number of botnet servers in the world. Botnet servers are the servers that send commands and receive data back from computers that have been compromised by attackers.
The list may not be completely accurate as often times owners of these botnet C&C servers try to mask their location by using proxies and other methods. However, McAfee's data shows that 631 C&C servers are located in the United States, which is more than two and a half times greater than the British Virgin Islands.
The British Virgin Islands is second on the list with 237 servers. Netherlands, Russia, Germany, and Korea follow with 154, 125, 95, and 81 servers, respectively. The map above shows the number of botnet servers around the world, according to McAfee's data. In the US, it appears the servers are mainly located in Los Angeles, California and Washington DC.
US government declares June 1st and 2nd "National day of Civic Hacking", invites hackers to help improve the country
June 1st and 2nd have officially been named National Day of Civic Hacking. NDCH is a national event in which citizens of all schools of hacking are invited to collaborate with developer and entrepreneurs from all corners of the nation to create, build, and invent new solutions using pubically released code, data and technology to better their community.
The National Day of Civic Hacking will give American's a chance to get back to their roots, roll up our sleeves, and create solutions to problems in their communities. The event will utilize the expertise, knowledge and DIY spirit of those outside of federal, state and local governments.
The source listed below includes a list of participating cities, and even if you are not near one of those, there most likely will be many web based events where you can participate. My local metropolis of Augusta, GA will be one of the host cities and I am sure my local Maker Space, The Clubhouse, will be hosting something as well. So check with your local Hacker Spaces, Maker Spaces, and Tech Clubs to see if they too will be hosting an event.
Last year, two US power plants were infected by malware that was brought into the system by USB drives. This is according to the US Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) as this is their job to protect and respond to security issues such as this. These latest events just add fuel to the growing fire over whether or not key infrastructure is secure.
ICS-CERT has said that the two power plants were targeted by "sophisticated" attacks. ICS-CERT added that these are common and are expected to continue increasing with time.
One technician uploaded the virus to one power plant while attempting to update software on the system. The other plant was infected by a USB used to back up control systems configurations. He reported issues with the drive and IT staff found the malware present on the drive.
The systems were taken offline for around three weeks while the problems were sorted out. This goes to show just how much of a problem malware could be to key infrastructure systems in the future.
Java seems to be one of the most exploited pieces of software running on a computer. Unfortunately, most computers are running Java for websites and other interactive features online. Just earlier this week, Oracle had to rush out a patch for Java that secured up a critical bug that allowed hackers to run code on a victim's machine.
An administrator for an exclusive cybercrime forum posted up Monday an offering for a new zero-day exploit that has yet to be patched by Oracle. It also has yet to be rolled into one of the exploit kits, some of which rent for upwards of $10,000 a month. The starting price for the exploit? $5,000.
For those developers who supported the Google Glass project early on by ponying up $1,500 to buy a developer set, Google will be hosting two hackathons, one in San Francisco and one in New York City, where early backers will be able to go hands on with early prototypes of the wearable computing devices.
Google's hackathon in San Francisco will take place January 28 and 29 and the hackathon in New York City will take place shortly after on February 1 and 2. The events are called Glass Foundry, a fitting name for the hackathons, and both events appear to follow the same agenda.
The first day will introduce the device and let developers use it on-site. After that, the hackathons will dive into the Mirror API and development with Google engineers at attendees' sides to answer any questions. Space is limited, so if you put out the $1,500 to get an early pair, you should get in contact with Google before all the slots are taken.
The Red October cyberespionage attacks were thought to have used Excel and Word exploits solely, but new data by a different set of researchers suggest that a Java exploit was also used to spread the infection. Israeli IT security firm Seculert was analyzing the Command and Control servers for the attack and found a special folder containing a malicious Java applet.
The applet used an exploit that was patched back in October 2011, which suggests that the attackers preferred older, known vulnerabilities and not zero-day ones. The applet was compiled in February 2012, which furthers this theory. This discovery is being credited to the fact that the attackers switched from a PHP server-side scripting language to CGI on the C&C servers.
They left up older PHP-based attack pages, which allowed the source code to be viewed. Full analysis is now impossible as the attackers have shut the C&C servers down, likely to cover their tracks.
Kaspersky of all companies have found something utterly shocking, an advanced cyber espionage network that makes last year's infamous Flame malware look like a joke. Dubbed Operation Red October, each attack is handcrafted for its victim in order to make sure it 100% works.
Red October has been hitting systems across the world since at least May 2007 and carefully chooses its victims spanning over two dozen countries who hold positions in government, military, aerospace, research, trade and commerce, nuclear, oil and other important, vital industries. Investigators aren't sure who is behind the attacks, but it is being reported that Chinese hackers may have created the exploit, while the various malware modules deployed seem to have been created by those who speak Russian.
Kaspersky can't put their finger on the source, as it is currently being run through at least two layers of proxy servers across Russia, Germany and Austria. Whoever is involved has some skill, as they've been silently sitting, unknown to the user, in major government and industry computers.
Internet Explorer was discovered to have a vulnerability that would allow hackers to gain control of a Windows PC late last month. In order for the exploit to work, users had to be running an older version of the program, versions 6 to 8, specifically, and have visited a malicious website.
Microsoft attempted to remedy the problem with various workarounds and a "one-click fix," all of which are temporary workarounds. Normally, bugs and exploits would have been addressed during Microsoft's normally scheduled Patch Tuesday, though when it didn't come, IT professionals began to wonder when it would.
We now have the answer: today. The patch should be available through Windows Update and marked as 'Critical', meaning it will be automatically installed, as long as the user has Automatic Updates enabled. If you use an older version of Internet Explorer, pre-version 9, you should make sure you install the update, especially if you don't have Automatic Updates enabled.
There's a new exploit on the block which has pushed security experts to recommend that users disable or uninstall Java altogether after they've found a zero-day Java exploit which lets hackers gain control of your PC.
The exploit targets a vulnerability left open in Java 7 Update 10, which was released in October 2012. The exploit works by getting Java users to visit a website that has malicious code, which takes advantage of a security gap to take control of users' computers.
Just after this story broke, Oracle pushed out Java SE 7 Update 11 which supposedly addressed the exploit. Oracle "strongly recommends" that Java SE 7 users upgrade immediately.
The tragic supposed suicide of digital activist, and co-founder of Reddit, Aaron Swartz happened just days ago and now Anonymous have stepped into the ring to play [hacking] ball. They leave a tribute message to Swartz, which says:
We tender apologies to the administrators at MIT for this temporary use of their websites. We do not consign blame or responsibility upon MIT for what has happened, but call for all those feel heavy-hearted in their proximity to this awful loss to acknowledge instead the responsibility they have - that we all have - to build and safeguard a future that would make Aaron proud.
The link to see it is here, and at the time of writing wasn't loading. I'm sure MIT will have the site updated shortly.