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The National Security Agency (NSA) is under fire for claims it used sophisticated spyware loaded on hard drives for surveillance, with the head of the agency saying his agency complies with national law.
"Clearly I'm not going to get into the specifics of allegations," said US Navy Admiral Michael Rogers, refusing to speak out regarding NSA spyware accusations, while at the Washington forum. "But the point I would make is, we fully comply with the law."
The latest controversy stems from a Kaspersky Lab report that says the NSA embedded spyware on Western Digital, Toshiba and Seagate hard drives, giving them the ability to eavesdrop on users.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattacks have plagued consumers and businesses for quite some time, but the rising number of DDoS attacks available as a paid service is troubling. Clients can pay from $2 up to $5 per hour to launch DDoS attacks, or pay a subscription for prices as low as $800 per month.
The Lizard Squad hacker group helped draw increased scrutiny to the underground cybercriminal activity - demonstrating its LizardStresser DDoS service in successful attacks against the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox Live. Meanwhile, the Gwapo DDoS service has been publicly advertised via social media and YouTube posted videos, with attacks starting at $2 per hour.
"Since their inception in 2010, DDoS-for-hire capabilities have advanced in success, services and popularity, but what's most unnerving is booters have been remarkably skilled at working under the radar," according to the "Distributed Denial of Service Trends" report from Verisign. "Given the ready availability o DDoS-as-a-service offerings and the increasing affordability of such services, organizations of all sizes and industries are at a greater risk than ever of falling victim to a DDoS attack that can cripple network availability and productivity."
Tech executives aren't impressed by President Obama's current efforts to streamline cybersecurity, with a strong lack of trust after increased knowledge of government surveillance operations. It's a fragile relationship that must be improved, especially if Obama is serious about Silicon Valley companies sharing threat data with the US government.
"I think we missed an opportunity," said Jason Healey, former director of cyber infrastructure protection for the White House, in a statement published by The Hill. "Real leaders focus on privacy and they don't compromise on that."
There will need to be an open discussion from the Obama Administration regarding encryption, privacy, and other matters - but trying to boost cybersecurity efforts appears to be a more pressing matter.
Ransomware cyberattacks are on the rise, and businesses must be ready to address the threat head on, with law enforcement constantly one step behind.
The FBI previously issued a warning regarding ransomware attacks, especially as cybercriminals tweak their malware code. Similar to statements issued by cybersecurity experts, the FBI says users should be extremely careful when opening email attachments - the most popular infection method to compromise business users.
The authors of the CryptoLocker ransomware were able to quickly generate at least $3 million in revenue from ransomware attacks, collecting hundreds of dollars in ransom at a time. Cybercriminals are opportunistic and will continue to rely on ransomware attacks as long as they easily find victims installing the malware on PCs and laptops.
The Midlothian Police Department paid $500 after being compromised with the Cryptoware ransomware, encrypting files on one computer. A spear-phishing email likely is the culprit behind the Cryptoware infection, with Midlothian Police Chief Harold Kaufman confirming a cybersecurity incident.
The police department spent a total of $606 to rid itself of the infection, following the addition of bank fees and subsequent surcharges.
Cybersecurity experts recommend business users routinely back up their data - and that is often left to IT administrators - with urgent need to train employees so they can spot social engineering attempts.
Hunter Moore, 28, the founder of revenge porn website IsAnyoneUp.com, has pleaded guilty and faces years in prison. Moore pleaded guilty to identity theft, unauthorized access to a computer, and aiding and abetting unauthorized access of a computer. Unlike other revenge porn website operators, Moore paid a hacker to access email accounts looking for photos to steal.
Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of two to five years, and Moore should be sentenced in a few months. Moore was once called "the most hated man on the Internet" for creating IsAnyoneUp.com, which served as one of the most popular revenge porn websites.
The infamous revenge porn website generated up to $10,000 per month in advertising revenue - and featured nude images and videos of ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. The person's full name, city of residence, social media profile and profession were prominently listed on the website.
Company executives have observed Target, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Anthem, and other major companies suffer devastating data breaches - and understand they need stronger cybersecurity protocols - but actually deploying new methods has been rather slow.
Seventy eight percent of company tech executives have not been briefed regarding internal security strategies within the past 12 months, according to a Raytheon survey. In addition, 75 percent said cybersecurity is a necessary cost, but only 25 percent of survey respondents said security is a strategic priority.
"The Target hack was very interesting," said Jack Harrington, VP of cybersecurity and special missions of Raytheon, in a statement published by the Christian Science Monitor. "It raised awareness across the entire retail industry certainly," but demand for chief information security officer (CISO) positions wasn't' a priority. "That tells you they felt they didn't even need that position. They just didn't feel at risk."
Lenovo is facing tremendous backlash after the company confirmed it pre-installed adware on consumer products, and now more people want to learn about Superfish.
"The Superfish software does not present a security risk," said Adi Pinhas, co-founder and CEO of Superfish, in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. "In no way does Superfish store personal data or share such data with anyone. In this case, it appears the third-party add-on introduced a potential vulnerability that we did not know about."
However, the company is maintaining its innocence in the matter, instead directing blame towards Komodia. Media publications were quick to point out that Superfish leads users to be assaulted by pop-ups and intrusive ads on websites they visit, trying to entice them to purchase from e-tailers.
It took several high-profile data breaches before the United States publicly discussed the need for improved cybersecurity protocols. Democrats and Republicans agree that something must be done, but security experts hope politics don't get in the way of necessary change.
However, cybersecurity efforts could receive bipartisan support from the Obama Administration and the Republican-led Congress - and politics hopefully won't get in the way.
"In order to improve cybersecurity, it is critical to facilitate the sharing of cyberattack information," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc), in the GOP weekly address. "By sharing threat signatures, vulnerabilities and other indicators of network compromise, within and between the private sector and government, many cyberattacks can be prevented."
There were 1,500 global data breaches in 2014, with the number rising almost 50 percent year-over-year, according to the Gemalto Breach Level Index (BLI) report. Of the 1 billion total compromised records, almost 800 million of them belong to US companies - a frightening figure that cybersecurity experts believe will rise.
Companies remain unsure how to address these sometimes sophisticated cyberattacks, while consumers are frustrated that their personal information is seemingly up for grabs. Banks and credit card companies are becoming more proactive in identifying - and informing customers - of fraud, but it can still be a chaotic process.
"Not only are data breach numbers rising, but the breaches are becoming more severe," said Jason Hart, VP of cloud services, identity and data protection at Gemalto. "Identity theft could lead to the opening of new fraudulent credit accounts, creating false identities for criminal enterprises, or a host of other serious crimes. As data breaches become more personal, we're starting to see that the universe of risk exposure for the average person is expanding."