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Third-party WordPress plugins, extremely popular among millions of WordPress users, leave the door open for cybercriminals to exploit threats. Unfortunately, many people install new plugins and simply leave them be - without installing updates or ensuring security protocols are met - and that makes it even easier to compromise websites, databases, and users.
"WordPress is extremely powerful, and while the popularity creates a lot of opportunities for development, it also attracts hackers,"said Tony Baker, Internet Assure director, in a press statement. "There are thousands of extremely popular plugins that create vulnerabilities within these sites, and quite frankly, most WordPress self-hosted websites are set up without any thought to security."
As security becomes significantly more important for WordPress websites, vulnerabilities and code exploits will remain major security concerns. It's recommended for inexperienced website owners to rely on GoDaddy, BlueHost, Site5, and established hosting services to help host the site, as they have internal security protocols in place to keep track of security threats.
A member of the Lizard Squad hacker group, saying his name was "Ryan Cleary," told the Washington Post that his group played a role in handing over usernames and credentials used by Sony Pictures.
"Well, we didn't play a large part in that. We handed over some Sony employee logins to them. For the initial hack. We came by them ourselves. It was a couple."
Unfortunately, the interviewer didn't press the Lizard Squad member any more regarding the breach, which the FBI and cybersecurity experts can't seem to agree upon who is truly behind the attack.
The Lizard Squad hacker group had a member arrested by the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit (SEROCU), with additional reports indicating the member is 22-year-old Vinnie Omari. His house was raided on Monday and police searched for "email addresses, usernames, passwords, documents containing names associated with PayPal fraud."
Police also want to tie him to recent Lizard Squad attacks, including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks suffered by Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network. His laptops, Xbox One game console, smartphone, and USB memory drives were confiscated.
"The South East Regional Organised Crime Unit has arrested a 22-year-old man from Twickenham on suspicion of fraud by false representation and Computer Miseuse Act offences," according a press release. "The arrest yesterday is in connection with an ongoing investigation in to cyber fraud offenses which took place between 2013 and August 2014 during which victims reported funds being stolen from their PayPal accounts."
It took a number of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents throughout 2014, many of them suspected of being funded and supported by foreign government states, for American Internet users to realize the great threat of cyberattacks. Looking ahead to 2015, however, cybersecurity experts believe so-called cyberwars will accelerate as additional nations begin to flex their digital muscle.
"Experts have been calling it a 'cyber Cold War' for some time, and that's only ramping up quickly," said Chris Peterson, co-founder and CTO of the LogRhtym security intelligence company, in a statement published by NBC News. "Nation-states both weak and strong see cyberattacks as a weapon to counter the global influence of the U.S."
Cyberespionage attacks will surge in 2015, especially becoming smaller nation states and terror groups, according to McAfee. Smaller countries with less-established military power hope to use cyberattacks to help try to level the playing field, while stealing data and interrupting operations of political rivals.
South Korean security officials have removed a "low-risk" worm that was installed on devices linked to the country's nuclear plant control systems. Nothing harmful was discovered on reactor controls, according to officials, despite the recent data breach.
"We will prepare fundamental improvement measures by enhancing nuclear power's safe operation and hiking information security systems to the highest level following this cyber attack case," the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power company said in a statement.
Korean officials want cooperation from the Chinese government during its investigation of the cyberattacks - with China or North Korea on the short list of foreign states that could be involved. A hacker threatened to close three reactors via Twitter, though only non-critical data was stolen as part of the breach.
The FBI is now investigating the Lizard Squad for its participation in bringing down Microsoft Xbox Live and Sony PlayStation Network via distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks over Christmas. Published media statements say "Ryanc," a Finnish teenager identified as Julius Kivimaki, as one reported member of the Lizard Squad group - but identifying other members has proven difficult.
"The FBI is investigating the matter," according to a bureau spokesperson when speaking to GamesBeat. "Given the pending nature of the case, we cannot comment further."
Not surprisingly, the Lizard Squad doesn't appear ready to change its cyber activities anytime soon:
* yawn * http://t.co/Dj79R0UJGs- R.I.U. Lizard Squad (@LizardMafia) December 30, 2014
Sony Pictures was having a decent year until the crippling cyberattack that made the company's operations go sideways to end the year. To help keep things operating, Sony embraced its old stash of BlackBerry smartphones to support day-to-day operations moving ahead. It's possible, following the breach, some executives will begin embracing BlackBerry smartphones because of the enhanced security protocols.
Despite losing steam among consumers - and in the business workplace - BlackBerry smartphones still rely on a secure infrastructure, making it a popular device for government employees, even with the domination of Apple iPhone and Google Android devices.
"CEO Michael Lynton routinely received copies of his passwords in unsecure emails for his family and his family's mail, banking, travel, and shopping accounts," according to the Associated Press. "Experts say such haphazard practices are common across corporate America." Using a BlackBerry device, however, could help alleviate some of the poor cybersecurity practices suffered by many company executives.
The FBI believes North Korea played a major role in the breach of Sony Pictures, while the reclusive North Korean government not surprisingly denied any involvement. The Norse cybersecurity firm spoke with the FBI at the start of the week, and believe a piracy group and disgruntled insiders, at least one laid-off Sony Pictures employee, were more likely the cause of the data breach.
"We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history," said Kurt Stammberger, Norse senior vice president, in a statement to CBS News.
In a statement meant to Reuters, the FBI offered the following statement: "The FBI has concluded the government of North Korea is responsible for the theft and destruction of data on the network of Sony Pictures Entertainment."
Biometric security just took a big blow to the chin. Fingerprint scanners are increasingly used for security in Apple and Samsung devices, along with many others, and are even used for voter identification in some countries. At a recent conference in Hamburg, the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network revealed they had copied German Defense minister Ursula von der Leyens' fingerprint from publically available photos of a press conference she held.
The photos were taken from standard cameras, and several images were used to stitch together the copied thumbprint. One fingerprint may have taken a bit of work to accomplish, but now that the proof-of-concept experiment has succeeded it would be relatively easy to refine the process. This isn't the best news for politicians and others who are regularly photographed, and it might be wise to move to other technologies to secure access to devices.
Roll up Lizard Squad and Anonymous members, it's time to put your skills to the test. MasterCard has just announced through a press release that they will be running massive hacker collective competition across 10 cities with the ultimate prize being $100,000 in cold, hard cash.
Conducted through the use of MasterCard-supplies APIs, the entrants will compete to "create innovative prototypes that demonstrate artful coding and design skills while also articulating clear business use cases - all focused on driving the next generation of commerce applications" as according to their release.