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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was "successfully hacked" at least three times in the past few years, with two of the data breaches conducted by hackers overseas, according to records. One breach took places due to a phishing attack that was sent to more than 200 NRC employees, with a successful logon-credential harvesting attempt. At least 12 employees opened an enclosed link in the email, indicating there is still work to be done to better educate employees against opening suspicious emails.
A different attack also utilized a phishing attack that redirected employees to malware spread via Microsoft SkyDrive, with "one incident of compromise and the investigation tracked the sender to a foreign country."
"The few attempts documented in the OIG Cyber Crimes Unit report as gaining some access to NRC networks were detected and appropriate measures were taken," said David McIntyre, NRC spokesman, in a statement to the media.
The healthcare industry is still being slammed by cyberattacks, with 90 percent of organizations losing patient data at one time or another, according to research from the Ponemon Institute. It's a frightening thought because the medical industry faces more data breaches than the military and banking industries combined.
Cybercriminals have shown great interest in targeting the healthcare industry, as stolen records are worth more on the underground market. Credit card information can fetch around $1 per stolen record, but medical data earns up to $50+ per stolen credential.
"They can't keep up [with hackers]," said J.D. Sherry, Trend Micro security firm adviser for hospitals and healthcare organizations. "Their resources are tremendously overwhelmed. With day-to-day business, IT security is not top of mind."
Pro-Syrian hackers are using WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Viber to share malware that is aimed at activists fighting for a regime change in Syria. In addition to Syrian Internet users, people were also targeted in the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Morocco and Lebanon, security researchers noted.
The malware is using remote access tools (RATs) and being shared to groups that support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The RAT technology are able to compromise PCs and systems in which they are installed, with attackers stealing credentials, remotely turning on microphones and video cameras, and controlling the infected PCs.
"Total Network Monitor (which is a legitimate application) is inside another sample found, being used with embedded malware for spying purposes," according to Kaspersky Lab researchers. "Offering security applications to protect against surveillance is one of the many techniques used by malware writing groups to get users desperate for privacy to execute these dubious programs."
Coordinated state-sponsored cyberattacks are nothing new, but it looks like Pakistan wants to evolve from simple hacktivism and mature into official cyberespionage. Recent collaborative research from FireEye and ThreatConnect noted advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks dating back to early 2013, which is more common from organized cyberattackers.
The Bitterbug malware, for example, uses US virtual private servers and is designed to steal information and send it back to its operator overseas. It appears that a hosting provider in Pakistan leases the ability to operate a command and control server from a U.S. provider.
"Adversaries are masking their exploitation operations behind U.S. infrastructure and targeting U.S> and international victims," said Rich Barger, ThreatConnect Director of Intelligence Research, in a press release. "These adversaries are purporting to be legitimate organizations and abusing unwitting service providers."
The Community Health Systems (CHS) suffered a data breach in April and June that has affected up to 4.5 million of the company's patients. Although payment information wasn't taken, patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers were compromised during the breach.
The attack likely was an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) originating from China, in an effort to steal bulk data which can be used later. APTs are targeted attacks designed to circumvent modern firewalls, antivirus and antimalware solutions used by companies.
"The company has confirmed that this data did not include patient, credit card, medical, or clinical information," Community Health noted in a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has become popular news in the western world and on social media, with three current malware and phishing campaigns currently underway, according to Symantec.
The first campaign utilizes the Trojan.Zbot malware, infecting users when they mistakenly click on a fake report related to the ongoing Ebola problem in Liberia and other countries.
The second campaign utilizes an email that mimics something sent out from Etisalat, a telecommunications provider that serves the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. However, it's not a real email and instead has an attached zip file, titled "EBOLA - ETISALAT PRESENTATION.pdf.zip," which is the Trojan.Blueso software. It will also inject W32.Spyrat that logs keystrokes, records audio and video from the Webcam, captures screenshots, create processes, opens Web pages, and other tasks.
Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden would "volunteer" for prison but only under the right circumstances, he said in a recent interview with Wired Magazine. Considering he faces charges that include conveying classified information to an unauthorized party, theft of government property and disclosing communications intelligence information, he would likely face significant prison time if convicted.
"I told the government I'd volunteer for prison, as long as it served the right purpose," Snowden told Wired earlier this month. "I care more about the country than what happens to me. But we can't allow the law to become a political weapon or agree to scare people away from standing up for their rights, no matter how good the deal is. I'm not going to be part of that."
Earlier in the month, Russian officials announced Snowden's asylum was extended for an additional three years - allowing him to remain in a safe location as he tries to figure out what to do long-term. Most U.S. politicians have been less than kind when describing Snowden's actions, and it seems unlikely he would receive a fair trial if he returns back to the United States. However, they are still keen to see him return home, because they certainly seem to have a lot of questions they would like him to answer.
In a rather ironic twist, German foreign intelligence reportedly recorded at least one phone call made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, according to Der Spiegel magazine. Berlin has heavily criticized officials in Washington for systematic snooping, including of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other high-ranking German politicians.
The phone call was recorded by the BND when Kerry was in the Middle East to help ease tensions between Israel, Palestine and other Arab states sometime in 2013. After it was discovered, the recording was supposedly erased immediately, but the magazine didn't offer any evidence to prove this claim.
A phone call in 2012 by Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State was also recorded by German spy officials, German media recently reported.
Britain's GCHQ spy agency, which was revealed to be working in partnership with America's NSA to monitor the online communications of pretty much everyone ever, has been scanning the internet connections of entire countries in order to find weaknesses its agents can exploit.
According to documents obtained by Heise Online, a GCHQ programme called Hacienda examines every single internet address in a country to find out what kinds of connections are being used and any software running in tandem with those addresses. Weaknesses are reported back to agents - allowing them to gain access to steal user data, or alternatively, to put phishing websites in place of legitimate ones. Hacienda looks at protocols like SSH and SNMP, as well as HTTP and http://FTP.
The documents state there's another system, called Olympia, which is capable of scanning all the information in just minutes and automatically. Five countries are reported to have had all of this data, although it's not yet public which countries these are.
The Google Android-powered Tesco Hudl tablet has a data reset flaw in which the factory reset option doesn't do a good job deleting information, according to security specialists. There is concern that many Tesco tablets end up on eBay, and despite having broken screens, weren't wiped of onboard data.
Researchers were also able to discover PIN codes to unlock the tablets, with Wi-Fi keys, cookies and Web browsing data from original owners discovered.
"The factory data reset doesn't appear to zero all sectors on the disc; it's simply too quick a reset process to do so," said Ken Munro, a Pen Test Partners security expert, in a statement to The Register. "So then we bought a few Tesco refurbished Hudls from the Tesco Outlet Store on eBay. Whilst two of them had been correctly zeroed using a wiping product, one was not. From this we recovered some of the previous owners personal data, again including social media and mail profiles."