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The US government wants additional help from private sector companies in a growing effort to fight cyberattacks.
Financial institutions and healthcare firms face a significant threat, and there needs to be a better strategy to incorporate cybersecurity to keep employees and users safe. Cyberattacks are a global problem that can create legal headaches for businesses once they have been breached by cybercriminals.
"Each of us must recognize this risk is perhaps the most pressing operational risk of our time," said US Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin, when speaking at the CityWeek conference in London. "We now need to develop consensus around ways to respond to this threat."
The Google Android mobile operating system is vulnerable to a new flaw that allows criminals to hijack the Android Package File (APK) and replace it with apps the criminals choose. Hackers are able to quietly gain unlimited permissions, and trick users into possibly installing malware instead of a third-party app.
The Palo Alto Networks security firm posted details of the issue, which affects almost half of all current Android users - and can be used to steal user data, distribute malware, and compromise smartphones and tablets.
"This Android vulnerability means users who think they're accessing legitimate applications with approved permissions may instead be exposed to data theft and malware," said Ryan Olson, Intelligence Director of Palo Alto Networks' Unit 42 research wing. "We urge users to take advantage of the diagnostic application provided by Palo Alto Networks to check their devices, and we thank Google, Samsung and Amazon for their cooperation and attention."
Twitch reportedly suffered a cyberattack and some user data may have been breached, and an investigation is currently underway.
The company sent an email to potentially affected users, though did say that debit and credit card payment information is safe. Twitch noted that usernames, passwords, email addresses, physical mailing addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth could have been accessed in the incident.
"We are writing to let you know that there may have been unauthorized access to some Twitch user account information," the company confirmed on its blog. "For your protection, we have expired passwords and stream keys and have disconnected accounts from Twitter and YouTube. As a result, you will be prompted to create a new password the next time you attempt to log into your Twitch account."
Ransomware attacks, relying on custom malware able to encrypt files, continues to pose a significant threat to business users.
New ransomware types are popping up, including Crypto Wall and Torrent Locker, being distributed via email spam, watering hole attacks, and malvertising. Due to the financial benefit of compromising victims, hackers are always on the lookout for new methods to infect victims.
"One researcher likens it to turning on the kitchen light and having the cockroaches scatter," said Andrew Conway, research analyst at Cloudmark, in a statement published by Baseline. "Now, instead of one ransomware package, there are three or four of them out there. Occasionally, there will be a bug on ransomware that will enable people to get their data back. But, if you don't have another copy of that data, pay the ransom if you need [the data]."
Hackers want to steal the personal information of US residents, and are finding healthcare companies especially vulnerable to attack. Both Anthem and Premera have suffered data breaches so far in 2015, and experts are concerned the problem will only get worse.
Since 2009, more than 1,100 separate data breaches led to personal data of more than 120 million people to be stolen, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"We are certainly seeing a rise in the number of individuals affected by hacking/IT incidents," said Rachel Seeger, spokesperson for the HHS's Office for Civil Rights. "These incidents have the potential to affect very large numbers of health care consumers, as evidenced by the recent Anthem and Premera breaches."
Greatfire.org, a Chinese non-profit group designed to help users circumvent the "Great Firewall of China," endured a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The group is facing charges up to $30,000 per day for bandwidth from traffic related to the cyberattack, it says.
The group's website reported traffic 2,500 times higher than usual - and while it's unknown who is behind the attack - it wouldn't be surprising if the Chinese government was found to be responsible. Greatfire.org has received public criticism from China, which is notorious for strict control of access for its growing number of Internet users.
To help keep its services online, Greatfire.org has hosted websites on major tech companies, such as Amazon, which would receive far too much public criticism if they started censoring data.
Web.com's Register.com was reportedly victimized by a coordinated cyberattack, and the Chinese military was reportedly responsible, according to a story published by the Financial Times. The hackers had access for around one year, though it doesn't appear client data was taken or there was a significant disruption to day-to-day activities.
However, Chinese officials deny being linked to the attack: "The relevant criticism that Chinese military participated in Internet hacking is to play the same old tune, and is totally baseless," according to a statement released to the Chinese Defense Ministry, submitted to Reuters.
The Chinese government has a sophisticated cyberattack program, and enjoys launching a number of cyberespionage campaigns against the United States and other western targets. Meanwhile, the Chinese government reports being a victim of international cyberattack, including many attacks that reportedly originate from the United States.
Target may have agreed to a $10 million class-action lawsuit settlement, but trying to actually collect payment could be rather difficult. Consumers trying to cash in will need to submit documentation of fraudulent losses, which can be rather hard to prove.
Many fraudulent charges are caught by a bank or credit card company - and even if a charge isn't caught - the bank or credit card company typically takes care of fraud-based purchases.
"The law generally does not compensate consumers for their hassle," the USA Today learned. "In terms of being able to document that and say, I as a consumer have suffered legal damages, that's a very tough putt for a consumer."
Internet service providers (ISPs) are being criticized for distributing routers that are known for having security vulnerabilities that leave users vulnerable. A whopping 14 supplier provided ADSL routers that have firmware released in 2007 or newer, so hackers are able to gain overwhelming control of home networks.
Up to 80 million devices that are used in households and small offices can be compromised simply because new users don't bother to change default passwords - and it's even easier to find Internet-exposed routers. In addition to Internet scans, some websites are known for publishing which devices are vulnerable to outside tampering.
"Wide swathes of IP space are being made vulnerable through ISPs in developing countries distributing routers with default passwords that can be easily found on the Internet," said Kyle Lovett, Cisco consultant, while speaking at CrestCon & IISP Congress 2015.
A rise in cyberattacks can be attributed as an attack by people, as companies spend even more on boosting endpoint security. Many IT experts and business leaders see cyberattacks as a technology issue, but it's really a focus on people.
Cybersecurity experts are increasingly focused on educating employees on spotting phishing attempts, and fighting against attacks that rely on employees being rather naive and reckless.
"When you do think of it that way, then you tend to do a bunch of bad things," said Dave Merkel, CTO of FireEye, in a statement to ZDNET. "Such as ask bad questions to your security team like, 'What product can I buy to make this go away?' The answer is you can't just buy a product that is going make the bad guys go away forever."