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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."
NYPD auxiliary police officer Yehuda Katz was charged with allegedly hacking into NYPD and FBI databases as part of his fraud scheme. Katz even installed a hidden camera in the traffic safety office, which was eventually discovered by precinct officers.
Katz used 15 compromised usernames and passwords, searching for more than 6,000 license plates stemming from auto accidents. Once he had personal information, he contacted victims and posed as an attorney who would be able to collect on their behalf.
"The threat posed by those who abuse positions of trust to engage in insider attacks is serious, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute such attacks," said US Attorney Loretta Lynch, in a public statement.
Eighty-two percent of IT professionals are concerned that using mobile apps in the office "significantly" or "very significantly" increase cybersecurity concerns - but more than half of companies still lack mobile app use policy rules.
Millions are being spent on mobile app development, but a fraction of those overall investments are related to security. Companies are increasingly testing mobile apps, including security vulnerabilities, and 30 percent of apps are found to have at least a single vulnerability.
"It's just an indicator that we [the security community] have a problem, [or] a risk issue that isn't necessarily being met, at least not with respect to training and awareness," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, in a statement to SCMagazine.com
Cybercriminals breaching US military and private sector networks are leaving "cyber fingerprints" in an effort to not only warn that systems are vulnerable - but sometimes taunt IT officials. The US must improve cybersecurity defenses due to "threats and vulnerabilities" that are "changing and expanding at an accelerated and alarming pace."
US military officials want to see increased funds to improve current security efforts, along with preparing for future threats.
"Private security researchers over the last year have reported on numerous malware finds in the industrial control systems of energy sector organizations," said Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the Pentagon US Cyber Command. "We believe potential adversaries might be leaving cyber fingerprints on our critical infrastructure partly to convey a message that our homeland is at risk if tensions ever escalate toward military conflict."