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Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden says he was trained as a spy and worked for the NSA, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Defense Intelligence Agency during his tenure as a government computer specialist. Snowden is currently stranded in Russia, despite his desire to try and fly to South America, before his passport was revoked.
Meanwhile, Snowden's name continues to appear regularly in the headlines, and he remains a polarizing figure. U.S. politicians still want Snowden to answer for his actions - and while he could be working for the Russian FSB - it's doubtful he'll return to the United States anytime soon.
"I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word - in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I'm not - and even being assigned a name that was not mine," Snowden said in a recent interview. "Now, the government might deny these things. They might frame it in certain ways, and say, oh, well, you know, he's a low-level analyst."
The increasing number of connected devices accessing the Internet has revealed enterprise security holes that companies are struggling to solve, according to Internet security company BlueCat Networks. As shown by recent point-of-sale (POS) attacks targeting retailers, the number of security issues that security experts must deal with continues to increase at a rapid pace.
Sophisticated malware often circumvents traditional defense-in-depth, with many anti-virus software solutions unable to defend against malware attacks. As more devices continue to connect to the Internet, it will be even more important to improve network security.
"The explosion of network-connected devices is exposing businesses to new security threats and risks," said Andrew Wertkin, BlueCat CTO, in a statement. "Not only do our customers need to secure traditional devices such as a desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets, but also non-traditional devices including VoIP, Point-of-Sale systems, security cameras and RFID. The Domain Name System is a critical component of any defense in-depth security strategy."
A recent survey found that nearly one in four security specialists admit that their companies don't update process passwords within 90 days, despite regulations recommending the practice, according to the Lieberman Software survey conducted during RSA Conference 2014.
In addition, 13 percent of survey respondents say they are able to access company data at previous employers. To make matters worse, 20 percent admit that their companies either don't have a rule in place - or don't enforce it - for outgoing employees and contractors to be locked out of the computer network.
"Investments in security for technology, people and processes have been meager, at best, in most organizations for many years," said Philip Lieberman, Lieberman Software CEO, in a statement to SCMagazine.
Hackers are succeeding with their cybercriminal behavior, according to the 12th edition of an annual survey asking U.S. companies, law enforcement, and federal government branches of their cyber experiences. The CSO security magazine, U.S. Secret Service, PwC consulting firm, and Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering and Institute helped co-sponsor the survey.
A whopping three out of four survey participants said they've noticed at least one breach in the past 12 months, with 135 security issues per company.
"Despite substantial investments in cybersecurity technologies, cyber criminals continue to find ways to circumvent these technologies in order to obtain sensitive information that they can monetize," said Ed Lowery, U.S. Secret Service criminal investigative division lead, in a statement.
Yesterday we talked a bit about the hacks that had happened in Australia where nefarious user/users were locking iOS devices using iCloud and holding the devices ransom for $100. Apple has now issued a statement about iCloud and the hacks and has said in short that iCloud wasn't compromised.
Apple said in a statement, "Apple takes security very seriously and iCloud was not compromised during this incident. Impacted users should change their Apple ID password as soon as possible and avoid using the same user name and password for multiple services. Any users who need additional help can contact AppleCare or visit their local Apple Retail Store."
Online music service Spotify is quickly preparing to launch an update for Google Android users, following confirmation of an internal company breach. Users will have to select new passwords and should expect to update their Android Spotify accounts - and Apple iPhone or Microsoft Windows devices likely won't need to be changed.
To date, Spotify only found one user's data has been accessed, with no password, financial or payment information breached.
Here is what Oskar Stal, Spotify CTO said in a blog post: "We've become aware of some unauthorized access to our systems and internal company data and we wanted to let you know the steps we're taking in response. As soon as we were aware of this issue we immediately launched an investigation. Information security and data protection are of great importance to us at Spotify and that is why I'm posting today.
The United States government has routinely targeted Chinese government officials and business leaders for some time now, according to the China Internet Media Research Center. The report also blames the U.S. for breaking international law and violating basic human rights, with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Beijing blaming one another for growing cyberespionage tensions.
"As a superpower, the United States takes advantage of its political, economic, military and technological hegemony to unscrupulously monitor other countries, including its allies," according to the report. "The United States' spying operations have gone far beyond the legal rationale of 'anti-terrorism' and have exposed its ugly face of pursuing self-interest in complete disregard of moral integrity."
It has been a rather chaotic relationship between the United States and China, with both countries lobbing cyberespionage accusations at one another. China is the leading source of cyberattacks, though government officials noted they are increasing their cybersecurity protocols to also defend themselves.
Security firm Avast recently suffered a data breach in which its community support forum was hacked, with usernames, email addresses and scrambled passwords of 400,000 forum users now at risk. Avast took the forum offline, and the company will make it mandatory for all returning visitors to immediately reset their passwords.
It's unknown how the initial breach occurred, though no payment information was stolen - and confirmed it appears to be an isolated incident involving a third-party system.
Here is what the company said in a blog post: "We are now rebuilding the forum and moving it to a different software platform. When it returns, it will be faster and more secure. This forum for many years has been hosted on a third-party software platform and how the attacker breached the forum is not yet known. However, we do believe that the attack just occurred and we detected it essentially immediately."
Healthcare provider Humana was recently compromised and up to 3,000 members are at risk following the theft of an encrypted laptop and unencrypted USB flash drive. The company is now informing Atlanta-area customers of the data breach, while providing free credit monitoring to everyone hit by the theft.
The laptop and flash drive were stolen from a Humana associate's vehicle, and names, medical records and Social Security numbers are at risk. Despite the breach, Humana "has no reason to believe that the information has been used inappropriately," though will continue to monitor the situation.
It's an unfortunate incident, as company data is often stolen from vehicles or homes of employees - and theft of data stored on an unencrypted flash drives also tends to happen frequently - as companies need to be more diligent in how they try to keep data secure.
Cybercriminals utilized code from the infamous Zeus and Carberp pieces of malware software to create the next-generation Zberp threat now targeting customers from 450 international financial institutions, according to researchers from Trusteer.
Zberp is able to track IP addresses and names from infected PCs, capture screen shots and upload them, steal POP3 and FTP credentials, hijack browsing sessions, compromise SSL certificates, and conduct remote desktop connections. Cybercriminals were clever and ensured the registry key would be deleted and rewritten so Zberp is difficult to detect with traditional anti-virus software.
"Since the source code of the Carberp Trojan was leaked to the public, we had a theory that it won't take cybercriminals too long to combine the Carberp source code with the Zeus code and create an evil monster," said Trusteer officials in a blog post. "It was only a theory, but a few weeks ago we found samples of the 'Andromeda' botnet that were downloading the hybrid beast."