Saturday, 25 January 2014

Cyber Threats Hit Record Levels

Cyber threats and vulnerabilities have reached their highest level for more than a decade, networking equipment specialist Cisco's latest security study reveals. 

According to the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report, which became available this week, cumulative annual alert totals rose by 14% on the year in October 2013. The IT major says that the malicious activity witnessed is at its highest level since the firm began tracking it back in 2000 as the targets of such attacks are failing to address the challenges of the quickly evolving threat landscape.

According to the report, there is a dire need for security professionals worldwide. This, coupled with the lack of adequate systems at most enterprises, leaves organisations without the necessary resources to address cyber attacks. Cisco has estimated that the global shortage of security experts will exceed one million this year.

A startling finding of the study is that all 30 of a sample of the biggest multinational company networks generated visitor traffic to websites with malware, with 96% reviewing communicated traffic to hijacked servers and 92% transmitting traffic to empty web pages, which is also usually associated with exposure to malicious activity, Cisco noted.

And it seems that malicious attacks are widening their scope among verticals. In the past two years, sectors that had remained relatively unscathed by malicious breaches, such as agriculture and mining, witnessed a substantial rise in malware encounters, the IT company said.

The research found that Multipurpose Trojans prevailed in web-delivered malware last year, accounting for 27% of all encounters, and, among programming languages, Java is still the primary target of online criminals.

In addition, Android turned out to be by far the most targeted mobile platform, accounting for 99% of all mobile malware.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Pirate Bay Co-Founder’s Sentence Cut In Half

Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm Warg's prison sentence for hacking and fraud has been reduced from two years to one. (Photo: Reuters)
Pirate Bay co-founder, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg had his prison sentence for hacking and fraud reduced from two years to one. A Swedish appellate court made the decision on Wednesday after finding that one of the hacking charges against Svartholm Warg lacked sufficient evidence, the Associated Press reported. Namely, charges relating to the hacking of Nordea Bank AB were dismissed, while other hacking charges were upheld.

The Pirate Bay co-founder's sentence was cut in half because the Svea Court of Appeal said it could not rule out Svartholm Warg's claim that others could have remotely accessed his computer to hack into the Nordea Bank AB's servers. While the court dismissed the bank hacking charges, it upheld the conviction against Svartholm Warg of hacking into the servers of two other companies, Applicate and Logica, which handle sensitive information for Sweden's police force and tax authority. The Wall Street Journal reported that Svartholm Warg was originally convicted of hacking into all three companies' servers in June, resulting in the two-year sentence.  
The Pirate Bay is one of the world's biggest free file-sharing websites, giving millions of users a way to illegally download music, movies and software. Since launching the site in 2003, Svartholm Warg and fellow co-founder Fredrik Neij have been embroiled in controversy. In 2009, the co-founders, along with company spokesman Peter Sunde and businessman Carl Lundstrom, were given one-year sentences for copyright violation by a Swedish court and ordered to pay 46 million kronor ($6.5 million) in damages to the entertainment industry.
Svartholm Warg left the country while appealing that ruling. He was arrested in Cambodia in 2012 and deported back to Sweden after an international arrest warrant was issued against the Pirate Bay co-founder, per the AP. He served out his first sentence for copyright violation while under detention over his hacking charges.
But while the Pirate Bay co-founder might have had his sentence reduced in Sweden, he might not be out of hot water yet. Decrypted Tech reported that Svartholm Warg is facing extradition to Denmark, as he is a suspect in a breach that resulted in the theft of driving records and social security numbers. The Danish authorities expect to have Svartholm Warg in custody in a few days.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

61% Of Malware Attack Victims Lose Some Data Forever

Most IT users know that malware is dangerous but few are fully aware of the havoc it can wreak. A new survey from B2B International and Kaspersky Lab reveals the true scale of the malware problem: just 39% of victims manage to fully restore the data lost as a result of a breach.

As Kaspersky Lab points out, a quarter of malware attacks succeed in stealing or corrupting confidential information. In the case of 17% of victims all data is lost forever, while 44% manage a partial retrieval. This is cause for concern, considering the importance we attach to our data, Kaspersky Lab said. Among the survey respondents, 56% declared that they deemed their information more valuable than the machine storing it. The poll also showed that 10% of affected users have resorted to the services of outside experts in the effort to restore their lost data.

But a data recovery specialist may not always achieve complete success and sometimes nothing can be done. Even an expert will be helpless if the attackers have used a file encryptor. This malicious program encrypts the files on the user's computers and requires a unique key for decryption. This is the type of program known as ransomware because the attackers typically demand payment in return for the decryption key.

Computers and mobile devices have become an integral part of daily life so it would be virtually impossible not to store confidential information on digital devices. However, users can minimise the risk of data loss through regular back-ups and reliable anti-malware protection, Kaspersky Lab said.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

'BadNews' Android malware in approved apps may have been downloaded 9 million times!

A new breed malware has been discovered within at least 32 Android apps, which may have been downloaded up to nine million times!
The so-called 'BadNews' malware was outed by security firm Lookout Mobile Security in a blog post on Friday and the affected apps have now been removed by Google.
All of the apps found to contain the malicious code had been approved by Google, but it appears that the harmful elements had been added after the fact, disguised as updates.
Apps containing the BadNews code have been reporting back to a server and revealing sensitive information like the phone number and handset serial number.

'Bad guys are smart'

The affected apps include English and Russian-language games, dictionaries, wallpapers and were able to make it past the Google Bouncer software that scans the Play store for harmful apps.
Marc Rogers, principal security researcher for Lookout, told Ars Technica: "You can't even say Google was at fault in this because Google very clearly scrutinized all these apps when they want in.
"But these guys were cunning enough to sit there for a couple of months doing absolutely nothing and then they pushed out the malware.
"This is a wakeup call for us in the industry to say: 'Bad guys are smart as well and they'll take a look at the security models we put in place and they'll find weaknesses in them. That's exactly what they've done here."

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Facebook site infiltrated!

The Facebook security teams has confirmed that the social networking site was targeted in a "sophisticated attack" last month.

The digital intrusion apparently occurred when a small number of Facebook personnel visited a compromised mobile developer website.

"The site hosted an exploit which then allowed malware to be installed on these employee laptops. The laptops were fully-patched and running up-to-date anti-virus software. As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines," a Facebook rep explained.

"After analyzing the compromised website where the attack originated, we found it was using a 'zero-day' (previously unseen) exploit to bypass the Java sandbox (built-in protections) to install the malware. We immediately reported the exploit to Oracle, and they confirmed our findings and provided a patch on February 1, 2013, that addresses this vulnerability."

Interestingly, Facebook says it wasn't not alone in the above-mentioned attack, as other sites were infiltrated as well.

However, the rep was also quick to point out that the social networking site had found "no evidence" of compromised user data.

"As part of our ongoing investigation, we are working continuously and closely with our own internal engineering teams, with security teams at other companies, and with law enforcement authorities to learn everything we can about the attack, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future," the rep added.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Ransomware - A Major Threat To Internet Security

Ransomware is emerging as a major cybercrime strategy, threatening to oust fake anti-virus software as the most popular cyber-attack next year, new research by IT security firm Symantec shows.

A total of 2.8% of victims of ransomware pay a "ransom" of up to £280 to regain access to their computers which have been blocked by cryptoviruses. Victims are tricked into making the payments after receiving fake messages that look like they have been issued by police authorities. Such messages often tell users they must pay a penalty for browsing illegal content.

Cybercriminals pocket £3 million annually from blackmailing users to pay to free their PCs from the malicious software, with one criminal group having tried to plague 495,000 computers in just 18 days, Symantec said, as quoted by IT Pro.

The first cases of ransomware were found in 2009 and were mainly limited to Eastern Europe and Russia.

However, this type of cybercrime is spreading to Western Europe, the USA and Canada, Symantec said. Criminal gangs have been traced back to a single unidentified person who apparently creates ransomware on request.

As consumer demand shifts to mobile devices and the cloud, cyber-attacks will increasingly focus on Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates used by mobile apps, Symantec believes. Meanwhile, according to an earlier report by IT Pro, security experts have identified a new malware strand that steals image files from PCs and dispatches them to a remote server.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Have You Been Called From 002538020308?

Many people report having been called from the international number 002538020308.

The scenario is like this: 

Always an english speaking foreigner (Indian sounding). Different name used on each call - Jess, Smith, Stephen, Wayne, & others.

Different Company names have included: Windows security center, Creative Solutions, MPC Help, Windows Service Center, Windows Security Maintenance, 24/7 PC Help, etc.

Sometimes they say they are calling "on behalf of Microsoft", or offer to do a free PC health check, or even directly tell you that your system has been compromised and it has got viruses.

Is this a SCAM?

The New Zealand Internal Affairs Anti-Spam Compliance unit is reiterating it’s warning about a cold caller who offers to fix a problem with home computers. It has received several calls and emails from people who have received similar calls.

Senior investigator Toni Demetriou says a Dunedin computer company had received an infected PC for repairs from a customer who had been taken in by the scamster and police were investigating.

“We now believe the calls are being made from overseas, not from New Zealand as originally suspected, and quite a lot of people are receiving them,” Mr Demetriou said.  “The caller can be quite convincing. On one occasion he handed the conversation across to a ‘supervisor’ in an attempt to make the call sound more professional and convincing. 

“He also gives various explanations for the calls such as phoning from a reputable and well-known international company, maybe a security and anti-virus vendor, suggesting the PC has been infected by a virus and needs repairs.

“The sole purpose of the call is to convince someone to login to a website.  They are given a website name and once they are at the website home page they are then given a six digit code to log into that website.

“Essentially what then happens is that the person is handing over control of their computer to the person they are talking with.   If you follow the instructions you will be allowing and authorising remote access to your computer.  Just about anything could then happen.

Viruses, malware, key logging software could be installed onto the computer.  Any information on the PC could be taken and any sensitive usernames or login credentials and passwords may also be logged and obtained as you continue to use your computer in the future.  If you log into your bank the information could be captured and your account compromised.  The computer may also become part of a botnet and used for spamming activities.”

Mr Demetriou said unauthorised access to a computer system is an offence under the Crimes Act.  Similarly, if the computer is infected through that unauthorised access and used for spamming activities, the Department of Internal Affairs, which enforces the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act, would investigate.    

If anyone believes their PC has been infected and compromised the Department recommends that it is inspected and repaired by a computer servicing company.