Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘cybersecurity

The Spy Who Tracked Me

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This is a juicy headline from Bloomberg: U.K. Reveals its First Major Cyber-Attack Was Against IS

GCHQ isn’t typically known for advertising its very-much-behind-the-scenes-on-the-down-low headline making when it comes to espionage, cyber or otherwise.

But according to this Bloomberg report, Britain “carried out its first major cyber-attack in 2017, disrupting Islamic State’s communications and propaganda for much of the year.”

“This is the first time the U.K. has systematically and persistently degraded an adversary’s online efforts as part of a wider military campaign,” [GCHQ Director Jeremy] Fleming told a cybersecurity conference in Manchester, England, “Did it work? I think it did.”

Fleming (great last night for a spy head, right?) also mentioned Russia in his comments:

The use of a nerve agent against former double agent Sergei Skripal, he said, “demonstrates how reckless Russia is prepared to be, how little the Kremlin cares for the international rules-based order.” Russia “widely uses its cyber capabilities,” Fleming said, “blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity” and deploying “industrial-scale disinformation to sway public opinion.”

Written by turbotodd

April 12, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Too Fit To Hack?

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We’ve become aware of two more major cyber security breach events over the past several days.

First, Under Armour went public with the news that in February around 150 million MyFitnessPal user accounts were hacked, stating that “an unauthorized party acquired data associated with MyFitnessPal user accounts.”

That data included usernames, passwords, and email addresses, but not bank, driving license or social security information.

No word on whether or not how many steps you took on average per day was revealed!

And The New York Times is reporting that a well-known ring of cybercriminals has obtained more than five million credit and debit card numbers from customers of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. 

The company indicated that the data appears to have been stolen using software that was implanted into the cash register systems at the stores and that siphoned card numbers.

Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian company that owns both firms, suggested that its e-commerce platforms appeared to have been unaffected by the breach.

The Times’ story suggests that the Lord & Taylor theft is one of the largest known breaches of a retailer, and demonstrates how difficult it is to secure credit-card transaction systems.

Check out this white paper from IBM Security to learn more how your organization can take a proactive approach to threat detection and prevention.

P.S. Another one that missed my radar…Boeing was hacked by the “WannaCry” virus last week. CBSNews reported Boeing announced that it “detected a limited intrusion of malware” that “infiltrated “a small number of systems.”

An initial report from chief engineer Mike VanderWel at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering that “the virus would affect equipment used in functionality tests of airplanes and potentially ‘spread to airplane software’” and that it was metastasizing rapidly.”

Fasten your seat belts.

Written by turbotodd

April 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

Posted in 2018, cyber security, e-commerce

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Atlanta’s Cyber Attack

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In case you hadn’t heard or read, the city of Atlanta has been hamstrung by a ransomware attack that began last Thursday.

The New York Times’ Alan Blinder and Nicole Perlroth provided an update yesterday.  The key facts thus far:

  • This was one of the most “sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever mounted against a major American city.”
  • It “laid bare once again the vulnerabilities of governments as they rely on computer networks for day-to-day operations.”
  • The attackers, the “SamSam” hacking crew, locked up the city’s files, and gave the city a week to pay ~ $51,000 in ransom via Bitcoin.
  • While the attack didn’t impact Atlanta’s 911 calls or wastewater treatment, “other arms of city government have been scrambled for days.” 
  • But the Atlanta Municipal Court has been unable to validate warrants, police officers have been writing reports by hand, and the city has stopped taking employment applications.
  • Dell SecureWorks and Cisco Security are working to restore the city’s systems, and the city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has not yet indicated whether the city would pay the ransom.

The Times also cited a 2016 survey of CIOs for jurisdictions across the country found that obtaining ransom was the “most common purpose of cyberattacks on a city or county government, accounting for nearly one-third of all attacks.”

In the meantime, many of Atlanta’s core public services are being delivered by that trusty and dependable standby, pen and paper.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to contend with ransomware, IBM Incident Response Services published this “Ransomeware Response Guide (Registration required).” 

Written by turbotodd

March 28, 2018 at 10:02 am

A Kilowatt for A Bitcoin!

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Happy Friday.

If you’re looking for cheap energy to do your Bitcoin mining, don’t head for Plattsburgh, New York. 

Its city council last evening unanimously voted to impose an 18-month moratorium on Bitcoin mining in the city.

Motherboard reports that the moratorium was proposed by Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read earlier this month after residents began reporting wildly inflated electricity bills in January (some up to $100 or $200 more than average).

And this in a place that advertises itself as having the “cheapest electricity in the world” because of its proximity to a hydroelectric dam on the St. Lawrence river.

Meanwhile, following up on my post yesterday about the cyber escapades in Saudi Arabia, the plot thickens.

According to a report from Reuters, the Trump Administration yesterday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid. That’s the first time the U.S. has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.

The attempts started in/around March 2016, with the Russian government hackers seeking to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing.  

You know, pretty much everything to keep a modern industrialized society’s wheels turning!

And if you’re looking for some lighter fare, Facebook Lite will soon be coming to Canada, Australia, the U.K. and U.S. 

Facebook Lite is Facebook’s pared down version of its app that had originally been designed for people in developing countries with limited data plans, but hey, we’re rapidly becoming a third world country here in the U.S., so bring on the Lite Facebook…err, the Facebook Lite. 

How about some new old ad slogans for the newest Lite?

You can call me Ray, and you can call me Jay!

Great taste, less filling!

If you’ve got the time…we’ve got the social network?!  No?

The app will only be available for Android for today’s release, I guess suggesting that we iOS users aren’t in need of such bandwidth relief??!

Written by turbotodd

March 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

Saudi Cyber

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Don’t miss this doozy of a story from The New York Times’ Nicole Perlroth and Clifford Krauss about last year’s cyberattack in Saudi Arabia.

The executive summary: Last August, a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia was struck by a cyberassault that intended to sabotage the firm’s operations and trigger an explosion.

The only thing that prevented the explosion was a mistake in the attackers’ computer code. 

For cyber warriors on the front line, it’s a must read.

On the flip side, Google recently released its “Android Security 2017 Year in Review” report earlier today, and it cited that 60.3 percent of Potentially Harmful Apps were detected via machine learning.

As reported by VentureBeat, its detection is done by a service called Google Play Protect, which is enabled on over 2 billion devices (running Android 4.3 and up) to constantly scan Android apps for malicious activity.

In other words, artificial intelligence and machine learning are the future of cyber monitoring, and the future has already arrived.

Speaking of the future and cybersecurity, at next week’s IBM Think 2018 conference in Las Vegas, you’ll be able to tune in to over 100 sessions LIVE via the IBM UStream. 

Be sure to check out the schedule here, and to case the cyber keynote from 12:30-1:10 PST on Tuesday, March 20th, entitled “Ready for Anything: Build a Cyber Resilient Organization.”

Written by turbotodd

March 15, 2018 at 10:16 am

Worried About Equifax Breach? Put a Security Freeze on Your Credit Files!

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After blowing my top when learning about this latest data breach at Equifax, where roughly 44 percent of Americans’ personal information — including Social Security, driver’s license, and credit card numbers were put at risk — well, I decided I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

Rather than spend a monthly fee paying one of these credit companies a fee to protect the very information they traffic in, I went one better: I put a security freeze on my credit file with each of the four major credit vendors in the U.S.: Experian, Equifax, TransUnion, and Innovis.

So what did this involve?

It was much easier than people might have you think, and for the full details, we have Krebs on Security to thank for the full instructions.

Here’s the bottom line:

A security credit freeze basically blocks any potential creditors from able to view or "pull" your credit file, unless you affirmatively unfreeze or thaw your file first. So, if you need to have a credit line inquiry anytime soon, this option’s not for you.

On the other hand, if you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired worrying about these data breaches, this is the option for you.

Depending on your state, it’s a modest fee to put a security freeze on your credit file for each of the previously mentioned vendors. (In Texas, each freeze costs $10, although for some reason Innovis was free.)

What does this freeze do?

First, ID thieves can still apply for credit in your name, but they won’t succeed in getting new lines of credit because few if any creditors will extend that credit without first being able to gauge your risk worthiness.

Also, the freeze can help protect your credit score, because as you’ve probably heard, every credit inquiry made by a creditor can negatively impact your credit score.

How do you do all this? It’s easier than it looks.

Go to each of the websites (www.experian.com, etc.) and search for "security freeze." You then should be able to find each vendor’s direct link with directions on how to impose the freeze.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of identity theft, you well know that $30-50 is a small price to pay to gain some piece of mind and to frustrate the hackers looking to benefit from your prior naivete.

Take your personal info and credit back into your own hands.

Do it, and do it now!

Written by turbotodd

September 8, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Taking Cyber Command

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Happy Friday.

Well, as happy as you can get about this week.

I’m still sending warm, fuzzy sangria and tapas thoughts out to all mi amigos in Barcelona. One of the world’s great cities, and if I could transport myself Star Trek style I’d be trekking down Las Ramblas in solidarity with my Spanish friends this very evening.

Instead, I’ll knock back an Estrella later and dream of Gaudi buildings.

In the meantime, the cyber world moves on, and Politico reported some interesting news earlier today out of the Trump Administration.

President Trump announced today that U.S. Cyber Command has now been elevated to a "Unified Combatant Command," putting it on equal footing with other organizations that oversee military ops in the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

In a statement, the president said the following:

"This new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our Nation’s defense. The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries."

TechCrunch elaborated in its own coverage that "whatever happens" with this change, it will be "welcomed by many" and that "there is a sense that we are being outplayed by cyber operatives in countries and organizations all over the world, from Russia to IS."

Ya think??!

Written by turbotodd

August 18, 2017 at 3:10 pm

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