Identity theft is still hackers’ major goal

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Tech secu­ri­ty firm Gemalto’s Breach Lev­el Index shows iden­ti­ty theft account­ing for 53 per­cent of data breach­es in the first half of 2015. Over­all, data breach­es grew 10 per­cent in the peri­od, with 888 breach­es record­ed, com­pro­mis­ing 246 mil­lion records world­wide. While the num­ber of com­pro­mised data records fell by 41 per­cent dur­ing the first six months, this was most­ly due to few­er megabreach­es in the retail indus­try. The largest breach in the first half of 2015—which scored a 10 in terms of sever­i­ty on the Breach Lev­el Index—was an iden­ti­ty theft attack on Anthem Insur­ance that exposed 78.8 mil­lion records, rep­re­sent­ing almost a third (32 per­cent) of the total data records stolen in the first six months of 2015. Source: Plan­et Biometrics

And all it took was a phone number

sh_phone_280Up to 200,000 users of WhatsApp’s Web-based ser­vice may have been hit in a cyber attack that let hack­ers com­pro­mise per­son­al data using just their phone num­ber. What­sApp Web is a ser­vice that lets peo­ple access the mes­sag­ing ser­vice via a brows­er on a smart­phone or com­put­er, rather than the app. Hack­ers were send­ing vCard’s to ran­dom phone num­bers they had obtained, accord­ing to secu­ri­ty firm Check Point. A vCard is an elec­tron­ic con­tact card that you can send to anoth­er per­son. For exam­ple, if some­body want­ed the num­ber of some­one in your phone’s con­tact book, you could send the vCard, and the oth­er per­son would have all the details. The vCard sent by the hack­ers con­tained a mali­cious code that would dis­trib­ute bots, ran­somware and remote access tools on a person’s phone or PC. Source: CNBC

Insurer says more than 10 million records exposed

A health insur­er in west­ern New York and affil­i­ates said their com­put­ers were tar­get­ed last month in a cyber attack that may have pro­vid­ed unau­tho­rized access to more than 10 mil­lion per­son­al records. Excel­lus Blue­Cross BlueShield and Life­time Health­care Com­pa­nies said they’re offer­ing affect­ed indi­vid­u­als two years of free iden­ti­ty theft pro­tec­tion. Unau­tho­rized com­put­er access was dis­cov­ered Aug. 5, with the ini­tial attack occur­ring on Dec. 23, 2013. Infor­ma­tion could include cus­tomers’ names, birth dates, Social Secu­ri­ty num­bers, mail­ing address­es, phone num­bers, mem­ber iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers, finan­cial account infor­ma­tion and claims infor­ma­tion. Oth­er affil­i­ates are Life­time Ben­e­fit Solu­tions, Life­time Care, Life­time Health Med­ical Group, The MedAmer­i­ca Com­pa­nies and Uni­vera Health­care. Source: NBC News

Star light, star bright … oh, wait, it’s a satellite

sh_satellite_280A Russ­ian-speak­ing spy gang known as Turla has hijacked the satel­lite IP address­es of legit­i­mate users to use them to steal data from oth­er infect­ed machines in a way that hides their com­mand serv­er. Researchers at Kasper­sky Lab have found evi­dence that the gang has been using the covert tech­nique since at least 2007. Turla is a sophis­ti­cat­ed cyber-espi­onage group, believed to be spon­sored by the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, that has for more than a decade tar­get­ed gov­ern­ment agen­cies, embassies, and mil­i­taries in more than 40 coun­tries, includ­ing Kaza­khstan, Chi­na, Viet­nam and the Unit­ed States, but with a par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on coun­tries in the for­mer East­ern Bloc. The gang uses a num­ber of tech­niques to infect sys­tems and steal data, but for some of its most high-pro­file tar­gets, the group appears to use a satel­lite-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nique to help hide the loca­tion of their com­mand servers, Kasper­sky researchers say. Source: Wired

This could be the start of something big

Quan­tum cryp­tol­ogy may be the hottest top­ic in secu­ri­ty these days. Just what is it? Accord­ing to Toshi­ba, it means a sta­ble, unbreak­able encryp­tion method that uses pho­tons (or light par­ti­cles) trans­ferred through a cus­tom-made, fiber-optic cable that’s com­plete­ly inde­pen­dent of the Inter­net. It’s hack-proof because any attempts to eaves­drop (inter­cept, copy, wire­tap, etc.) such a trans­mis­sion alters the quan­tum state—that is, scram­bles the encod­ed data—and is imme­di­ate­ly detectable.  Hirokazu Tsuki­mo­to of Toshi­ba says quan­tum cryp­to­graph­ic com­mu­ni­ca­tion uses quan­tum physics to ensure that genom­ic data encrypt­ed with dig­i­tal keys remains undis­closed. Bits are trans­mit­ted by indi­vid­ual pho­tons, which can­not be manip­u­lat­ed with­out leav­ing rem­nants of the intru­sion. “Toshi­ba has devel­oped the world’s fastest quan­tum key dis­tri­b­u­tion pro­to­type based on a self-dif­fer­enc­ing cir­cuit for sin­gle pho­ton detec­tion,” Tsuki­mo­to says. “Field tri­als begin this month to eval­u­ate the pro­to­type for com­mer­cial use in five years.” Source: CIO

Food for thought

sh_food court_280Hack­ers infil­trat­ed the Pen­ta­gon food court’s com­put­er sys­tem, com­pro­mis­ing the bank data of an unknown num­ber of employ­ees. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Defense Depart­ment spokesman, said employ­ees were noti­fied that hack­ers may have stolen bank account infor­ma­tion from peo­ple who paid for con­ces­sions at the Pen­ta­gon with a cred­it or deb­it card. “With­in the past week, the Pen­ta­gon Force Pro­tec­tion Agency has received numer­ous reports of fraud­u­lent use of cred­it cards belong­ing to Pen­ta­gon per­son­nel. These indi­vid­u­als had fraud­u­lent charges to their account soon after they had legit­i­mate trans­ac­tions at the Pen­ta­gon,” accord­ing to a copy of the notice to employ­ees. Crosson was unable to say how many peo­ple have been affect­ed or over what time peri­od, say­ing the Pen­ta­gon Force Pro­tec­tion Agency is inves­ti­gat­ing. Source: Wash­ing­ton Examiner

Getting energetic in their efforts

Cyber attack­ers com­pro­mised the secu­ri­ty of Depart­ment of Ener­gy com­put­er sys­tems more than 150 times between 2010 and 2014. Inci­dent reports sub­mit­ted by fed­er­al offi­cials and con­trac­tors since late 2010 to the DOE’s Joint Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter shows a bar­rage of attempts to breach the secu­ri­ty of crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion sys­tems with sen­si­tive data about the nation’s pow­er grid, nuclear weapons stock­pile, and ener­gy labs. DOE com­po­nents report­ed 1,131 cyber attacks over a 48-month peri­od end­ing in Octo­ber 2014. Of those attempt­ed intru­sions, 159 were suc­cess­ful. Ener­gy Depart­ment offi­cials would not say if any sen­si­tive data relat­ed to the oper­a­tion and secu­ri­ty of the nation’s pow­er grid or nuclear weapons stock­pile was accessed or stolen in any of the attacks, or whether for­eign gov­ern­ments are believed to have been involved. Source: USA TODAY

Hands across the pond

sh_allies_280U.S. and Euro­pean offi­cials final­ized a long-await­ed data-pro­tec­tion deal to pro­vide a map for how per­son­al infor­ma­tion is pro­tect­ed when shared across the Atlantic by law-enforce­ment author­i­ties. The agree­ment is the cul­mi­na­tion of four years of nego­ti­a­tions about how police and judges should be able to share data dur­ing the course of crim­i­nal or ter­ror inves­ti­ga­tions that cross bor­ders. It is a step toward rebuild­ing trust between the U.S. and Euro­pean allies fol­low­ing the Edward Snow­den rev­e­la­tions of spy­ing. Con­gress must pass a mea­sure grant­i­ng Euro­pean cit­i­zens the right to sue in U.S. courts if the think Amer­i­can author­i­ties have mis­ued their per­son­al data. Source: The Nation­al Journal

The business of America, and the rest of the world

A report from spe­cial­ist insur­er Allianz Glob­al Cor­po­rate & Spe­cial­ty on the lat­est trends in cyber risk finds such attacks cost the glob­al econ­o­my approx­i­mate­ly $445 bil­lion a year, with the world’s largest 10 economies account­ing for half this total, and the Unit­ed States account­ing for $108 bil­lion. “As recent­ly as 15 years ago, cyber attacks were fair­ly rudi­men­ta­ry and typ­i­cal­ly the work of hack­tivists, but with increas­ing inter­con­nec­tiv­i­ty, glob­al­iza­tion and the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of cyber crime there has been an explo­sion in both fre­quen­cy and sever­i­ty of cyber attacks,” says CEO Chris Fis­ch­er Hirs. “Cyber insur­ance is no replace­ment for robust IT secu­ri­ty, but it cre­ates a sec­ond line of defense to mit­i­gate cyber inci­dents” Source: Busi­ness Wire