Cybercrime

  • CybersecurityCryptolocker has you between a back-up and a hard place

    By Julio Hernandez-Castro

    Cryptolocker, a particularly vicious form of malware that first appeared in September 2013, is a game-changer. After getting into your computer, it will encrypt all your data files, from your word documents to your photos, videos, and PDFs. It will then ask for a ransom of around $300 or 0.5 bitcoins to get them back. It has been one of the most commented developments in computer security circles in recent times, and copycats are appearing. The criminals are netting tens or hundreds of millions in ransoms, and at least some of the ill-gotten gains secured from Cryptolocker are likely to be reinvested. The criminals behind it will likely pay for access to bigger botnets to reach a wider base of victims. Future versions of the virus will in all likelihood be more prevalent and will extend across other platforms, like smartphones and tablets.

  • CybercrimeBlack markets for hackers increasingly sophisticated, specialized, and maturing

    Black and gray markets for computer hacking tools, services and byproducts such as stolen credit card numbers continue to expand, creating an increasing threat to businesses, governments and individuals, according to a new study. One dramatic example is the December 2013 breach of retail giant Target, in which data from approximately forty million credit cards and 70 million user accounts was hijacked. Within days, that data appeared — available for purchase — on black market Web sites.

  • Internet securityNew tool makes scanning the Internet for illegal images possible

    Researchers have developed a system that makes it possible to scan traffic on the Internet for illegal photographs. The system can, for example, help trace child pornography on the Internet without infringing on the privacy of Internet users. Internet service providers could use the tool to keep their network “clean.”

  • CybersecuritySoftware spots malicious behavior by apps

    Last year at the end of July the Russian software company Doctor Web detected several malicious apps in the app store Google Play. Downloaded on a smartphone, the malware installed — without the permission of the user — additional programs which sent expensive text messages to premium services. German computer scientists have now developed software which can discover such malicious apps already in the app store. The software detects pieces of code where the app accesses sensitive data and where data is sent from the mobile device.

  • BiometricsBiometric security for mobile devices becoming mainstream

    Biometric security such as fingerprint, face, and voice recognition is set to hit the mainstream as global technology companies market the systems as convenient and easy to use. The latest biometric technologies are not without their security issues, but they are marketed as more convenient than traditional methods rather than more secure, and encourage adoption by people who currently do not have any security on their phone at all.

  • CybersecurityPlatform for operating systems would outwit cyber criminals

    As smartphone use surges, consumers are just beginning to realize their devices are not quite as secure as they thought. A Swedish research team is working on a way to secure mobile operating systems so that consumers can be confident that their data is protected.

  • Cybersecurity educationUniversity of Texas at San Antonio ranked top U.S. cybersecurity school

    The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) ranks as the top school for cybersecurity courses and degree programs according to a Hewlett-Packard (HP)-sponsored surveyof 1,958 certified IT security professionals. The schools undergraduate and graduate programs received top marks for academic excellence and practical relevance.

  • CybersecurityThe “Mask": Kaspersky Lab discovers advanced global cyber-espionage operation

    Kaspersky Lab’s security researchers have announced the discovery of the Mask (aka Careto), an advanced Spanish-language speaking threat actor that has been involved in global cyber-espionage operations since at least 2007. What makes the Mask special is the complexity of the toolset used by the attackers. This includes a sophisticated malware, a rootkit, a bootkit, Mac OS X and Linux versions, and possibly versions for Android and iOS (iPad/iPhone). The primary targets are government institutions, diplomatic offices and embassies, energy, oil, and gas companies, research organizations and activists. Victims of this targeted attack have been found in thirty-one countries around the world.

  • CybersecurityNew state-of-the-art cybersecurity resource available to software developers

    Cybercrime is booming; it is an estimated $100 billion industry in the United States and shows no signs of slowing down. Attackers have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal, including social engineering — or phishing — penetrating weak security protocols and exploiting software vulnerabilities that can serve as an “open window” into an organization’s IT environment. Closing those windows requires effective and accessible tools to identify and root out software vulnerabilities. Supported by a $23.4 million grant from DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), the Software Assurance Marketplace, or SWAMP, provides a state-of-the-art facility that serves as an open resource for software developers, software assurance tool developers, and software researchers who wish to collaborate and improve software assurance activities in a safe, secure environment.

  • China syndromeChemical, defense companies subject to Chinese Nitro attacks

    More and more chemical and defense companies around the world are victims of Nitro attacks. These attacks, launched by government-backed Chinese hackers, install PoisonIvy, a Remote Access Tool (RAT) stealthily placed on computer systems to steal information. The majority of the computers infected belong to firms in the United States, Bangladesh, and the United Kingdom.

  • CybersecurityNational Guard units help states ward off cyberattacks

    Governors across the United States are mobilizing their states’ National Guard units to combat threats from cyberattacks. The state of Washington was the first state to assign the state’s National Guard cybersecurity responsibilities. The state recognized the potential of its National Guard as a cyberforce when it realized that many of its soldiers, who are full-time employees and part-time soldiers, worked for tech employers such as Google, Boeing, Cisco, Verizon, and Microsoft.

  • Israel and cybersecurityTwo Israeli startups with innovative cybersecurity solutions raise combined $25 million

    Two Israeli cybersecurity startups, launched by veterans of the IDF technology units, announced that, separately, they had raised a combined $25 million from investors. Adallom’s solution accumulates users’ behavioral data in order to protect databases. It monitors how software applications like the customer relationship management program Salesforce, Google apps, and Microsoft Office 360 are used, and protects data security. Aorato’s solution watches for suspicious usage of employee credentials – for example, multiple guessing attempts. “2013 showed the world the risks of advanced threats in parallel to the implications of insiders’ access to sensitive corporate data,” Aorato’s CEO Idan Plotnik noted, referring to the Edward Snowden’s leaks of secret government information.

  • Vehicle cyber safetyLawmaker wants to know how cyber-safe vehicles are

    Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) has asked twenty automobile manufacturers to submit details of their plans to prevent vehicles from wireless hacking attempts, as well as plans to prevent violations of driver privacy. Markey wants automobile manufacturers to apply computer-industry security processes and technology — including anti-virus software, incident logging, incident-response planning, software vulnerability patching, and third-party penetrating testing — to mass produced vehicles.

  • Cybersecurity businessCybersecurity giants adapt to changing cyberthreat landscape

    McAfee and Symantec, the two technology giants of traditional firewall and antivirus protection software, are shifting their attention to focus more on cybersecurity challenges. A rapidly changing landscape for computer networks, in which data is transmitted and stored via mobile devices and cloud computing, has created demand for products and services that can secure information against state-sponsored or organized cyber terrorism.

  • New Silicon Valley focus on cybersecurity

    The last time Silicon Valley focused on cybersecurity was in the 1990s. That focus saw the emergence of two giants: McAfee and Symantec. The two companies remain the most recognizable household names, thanks to their traditional firewall and anti-virus products. Now they find the arena which they thought was their own encroached from two sides. On one side there are tech giants like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, which see new revenue opportunity in cybersecurity. On the other side there is a rush of start-ups backed by large investments of venture capital.