Wednesday, October 15, 2014
October 10, 2014
In the latest cyberattack on American retailers and restaurants, both Kmart and Dairy queen said their computer systems were compromised in a security instructions involving customers' credit and debit card information.
Kmart, a subsidiary of Sears Holdings, said on Friday that it had been breached and that it was working with law enforcement as well as a forensics team. The company said that it appeared to have been attacked in early September and that malware was present on some of its in-store payment systems. The malware, like the type found at Home Depot recently, was meant to evade antivirus systems.
The company did not indicated how many stores were affected or how many credit cards were potentially compromised but said the malware has been removed.
Dairy Queen also said on Thursday that its in-store payment systems contained malware. The company said it was working with its franchisees to determine if and when each location was breached and posted a full list, with time frames, on its website. That information suggests hackers made their way into Dairy Queen payment systems in August.
Based on early forensics reports, Sears and Dairy Queen said there was no evidence that personal information, debit card PINs, email addresses or Social Security numbers were obtained in the attack. Only account numbers and expiration dates were taken.
Sears and Dairy Queen join nearly a dozen other retailers--including Target, Sally Beauty, Neiman Marcus, the United Parcel Service, Michaels, Albertsons, SuperValu, P.F. Chang's, and Home Depot--that have had their in-store payment systems compromised with malware over the last year.
The Secret Service estimated this summer that 1,000 American merchants were affected by this kind of attack, and that many of them may not even know that they were breached. There have been no arrests to date.
In each case, criminals scanned for tools that typically allow employees and vendors to work remotely, then broke into these tools, using their foothold to install malware on retailer's systems. That malware, in turn, fed customers' payment details back to the hackers' computer servers.
The same group of criminals in Eastern Europe is believed to be behind the earlier attacks, according to several people with knowledge of the results of forensics investigations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements.
Studies have found that retailers, in particular, are unprepared for such attacks. A joint study by the Ponemon Institute, an independent security research firm, and DB Networks, a database security firm, found that a majority of computer security experts in the United States believed that their organizations lacked the technology and tools to quickly detect database attacks.
Only one-third of those experts said they did the kind of continuous database monitoring needed to identify irregular activity in their databases, and another 22 percent acknowledged that they did no scanning at all.
Sears said it would offer free credit-monitoring services to any customer who had used a credit or debit card at any of its affected store locations. Dairy Queen said it would offer free identity repair services for one year to affected customers.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The company on Tuesday confirmed it has partnered with banks and law enforcement to look into "some unusual activity" relating to customers.
Independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs was the first to report this, saying "a massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards" went for sale Tuesday in the black market online.
Krebs said hackers were possibly in Home Depot's computer systems from May until now. If that's true, this might be even larger than the three-week long Target breach that affected 40 million debit and credit cards late last year, he noted.
In a statement, Home Depot spokeswoman Paula Drake said: "Protecting our customers' information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers."
The company promised to alert customers as soon as it can ascertain a data breach has occurred.
This could turn out to be another giant hack like the ones that hit several brand name U.S. stores. Since late 2013, the list has gotten extensive: Albertson's, Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang's, and SuperValu.
So many companies have been hit, CNNMoney developed it's own tool: What hackers know about you. Check it out.
For perspective, consider that Target (TGT) is still reeling from its brush with hackers. The company's latest figures estimate the damage so far at $148 million--and that number continues to rise. The value of its stock has fallen nearly 5% this year, and the company's CEO resigned.
Meanwhile, Target customers haven't felt any direct impact--that they can attribute to the hack, anyway. But that's partly because banks won't let customers know what big hack forced them to temporarily freeze accounts, nix fraudulent expenses, and reissue debit and credit cards.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
August 20, 2014 at 3:10pm
Populating many Facebook feeds this week have been scam posts taking advantage of Robin Williams' tragic suicide.
The posts which are shared unknowingly by your Facebook friends claim to include a "last phone call" video and are designed to sell social media user's information.
Clicking on this post takes you to a website which asks you first to share the post on your own Facebook wall and then take a short survey.
IT security company ESET said scammers earn money for every person they trick in to completing the survey.
"You would have to be pretty ghoulish to proceed any further, but the truth is that the internet has deadened our sensitivities and made many of us all too willing to watch unpleasant thing on our computer screens," ESET security analyst Graham Cluley said.
"By tricking thousands of people into taking a survey, in the misbelief that they will watch the final moments of a comedy legend whose life ended tragically, the scammers aim to make affiliate cash.
"Because every survey that is taken earns them some cents--and the more people they can drive toward the survey (even if they use the bait of a celebrity death video), the more money will end up in their pockets. In other cases, scammers have used such tricks to install malware or sign users up for expensive premium rate mobile phone services."
The Australian government's Stay Safe Online initiative also sent out an alert warning of the threat. This is one of many scams targeting disasters and tragedies as scammers prey on events of global concern. The scams are easily interchanged to suit new events," it said.
The advice is not to share or like anything on Facebook unless you are confident it is safe.
"You should be suspicious of any post that requires you to blindly share posts or provide personal information," Stay Safe Online said in its warning.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Companies can't keep your data safe. It's that simple.
When Target lost data on some 110 million customers, it recommended them to credit bureau Experian for "identity theft protection," offering to cover the cost for a year.
Think you're in better hands? Think again.
Sometime before the Target (TGT) hack, Experian had its own data leak--via a subsidiary. That data leak got plugged before Target sent victims to Experian. But it shows that even those entrusted with our most sensitive data don't know how to protect it.
Experian unknowingly sold the personal data of millions of Americans--including Social Security numbers--to a fraudster in Vietnam. That guy then sold the personal information to identity thieves around the globe.
It wasn't until U.S. Secret Service agents alerted Experian that the company stopped.
Hieu Minh Ngo, now 25, was caught and admitted to posing as a private investigator in Singapore to get exclusive access to data via Court Ventures, an Experian subsidiary. Ngo then sold access to fellow criminals.
Federal investigators say that let criminals reach databases with hundreds of millions of Americans' personal data including:
- Social Security numbers
- work history
- driver's license numbers
- email addresses
- banking information
Criminals tapped that database 3.1 million times, investigators said. Surprised you haven't heard this? It's because Experian is staying quiet about it.
It's been more than a year since Experian was notified of the leak. Yet the company still won't say how many American's were affected.
CNNMoney asked Experian to detail the scope of the breach. The company refused.
"As we've said consistently, it is an unfortunate and isolated issue--one that did not affect Experian's databases and has no true relevance to the work we did with clients like Target," Experian spokesman Gerry Tschopp said.
Federal court filings show that at least one database actually belonged to another firm--U.S. Info Search. It was Experian's subsidiary that sold database access to Ngo.
Target and Experian insist that the credit monitoring service is unrelated to the incident involving Experian's data-selling business.
But even Experian's credit monitoring service, which collects data on customers, isn't immune.
According to Barry Kouns, a security professional who maintains a Cyber Risk Analytic database of major data breaches, said Experian's databases have been involved in 97 breaches of personal information.
"Based on our research, it appears that data brokers place a high value on collecting and using our information but not so much protecting it," Kouns said.
"Based on our research, it appears that data brokers place a high value on collecting and using our information but not so much protecting it," Kouns said.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
By Josephine Wolff
When I was in college, the main campus library had several computers set up on the first floor for public use, and invariably, whenever I used one, a previous user had not logged out of her Gmail account. So when I tried to load my account, I would instead find myself staring at the entire contents of someone else's inbox. Of course, I would then log that person out and sign myself in--but those brief moments when I had complete access to another person's email were terrifying nonetheless. How could people be so careless with something as valuable as their email account? And then, inevitably, after my own session, I would make it halfway across campus and suddenly being worrying that I might have forgotten to log myself out--the same way you might worry you forgot to turn off the stove, or lock the door before leaving your house--and so I would trek back up to the library and check.
I still fear public computers, a terror that was only reinforced by the July 10 advisory that the Secret Service and National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center issued about keyloggers on hotel business center machines. The advisory, first reported by security researcher Brian Krebs, was directed at the hospitality industry and warned of cases in which people who had registered at hotels with stolen credit cards downloaded keylogging software onto the computers in the hotels’ business centers.
The software would then capture every keystroke entered on those public machines—including the usernames and passwords entered by unsuspecting hotel guests, as well as the content of any emails or documents they wrote on those machines. The log of these keystrokes would be emailed to the person who had installed the malicious program, providing the hacker with a wealth of data on the business center users. “The suspects were able to obtain large amounts of information including other guests’ personally identifiable information (PII), log in credentials to bank, retirement and personal webmail accounts, as well as other sensitive data flowing through the business center’s computers,” according to the advisory.
This, of course, is a far more serious—and nefarious—threat than college students who forget to log out of their Gmail accounts and thereby give strangers access to their email, but both risks stem from a common problem in computer security: our tendency to treat public computers like personal ones and, more broadly, to ignore the physical dimension of cybersecurity.
Krebs points out that while there are ways that hotels can try to make it more difficult for people to download keyloggers on their computers—by restricting users’ ability to install programs, for instance—there’s a limited amount that can be done to improve the security of public computers, especially if they’re to provide any valuable services to users. Or, as Krebs puts it, “if a skilled attacker has physical access to a system, it’s more or less game over for the security of that computer.”
Basic safeguards are still worth taking, if only to restrict the set of potential perpetrators to “skilled attackers.” The advisory noted:
It doesn’t take much skill to find keylogging software online and install it on a public machine. You don’t need to know how computers work, you don’t need to be an expert coder, you just need to be dishonest—and have access to a computer that other people use. This is data theft at its easiest—and perhaps also at its easiest to overlook.
The good news about the physical security elements of cybersecurity threats is that, just as they are relatively easy for nontechnical people to exploit, they are also fairly straightforward for other nontechnical people to defend against. Essentially, you want to make it as difficult as possible for anyone who is not you to ever use your private computer, and you should only use public ones under the assumption that anything you do on them may be captured or accessible to others. Just as you might take basic hygiene steps to avoid germs and bacteria in public bathrooms (oron public keyboards), some simple cyber hygiene measures can help you ward against the digital diseases carried by the outside world. This means always—always, always—locking your computer whenever you walk away from it, not letting other people use it, and not checking your primary email account or bank account—or doing anything else potentially sensitive—in a hotel business center or on any other public computer.
This certainly won’t protect against all cybersecurity threats—it won’t even protect against all of the problems posed by hotel networks, which can be used to install malware on personal computers, or even public computers—my sophomore year, those same computers in the main campus library that I occasionally (and foolishly) used to check my email were used to send anonymous death threats via email. But at the very least, these sorts of measures will help weed some of the less technically talented from the field of would-be cybercriminals and allow us to continue studying and learning about the novel nature of these digital threats without losing sight of the ways in which they are not entirely new. Cybersecurity and physical security are closely related—increasingly so, as more physical objects are connected to online infrastructure in various ways—and even as computer networks pose some new security challenges, they can still benefit from applying some of the older lessons of physical security.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Disposing of Your Mobile Device
Overview: Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, continue to advance and innovate at an astonishing rate. As a result, many of us replace our mobile devices as often as every 18 months. Unfortunately, too many people simply dispose of their older mobile devices with little thought on just how much personal data their devices have accumulated. In this newsletter we will cover what types of personal information may be on your mobile device and how you can securely wipe it before disposing of it or returning it. If your mobile device was issued to you by your employer or has any organizational data stored on it, be sure to check with your supervisor about proper backup and disposal procedures before following the steps below.
For the full newsletter, visit: http://www.securingthehuman.org/newsletters/ouch/issues/OUCH-201406_en.pdf