LinkedIn Now Considered as Front Door For Phishing Attacks

A recent web seminar by Computing revealed that LinkedIn now is being considered a front door access for potential phishing attacks in order to encourage careless users to open malicious emails and their links. Now LinkedIn isn’t in itself the issue here, it is more the way people act that is and in combination with already available information.

We mostly see DDoS and similar attacks make the headlines, but phishing is now considered to be the top threat to businesses and it is constantly increasing in severity. The attacks use novel methods to make potential victims feel comfortable before they send their malicious payload. LinkedIn is now being used in a big fashion as that entry point. This is where hackers make the first contact with potential victims. After an initial trust has been built, it is far more likely for a victim to click a malicious link without double checking what it will do. Another reason that phishing has grown as a method of attack is that it doesn’t take any skill at all to do so. Anyone with bad intentions can do it.

One of the examples given at the seminar was from the law firm BLM that continuously is a target of phishing attempts. For example, they have had both email and phone calls attempting to extort money by someone purporting to be the CFO, and they very often originate from LinkedIn contacts.

Not all phishing attacks are as sophisticated, but they’re still very effective because people have developed a click mentality for their inbox. An example for this was given too. In one day they received 2500 copies on the same email in 10 minutes that seemed to come from the department of motor vehicles, and people just clicked the included link, no questions asked. Even though the email had a specific registration number listed, people still clicked it despite not being one they own. One person even clicked it not owning a car at all. Luckily BLM runs everything in a sandbox and these things are caught, but there are still a lot of companies that don’t take this threat seriously.

In most instances phishing can be combated with common sense, but in a world as busy as ours, common sense is often turned off in exchange for productivity.

Personally, I’ve seen a big rise in SMS fishing lately and I regularly get suspicious messages from numbers and names that appear to be genuine – but on close inspection they never are.

Image courtesy of Hotspot Shield

Apple’s European Headquarters Evacuated After Bomb Threat

Apple’s European headquarters in Cork, Ireland has been under a great deal of media scrutiny which revolves around the corporation tax rate. An investigation by the European Commission suggested Apple had incorrectly reported its financial earnings and could be hit with a fine costing up to $8 billion. Today, their headquarters was quickly evacuated after due to a potential security threat which posed a risk to employees. While, information regarding the incident is fairly unknown, Defence Forces told The Independent that explosive ordnance disposal teams were deployed just in case anything terrible occurred.

Once the building had been evacuated, employees had to wait outside for over two hours until they received the all clear. Apple eventually confirmed the evacuation and said it was a precautionary measure due to ‘threatening e-mails’ the company received. Thankfully, there was no harm done and the employees have safely returned to work. However, questions still remain about the hoaxer and their motives. Perhaps they just wanted to cause a scene or protest against Apple’s tax avoidance schemes. Whatever the case, it’s a very foolish move and once traced, could end up with a custodial sentence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the person in question is apprehended fairly quickly and brought in for questioning. At least for the employees, they only had to deal with a small inconvenience instead of something quite sinister. The world is on high alert in the midst of terrorist attacks and stupid pranks like this don’t help people to feel safe. This certainly isn’t going to be the last hoax of its kind, but the police and security services have to take each threat very seriously. It will be interesting to see if Apple changes their approach with taxation as more pressure is applied from the media and consumers.

https://twitter.com/JoeLeogue/status/689040331090841600/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Do you think Apple is employing far too many loopholes to avoid paying tax?

Here Is Why Windows 8.1 Gained a Big Lead Over XP and Why It Matters

I know most people who loved Windows XP still stuck with it, even if Microsoft dropped support for it back in April 2014. The people who upgraded went to Windows 7, which now has the majority shares between all OS’. But why does Windows 8.1 need to be in front of XP?

Ok, the main reason XP needs to be something of the past is linked to its legacy security flaws. Since there is no more support, the remaining security issues can be exploited by everyone out there and you are pretty much using something you know you shouldn’t. But still, people are using it and it may pose a high security threat to anyone on the same network as an XP user (not to mention the user himself).

However, statistics show that Windows 8.1 now has a big lead ahead of XP. Statcounter shows that Windows 8.1 is roughly 5% ahead of XP and Netmarketshare shows only a 1.14% increase in usage. The big gap between the two services is due to their methods of analysing different OS’ and browsers out there, but it still shows promise.

While people are adopting real quick the 60.98% market share is still dominated by Windows 7 users. This is a big thing and the reason this matters is that it shows a view of how many people will adopt Windows 10 once it gets released. While we see a lot of XP users moving towards the newest Windows 8.1 release, the same cannot be said for Windows 7 users.

In my opinion, Windows 10 would bring a lot of features and restructure the user interface to something more familiar that is now found in Windows 7. However, the number of users upgrading to Windows 10 will be quite interesting to view as will mark a big turning point. Windows 10 is designed with a lot of new cloud services and business-oriented software in mind, as well as a lot of new and interesting features for the users themselves. The question is, will it be enough to change people’s minds about new software upgrades?

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Google Admits it is Scanning Android Phones For “The Right Reasons”

You may not be shocked that the search engine giant, Google, is scanning every single app on your phone, even if you downloaded it from third-parties and not from the Google Store. But is it really doing it for ‘the right reason’?

Google has confirmed in a security report that it is tracking applications through their Verify Apps feature. This system is said to ensure that Potentially Harmful Applications don’t find their way into your Android phones.

“Google’s systems use machine learning to see patterns and make connections that humans would not,” Google explained. “Google Play analyzes millions of data points, asset nodes, and relationship graphs to build a high-precision security-detection system.”

While Verify Apps has been active for a few years now, Google added the Safety Net feature in 2014, granting it the ability to scan and collect data from all apps on your phone. Google stated that full device scans run once a week and by the end of 2014, over 200 million devices were being scanned every day.

In terms of what is actually being collected from your phone and apps, Google stated that it “only collects data needed to provide and improve device security”. While the company claims it is not collecting sensitive data, should you feel like you do not want to be tracked, you can turn off the feature by navigating to the Settings->Security section and disabling the “Scan device for security threats” feature.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

Anonymous Threatens to Take down BBC If Jeremy Clarkson Isn’t Reinstated

Hackers from the self-proclaimed online activist group Anonymous have threatened to bring down the BBC website unless Jeremy Clarkson is reinstated. Anonymous new operation that reminds us more of a toddler that doesn’t get its way than anything else is dubbed #OpBringBackClarkson and is now in effect.

“Dear BBC, you don’t wanna piss off 300 million people,” said Anonymous. “You are warned: DDOS cannons will fire if you don’t comply. Bring back Clarkson!”

So now we know what the hackers watch when they aren’t using the DDoS tools, Top Gear. Anonymous is a fairly disparate group and they have no centralized leadership, so it might just be a couple rogue elements in the group and not all of them. But the threat is out there and it will be interesting to see how BBC reacts to it.

Data Sharing between Major Video Game Companies and US Government Coming

In the wake of the recent hacks, President Obama is doing his best to increase data sharing between all major companies and the federal government. He is doing this using the controversial new Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act.

As sighted by an email fact sheet from the White House, the president issued a cybersecurity executive order that creates new framework for “expanded information sharing designed to help companies work together and work with the federal government, to quickly identify and protect against cyber threats.” Many politicians took a much stronger stance toward cybersecurity after the Sony hack last year, and led Obama to spend much of the last two months focusing on the importance of expanded cooperation between government and private companies.

Some leading names in companies who are on board for this change include Apple, Intel, Bank of America, US Bank, Pacific Gas & Electric, AIG, QVC, Walgreens, and Kaiser Permanente. According to the White House, they all use a new cybersecurity framework that could facilitate future data sharing, but doesn’t fully do so now.

Operating separate of the government, some companies are already signing up for full data sharing, including those that are part of the Cyber Threat Alliance, which includes Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, Intel Security, and Fortinet. Sony and Microsoft’s video game divisions, as well as many other major game developers have formed the Entertainment Software Association. Rounding out some other companies that are out there offering cybersecurity services are Crowdstrike, Box, and FireEye.

One hindrance to all this coming to fruition, is that CISPA has been passed by the House of Representatives twice, but died in the Senate due to severe privacy concerns. Once fully passed, CISPA will allow for the creation of “information sharing and analysis organizations” to be made up of one or more companies working under the newly created National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to funnel information to the Department of Homeland Security. Oddly though, this new executive order is not CISPA.

Not to create confusion, but this isn’t Obama circumventing Congress to enable all this to happen. He himself doesn’t have the power to give companies “immunity clause”, a liability protection, which is a major factor in CISPA. Basically, it gives companies the ability to remove all non-pertinent identifying information from what they share, all while granting legal immunity should they fail to do this, thus not holding them accountable when it does happen. This explains how the new cybersecurity frame-work intends to work under Obama’s clause.

Another big difference between the executive order and CISPA itself, is that the order shares information with DHS, a civil organization, rather than the NSA, a military organization. That fact has been used by experts in trying to reduce CISPA’s impact in the past.

Despite the support of some big name partners, Obama’s new framework also has strong opposition from various powerful sectors that are less agreeable to the idea. At an event held in Palo Alto where Obama announced the project, which was attended by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Bloomberg Business reported that Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, and Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt declined their invitations. Instead they sent other employees to do some further reconnaissance. This suggested that those companies “are trying to assure their users or customers that their products are secure and that they don’t willingly turn over data to the government” per Bloomberg.

Until CISPA and any other such acts pass through Congress, full information sharing doesn’t seem likely yet, but it has become a major focus for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to gain more access to private information.

Source: Vice

 

Disneyland and Walt Disney World Become No-Fly Zones

Ever wondered why there aren’t many aerial photos of Disney’s theme parks around? Gizmodo has just complied information that they’ve become highly protected no-fly zones quite some time ago. These prohibited air spaces are said to come around for other reasons than general terror threat.

Flash back to 2003, Disney had successfully talked Congress into declaring the airspace around its theme parks as a no-fly zone. This reportedly came at a good time due to Congress passing big spending bills all centered around the war in Iraq, meaning Disney were able to sneak in their bill which had been on the table for a long time. The space in question actually includes a three mile radius around Disneyland and Walt Disney World, not just the buildings themselves.

According to reports, the main reason they wanted this passed wasn’t due to threat of bombing, photography or bird poop – it’s due to aerial advertisements. We further learned that other theme parks don’t get no-fly zone privileges, even if a terror thread is possible. A Disney spokeswoman, Leslie Goodman, announced at the time of the bill passing:

 “The sole and exclusive motivation for seeking these restrictions is for the safety and enjoyment of our guests”

She went on to explain that this restriction was targeted at things such as “banner ads from trial lawyers” and pilots “buzzing the parks.”

Due to this ruling, there was over 100 aerial advertising companies that were effectively shut down from operations, seeing them lose business until breaking point. However, you’re not plastered with advertisements while you’re trying to enjoy your triple priced hot dog and find your lost third son in the crowd.

Image courtesy of Travel Channel

Security Experts Call for Government Action against Cyber Threats

Alarmed by the ever rising amount of cyber attacks around the world and industry, more and more security experts see aggressive government action as the best hope to avoid a disaster.

A lot of the experts are still outraged by the extend of U.S internet-spying exposed by Edward Snowden, but they are even more concerned about enemies with the same capabilities; Sabotage, data wipes and theft of defence and trade secrets. These threats and fears were the core subject at this years Black Hat security convention.

Dan Geer held the keynote speech and went straight for national and global policy issues. He said the U.S. government should require detailed reporting on major cyber breaches, much in the same way it’s done with deadly diseases. Critical industries such as banks should be stress tested to see if they can handle it.

“We’re so day-to-day that we forget we’re a piece of a bigger system, and that system is on the edge of breaking down.”, said Blackhat founder Jeff Moss

Speaking on his own behalf, Geer also called for exposing software vendors to product liability suits if they do not share their source code with customers and bugs in their programs lead to significant losses from intrusion or sabotage. “Either software houses deliver quality and back it up with product liability, or they will have to let their users protect themselves”.

In an interview after the keynote speech, Geer said that he hadn’t seen any encouraging signs from the White House or members of Congress, but the alternative would be waiting until the next major event. He added that he hoped it wouldn’t be a catastrophic event.

Chris Inglis, who retired this year as deputy director of the NSA, said “disaster could be creeping instead of sudden, as broad swaths of data become unreliable.” “Some of Geer’s ideas, including product liability, deserved broader discussion, doing nothing at all is a worse answer”.

Some said more disclosures about cyber attacks could allow insurance companies to set reasonable prices. The cost of cyber insurance varies, but $1 million in yearly protection might cost$25,000. The demand for cyber insurance has increased a lot following the high-profile data breaches such as Target or eBay, but the insurance agencies say they need more data for to calculate the rates.

With the new ideas presented by Geer and his colleagues, the government wouldn’t gain more control of the Internet itself. The root of the problem is with the ever rising number of severe flaws in software, that allow hackers to break in at will.

Geer said the United States should try to corner the market for software flaws and outspend other countries to stop the cyber arms race. The government should then work to fix the flaws instead of hoarding them for offensive attacks.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Blackhat.

Up to 90% of the Worlds Smartphones at Risk

Not one, but two new security threats have been revealed by researchers this week putting as many as 90 percent of the worlds smartphones at the risk of data and password theft. In some cases the hackers could even take full control of your device.

The first flaw was found by Accuvant, a Denver-based company, and said to affects Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, among others. By having implemented what they call “an obscure industry standard” that controls how everything from network connections to user identities are managed, everything is at risk.

The threat could enable attackers to remotely wipe devices, install malicious software, access data and run applications on smartphones, Mathew Solnik, a mobile researcher with Denver-based cyber security firm Accuvant, said in a phone interview with Reuters.

The second threat was found by researchers at Bluebox Security of San Francisco. It specifically affects devices running older Android software, up to three-quarters of them. The researchers have dubbed it the “Fake ID” vulnerability because it allows malicious applications to play a trick on trusted software signatures without any user notification.

“Essentially anything that relies on verified signature chains of an Android application is undermined by this vulnerability,” Bluebox said in a statement referring to devices built before Google updated its core software late last year.

Both research groups will present their findings during next week’s Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas. Accuvant stressed in a comment that the flaw they had discovered in the management software remained remote to most people. Only a few experts world wide would know how to do it.

An Apple spokesmen declined immediate comment while a Blackberry representative said they were already working closely with Accuvant and were seeking more details.

Google declined to comment on the vulnerability discovered by Accuvant, but they had quickly distributed a patch to Android phone makers on learning of the issue from Bluebox. They also said they scanned the entire Android Marketplace and found no risk to users.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of XL-comms

The FCC Receives Almost 650,000 Comments Regarding Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission is apparently hoping to roll out a new law that would deny Internet Service Providers to allow prioritized traffic for companies who could afford to pay a large amount of money for the privileges.

Having the ISPs able to decide which site is granted more traffic will make the Internet a not-so-free space where users will get flooded with traffic they do not want and wait huge amounts of time for their websites to load with what traffic is left from the ISP. It is said that companies such as Netflix, ESPN and even Disney will lose, along with startup companies as well as internet users themselves.

Though this is currently not the case, it is a glimpse of what is to be expected in the future if nothing is done. It might seem that nobody cares, but the FCC tends to disagree, along with the 647,000 people out there who already sent their comments to the organization.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpbOEoRrHyU[/youtube]

“We’ve received about 647k #netneutrality comments so far. Keep your input coming — 1st round of comments wraps up July 15.” tweeted Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC.

On July the 15th, the FCC is said to enter the “reply” phase, having the first batch of comments becoming public and accessible by anyone on the Internet, as well as having to grant internet users the ability to express their support and disagreement on this matter even further.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information
Video courtesy of TechCrunch

Microsoft Launches Security and Threat Information Sharing Platform Named Interflow

Microsoft plans on providing new and more efficient ways for security professionals to effectively and swiftly respond to potential threats. This is why the company has just launched the closed preview of a platform named Interflow, designed with cybersecurity in mind.

The platform is said to have been announced in a Microsoft blog post, having stated that it is a product of collaboration with the Microsoft Active Protections Platform. Interflow is designed to “take industry specifications to create an automated feed of machine-readable threat information that can be shared across industries and groups”. Also, Microsoft has stated that users decide which information or feeds are shared with the communities and even which community is required to be established.

Up until now, Microsoft has been testing the platform internally having its own security teams assessing the threats. However, Microsoft states that the platform is available to other companies as well who desire to test and even participate in improving it. The company has also stated that it plans on making Interflow available to all MAPP groups in the future.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3CPn-t94gg[/youtube]

In terms of specifications, Microsoft said that Interflow supports a number of open specifications, such as STIX (Structured Threat Information eXpression), TAXII (Trusted Automated eXchange of Indicator Information), as well as CybOX (Cyber Observable eXpression). Given the latter, the platform should integrate with existing systems and avoid potential data locking.

Given that threats and cyber attacks are increasing in number, security is becoming every company’s main priority and being able to respond to cyber attacks at the same time they occur is the best solution in order to have a greater chance of successfully protecting the company network and systems.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information
Video courtesy of Microsoft TechNet