Tag: cyber security

2018’s worst cyber-security breaches

By Lily Hay Newman for Wired 

Looking back at the first six months of 2018, there haven’t been as many government leaks and global ransomware attacks as there were by this time last year, but that’s pretty much where the good news ends. Corporate security isn’t getting better fast enough, critical infrastructure security hangs in the balance, and state-backed hackers from around the world are getting bolder and more sophisticated.

Here are the big digital security dramas that have played out so far this year—and it’s only half over.

Russian grid hacking
In 2017, security researchers sounded the alarm about Russian hackers infiltrating and probing United States power companies; there was even evidence that the actors had direct access to an American utility’s control systems. Combined with other high-profile Russian hacking from 2017, like the NotPetya ransomware attacks, the grid penetrations were a sobering revelation. It wasn’t until this year, though, that the US government began publicly acknowledging the Russian state’s involvement in these actions. Officials hinted at it for months, before the Trump Administration first publicly attributed the NotPetya malware to Russia in February and then blamed Russia in March for grid hacking. Though these attributions were already widely assumed, the White House’s public acknowledgement is a key step as both the government and private sector grapple with how to respond. And while the state-sponsored hacking field is getting scarier by the day, you can use WIRED’s grid-hacking guide to gauge when you should really freak out.

US universities
In March, the Department of Justice indicted nine Iranian hackers over an alleged spree of attacks on more than 300 universities in the United States and abroad. The suspects are charged with infiltrating 144 US universities, 176 universities in 21 other countries, 47 private companies, and other targets like the United Nations, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the states of Hawaii and Indiana. The DOJ says the hackers stole 31 terabytes of data, estimated to be worth $3 billion in intellectual property. The attacks used carefully crafted spearphishing emails to trick professors and other university affiliates into clicking on malicious links and entering their network login credentials. Of 100,000 accounts hackers targeted, they were able to gain credentials for about 8,000, with 3,768 of those at US institutions. The DOJ says the campaign traces back to a Tehran-based hacker clearinghouse called the Mabna Institute, which was founded around 2013. The organization allegedly managed hackers and had ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Tension between Iran and the US often spills into the digital sphere, and the situation has been in a particularly delicate phase recently.

Rampant data exposures
Data breaches have continued apace in 2018, but their quiet cousin, data exposure, has been prominent this year as well. A data exposure, as the name suggests, is when data is stored and defended improperly such that it is exposed on the open internet and could be easily accessed by anyone who comes across it. This often occurs when cloud users misconfigure a database or other storage mechanism so it requires minimal or no authentication to access. This was the case with the marketing and data aggregation firm Exactis, which left about 340 million records exposed on a publicly accessible server. The trove didn’t include Social Security numbers or credit card numbers, but it did comprise 2 terabytes of very personal information about hundreds of millions of US adults—not something you want hanging out for anyone to find. The problem was discovered by security researcher Vinny Troia and reported by WIRED in June. Exactis has since protected the data, but it is now facing a class action lawsuit over the incident.

Cloud leaks pop up regularly, but data exposures can also occur when software bugs inadvertently store data in a different format or location than intended. For example, Twitter disclosed at the beginning of May that it had been unintentionally storing some user passwords unprotected in plaintext in an internal log. The company fixed the problem as soon as it found it, but wouldn’t say how long the passwords were hanging out there.

After the revelation of a data exposure, organizations often offer the classic reassurance that there is no evidence that the data was accessed improperly. And while companies can genuinely come to this conclusion based on reviewing access logs and other indicators, the most sinister thing about data exposures is that there’s no way to know for sure what exactly went down while no one was watching.

Under Armour
Hackers breached Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app in late February, compromising usernames, email addresses, and passwords from the app’s roughly 150 million users. The company discovered the intrusion on March 25 and disclosed it in under a week—some welcome hustle from a large company. And it seems Under Armour had done a good enough job setting up its data protections that the hackers couldn’t access valuable user information like location, credit card numbers, or birth dates, even as they were swimming in login credentials. The company had even protected the passwords it was storing by hashing them, or converting them into unintelligible strings of characters. Pretty great, right? There was one crucial issue, though: Despite doing so many things well, Under Armour admitted that it had only hashed some of the passwords using the robust function called bcrypt; the rest were protected by a weaker hashing scheme called SHA-1, which has known flaws. This means that attackers likely cracked some portion of the stolen passwords without much trouble to sell or use in other online scams. The situation, while not an all-time-worst data breach, was a frustrating reminder of the unreliable state of security on corporate networks.

One to watch: VPNFilter
At the end of May, officials warned about a Russian hacking campaign that has impacted more than 500,000 routers worldwide. The attack spreads a type of malware, known as VPNFilter, which can be used to coordinate the infected devices to create a massive botnet. But it can also directly spy on and manipulate web activity on the compromised routers. These capabilities can be used for diverse purposes, from launching network manipulation or spam campaigns to stealing data and crafting targeted, localized attacks. VPNFilter can infect dozens of mainstream router models from companies like Netgear, TP-Link, Linksys, ASUS, D-Link, and Huawei. The FBI has been working to neutrallise the botnet, but researchers are still identifying the full scope and range of this attack.

Nedbank, Telkom, Discovery and Investec are among top South African listed companies with the most exposure to cybersecurity risks.

This is according to a new research report from the Cyber Intelligence Research Group, the results of which are being released on Monday at CyberCon, a cybersecurity conference in Johannesburg.

The Cyber Exposure Index (CEI) was launched in Singapore earlier this month. Over the next few months, indices for eleven major global stock exchanges outside of the US will be released. Following the release of the Singaporean and Finnish indices, the South African index is the third to be published.

In the ICT sector, those scoring a 4 included Telkom, MTN and EOH. Mix Telematics, Vodacom, Huge Group, Mustek, Adapt IT, Blue Label Telecoms and Naspers all scored 3
The CEI scores listed companies on their levels of exposure. South African companies received an average exposure rating of 1.9.

The index aggregates data that is publicly available through the dark and deep Web, or as the result of third-party data breaches. This data is used to identify top listed companies’ vulnerability to hacker group activity, disclosed sensitive information and leaked credentials.

Companies are then scored from 0-5, where 0 indicates no exposure and 5 places a company among the 1% of firms with the most exposure.

While no South African company scored a 5, many household names — from Sasol to Liberty Holdings and from Woolworths to Anglo American — scored a 4.

ICT sector

In the ICT sector, those scoring a 4 included Telkom, MTN and EOH. Mix Telematics, Vodacom, Huge Group, Mustek, Adapt IT, Blue Label Telecoms and Naspers all scored 3. ICT companies scoring at the other end of the scale, with 0, included Alviva Holdings (formerly Pinnacle Holdings) and Labat Africa.

Telecommunications companies have among the highest levels of exposure in South Africa at 13.1%, compared to the global average of 2.4%, according to the researchers.

 

 

South Africa’s global relative cyber exposure by industry, according the Cyber Exposure Index

South African companies have received an average exposure rating of 1.9 in the debut results of the Cyber Exposure Index
The company responsible for the index, Kinkayo, is a Singapore-based cyber intelligence organisation founded by professionals in the cybersecurity field.

The CEI has been developed as a way for companies to gauge their cyber exposure, empower them with the opportunity to identify where their vulnerabilities lie and take decisive action against their risks, it said.

Download the full list here.

Source: Tech Central 

Have you been breached?

It seems like there is a new data breach every other day, causing companies untold embarrassment and reputational damage when customers’ private details are leaked.

A new Web site called www.haveibeenpwned.com allows you to see if your details have been compromised by a data breach.

Simply click on the link, enter your email address and click the pwnd? button to find out if you’re a victim.

Major data breaches

Some high profile leaks in the last while include:

  1. RNC (2017)
    A misconfigured database containing the sensitive personal details of over 198-million American voters was left exposed to the internet by a firm working on behalf of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in their efforts to elect Donald Trump.
  2. Zomato (2017)
    Zomato, which provides users with an online guide to restaurants, cafes and clubs, reported that data from 17-million users had been stolen, including email addresses and hashed passwords.
  3. NHS (2017)
    The recent WannaCry ransomware infected 47 NHS England Trusts and hundreds of companies across the world.
  4. ‘Eddie’ breach (ongoing)
    Security researchers at the Kromtech Security Research Center discovered a massive database of 560-million login credentials which is believed to come from up to 10 popular online services such as LinkedIn and Dropbox, obtained during previous data breaches.
  5. Wonga (2017)
    Payday loan company Wonga has fallen victim to a large data breach that could have hit as many as 245,000 of its customers including bank account numbers and sort codes.
  6. Tesco Bank (2016)
    Late last year, Tesco Bank, the consumer finance wing of the British supermarket giant, froze its online operations – after as many as 20 000 customers had money stolen from their accounts.
  7. Sage (2016)
    As a FTSE-100 firm, the apparent insider attack admitted by accounting and HR software firm Sage could turn out to be one of the most important in UK data breach history if its scale is confirmed.
  8. Ashley Madison (2015)
    In July 2015, a group calling itself “The Impact Team” stole the user data of Ashley Madison, a commercial website billed as enabling extramarital affairs. The group leaked more than 25 gigabytes of company data, including user details.
  9. Mumsnet (2014)
    A direct victim of the infamous and widespread Heartbleed SSL software flaw, the compromise allowed hackers to access anything up to 1,5-million user accounts on the hugely popular site, its owners revealed.
  10. Yahoo (2013, 2014)
    It seems hard to pin down just one data breach spawning from Yahoo’s 22 years in business. Last year appeared to unearth a mammoth lack of security on Yahoo’s part with reports uncovering a breach affecting over 500-million Yahoo user accounts during 2014.
  11. Sony PlayStation Network (2011)
    The largest data breach in history at the time, Sony’s disastrous 2011 breach saw hackers make off with the customer records of 77-million people relating to its PlayStation Network, including a small number revealing credit card numbers.

Sources: www.techworld.com; wikipedia; www.haveibeenpwnd.com

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