Category Archives: Security

Keeping your safe online

Recent Exploits Bode Ill for the Future

Every week new intrusive exploits by hackers are found across the Internet. Some unsuspecting new institutional victim is revealed to have been penetrated. Lately most have involved major commercial corporations which had personal data stolen, like the recent assault on health insurance provider Anthem. Three exploits that were announced last week took hacking to a new level. Each is breathtaking in scope, immensely sophisticated, and have apparently been around for quite a while before they were discovered. Each one by itself would merit alarm and concern by all thoughtful users, but taken together they signal scary times ahead for the Internet. One was an attack on the banking industry. Found by Moscow-based Kaspersky Labs, this is said to be the biggest and most sophisticated bank heist ever; over $1 billion dollars were taken from over 100 banks in 30 countries. The banks were scattered from Russia to the US, Germany, China, and Ukraine. And the means of attack varied from creating money out of thin air to reprogramming ATMs to spew forth cash – one doing so in Kiev before a gang-employed mule could pick it up was what apparently brought the heist to the attention of the authorities. The hackers apparently wormed their way in through a phishing attack that lured bank executives to booby-trapped webpages where they were infected. Once the hackers were inside the system, they watched the banks’ activities carefully, and mimicked them to remain undetected. … Continue reading

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Anthem Hack: Don’t Panic, Be Vigilant – Update

UPDATE: As of Friday the thirteenth, there have been few new developments save for much sound and fury. Anthem has announced that members and former members data going back 11 years to 2004 is at risk. And they are offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for them. See Anthem Facts for more information. The good news for New Mexicans is that so far it seems that Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico is not directly affected. While local Blue Card members may be at risk (see below), it’s mainly customers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia, and Wisconsin that have been impacted. Also directly hit are Anthem’s subsidiaries, Amerigroup, Anthem and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, Caremore, Unicare and HealthLink. Also, no reports have yet surfaced that this data is being used or sold on the black markets. Further updates will be posted as events warrant.

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Home Comcast Xfinity Routers As Public WiFi Hotspots

ISP giant Comcast has quietly implemented a plan to turn its home Wifi routers into public hotspots. On the surface, it seems like a good idea, as it would allow their customers to get online easily over a much larger area, no longer confined to the environs of coffee shops and airports. But Comcast has embarked on this sweeping effort without offering users anything in return for participating. They did not ask permission or even notify them. Beyond that, the corporation has not made the public hotspot easy to opt out of, or provided any clear, technically useful information on the service, such as addressing security risks or how it might affect the paying customer’s own bandwidth. Perhaps they don’t know, or have other reasons for not doing so – such as many people opting out. Alongside with the home user’s private Wifi spot, the gateways set up a parallel public one for other Comcast customers, called “xfinitywifi“. These customers will be able to log in for free using a smartphone, tablet, or other enabled device. And once they do, they’ll be automatically logged into all others also called “xfinitywifi”. What could go wrong? Potentially, quite a lot, apparently. Comcast apparently began rolling out the service this summer, first testing it in Houston, but it is in effect in other major urban markets by now. So far there’s been little outcry, possibly because Comcast has been very quiet about it. … Continue reading

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