Tag Archives: cybercrime

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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Ransomware: Another Reason for Back-Ups

Among the many kinds of wicked online traps that users must beware, one of the most vicious kinds is called “ransomware“. This is a generic term for a type of malicious software that encrypts all or the most useful of the victim’s files, making it impossible to open or do anything until a ransom is paid to the cybercrooks. As in many kidnapping cases, their demands can greatly escalate if not paid quickly. But even if the ransom is paid, the victim very often does not get what was taken back. Fortunately, this last summer, a particular nasty specimen called CryptoLocker was finally broken open by two Internet security firms, FireEye in California, and Fox-IT in the Netherlands. Once they recovered the encryption keys, they put up a free site, decryptcryptolocker.com, to help victims get their precious files back. The details of how they were able to do this are sketchy, but the opportunity apparently arose after an international effort by law enforcement agencies, Operation Tovar, successfully took down the GameoverZeus botnet. Since then other tools and policies to avoid infection have been developed. CryptoLocker is usually spread by email attachments but can also be spread through by malicious websites exploiting outdated browser plug-ins. More information about how it works can be found here. Though the malware itself is surprisingly easy to remove, decrypting files is not so easy. Thus the tools. There is, however, an easier way of dealing … Continue reading

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