information security

North Korea Hackers Hit US Companies

October 14th, 2017

FireEye researchers recently mentioned that spear phishing emails were sent to U.S. electric companies which can be traced back to North Korea.

The emails contained fake invitations to a fundraiser. Anyone who opened attachment will get malware.

The researchers mentioned that the attack is early-stage reconnaissance.

“Nation-states often conduct cyber espionage operations to gather intelligence and prepare for contingencies, especially at times of high tension,” the researchers wrote.

Two years ago North Korean hackers has released sensitive data on South Korean nuclear power plants.

Researchers mentioned that North Korea linked hackers are bold and “likely remain committed to pursuing targets in the energy sector, especially in South Korea and among the U.S. and its allies, as a means of deterring potential war or sowing disorder during a time of armed conflict.”

“North Korea linked hackers are among the most profilic nation-state threats, targeting not only the U.S. and South Korea but the global financial system and nations worldwide,” the researchers wrote. “Their motivations vary from economic enrichment to traditional espionage to sabotage, but all share the hallmark of an ascendant cyber power willing to violate international norms with little regard for potential blowback.”

Eddie Habibi, CEO of PAS Global mentioned that with the growing tension between US and North Korea the frequency of the attack will rise.

And while critical infrastructure is as prepared as it has ever been for phishing attacks, Habibi said, it’s not well prepared for the consequences of attacks that provide the attackers with “access to the process control networks where you find systems that control volatile processes or ensure worker safety.”

“These systems are often 15 or 20 years old and consequently do not adhere to today’s secure by design principles,” Habibi said. “They are also not visible to security personnel, which makes detecting and reacting sufficiently to compromise difficult at best. Exploiting these systems can lead to loss of production, shareholder value, and even life under certain circumstances.”

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North Korean Hackers

October 11th, 2017

South Korean ruling party lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee said that North Korean hackers have stole 235 GB of data from South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center which includes operational plans created by Seoul and Washington for all-out war with North Korea.

The data includes plans for “decapitating” the North Korean leadership if war breaks out. It also includes contingency plan.

“The Ministry of National Defense has yet to find out about the content of 182 GB of the total [stolen] data,” he said.

As per the Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning, all key information remains secure. “I can assure you that we are confident in the security of our operations plans and our ability to deal with any threat from North Korea,” he said.

“We’ll continue to work closely with our partners in the international community in identifying, tracking and countering any cyber threats,” Manning added.

As per the AlienVault threat engineer Chris Doman, hacker group responsible for the attacks is possibly a subgroup of the attackers behind WannaCry, the Sony breach, and the SWIFT hacks. “They are very active, and I continue to see new malware samples from them every week,” he said.

“In Ukraine, the number of cyber attacks, and their level of sophistication, rose with fighting on the ground,” Comodo senior research scientist Kenneth Geers said. “The threat of sudden decapitation via cyber and traditional strikes may force Kim Jong-un into making desperate moves.”

“Cyber is more unpredictable than traditional weaponry, because you may lose control of your assets before you know it,” Geers added. “Given that the risk is international nuclear war, there are no limits on what both sides might do in cyberspace to prepare the battlespace, in an effort to improve the prospects of victory for their side.”

Geers also mentioned that North Korean hackers may plan sabotage operations in case of war. “It is possible that North Korea might receive cyber help from Russia and/or China, who may perceive an interest in undermining U.S. geopolitical goals, as well as testing national cyber capabilities,” he said.

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AlertSec ACCESS is a patent pending technology designed to check that devices are encrypted before access to a network is granted. Encrypted devices secure your data even if they are lost or stolen.

Oracle CEO Promises Autonomous Security Technology

October 2nd, 2017

Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison mentioned Equifax mistakes while mentioning that new Oracle technology would help to prevent Oracle customers from the data breach.

Due to vulnerability in the Apache Struts framework, there was data breach which exposed personally identifiable information on 143 million Americans.

“The biggest threat by far in cybersecurity is data theft,” Ellison said. “Preventing data theft is all about securing your data.”

As per the Oracle CEO, Oracle database is the safest database. Its new Oracle 18c database has autonomous capabilities. It has auto-tuning as well as automatic patching capabilities.

Ellison plans on announcing a new cyber-security service.

“You have to know when you’re being attacked and as they come in and you better detect that during reconnaissance phase,” Ellison said. “The attacker’s goal is to take your data and send it someplace else.”

The new system will automatically detect threats when they first appear. It will immediate defend and remediate against the detected problem.

He also mentioned that automated patching is key to the cyber defense.

“We have to automate our cyber-defences and you have to be able to defend yourself without taking your systems offline or shutting down your database,” Ellison said.

The new system makes use of machine learning and has the same underlying technology foundation as the Oracle 18c database.

“No human error means no opportunities for human malicious behaviour,” Ellison said.

“After your database’s been notified by your security system it has to be able to patch itself immediately while running,” he explained.

“There was a patch available for Equifax [but] somebody didn’t apply it. It’s a clean sweep; directors aren’t safe, nobody’s safe when something like that happens. People are going to get better at stealing data and we have to get a lot better at protecting it.”

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New Anti-Malware Engine by BullGuard

September 30th, 2017

London cybersecurity software provider BullGuard launched new anti-malware engine to detect and block advanced threats.

“The new engine is specifically designed to protect against zero-day threats or threats, such as polymorphic malware and file-less attacks, for which traditional signature-based engines are insufficient. The engine monitors a wide array of behaviours across the device and utilizes a comprehensive set of rules to discriminate bad behaviour from good,” explained Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard.

“The client-side engine is supported by a cloud-based machine learning system that continually learns from data across our customer base, and from our automated malware research systems, so the ruleset and engine functionality improve on an on-going basis,” continued Lipman.

The company is further branching out from its consumer antivirus roots with a real-time Home Network Scanner feature in BullGuard Premium Protection that continually scans a home’s Wi-Fi networks for internal threats. It also enlists the cloud to scan home networks using external vectors, a similar tactic to that used by security professionals to perform penetration testing.

Home Network Scanner finds cybersecurity problems. There is a rise in the attack on IoT devices.

“Earlier this year BullGuard released an IoT scanner that checks whether your home network is accessible from the open internet. We found that approximately five percent of people using our scanner had open ports that could potentially be compromised by attackers,” revealed Lipman.

“Consumer routers are notoriously hackable, as we’ve seen this year in multiple news stories (most notably the Wikileaks revelation about how the CIA has been pwning consumer routers for over a decade),” he added. “The new home network scanner offered in BullGuard Premium Protection takes this scanning to the next level, utilizing a deeper scan from multiple locations in the cloud, and coupling this with internal network scanning capabilities to ensure that our customers are immediately aware of potential vulnerabilities.”

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The Alertsec service protects everything stored on the computer such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Gmail, Photos, Credit Card data files etc.

APT33 Attacks US companies

September 29th, 2017

As per the FireEye researchers, Iranian government hacking group is using phishing attacks to target companies in the U.S., Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The group is named as APT33.

In the past year,  the group is able to access to many U.S. organization in the energy sector. It also targeted refining and petrochemicals in South Korean and aviation business in Saudi Arabia.

“We assess the targeting of multiple companies with aviation-related partnerships to Saudi Arabia indicates that APT33 may possibly be looking to gain insights on Saudi Arabia’s military aviation capabilities to enhance Iran’s domestic aviation capabilities or to support Iran’s military and strategic decision-making vis a vis Saudi Arabia,” the researchers wrote.

“Iran has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to globally leverage its cyber espionage capabilities,” FireEye director of intelligence analysis John Hultquist said in a statement. “Its aggressive use of this tool, combined with shifting geopolitics, underscore the danger that APT33 poses to governments and commercial interests in the Middle East and throughout the world.”

STEALTHbits Technologies CTO Jonathan Sander told eSecurity Planet that this is changing the face of cyber attacks.”When a cyber attack occurs, most still envision some young man in a hoodie or loner in a basement,” he said. “However, most of the bad guys today are professionals working for governments, organized crime, or even private [firms] in countries with lax laws that let cybercrime be a middle-class profession.”

“Organizations tend to focus defense on attacks that would exfiltrate data,” he said. “Many use the common notion that we’ve all been penetrated already as an excuse to only worry about defending against the last stage of most attacks where that data is stolen. When the motivation is destruction, though, the part where the data leaves never happens, and the trap is never sprung.”

Virsec Systems co-founder and COO Ray DeMeo mentioned there is no surprise in such groups. “We’ve seen clear evidence for some time that nation-state funded groups are using systematic, methodical, and innovative techniques to find weaknesses in networks and critical infrastructure systems,” he said.

“Expect ongoing cyber warfare to be the new normal, and it’s critical that all organizations take security much more seriously, improve their detection and protection capabilities, and train all employees to protect their credentials against theft,” DeMeo added.

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Deloitte Firm Data Breach

September 26th, 2017

Deloitte firm suffered data breach when it was hit last year by a cyber attack. The incident affected confidential emails and plans of at least six of its clients. Firm mentioned that attack was privileged, unrestricted ‘access to all areas.

Affected information also included usernames, passwords, IP addresses, architectural diagrams for businesses and health information.

As per the statement “In response to a cyber incident, Deloitte implemented its comprehensive security protocol and began an intensive and thorough review including mobilizing a team of cybersecurity and confidentiality experts inside and outside of Deloitte.”

“As part of the review, Deloitte has been in contact with the very few clients impacted and notified governmental authorities and regulators,” the company added.

As per the source, the exact duration was not known to the company.

“I think it’s unfortunate how we have handled this and swept it under the rug,” the source told Krebs. “It wasn’t a few emails like reported. They accessed the entire email database and all admin accounts. But we never notified our advisory clients or our cyber Intel clients.”

Raytheon chief strategy officer for cyber services Josh Douglas mentioned that data was not protected properly. “Two-factor authentication … is a basic part of cyber hygiene, and while it might not have prevented the intrusion altogether, it would have at least slowed the attackers and forced them to use more sophisticated methods,” he said.

He added that 2FA alone isn’t enough. “Organizations need to hunt threats to their network proactively and adopt an incident response plan that prevents or limits the exfiltration of sensitive data,” he said. “Comprehensive cybersecurity is especially important in the era of cloud computing, where companies are storing sensitive data remotely. As we tell our clients, cloud computing puts your information on someone else’s computer — so it’s vital to protect the cloud exactly as you would your own servers.”

“Some key elements to such a strategy are an optimally deployed and tuned SIEM platform leveraging machine learning, a combination of internal and external expertise actively engaged in analysis, and the use of deception technology to identify active attackers and suspicious behavior,” Netsurion CISO John Christly said.

VASCO Data Security CMO John Gunn mentioned growing trends among hacker to attack other confidential. ”This was first evidenced by the successful attack on newswire services that yielded hackers more than $100 million of insider trading profits, and more recently with the successful breach of the SEC for confidential information on publicly traded companies,” he said.

“Firms such as Deloitte that have troves of sensitive, non-public information that could be used for illegal trading activity will find themselves increasingly in the cross-hairs of sophisticated hacking organizations,” Gunn added.

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Superfish Privacy Claims Settled by Lenovo

September 24th, 2017

PC vendor Lenovo admitted that adware is known as ‘Superfish’ was pre-installed on their system. These PCs were sold in the U.S. Now, Lenovo and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of 32 state attorneys have settled the case. The FTC claimed that Superfish Adware was violating consumer privacy and filed the legal complaint in 2014.

“Lenovo compromised consumers’ privacy when it pre-loaded software that could access consumers’ sensitive information without adequate notice or consent to its use,” Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen said in a statement. “This conduct is even more serious because the software compromised online security protections that consumers rely on.”

Earlier Lenovo denied the claim and added that there is no evidence to say that systems have security concerns. In early 2015, company changing it stance admitted that the adware has security risks.

The main issue with Superfish is that it installed a security certificate which allowed – ‘it work as a man-in-the-middle (MiTM) and intercept traffic between the user and the intended location’.

“To date, we are not aware of any actual instances of a third-party exploiting the vulnerabilities to gain access to a user’s communications,” Lenovo stated. “Subsequent to this incident, Lenovo introduced both a policy to limit the amount of pre-installed software it loads on its PCs and comprehensive security and privacy review processes, actions which are largely consistent with the actions we agreed to take in the settlements announced today. “

As per the settlement between two parties, Lenovo mentioned that it will stop misrepresenting preloaded software. It also agreed to implement a comprehensive security program for next 20 years. The program is subject to third-party audit.

Lenovo has agreed to security risks but remains firm that there is no violation of privacy of customers.

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Cybrary raises Series A Funding

September 22nd, 2017

Cybrary raised $3.5 million in a Series A round of funding led by Arthur Ventures. Tenable Network Security’s founder, Ron Gula also got involved in a new round.

The Greenbelt, Md. provider of cybersecurity training services is planning to use the funds for content catalogue and grow its online learning and testing technology platform. Millions of people till date has acquired knowledge of cyber security on the Cybrary.

The offerings include web application penetration testing, Metasploit penetration testing software and ethical hacking.

There is growing number of data breaches which is amplified due to lack of skilled security experts. Last week Equifax disclosed a data breach which affected names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, birthdates and social security numbers—valuable personal identifiable information that can facilitate identity theft.

“Beyond addressing core cybersecurity and IT skills, the material available on Cybrary focuses in on specialized areas that are lacking across industries such as incident response, technical project management, malware analysis, and penetration testing,” said Ralph Sita, co-Founder and CEO.

“Cybrary brings together people, companies, content, and technology to create an ever-growing catalogue of online courses and experiential learning tools that provide IT and cyber security learning opportunities to anyone, anytime, anywhere, continued Sita.

“With free video courses, the platform works to bridge the skills gap by providing access to tools professionals need to be competent and confident,” he said. “The open-source model fosters this ecosystem of information sharing in order to create a frictionless environment where those professionals can learn at their own pace and assess their skills while interacting with the community of over 1.2 million users.”

There is more to the offerings.

“Cybrary’s course catalogue will be the world’s largest portfolio of courses and tutorials covering unique products, industry best practices, skills-based certifications, career-based learning paths, and more. We’ve seen a huge demand for topics like data science, secure coding, enterprise risk assessment, and software development,” said Sita. “Be on the lookout for those additions in the near future.”

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by Check Point and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.

Kaspersky Software Banned in U.S. Government

September 19th, 2017

U.S. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke issued a directive to Departments and agencies to stop using Kaspersky software in stipulated timeline citing security risks.

As per the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “based on the information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky products on federal information systems,” particularly since Kaspersky products generally provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which they’re installed.

“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks,” the DHS mentioned. 

“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security,” the DHS added.

Kapsersky replied that it has no inappropriate ties with any government, and said the DHS allegations regarding ties to Russian intelligence and other agencies are “completely unfounded.”

“Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it’s disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues,” Kaspersky said. “The company looks forward to working with DHS, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will substantiate that these allegations are without merit.”

Christopher Krebs, a senior DHS official asked Kaspersky to prove in 90 days that it do not possess any risk. “We’ve determined that [the software] poses an unacceptable amount of risk based on our assessment,” he said. “If they want to provide additional information or mitigation strategies, our door is open.”

Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky mentioned, “When they say we have strong ties with Russian espionage it’s not true.”

“We cooperate with many law enforcement agencies around the world — in the past with the U.S. as well,” Kaspersky added.

“U.S. government officials are pressuring software companies to implement encryption backdoors because they think it will help them catch potential terrorists,” Venafi CEO Jeff Hudson said.

“At the same time, they banned security software from a Russian company for use in the U.S. government because they are concerned about security backdoors,” Hudson added. “They want to have it both ways, which is understandable.”

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Cloud Security Error Affects Half a Million Voters

September 16th, 2017

Kromtech researchers recently found a misconfigured CouchDB database which affected information of 593,328 Alaskan voters.

“When the database was configured, administrators bypassed important security settings that were set to ‘public’ instead of ‘private,’ allowing anyone with an Internet connection to gain access [to] the repository,” Kromtech chief security communications officer Bob Diachenko wrote in a blog post analyzing the breach.

TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier mentioned that the breach was due to the third party. “We’ve learned that Equals3, an AI software company based in Minnesota, appears to have failed to secure some of their data and some data they license from TargetSmart, and that a database approximately 593,000 Alaska voters appears to have been inadvertently exposed, but not accessed by anyone other than the security researchers on our team and the team that identified the exposure,” he said.

Kromtech vice president of strategic alliances Alex Kernishniuk said that system needs to be updated”This is yet another wakeup call for companies, governments, and political organizations to audit their networks, servers and storage devices and ensure they take the proper security precautions,” he said.

Kromtech also discovered another breach where it affected 3,065,805 WWE fans’ personal information and 48,000 Indian citizens’ personal data.

Dome9 co-founder and CEO Zohar Alon told eSecurity Planet by email that it’s more important than ever for companies to define strict controls and practices for the handling of sensitive data.

“Attackers are looking for two things: repositories with data of value to organizations, and weak security practices,” he said.

“As more data makes its way to the public cloud and security practices around CouchDB become more standardized and robust, attackers will shift their attention to other low-hanging fruit, and exploit commonly known security gaps such as misconfigurations,” Alon added.

“With 2017 having already set new records in terms of the magnitude of cyber attacks, boards should be aware that it’s only a matter of time until their organization will be breached since most still lack efficient security shields,” Bitdefender Senior eThreat Analyst Bogdan Botezatu said in a statement.

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Alertsec helps you comply with HIPAA, PCI and SOX requirements. The implemented encryption is powered by Check Point and has the highest security certifications: FIPS 140-2, Common Criteria EAL4 and BITS.