Category Archives: Breach

Security News for the Week Ending February 19, 2021

Parler is Back Online

After being down for a month after getting kicked off Amazon, Parler is back online. Existing accounts can log in now; new accounts can be created next week. They have a new interim CEO after the board fired the last one. It does not appear that old content was moved over to the new platform. Apple and Google have not restored Parler’s apps and there are lawsuits and Congressional investigations, so they are not completely out of the woods yet. It remains to be seen what their content moderation strategy will be. In their notice it says that they don’t moderate and then proceed to talk about all the content moderation they are doing – likely to try and stay out of jail. Credit: MSN

Even Though FBI Complains About Going Dark, they Unlock Phones

While the FBI will never be happy until we return to the 1990s when there was no encryption, apparently, according to court documents, the FBI can get into iPhones after first unlock after power up (which is 99.99% of the time) and even read Signal messages. Likely using tools like GrayKey and Cellebrite they can extract data from many encrypted phones. Credit: Hackread

Certification Labs UL Hit By Ransomware

Underwriters Labs, the safety certification organization – which also has a cybersecurity certification – has apparently been hit by a ransomware attack which caused them to shut down their IT systems. Attempts to connect to the MyUL.Com portal return a ‘can’t reach this page’ error message. They have been down for a week so far and have decided not to pay the ransom. This points to how long it takes to recover from ransomware, even for a big company. Credit: Bleeping Computer

Microsoft Says SolarWinds Hackers Stole Some Source Code

Microsoft is now admitting that the SolarWinds hackers were able to download some of their source code including parts of code for Intune, Exchange and Azure. While not complete code for anything, any code that makes it onto the dark web will make it easier for hackers to figure out how to hack Microsoft users in the future. Credit: ZDNet

John Deere Promised Right to Repair But Didn’t Quite Do That

In 2018 John Deere lobbyists successfully killed a number of state legislative bills that would have allowed farmers to repair their own tractors and heavy equipment. In exchange, Deere pinky-promised to make the software and manuals available in three years. That would be January 1 of this year. Apparently, Deere, while successful at killing the bills, has not lived up to their end of the bargain and some of the state legislators are not terribly happy. Expect at least some states to introduce new “right to repair” bills this year. What is unknown is how broad these bills will be. Will they just allow a farmer to repair his/her tractor or will it also allow iPhone users to also repair their phones? Credit: Vice

Security News for the Week Ending February 12, 2021

Law Firm Goodwin Procter Hacked

Goodwin Procter managing parnter Mark Bettencourt confirmed that some of their clients’ data was compromised. But not to worry; it only affected a small percentage of their clients. One more time, we have a “supply chain attack”. While the vendor was unnamed, I suspect it was Accellion. They suffered a breach that is all over the news due to the high profile targets that suffered a loss. So now a very high profile law firm has to explain to its clients why its security was not good enough to protect their most sensitive data. If you are a client of a law firm, how confident are you that they can protect your data? Credit: ABA Journal

What Does This Mean for Cities?

Salesforce is joining other big tech companies in changing the work-life equation. This week they announced that most staff, after Covid, will only be in the office 1-3 days a week, many workers will never return to the office and a few workers will be in the office 4-5 days a week. This means that work from home security is now permanent, but it also questions the implications for downtown big cities. Salesforce has 9,000 workers in San Francisco. If half of them never come to the office and another 30% come to the office 1-2 days a week, what does this mean for downtown retail and office space? Credit: MSN

State Department Declassifies Report on Cuba’s Sonic Weapon

You may remember reports of Cuba having a secret sonic weapon back in 2017-2018. A newly declassified report by the State Department’s own Accountability Review Board lambasted the department’s response to the attack as lacking leadership, having ineffective communication and being systemically disorganized. There are 104 pages of detail, but none of them paint the previous administration favorably. As a result of the botched investigation we will probably never understand what the weapon was that Cuba attacked us with. Credit: Vice

Ex-Students Plead Guilty to Stealing and Trading Nude Pics and Vids

Two former SUNY Plattsburgh (NY) students pleaded guilty to hacking coeds’ MyPlattsurgh portal accounts and stealing nude pictures and videos. The portal contains full access to the students’ email, cloud storage, college billing, financial aid, coursework, grades and other personal information. They either guessed passwords or guessed security question answers. When the found nude photos and videos, they traded them with others, in some cases identifying the students by name. They even posted some photos online. Credit: The Register

IRS Warns Tax Pros of Identity Thieves Targeting Them

The IRS is warning tax professionals hackers are trying to steal their electronic tax filing credentials so that they can file fake returns and those returns will be tied to those same tax pros. If you are a tax pro and need help, please contact us. Credit: Bleeping Computer

Security News for the Week Ending January 22, 2021

Parler Finds A New Home With Russian Hosting Provider in Belize

“Hello world, is this thing on? With that message Parler’s website is back online. Well at least a one page website is back online. The site is being hosted by Russian-owned DDoS-Guard, a company that apparently also hosts ISIS web sites. Whether the folks who invaded the Capitol earlier this month are going to be willing to post their content on a Russian hosted server is not clear. It is unlikely that their hosting provider would respond to a US subpoena, but whether they would steal the posts for their own purpose is a different question. Credit: Cybernews

Capitol Terrorist Who (Allegedly) Planned to Sell Pelosi’s Laptop to Russian Intelligence Arrested

The amazing amount of video footage from the storming of the Capitol is really making the cops’ lives a lot easier. Riley June Williams, 22, from Pennsylvania, was outed by her former boyfriend. She videoed herself committing the felony and then shared that video. She has now been arrested. She has not been charged with espionage, yet. After the events of January 6th, she changed her phone number, deleted her social media accounts and fled. Her public defender wants her released but the feds say that she is a flight risk. Given she disappeared even before she was charged, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. Credit: WaPo

Parler Data Is Available for Download

If you want to be an amateur detective and you have 70 terabytes or so of free disk space on your computer, you too, can download the data that was scraped from the site during its last few hours of its existence. It is chunked down to 4GB chunks and more of it is being uploaded in real time. This will be examined and reexamined for a long time. Details can be found here.

Malware Bytes Joins Club of Those Hacked by SolarWinds Hacking Team

Malware Bytes joins the long and getting longer list of those folks sucked in by the Solar Winds attackers. In their case, they did not use Solar Winds but were compromised by other techniques used by the Solar Winds attackers. They said the damage was minor and limited to some of their emails. Credit: Cyber News

Trump Pardons Google Engineer Who Stole Self Driving Car Trade Secrets and Took Them to Uber

Anthony Levandowski, the Google Engineer who went to work for Uber’s self driving car division, was pardoned by Trump after being sentenced to 18 months for his theft. I am not sure if the pardon relieves him of the obligation to pay Google the $179 million fine, but it probably does. He took 141,000 files with him and likely advanced Uber’s progress by years. Google settled it’s lawsuit against Waymo in 2018 and paid a multi-hundred-million dollar fine. Curiously, Google is an investor in Uber, so they probably don’t want to hurt them too much. Credit: Cyber News

Breaches Down; Record Count Up

According to Risk Based Security, the NUMBER of breaches reported fell 48% in 2020 compared to 2019, but the number of records exposed was UP by 141% to an amazing 37 BILLION records. We don’t believe that the number of breaches was actually down; likely it is just that a lot of breaches are not being reported. Part of it may be that with other important events like the election and Covid, the media is not covering breaches. In addition, we are seeing some really large breaches. Hacking group Shiny Hunters disclosed 129 million hacked records in just five weeks. Credit: Tech Republic

Security News for the Week Ending January 8, 2021

Britain Says Assange Cannot be Extradited

Julian Assange, a long time thorn in the backside of some folks in the US government, cannot be extradited to the US, a British court says. The court said that while he probably can get a fair trial in the US, the court system in the US is unlikely stop him from committing suicide (a la Jeffrey Epstein, another very high profile prisoner). The US is expected to appeal. Credit: Cybernews

Covid Stimulus Bill and UFOs

The first question is why? and the answer is Congress? Buried deep in the Covid stimulus bill is Intelligence Authorization Act which mandates the Pentagon release a report on its UFO task force report. Stay tuned. Credit: Vice

New York Stock Exchange Changes Mind About Delisting Chinese Stocks

After the NYSE said it was going to delist 3 Chinese telecom stocks because the President said they were tied to the Chinese government/military, they suddenly changed their mind. They said that they made the decision after consulting with their regulators. Not sure what this means in the long term, but it might mean that the DoJ thinks the President is on shaky ground legally in doing that and rather than get sued, they are going to let it play out in the courts. Credit: Cybernews

Right after this happened the exchange got a call from Secretary Mnuchin and, apparently he changed their mind. Again. So now they do plan to delist these stocks. Until they change their mind again. This is really a symbolic move since only about 2% of their shares go though the NYSE. Credit: ZDNet

Hackers Use Fake Trump Scandal Video to Load Malware

Want to see a (purported) Trump sex scandal video? Well ignoring your thoughts on the subject, the email is just click bait. If you fall for the bait and click, the malware will install a Remote Access Trojan or RAT on your computer, allowing the hacker to connect to your computer and rummage through (and steal) all your stuff. They could, in addition, deposit some ransomware when they are done, so no matter how curious you might be, don’t click. Credit: Hacker News

Nissan Seems to Have Lost Control of their Source Code

A car is not only a vehicle these days, but also a computer on wheels. More accurately, probably a hundred computers on wheels, plus a bunch of server software plus some mobile apps plus. You get the idea. So one might expect that you would protect that. Nissan did; with Userid:admin and Password:admin. A bit of a problem and it may even be difficult for Nissan to sue because they didn’t take reasonable care. Credit: SC Magazine

Security News for the Week Ending December 18, 2020

Data from employment firm Automation Personnel Services Leaked

Automation Personnel Services, a provider of temporary employment services, found 440 gigabytes of their data leaked on the dark web. The poster says that it includes payroll, accounting and legal documents.

The data was leaked because the company refused to pay the ransom.

When asked if the data was genuine, the company only said that they are working with forensics firms and are improving their security. Credit: Cybernews

Are Hospitals Protecting Your Data?

The Register is reporting that two thousand servers containing 45 million images of X-rays and other medical scans were left online during the course of the past twelve months, freely accessible by anyone, with no security protections at all.

To make matters worse, apparently hackers had been there before the researchers and left all kinds of malware behind. Will anyone get in trouble over this? Probably not. Credit: The Register

Ya Know Those Smart TVs? Maybe Not So Smart to Use?

Ponder this. Most TVs are made in China. Smart TVs connect to the Internet. There is Internet in China. China makes the chips that go into those TVs. And the software that goes into those chips. The executives for at least some of those companies have a documented connection to the Chinese government and/or military. China might be very interested in hearing what goes on in everyone’s living room. And bedroom. Including your kids’ bedroom. Some smart TVs have cameras in addition to microphones. Connect the dots; I am not allowed to. Credit: US Department of Homeland Security

Ransomware Attacks on the Rise and Insurers React

As ransomware attacks increased this year – both in terms of cost and severity, insurers are becoming more selective and some are scaling back their coverage. Total costs of ransom payments doubled between 1H2019 and 1H2020, but that might change going forward now that the feds are threatening to throw people in jail if they pay ransoms to terrorists. This means that some premiums are going up and some carriers are even getting out of the cyber risk insurance business. Credit: Reuters

Solar Winds Breach Keeps Getting Better

Well, maybe better is not the right word.

Quick catch up for those of you who are not following this.

The Russians hacked the software update process for the high end network management software called Orion from Solar Winds. This software is typically used by large enterprises and government agencies. This hack gave them access to emails and other data inside these businesses and government agencies.

Initial reports were that the Russians had hacked the State Department, Treasury Department and part of the Commerce Department along with an unknown number of private companies. Solar Winds said the number of businesses affected might be as high as 18,000. Security consulting company FireEye was the first company that admitted they were hacked.

Then the government added the National Institutes of Health and DHS to the list of hacked organizations.

There are now reports that Microsoft was hacked, but Microsoft, is, for the moment, denying this.

The Department of Energy said that the National Nuclear Security Administration was hacked. The NNSA is responsible for the safety of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. What could go wrong there? But, they say, not to worry. After the Russians had been rummaging around our stuff for 6-9 months, we took immediate action to mitigate the risk once we found out that we had been hacked.

Bloomberg says that three UNidentified states were also among the hacked, while the Intercept says that the Russians have been inside the City of Austin for months.

In the meantime, CISA, the security department inside Homeland Security, says that the attack poses a “grave risk” to the United States. They said the unnamed adversary, widely believed to be Russia, has demonstrated an ability to compromise software supply chains and that they likely had additional initial attack vectors besides Solar Winds.

This means that every company and not just the 18,000 Solar Winds customers need to be on high alert until we figure out the scope of the breach.

Tom Bossart, former national security advisor in the White House says this calls for immediate and decisive action by the President. But given that this White House seems incapable of saying anything bad about Putin, that is not likely to happen. CNN is reporting that the Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense and the US Postal Service were also invaded. At this point the White House has not said anything about this likely Russian hack.

But here is the scariest part.

How do you recover from this when you don’t know what is compromised and what is safe.

The only sure way to deal with this is to build an entirely new network with entirely new servers and other equipment side by side to the old network. Then you have to figure out if anything in the old network is salvageable. What is not repairable needs to be melted down.

This cannot be done cheaply and it cannot be done quickly.

The good news is that most of the companies and organizations that were affected were large and hence will be able to swallow the millions of dollars this will cost each organization. The government, of course, both prints money and taxes us, so they have no shortage of funds to repair this problem.

But lets assume that this is only the tip of the ice berg – that there were multiple attacks using multiple attack vectors. Then what?

I predict that most private industry companies do not know if their networks are currently compromised.

On top of this, it is unlikely that most organizations will ever be able to figure out what the Russians looked at. In part, this is due to the fact that logs are not tracking everything and also because it took so long to detect, many older log files have been erased.

This is, unfortunately, just the beginning. We will continue to update as this unfolds.