Tag Archives: Equifax

Security News for the Week Ending February 14, 2020

Feds Say 4 Chinese Hackers Took Down Equifax

The Department of Justice indicted 4 members of the Chinese People Liberation Army, saying that they were responsible for detecting the fact that Equifax did not patch their some of their servers and thus were easily hackable.  This, of course, means that the hack did not require much skill and may have even been a coincidence.

While it is highly unlikely that the 4 will ever see the inside of an American courtroom, it is part of this administration’s blame and shame game – a game that does not seem to be having much of an effect on cybercrime.  Source: Dark Reading

 

Malwarebytes Says Mac Cyberattacks Doubled in 2019

For a long time, the story was that Macs were safer than PCs from computer malware and that is likely still true, but according to Malwarebytes anti-virus software, almost twice as many attacks were recorded against Mac endpoints compared to PCs.

They say that Macs are still quite safe and most of the attacks require the attacker to trick a user into downloading or opening a malicious file. One good note is that Mac ransomware seems to be way down on the list of malware. Source: SC Magazine

Feds Buy Cell Phone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement

The WSJ is reporting that Homeland security is buying commercial cell phone location data in order to detect migrants entering the country illegally and to detect undocumented workers. In 2019, ICE bought $1 million worth of location data services licenses. There is likely nothing illegal about the feds doing this, but it is a cat and mouse game. As people figure out how the feds are using this data, they will likely change their phone usage habits.

Note that this data is not from cell towers, but likely from apps that can collect your location (if you give them permission) as much as 1400 times EACH DAY (once a minute) – a pretty granular location capability. Source: The Hill

FBI Says Individual and Business Cybercrime Losses Over $3 Billion in 2019

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3 says that people reported 467,000 cyber incidents to them last year with losses of $3.5 billion.

They say that they receive, on average over the last five years, 1,200 complaints per day.

During 2018, the FBI established a Recovery Asset Team and in 2019, the first full year of operation, the team recovered $300 million. They say they have 79% success rate, but they don’t explain that bit of new math. I suspect that means that over the small number of cases they cherry pick, they are very successful.

Still, overall, that seems to be less than 10% of the REPORTED losses.

Also, it is important to understand that this data only draws from cybercrime reported to the IC3. No one knows if that is 10% of all cybercrime or 90%. Just based on anecdotal evidence, I think it is closer to the 10% number, and, if true, that means the $3.5 billion in losses is really closer to $35 billion. Source: Bleeping Computer

Details of Equifax Breach Coming Out

After the FTC created a settlement with Equifax over the breach in 2017 of the data of close to 150 million people that turned out to be mostly smoke and mirrors, some of the lawsuits are now moving forward showing how bad things were at Equifax.

  1.   Equifax used a default userid of admin and password of admin to protect some of your data.
  2. Equifax failed to use multifactor authentication.
  3. They failed to adequately monitor its networks and systems.
  4. Because of the ineffective logging, hackers were able to roam around in the Equifax network undetected for 75 days.

After first promising $125 to all affected users, they decided that since the FTC had allowed them to limit the cash payouts in the supposedly $700 million settlement to only $31 million, they figured out that was only enough money to pay 25,000 out of the 150 million people affected.  Now they are saying well, you can get credit monitoring (which you are already getting from any of the other breaches that you have been affected by, so it is really giving you something that is worthless) instead of cash.

Maybe the class action will actually extract some cash out of them – to be seen.

In the meantime, companies need to make sure that they are taking cyber hygiene seriously because even if this payout is a joke (mostly because of the way the law is written in terms of what the FTC is allowed to do), Equifax has racked up over a billion dollars in costs resulting from this attack.  Source: SC Magazine.

Security News for the Week Ending July 26, 2019

Equifax Agrees to Pay UP TO $700 Million to Settle Breach Lawsuits

First – the settlement hasn’t been agreed to by the court yet, so this is all speculation.

Of the $700 million pot, at least $300 million is set aside to pay damages to consumers.  Another $100 million plus is to pay for credit monitoring.

There are lots of details.  For the most part, unless you can prove damages and prove that those damages were caused by the Equifax breach and not some other breach, you probably will not get paid much.  You can get paid up to $250 if you file a claim and without proof.  Everything past that requires proof.   With 150 million victims and a $300 million pot, that averages to $2 a person.

BUT there is one thing you should do and that is get the free credit monitoring.    Go to EQUIFAXBREACHSETTLEMENT.COM and wait until it says that the court has approved it.  Note this is not a site owned by Equifax and given what a mess they are, this is good.  Read more details here.

The Next NSA Hacker Gets 9 Years

Harold Martin, the NSA contractor (employed by Booz, like Edward Snowden) was sentenced to 9 years for stealing 50 terabytes of data over the course of his 22 year NSA career.  The leak is something like 5 times the size of the Snowden leak.  He didn’t sell it;  he just liked data.  He had so much he had to store in in sheds in his back yard.  Many of the documents were clearly marked SECRET AND TOP SECRET.

The fact that he was able to steal hundreds of thousands of documentss doesn’t say much for NSA security, which is sad.  Source: Nextgov.

Huawei – Bad – Not Bad – Bad?!

President Trump said that Huawei is a national security threat and needs to be banned and then he said that maybe we can trade that threat for a better deal with China on trade.

Now it is coming out that Huawei helped North Korea build out their current wireless network.  The equipment was shipped into North Korea by Chinese state owned Panda International.  This has been going on since 2006 at least.  Huawei is likely continuing to provide technical support to North Korea.

This seems like a national security threat and not a bargaining chip for the President to toss in to get a trade deal that he wants, but what do I know.  Source: Fox News.

 

AG  Barr Says He Wants Encryption Back Door And Why do You Need Privacy – Just Suck it Up.

Attorney General William Barr said this week that if tech companies don’t provide a back door into consumer encryption,  they will pass a law forcing it.  And while this will allow hackers and Chinese spies to compromise US systems, it is worthwhile.

He said that they might wait for some terrorist event that kills lots of people and blame it on encryption (whether that is true or not).

He did seem to exclude “custom” encryption used by large business enterprises, whoever that might include.

Barr said that bad guys are using crypto to commit crimes what the police can’t investigate.  If that were true we would expect that crime would be going up.  If it is a really bad problem, it would be going way up.

Only problem is that the statistics say crime is going down.

You may remember that Juniper added such a back door, likely at the request of the NSA and it worked great until word got out about it and hackers had a field day.

This conversation is not over.  Source: The Register.

 

Security News for the Week Ending May 31, 2019

Baltimore Ransomware Attack Could Be Blamed on the NSA

I think this is what they call a tease.

Technically correct, however.

You may remember the NSA hacking tool that got out into the wild called EternalBlue?  It was leaked by the hacking group ShadowBrokers in 2017.  Before that, it exploited a Microsoft  bug that the NSA decided was  too juicy to tell Microsoft to fix – for five years.  Then it got out.  Now North Korea, China, Russia and others are using it.

So who’s fault is it?  Should the government tell vendors to fix bugs or should they risk not telling them and having a Baltimore or WannaCry which destroyed the British Healthcare system or NotPetya or many others.

Certainly you could blame ShadowBrokers, but as we have seen with other malware, as soon as you use it, you run the risk of it being detected and used against you.

In this case, I blame Baltimore because Microsoft patched the flaw in March 2017 and apparently, it is not deployed in Baltimore.

Three weeks and counting, Baltimore is still trying to undo the damage.  For lack of a patch.  To be fair, it might have happened anyway.  But it would not have spread like wildfire.   Source:  NY Times.

First. Time. Ever! – Moody’s Downgrades Equifax Due to Breach

Turnabout *IS* fair.

For the first time ever, Equifax is discovering what they do to others all the time when they downgrade consumer’s credit scores.

In this case, it is Moody’s that is downgrading Equifax’s score.

Moody’s downgraded Equifax from STABLE to NEGATIVE.

Likely because they just announced that they have spent $1.35 Billion fixing the breach damage and none of the lawsuits are settled yet.  This is likely to be the costliest breach ever.  Source: CNBC.

 

Cisco Warns Thangrycat Fix May Destroy Your Hardware

More information has come out about the Cisco Trust Anchor vulnerability called Thrangrycat.  The trust anchor is the root of all security in Cisco devices and if it gets compromised, then there is no security in the device at all.

The good news is that the hackers who found it said it was hard to find, BUT, now that the hackers know what to look for, expect an attack kit to show up for a few bucks on the dark web.

The problem is that Cisco has to reprogram a piece of hardware inside all of those switches, routers and firewalls.  THAT MUST BE DONE ONSITE.  Worse yet, there is a possibility that the reprogramming could turn your firewall into a really expensive brick.

Cisco says that if your device is under warranty or if you have a maintenance contract and they brick your device, they will mail you a new one.  The device will be down until you get the new one.

I am sure they will try hard not to brick things, but reprogramming FPGAs on the fly – its not simple and things could go wrong.

IF, however, you do not have a warranty or maintenance contract and the device gets bricked, you are on your own.

For those people, now might be the time to replace that Cisco gear with someone else’s.  That won’t be perfect either, however.  Source: Techtarget.

 

New Zealand Cryptocurrency Firm Hacked To Death

As I keep pointing out, “investing” in cryptocurrency is much like gambling with no insurance and no hedge.

In this case Cryptopia , a New Zealand based cyptocurrency exchange is filing for bankruptcy and still has millions in digital assets that belong to its customers.

But maybe not for long because their IT provider says that they owe millions and is threatening to take down the servers that contain the digital assets.  In the meantime, customers wait.  Source: Bloomberg.

 

Flipboard Says Hackers Were Roaming Inside For NINE Months Before Being Detected

Flipboard admitted that hackers were inside their systems from nine months between June 2018 and March 2019 and then again in April 2019, when they were detected.

Flipboard says that user passwords, which were salted and strongly hashed, were taken.  What they didn’t say, because they are not forced to by law, was what else was taken.  According to the security firm Crowdstrike, the best hackers move laterally from the system in which they entered, in 18 minutes.  The average hackers take 10 hours.  Where did they move in nine months?

If they want me to believe that nothing else was taken, they must think I am a fool.  I am not.  But the law doesn’t require them to tell you what else was taken.

Since they are not publicly traded, they don’t have to tell the SEC what else was taken.  In fact, they only have to tell the SEC if it materially affects the company – a term which is conveniently not defined.  Source: ZDNet.

Turnabout – Part Two

While President Trump shouts about Huawei spying for the Chinese, the Chinese are removing all Windows systems from their military environment due to fear of hacking by the US.   While this won’t have any significant financial impact on Microsoft, it is kind of a poke in their eye.

For some strange reason, they are not going to use Linux, but rather develop their own OS.  One reason might be that a unknown proprietary OS that only the Chinese military has the source code for would be harder to hack by the US than any other OS.  Source: ZDNet.

Security News for the Week Ending May 17, 2019

Be Thankful That You Are Not Equifax – Costs Reach $1.4 Billion So Far

Two years after the big breach, Equifax reported financials for the first quarter.   They reported a loss of $555.9 million compared to a net income of $90 million for the same period in 2018 on basically flat revenue.

Equifax had $125 million in cyber risk insurance with a $7.5 million retained liability.  The insurance has paid out the full amount.

So far, the company has accrued $1.35 Billion in data breach costs and this game is far from over.  The say it is not possible to estimate the full costs.  For more information, read the Bank Info Security article.

Boost Mobile Announces Breach – Two Months Ago

Boost mobile apparently got some customer data boosted.  Two months ago.  An undated letter to the California AG and an undated web page on Boost’s website says that the breach happened on March 14, 2019.  We don’t know what the bad guys took, how many customers were affected or even when people were notified.  The only thing we can guess is that since it hit the media today, the notifications were very recent.

If any of the people affected were in Colorado, the notifications came 15-30 days late.  There are probably other states for which the notification was late as well.  Stay tuned- we may see some AGs getting upset.  Source: Techcrunch.

Supply Chain Attacks Get Bigger and Badder

Last week it was WebPrism and 200 college bookstores.   This week it is Picreel, the analytics firm, Alpaca Forms (open source-so much for open source is more secure) and over 4,600 hacked websites.

The attack is still going on; the sites are still infected and the problem is only getting worse.  If you are loading third party code on your website, you need to rethink your security.  Source: ZDNet .

Intel Announces New Family of Speculative Execution Attacks

Intel seems to be challenged to catch a breach.  Err, a break.    After last year’s Spectre and Meltdown attacks comes this year’s ZombieLoad and Fallout attacks.  This is not a surprise – experts predicted more speculative execution attacks would be found.

Other than some new Intel 8th and 9th generation chips, all Intel chips made in the last decade are vulnerable, but ARM and AMD chips are not.  Some older chips will be patched while others, which are likely out of patch space on the chip, will never be fixed.

Apple, Intel, Microsoft and others have all released patches to mitigate these attacks on the chips for which there are fixes.  The attacks can be made either by planting malware on the device or remotely over the Internet.

The good news FOR THE MOMENT is the attack seems to be complex, so likely it will be used in targeted situations, but if used, everything on the device can be compromised including passwords and encryption keys.

Disabling Simultaneous Multi-Threading will significantly reduce the impact of this attack.

Source: Security Week.

For $600 A Hacker Could Confuse Any Commercial Plane’s Instrument Landing System

From a Cessna to a jumbo jet, every commercial plane built in the last 50 years uses a radio based system to guide it to land when it can’t see the runway – such as in rain or in fog.

These radios were not designed to be secure from hacking.

There is no encryption.  There is no authentication.  The system in the plane assumes that any radio signals that come from the ground are legit.

Unfortunately, for $600 a hacker can purchase a software defined radio that can tell the plane that it is off course.  A little high.  A little to the side.

In theory, if the pilot can see the runway, he or she will execute a “missed approach” and go around.  Given how busy the US airspace is, that decision may be at 50 feet off the ground – not a lot of time to react.

Probably, right now, this is an  unlikely attack.  Right now.  But remember, attacks never get less probable, only more probable as attackers figure out how to manipulate things.  Source: Ars Technica.

News Bites for the Week Ending December 14, 2018

Patches This Week

Adobe’s December patch list fixed 87 separate bugs in Acrobat and Acrobat Reader.  39 of these are rated critical.  Last week they patched a critical zero day in Flash (Details here).

 

 

More Spy Cams

The other day I reported the the DEA was buying spy camera enclosures to hide inside of street lights (here), well that is not the only place they are hiding them.

Again, Assuming they follow the rules, there is nothing illegal about these efforts.  The Register is reporting that the DEA is buying high end spy cams built into seemingly ordinary shop vacs.  While we don’t know the brand of shop vac, we do know that the camera is a Cannon M50B, a high end camera that does remote pan, tilt and zoom.

The camera/shop vac could we just left around or it could come attached to a government agent/janitor.

Whatever it takes to catch a crook.

 

O2 and its Partners Take Cell Service Down Because They Forgot to Update an Encryption Certificate

Last week millions of European and Asian cell phone users – customers of O2 and its partners – went without cell service and Internet for around 24 hours because someone forgot to renew an encryption certificate.  He is probably looking for a new job right now.

The network equipment was made by telecom giant Ericsson, so you can’t blame the problem on lack or resources or not having the expertise.  Details at ZDNet.

Bottom line here is that managing the details of any operational system is critical, especially if your mistakes will be publicly visible.

 

Kay Jewelers and Jared Jewelers fix Data Leak

Sometimes the bad guys don’t need to break in to steal information; sometimes companies leave out a welcome mat.

In this case, these two jewelers, both owned by Signet Jewelers, sent confirmation emails that allowed anyone to change the link in a confirmation email to see another customer’s order information – name, address, what they orders, how much they paid and the last four of their card number.

I have seen this many times before and it is an easy problem to avoid if your developers are trained to look for these kind of issues.

While not the worst data leak in the world, not a good thing.  They have since fixed the problem.  Source: Brian Krebs.

 

Google + To Shut Down Even Earlier After New Breach

Sometimes even the great Google can’t catch a break.

After an API flaw in October exposed data on 500,000 users, Google fixed it but announced plans to shut down the struggling social network In August 2019.

But now Google announced another flaw that affects over 50 million users and Google has changed it’s mind and will shut down Google + in April instead of August.  The information visible includes name, email, occupation and age and possibly other information, but Google says that it doesn’t think anyone exploited this new bug, which was created when they fixed the old bug.  Source: The Hacker News.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Says Equifax Responsible for Breach

A House committee spent 14 months and an unknown amount of money telling us what we already knew:  The Equifax breach was totally preventable and that CEO Richard Smith (who walked away from the breach with a $90 million golden parachute) had a growth strategy that lacked a clear IT management structure, used outdated technology and was not prepared to respond to the breach.   The Democrats say that there was a  missed opportunity to recommend concrete reforms and Equifax says that while they agree with the report, there are lots of factual errors in .  Our government at work.  Source:  The Hill.