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Security

Finnish Bank OP Under Persistent DDoS Attack 92

An anonymous reader writes The Finnish bank OP Pohjola Group has been a target of a dedicated DDoS attack for days. The attack, which investigators said was launched from both Finland and abroad, began on New Year's Eve. OP was forced to open a helpline for customers unable to confirm payments or transfer money because of jammed systems. On Saturday the firm said it would compensate people for any losses or late payment fees incurred as a result of attack. On Sunday morning the bank tweeted that its services were operating normally and even customers based outside Finland were able to access their accounts — and that it was still monitoring traffic carefully to try and ward off any renewed strikes. However, on Sunday afternoon further denial of service attacks took place delaying payments and preventing access to banking services for OP customers. A formal police complaint has been filed and OP says that KRP is looking into the case.
Security

Regin Malware In EU Attack Linked To US and British Intelligence Agencies 131

Advocatus Diaboli writes The Regin malware, whose existence was first reported by the security firm Symantec on Sunday, is among the most sophisticated ever discovered by researchers. Symantec compared Regin to Stuxnet, a state-sponsored malware program developed by the U.S. and Israel to sabotage computers at an Iranian nuclear facility. Sources familiar with internal investigations at Belgacom and the European Union have confirmed to The Intercept that the Regin malware was found on their systems after they were compromised, linking the spy tool to the secret GCHQ and NSA operations.
Security

US Postal Service Suspends Telecommuting Following Massive Breach 50

An anonymous reader writes: The folks at the USPS have responded to the recent breach that exposed data on 800K employees and another some 2.8 million customers. They have suspended telecommuting for all employees until further notice while they replace their VPN with a more secure version. "Additionally, the postal service will upgrade some of its equipment and systems in the coming weeks and months as part of a broad security overhaul in response to the breach."
Security

The Security Industry Is Failing Miserably At Fixing Underlying Dangers 205

cgriffin21 writes: The security industry is adding layers of defensive technologies to protect systems rather than addressing the most substantial, underlying problems that sustain a sprawling cybercrime syndicate, according to an industry luminary who painted a bleak picture of the future of information security at a conference of hundreds of incident responders in Boston Tuesday. Eugene Spafford, a noted computer security expert and professor of computer science at Purdue University, said software makers continue to churn out products riddled with vulnerabilities, creating an incessant patching cycle for IT administrators that siphons resources from more critical areas.
Botnet

A Mercenary Approach To Botnets 34

CowboyRobot writes "The incentives are high for many businesses and government agencies to not be too heavy handed in combating the global botnet pandemic. There's money to be had and, with each passing day, more interesting ways are being uncovered in how to package the data, and how to employ it. It used to be that the worlds of bug hunters and malware analysts were separate and far between. In the last couple of years the ability to analyze malware samples and identify exploitable vulnerabilities in them has become very important. Given that some botnets have a bigger pool of victims than many commercial software vendors have licensed customers, the value of an exploit that grants reliable remote control of a popular malware agent is rising in value. In many ways, botnets have become a golden goose to those charged with gathering intelligence on the populations of foreign entities. The bulk of the victim's data is useful for mapping populations, communication profiles, and as egress points for counter intelligence exercises. Then, given how many botnet victims there are, the probability that a few 'interesting' computers will have succumbed along the way is similarly high — providing direct insight in to a pool of high value targets."
Bug

Netflix Users In Danger of Unknowingly Picking Up Malware 153

An anonymous reader writes "Users of Silverlight, Microsoft's answer to Adobe Flash, are in danger of having malware installed on their computers and being none the wiser, as an exploit for a critical vulnerability (CVE-2013-0634) in the app framework has been added to the Angler exploit kit. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if an attacker hosts a website that contains a specially crafted Silverlight application that could exploit this vulnerability and then convinces a user to view the website. The attacker could also take advantage of compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements." You'd think something like Silverlight would automatically upgrade itself.
Security

Former NSA Honcho Calls Corporate IT Security "Appalling" 174

Nerval's Lobster writes "Former NSA technology boss Prescott Winter has a word for the kind of security he sees even at large, technologically sophisticated companies: Appalling. Companies large enough to afford good security remain vulnerable to hackers, malware and criminals because they tend to throw technological solutions at potential areas of risk rather than focusing on specific and immediate threats, Winter said during his keynote speech Oct. 1 at the Splunk Worldwide User's Conference in Las Vegas. 'As we look at the situation in the security arena we see an awful lot of big companies – Fortune 100-level companies – with, to be perfectly candid, appalling security. They have fundamentally no idea what they're doing,' Winter said, according to a story in U.K. tech-news site Computing. During almost 28 years at the National Security Agency (NSA), Winter established the spy agency's Technology Directorate and served as the agency's first CTO. He also held positions as the NSA's CIO, its deputy chief of Defensive Information Operations and, oddly, as chief of Customer Response. He is currently managing director of Chertoff Group, the strategic management and security consultancy established by Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security under Pres. George W. Bush and co-author of the USA Patriot Act."
Businesses

Survey: Most IT Staff Don't Communicate Security Risks 227

CowboyRobot writes "A Tripwire survey of 1,320 IT personnel from the U.S. and U.K. showed that most staff 'don't communicate security risk with senior executives or only communicate when a serious security risk is revealed.' The reason is that staff have resigned themselves to staying mum due to an environment in which 'collaboration between security risk management and business is poor, nonexistent or adversarial,' or at best, just isn't effective at getting risk concerns up to senior management."
The Military

Making a Case For Cyberwar Against Syria 203

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jason Healey writes at Defense One that if the Obama administration conducts military strikes against Syria, as now seems likely, it should use military cyber weapons at the earliest possible moment to show 'that cyber operations are not evil witchcraft but can be humanitarian.' Cyber capabilities could first disrupt Syrian air defenses directly or confuse military command and control, allowing air strikes to proceed unchallenged. A cyber strike might also disable dual-use Syrian critical infrastructure (such as electrical power) that aids the regime's military but with no long-term destruction as would be caused by traditional bombs. Last, it is possible the U.S. military has cyber capabilities to directly disrupt the operations of Syria's chemical troops. Healy writes that one cyberweapon that should not be used is covert cyber operations against Bashar Assad's finances. 'Both of his immediate predecessors declined such attacks and the world economy and financial sector are already in a perilous state.' Before the American-led strikes against Libya in 2011, the Obama administration debated whether to conduct a cyberoffensive to disrupt the Qaddafi government's air-defense system, but balked, fearing that it might set a precedent for other nations, in particular Russia or China, to carry out such offensives of their own. This time should be different in Healey's view. 'By sparing the lives of Syrian troops and nearby civilians, an opening cyber operation against Syria could demonstrate exactly how such capabilities can be compliant with international humanitarian law,' writes Healey. 'America should take this chance to demystify these weapons to show the world they, and the U.S. military in general, can be used on the battlefield in line with humanitarian principles.'"
United States

Five Charged In Largest Hacking Scheme Ever Prosecuted In US 84

wiredmikey writes "US authorities have charged four Russians and a Ukrainian five on charges of running a global hacking operation that targeted major payment processors, retailers and financial institutions. The charges stem from hacking attacks dating back to 2005 against several global brands, including the NASDAQ exchange, 7-Eleven, JC Penney, Hannaford, Heartland, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard. The men allegedly used SQL injection attacks as the initial entry point into the computer systems of global corporations. Once networks were breached, the defendants allegedly placed malware on the systems. According to the indictment (PDF), the malware used created a "back door," leaving the system vulnerable and helping the defendants maintain access to the network. The men face five years in prison for conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers; 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud; five years in prison for unauthorized access to computers; and 30 years in prison for wire fraud."
Government

Got Malware? Get a Hammer! 254

FuzzNugget writes "After the Economic Development Administration (EDA) was alerted by the DHS to a possible malware infection, they took extraordinary measures. Fearing a targeted attack by a nation-state, they shut down their entire IT operations, isolating their network from the outside world, disabling their email services and leaving their regional offices high and dry, unable to access the centrally-stored databases. A security contractor ultimately declared the systems largely clean, finding only six computers infected with untargeted, garden-variety malware and easily repaired by reimaging. But that wasn't enough for the EDA: taking gross incompetence to a whole new level, they proceeded to physically destroy $170,500 worth of equipment (PDF), including uninfected systems, printers, cameras, keyboards and mice. After the destruction was halted — only because they ran out of money to continue smashing up perfectly good hardware — they had racked up a total of $2.3 million in service costs, temporary infrastructure acquisitions and equipment destruction."
Security

Confirmed: CBS News Reporter's Computer Compromised 176

New submitter RoccamOccam writes "Shortly after the news broke that the Department of Justice had been secretly monitoring the phones and email accounts of Associated Press and Fox News reporters (and the parents of Fox News Correspondent James Rosen), CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson said her computer seemed like it had been compromised. Turns out, it was. 'A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson's accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data.'"
United States

Why Chinese Hacking Is Only Part of the U.S. Security Problem 101

An anonymous reader writes "Cyber espionage, crime, and warfare are possible only because of poor application or system design, implementation, and/or configuration,' argues a U.S. Air Force cyber security researcher. 'It is technological vulnerabilities that create the ability for actors to exploit the information system and gain illicit access to sensitive national security secrets, as the previous examples highlight. Yet software and hardware developers are not regulated in the same way as, say, the auto or pharmaceutical industries.' 'The truth is that we should no longer accept a patch/configuration management culture that promotes a laissez-faire approach to cyber security."
Power

Congressional Report: US Power Grid Highly Vulnerable To Cyberattack 124

An anonymous reader writes "Despite warnings that a cyberattack could cripple the nation's power supply, a U.S. Congressional report (PDF) finds that power companies' efforts to protect the power grid are insufficient. Attacks are apparently commonplace, with one utility claiming they fight off some 10,000 attempted attacks every month. The report also found that while most power companies are complying with mandatory standards for protection, few do much else above and beyond that to protect the grid. 'For example, NERC has established both mandatory standards and voluntary measures to protect against the computer worm known as Stuxnet. Of those that responded, 91% of IOUs [Investor-Owned Utilities], 83% of municipally- or cooperatively-owned utilities, and 80% of federal entities that own major pieces of the bulk power system reported compliance with the Stuxnet mandatory standards. By contrast, of those that responded to a separate question regarding compliance with voluntary Stuxnet measures, only 21% of IOUs, 44% of municipally- or cooperatively-owned utilities, and 62.5% of federal entities reported compliance.'"
Education

German Ministry of Education Throws Away PCs For 190,000 € Due To Infection 347

An anonymous reader writes "German IT magazine Heise reports (original in German) that the Ministry of Education in Schwerin had a Conficker virus infection on 170 machines, that was dealt with by simply throwing them on the trash. Other German authorities have now decided that 'the approach taken is not up to the principle of efficiency and economy' and that the 187,300 Euro invested in this radical form of virus removal were inappropriate. The ministry had earlier estimated the cost of cleaning their desktops and servers by more conventional means to 130,000 Euro."

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