Posts Tagged ‘security’

Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

cryptolocker
Cryptolocker’s sophisticated use of encryption has made it hard to defeat

Malicious programs that demand a ransom to restore files that they have encrypted are starting to proliferate.

Security company IntelCrawler has discovered malware called Locker that demands $150 (£92) to restore files.

The cyber-thieves behind Locker were trying to emulate the success of CryptoLocker that has racked up thousands of victims this year.

However, IntelCrawler said, flaws in the malicious program suggest it might be easier to defeat than CryptoLocker.

IntelCrawler said it first saw “large-scale distribution” of several different versions of Locker early this month. So far, the malware has managed to snare people across the US, Europe and Russia. It is spread via infected files placed on compromised websites and through booby-trapped files disguised as MP3s.

Unscramble

Analysis by Andrey Komarov, of IntelCrawler, shows that when Locker infects a machine, it deletes files leaving only encrypted copies behind and also drops a small file containing a unique ID number and contact details for Locker’s creators.

The file also warns that no key will be given to any victim who harasses or threatens the malware’s creators.

Those who want to get their data back are encouraged to use the contact details and, once the ransom is paid, each victim gets a key to unscramble files.

However, help could be at hand for anyone hit by Locker, said Mr Komarov, as IntelCrawler had managed to penetrate the network the cyber-thieves were using to monitor victims. This helped the company extract the universal keys used to scramble target files.

“Our researchers are working on the universal decryption software in order to help the victims,” said Mr Komarov.

Irish Web Design – Internet ransomware demands cash to unscramble files

This article is from the BBC News Technology

Garda Crest

Banks refuse to refund internet fraud victims

Bank customers urged to take more care of personal data

There are countless warnings from banks and police forces advising people to be careful what they download onto therir computers.

Foe example recently Gardaí advised that bank customers should not open phishing emails

Gardaí say they have seen a noticeable increase in cyber-criminals using “phishing” to steal money from people’s bank accounts.

internet search

Since January, up to 250 people have reported to gardaí that they have been victims of the crime.

The amounts stolen vary from €100 to €40,000.

Gardaí advise that bank customers should not open phishing emails, as they may contain a Trojan virus that will be downloaded to their computer.

If they do open one of these emails, they should contact their bank immediately.

They should also never respond to the phishing email under any circumstance.

Bank customers should also ensure their anti-virus software is up to date.

The Garda National Bureau of Fraud Investigation has said the thefts are being carried out by criminal cyber gangs over the web from various jurisdictions.

Some are using so called “mule” accounts in Ireland to transfer the stolen money into.

This can involve the gang paying unscrupulous individuals in Ireland small amounts of money for the use of their accounts, or the gangs themselves setting up their own Irish-based accounts.

Either way, money is transferred out of the victim’s account, into the mule’s account, before being withdrawn locally in Ireland and sent to the crime gangs abroad.

Gardaí say the gangs are based in a variety of locations, including West Africa and Eastern Europe.

However, using remote hosting technology, they can make the phishing emails appear to come from entirely different jurisdictions to the one they are living in.

Gardaí say in many cases banks refund the money that has been stolen.

However, this is not always the case, particularly in circumstances where the individual who has been defrauded has been warned about the dangers.

The Irish Payment Services Organisation has also noticed a spike in phishing crimes.

However, it says that a number of banks in Britain are now refusing to refund money stolen using this technique, because they claim they provide enough warning information to their customers.

One wonders how long before Irish Banks follow suit?

This article includes material from the RTE News Website

Irish Web Design – Banks refuse to refund internet fraud victims

java logo drawn

Bumper security update for Java released

Bumper security update for Java released

oracle java logo

Oracle has released a bumper update package for Java that closes lots of security holes in the software.

The update fixes 51 separate security bugs in Java, which owner Oracle says is used on billions of devices.

About a dozen of the bugs were serious enough to allow attackers to take remote control of a compromised system, researchers said.

Java is one of the most popular targets for cyber-thieves and malware writers seeking to hijack home computers.

In its advisory about the update, Oracle urged customers to patch the software as soon as possible “due to the threat posed by a successful attack”.

Programming language Java has proved popular because software written with it can easily be made to run on many different types of computer.

Twelve of the holes in Java addressed by the update topped the table that ranked the severity of security weaknesses in software, wrote Qualys security expert Wolfgang Kandek in a blogpost.

If these bugs were exploited, attackers could bypass ID controls and take over a target system, he added.

He said those seeking to exploit Java would probably seed web pages with booby-trapped links in a bid to catch vulnerable machines.

Security glitches in Java are favourites among those that write and run so-called “exploit kits” that seek to compromise vulnerable websites and other systems.

Security blogger Brian Krebs said if people needed to run Java, it was well worth taking time to apply the update.

Those that did not need the software should consider disabling it altogether, he said.

“This widely installed and powerful program is riddled with security holes, and is a top target of malware writers and miscreants,” he wrote.

The update is available via the main Java website and has prompted follow-up action from other electronics firms. Apple has released an update to the version of Java that runs on its computers. This update points people towards the official version of Java from Oracle instead of that supplied by Apple.

In the past, Apple has faced criticism over the speed with which it updated its version of Java.

This article originally appeared on the BBC News website

Irish Web Design – Bumper security update for Java released

black hole

Suspected Malware Criminal Arrested

Blackhole malware exploit kit suspect arrested

Russian police have reportedly arrested a man on suspicion of masterminding two infamous hacking tools.

He is suspected of being the man behind the alias Paunch – the nickname used by the creator of the Blackhole and Cool exploit kits, sold to cybercriminals to infect web users with malware.

The Russian authorities have not confirmed the details.

But security firms said they had already detected a decline in the programs’ use.

A spokesman for the law enforcement agency Europol told the BBC: “Europol and the European Cybercrime Centre has been informed that a high-level suspected cyber criminal has been arrested.

“We can only refer you to the Russian authorities, they are the ones who should speak about this topic.”

The Russian police’s press office said it had nothing to add at this time.

However, Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at the Moscow-based internet protection provider Kaspersky Lab, said the arrest had been confirmed to him by “anonymous sources”.

Blackhole software The Blackhole kit offered an interface used to manage malware attacks

 

Spreading malware

The Blackhole kit, released in 2010, dominated the crimeware market throughout 2012 and the start of 2013, according to Fraser Howard, a researcher at the anti-virus company Sophos.

He said the code had been sold for an annual licence of $1,500 (£940) or could be rented from its creator for $200 (£125) for one week’s use, among other price plans.

The software targeted a range of vulnerabilities in the Java programming language, Adobe’s Flash media player, Windows software and PDF files.

It had two ways of doing this:

  • adding malicious code to hundreds of thousands of legitimate websites, which then copied malware to visitors computers
  • creating links in spam messages to specially created sites that infected PCs
Blackhole email
Sophos said that Blackhole was used to send links that directed users to sites that downloaded malware

Among the malware downloaded was:

  • fake anti-virus software that falsely claimed the PC was infected and urged the user to pay a fee to remove viruses
  • Trojans that attempted to steal financial records stored on the PC
  • the ZeroAccess rootkit, which downloaded other software that hijacked the PC for use in a botnet – a facility used to overwhelm websites with traffic and force them offline
  • key loggers that took a record of what was typed on the PC
  • ransomware that attempted to blackmail the PC owner

Although Mr Howard said Blackhole was once the biggest threat of its kind, he added that in recent months it had been overshadowed by rival kits, including Sweet Orange and Neutrino.

According to the researcher, the Blackhole and Cool kits put together were only involved in about 4% of all malware detected by Sophos in August, down from 28% the previous year.

The figure had since dropped to 2% in recent days, he added.

Another independent security blogger stressed that the arrest was still significant.

“If it’s true that the brains behind the Blackhole has been apprehended it’s a very big deal – a real coup for the cybercrime-fighting authorities, and hopefully cause disruption to the development of one of the most notorious exploit kits the web has ever seen,” said Graham Cluley.

“However, it’s worth remembering that nature abhors a vacuum, and there would surely be other online criminals waiting to take their place, promoting their alternative exploit kits and malicious code.”

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure, agreed.

“If indeed it is Paunch that they arrested, that is a major arrest – he is a big deal,” he told the BBC.

“He was clearly the biggest player in providing exploit kits – not just by selling them, but also renting and leasing them to online criminals.

“Both Blackhole and its successor Cool have been very popular.

“Users didn’t have to be very technical to operate them – there was a manual that came with them – they just had to get them running and be able to break into a high-profile website, or create a new one from scratch, to install something bad on your computer.”

This story appeared on the BBC News Technology Section

Suspected Malware Criminal Arrested – Irish Web Design

gangsters

Malware creators go professional

The professionalisation of malware

Fagin the crook

Summary of this article: The high-end of malware is reaching a new level quality that comes from it being written by professional organisations with real budgets and high standards. Be afraid.

For many years, anti-malware companies have been capturing immense numbers of new, malicious code samples every day. The actual number is controversial, but it’s in the hundreds of thousands. Not a typo.

These samples are generated programmatically by malware authors trying, by brute force, to create something that will slip through defenses. Most of them are garbage. Anti-malware programs don’t write signatures specific to them, but recognize them by more general characteristics as part of a malware family.

Roger Thompson of ICSA Labs, a security research group owned by Verizon, calls these ‘AFTs’ for ‘Another Freaking Trojan’. The term is meant to contrast with APT for ‘Advanced Persistent Threat’; there’s no standard definition of APT, but basically it’s a more sophisticated malware program which can hide in a target network and perhaps even defend itself.

I spoke with Thompson, who I have known for a long time from his pioneering work for several companies in the anti-malware industry. In a recent blog entry he notes a clear rise in the quality of malware at the very high end of the APT segment; he calls this Enterprise Malware because it is being written by enterprise-class organizations.

Security companies know from their own forensic examination of attacks that this Enterprise Malware can be traced back often to defense contractors and various branches of various governments. We know, at least since Stuxnet (although any fool knew it was going on before), that western governments were developing attack code. We know of similar activities from the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) in China, and now the FBI (with the possible assistance of the NSA) is using malware to infiltrate criminal activities. For years European governments have been open about their policy to allow police to hack into the computers of suspects without a warrant.

Not to dismiss the talents of the last generation of malware writers, but governments and defense contractors have enough budget to hire professionals; I suspect the pool of such people who are willing to work for government is much larger than the pool willing to work for criminal organizations. And with enough patience and talent, we may start seeing malware techniques which heretofore haven’t been worth the trouble. Thompson is concerned about the development of cross-platform malware. We saw an example of this in Stuxnet, which used Windows computers to find and attack Siemens industrial controllers.

As Thompson, who knows a thing or two about anti-malware technology, says, anti-malware software can find the AFTs a very, very high percentage of the time, but you can’t expect it to find these attacks, at least not when it matters. It’s for threats like these that defense-in-depth and rigorous attention to best practices is necessary. For high-value targets, there are also products and services, Solera Networks’ DeepSee series for example, which specifically attempt to find threats which are laying low in a network.

After digesting this information, I was tempted to think that this is good news for those of you under the radar; if you’re not the sort of operation that is going to merit a high-quality targeted attack, then following best practices — e.g. always updating all software and anti-malware, practicing least privilege, forcing strong passwords — then you should be OK. But that’s nothing new. It was always true. The real news is just how essential it is for those who might be the target of a high-quality, enterprise malware attack to follow those practices. And it’s discouraging to see how many organizations fall short.

This is an edited version of an article by Larry Seltzer

Read the full version of this article here:

Malware creators go professional Irish Web Design – Website Security

Captcha Security Check Image 2

Is Captcha security a good idea?

Captcha security test questioned

Is Captcha security a good idea? is a question has been raised as a result of problems with a White House petition.

The fact that Ticketmaster dumped the Captcha from their website casts further doubt on the need for this security measure.

 

Captcha Security Check Image Is Captcha security a good idea?
Captchas can be used in a graphic and in an audio form but both can be difficult to interpret

Is Captcha security a good idea?

The National Federation for the Blind in the USA has stated that its members are unable to sign an e-petition which is collecting support for demands that printed material should be more accessible to those who are visually impaired because of “Captcha” security on the website.

A Captcha is a graphic of a random word or numbers users must key in to show that they are human.

There is an equivalent audio version on most websites that feature the Captcha.

Captcha comes from ‘Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart’, so one could argue its two or three t’s short of an accurate Acronym.

The White House Washington USA Logo

The White House Washington USA Logo

The White House whose website it is says that it complies with official US accessibility standards although it has received just 8,200 signatures.

Chris Danielsen of the American Federation for the Blind said “We had asked people to sign the petition and we’re getting these emails saying that people can’t”

He told the Politico website that he realised there was a problem after he began publicising the petition.

The editor of the BBC’s ‘Ouch’ blog (for people with disabilities) Damon Rose said that “Captcha graphics are a nightmare – visually impaired people use screen readers to interpret their computer rather than their eyes and the screens can’t manage them.

“Ironically if I see an audio capture I tend not to bother with it because it’s usually such a poor experience… some of them sound like aliens talking and they put weird background noises over them. They are a bit of a joke in the blind community. I’ve spent half an hour on some and had to give up.”

Mr Rose added that a result of this was that many visually impaired people found that, on messageboards and blogs they could not contribute to discussion and debate.

ticketmaster logo

ticketmaster logo

Earlier the year Ticketmaster the international event ticket service removed the Captchas from its sales website.

Aaron Young of Bunnyfoot, the user experience consultancy said “It is generally speaking the one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web,”

In the view of Irish Web Design it is worth weighing up the value of the added security versus the irritation to users that Captcha causes.

Your business may be losing customers who simply give up when confronted with the frustration of a difficult to read Captcha.

So in response to the question: ‘Is Captcha security a good idea?’ Irish Web Design feels that in many cases it is not necessary, and therefore is not a good idea.

Captcha Cartoon Is Captcha security a good idea?

Captcha Cartoon

This article uses material that originally appeared on the BBC News Website

Is Captcha security a good idea? – Irish Web Design

supermarket cctv footage

Secure your CCTV

This is an interesting article that Irish Web Design found on the BBC News Features and Analysis Section.

The subject of securing your systems from outside access applies to virtually every computer.

Those businesses with security systems that can be accessed on the web or by mobile phone should pay particular attention to how their system is secured.

cc tv camera

How to hack a nation’s infrastructure

By Mark Ward Technology correspondent, BBC News

I’m watching a live video feed of people visiting a café in London.

It’s a small, busy place and is doing a good trade in tea, coffee and cakes. That woman has dropped some money. A child is running around. Later, another customer thinks they have got the wrong change.

Nothing too gripping, you might think, except that the feed should be private, seen only by the cafe’s managers. Somebody forgot to click a box so now anyone who knows where to look can watch.

That CCTV feed is just one of many inadvertently put online. Finding them has got much easier thanks to search engines such as Shodan that scour the web for them. It catalogues hundreds every day.

“Shodan makes it easier to perform attacks that were historically difficult due to the rarity of the systems involved,” Alastair O’Neill from the Insecurety computer security research collective told the BBC. “Shodan lowers the cost of enumerating a network and looking for specific targets.”

It is not just CCTV that has been inadvertently exposed to public scrutiny. Search engines are revealing public interfaces to huge numbers of domestic, business and industrial systems.

Mr O’Neill and other researchers have found public control interfaces for heating systems, geo-thermal energy plants, building control systems and manufacturing plants.
Remote work

The most worrying examples are web-facing controls for “critical infrastructure” – water treatment systems, power plants and traffic control systems.
Industrial plant Many industrial systems are networked because they are in remote locations

“There’s a tremendous amount of stuff out there right now,” said Kyle Wilhoit, a threat researcher from Trend Micro who specialises in seeking out those exposed systems and helping them improve their defences.

Mr Wilhoit said such control systems, which often go by the name of Scada (supervisory control and data acquisition), get put online for many different reasons. Often, he said, the elements of such critical systems were in far-flung places and it was much cheaper to keep an eye on them via the internet than to send an engineer out.

It’s not just finding these systems that is a danger. Security experts are finding lots of holes in the software they run that, in the hands of a skilled attacker, can be exploited to grant unauthorised access.

“For attackers, the potential pay-off for compromising these systems is very high,” said Mr Wilhoit.

Governments are turning their attention to increasingly public vulnerabilities in such critical systems. The US Department of Homeland Security has established a computer emergency response team that deals solely with threats to industrial control systems. In the UK, government cash has been made available to help intelligence agencies and law enforcement deal with cyberthreats.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

“The threat is there – it might not be biting you yet but you had better be ready for the day it does”

Jeff Parker ICSPA

A Cabinet Office spokesman said cyber-attacks were one of the “top four” threats to the UK’s national security.

“Billions of pounds are being lost to the UK economy from cybercrime each year, including from intellectual property theft and cyber-espionage,” he said. “Industry is by far the biggest victim.”

The spokesman added that government was working with industry to harden critical infrastructure against attack, and had set up a series of initiatives to share information about threats and the best way to tackle them.
Bad decisions

The number of web-facing industrial and critical systems that these search engines find is only going to grow. That could introduce a whole new problem if the work of Greg Jones from security firm Digital Assurance is any guide.

Mr Jones bought several smart electricity meters from eBay and took them apart to see how well they protected the information within them. The models he bought are the same as those likely to be used as the UK converts its relatively dumb electricity grid to a smarter alternative.

A few days of work saw Mr Jones and his colleagues extract the passwords from the small chunk of memory inside the meter.
Warning text Many of the systems found by Shodan should have a restricted audience

“They had the same credentials in them – factory default passwords.” In addition, he said, basic steps to stop people fiddling with the hardware, or at least reveal tampering, had not been taken.

The traffic the devices swapped with utilities looked like it would be easy to spoof. If smart meters are rolled out in large numbers this could mean problems as it would give any attacker a way to trick that smart grid into making some catastrophically bad decisions.

“There are some really good standards out there governing smart meters,” said Mr Jones. “Our evidence suggests that those suggestions are not being followed.”

This is despite the government body that advises on security, based at GCHQ in Cheltenham, drawing up standards for validating the security, or otherwise, of the meters. The UK was already supposed to be well on the way to making the grid smarter but the project has been delayed because of worries about the central control system.

What is clear is that critical infrastructure and industrial plant control systems are coming under more scrutiny from both attackers and defenders.

That has its upside, said Jeff Parker, one of the directors at the ICSPA, which advises governments and businesses on cyber-protection.

“Is that a benefit? If it raises awareness of vulnerabilities, then, yes, it can help,” he said. However, it might take a lot of work to harden systems and ensure they were adequately protected.

“The threat is there,” he said, “It might not be biting you yet but you had better be ready for the day it does.”

Read the original article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22524274

Secure your CCTV – Irish Web Design

ireland website security

Solutions for Website Security

Irish Web Design are please to announce that they have created a series of packages to provide a high level of security to small to medium business websites.

The packages are designed especially for WordPress based information, blog, news and e-commerce on-line shop websites.

 

barbed wire pattern

 

Irish Web Design described the packages as consisting of the three S’s: Scan, Secure Survey.

The website security measures involve scanning the websites for issues, securing the site and finally setting up a surveillance system to monitor the website in the longer term.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of websites around the globe that are running the WordPress software have been infected by malicious software.

Some of the software infects the computers of visitors, who may find a realistic looking ‘Anti Virus Scanner’ pop up on their computer.

The owner is informed that his machine is infected and this software will remove the threats and provide on-going security.

This ‘peace of mind’ only costs a very modest amount, typically $10 to $20.

This is a scam, the programme is not real.

What the criminals who are behind the scam want are your credit or debit card details.

They may wait a long time before they use the information gained to empty your account of funds.

There are many variation on these scams, including straightforward blackmail: you want your site back, you will pay.

Irish Web Design have researched the issue and designed a solution to ensure that website owners can sleep at night.

While there can never be an absolute guarantee as situations can change very rapidly the system is designed to provide alerts to any suspicious activity.

Contact Irish Web Design if you want your website audited and secured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solutions for Website Security

living social logo

Living Social Website Compromised

The mighty Living Social website is the latest to be hacked, attacked or as they put it “experienced a security breach”.

livingsocial logo living social

Irish Web Design have carried out a series of actions to protect all the websites they have designed and currently manage.

Irish Web Design is currently considering the best course of action to take to keep all the websites in their care safe in the future.

We will be posting the results here and will also send the  details directly to our clients.

If you are not currently a client we are happy to keep you informed if you send us a message from the Contact page of this website.

In the meantime this is the content of the message subscribers received from Living Social earlier on.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

LivingSocial recently experienced a security breach on our computer systems that resulted in unauthorised access to some customer data from our servers. We are actively working with the authorities to investigate this issue.

The information accessed includes names, email addresses, the date of birth of some users, and encrypted passwords; technically ‘hashed’ and ‘salted’ passwords. We never store passwords in plain text.

The database that stores customer credit card information was not affected or accessed.

Although your LivingSocial password would be difficult to decode, we want to take every precaution to ensure that your account is secure, so we are expiring your old password and requesting that you create a new one.

For your security, please create a new password for your account by following the instructions below.

  1. Visit https://www.livingsocial.com
  2. Click on the “Create New Password” button (top right corner of the homepage)
  3. Follow the steps to finish

We also encourage you, for your own personal data security, to consider changing password(s) on any other sites where you use the same or similar password(s).

The security of your information is our priority. We always strive to ensure the security of our customer information, and we are redoubling efforts to prevent any issues in the future.

Please note that LivingSocial will never ask you directly for personal or account information in an email. We will always direct you to the LivingSocial website – and require you to login – before making any changes to your account. Please disregard any emails claiming to be from LivingSocial that request such information or direct you to a different website that asks for such information.

We are sorry this incident occurred, and we look forward to continuing to introduce you to new and exciting things to do in your community.

Sincerely,
Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO

 

Living Social Website Compromised

wordpress attacked circular 3d logo

Protect Your WordPress Website

One of the most popular content management systems in use on modern websites is WordPress, found on more than 60 million websites around the world.

WordPress has been in the news recently as the subject of a large-scale attack from a huge number of computers from across the internet.  This automated botnet attack was attempting to take over servers that run WordPress websites.

Many experts believe that this current attack is a relatively small scale version of a botnet that will infect computers in the future. The next attack may be vastly stronger and more destructive than what we have seen recently.

Running on the servers that have bandwidth connections that are hundreds or even thousands of times faster than machines in homes and small businesses.

The enormous popularity of WordPress shows its vulnerability in a situation like this, as a result of it’s ease of use is weak security by users.

This typically means that users continue to use the word ‘admin’ as a user name, as this is the default administration account that’s created when you first install WordPress.

Weak passwords may be guessed by the ‘brute force’ attack of a botnet, able to try vast numbers of password combinations in a short space of  time.

For the moment every WordPress user should disabled the default ‘admin’ account in their installation,  and replace it with something else. This may take you out of the immediate danger from the current the attackers.

To create a strong password you need to use at least ten characters with a combination of upper and lower case letters along with some numbers and even some extended characters

The recent attack serves as a reminder to everyone that that security for your WordPress blog or website is something you do need to continue to work on.

What follows is Irish Web Design’s advice on what can you do to make your site more secure. These actions will help to deter such attacks in the future.

Update to the latest WordPress (currently version 3.5.1)

If there is an administrative user called ‘admin’.

Create a new account with a different name, unconnected with the name of your website. Give it administrative privileges.
Give it a strong password you have never used before.
Write these details down in at least two different places.
Sign out of the account.
Sign in as the new user.
Delete the old ‘admin’ user account.
During this procedure, you’ll be asked by  what account should you assign posts to created by ‘admin’ to.
Choose the new account name you just created.

You should also enable ‘two-step verification’ for each user in your WordPress account. As this is a more complex process with additional implications we will carry an article on the subject in the near future.

Irish Web Design would also recommend changing all passwords connected with access to the site, server and database on a regular basis.

As a matter of course Irish Web Design also recommend that all users should install a number of security programmes on all WordPress websites to prevent them being hacked.

In our view, if you adhere to minimum standards of security for your WordPress site it will give you a good level of security and will make it more difficult to hack into your site.

Don’t let the spammers, hackers or botnets destroy your presence on the web. Your site or blog can be secure with a little thought and effort.

Title of article: Protect Your WordPress Website published by Irish Web Design

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookCheck Our Feed