NHS cyber-attack: hospital computer systems held to ransom across England

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack, the NHS has confirmed, which has locked staff out of their computers and forced many trusts to divert emergency patients.

The IT systems of NHS sites across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the PCs. NHS England has declared a major incident. NHS Digital said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon.

Details of patient records and appointment schedules, as well as internal phone lines and emails, have all been rendered inaccessible.

NHS Digital said: “A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organisations.

“The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.

“NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations.

“This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.

“Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.”

According to reports, affected hospitals include those run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, the university hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust and Blackpool teaching hospital NHS foundation trust.

More reports of affected hospitals are continuing to stream in, as well as claims that GP surgeries are coming down with the virus, which demands a payment of $300 to release files it claims have been encrypted. The NHS has been unable to give a full list of the sites affected.

British law enforcement believes the attack is criminal in nature, as opposed to be a cyber attack by a foreign power, and is being treated as serious but without national security implications.

The National Crime Agency, which is Britain’s version of the FBI, was taking the lead in dealing with the investigation into the attack. Investigators believe the attack is significant with many computers affected across the country.

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre said: “We are aware of a cyber incident and are working with NHS digital and the NCA to investigate.”

In a message to a Guardian reporter, one NHS IT worker said: “At approximately 12.30pm we experienced a problem with our email servers crashing. Following this a lot of our clinical systems and patient systems were reported to have gone down.

“A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs. You cannot get past this screen. This followed with an internal major incident being declared and advised all trust staff to shut down all PCs in the trust and await further instructions.

“This is affecting the east of England and number of other trusts. This is the largest outage of this nature I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been employed with the NHS.”

Another NHS worker, who works at an Essex hospital but asked to remain anonymous, said: “We got some ransomware that came through on the computers at about 2pm. We were told to shut down, take out network cables and unplug the phones. A message came up for just one of our team about the fact that all the files would be wiped in two hours unless we gave $300 in bitcoins.”

She confirmed that the image that appeared on her colleague’s screen was the same as one that has already been circulated on Twitter, which says: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!

“Many of your documents, photos, videos, databases and other files are no longer accessible because they have been encrypted. Maybe you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but do not waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”

The screen tells users to send $300 worth of bitcoin to a bitcoin wallet address. It adds: “You only have three days to submit the payment. After that the price will be doubled. Also if you don’t pay in seven days, you won’t be able to recover your files forever.”

A Barts spokesman said it was experiencing “major IT disruption” and delays at all four of its hospitals, The Royal London, St Bartholomew’s, Whipps Cross and Newham. He said: “We have activated our major incident plan to make sure we can maintain the safety and welfare of patients.

“We are very sorry that we have to cancel routine appointments, and would ask members of the public to use other NHS services wherever possible. Ambulances are being diverted to neighbouring hospitals.”

GP surgeries across Liverpool and parts of Greater Manchester also appeared to have been affected by the cyber-attack.

The NHS Liverpool clinical commissioning group said: “Please be aware the NHS is experiencing serious IT problems today. Please only contact your GP surgery or hospital in a genuine emergency.”

One Liverpool GP, John Caldwell, said he had “no access to record systems or results” and described the disruption as “very limiting”. Dr Chris Mimnagh, a GP in Liverpool, told the Guardian that his surgery had “severed links” to the wider NHS network as a precaution.

He said: “Unable to access our clinical system – as a precaution our area has severed links to the wider NHS, which means no access to our national systems, no computers means no records, no prescriptions, no results, we are dealing with urgent problems only, our patients are being very understanding so far.”

A spokesman for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen university hospitals trust said it was “aware that there’s an issue nationally and we’re reviewing our IT systems”.

A spokeswoman for Central Manchester university hospitals, the largest NHS trust in Greater Manchester, said she was “genuinely not sure” if they had been affected and that they were investigating.

A GP surgery in Bury, Greater Manchester, said all networks in the region had been affected. Peel GPs said on Twitter: “All Greater Manchester networks down – we cannot access any patient info plz RT @NHSBuryCCG.”

Doctors have been posting on Twitter about what has been happening to their systems.

A screengrab of a instant message conversation circulated by one doctor says: “So our hospital is down … We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money. And now everything is gone.”

East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust said in a statement: “Today (Friday, 12 May 2017), the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack.

“Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust’s telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls.

“The trust is postponing all non-urgent activity for today and is asking people not to come to A&E – please ring NHS111 for urgent medical advice or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

“To ensure that all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust’s hospitals continued to receive the care they need.”

The attack comes as several Spanish companies, including the telecoms giant Telefónica, were also targeted by a “massive ransomware attack”, according to Spain’s national cyber-security centre. The attack appears to present the same message to users as those targeting the NHS.

In a statement released following an apparent wave of attacks on Friday morning, the National Cryptology Centre said a cyber assault had been launched “against various organisations”, affecting Windows systems and corrupting networks and archives.

The ransomware used in the Spanish attacks is a version of the WannaCry virus, which encrypts sensitive user data, the National Cryptology Centre said. Telefónica confirmed there had been “a cybersecurity incident” affecting the intranet of some computers at its Madrid headquarters.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

AVIATION-RELATED PHISHING PASSWORDS

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A wave of email-based phishing campaigns is targeting airline consumers with messages that contain malware that infects systems or links to spoofed airline websites that are personalized to trick victims into handing over personal or business credentials.

“Over the past several weeks, we have seen a combination of attack techniques. One, where an attacker impersonates a travel agency or someone inside a company. Recipients are told an email contains an airline ticket or e-ticket,” said Asaf Cidon, vice president, content security services at Barracuda Networks. Attachments, he said, are documents rigged with malware or are designed to download it from a command and control server.

Cidon said other aviation-themed phishing attacks contain links to spoofed airline sites. In these types of attacks, adversaries go to great lengths to spoof the airline’s site. In addition, attackers personalize the landing page with the target’s personal information in hopes of coaxing them to log in with either their company or airline username and password.

“It’s clear there is some degree of advanced reconnaissance that takes place before targeting individuals within these companies,” Cidon said.

Recent phishing campaigns, he said, are targeting logistic, shipping and manufacturing industries.

Barracuda’s warning comes a week after the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team issued an alert of similar attacks targeting airline consumers. It warned email-based phishing campaigns were attempting to obtain credentials as well.

“Systems infected through phishing campaigns act as an entry point for attackers to gain access to sensitive business or personal information,” according to the US-CERT warning.

The US-CERT warning was based on concerns Delta Air Lines had over a rash of fake websites designed to confuse consumers.

“Delta has received reports of attempts by parties not affiliated with us to fraudulently gather customer information in a number of ways including: fraudulent emails, social media sites, postcards, Gift Card promotional websites claiming to be from Delta Air Lines and letters or prize notifications promising free travel,” according to the Delta Air Lines warning.

Delta said some victims were sent emails that claimed to contain invoices or receipts inside attached documents. Attachments contained either dangerous viruses or links to websites that downloaded malware onto a victim’s computer.

When asked about the warning, Delta declined to comment.

More troubling to Barracuda researchers was the success rate adversaries are having with phishing campaigns it is tracking.

“Our analysis shows that for the airline phishing attack, attackers are successful over 90 percent of the time in getting employees to open airline impersonation emails,” Cidon wrote in a research note posted Thursday. “This is one of the highest success rates for phishing attacks.”

In June, Microsoft Malware Protection Center reported a resurgence in the use of Office document macro attacks. Researchers say crooks attempting to install malware and perpetrate credential-harvesting attacks are more likely to use social engineering to trick people into installing malware than to exploit vulnerabilities with tools such as exploit kits.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Amazon AWS S3 outage is breaking things for a lot of websites and apps

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Amazon’s S3 web-based storage service is experiencing widespread issues, leading to service that’s either partially or fully broken on websites, apps and devices upon which it relies. The AWS offering provides hosting for images for a lot of sites, and also hosts entire websites, and app backends including Nest.

The S3 outage is due to “high error rates with S3 in US-EAST-1,” according to Amazon’s AWS service health dashboard, which is where the company also says it’s working on “remediating the issue,” without initially revealing any further details.

Affected websites and services include Quora, newsletter provider Sailthru, Business Insider, Giphy, image hosting at a number of publisher websites, filesharing in Slack, and many more. Connected lightbulbs, thermostats and other IoT hardware is also being impacted, with many unable to control these devices as a result of the outage.

Amazingly, even the status indicators on the AWS service status page rely on S3 for storage of its health marker graphics, hence why the site is still showing all services green despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

We’re monitoring the situation and will provide more info as it becomes available.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-s3-outage-is-breaking-things-for-a-lot-of-websites-and-apps/

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Serious Bug Exposes Sensitive Data From Millions Sites Sitting Behind CloudFlare

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A severe security vulnerability has been discovered in the CloudFlare content delivery network that has caused big-name websites to expose private session keys and other sensitive data.

CloudFlare, a content delivery network (CDN) and web security provider that helps optimize safety and performance of over 5.5 Million websites on the Internet, is warning its customers of the critical bug that could have exposed a range of sensitive information, including passwords, and cookies and tokens used to authenticate users.

Dubbed Cloudbleed, the nasty flaw is named after the Heartbleed bug that was discovered in 2014, but believed to be worse than Heartbleed.

The vulnerability is so severe that it not only affects websites on the CloudFlare network but affects mobile apps as well.

What is Cloudbleed?

Discovered by Google Project Zero security researcher Tavis Ormandy over a week ago, Cloudbleed is a major flaw in the Cloudflare Internet infrastructure service that causes the leakage of private session keys and other sensitive information across websites hosted behind Cloudflare.

CloudFlare acts as a proxy between the user and web server, which caches content for websites that sits behind its global network and lowers the number of requests to the original host server by parsing content through Cloudflare’s edge servers for optimization and security.

Almost a week ago, Ormandy discovered a buffer overflow issue with Cloudflare’s edge servers that were running past the end of a buffer and were returning memory containing private data like HTTP cookies, authentication tokens, and HTTP POST bodies, with some of the leaked data already cached by search engines.

“I’m finding private messages from major dating sites, full messages from a well-known chat service, online password manager data, frames from adult video sites, hotel bookings,” Ormandy wrote in a blog post that was also published Thursday. “We’re talking full HTTPS requests, client IP addresses, full responses, cookies, passwords, keys, data, everything.”

According to Ormandy, Cloudflare had code in its “ScrapeShield” feature that did something similar to this:

int Length = ObfuscateEmailAddressesInHtml(&OutputBuffer, CachedPage);
write(fd, OutputBuffer, Length);

But the company was not checking if the obfuscation parsers returned a negative value because of malicious HTML.

The Cloudflare’s “ScrapeShield” feature parses and obfuscates HTML, but since reverse proxies are shared among customers, it would affect all CloudFlare customers.

Ormandy contacted Cloudflare and reported it about his findings. The company identified the cause of the issue, and immediately disabled 3 minor Cloudflare features — Email obfuscation, Server-side Excludes, as well as Automatic HTTPS Rewrites — that were using the same HTML parser chain, which was causing the leakage.

Ormandy observed encryption keys, passwords, cookies, chunks of POST data, and HTTPS requests for the other leading Cloudflare-hosted websites from other users and immediately contacted Cloudflare.

Since CloudFlare patched the issue but did not notify customers by Wednesday of the data leak issue, Ormandy made public his findings on Thursday, following Project Zero’s seven-day policy for actively exploited attacks.

Following Ormandy’s public disclosure of the vulnerability on Thursday, CloudFlare confirmed the flaw, ensuring its customers that their SSL private keys were not leaked.

“Cloudflare has always terminated SSL connections through an isolated instance of NGINX that was not affected by this bug,” Cloudflare CTO John Graham-Cumming wrote in a blog post. “The bug was serious because the leaked memory could contain private information and because it had been cached by search engines.”

“We are disclosing this problem now as we are satisfied that search engine caches have now been cleared of sensitive information,” he added. “We have also not discovered any evidence of malicious exploits of the bug or other reports of its existence.”

 

The Root Cause of Cloudbleed:

The root cause of the Cloudbleed vulnerability was that “reaching the end of a buffer was checked using the equality operator and a pointer was able to step past the end of the buffer.” 

“Had the check been done using >= instead of == jumping over the buffer end would have been caught,” said Cumming.

Cloudflare has also confirmed that the greatest period of impact was between February 13 and February 18 with almost one in every 3,300,000 HTTP requests via Cloudflare potentially resulting in memory leakage, which is about 0.00003% of requests.

However, the researcher argued that the DNS provider was double-dealing, claiming that the Cloudbleed vulnerability had existed for months, based on Google’s cached data.

How Does Cloudbleed Affect You?

There are a large number of Cloudflare’s services and websites that use parsing HTML pages and modify them through the Cloudflare’s edge servers.

Even if you do not use CloudFlare directly, that does not mean that you are spared. There is always a chance that websites you visit and web services you use may have been affected, leaking your data as well.

Of course, if you are using Cloudflare services in front of your site, the flaw could impact you, exposing sensitive information that flowed between your servers and end-users through CloudFlare’s proxies.

While CloudFlare’s service was rapidly patched the bug and has said the actual impact is relatively minor, data was leaking constantly before this — for months.

Some of this leaked data were publicly cached in search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, who now removed it, but some engines like DuckDuckGo still host those data.

Also, other leaked data might exist in other services and caches throughout the Web, which is impossible to delete across all of these locations.

Cloudbleed Also Affects Mobile Apps

Cloudbleed also affects mobile apps, because, in many cases, the apps are designed to make use of the same backends as browsers for content delivery and HTTPS (SSL/TLS) termination.

Users on YCombinator have confirmed the presence of HTTP header data for apps like Discord, FitBit, and Uber by searching through DuckDuckGo caches with targeted search terms.

In an analysis conducted by NowSecure, the researchers have discovered some 200 iOS apps that identified as using Cloudflare services from a sampling of some 3,500 of the most popular apps on the app store.

There is always a possibility of someone discovering this vulnerability before Tavis, and may have been actively exploiting it, although there is no evidence to support this theory.

Some of the Cloudflare’s major customers affected by the vulnerability included Uber, 1Password, FitBit, and OKCupid. However, in a blog post published by 1Password, the company assured its users that no sensitive data was exposed because the service was encrypted in transit.

However, a list of websites that have potentially been impacted by this bug has been published by a user, who go by the name of ‘pirate,’ on GitHub, which also included CoinBase, 4Chan, BitPay, DigitalOcean, Medium, ProductHunt, Transferwise, The Pirate Bay, Extra Torrent, BitDefender, Pastebin, Zoho, Feedly, Ashley Madison, Bleeping Computer, The Register, and many more.

Since CloudFlare does not yet provide the list of affected services, bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list.

What should You do about the Cloudbleed bug?

Online users are strongly recommended to reset their passwords for all accounts in case you have reused the same passwords on every site, as well as monitor account activity closely as cleanup is underway.

Moreover, customers who are using Cloudflare for their websites are advised to force a password change for all of their users.

Update: Uber representative reached out to me via an email and said their investigation revealed that the CloudBleed bug exposed no passwords of their customers. Here’s the statement provided by Uber:

“Very little Uber traffic actually goes through Cloudflare, so only a handful of tokens were involved and have since been changed. Passwords were not exposed.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

11-Year Old Linux Kernel Local Privilege Escalation Flaw Discovered

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Another privilege-escalation vulnerability has been discovered in Linux kernel that dates back to 2005 and affects major distro of the Linux operating system, including Redhat, Debian, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu.

Over a decade old Linux Kernel bug (CVE-2017-6074) has been discovered by security researcher Andrey Konovalov in the DCCP (Datagram Congestion Control Protocol) implementation using Syzkaller, a kernel fuzzing tool released by Google.

The vulnerability is a use-after-free flaw in the way the Linux kernel’s “DCCP protocol implementation freed SKB (socket buffer) resources for a DCCP_PKT_REQUEST packet when the IPV6_RECVPKTINFO option is set on the socket.”

The DCCP double-free vulnerability could allow a local unprivileged user to alter the Linux kernel memory, enabling them to cause a denial of service (system crash) or escalate privileges to gain administrative access on a system.

“An attacker can control what object that would be and overwrite its content with arbitrary data by using some of the kernel heap spraying techniques. If the overwritten object has any triggerable function pointers, an attacker gets to execute arbitrary code within the kernel,” full disclosure mailing list about the vulnerability reads.

DCCP is a message-oriented transport layer protocol that minimizes the overhead of packet header size or end-node processing as much as possible and provides the establishment, maintenance and teardown of an unreliable packet flow, and the congestion control of that packet flow.

This vulnerability does not provide any way for an outsider to break into your system in the first place, as it is not a remote code execution (RCE) flaw and require an attacker to have a local account access on the system to exploit the flaw.

Almost two months ago, a similar privilege-escalation vulnerability (CVE-2016-8655) was uncovered in Linux kernel that dated back to 2011 and allowed an unprivileged local user to gain root privileges by exploiting a race condition in the af_packet implementation in the Linux kernel.

The vulnerability has already been patched in the mainline kernel. So, if you are an advanced Linux user, apply the patch and rebuild kernel yourself.

OR, you can wait for the next kernel update from your distro provider and apply it as soon as possible.

Source: http://thehackernews.com/2017/02/linux-kernel-local-root.html
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

OPENSSL UPDATE FIXES HIGH-SEVERITY DOS VULNERABILITY

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The OpenSSL Software Foundation released an update to the OpenSSL crypto library that patches a vulnerability rated high severity that could allow a remote attacker to cause a denial-of-service condition.

OpenSSL released the version 1.1.0e update that fixes flaws found in OpenSSL 1.1.0, according to the OpenSSL Security Advisory issued last week. The United States Computer Emergency Response Team also alerted system admins of the issue last week.

According to OpenSSL, the vulnerability occurs during a renegotiation handshake procedure. “If the Encrypt-Then-Mac extension is negotiated where it was not in the original handshake (or vice-versa) then this can cause OpenSSL to crash (dependent on ciphersuite). Both clients and servers are affected,” according to the advisory.

OpenSSL is ubiquitous, in tens of thousands of commercial and homespun software projects. The open source project provides a robust, commercial-grade, and full-featured toolkit for the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols. The technology is credited for keeping communications secure between endpoints by ensuring the identity of both parties.

According OpenSSL, the issue does not impact OpenSSL version 1.0.2. However, additional versions of OpenSSL, such as version 1.0.0 and 0.9.8, which are no longer supported, will also need updates. The bug, CVE-2017-3733, was reported by Red Hat’s Joe Orton on Jan. 31. The fix was developed by the OpenSSL team’s Matt Caswell.

OpenSSL deployments continue to be plagued by the Heartbleed vulnerability. The flaw persists today and can be found on almost 200,000 servers and devices, according to a recent report by the operators of Shodan search engine.

Earlier this month Ubuntu users were urged to update their operating system to address a handful of patched OpenSSL vulnerabilities (CVE-2016-7056 and CVE-2016-7055) which affect Ubuntu and its derivatives.

The OpenSSL toolkit is licensed under an Apache-style license and has the financial backing of firms such as The Linux Foundation, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Dell and Google.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

President Donald Trump’s Website Hacked; Defaced By Iraqi Hacker

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
During the 2016 presidential election campaign, we reported about how insecure was the mail servers operated by the Trump organization that anyone with little knowledge of computers can expose almost everything about Trump and his campaign.

Now, some unknown hackers calling themselves “Pro_Mast3r” managed to deface an official website associated with President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign fundraising on Sunday.

The hacker, claiming to be from Iraq, reportedly defaced the server, secure2.donaldjtrump.com, which is behind CloudFlare’s content management system and security platform.

The server appears to be an official Trump campaign server, reported Ars, as the certificate of the server is legitimate, “but a reference to an image on another site is insecure, prompting a warning on Chrome and Firefox that the connection is not secure.

The defaced website displayed an image of a black hat man and included a text message, which reads:

Hacked by Pro_Mast3r ~
Attacker Gov
Nothing Is Impossible
Peace From Iraq

At the time of writing, the server is now offline, and there is no official statement from Trump-Pence campaign team yet.

According to a blog post published by Italian IT journalist Paolo Attivissimo, the source code of the defaced server does not contain any malicious script.

Instead, the server includes a link to javascript on a now-nonexistent Google Code account, ‘masterendi,’ which was linked to cyber attacks on three other sites in the past.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Belgian police says dont use Facebook’s reaction emojis if you value privacy

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Police in Belgium are warning citizens not to use Facebook’s new Reactions, to protect their own privacy and ensure they are not targeted by advertisers.

“Facebook never lets an opportunity to gather more information about us pass,” a post on Belgian’s official police website reads. “The [reactions]icons help not only express your feelings, they also help Facebook assess the effectiveness of ads on your profile.”

“One more reason to not rush to click if you want to protect your privacy,” the police statement ended.

In February this year, Facebook had released reaction emojis to users around the world. It added reactions emojis such as laughter, amazement, anger, sadness and love to the ubiquitous ‘like’ button.

“We’ve been listening to people and know that there should be more ways to easily and quickly express how something you see in (the) news feed makes you feel,” wrote Facebook product manager Sammi Krug in an announcement of the release in February. “That’s why today we are launching Reactions, an extension of the Like button, to give you more ways to share your reaction to a post in a quick and easy way.” However, its blog post introducing the feature made no reference of the reactions’ advertising potential.

The Belgian police is claiming that the site is using them as a way of collecting information about people and deciding how best to advertise to them. As such, it has warned people that they should avoid using the buttons if they want to preserve their privacy.

“If it appears that you are in good spirits, Facebook will infer that you are receptive and will be able to sell advertising space by explaining to the advertisers that they are more likely in that way that you will react,” the police said in a statement.

“By limiting the number of icons to six, Facebook is counting on you to express your thoughts more easily so that the algorithms that run in the background are more effective,” the Belgian police post continues. “By mouse clicks you can let them know what makes you happy.

“So that will help Facebook find the perfect location, on your profile, allowing it to display content that will arouse your curiosity but also to choose the time you present it. If it appears that you are in a good mood, it can deduce that you are more receptive and able to sell spaces explaining advertisers that they will have more chance to see you react.”

The company has acknowledged how data collected from user emotions represents key marketing opportunities for businesses, and as benchmarks for brand loyalty.

“We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook,” it said. At present, it registers any reaction the same way it does a “like”.

This is not the first time that the social media giant has faced resistance from the Belgian Police. Late last year, its privacy authorities stopped Facebook from tracking non-users who visited the site with browser cookies.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Your LinkedIn Profile Might Be The Source of Hacker Attacks

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why is LinkedIn So Attractive to Hackers?
Here’s a look at LinkedIn through a hacker’s eyes. Conducting a search for a specific organization on LinkedIn will turn up any number of professionals’ profiles, some of which will include the person’s business e-mail address. Once a hacker has seen a few e-mail addresses for the same company, he’s learned the company’s e-mail address structure ([email protected] ) and can build an e-mail list of employees to target. In fact, hackers can successfully guess 50 to 60 percent of all employee email addresses using this method.

Next, the hacker will formulate a phishing or social engineering plan. Using his knowledge of your firm’s IT platforms, his scheme could take the form of an e-mail that directs his unsuspecting victims to a webpage requiring them to enter their username and password credentials, for example.

The hacker will avoid including IT staffers on his distribution list, as that’s too likely to raise red flags. But customer service, accounting, marketing, and human resources personnel make much more attractive targets. The hacker will create urgency and emotion with his request. And, finally, he’ll send out his bait, hook his targets and voilá: he’s gained a foothold, the first step to getting the access he needs to breach the network and steal valuable credit-card, social-security or other data stores. A company’s worst nightmare has just begun.

As a penetration tester, my best efforts result in me finding a vulnerability like this, and helping companies close this security gap before real hackers find their way through. The scariest part of this scenario is that any company with more than 100 employees is at risk for this kind of stealth attack from an ill-intentioned hacker who has made LinkedIn his or her best friend.

What’s a Business to Do?
So, now that you know why LinkedIn has unwittingly become a hacker’s BFF, what’s a business to do? Companies have competing priorities when it comes to social media and LinkedIn in particular. They want their employees out there promoting the company, recruiting new customers and talent and driving up online visibility. But they also have a driving need to protect their data—especially in regulated industries where a data breach could cost them not only reputation points and customer loyalty, but also countless dollars in fines.

As far as anyone can tell, however. LinkedIn is here to stay. Smart companies will accept this fact, and quickly and effectively find the balance between freedom and security. Employees will continue to post personal data on LinkedIn, but their companies in turn will need to prevent that superficial information from becoming a hacker’s key to their business-critical data stores.

Here are three things your firm can do to protect your business-critical data:

1. Invest in good, frequent social engineering training.
Just because hackers can guess your employees’ e-mail addresses doesn’t mean your people should fall for their schemes and provide their login or other information. A strong social engineering training program can help your employees learn to recognize and resist a phishing scam. And one-and-done is not the way to go here; frequent reminders and follow-up training can help keep employees vigilant.

2. Develop a statement that clearly tells employees how your company will handle network security information.
For example, “We will never ask for your username and password,” or “All network-related communications will come only from this specific e-mail address.” This statement should be well known to all of your people and can prevent employees from sharing usernames and passwords with parties who have malicious intent.

3. Have a clear reporting process for suspicious activity.
Make sure employees know how to report social engineering schemes and suspicious e-mails. Keep it simple, maybe with a catch phrase, for example, like “See something? Say something.” Wallet cards or another physical reference might be a good idea here—anything that makes it easy to recognize a potential hacker and report suspicious activity before it becomes a full-blown network attack.

In today’s social media environment, it’s unrealistic to think that a business can avoid all exposure to hackers who are putting LinkedIn to work for their own purposes. However, educating and equipping your people can go a long way toward keeping your business-critical data safe and sound.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

HACKED: PUB CHAIN JD WETHERSPOON; 500,000+ CUSTOMERS’ RECORDS BREACHED

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pub company JD Wetherspoon has confirmed that its database was the target of a cyberattack. The data breach could potentially affect over half a million customer records from the database.

A database of over 650,000 customers of UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon has been breached by unknown malicious hackers. According to a statement put out by the company, a “very limited” number of customers have had their credit and debit card details stolen, although they are unlikely to be used for fraudulent transactions.

While the card data was not encrypted, only the last four digits of payment card details were stored in the database to begin with, according to CEO John Hutson.

The statement read:

These credit or debit card details cannot be used on their own for fraudulent purposes, because the first 12 digits and the security number on the reverse of the card were not stored on the database.

In a BBC report, it is revealed that the database also held details of 656,723 customers such as:

  • Names
  • Dates of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers

The breach is significant, despite the lack of financial information stolen as it is entirely within the realm of possibility that expert malicious hackers could potentially use the breached personal data to engage in identity theft of phishing campaigns.

In a letter to customers, Hutson stressed there was no evidence to show any fraudulent activity from the breached data. Customers are also recommended to stay vigilant against any emails or messages that request them to click or download any files or request any financial and personal data.

An excerpt from the statement read:

We apologize wholeheartedly to customers and staff who have been affected. Unfortunately, hacking is becoming more and more sophisticated and widespread.

The cyberattack struck the company’s old website between June 15 and June 17. The website has since been replaced. Wetherspoon was only made aware of the possible breach on December 1 while confirming it soon after.

The United Kingdom has weathered a blitz of cyberattacks lately with the TalkTalk hack proving to be the most prominent data breach in recent times. Over 4 million users’ personal details may have been compromised with the telecom and broadband provider noting that it might cost the company upwards of $50 million as a one-time financial hit.

Featured image The Flying Standard pub from Shutterstock.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail