With Credit and Debit Card Fraud Nearly Doubling Between 2012 and 2013, Financial Pros Are “Doubling Down” on Security.

Posted on April 20th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Credit Card Fraud

The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) surveyed more than 5000 members. The result? As a reaction to ongoing and persistent credit and debit card fraud, most companies are increasing or seriously considering increasing security.

The “2014 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey” found that 63 percent of polled organizations have already added or planned to add new security measures including secure signature stamps, electronic stamps, and storing payment data with third-party vendors.

Quoted in a piece on associationsnow.com, AFP’s president and CEO, Jim Kaitz said, “Criminals will try to stay a step ahead. But with potential liability increasing for merchants, companies are taking a hard look at where their own vulnerabilities lie. This is especially important for big companies with complex systems, which are frequent targets for fraud.”

Last year, according to the study, 60 percent of organizations were exposed to fraud or attempted fraud. And according to Katie Bascuas’ piece on associationsnow.com, while checks were the most common form of payment fraud in 2013, fraudulent activity using credit and debit cards nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013.

Mallory Duncan, general counsel for the National Retail Federation, places much of the blame on technology. Duncan told Reuters, “The technology that exists in cards out there is 20th-century technology, and we’ve got 21st-century hackers.”

Whether banks, retailers or credit card companies would pay for the upgrades is still to be determined. One solution the Electronic Transactions Association is working on is chip-based Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) cards, which would help stop criminals from counterfeiting cards using stolen account numbers. However, it would do nothing to prevent cybercrooks from using stolen credit card numbers online.

The Retail Industry Association said it intended to launch the RILA Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Initiative to improve payment card security, establish a cybersecurity leaders’ council, and call for federal data-breach notification legislation.

RILA President Sandy Kennedy said, “By working together with public-private sector stakeholders, our ability to develop innovative solutions and anticipate threats will grow, enhancing our collective security and giving customers the service and peace of mind they deserve.”

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Breaches Bad for Californians’ Health. Patients’ Personal Medical Record Data Stolen in 3 Separate Incidents

Posted on April 19th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Healthcare

Old-fashioned burglary to cutting-edge malware put patients’ data at risk from one end of California to the other.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Torrance, California’s Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, a medical billing and collections company, was burglarized and eight computers taken. Data stored on those computers included 338,700 patients’ first and last names, Social Security numbers and certain billing information. Also possibly compromised were birth dates, addresses and diagnoses.

Patients were offered free credit monitoring. That didn’t stop the filing of three class-action suits. Meanwhile, the police, the L.A. County D.A.’s cybercrime team and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating.

Writing on fiercehealthit.com, Ashley Gold reports that in Orange County, the La Palma Intercommunity Hospital learned in September 2012 that an employee, who was not authorized, accessed Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, addresses, birth dates and some medical information. However the hospital didn’t notify patients of the employee’s spying for more than a year.

At the other end of the state, in Northern California, Kaiser Permanente told 5,100 patients, who participated in a research study, that their information was compromised when malicious software infected a Kaiser server. The stolen data included first and last names, addresses, race/ethnicity, medical record numbers, lab results and responses to the study. And, according to Government Health IT, it took Kaiser more than two and half years to discover the breach.

A recent report by IT security audit firm Redspin noted that more than 7 million patient records were breached last year, an increase of 138 percent from 2012.

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

What Do You Get When You Mix Malware with More People than Ever Doing E-commerce Online Transactions? 28.4 Million Cyberattacks.

Posted on April 18th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Malware

A new study, “Financial Cyber Threats in 2013,” from Kaspersky Lab says cyberattacks using financial malware increased 27.6 percent in 2013 over the previous year.

Cybercriminals used every possible maltechnology (yes we just coined the word) including banking Trojans, keyloggers and two new types of malware; one targets Bitcoin wallets, the other downloads software to generate the crypto-currency.

Kaspersky Lab senior security researcher, Sergey Lozhkin, said, “The popularity of banking Trojans and other programs targeting financial data is due to the fact cybercriminals can use them to make money quickly. The current situation has forced users and financial institutions to take active measures against online threats, while security software vendors have to develop new protection solutions.”

Banking Trojans such as Zbot, Carberp, and SpyEye were responsible for about two-thirds of financial malware in 2013. However, their “market share” decreased compared to 2012 because most of the attacks were aimed at Bitcoin users. Keylogger use also decreased because cybercriminals opted for improved specialized programs.

Compared to the previous year, financial attacks on Russian users declined by 9.19 percent while attacks on American users increased from 17.56 percent in 2012 to 30.8 percent in 2013. The proportion of attacks on German users almost doubled from 5.83 percent to 9.32 percent.

Also of note in the study:

• 31.45% of all phishing attacks in 2013 targeted financial institutions.

• 22.2% of all attacks involved fake bank websites; the share of banking phishing doubled over 2012.

• In 2013, the number of cyberattacks involving malware designed to steal financial data rose by 27.6% to 28.4 million. The number of users attacked by this financial-targeting malware reached 3.8 million, an 18.6% increase year on year.

• In the study’s malware sample collection, the number of malicious Android applications designed to steal financial data rose almost fivefold in the second half of 2013, from 265 samples in June to 1321 in December.

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

 

 

 

Retailers Follow the Leader: ThreatMetrix. Will Share Cyberthreat Data along the Lines of ThreatMetrix’s Global Trust Intelligence Network Which Analyzes Half-a-Billion Transactions Monthly.

Posted on April 17th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

National Retail Federation

Does Macy’s tell Gimbels? Okay Gimbels, a major retailer and one of Macy’s chief competitors, has gone the way of the Oldsmobile, Blockbuster and Windows XP. But at one time “Does Macy’s tell Gimbels?” was another way of saying “top secret;” competitors don’t share information with the competition.

Now, with the Target, Neiman-Marcus, Michaels and other retail breaches fresh in their minds and with pressure from Congress to improve security, U.S. retailers have taken a major step toward improving security.

In a story on zdnet.com, Natalie Gagliordi reports that the National Retail Federation (NRF) in consultation with the Financial Services Forum for Security Threats is establishing a retailer-specific Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). This joint cybersecurity cooperative would offer retailers access to “critical information on threats identified by fellow retailers, government agencies, law enforcement and partners in the financial services sector.”

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “We believe a heightened and well coordinated information sharing platform such as a retail ISAC is a vital component for helping retailers in their fight against cyber attacks.

“Establishing a new program takes time, but time is not our friend when it comes to stopping these sophisticated and unpredictable criminals. The willingness of the FS-ISAC to work with retailers provides our industry with a new and important tool as we explore all of the options available for merchants to protect their customers and their businesses.”

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

 

 

 

Tired of Hearing about Heartbleed? Do Something About It. ThreatMetrix Strategies for “Staunching” Heartbleed and Any Similar Threats in the Future.

Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Heartbleed

After going unnoticed for two years, researchers discovered Heartbleed, the flaw that could let a hacker defeat OpenSSL, the most common encryption technology on the Internet. Another way of saying it is Heartbleed put 66 percent of servers worldwide at the mercy of cybercriminals. And another way of saying that is email, instant messaging, e-commerce transactions and more were being jeopardized in every corner of the planet, exposing passwords, credit card numbers and other personal data.

The Heartbleed security flaw was a danger to websites and the mobile applications and networking equipment that connect homes and businesses to the Internet, including such things as routers and printers. In short, the flaw presented a danger to the entire Internet of Things, i.e., any device from air conditioners to refrigerators that could be connected online.

After putting in a patch to fix the flaw, many, if not most online businesses, only had one strategy to offer users: change your passwords.

“Today it’s Heartbleed and tomorrow it will be another data breach or vulnerability,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix.

“Passwords are a static means of security and are frankly obsolete as a stand-alone authentication solution in today’s cybersecurity landscape. Once account login information is obtained, cybercriminals have access to personal data used for committing bank fraud or falsifying credit card transactions – the possibilities are endless. Security should not just rely on point-in-time authentication solutions. Instead, continuous evaluation of trust is required based on what the user is attempting to do.”

ThreatMetrix’s preventative cybersecurity strategies offer protection that goes well beyond passwords and other forms of static authentication:

Real-time trust analytics – Move beyond just big-data collection and improve effectiveness of controls with real-time analysis of device, location, identity and behavioral context for every authentication attempt. Real-time trust analytics offer unprecedented identity authentication policies for businesses and enterprises by comparing against global benchmarks derived from peers in their industry, the size and scale of the enterprise, geographic location and more.

Enhanced mobile identification – Detects jailbroken devices and offers location-based authentication, protecting mobile transactions by indicating when the mobile operating system has been breached and the security of applications has been compromised.

“To protect against future attacks like Heartbleed, businesses need to move beyond legacy verification and authentication solutions and recognize the benefits of leveraging a collective approach to cybersecurity,” said Faulkner. “The ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network (The Network) delivers real-time intelligence, providing customers with consistent risk assessments of data and creating a digital persona of users by mapping their online behaviors and devices.”

Consumers can protect their online identities and personal information from threats like Heartbleed by ensuring location information on social networks is encrypted and by using different passwords across sites and never storing them on devices.

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Heartbleed Vulnerability Underscores the Need for Real-Time Trust Analytics in Place of Static Authentication

Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

ThreatMetrix® Announces Strategies to Protect Consumers and Businesses from Future Vulnerabilities and Cybercrime Risks

San Jose, CA – April 16, 2014 – ThreatMetrix®, the fastest-growing provider of context-based security and advanced fraud prevention solutions, today announces several strategies for consumers to stay protected following the recent Heartbleed vulnerability, which has potentially exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other personal identifiers. These strategies aim to help businesses and customers avoid being compromised by similar threats in the future.

Last week, a major lapse in Internet security – known as the Heartbleed vulnerability – was uncovered after going undetected for nearly two years. The flaw created an opening in OpenSSL, the most common encryption technology on the Internet. OpenSSL is designed to protect data in transit including email, instant messaging and e-commerce transactions. The vulnerability in OpenSSL enables hackers to access server memory that could allow hijacking of accounts or theft of private keys used to decrypt communications.

Since Heartbleed went undetected for so long, the scope of compromised information is still unclear, but many online businesses are urging users to change their passwords as a precautionary measure.

“Today it’s Heartbleed and tomorrow it will be another data breach or vulnerability,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix. “Passwords are a static means of security and are frankly obsolete as a stand-alone authentication solution in today’s cybersecurity landscape. Once account login information is obtained, cybercriminals have access to personal data used for committing bank fraud or falsifying credit card transactions – the possibilities are endless. Security should not just rely on point-in-time authentication solutions. Instead, continuous evaluation of trust is required based on what the user is attempting to do.”

The Heartbleed security flaw does not only impact websites, but also mobile applications and networking equipment that connects homes and businesses to the Internet (also known as the Internet of Things), such as routers and printers. As more and more devices move online through the Internet of Things, hacks and cybersecurity breaches are becoming more common.

Businesses need to stay one step ahead of threats such as Heartbleed and implement preventative cybersecurity strategies in place of passwords and other forms of static authentication. Suggested strategies include:

Real-time trust analytics – Move beyond just big-data collection and improve effectiveness of controls with real-time analysis of device, location, identity and behavioral context for every authentication attempt. Real-time trust analytics offer unprecedented identity authentication policies for businesses and enterprises by comparing against global benchmarks derived from peers in their industry, the size and scale of the enterprise, geographic location and more.

Enhanced mobile identification – Detects jailbroken devices and offers location-based authentication, protecting mobile transactions by indicating when the mobile operating system has been breached and the security of applications has been compromised.

“To protect against future attacks like Heartbleed, businesses need to move beyond legacy verification and authentication solutions and recognize the benefits of leveraging a collective approach to cybersecurity,” said Faulkner. “The ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network (The Network) delivers real-time intelligence, providing customers with consistent risk assessments of data and creating a digital persona of users by mapping their online behaviors and devices.”

In addition to businesses implementing real-time trust analytics and other collective cybersecurity strategies, consumers can also take responsibility for protecting their online identities. Specifically, consumers can protect against threats such as Heartbleed by ensuring location information on social networks is encrypted, using different passwords across sites and not storing passwords on any devices.

About ThreatMetrix

ThreatMetrix builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix™ Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

© 2014 ThreatMetrix. All rights reserved. ThreatMetrix, TrustDefender ID, TrustDefender Cloud, TrustDefender Mobile, TrustDefender Client, the TrustDefender Cybercrime Protection Platform, ThreatMetrix Labs, and the ThreatMetrix logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of ThreatMetrix in the United States and other countries. All other brand, service or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or owners.

Media Contacts
Dan Rampe
ThreatMetrix
Tel: 408-200-5716
Email: drampe@threatmetrix.com

Beth Kempton
WalkerSands Communications
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Email: beth.kempton@walkersands.com

Heartbleed Part III: No Tourniquet for Heartbleed. Now the Flaw Turns Up in Devices (for Example Routers) That Connect to the Internet.

Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Heartbleed

If you thought you heard all the news there was about risks associated with Heartbleed — uh-uh. There’s more. But only hackers and masochists will be pleased to hear it. (On the very remote chance you haven’t heard about Heartbleed, the flaw found OpenSSL, which helps encrypt information on the Internet, please see our blog Heartbleed Part II.)

Here’s the latest. According to a story by Nicole Perlroth and Quentin Hardy in The New York Times, Heartbleed could cause damage to the guts of the Internet and the wide variety of devices that connect to it. (The following has been edited to fit our format.)

Cisco Systems, the dominant provider of gear to move traffic through the Internet, said its big routers and servers, as well as its online servers …were not affected. If they had been, that would have had a significant impact on virtually every major company that connects to the Internet.

Certain products the company makes were affected, it said — some kinds of phones that connect to the Internet, a kind of server that helps people conduct online meetings, and another kind of device used for office communications. Cisco also posted a list of products it had examined for the vulnerability, which it was updating as it continued inspecting its equipment.

Juniper Networks, also said its main products were not affected. The only problem it found was in a kind of device for creating private communications on the Internet.

“Besides [the] one product, the exposure for our customers is minimal, if any,” said Michael Busselen, vice president of corporate communications at Juniper.

Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for Intel, said his company had been looking through its products for vulnerabilities for several days and so far had found nothing. He said, however, that the search was not yet done.

Qualcomm, a maker of mobile technology, said it was still checking its products….

For most people, the web — with sites like Facebook and Google — is the most visible part of the Internet. But hardware like home routers and printers is also connected to the Internet, and OpenSSL is built into some of this hardware.

“That’s why this is so nasty,” said [security expert] George Kurtz…. “OpenSSL goes far beyond just websites. It’s implemented in email protocols and all kinds of embedded devices.”

Most of the equipment made by Cisco and Juniper was unaffected because the companies did not use OpenSSL for their encryption.

[Other security] experts say personal home routers often incorporate OpenSSL, which could make them vulnerable. But they note that because many home routers are configured to block outside traffic, the risk of a hacker using the Heartbleed bug to lift data like passwords to online banking and email accounts is low. This is particularly so, they said, when there are still thousands of vulnerable websites where this data could be pulled from much more easily.

Nevertheless, Mr. Kurtz said, users would be wise to check with their home router manufacturers to upgrade their devices if they want to be absolutely secure.

Security researchers say that while hackers have been posting lists of vulnerable websites, there does not appear to have been an increase in black market sales of sensitive data, like passwords.

Security experts say that upgrading and cleaning up those systems, if they are affected, could take years.

“It’s one thing to get all of these servers at Yahoo, Google and everyone else fixed, but it’s a whole other thing to get these embedded devices fixed up,” Mr. Kurtz said. “I don’t see them getting updated any time soon.”

Here’s hoping there’s no need for a Heartbleed, Part IV.

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

 

Heartbleed Part II: Some Online Passwords That Do and Don’t Need Changing to Relieve Some of the Heartburn Caused by Heartbleed

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Heartbleed

The Heartbleed flaw: In no time, it went from “That the name of a band?” to “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” Now, if by chance you’ve been on Mars or in a marketing meeting (or in a marketing meeting on Mars) the last few days, Heartbleed is an encryption flaw in the Open SSL cryptographic software library.

Two-thirds of web servers worldwide use the Open SSL cryptographic software library to connect with end users and guard against digital eavesdropping. While the flaw was just discovered, it has been open to hackers for approximately two years. Best of all (that, of course is sarcasm) if a hacker were stealing data, nobody would know because the flaw made it possible to steal logins and passwords without leaving evidence the hacker was even there.

If you’re over 23 (give or take), you’re aware of the Y2K computer flaw when it was predicted that at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day 2000, planes would fall out of the sky, commerce would cease and there would be rioting, looting and chaos worldwide. And worst of all: no 2000 Super Bowl!

The point is no one exactly knows if data has been compromised or if hackers even knew about the flaw. Now, there is a fix and affected companies have either implemented it or are in the process of implementing it.

Mashable.com surveyed some of the most frequented sites on the web to find out the status of their fixes and whether they advised customers to change their passwords. Following is a partial list. You may find their complete list on mashable.com, “The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Now.”

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix® Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.

 

Let’s Put Our Cards on the Table. U.S. Briefs China on Cyberwarfare Plans.

Posted on April 10th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

China

The U.S. is briefing China’s military how it plans to defend against cyberattacks and use cybertechnology against adversaries. China, for its part, is saying nothing about its plans. Does this sound like playing poker with just your hold card showing? Anyway, you gotta hope somebody’s playing with a full deck.

In his piece in The New York Times, David E. Sanger explains the idea behind the American strategy and what the U.S. hopes to accomplish with the new cyber openness. (The story has been edited to fit our format.)

The idea was to allay Chinese concerns about plans to more than triple the number of American cyberwarriors to 6,000 by the end of 2016, a force that will include new teams the Pentagon plans to deploy to each military combatant command around the world. But the hope was to prompt the Chinese to give Washington a similar briefing about the many People’s Liberation Army units that are believed to be behind the escalating attacks on American corporations and government networks.

So far, the Chinese have not reciprocated.

The effort, senior Pentagon officials say, is to head off what Mr. Hagel and his advisers fear is the growing possibility of a fast-escalating series of cyberattacks and counterattacks between the United States and China. This is a concern especially at a time of mounting tensions over China’s expanding claims of control over what it argues are exclusive territories in the East and South China Seas, and over a new air defense zone. In interviews, American officials say their latest initiatives were inspired by Cold-War-era exchanges held with the Soviets so that each side understood the “red lines” for employing nuclear weapons against each other.

“Think of this in terms of the Cuban missile crisis,” one senior Pentagon official said. While the United States “suffers attacks every day,” he said, “the last thing we would want to do is misinterpret an attack and escalate to a real conflict.”

Mr. Hagel’s concern is spurred by the fact that in the year since President Obama explicitly brought up the barrage of Chinese-origin attacks on the United States with his newly installed counterpart, President Xi Jinping, the pace of those attacks has increased. Most continue to be aimed at stealing technology and other intellectual property from Silicon Valley, military contractors and energy firms. Many are believed to be linked to cyberwarfare units of the People’s Liberation Army acting on behalf of state-owned, or state-affiliated, Chinese companies.

“To the Chinese, this isn’t first and foremost a military weapon, it’s an economic weapon,” said Laura Galante, a former Defense Intelligence Agency cyberspecialist.

Administration officials acknowledge that Mr. Hagel, on his first trip to China as defense secretary, has a very difficult case to make, far more complicated than last year. The Pentagon plans to spend $26 billion on cybertechnology over the next five years — much of it for defense of the military’s networks, but billions for developing offensive weapons — and that sum does not include budgets for the intelligence community’s efforts in more covert operations. It is one of the few areas, along with drones and Special Operations forces, that are getting more investment at a time of overall Pentagon cutbacks.

Moreover, disclosures about America’s own focus on cyberweaponry — including American-led attacks on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and National Security Agency documents revealed in the trove taken by Edward J. Snowden, the former agency contractor — detail the degree to which the United States has engaged in what the intelligence world calls “cyberexploitation” of targets in China.

The revelation by The New York Times and the German magazine Der Spiegel that the United States has pierced the networks of Huawei, China’s giant networking and telecommunications company, prompted Mr. Xi to raise the issue with Mr. Obama at a meeting in The Hague two weeks ago. The attack on Huawei, called Operation Shotgiant, was intended to determine whether the company was a front for the army, but also focused on learning how to get inside Huawei’s networks to conduct surveillance or cyberattacks against countries — Iran, Cuba, Pakistan and beyond — that buy the Chinese-made equipment. Other cyberattacks revealed in the documents focused on piercing China’s major telecommunications companies and wireless networks, particularly those used by the Chinese leadership and its most sensitive military units.

Mr. Obama told the Chinese president that the United States, unlike China, did not use its technological powers to steal corporate data and give it to its own companies; its spying, one of Mr. Obama’s aides later told reporters, is solely for “national security priorities.” But to the Chinese, for whom national and economic security are one, that argument carries little weight.

“We clearly don’t occupy the moral high ground that we once thought we did,” said one senior administration official.

For that reason, the disclosures changed the discussion between the top officials at the Pentagon and the State Department and their Chinese counterparts in quiet meetings intended to work out what one official called “an understanding of rules of the road, norms of behavior,” for China and the United States.

The decision to conduct a briefing for the Chinese on American military doctrine for the use of cyberweapons was a controversial one, not least because the Obama administration has almost never done that for the American public, though elements of the doctrine can be pieced together from statements by senior officials and a dense “Presidential Decision Directive” on such activities signed by Mr. Obama in 2012. (The White House released declassified excerpts at the time; Mr. Snowden released the whole document.)

Mr. Hagel alluded to the doctrine a week ago when he went to the retirement ceremony for Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the first military officer to jointly command the N.S.A. and the military’s Cyber Command. General Alexander was succeeded last week by Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who as the head of the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command was a central player in developing a corps of experts who could conduct cyberwarfare alongside more traditional Navy forces.

“The United States does not seek to militarize cyberspace,” Mr. Hagel said at the ceremony, held at the N.S.A.’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. He went on to describe a doctrine of “minimal use” of cyberweaponry against other states. The statement was meant to assure other nations — not just China — that the United States would not routinely use its growing arsenal against them.

In Beijing, the defense secretary “is going to stress to the Chinese that we in the military are going to be as transparent as possible,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, “and we want the same openness and transparency and restraint from them.”

Experts here and in China point out that a lot was left out of Mr. Hagel’s statement last week. The United States separates offensive operations of the kind that disabled roughly 1,000 centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear program, America’s best-known (and still unacknowledged) cyberattack against another state, from the far more common computer-enabled espionage of the kind carried out against the Chinese to gather information about a potential adversary.

“It’s clear that cyberspace is already militarized, because we’ve seen countries using cyber for military purposes for 15 years,” said James Lewis, an expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Chinese have had offensive capabilities for years as well,” he said, along with “more than a dozen countries that admit they are developing them.”

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix™ Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

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It’s Dubbed “Heartbleed” and Is about as Serious as a Heart Attack. Security Flaw Opens Up Two-Thirds of Web Servers Worldwide to Hackers

Posted on April 9th, 2014 by Dan Rampe

Heartbleed

OpenSSL researchers announced the release of a fix for the “glitch” discovered in the Open SSL cryptographic software library that two-thirds of web servers worldwide use to connect with end users and guard against digital eavesdropping. UNFORTUNATELY, the fix may be coming a couple of years too late — because that’s about as long as the flaw has been available to hackers.

In his piece on policymic.com, Tom McKay says that the bug that allows for easy untraceable breaches of secure systems, which control everything from banking to retail to email, was originally discovered by Google researcher Neel Mehta.

The OpenSSL team reports McKay described the difference between this software flaw and others. “Bugs in single software or library come and go and are fixed by new versions. However this bug has left a large amount of private keys and other secrets exposed to the Internet. Considering the long exposure, ease of exploitations and attacks leaving no trace this exposure should be taken seriously.”

Or putting it in language a farmer might use—Is this fix like closing the barn door after the cows have gotten out?

To demonstrate how the flaw could be used, the research team was able to breach Yahoo security and steal email logins and passwords without leaving evidence it was ever there.

In the OpenSSL team’s own words, “We attacked ourselves from outside, without leaving a trace. Without using any privileged information or credentials we were able steal from ourselves the secret keys used for our X.509 certificates, user names and passwords, instant messages, emails and business critical documents and communication.

“Anyone who noticed and exploited the bug since it was introduced on March 14, 2012 could have easy access to an incomprehensible number of secure systems.”

TechCrunch noted that “even encrypted data illegally stolen from servers could eventually be forced open either with more stolen data or other methods, depending on server configuration.”

Until servers are updated worldwide, data remains at risk. So until the servers are updated does everybody just go fishing (and we mean fishing not phishing)?

Well, Tumblr sent out this alert to its users:

Urgent security update

Bad news. A major vulnerability, known as “Heartbleed,” has been disclosed for the technology that powers encryption across the majority of the internet. That includes Tumblr.

We have no evidence of any breach and, like most networks, our team took immediate action to fix the issue.

But this still means that the little lock icon (HTTPS) we all trusted to keep our passwords, personal emails, and credit cards safe, was actually making all that private information accessible to anyone who knew about the exploit.

This might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere—especially your high-security services like email, file storage, and banking, which may have been compromised by this bug.

You’ll be hearing more in the news over the coming days.

Take care.

Besides change your passwords, “take care” is always good advice. However, in this situation it may not be all that useful.

Something that is useful to know comes from the technology news and media network, The Verge, which says “Google, Apple, and Microsoft are all unaffected, as well as most major e-banking services.”

ThreatMetrix® builds trust on the Internet by offering market-leading advanced fraud prevention and frictionless context-based security solutions. These solutions authenticate consumer and workforce access to mission critical applications using real-time identity and access analytics that leverage the world’s largest trusted identity network.

ThreatMetrix secures enterprise applications against account takeover, payment fraud, fraudulent account registrations, malware, and data breaches. Underpinning the solution is the ThreatMetrix™ Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes over 500 million monthly transactions and protects more than 160 million active user accounts across 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites.

The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a variety of industries, including financial services, enterprise, e-commerce, payments, social networks, government and insurance.

For more information, visit www.threatmetrix.com or call 1-408-200-5755.

Join the cybersecurity conversation by visiting the ThreatMetrix blogFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter pages.