Be Still My ‘BleedingHeart’

This infographic from 10 TopTen Reviews, highlights some of the major trends in the malware industry and reveals several interesting statistics about computer viruses.

how-infected-ar-1

You can see the original version here.

 

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Would Sir Like Malware With His Meal?

Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the (digital) water, after ditching Window XP and upgrading your home or office PC, comes the news that hackers managed to get into an oil company’s’ systems through a Chinese takeaway menu!

Yes… you read correctly, this ingenious restaurant menu hack was the key to grabbing crucial company data.

How did they do it?  According to the report in the New York Times, “hackers infected with malware the online menu of a Chinese restaurant that was popular with employees. When the workers browsed the menu, they inadvertently downloaded code that gave the attackers a foothold in the business’s vast computer network“.

This form of infiltration is referred to as watering hole attack.  Just as predatory crocodile lurks by a watering hole in the Masai Mara ready to pounce on a thirsty gazelle, so does this malware await its opportunity.

And no, before you ask, I doubt if Edward Snowden every set foot in this restaurant but it does go to prove just how clever and pervasive cybercrime has become.

Any system or device that uses software is now prone to these types of attack whether it be climate control systems, printers or even vending machines.  Once you can break into one device you have a pathway to break into an enterprises’ entire system. I doubt if many people truly appreciate the sophistication and cunning of today’s cyber criminals and spooks.

The NYT article also details that 23-70% of attacks dealt with by network security agencies emanate from third party devices.  It is also worth mentioning that many of the devices mentioned above such as vending machines (and surprisingly ATMs) still run of Windows XP and as of this month, Microsoft has ceased its support for this software leaving it even more vulnerable.

30% of the world’s personal computers still run on Windows XP which represents a massive challenge to stopping the proliferation of malware.  If you have a spare £5.5m you can always do what the UK government has just done and buy yourself some extra breathing space.  But for most mere mortals such as yours truly, this was not an option.

The Year of the Mega Breach

Symantec’s most recent Internet Security Report 2014 labelled 2013 as the Year of the Mega Breach as the  number of attacks were 62 percent greater than in 2012, with 253 total breaches. Eight of the breaches last year exposed more than 10 million identities each!

Ransomware attacks, which as the same suggest hijack and lock a system until a ransom is paid, grew by 500% in 2013. Cryptolocker is the best known of this type of malware.

I have made a mental note to be more careful when selecting from a menu in a restaurant in the future. The ‘Chef’s Special’ may not turn out to be quite what it seems at first glance.

Malware in spoup

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That’s The Way The Bitcoin Crumbles

Is Bitcoin imploding? It’s a question that needs to be asked.

Bitcoin Crumbling
Source: TheDigitalConsultant

In the past few weeks we have had the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange go ‘belly up’ in a rather spectacular fashion. It reportedly lost 750,000 Bitcoins, blaming its demise on a ‘bug in the Bitcoin system’.

This has been followed by Canada’s Flexcoin who closed down after losing around 440,000 euros worth of Bitcoins to hackers.

Today there are reports of the American CEO of Bitcoin exchange company First Meta, who is based in Singapore being found dead near her apartment. The reason for her death has yet to be explained.

Also today we finally discover, through the investigations of Newsweek, who the founder of Bitcoin actually is. Mr Satoshi Nakamoto is a 64-year-old Japanese-American and has subsequently disowned the project and strongly denies any current association with the crypto-currency.

I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,” he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. “It’s been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection” he told Newsweek.

However, all is not what it seems as it turns out that the Mr Nakamoto was in fact NOT the creator of Bitcoin after all.

It is barely two days since the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a warning to consumers and businesses ‘to be cautious with transactions involving Bitcoin, as virtual currencies are unregulated and consumers may not have legal recourse should there be problems’.

Clearly this prophecy has come to pass and these recent developments are hardly reassuring for those who have taken the plunge and are, or were, playing the Bitcoin market.

Not to be deterred, Singapore also recently installed two Bitcoin ATM’s where people can insert their hard-earned Singapore dollars and convert them to Bitcoins.  I shouldn’t imagine there is much of a queue to do so given all of the above.

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