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UK Consultancies Leak Data on Thousands of Workers

UK Consultancies Leak Data on Thousands of Workers

Thousands of UK business professionals have had their personal details exposed online via a leaky Amazon Web Services bucket, after researchers discovered files belonging to multiple consulting firms.

The misconfigured S3 resource is thought to have been left publicly viewable with no authentication by a London-based company known as CHS Consulting, according to vpnMentor.

However, as the firm has no website the researchers have been unable to confirm ownership of the database, labelled “CHS.”

What they do know is that it contained files from the HR departments of multiple UK consulting firms including Eximius Consultants, Dynamic Partners and IQ Consulting. Most of the data is from 2014-15 although records go back to 2011.

It included passport scans, tax documents, criminal record information and background checks, HMRC-related paperwork, emails and private messages as well as a range of PII including names, email and home addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers.

“Had criminal hackers discovered this database, it would have been a goldmine for illicit activities and fraud, with potentially devastating results for those exposed,” argued vpnMentor.

“If you’re a UK-based consultant or consulting firm and are concerned about this breach, contact the CERT-UK to understand what steps are being taken to keep your data safe and ensure it has not been leaked.”

The researchers contacted the CERT-UK on December 10, a day after discovering the leak, and followed up with AWS a week later. The cloud giant took action a day later on December 19 to secure the database.

This is just the latest of several incidents in which large cloud databases containing highly sensitive personal information have been discovered by the research team.

Other companies found wanting include LightInTheBox, Yves Rocher and Autoclerk. In one incident, the names, phone numbers and financial information of approximately 20 million Ecuadoreans, virtually the entire population, were exposed online.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Mobile Apps Sharing Personal Data Illegally, Consumer Group Claims

Mobile Apps Sharing Personal Data Illegally, Consumer Group Claims

Several mobile apps such as Grindr, OKCupid and Tinder have been found to be leaking personal information to advertising tech companies in possible violation of European data privacy laws, an investigation by a Norwegian consumer group has discovered.

As stated in the Out of Control report, the Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded non-profit group, commissioned cybersecurity company Mnemonic to study 10 Android mobile apps. It said it found “serious privacy infringements” in its analysis of how online ad companies track and profile smartphone users, with the apps sending user data to at least 135 different third party services involved in advertising or behavioral profiling.

“As it stands, the situation is completely out of control, harming consumers, societies, and businesses,” the report said. Most of the adtech companies that Mnemonic observed receiving personal data have a “questionable legal basis” for harvesting and using consumer data, the report continued.

“If these companies do not have a legally valid basis for processing personal data, the backbone of much of the adtech system may be systemically in breach of the GDPR.”

The Norwegian Consumer Council therefore urged data protection authorities to enforce the GDPR, and for advertisers and publishers to look toward alternative digital advertising methods that respect fundamental rights.

“The digital marketing and adtech industry has to make comprehensive changes in order to comply with European regulation, and to ensure that they respect consumers’ fundamental rights and freedoms.”

Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET, said: “When you join a high profile site such as Grindr, you expect to have your data protected and dealt with sensitively. Sadly, data on people is a lucrative currency, and so it can be tempting to share when given the opportunity. I always recommend that people limit the amount of personal data shared on these sites due to the possibility that the data could be targeted with a cyber-attack.”

James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, added that it is difficult in today’s society with social media apps for people to actually read the privacy or end user agreements and to understand what is happening with their name, address, pictures, contacts and GPS location once the data is entered into or collected by an app.

“On a lot of social media apps that are not charging users for their service, the users are undoubtedly the product,” he said. “Their information is collected and sold off to third party organizations for revenue for the social media app. Only in recent years are governments finally taking actions such as the GDPR in the UK and recently, the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).”

Source: Information Security Magazine

Russian Phishers Hit Firm at Center of Trump Impeachment

Russian Phishers Hit Firm at Center of Trump Impeachment

An infamous Kremlin-backed hacking group has launched a coordinated phishing campaign aimed at Ukrainian firm Burisma Holdings, in what looks like an attempt to find internal information which could benefit Donald Trump.

Security vendor Area 1 claimed the attacks were carried out by the GRU-linked Fancy Bear (APT28) group responsible for stealing and releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) which many believe gave Trump an advantage ahead of the 2016 Presidential election.

It’s no coincidence that the son of current Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden sat on the board of Burisma Holdings. It was Trump’s decision to improperly pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate dealings at the firm that led to his impeachment by the House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“Our report is not noteworthy because we identify the GRU launching a phishing campaign, nor is the targeting of a Ukrainian company particularly novel. It is significant because Burisma Holdings is publically entangled in US foreign and domestic politics,” noted the report.

“The timing of the GRU’s campaign in relation to the 2020 US elections raises the specter that this is an early warning of what we have anticipated since the successful cyber-attacks undertaken during the 2016 US elections.”

Specifically, the group used a lookalike domain to spoof the legitimate Burisma Holdings webmail login portal to access employee accounts. With this access they could read sensitive corporate emails and use accounts to launch further attacks.

To increase the chances of success, the attackers focused on subsidiaries of the company such as KUB-Gas and CUB Energy, and set up email sender authentication records using SPF and DKIM, Area 1 said.

The attacks are thought to have been successful in tricking some Burisma employees to part with their logins.

Rosa Smothers, senior VP of cyber operations at KnowBe4, explained that phishing is the “go-to methodology” for Russian intelligence services seeking to infiltrate target networks.

“Like any fairly sophisticated and organised hacking campaign, they also ran multiple domains that were just similar enough to legitimate Burisma domains that they went unnoticed by users,” she added.

“At the end of the day, the story here is one of ongoing and escalating social engineering efforts by the Russians against their targets of interest — which is why we should expect and plan for such activities during our upcoming election cycle."

Source: Information Security Magazine

Microsoft Patches Serious Crypto Flaw Found by NSA

Microsoft Patches Serious Crypto Flaw Found by NSA

Microsoft has kicked off the new decade with fixes for half a century of vulnerabilities, including one discovered by the NSA that could allow hackers to spoof digital certificates to bypass security measures.

This month’s Patch Tuesday focused around the CVE-2020-0601 flaw, which security experts praised the NSA for disclosing responsibly rather than trying to weaponize in attacks.

Affecting Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and 2019, the bug exists in the way the CryptoAPI DLL validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates.

“An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear the file was from a trusted, legitimate source,” warned Microsoft. “The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider.”

If successful, an attacker could then conduct man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt confidential information, or run malware even in environments using app whitelisting.

“Every Windows device relies on trust established by TLS and code signing certificates, which act as machine identities. If you break these identities, you won’t be able to tell the difference between malware and Microsoft software,” argued Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi.

Todd Schell, senior product manager at Ivanti, urged admins to prioritize fixing the problem.

“The vulnerability is only rated as important, but there have been many examples of CVEs that were only rated as important being exploited in the wild,” he said. “Due to the nature of this vulnerability we would urge companies to treat this as a top priority this month and remediate quickly.”

A second flaw in Windows’ cryptographic services is rated with a lower CVSS score, but should also be prioritized, Schell claimed.

CVE-2020-0620 could allow attackers to overwrite or modify a protected file and elevate their privileges accordingly, although it first requires them to execute on a targeted system.

“Gaining execute rights on a system is a pretty low bar for most threat actors. Again, our guidance is to treat this as a priority 1 and address it in a timely manner,” said Schell.

This is the last Patch Tuesday that will include fixes for Windows 7 and Server 2008 systems, unless organizations have paid for extended support. If they have not, they will need to upgrade, or invest in virtual patching capabilities to mitigate the increased risk of attack.

“This will increase the risk assumed by those organizations that continue to run Windows 7 or 2008 and we expect attackers will begin actively looking for those operating systems as a ‘soft spot’ for a compromise,” warned Trustwave threat intelligence manager, Karl Sigler.

Source: Information Security Magazine

App Leaks Thousands of Baby Photos and Videos Online

App Leaks Thousands of Baby Photos and Videos Online

An app designed to record and share milestones in a child's development has leaked thousands of images and videos of babies online.

Bithouse Inc., the developer of the Peekaboo Moments app, failed to secure a 100 GB Elasticsearch database containing more than 70 million log files dating from March 2019. As a result, information including email addresses, geographic location data, detailed device data, and links to photos and videos has been exposed.

The breach was discovered by Dan Ehrlich, who operates Texas-based computer security consulting firm Twelve Security.

Ehrlich estimates that at least 800,000 email addresses are in the exposed data, which is stored on servers hosted by Singapore-based Alibaba Cloud.

"I've never seen a server so blatantly open," Ehrlich told Information Security Media Group. "Everything about the server, the company's website and the iOS/Android app was both bizarrely done and grossly insecure."

Peekaboo Moments, which appears to be run by a company based in China, allows parents to record their baby's birth date and track the infant's length and weight. Now parents will be able to use it to record an unexpected milestone—their baby's first ever data breach.

The free app claims to take the security of users' data seriously and to offer users a "secured space" in which to record their child's precious moments. The company makes money by offering additional storage, with subscription plans starting at $8.99 per quarter.

On its Google Play app profile page, it states: "Data privacy and security come as our priority. Every Baby’s photos, audios & videos or diaries will be stored in secured space. Only families & friends can have access to baby’s moments at your control."

The length of time the Elasticsearch server has been unsecured or who may have accessed its contents are unclear. 

Information Security Media Group said that repeated efforts to contact Peekaboo Moments CEO Jason Liu—based in San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn profile—have drawn a blank. 

Attempts to contact the company and other Peekaboo employees have also proved unsuccessful.

According to Google Play, the Peekaboo Moments app has been downloaded 1 million times since launching in 2012.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Play Store Still Peppered with Fleeceware Apps

Play Store Still Peppered with Fleeceware Apps

Four months after fleeceware's initial exposure, Android users who purchase "subscriptions" to apps from the Google Play Store are still at risk of being ripped off.

Fleeceware hit the news in September 2019, when researchers at SophosLabs showed how some app publishers were using a sneaky business model to drastically overcharge Android users for basic services. 

On the Google Play Store, researchers found multiple instances of app publishers operating a system where users could be charged excessive amounts of money for apps if they didn’t cancel a “subscription” before the short free trial window closed.

New research published today by SophosLabs reveals that fleeceware has not been shorn from the store. 

"While the company did take down all the apps we had previously reported to them, fleeceware remains a big problem on Google Play," wrote researchers.

"Since our September post, we’ve seen many more Fleeceware apps appear on the official Android app store."

New fleeceware flagged by SophosLabs includes entertainment or utility apps, fortune-telling apps, instant messengers, video editors, and beauty apps. 

Some apps, offering basic services such as a reverse-image search, which Google does for free, charge over $200 for an annual subscription. 

Researchers said that the total number of installations of these apps totals nearly 600 million across fewer than 25 apps. Some of the individual apps on the store appear to have been installed on more than 100 million devices.

One popular keyboard app investigated by researchers allegedly transmits the full text of whatever its users type back to China. 

Clues to the fleeceware apps' financial chicanery can be found in customers' reviews.

"User reviews reveal serious complaints about overcharging, and that many of these apps are substandard, and don’t work as expected," wrote researchers. 

Some users claim to have been charged an annual subscription fee despite unsubscribing by a certain date as per the app's instructions. 

Researchers noted apps offering weekly and monthly subscription payment options in an attempt to make their product seem more budget friendly. 

"In one case, we found an app displaying subscription fees of €8.99 per week, or €23.99 per month, which works out annually to €467.48 (if you pay the weekly amount for 52 weeks) or €287.88 (if you pay the monthly amount for 12 months)," wrote researchers. 

Source: Information Security Magazine

Texan Arrested for Cyber-stalking Realtors and Threatening Their Kids

Texan Arrested for Cyber-stalking Realtors and Threatening Their Kids

A Texas man has been arrested on suspicion of sending perverse and threatening text messages to real estate agents across America.

Lubbock resident Andy Castillo allegedly used multiple phone numbers and an app to mask his identity when cyber-stalking as many as 100 realtors in up to 22 different states. 

The 56-year-old is accused of sending pornographic images to agents along with sexually explicit text messages soliciting sex. It is further alleged that Castillo attempted to solicit sex from some agents' children. 

Castillo is accused of downloading photographs of agents' kids from social media and sending the pictures to the agents, along with chilling descriptions of his desire to sexually assault their children.

All the real estate agents targeted in this particularly disturbing cyber-stalking case are women. 

Detective Joseph Scaramucci said Castillo "was searching the top 10 realtors in different cities" and "saving female realtors' photographs right off the internet with their contact information."

Castillo was arrested in his apartment last week and taken into custody by McLennan County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Authorities seized two cellphones and an electronic tablet belonging to Castillo.

Deputies allege that just five minutes prior to his arrest, Castillo sent lewd and threatening messages to people in San Francisco and New Orleans.

McLennan County sheriff Parnell McNamara said the MCSO began investigating Castillo in late December 2019 after receiving complaints from seven Waco-based realtors about pornographic images and messages that they had received from unknown numbers.

The results of the investigation suggest Castillo sent sexually explicit and threatening messages to women in at least twenty cities in ten different states. However, McNamara said Castillo could have stalked hundreds of women in up to 22 states and that he is expecting further victims to come forward.

Currently, Castillo is accused of cyber-stalking agents throughout Texas, including in Amarillo, El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio, and Waco. The Texan is facing a second-degree felony charge of criminal solicitation with intent to commit aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Police are investigating reports of similar cyber-stalking behavior that have been filed in Tucson, Arizona; Anaheim, Berkeley, Irvine, San Jose, and Santa Clara, California; Broward County and Daytona Beach, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; Reno, Nevada; Albany and Manhattan, New York; Belfort, South Carolina; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Most Firms Still on Windows 7 as Support Deadline Arrives

Most Firms Still on Windows 7 as Support Deadline Arrives

Two-thirds of UK businesses and two-fifths of US firms are still running Windows 7, according to new research released on the day the operating system, and Windows Server 2008, reach their end-of-support deadline.

Organizations that fail to upgrade their operating systems or invest in costly extended support from Microsoft will no longer receive patches from the vendor, exposing themselves to unnecessary cyber risk, according to Kollective, which issued the research.

“It took many businesses up to three years to move from XP to Windows 7 and we can expect a similar timeline for the move to Windows 10. While a lot of companies have migrated the majority of their systems away from Windows 7, being “almost there” isn’t good enough,” argued Jon O’Connor, solution architect at Kollective.

“It only takes a handful of unsecured devices to launch a full-scale cyber-attack, so having even one or two Windows 7 PCs on your network could pose a serious risk. IT teams need to know for certain that every single device on their networks is off of Windows 7 — but the reality is that most simply don’t know.”

As if to emphasize the potential risks of staying on unsupported operating system versions, news emerged this week that Microsoft is shipping a fix today for a critical flaw in a core Windows component, which could have wide-ranging consequences if left unpatched. The bug is so bad that reports suggest Redmond has already secretly supplied the patch to high-value customers.

Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast, urged organizations to ensure they have third-party security tools in place to help shield any exposure to threats.

“As organization’s move their operations to the cloud, legacy support issues like this will likely become a thing of the past in the next 10 to 15 years, but as Windows 7 remains in use across many organisations at present people should be aware of the increased vulnerability which this OS will now experience as it is no longer supported,” he continued.

“Ensuring good cyber hygiene and the use of fallback facilities, as-well as ensuring the updating of a good antivirus solution, becomes even more critical to an organization if it continues to use an unsupported OS.”

Trend Micro argued that “virtual patching,” or intrusion prevention technology, can also help in these circumstances, by protecting unsupported and unpatched operating systems.

“Speaking to numerous businesses over recent weeks, a worryingly high number are prepared to adopt a wait-and-see policy following the end of Server 2008 support on 14 January 2020,” argued VP of sales, Ross Baker.

“This amounts to an extreme hedging of bets and something we would definitely not recommend.”

Some organizations may not be able to upgrade to new OS versions if they have compatibility issues with business-critical legacy applications, or, for example, if Windows has been embedded in OT systems by a manufacturer, added VP of security research, Rik Ferguson.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Texas School District Loses $2.3m in Phishing Raid

Texas School District Loses $2.3m in Phishing Raid

A Texas school district has found out the hard way that phishing attacks remain a serious financial threat to organizations of all shapes and sizes, losing an estimated $2.3m in a recent scam.

Manor Independent School District took to Twitter to post official confirmation that the FBI is currently investigating the incident.

“This investigation is still ongoing and although there are strong leads in the case we are still encouraging anyone with information to contact Detective Lopez at the Manor Police Department,” it added.

According to reports, three separate fraudulent transactions took place in November last year following the phishing attack, although there are few other details to go on.

The news comes as school districts in the US battle against a growing threat from ransomware.

Data released by Armor in December 2019 revealed that 72 districts had been impacted during the year, affecting an estimated 1039 schools nationwide. Separate findings from Emisoft released at the end of the year claimed as many as 1224 schools may have been affected.

Javvad Malik, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, argued that employee error needs to be addressed more effectively by organizations at risk of phishing attacks.

“Cyber-criminals will attack organizations with the intention of getting the highest return on investment. Usually this translates into social engineering attacks, which are in essence cons against people to do things against the interest of the company,” he added.

“This usually occurs in the form of phishing emails, but can also be SMS messages or phone calls. Therefore, organizations should take time to invest in security awareness and training so that they can be better-prepared to identify and report any suspicious activity.”

Ed Macnair, CEO of Censornet, argued that in failing to mitigate the risk of phishing, the Texas school district also potentially exposed its 10,000 pupils to data theft.

“There is no doubt about the importance of training employees to recognize these modern phishing techniques. Unfortunately, emotions often take over from reason in these situations and no amount of training can account for this,” he added.

“Employee awareness therefore needs to be combined with a robust, multi-layered approach to email security. Traditional pattern matching technologies are useless against modern techniques and organizations need to combine algorithmic analysis, threat intelligence and executive name checking to efficiently protect themselves.”

Source: Information Security Magazine

Aussie Bushfires Donation Site Hit by Magecart Thieves

Aussie Bushfires Donation Site Hit by Magecart Thieves

A website set-up to accept donations for victims of the devastating Australian bushfires has become a victim itself — of digital skimming code designed to harvest card details.

Security researchers at Malwarebytes took to Twitter to reveal the problems that hit the unnamed donations site, which was raising money for those affected by fires in Lake Conjola that have destroyed scores of homes.

In such Magecart-style attacks, hackers typically inject malicious JavaScript into payment pages to harvest card and personal data as it is entered in by shoppers, or in this case, donators to a worthy cause. It is then exfiltrated to an external domain under the attackers’ control.

It’s a tried-and-tested method for data theft that lands the attackers with a complete set of information for each victim, worth more on the dark web than individual components.

In this incident, the malicious script in question was identified as “ATMZOW” and the known bad domain it exfiltrated data to was spotted as vamberlo[.]com.

Replying to the post on Twitter, Troy Mursch of security firm Bad Packets claimed that the same malicious script had been identified targeting an additional 39 separate websites.

Deepak Patel, security evangelist at PerimeterX, argued that Magecart attackers have hit new lows with this latest raid.

“Given the lack of visibility into such client-side attacks, the website owners often find out about the data breach days or weeks after the code injection. This extended time allows skimmers to monetize the stolen cards to the fullest extent,” he explained.

“Any site that processes user PII and accepts payments should take steps to shore up their application security by tracking and monitoring first- and third-party code execution on their sites in real time.”

RiskIQ last year claimed to have identified over two million Magecart detections in the wild — a sign of its growing popularity among black hat data thieves.

Source: Information Security Magazine