Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Russia Sanctions, Mossack Fonseca Shutdown, Equifax Insider Trading

On Thursday, the U.S. government imposed sanctions against five entities and 19 individuals for their role in “destabilizing activities” ranging from interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to carrying out destructive cyber-attacks such as NotPetya, an event that the Treasury department said is the most destructive and costly cyber-attack in history.

“These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a press release. “Treasury intends to impose additional CAATSA [Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act] sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system.”

Nine of the 24 entities and individuals named on Thursday had already received previous sanctions from either President Obama or President Trump for unrelated reasons, The New York Times reported.

In addition to the sanctions, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued a joint alert warning that the Russian government is targeting government entities as well as organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.

According to the alert, Russian government cyber actors targeted small commercial facilities’ networks with a multi-stage intrusion campaign that staged malware, conducted spear phishing attacks, and gained remote access into energy sector networks. The actors then used their access to conduct network reconnaissance, move laterally, and collect information pertaining to Industrial Control Systems.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Sensitive data exposed: Researchers discovered a publicly accessible Amazon S3 bucket belonging to the Chicago-based jewelry company MBM Company Inc. that exposed the personal information of more than 1.3 million people. About 3,000 South Carolina recipients of the Palmetto Fellows scholarship had their personal information exposed online for over a year due to a glitch when switching programs. The Dutch Data Protection Authority accidentally leaked the names of some of its employees due to not removing metadata from more than 800 public documents.
  • State data breach notifications: ABM Industries is notifying clients of a phishing incident that may have compromised their personal information. Chopra Enterprises is notifying customers that payment cards used on its ecommerce site may have been compromised. Neil D. DiLorenzo CPA is notifying clients of unauthorized access to a system that contained files related to tax returns, and several clients have reported fraudulent activity related to their tax returns. NetCredit is warning a small percentage of customers that an unauthorized party used their credentials to access their accounts.
  • Other data breaches: A misconfiguration at Florida Virtual School led to the personal information of  368,000 students as well as thousands of former and current Leon County Schools employees being compromised. Okaloosa County Water and Sewer said that individuals may have had their payment card information stolen due to a breach involving external vendors that process credit and debit card payments.  The Nampa School District said that an email account compromise may have compromised the personal information of 3,983 current and past employees. A cyber-attack at the Port of Longview may have exposed the personal information of 370 current and former employees as well as 47 vendors.
  • Arrests and legal actions: A Maryland Man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a multi-million dollar identity theft scheme that claimed fraudulent tax refunds over a seven-year period. The owner of Smokin’ Joe’s BBQ in Missouri has been charged with various counts related to the use of stolen credit cards. Svitzer said that 500 employees are impacted by the discovery of three employee email accounts in finance, payroll, and operations were auto-forwarding emails outside of the company for nearly 11 months without the company’s knowledge.
  • Other notable events: Up to 450 people who filed reports with Gwent Police over a two-year period had their data exposed due to security flaws in the online tool, and those people were never notified that their data may have been compromised. A security flaw on a Luxembourg public radio station may have exposed non-public information.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of the top trending targets are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2018-03-17_RiskScoresTwo of the largest data breaches of recent memory were back in the news this week due to Mossack Fonseca announcing that it is shutting down following the fallout from the Panama Papers breach as well as a former Equifax employee being charged with insider trading related to its massive breach.

Documents stolen from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and leaked to the media in April 2016 were at the center of the scandal known as the Panama Papers, which largely revealed how rich individuals around the world were able to evade taxes in various countries.

“The reputational deterioration, the media campaign, the financial circus and the unusual actions by certain Panamanian authorities, have occasioned an irreversible damage that necessitates the obligatory ceasing of public operations at the end of the current month,” Mossack Fonseca wrote in a statement.

While Mossack Fonseca’s data breach appears to have finally led to the organization shutting down, Equifax’s massive breach announcement in September 2017 has since sparked a variety of regulatory questions, as well as criticism of the company’s leadership and allegations of insider trading.

Last week the SEC officially filed a complaint that alleges that Jun Ying, who was next in line to be the company’s global CIO, conducted insider trading by using confidential information entrusted to him by the company to conclude Equifax had suffered a serious breach, and Ying then exercised all of his vested Equifax stock options and sold the shares in the days before the breach was publicly disclosed.

“According to the complaint, by selling before public disclosure of the data breach, Ying avoided more than $117,000 in losses,” the SEC wrote in a press release.

Ying also faces criminal charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Record-Setting DDoS Attacks, Data Breach Costs

Last week, researchers observed a 1.35 Tbps distributed denial-of-service attack (DDOS) attack targeting GitHub. It was the largest DDoS attack ever recorded, surpassing the 1.2 Tbps attack against DNS provider Dyn in October 2016.

The attack leveraged a newly observed reflection and amplification vector known as memcached. Akamai researchers warned that other organizations experienced similar DDoS attacks using the new method following the GitHub attack and that even larger attacks may be possible in the future.

“Memcached can have both UDP and TCP listeners and requires no authentication,” the researchers wrote. “Since UDP is easily spoofable, it makes this service vulnerable to use as a reflector. Worse, memcached can have an amplification factor of over 50,000, meaning a 203 byte request results in a 100 megabyte response.”

The attack was mitigated within 10 minutes, GitHub said. The following day GitHub was the target of a second DDoS attack that disrupted availability for a 15-minute period, ThousandEyes reported.

“Because of its ability to create such massive attacks, it is likely that attackers will adopt memcached reflection as a favorite tool rapidly,” Akamai researchers wrote. “The good news is that providers can rate limit traffic from source port 11211 and prevent traffic from entering and exiting their networks, but this will take time.”

Wired reported there are approximately 100,000 memcached servers that currently have no authentication protection and can be abused by malicious attackers to carry out similar potentially massive, botnet-free DDoS attacks.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • W-2 information breached: The University of Alaska said that 50 current and former employees and students had their personal information compromised when hackers gained access to their university accounts by answering security questions and resetting their passwords. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development is notifying employees that their W-2 information was compromised due to a spear phishing attack. Wallace Community College Selma said that current and former employees had their W-2 information compromised when an employee fell for a phishing scam. Curtis Lumber is notifying employees that their personal information was stolen in a spear phishing attack, and some of those employees have reported issues related to filing their federal taxes following the incident.
  • Ransomware infections continue: The Colorado Department of Transportation said that computers had been reinfected with ransomware eight days after an initial attack. Both the Children’s Aid Society of Oxford County and the Family and Children’s Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville in Canada were the victims of a ransomware infection. Jemison Internal Medicine is notifying 6,550 patients of a ransomware infection that may have compromised their personal information.
  • Payment card breaches and service disruptions: A number of Tim Hortons locations in Canada were temporarily shut down or were forced to close their drive-throughs after malware was discovered targeting Panasonic cash registers. NIS America said that customers of its online stores had their information compromised due to being redirected to a malicious site that would harvest their information during the checkout process. North 40 is notifying customers that their payment card information may have been compromised due to unauthorized access to its e-commerce website.
  • Notable data breaches: A hacker gained access to the intranet of Germany’s government and accessed confidential information. St. Peter’s Surgery and Endoscopy Center is notifying patients that their personal and medical information may have been compromised due to unauthorized access to its servers. Healthcare vendor FastHealth submitted a data breach notification regarding unauthorized access to its web server. Porsche Japan said that the information of customers was exposed due to a hack. Metro Wire Rope Corporation said that an employee email account was compromised after the employee opened a  malicious attachment with credential-stealing capabilities. The French news magazine L’Express exposed a database containing the personal information of readers and after being notified of the exposure took a month to secure the data. U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve may have compromised the personal information of 21,426 individuals due to sending an unencrypted email with an attachment to the wrong email distribution list.
  • Other notable events: The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center said that one of its employees was successfully phished, and the compromised email account was used to send further phishing messages to other members, affiliates, and employees. The recent hack of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that led to Internet disruptions and website downtime was a false-flag operation carried out by Russian military spies to make it appear as if the attack was carried out by North Korea, U.S. intelligence officials said. An Arkansas man who developed the remote-access Trojan NanoCore and marketed it on Hack Forums has been sentenced to 33 months in prison.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of the top trending targets are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

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Equifax was back in the news this week after announcing it had discovered an additional 2.4 million U.S. consumers who were affected by its massive 2017 data breach, bringing the total number of people impacted to 147.9 million.

“This is not about newly discovered stolen data,” said Paulino do Rego Barros, Jr., Interim chief executive officer in a press release. “It’s about sifting through the previously identified stolen data, analyzing other information in our databases that was not taken by the attackers, and making connections that enabled us to identify additional individuals.”

The company also said that it expects breach-related costs to hit $275 million in 2018, which Reuters noted could make the Equifax breach the most costly hack in corporate history:

The projection, which was disclosed on a Friday morning earnings conference call, is on top of $164 million in pretax costs posted in the second half of 2017. That brings expected breach-related costs through the end of this year to $439 million, some $125 million of which Equifax said will be covered by insurance.

Those breach-related costs could rise further once legal actions from consumers and regulators are finally resolved. However, Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently stated that “Equifax is still making money off their own breach” and that even consumers who do not want to do business with them may end up buying credit protection services from another company who “very well may be using Equifax to do the back office part.”

It’s the same criticism she waged in January when introducing a bill with Sen. Mark Warner to address problems related to credit agencies collecting data without strict protections in place to secure that information. As CNET noted, if such a bill was in place at the time of the Equifax breach, the company likely would have faced a fine of at least $14.3 billion.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: W-2 Theft, BEC Scams, and SEC Guidance

The FBI is once again warning organizations that there has been an increase in phishing campaigns targeting employee W-2 information. In addition, this week saw new breach notifications related to W-2 theft, as well as reports of a threat actor targeting Fortune 500 companies with business email compromise (BEC) scams in order to steal millions of dollars.

The recent breach notification from Los Angeles Philharmonic highlights how W-2 information is often targeted during the tax season: attackers impersonated the organization’s chief financial officer via what appeared to be a legitimate email address and requested that the W-2 information for every employee be forwarded.

“The most popular method remains impersonating an executive, either through a compromised or spoofed email in order to obtain W-2 information from a Human Resource (HR) professional within the same organization,” the FBI noted in its alert on W-2 phishing scams.

In addition, researchers said that a threat actor, which is likely of Nigerian origin, has been successfully targeting accounts payable personnel at some Fortune 500 companies to initiate fraudulent wire transfers and steal millions of dollars. The examples observed by the researchers highlight “how attackers used stolen email credentials and sophisticated social engineering tactics without compromising the corporate network to defraud a company.”

The recent discoveries highlight the importance of protecting against BEC and other types of phishing scams. The FBI advises that the key to reducing the risk is understanding the criminals’ techniques and deploying effective mitigation processes, such as:

  • limiting the number of employees who have authority to approve wire transfers or share employee and customer data;
  • requiring another layer of approval such as a phone call, PIN, one-time code, or dual approval to verify identities before sensitive requests such as changing the payment information of vendors is confirmed;
  • and delaying transactions until additional verification processes can be performed.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Spyware companies hacked: A hacker has breached two different spyware companies, Mobistealth and Spy Master Pro, and provided gigabytes of stolen data to Motherboard. Motherboard reported that the data contained customer records, apparent business information, and alleged intercepted messages of some people targeted by the malware.
  • Data accidentally exposed: The University of Wisconsin – Superior Alumni Association is notifying alumni that their Social Security numbers may have been exposed due to the ID numbers for some individuals being the same as their Social Security numbers and those ID numbers being shared with a travel vendor. More than 70 residents of the city of Ballarat had their personal information posted online when an attachment containing a list of individuals who had made submissions to the review of City of Ballarat’s CBD Car Parking Action Plan was posted online unredacted. Chase said that a “glitch” led to some customers’ personal information being displayed on other customers’ accounts.
  • Notable data breaches: The compromise of a senior moderator’s account at the HardwareZone Forum led to a breach affecting 685,000 user profiles, the site’s owner said. White and Bright Family Dental is notifying patients that it discovered unauthorized access to a server that contained patient personal information. The University of Virginia Health System is notifying 1,882 patients that their medical records may have been accessed due to discovering malware on a physician’s device. HomeTown Bank in Texas is notifying customers that it discovered a skimming device installed on an ATM at its Galveston branch.
  • Other notable events: The Colorado Department of Transportation said that its Windows computers were infected with SamSam ransomware and that more than 2,000 computers were shut down to stop the ransomware from spreading and investigate the attack. The city of Allentown, Pennsylvania, said it is investigating the discovery of malware on its systems, but there is no reason to believe personal data has been compromised. Harper’s Magazine is warning its subscribers that their credentials may have been compromised.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of the top trending targets are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued updated guidance on how public organizations should respond to data breaches and other cybersecurity issues last week.

The document, titled “Commission Statement and Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures,” states that “it is critical that public companies take all required actions to inform investors about material cybersecurity risks and incidents in a timely fashion, including those companies that are subject to material cybersecurity risks but may not yet have been the target of a cyber-attack.”

The SEC also advised that directors, officers, and other corporate insiders should not trade a public company’s securities if they are in possession of material nonpublic information — an issue that arose when it was reported that several Equifax executives sold shares in the days following the company’s massive data breach. The SEC said that public companies should have policies and procedures in place to prevent insiders from taking advantage of insider knowledge of cybersecurity incidents, as well as to ensure a timely disclosure of any related material nonpublic information.

“I believe that providing the Commission’s views on these matters will promote clearer and more robust disclosure by companies about cybersecurity risks and incidents, resulting in more complete information being available to investors,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.  “In particular, I urge public companies to examine their controls and procedures, with not only their securities law disclosure obligations in mind, but also reputational considerations around sales of securities by executives.”

The SEC unanimously approved the updated guidance; however, Reuters reported that there was reluctant support from democrats on the commission who were calling for much more rigorous rulemaking to be put in place.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Yahoo Breach Expands, Equifax Grilled, Another NSA Insider

Yahoo and Equifax were both back in the news this week due to new details emerging around their respective data breaches, including Yahoo revising the number of affected accounts to three billion and Equifax’s former CEO being grilled before Congress.

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Yahoo had previously stated that its 2013 data breach affected one billion user accounts, which made it the most widespread data breach in history. On Tuesday Verizon Communications, which acquired Yahoo for $4.48 billion in June,  tripled the number of impacted accounts to include all three billion of Yahoo’s users accounts. The breach was particularly egregious not only because of its size, but because it involved sensitive information such as the security questions and answers and backup email addresses used to recover accounts. Yahoo’s massive 2013 breach is in addition to a separate, previously disclosed breach that affected 500 million Yahoo accounts in 2014.

This week also saw the congressional testimony of Equifax’s former CEO Richard Smith. Smith said the breach was due to a combination of “both human error and technology failures” around implementing an Apache Struts patch made available on March 6, which was not patched for months despite a policy stating patches occur within a 48-hour time period. The testimony was met with harsh criticism from some lawmakers. For example, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned the entire business model of Equifax, claiming that the company has no incentive to protect consumer data and highlighting various avenues through which the company is making “millions of dollars off its own screwup.” Warren said that Equifax may “actually come out ahead” financially in regards to its breach, which affects 145 million people.

Despite the ongoing fallout, the IRS renewed a $7.25 million contract with Equifax to use its services to verify taxpayer identities. The contract drew major criticism; however, IRS Deputy Commissioner Jeffrey Tribiano said it was a necessary “stop gap” so millions of taxpayers did not lose access to their transcripts.

2017-10-06_ITTGroupsOther trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Newly announced data breaches: Auburn Eye Care Associates of California was hacked by TheDarkOverlord and thousands of patients records were stolen from its electronic health record system. Cabrillo Community College District said that it discovered unauthorized access to a server containing a database with student orientation information. The Online Traffic School said that customer information was compromised due to an individual gaining unauthorized access to part of its network. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company said that customer information was compromised due to a financial advisor falling for a scam that led to a malicious actor gaining remote access to a desktop computer multiple times. The law firm Clark Hill had its systems accessed by Chinese hackers and sensitive documents related to Chinese dissident Guo Wengui were subsequently released on Twitter. Phoenix Inn Suites is the latest hotel to issue a breach notification tied to the Sabre Hospitality Solutions SynXis Central Reservations system.
  • Organizations expose data: A misconfigured database that collected data on activity on a number of NFL-related domains such as the National Football League Players Association’s website exposed the data of 1,133 NFL players and agents. The database also included a ransom message from February 2017 similar to the ones targeting other Elasticsearch servers earlier this year — indicating that the data was accessed by cybercriminals. FlexShopper said a database containing payment and other customer information may have been exposed on the internet for several days. National Bank of Canada said that 400 customers had their personal information exposed due to a website glitch. Graton Resort and Casino, Kenco, and North Carolina A&T State University all announced breaches related to inadvertently disclosing sensitive customer, employee, and student data via email attachments.
  • Other notable incidents: U.S. government officials believe that the personal cellphone of chief of staff John Kelly was compromised, and the compromise may date back to December 2016. The R6DB gaming service, which provides statistics for Rainbow Six Siege gamers, said that an automated bot breached its PostgreSQL installation and wiped the database then demanded a ransom payment. Etherparty said it had to shut down its website for 90 minutes after discovering a fraudulent contribution address on the site just an hour after the ICO for its FUEL token went live. The City of Englewood said that it was hit with a ransomware infection. The UK National Lottery and Kazakhstan banks reported service disruptions due to DDoS attacks.
  • Arrests and legal actions: A federal indictment alleges that a former Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Corp. employee intentionally caused damage to Oregon’s Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) after being laid off, resulting in an eight-hour loss of functionality for the system.  The former principal of Seven Peaks School in Oregon is being sued for allegedly downloading thousands of private documents related to the students and staff, including psychological evaluations of students.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

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2017-10-06_RiskScoresOn Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Russian government was able to steal highly classified NSA material from an NSA contractor who removed the classified material and put it on his home computer without the NSA’s knowledge.

The sources said that the breach, which occurred in 2015, was first discovered in the spring of 2016 and included details about how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, code it used for such spying, and details on how the NSA defends networks inside the U.S.

Sources told the WSJ that the hackers appear to have used the antivirus software created by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab in order to identify the files on the contractor’s computer. The paper also reported that it is the first known incident of the popular antivirus software being exploited by Russian hackers to conduct espionage against the U.S. government.

Kaspersky Lab said it “has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation.”

The alleged NSA breach provides some insight into reports that the FBI has been urging private companies throughout the year to discontinue using Kaspersky products due to intelligence that indicated the company is an unacceptable threat to national security. In addition, the Department of Homeland security issued a directive in September ordering federal agencies to take actions to ultimately remove Kaspersky-related products from government computers.

The breach also appears to be separate from the incidents involving NSA contractor Harold T. Martin III, who hoarded large quantities of sensitive NSA data and hacking tools in his home, and TheShadowBrokers, a group that is best known for the April 2017 release of stolen NSA exploits such as EternalBlue, among others. As we noted in our August blog, officials have not linked TheShadowBrokers to Martin’s insider theft, and it appears the same can be said of the newly reported NSA breach. However, this new incident now makes two recent insiders who have successfully taken highly confidential NSA data home — and at least one case of that data then being successfully targeted by foreign hackers once it was in a less secure environment.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Equifax Fallout and Widespread Bluetooth Vulnerabilities

Equifax continued to dominate cybersecurity discussion over the last week as security researchers, government officials, lawyers, and the media have continued to ask questions around the fallout related to the massive breach, which affects 143 million consumers in the U.S. as well as others across the globe.

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Equifax confirmed that the actors behind the breach exploited an Apache Struts vulnerability (CVE-2017-5638). The Apache Software Foundation noted that vulnerability was made public and a patch was issued for it on March 7, more than two months before the initial “mid-May” comprise at Equifax.

“In conclusion, the Equifax data compromise was due to their failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner,” the foundation wrote in a blog post.

To add to the company’s woes, researchers discovered that an online portal for Argentinian employees to manage credit report disputes had, among other issues, the ridiculously easy-to-guess username and password combination of “admin” and “admin” — potentially leaking the sensitive information of those in Argentina and possibly other Latin American countries.

In addition, the FTC, which has opened an investigation into the breach, is warning consumers to be on the lookout for scams involving Equifax imposters and advising consumers to never give information to anyone who calls unprompted and claims to be from the company. Visa and Mastercard are also sending confidential alerts to U.S. financial institutions regarding the 209,000 payment card numbers that were also stolen in the breach. Brian Krebs reported that it appears those stolen payment cards are, ironically, tied to people signing up for credit monitoring service through Equifax. Finally, the breach has prompted Elizabeth Warren and 11 other Democratic senators to introduce a bill to give consumers the ability to freeze their credit for free.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Notable data breaches: The website canoe.ca said that the personal information of one million Canoe site users was compromised by a breach that affected databases containing records from 1996 to 2008. Children’s Hospital Colorado is notifying 3,400 patients that their information may have been compromised due to an employee’s email account being accessed by an unauthorized party on July 11. Donors of the Somerville House Foundation, which is responsible for running the elite school in Australia, were warned that a former employee had copied over their data to a personal hard drive.
  • Organizations expose data: Individuals who used translate.com may have had sensitive data they submitted made public and discoverable via search engines. Researchers and media have found a variety of sensitive data that was submitted to the site being leaked, including email exchanges, sensitive company documents, personal information, and more. Translate.com said, “there was a clear note on our homepage stating: ‘All translations will be sent to our community to improve accuracy’ and that ‘some of these requests were indexed by search engines such as Google and Microsoft at that time.’” The personal information of 593,328 Alaskan voters was exposed due to a misconfigured CouchDB database by Minnesota-based software company Equals3, which licensed the data from TargetSmart.
  • Ransomware incidents: Hackers were able to gain access to the communications system for Schuyler County via a brute-force attack, and as a result some enhanced 911 features were disrupted. Officials said that the county is rebuilding all of its files and servers following the attack, indicating that there may have been some sort of ransomware attack or other destructive malware. A ransomware infection has disrupted the Butler County, Kansas, computer system for several days and forced paperwork to be filled out by hand, the county sheriff said.
  • Arrests and legal actions: The Russian cybercriminal Roman Seleznev pleaded guilty to his role in the 2008 hack of RBS Worldpay and cashing out $2,178,349 associated with five hacked debit card numbers. Artur Sargsyan, the owner of the file-sharing website Sharebeast.com, has pleaded guilty to one felony count of copyright infringement related to the website, which facilitated the unauthorized distribution and reproduction of over one billion copies of copyrighted works. A North Carolina man who goes by the moniker “D3F4ULT” and was a member of the “Crackas With Attitude” hacking group has been sentenced to five years in prison for hacking government computer systems and the online accounts of government officials. A Texas man was sentenced to 27 months in prison for hacking and damaging 13 servers operated by the healthcare facility Centerville Clinic, Inc., as well as engaging in a scheme to defraud the facility using its purchase card to order merchandise from staples after resigning from his role as a systems administrator. The U.S. Treasury department issued sanctions against 11 entities and individuals tied to Iran, including some actors who are accused of launching DDoS against against U.S. financial institutions between 2011 and 2013.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

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Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-09-15_RiskScoresSecurity researchers are advising people to ensure their Bluetooth connections are turned off when not in use after the discovery of a series of vulnerabilities that can be used to compromise billions of Bluetooth-enabled devices.

The eight vulnerabilities, dubbed “BlueBorne,” were first reported by Armis Labs and “are the most serious Bluetooth vulnerabilities identified to date,” according to a company spokesperson.

“BlueBorne allows attackers to take control of devices, access corporate data and networks, penetrate secure ‘air-gapped’ networks, and spread malware to other devices,” the researchers wrote in a paper detailing the vulnerabilities. “The attack does not require the targeted device to be set on discoverable mode or to be paired to the attacker’s device. In addition, the targeted user is not required to authorize or authenticate the connection to the attacker’s device.”

As an Armis spokesperson told Bleeping Computer, one example of an attack could be a malicious actor simply walking into a bank carrying weaponized code on a Bluetooth-enabled device in order to infect other devices and gain a foothold on a previously secured network. In addition to the paper, Armis has uploaded videos showing how the BlueBorne attacks work across various devices.

Four of the vulnerabilities affect Android (CVE-2017-0781, CVE-2017-0782, CVE-2017-0783, and CVE-2017-0785), two affect Linux (CVE-2017-1000251 and CVE-2017-1000250), one affects iOS (CVE-2017-14315), and one affects Windows (CVE-2017-8628). Ars Technica reported that the Windows vulnerability was patched in July, Google provided device manufacturers with a patch in August, Linux maintainers will likely release a patch soon, and iOS version 10 is not affected by the vulnerability.

Weekly Cyber Risk Roundup: Equifax Criticized Over Breach and Energy Sector Companies Compromised

Last Thursday, Equifax announced a data breach affecting 143 million individuals. The breach, which compromised sensitive personal information such as Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers, is not just the most impactful breach that occurred over the past week, it may be the most significant breach we see in all of 2017.

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As SurfWatch Labs chief security strategist Adam Meyer noted, the impact of the Equifax breach will likely continue to ripple outward and affect individuals and organizations far beyond the near term. After all, the Social Security numbers and dates of birth that were stolen in the breach are static identifiers that range from difficult to impossible to change. Meyer also noted that malicious actors excel at snowballing information and could potentially use the leaked data as a springboard to circumvent knowledge-based authentication services, such as those that are offered by Equifax.

Equifax’s response to the breach has also drawn criticism on a variety of fronts. Bloomberg reported that three senior Equifax executives sold nearly $1.8 million worth of shares in the days following the breach, which was first discovered on July 29. Brian Krebs called the breach response a “dumpster fire” for a variety of reasons, including a tool that Equifax said potential victims could use to see if they are affected being “completely broken” and concerns around a now-modified terms of service clause that initially appeared to force victims to waive future class action rights in exchange for signing up for identity theft services. The New York Times reported that the 10-digit PINs being provided to those that choose to pay to freeze their credit files are not as secure as one would expect. Finally, The Hill reported that numerous members of Congress and states attorneys general have already launched investigations and are demanding further explanations from Equifax.

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Other trending cybercrime events from the week include:

  • Notable data breaches: The Latin American social network Taringa said that hackers have stolen the usernames, email addresses, and MD5-hashed passwords of nearly 29 million users. The state government of Western Australia has ordered an urgent review of the state’s TAFE cyber security systems after the information of 13,000 students was compromised when an unauthorized user gained access to the TAFE’s IT system on two separate occasions. The Community Memorial Health System in Ventura, California, is notifying 959 patients that their personal information may have been compromised due to an employee’s email account being accessed following a phishing email. The Alaska Office of Children’s Services said that malware was found on two computers and that more than 500 individuals may have had their personal information stolen as a result. The Hong Kong jobs website cpjobs.com said that an unauthorized third party was able to gain access to user data and passwords. A customer of the DDoS-for-hire service TrueStresser claims to have hacked the company and released what appears to be legitimate company data.
  • Organizations exposed data: Researchers discovered more than 600GB of sensitive data exposed via two insecure Amazon S3 buckets that appear to be connected to the global communication software and service provider BroadSoft, Inc. Much of the internal development data apparently saved by Broadsoft engineers related to Time Warner Cable. Researchers discovered a misconfigured CouchDB database connected to MoneyBack that exposed the passports, IDs, and other personal details of thousands of travelers to Mexico. Researchers discovered an unsecured Amazon Web Services S3 data storage bucket that contained 9,402 resumes and application forms submitted for positions with North Carolina-based private security firm TigerSwan. An email error led to those who preordered Essential phones receiving the personal details of other customers, including copies of driver’s licenses.
  • Another wave of MongoDB ransoms: Attacks against insecure MongoDB instances surged recently as three groups of hackers wiped approximately 26,000 MongoDB databases and left ransom notes saying the data would be restored for between 0.05 and 0.15 bitcoin, or as much as $650. The researchers said that few organizations have paid the ransom.
  • Other notable incidents: WikiLeaks has published a series of documents related to the CIA’s Protego project, which WikiLeaks described as “a PIC-based missile control system that was developed by Raytheon.” Verrit, an online hub that includes information for Hillary Clinton backers to share, recently went offline after experiencing a “pretty significant and sophisticated” cyber-attack, the site’s creator said. The UK’s National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Center is warning that students are being targeted with a phishing scam that claims their Student Loans Company accounts have been suspended due to incomplete information.

SurfWatch Labs collected data on many different companies tied to cybercrime over the past week. Some of those “newly seen” targets, meaning they either appeared in SurfWatch Labs’ data for the first time or else reappeared after being absent for several weeks, are shown in the chart below.

2017-09-11_ITTNew

Cyber Risk Trends From the Past Week

2017-09-11_RiskScoresSecurity researchers are once again warning that the energy sector is the target of increased cyber-attacks. Symantec said that it has observed increased activity from the actors behind the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign and that there are strong indicators of recent attacks against organizations in the U.S., Turkey, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

Like the original Dragonfly campaign, which ran from 2011 to 2014, the new campaign uses a combination of malicious emails, watering hole attacks, and Trojanized software to gain access to victim networks, the researchers said in a report.

“The original Dragonfly campaigns now appear to have been a more exploratory phase where the attackers were simply trying to gain access to the networks of targeted organizations,” Symantec wrote. “The Dragonfly 2.0 campaigns show how the attackers may be entering into a new phase, with recent campaigns potentially providing them with access to operational systems, access that could be used for more disruptive purposes in future.”

Symantec researcher Eric Chien told Wired that there were more than 20 cases of hackers successfully gaining access to targeted companies’ networks and that the intruders had gained operational access to a handful of companies, including several in the U.S. and at least one in Turkey.

He warned that “there’s nothing left standing in the way [of sabotage] except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”

Impact of Massive Equifax Breach Will Likely Ripple Into the Future

On Thursday, the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax announced a massive data breach affecting 143 million U.S. consumers, and today several actors on the dark web and Twitter are claiming to have the data for sale.

Equifax said the breach was caused by a website application vulnerability that provided malicious actors access to sensitive data from mid-May through when the intrusion was detected on July 29. That data includes the theft of consumers’ Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses, as well as the credit card numbers of 209,000 consumers, dispute documents with personal identifying information for another 182,000 consumers, and an unreported number of driver’s license numbers. In addition, the company said that “limited personal information for certain UK and Canadian residents” was also compromised.

Breach Causes Authentication Concerns

In addition to being one of the largest breaches of recent memory, the type of information that was stolen is a treasure trove for cybercriminals looking to carry out fraudulent activities in the future. As SurfWatch Labs chief security strategist Adam Meyer noted, the type of information that Equifax holds is often used for authentication purposes as well.

“You will see plenty of commentary regarding tax and various banking fraud scenarios, but there is one area that concerns me more, and that is the credit-based identity space,” Meyer said, referring to the types of questions that are pulled from consumers’ credit reports for knowledged-based authentication. “While full credit report information has not been disclosed as being compromised, it is possible that what has been compromised can still help with that authentication process. When you call a help desk for a transaction, what do they use to authenticate you? Name, address, Social Security numbers — all the same information that was just breached on a massive scale.”

Meyer also noted that if malicious actors could leverage this information to get even more data and answer more knowledge-based authentication questions, it could be a problem for organizations.

“Aside from the obvious impacts of PII being leveraged as it has in the past, I am worried that this particular breach has an impact to a utilized authentication stack that many organizations and federal agencies use to combat their own forms of fraud that are all integrated,” Meyer said. “These are services that support employment verification, social services verification, identity proofing as they call it. The strength in this authentication is the fact that only the user should know this information when challenged; however, with this breach approximately 60 percent of the working age U.S. population’s PII could be out there and available to use [by malicious actors] to potentially authenticate [as those users].”

Actors Claim to Have Equifax Data

SurfWatch Labs’ team of analysts has observed several actors claiming to be in possession of the breached Equifax data, although we do not have much confidence in their legitimacy at this point.

One website on the dark web is threatening to publish all of the stolen data except credit card information if they don’t receive 600 bitcoins (approximately $2.6 million) in ransom by September 15.

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A likely scam website on the dark web alleging to have the Equifax database and demanding a ransom from Equifax.

“Equifax executives sold 3 million dollars in shares taking advantage of their insider information after the attack,” the actors behind the site wrote in justifying their exorbitant ransom demand.

However, Bloomberg reported that the shares sold by three senior executives several days following the breach totalled $1.8 million and that the executives said they were not aware of the breach at the time of the sale.

In addition, researchers have also discovered other users claiming to have data for sale, such as this Twitter user. However, we again caution that this sale is likely not legitimate.

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A Twitter user claiming to have the Equifax data for sale.

Scams on the Horizon

Those claiming to have the data so far may well be scams, but that should come as no surprise. As we noted last week about Hurricane Harvey scams, malicious actors will attempt to exploit any event or news story that grabs the attention of a large group of people. With 143 million people affected by the incident, scammers who gain access to the breached data will have an enormous group of engaged victims that they can exploit through emails, phone calls and other social engineering means in the coming days, weeks and months. In fact, those scammers may already have enough data to open fraudulent accounts, lines of credit, or carry out other forms of identity theft.

In addition, the data could be used to add legitimacy to a number of other scams.

For example, one could easily imagine a simple scam where malicious actors impersonate Equifax representatives enrolling victims in identity theft services and gain credibility by providing actual Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers to “confirm” victims’ identities — before using that gained trust to pivot to other scam opportunities.

Leaked Data Could Lead to Additional Incidents

It’s also worth stressing, yet again, that there is no right to be forgotten in the cybercriminal world. As we noted in our 2016 Cyber Trends Report, once your data is exposed, it will likely forever remain in the cybercriminal domain. With this new Equifax breach, the pool of compromised information that can be leveraged by malicious actors grows deeper and the ripple effect of that breach will likely widen to impact more organizations in the future.

In addition, as Meyer noted, Equifax offers authentication services that include knowledge-based authentication, and the leaked Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and other sensitive information could be used a stepping stone in further breaches, he warned.

“My worry is that with this information a malicious actor could authenticate to a service like this using the already disclosed information [from the Equifax breach] and with just some public information sleuthing and maybe a good guess or two could answer the credit report follow up questions and likely pass go more often than not, especially when there is 145 million records available,” Meyer said.

Equifax has provided a website with more information about the breach, as well the ability to check to see if you are affected and to receive a future date to enroll in an identity protection service. It’s worth noting that Equifax is requiring consumers enter both their last name and the last six digits of their Social Security number to enroll, rather than the typical last four digits — reinforcing the idea that as more data gets leaked, proper authentication becomes more difficult.

As Meyer said, “With this I get the constant sense of déjà vu, maybe it is breach fatigue, or maybe it’s the fact that we all should never have to pay for credit monitoring again in our lifetime because our PII has been breached so many times.”