Monday, May 26, 2014

The spark of cyber fires

“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” (Italian poet, Dante Alighieri). Last week, we saw how a few sparks became two major fires and today we witness how these fires keep expanding out of control.

The first spark was the indiction of 5 Chinese military by the U.S. accused of cyber espionage. This burnt the flame of revenge in the Chinese administration which ordered state enterprises to avoid dealing with American consulting firms such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain. Now U.S. may add fuel to the fire by preventing the entry into its territory of Chinese hackers who plan to attend major hacking conferences Black Hat and DefCon that will take place in Las Vegas in August.

The other spark came from eBay’s data breach, which compromised the personal details of 145 million users. However, after such attack, they have been identified three new vulnerabilities that could checkmate the Internet giant again. As if that were not enough, someone is running a very sophisticated phishing campaign that takes advantage of all the confusion and attempt to steal data from Paypal’s users, the electronic payment service owned by eBay.

Nevertheless, there are some more phishing offensives underway. Researchers at security firm Fidelis have seen an increase of this type of attacks based on the remote access trojan (RAT) called Unrecom. It counts among its objectives the U.S. and local governments and strategic industries such as technology, health, or finance.

A third spark was recently lit, but this time it seems that its flames are under control. The origin of the fire involved an unauthorized access to the supercomputer at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand. Although this machine of NZ $12.7 million did not store sensitive personal data - since its main use is climate modelling - it was immediately disconnected as soon as the intrusion was detected.

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