Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Threats without borders

“Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders.”  Although he was born in the early 20th century, former President of USA Ronald Reagan understood that we cannot put any barrier to information.

However, despite the advantages that a borderless Internet offers, malicious actors can also take advantage of them to remotely carry out their acts of villainy from thousands of miles away. For instance, the network allows Chinese hackers to penetrate the systems of a U.S. hospital group called Community Health Systems and steal data from 4 million and a half of its patients: names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and even social security numbers. Valuable information that they may be sold to the highest bidder on the black market or use it to impersonate the victims.

Internet also makes it easier for criminals who spread malware. In fact, a variant of the dreaded banking Trojan "Zeus" dubbed "newGOZ" has increased its rate of infections by 1,879 percent, according to Arbor Networks. This malicious code aims to steal the online banking login credentials of infected users.

Meanwhile "ZeroLocker" is a type of ransomware being also distributed on the cyberspace. It differs from others because instead of warning its victims about their files being encrypted and demanding a ransom for them, it deceives the user showing him an alert informing him that his computer was infected by another type of ransomware and he should download a (fee required) tool to remove and retrieve his documents.

After these examples, you may feel vertigo if you think that your home could be connected to a world without borders, right? Moreover after learning of the study carried out on the Internet of Things (IoT) by the BBC along with several security consultants. Their tests have shown that most household appliances and other 'smart' devices connected to the Internet are like a Swiss cheese due to the great amount of security holes that they contain.

Nevertheless, the infrastructure of the Internet does have to face physical and political barriers to let information flow along the wires. Sometimes, even, it must withstand the attack of sharks. In this regard, Google has announced that it will cover its fiber optic network that connects US and Japan with a Kevlar-like material to protect it from the attacks of these sharks.

In any case, organized crime does not do only scams and information theft on the Internet to survive. In fact, drug trafficking is one of its most lucrative businesses. Even the physical boundaries are not completely effective in fighting these businesses. Now, company KWJ Engineering expects to help US customs to detect money from drug dealing that crosses its border using a new technology. Its project uses mass spectrometry to detect the specific smell of money and thereby locate people trying to cross the frontier with higher amounts than allowed by law.

At this point, let us recall part of Reagan’s quote: "Information is the oxygen of the modern age." So if you want to be well oxygenated we invite you to keep you informed through our social channels (find the links at the right sidebar) or here.

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