US Botnet Hacker Jailed

hackerWell a bot… oops bit of good news on the spam front is that a hacker who sold a huge list of 70k+ of infected PCs to to spammers has been jailed in the USA, and good I say too as these people cause misery for many novice PC users as they can have personal data including banking information stolen from them.

I personally would not let him use a PC ever again and not a 3yr supervisory order, as I think for this level of criminality it should be one strike and your out!

“A US hacker who sold access to thousands of hijacked home computers has been jailed for 30 months.

Joshua Schichtel of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced for renting out more than 72,000 PCs that he had taken over using computer viruses.

Millions of PCs are enrolled in these networks, known as botnets, and many help to send out junk mail messages.

Schichtel’s customers installed their own malicious software on the PCs to aid their own cybercrime efforts.

As well as going to prison for 30 months, Schichtel was also sentenced to a three-year supervised release programme that he will serve after leaving jail. The supervision will tightly control his access to computers and the net.

In a brief statement about the case, the US Department of Justice said Schichtel pleaded guilty to one count of selling access to 72,000 machines that formed part of a bigger botnet he controlled.”

If you have any comments on this story then please do post a comment as I’m always interested in hearing other computer users thoughts on malware, spam and hacking.

Read the full article at BBC Technology News HERE

EU Trade Committee MEP’s dismiss Acta

hackerThis was a vote I was waiting to hear what the results of as I blogged about the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) law on copyright protection and illegal file sharing of media back in April HERE. Today sees the results of the EU parliamentary committee  who voted against this law by 19 to 12.

“Acta aims to tighten rules on both online and offline piracy but has attracted many critics.

One of its harshest detractors has been UK MEP David Martin, the lead member of the committee.

Speaking after the Inta vote, he said: “This was not an anti-intellectual property vote. This group believes Europe does have to protect its intellectual property but Acta was too vague a document,” he said.

He said that it “left many questions unanswered”, including the role of ISPs in policing the internet. He also said that many on the committee felt that the sanctions for breaches of copyright were “disproportionate”.”

Although this is not the full parliamentary vote on this law, it is seen by many as the death-nail to it as the committee involved with this vote are who advise the main parliament which way to vote.

 

Read the full article at BBC News HERE

Microsoft rushes out a password bugfix for Hotmail

HotmailMicrosoft today have fixed a password bug in their Hotmail email service, in which a hacker could gain access to an account and change the users password, thus not only locking the user out of their account, but potentially stealing sensitive data.

“Microsoft says it has fixed a serious vulnerability in Hotmail, that was allowing hackers to reset account passwords, locking out the account’s real owner and giving attackers access to users’ inboxes.

News of the critical bug spread rapidly across underground hacking forums, and Whitec0de reported earlier this week that hackers were offering to break into any Hotmail account for as little as $20.

It appears that the vulnerability existed in Hotmail’s password reset feature. Hackers were able to use a Firefox add-on called Tamper Data to bypass the normal protections put in place to protect Hotmail accounts.”

Read the full article at NakedSecurity blog from Sophos HERE

Microsoft Security Report highlights Conficker Worm alive and well

The Conficker worm malware infection has been a real pest for a while now and Microsoft have released their latest security report (July – December 2011) highlighting how many times this malware variant was detected worldwide.

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“Microsoft Corp. today released the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report volume 12 (.pdf file), which found that the Conficker worm was detected approximately 220 million times worldwide in the past two and a half years, making it one of the biggest ongoing threats to enterprises. The study also revealed the worm continues to spread because of weak or stolen passwords and vulnerabilities for which a security update exists.

According to the SIRv12, quarterly detections of the Conficker worm have increased by more than 225 percent since the beginning of 2009. In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, Conficker was detected on 1.7 million systems worldwide. In examining the reasons behind Conficker’s prevalence in organizations, research showed that 92 percent of Conficker infections were a result of weak or stolen passwords, and 8 percent of infections exploited vulnerabilities for which a security update exists.

“Conficker is one of the biggest security problems we face, yet it is well within our power to defend against,” said Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing. “It is critically important that organizations focus on the security fundamentals to help protect against the most common threats.”

As I will always stat is that you need to use an Antivirus application, it can be any of the major brands free solutions, but do use one (Microsoft have released the updated Security Essentials 4.0 this week, and you can download it HERE) and keep it updated. Keep your Windows OS fully up to date and be weary on what sites you are viewing and downloading from, if in doubt, check a sites reputation with the likes of WOT.

 

Read the full article at Microsoft News Centre HERE

Dubious Anonymous OS causes concern

hackerThis is more of a heads up warning as some groups and especially the hacking group Anonymous have distanced themselves from this alleged new OS from them.

While i know Linux OSes are pretty malware free, you never know what these alleged software contain, for all we know it may have malware, the security companies like Sophos mentioned below in the BBC article will be looking into any issues.

“More than 26,000 people have downloaded an operating system which members of the Anonymous hacker group claim to have created.

The software is based on a version of the open-source operating system Linux and comes outfitted with lots of website sniffing and security tools.

The “official” Anonymous group has distanced itself from the software.

In a widely circulated tweet, AnonOps claimed the operating system was riddled with viruses.

Graham Cluley, senior researcher at hi-tech security firm Sophos, wondered who would be tempted to use it.

He warned people to be very wary, adding that some hacktivists keen to support the work of Anonymous had been tricked earlier in the year into installing a booby-trapped attack tool. ”

Its not worth downloading in the thinking it will make you a hacker overnight as it will not and groups like Anonymous do not release openly tools to aid in hacking.

More at BBC Technology News HERE

Tech Support Phone Scams

Scam AlertToday I was reminded of the scams that can go around and the tech support one is one of the most commonly used ones and is sadly still used today!

So things to look out for….

Do not  trust unsolicited calls, do not province any personal information.                                                                                                                             

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

More information HERE

The History of Hacking

hackerWas reading this today and thought it was a well written piece on the history of hacking, how it started and what its become today. While hacking is not what I remember it to be when I first started on with computing, in that hacking was merely related in terms of hacking the Windows registry in order to tweak the system a bit etc.

These days its more known for the intrusion into another’s computer system, and we are seeing a lot of this sort of hacking these days with the Sony, Nintendo and now the Citi Bank hacking intrusions.

“In the early decades of the 21st century the word “hacker” has become synonymous with people who lurk in darkened rooms, anonymously terrorising the internet.

But it was not always that way. The original hackers were benign creatures. Students, in fact.

To anyone attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the 1950s and 60s, a hack was simply an elegant or inspired solution to any given problem.

Many of the early MIT hacks tended to be practical jokes. One of the most extravagant saw a replica of a campus police car put on top of the Institute’s Great Dome.

Over time, the word became associated with the burgeoning computer programming scene, at MIT and beyond. For these early pioneers, a hack was a feat of programming prowess.”

Read the full article HERE at BBC Technology News

Sony still not out of the security woods yet!

Sony-Hack-115x115Its not going great for Sony of late with the hacking of user personal data a few weeks back. Now the site that they setup to allow users to change their passwords easily is part of a new security issue, in which an exploit was found that could allow a hacker to impersonate the user.

“A website set up by Sony to allow users to reset their passwords following last month’s hack attack is itself subject to a security alert.

A Sony user discovered an exploit on the site that could have been used by hackers to impersonate users.

Password resets have been necessary following the exposure of 77 million Sony PlayStation users’ personal details.

Sony admitted the sites were insecure but said no hack had occurred.”

Read the full article HERE at BBC Technology News

Anonymous vs Sony

hackerI maybe completely wrong but I have some suspicions on this latest spat between Sony and the hacker collective “anonymous” in that its a bit co-incidental that anonymous have gained the blame, is this an easy scapegoat do to their past history?

“Online vigilante group Anonymous has denied being behind an attack that led to the theft of personal data from around 77 million PlayStation users.

The secretive “hacker collective” had earlier been singled-out by Sony as the possible guilty party.

But a posting on Anonymous’ blog said: “Let’s be clear, we are legion, but it wasn’t us. You are incompetent Sony.”

The electronics giant has offered compensation to users who suffer fraud as a result of the theft.

Earlier this week, Sony sent a letter to the US Congress accusing Anonymous of being involved in the attack.”

I have seen in the past 6 months companies loosing what is supposed to be secure data left right and center, Epsilon is one notable one that I have had emails from companies that use this marketing company that my email address was potentially taken in a hack on their servers, this should really not happen if measures are in place and up to date. Yes you will never stop the concerted hacker from penetrating your servers in time, but we just seem to be of late seeing companies leaking data too much and I’m happy to see the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) investigating HERE if Sony have broken what is quite tough data protection laws we have in the UK.

Full article at BBC Technology News HERE

Clean-up starts after the LizaMoon SQL infection

virus_alerts

While it can never be fully assessed as to how many internet users have been duped into installing and paying for the fake security software as in “Windows Stability Center”, it does look from the initial reports as this attack as not managed to take hold as bad as it could have and in the main to very quick responses from many of the top security companies.

3113_lizamoon2_windowsstabilitycenter_jpg-550x0  The Fake Security Application “Windows Stability Center”

Sadly these fake antivirus and security applications are now looking more professional looking and with the name Windows or Microsoft on them they do to many PC users look real.

“The Lizamoon website attack seems to have ensnared relatively few victims.

The massive attack managed to inject the name of several rogue domains into hundreds of thousands of websites.

The link led to a page that carried out a fake virus scan and then recommended fake security software to clean up what it supposedly found.

But despite the huge success by the attackers, swift action by security firms looks to have limited the number of victims.”

Read the full article at BBC Technology News HERE

More information at Websense Blog HERE on what to look out for if you are accidently caught out by a faked Domains.