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1-15 March 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

March 18, 2013 2 comments

Other troubles for system administrators: March is confirming the 2013 dangerous trend with several high profile breaches against industrial, financial and governmental targets.

The first two weeks of March have begun with the breach to Evernote, and continued with (among the others) the third phase of the infamous Operation Ababil, targeting U.S. Banks and an alleged Chinese attack against the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Additional noticeable events include a wave of DDoS attacks against several Czech Republic’s targets (belonging to media, news and financial sector), a breach suffered by the NIST Vulnerability Database (unfortunately not an isolated example of the attacks against US governmental targets happened in these two weeks) and also the leak of 20,000 records from an Avast! German distributor.

Last but not least, the examined period has also confirmed the role of Twitter as the new mean to make resounding attacks against single individuals or organizations. Qatar Foundation, Saudi Aramco, and France 24 are only several of the organizations fallen victims of accounts hijacking.

Of course, these are only the main events, feel free to scroll down the list to analyze in detail what happened in these two weeks.

If you want to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace, have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011, 2012 and now 2013 (regularly updated). You may also want to have a look at the Cyber Attack Statistics, and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts).

Once again, a special thanks to Kim Guldberg AKA @bufferzone for continuously advising me about significant cyber events through the Submit Form! Much Appreciated!

1-15 March 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

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Microsoft Joins the Party of the Hacked Companies

February 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Microsoft BreachedWith a scant statement on its Microsoft Security Response Center blog, the giant of Redmond has admitted to have been targeted by the same Cyber Attack that also hit Facebook and Apple.

“Consistent with our security response practices”, the company chose not to make a detailed statement during the initial information gathering process. According to the few information available, a small number of computers, including several machine in the Mac business unit, were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations.

This suggests that the company was probably the victim of the exploit injected through the compromising of the iPhoneDevSDK Forum. Apparently there is no evidence of customer data being affected while the investigation is ongoing.

Only the last example of an endless trail of high-profile security breaches.

After Twitter and Facebook, Apple reveals to have suffered the same Cyber Attack

February 20, 2013 1 comment

The same sophisticated cyber attack that has targeted Facebook and Twitter has also targeted Apple, according to an exclusive revelation by Reuters. In this latest occurrence,  the attackers were able to infect several Mac computers belonging to some employees of Cupertino, exploiting the same 0-Day Java vulnerability used to carry on the attacks against the two well known social networks.

iphonedevsdk

Further details have emerged in the meantime: particularly noticeable is the fact that the attackers used the consolidated “watering hole” technique, compromising a well-known mobile developer forum (iphonedevsdk.com) accessed by the employees of Cupertino (and of many other high profile companies). This has raised the concern that maybe the attackers aimed to manipulate the code of smartphone apps to compromise a huge number of users. Currently the forums shows a banner inviting users to change their passwords.

Apple is working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has released an update to disable its Java SE 6. Although there is no clear evidence about the Chinese origin of the attack, unfortunately it comes out in the worst possible period: after the wave of attacks against U.S. Media, Mandiant, the firm that investigated the attack against the NYT, released a detailed report suggesting a link between the hacks against U.S. assets. and the Chinese Army.

1-16 February 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

February 18, 2013 3 comments

Here is the summary of the Cyber Attacks Timeline for February. A month that will probably be remembered for the “sophisticated” cyber attacks to the two main social networks: Facebook and Twitter.

But the attacks against the two major social networks were not the only remarkable events of this period. Other governmental and industrial high-profile targets have fallen under the blows of (state-sponsored) cyber criminals: the list of the governmental targets is led by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Bit9, a primary security firm, was also targeted, leading the chart of Industrial targets.

Hacktivists have raised the bar and breached the Federal Reserve, leaking the details of 4,000 U.S. Banks executives. Similarly, the Bush family was also targeted, suffering the leak of private emails.

Even if the list is not as long as the one of January, it includes other important targets, so, scroll it down to have an idea of how fragile our data are inside the cyberspace. Also have a look at the timelines of the main Cyber Attacks in 2011, 20122013, and the related statistics (regularly updated), and follow @paulsparrows on Twitter for the latest updates.

Also, feel free to submit remarkable incidents that in your opinion deserve to be included in the timelines (and charts). To do so, you can use this form.

1-16 February 2013 Cyber Attacks Timeline

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Facebook Admits to Have Been Hit By a Sophisticated Targeted Attack

February 16, 2013 6 comments

A couple of weeks after similar revelations made by Twitter, Facebook has joined the unwelcome list of Social Networks hit by targeted attacks.

This news has shaken this quiet week end of February, as Facebook officials told to Ars Technica they discovered in January several computers belonging to mobile application developers hacked using a zero-day Java attack. According to a consolidated attack schema, the malware installed a collection of previously unseen malware.Facebook Malware

The attack occurred within the same timeframe as the hack that hit Twitter and exposed cryptographically hashed passwords of 250,000 users, and apparently targeted other companies completely unaware of the attack, until they were notified by Facebook.

According to the information available the attack showed several interesting (and nowadays common) patterns:

  • The attackers used a “watering hole” attack, compromising the server of a popular mobile developer Web forum and using it to spring the zero-day Java exploit on site visitors. The attack was injected into the site’s HTML, affecting any visitor who had Java enabled in his browser, regardless of the level of patching of the machine.
  • The exploit was used to download malware to victims’ computers affecting both Windows and Apple computers.
  • As usual, I would say, Antivirus software was unable to detect the malware, neither the malware was slowed down by the fact that the machines were patched.

Facebook said it is working with FBI to investigate the attack. Only the latest example of a class of targeted sophisticated threats increasingly common and aggressive against high-profile targets including tech industries, media, and now social networks. As a matter of fact (state sponsored ?) cyber criminals are actively exploiting 0-Day vulnerabilities targeting Java (and Adobe Flash), in this 2013 that, in only two months, is proving to be dramatic for the Infosec Landscape.

Flambé! U.S. used Facebook and Flame to hack the French President’s Network

November 22, 2012 1 comment

According to the French Magazine “L’Express” earlier in May some computers in the offices of former France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy have been victims of a targeted attack carried via a Flame variant.

What is surprising is not (only) the fact that this is the first known case of a Flame infection out of the Middle East, but most of all the fact that the malware was allegedly implanted by U.S. Hackers.

The attack was successful and, according to the French magazine, the attackers were able to get to the heart of French political power, harvesting the computers of close advisers of Nicolas Sarkozy and obtaining “secret notes” and “strategic plans”.

The attack model resembles a spy story: the attacker crafted a false profile on Facebook (a bogus friend of someone who worked for the president’s office) and successfully used that profile to contact (and compromise) personnel working at the President’s Office (The Elysèe).

After contacting the unaware victims, the attacker sent them a malicious link to a fake Elysée webpage, where they entered their real login and password details that the attacker used to hack into the network and spread the Flame variant.

The reasons of the attack are unknown.

DDoS and SQLi are the Most… Discussed Attack Techniques

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Imperva has just published the results of its annual analysis on one of the largest-known hacker forums counting approximately 250,000 members.

The research (also made on other smaller forums) used the forum’s search engine capabilities to analyze conversations by topic using specific keywords. Unfortunately no details have been provided about the methodology used to collect the data, however the results show that SQL Injection and DDoS are the most discussed topic, both of them with the 19% of discussion volume (I am glad to see that the results are coherent with the findings of my Cyber Attack Statistics).

Of course the data must be taken with the needed caution since the analyzed sample could not be entirely consistent. As Imperva admits: “The site we examined is not a hardcore crime site, but it’s not entirely softcore. New hackers come to this site to learn and,on the other hand, more experienced hackers teach to gain “street cred” and recognition […]. Typically, once hackers have gained enough of a reputation, they go to a more hardcore, invitation-only forum.” This probably means that the incidence of the two attack techniques is overrated since one should expect a beginner hacker to approach the easiest and most common attack methods for which there are many tools available.

Anyway the events of the last months show that an attack does not deserve less attention only because it is carried on by a beginner, nor a beginner worries too much if he uses automated tools without full knowledge and awareness. A look to the infosec chronicles of the last period is sufficient to verify that DDoS and SQLi attacks are always in the first pages.

Sadly, Imperva estimates that only the 5% of the security budget is spent on thwarting SQL Injection attacks.

Other interesting findings of the research are: the fact that social networks pose a major interest for hackers since they are becoming a prominent source of information and potential monetary gain (Facebook was the most discussed social media platform, with 39%, immediately followed by Twitter at 37%), and also the fact that E-whoring is becoming one of the most common methods for beginner cyber criminals to gain easy money (more than 13,000 threads observed).

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