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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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Who is Afraid of State-Sponsored Attacks?

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Last week, for the second time since June, Google warned his Gmail users of possible state-sponsored attacks. According to Mike Wiacek, a manager on Google’s information security team, Google started to alert users to state-sponsored attacks three months ago. Meanwhile the security team has gathered new intelligence about attack methods and the groups deploying them, and that information was used to warn “tens of thousands of new users”, possible targets of the attack.

Apparently this increase in state-sponsored activity comes from the Middle East, although no particular countries have been explicitly quoted.

This is not the first time that Gmail is the target of alleged state-sponsored attacks, unfortunately the secrets hidden inside the mailboxes have proven to be a too tempting target for states without scruples.

June 5, 2012: Eric Grosse, Google VP Security Engineering issues a Security warnings for suspected state-sponsored attacks.The warning seems more a preventive measure than the result of a true campaign.

September 8, 2011: As consequence of the infamous Diginotar Breach by the so-called Comodo Hacker, Google advises its users in Iran to change their Gmail passwords, and check that their Google accounts have not been compromised. Several Iranian users who may have been hit by a man-in-the-middle attack are contacted directly.

June 1, 2011: In an unusual blog post, Google declares to have discovered and alerted hundreds of people victims of a targeted “phishing” scam originating from Jinan, the capital of Shandong province. Hackers aimed to get complete control of the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists. Google does not rule out the possibility of the attack being state-sponsored, although China firmly denies Gmail hacking accusations.

January 13, 2010: In a blog post, Google discloses the details of the infamous Operation Aurora. A highly sophisticated and targeted attack on its corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. At least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses have been targeted, but the primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists (only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed with limited damage). As part of the investigation (but independent of the attack on Google), it turns out that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users, advocates of human rights in China, appear to have been routinely accessed via phishing scams or malware placed on the users’ computers.

State-Sponsored attacks or not, setting a complex password and enabling 2-step verification are two effective countermeasures to mitigate the risk.

An Advanced Anti-Malware solution can be really effecive as well, such as Lastline. It is not a coincidence that Wepawet, based on our technology, was the first to detect the Internet Explorer “Aurora” Memory Corruption exploit behind the state-sponsored Operation Aurora.

December 2011 Cyber Attacks Timeline (Part I)

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

As usual, here it is my compilation of December Cyber Attacks.

It looks like that Christmas approaching is not stopping hackers who targeted a growing number of  organizations including several security firms (Kaspersky, Nod 32 and Bitdefender) even if in secondary domains and with “simple” defacements.

Cyber chronicles report of Gemnet, another Certification Authority Breached in Holland (is the 12th security incident targeting CAs in 2011) and several massive data breaches targeting Finland (the fifth this year, affecting 16,000 users), online gambling (UB.com affecting 3.5 million of users),  Telco (Telstra, affecting 70,000 users), and gaming, after the well known attacks to Sony, Sega and Nintendo, with Square Enix, which suffered a huge attacks compromising 1,800,000 users (even if it looks like no personal data were affected).

Online Payment services were also targeted by Cybercrookers: a Visa East European processor has been hit by a security breach, but also four Romanian home made hackers have been arrested for a massive credit card fraud affecting 200 restaurants for a total of 80,000 customers who had their data stolen.

As usual, hacktivism was one of the main trends for this first half of the month, which started with a resounding hacking to a Web Server belonging to ACNUR (United Nations Refugees Agency) leaking more than 200 credentials including the one belonging to President Mr. Barack Obama.

But from a mere hactvism perspective, Elections in Russia have been the main trigger as they indirectly generated several cyber events: not only during the election day, in which three web sites (a watchdog and two independent news agencies) were taken down by DDoS attacks, but also in the immediately following days, when a botnet flooded Twitter with Pro Kremlin hashtags, and an independent forum was also taken down by a further DDoS attacks. A trail of events which set a very dangerous precent.

Besides the ACNUR Hack, the Anonymous were also in the spotlight (a quite common occurrence this year) with some sparse attacks targeting several governments including in particular Brazil, inside what is called #OpAmazonia.

Even if not confirmed, it looks like that Anonymous Finland might somehow be related to the above mentioned breach occurred in Finland.

Other interesting events occurred in the first two weeks of December: the 0-day vulnerability affecting Adobe products, immediately exploited by hackers to carry on tailored phishing campaigns and most of hall, a targeted attack to a contractor, Lockheed Martin, but also another occurrence of DNS Cache Poisoning targeting the Republic of Congo domains of Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others.

Last but not least, the controversial GPS Spoofing, which allegedly allowed Iran to capture a U.S. Drone, even the GPS Spoofing on its own does not completely solve the mistery of the capture.

Other victims of the month include Norwich Airport, Coca Cola, and another Law Enforcement Agency (clearusa.org), which is currently unaivalable.

As usual after the page break you find all the references.

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One Year Of Lulz (Part I)

December 15, 2011 2 comments

Update December 26: 2011 is nearly gone and hence, here it is One Year Of Lulz (Part II)

This month I am a little late for the December Cyber Attacks Timeline. In the meantime, I decided to collect on a single table the main Cyber Attacks for this unforgettable year.

In this post I cover the first half (more or less), ranging from January to July 2011. This period has seen the infamous RSA Breach, the huge Sony and Epsilon breaches, the rise and fall of the LulzSec Group and the beginning of the hot summer of Anonymous agsainst the Law Enforcement Agencies and Cyber Contractors. Korea was also affected by a huge breach. The total cost of all the breaches occurred inthis period (computed with Ponemon Institute’s estimates according to which the cost of a single record is around 214$) is more than 25 billion USD.

As usual after the page break you find all the references.

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The China Cyber Attacks Syndrome

November 11, 2011 5 comments

A week ago, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive published a report to Congress concerning the use of cyber espionage to attempt to gain business and industrial secrets from US companies. Easily predictable, the results present a frightening picture!

With no surprise it turned out that the biggest dangers and perpetrators of cyber-espionage operations against American business are China and Russia.

  • Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage. US private sector firms and cybersecurity specialists have reported an onslaught of computer network intrusions that have originated in China, but the Intelligence Community cannot confirm who was responsible.
  • Russia’s intelligence services are conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from US targets.
  • Some US allies and partners use their broad access to US institutions to acquire sensitive US economic and technology information, primarily through aggressive elicitation and other human intelligence tactics. Some of these states have advanced cyber capabilities.

Unfortunately the predictions for the near future are not encouraging: the authors of the report judge that the governments of China and Russia will remain aggressive and capable collectors of sensitive US economic information and technologies, particularly in cyberspace.

This is mainly due to three factors: a technological shift with a growing number of devices connected to the Internet (according to a Cisco Systems study, the number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to increase from about 12.5 billion in 2010 to 25 billion in 2015). An economical shift driven by the Cloud Paradigm which requires the information to be ubiquitous and always available and, last but not least, a cultural shift which bring users to a growing use of social media for personal and professional use with a dangerous overlapping.

With these considerations in mind I decided to concentrate on a single table all the attacks with cyber espionage implications reported in 2011 for which China was directly or indirectly (or allegedly) considered responsible. The details (and links) of each single attack can be found on my 2011 Cyber Attacks Timeline Master Index (of course the list does not include the infamous Operation Aurora and the attack to G20 during the French Leadership since these events occurred during 2010).

U.S., Canada, Japan and Korea are among the countries hit by the Cyber Attacks from Far East. The most known attack is for sure the one perpetrated against RSA, whose wake affected several U.S. Contractors. Moreover the same attack was not an isolated episode, but the tip of an iceberg hiding 760 affected organizations worldwide.

Shady Rat and the IMF attack were other noticeable events as also the breach reported against the Cyworld the Korean Social Networks in which 37 million users were affected.

A frightening scenario that also generated some resounding fake attacks during 2011 (do you remember the Renault affair?)

A new cold (cyber)war at the gates?

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