Tesco banks has recently announced that it has seen “suspicious transactions” from around 40,000 accounts over the weekend, and this has led them to actually shut down their site while they look into it. At the moment of writing it is not known how much (if any) money was taken from the 20,000 of the aforementioned 40,000 account where withdrawals were attempted.
This has been called a much more recent and unique attack since most of the time when a bank is hacked only the larger accounts are compromised, and the attackers don’t bother with smaller accounts, in order to avoid a better chance of getting caught. This also means that a hacked bank doesn’t have to shut down their site to investigate it, though in this instance it was so widespread the bank itself had to briefly shut down.
Apparently it is suspected that intruders found their way in via either a bug that was introduced with a website update, or through some third party connected to Tesco, as the attack was clearly done to the website, and not the core computer systems that provide most of the heavy lifting for the bank’s systems.
The point of sale company Lightspeed has suffered a data breech, the email above was posted on twitter by Australian security expert Troy Hunt which was sent by Lightspeed to its customers. The hackers had gained access to systems related to its retail offering. Lightspeed confirmed the attackers accessed a central database containing information on sales, products, and customers. The database included encrypted passwords, electronic signatures, and API keys. Eventhough the database was accessed by hackers Lightspeed said there was no evidence that information was stolen.
The company said that passwords created after January of 2015 where the safest having been stored with advanced encryption technology. They also said that the system that the hackers had accessed did not hold any private information such as credit card numbers. The company has informed customers that a third party security firm had been hired to investigate and that it’s systems should be only accessible by authorized users.
An advanced spyware has recently been discovered by researchers at Symantec and Kaspersky Lab. This spyware, called Remsec, has been active as far back as October 2011. Remsec is highly sophisticated and uses stealth techniques and encryption to avoid detection, something that it clearly does very well. Once deployed, Remsec opens a backdoor into the infected system, monitors network traffic, logs keystrokes, and has the ability to steal files. It also allows for custom modules to be deployed into the infected system.
Researchers have suggested that Remsec might be the work of a nation state due to its sophistication and have found IP addresses within the U.S. that may have a connection to it. The targets that have been discovered so far are in countries such as China, Russia, and Iran among others. According to researchers at Symantec, none of the currently known infections appear to be normal targets for APTs like this one, which brings up a lot of questions about who might be behind this, and what their goal is.
In an effort to boost it’s defenses, South Korea has enlisted 120 of it’s most talented programmers, offering full scholarships for 7 years of military service. Korea University’s national cyber-defense department will produce it’s first batch of graduates next year.
This program is just a part of a broader build-up though. South Korea is increasing the size of it’s cyber command to 1,000 people and increased information security spending by almost %50 between 2009 and 2015.
Unfortunately though, the South is racing to catch up. North Korea started training it’s hackers in the early 90’s and, according to the chief of S.K.’s defense security command, has 1,700 highly skilled and specialized hackers. He also called North Korea a ‘global cyber power.’
The South has been playing catch up for awhile actually, it wasn’t until a ‘suspected’ North Korean attack in 2009, that paralyzed a large number of government websites, that the South set up a cyber-defense command. In 2013 North Korean hackers attacked South broadcasters and banks. An estimated 32,000 computer servers were paralyzed, and the country lost an estimated 750 million dollars in economic damage.
Luckily South Korea seems to be training some excellent talent in their national cyber-defense department. This is shown by their students winning the ‘Hackers World Cup’ this year in August at Defcon in Las Vegas.
One month ago a hacker revealed that he had broken into the toymaker VTech and retrieved a lot of information that was disturbing. Apparently, VTech had been storing images, chat logs, home addresses, emails, names, genders and even birthdays of every customer. This would include the parents and their children who the products were most likely being used by. Around 4,000,000 parents and 200,000 of the children using the products information was readily available for anyone who knew what they were doing. The hacker did not relinquish the way he was able to break into VTech, probably in an attempt to keep this information secret from people who want it but do not know how to hack, but has commented that he retrieved 190GB worth of photos and shared 3832 images with motherboard, a blogging site, with all the faces blocked out.VTech has yet to concretely say what their exact reasoning was but the wording of their attempt to justify it was so that they can send the password to the user directly. You know because that is such a GREAT idea, instead of just having them reset their password every time they forgot it because the company made it entirely impossible for them to access it on their own and with ease, I will just send you it back. The person that thought this was a good idea should get fired, like, two years ago.