Category: cyber security

Dublin’s Tram System Website Ransomed

The website for Dublin’s tram system (Luas) was hacked and the attacker demanded a ransom of just one bitcoin (worth about $4000).

The attacker wasn’t after money but to teach the authorities a lesson for ignoring her advice after warnings about weaknesses in their security.

“You are hacked,” the message read. “Some time ago I wrote that you have serious security holes.

You didn’t reply.

The next time someone talks to you, press the reply button.

You must pay one bitcoin in five days.

“Otherwise I will publish all data and send emails to your users.”

It then listed an address to send the bitcoin. The message was subsequently removed.

The company tweeted: “The Luas website was compromised this morning, and a malicious message was put on the home page. The website has been taken down by the IT company who manage it, and their technicians are working on it.

“We apologises to all Luas customers for the inconvenience,” Luas added on Twitter.

Luas carried 37.6 million people in 2017 and transports 100,000 passengers on average daily.

A ransomware attacker with a soul. Let’s hope the authorities take notice of the security weaknesses and don’t get caught out again.

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Google and Google+

Google has said that it found a software glitch in its Google+ social network in March 2018 that could have exposed the personal data of as many as half a million users, but decided not to tell the public until months later.

Google found the flaw in March during an extensive privacy and security review according to Ben Smith, Google vice president of engineering. An internal committee decided not to disclose the potential breach of Google+ because there wasn’t evidence of any misuse of the exposed data, which included names, email addresses, ages and occupations. The bug was immediately fixed at the time, he said.

The Federal Trade Commission, as the nation’s chief privacy watchdog, has the authority to investigate data breaches. The FTC can fine companies when they violate terms of a consent decree.

Google has said it plans to shut down Google+ for consumers (but leave it running for businesses) and introduce new privacy tools restricting how developers can use information on products ranging from email to file storage.

Google+ was never anywhere near as successful as Facebook and social media networks. Even so, many users still have a profile that has personal information on it. Google will shut it down over the coming months for consumers, but keep the version built for businesses open and operating.

The other changes Google is making include requiring apps to ask separately for each type of information they want from a user, such as access to calendars or address books. On Gmail, Google’s ubiquitous email service, only apps that improve email functionality will be allowed to request access.

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Fraud Investigation

There are many private investigators, fraud protection businesses, cyber-crime specialists etc. who may be able to help if you are the victim of a fraud.  This is usually only for business fraud as few individuals have the resources to employ professionals in this field.

One such specialist business is Requite Solutions. Their website is at www.requitesolutions.com/

Requite say they are cybercrime, fraud prevention and investigation specialists – a London based consultancy service operating globally.

They employ senior fraud detectives, cybercrime investigators, and former armed surveillance operatives who have years of experience tackling cybercrime, money laundering, organised, and business crime.

They provide high quality penetration testing by CREST certified penetration testers. Our teams of experts work manually to find more of the issues that matter.

Asset Tracing & Recovery, Investigation, Hackers,Financial Investigation, Suspect profiling, Evidential packages, Recovery, Dispute resolution.

 Requite Say businesses should choose them because of the following:-

  • Criminals are exploiting the advances in technology. Every day both large and small organisations are falling victim to fraud and cyber attacks. If you have experienced fraud or a cyber attack, then you will understand the frustration, stress, and panic that often ensues.
  • We will gather crucial evidence, trace assets, absorb your stress, and assist with achieving a positive outcome through recovery of assets and/or prosecution.
  • Staff at your company are often the first line of defence and the importance of training, and continuing education is essential. We can deliver this training in a clear and concise manner.
  • Ensuring that you are adequately protected against fraud and cyber-attacks is paramount. Failures to address any impending threats could damage your brand and reputation and may result in significant financial losses that are not always recoverable.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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UK Cyber Force

The UK government announced the creation of a £250m cyber-force unit that will combat terrorist groups and domestic gangs.

The government is planning it to be an offensive cyber warfare unit in a bid to meet the online threat posed by Russia, North Korea, Iran and other countries active in cyber-attacks.

Experts will be recruited from the military, security services and industry for the project which will be set up by the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ.

In July 2019, a parliamentary committee warned that ministers are failing to get to grip with the shortage in cyber security experts despite the “potentially severe implications” for national security.

MPs and peers said the situation is of “serious concern”, but the Government response lacks “urgency”.

They warned that the WannaCry attack in May 2017, which hit the NHS, showed the need to protect critical national infrastructure  from cyber threats.

In July, a Government spokeswoman said: “We have a £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy, opened the world-leading National Cyber Security Centre and continue to build on our cyber security knowledge, skills and capability.”

For obvious reasons, the UK’s cyber-attack capabilities are a secret, but are widely regarded to be very active.

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Google Advanced Protection Programme

Google’s Advanced Protection Program safeguards the personal Google Accounts of anyone at risk of targeted attacks – such as journalists, activists, business leaders and political campaign teams.

Google say that it’s not needed for everyone, but if you feel you are a target then maybe this is a necessary safeguard for you.

Basic security for a Google account is just a password. Two factor authentication is the next step and it means you have to identify yourself using two items such as a password and a PIN sent to you by text message.

The third stage of security is the use of a physical security key.

Q. What is phishing?

Phishing is a common technique used by fraudsters to trick you into giving away your login details for example. The phishing attack may be via email, text message phone call, website or in an APP.

Q. How does Advanced Protection defend against phishing?

Even if you do fall for a phishing attack that discloses your username and password, an unauthorised user won’t be able to access your account without one of your physical Security Keys.

To enrol, you’ll need to purchase two Security Keys — one wireless-enabled key to act as your main key, and one backup key. After you enrol, other authentication factors you might be used to, like codes sent via SMS or the Google Authenticator app, will no longer work.

Safeguard your data by limiting access to it

When you sign up for new apps or services, you are sometimes asked to give access to data in your Google Account. Usually this doesn’t pose a risk, but sophisticated attackers could compromise or impersonate an app or service to gain access to your personal data. To help protect you, Advanced Protection allows only Google apps and select third-party apps to access your emails and Drive files.

As a trade-off for this tightened security, the functionality of some of your apps may be affected. Most third-party apps that require access to your Gmail or Drive data, such as travel tracking apps, will no longer have permission. And you will only be able to use Chrome and Firefox to access your signed-in Google services like Gmail or Photos.

Apple’s Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps will continue to be able to access your Google data as normal.

A common way that hackers try to access your account is by impersonating you and pretending they have been locked out of your account. To give you the strongest protection against this type of fraudulent account access, Advanced Protection adds extra steps to verify your identity during the account recovery process.

Go to https://landing.google.com/advancedprotection/ if you want to know more about Google Advanced Security.

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Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport is a free security tool that’s often promoted by banks for online banking.

It’s advertised as an additional layer of security over and above anti-virus software. It is designed to protect confidential data, such as account credentials, from being stolen by malicious software (malware) or by phishing.

The software includes anti-phishing measures to protect against misdirection and attempts to prevent malicious screen scraping; it attempts to protect users against the attacks know as:- man-in-the-browser, man-in-the-middle, session hijacking and screen capturing.

Trusteer Rapport is installed as a browser extension.

This all sounds very good, but there are reviews on the Internet suggesting that Trusteer can cause computers to run very slowly, cause conflicts with your already installed anti-virus software and cause browser crashes.

Various financial institutions have been distributing the software to their customers via internet banking services.

This has included:- Bank of America, Société Générale,Tangerine, INGDirect, HSBC,The Royal Bank of Scotland, CIBC, Ulster Bank, First Direct, Santander, Standard Bank of South Africa, Nedbank, Scotiabank and more.

It is usually good advice to follow your banks recommendations, but do be careful if you install Trusteer and report any problems immediately to your bank. .

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