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Card Breach Hits America’s Thrift Stores

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America’s Thrift Stores, which operates 18 donation-based thrift stores across five states, is the latest organization to discover it has been hit by a cyberattack.

The company recently learned it was a victim of a data breach that originated through software used by a third-party service provider.

America’s Thrift Stores confirmed it has been working with an independent external forensic expert, as well as the U.S. Secret Service, to investigate the breach, which it believes affected sales transactions between Sept. 1, 2015 and Sept. 27, 2015.

The malware-driven security breach resulted in the theft of customers’ payment card numbers and expiration dates, but America’s Thrift Stores confirmed the U.S. Secret Service does not believe customer names, phone numbers, addresses or email addresses were compromised in the attack.

“This breach allowed criminals from Eastern Europe unauthorized access to some payment card numbers,” the company’s CEO, Kenneth Sobaski, said in a statement.

“This virus/malware is one of several infecting retailers across North America.”

According to security blogger Brian Krebs, sources at several banks reported a pattern of fraud on payment cards used to make purchases at America’s Thrift Stores, meaning the cybercriminals may have used “data stolen from the compromised point-of-sale devices to counterfeit new cards.”

As PYMNTS reported yesterday (Oct. 12), the costs of cybercrime for businesses is rising at an alarming rate, with U.S. companies feeling the brunt of the financial burden.

In the latest report on the true costs of cybercrime, Hewlett-Packard issued a report in tandem with Ponemon via the latter’s Institute on Cyber Crime earlier this month. The report states that the U.S. is especially hard hit by hacking, as cyberattacks cost U.S. firms, on average, $15.4 million annually, which is double the $7.7 million global average (which is a bump of 1.9 percent over last year, after adjusting for currency changes). For the U.S., the latest average costs represent a significant jump from the $12.7 million seen in 2014.

Google Malvertising App

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Android apps that should be innocuous are pimping smut by way of slack supervision of their advertising networks, with two app authors complaining to The Register that the root of the problem lies with The Chocolate Factory.

The authors of two popular Sydney public transport apps told us Google’s app monetisation service AdMob is failing to catch disallowed advertisements that should be easy to spot for the world-dominating ad-and-click network.

Malvertising is a rising problem because users are turning to ad blockers as a security precaution, both to protect against malware and to keep material they deem inappropriate out of their eyeballs. The latter outcome is made necessary by ads like those below, which The Register has observed in the Arrivo and TripView public transport timetable apps, both of which are likely to pop up on minors’ phones.

If, as it seems to this untutored eye, the ad got past filters by presenting its text as an image with extra space to defeat character recognition, Google deserves its backside kicked through all the letters of its Alphabet. Twice per letter, once per language.

Let’s get physical…

Almost everyone worries about computer security in one way or another.  Much is written about network security, of course, and lots of attention is payed to file and operating system security, often as it relates to viruses.

Security of your physical computing assets, however, is just as important, and perhaps more important.  If someone has physical access to one of your assets, say a desktop computer, laptop, server or router, then, given enough time, they can compromise that asset.  Without sufficient physical security, all of the time, attention and resources spent on other security matters can be wasted.

For example, someone who has physical access to a device that uses a hard drive can, in a sometimes surprisingly short period of time, clone a hard disk of your device, and then study that at their leisure at another location.  You might not even know anyone was there.   As another example, they could replace your passwords, giving the perpetrator access to all or a portion of your environment while locking you out at the same time.

It is a truism that you cannot hold out forever against someone who can gain physical access to your environment, and someone who has access can of course do untold damage simply by destroying computing assets.  However that does not mean that you cannot or should not take steps to protect your computing environment.  On the other hand, as with all things computer security, there is a risk/cost trade off (more on that in another upcoming blog).

So, if you haven’t done so in a while, it might be a good idea to take stock of the physical security of your computing environment, with respect to access and damage.

For access, you should consider questions like: Who has access to each device? Should the device protected by some sort of physical barrier to prevent access?  Are there multiple levels of physical security?   For example, if you are in a large corporation, your first layer of physical security might be a locked building with a guard. A second layer might be locating critical computing assets on a floor whose elevator requires a key to access that floor.  Finally, you might put particularly critical devices in a room whose door uses a keypad, fingerprint or even a retinal scanner, and log all access.

And don’t forget to consider that dropped ceiling or raised floor as you think about a high security area.  A locked door might not be as secure as you thought if someone can go over it via a dropped ceiling or under it via a raised floor.

Regarding damage, aside from a beserker with a sledge hammer, one big risk is fire. Of course, if the entire building burns down it isn’t likely that your computing assets will survive.  However, what if a smaller fire triggers the sprinkler system?  What will happen to your computers?

Naturally, the list of things that good physical security might entail is a lot longer than a short article can cover.  But this article can perhaps serve as a jumping off point to a review of the physical security of your computing assets.

What’s in a Boarding Pass Barcode? A Lot

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The next time you’re thinking of throwing away a used boarding pass with a barcode on it, consider tossing the boarding pass into a document shredder instead. Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.

Earlier this year, I heard from a longtime KrebsOnSecurity reader named Cory who said he began to get curious about the data stored inside a boarding pass barcode after a friend put a picture of his boarding pass up on Facebook. Cory took a screen shot of the boarding pass, enlarged it, and quickly found a site online that could read the data.

“I found a website that could decode the data and instantly had lots of info about his trip,” Cory said, showing this author step-by-step exactly how he was able to find this information.

“Besides his name, frequent flyer number and other [personally identifiable information], I was able to get his record locator (a.k.a. “record key” for the Lufthansa flight he was taking that day,” Cory said. “I then proceeded to Lufthansa’s website and using his last name (which was encoded in the barcode) and the record locator was able to get access to his entire account. Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance.”

The information contained in the boarding pass could make it easier for an attacker to reset the PIN number used to secure his friend’s Star Alliance frequent flyer account. For example, that information gets you past the early process of resetting a Star Alliance account PIN at United Airline’s “forgot PIN” Web site.

More Stuff for the shredder!

Cisco security disable big distributor of “ransomware”

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Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) said it had managed to disrupt the spread of one of the most pernicious systems for infecting Internet users with malicious software such as so-called ransomware, which demands payment for decrypting users’ data.

The investigators from Cisco’s Talos security unit were looking at the Angler Exploit Kit, which analysts at several companies say has been the most effective of several kits at capturing control of personal computers in the past year, infecting up to 40 percent of those it targeted.

They found that about half of computers infected with Angler were connecting to servers at a hosting provider in Dallas, which had been hired by criminals with stolen credit cards. The provider, Limestone Networks, pulled the plug on the servers and turned over data that helped show how Angler worked.

The research effort, aided by carrier Level 3 Communications (LVLT.N), allowed Cisco to copy the authentication protocols the Angler criminals use to interact with their prey. Knowing these protocols will allow security companies to cut off infected computers.

“It’s going to be really damaging to the attacker’s network,” Talos manager Craig Williams told Reuters ahead of the release of the report.

Cisco said that since Limestone pulled the plug on the servers, new Angler infections had fallen off dramatically.

Limestone’s client relations manager told Reuters his company had unwittingly helped the spread of Angler before the Cisco investigation.

Often sold in clandestine Internet forums or in one-to-one deals, exploit kits combine many small programs that take advantage of flaws in Web browsers and other common pieces of software. Buyers of those kits must also arrange a way to reach their targets, typically by sending spoof emails, hacking into websites or distributing malicious advertisements.

Once they win control of a target’s computer, exploit kit buyers can install whatever they want, including so-called ransomware. This includes a number of branded programs, also sold online, that encrypt users’ computer files and demand payment to release them.

Talos estimated that if three percent of infected users paid the ransom averaging $300, the criminals that had used the Limestone servers to spread Angler could have made about $30 million a year.

Good job Cisco!

Not PCI DSS Compliant: Experian

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Hackers broke into a server and made off with names, driver license numbers, and other personal information belonging to more than 15 million US consumers who applied for cellular service from T-Mobile.

The breach was the result of an attack on a database maintained by credit-reporting service Experian, which was contracted to process credit applications for T-Mobile customers, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement posted online. The investigation into the hack has yet to be completed, but so far the compromise is known to affect people who applied for T-Mobile service from September 1, 2013 through September 16 of this year. It’s at least the third data breach to affect Experian disclosed since March 2013.

“Obviously I am incredibly angry about this data breach and we will institute a thorough review of our relationship with Experian, but right now my top concern and first focus is assisting any and all consumers affected,” Legere wrote. “I take our customer and prospective customer privacy VERY seriously. This is no small issue for us. I do want to assure our customers that neither T-Mobile’s systems nor network were part of this intrusion and this did not involve any payment card numbers or bank account information.”

 

I am not sure where to file this: perhaps Cyber Hypocrisy? Wow, if the Credit Card companies do not take cyber seriously, then we are all in deep do do.

Internal actors responsible for 43% of data loss

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Among companies experiencing data breaches (and that is to say, a majority), internal actors were responsible for 43% of data loss, half of which was intentional, and half accidental.

That’s a staggering amount of risk lingering inside organizations, especially when one considers that the report, from Intel, also revealed that security professionals have experienced an average of six significant security breaches each.

Interestingly, insider threats aren’t recognized as the gaping issue that they are. Breaches perpetrated by disgruntled employees and other forms of inside jobs come in at sixth place for most of the world in terms of security concerns, except in Asia-Pacific, where it’s No. 2. Cloud deployments, in contrast, brought with them increased anxiety of more security breaches, although there was no indication of increased risk with cloud applications.

Intel also found that in 68% of data breach incidents, the data exfiltrated from the network was serious enough to require public disclosure or have a negative financial impact on the company. The same was true for 70% of incidents in smaller commercial organizations, and in 61% of breaches in enterprises.

Is Windows 10 slurping too much data?

Seems like yes, despite assertions that it is not.

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“We collect a limited amount of information to help us provide a secure and reliable experience. This includes data like an anonymous device ID, device type, and application crash data which Microsoft and our developer partners use to continuously improve application reliability,” Myerson wrote. “This doesn’t include any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID.”

Moving right along, Myerson confirmed that Microsoft would love to collect words and phrases that you type – something we’ve known about since the first Windows 10 Technical Preview shipped – but explained that it’s not about advertising. Rather, it’s about being able to “deliver a delightful and personalized Windows experience to you.”

The Windows 10 Privacy Statement gives examples of data that Redmond might collect, including “name, email address, preferences and interests; location, browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data.”

So basically, use Windows 10 and your life is an open book to Microsoft and their partners. No thanks!

Linux BotNet

A network of infected Linux computers that’s flooding gaming and education sites with as much as 150 gigabits per second of malicious traffic—enough in some cases to take the targets completely offline.

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The XOR DDoS or Xor.DDoS botnet, as the distributed denial-of-service network has been dubbed, targets as many as 20 sites each day, according to an advisory published Tuesday by content delivery network Akamai Technologies. About 90 percent of the targets are located in Asia. In some cases, the IP address of the participating bot is spoofed in a way that makes the compromised machines appear to be part of the network being targeted. That technique can make it harder for defenders to stop the attack.

Security of credit cards using “chips”

As you may know, starting in October the credit card companies are changing the rules on credit card liability for transactions where the credit card is present at the location of the purchase.  The idea is to encourage merchants and financial institutions to adopt the “EMV” (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) “chip” credit cards.

The EMV cards are generally considered to be more secure, because the chip creates a unique transaction code for each transaction, whereas if someone manages to read the magnetic stripe on a traditional credit card (and acquires the 3 digit verification number), there is nothing to stop repeated use of that credit card.

However, readers should be aware that there is a downside to the EMV chip technology.  While magnetic strips can be easily read (say, after theft of a card, or by a physically compromised ATM), magnetic strips cannot be read remotely.   On the other hand, the card chips can be accessed remotely.  Thus information on these new EMV cards can be read from a few inches away, even while the card is in your wallet or purse, by anyone passing near to you.  While some cards do not reveal account numbers this way (American Express claims to be in this group), others have been shown to do so.

So, what can be done to protect your new EMV credit and debit cards?  The answer is to protect them by blocking radio frequencies (RF) from reaching the card when it is not in use.  One suggestion is to wrap them in aluminum foil.  While this is 100% effective (providing what is known as a Faraday cage around the card), it is bulky and inconvenient.  A less bulky and more convenient alternative is to place the cards in an RFID shield sleeve.  These sleeves, available from retailers (Amazon, REI and many others), are inexpensive, and do not take up appreciable space in your purse or wallet, and should also serve as a reasonably effective Faraday cage to protect your cards – not only credit cards, but any card that uses this kind of chip technology, which might include educational institution cards, company security access cards, driver licenses and others.