November, 2012


6
Nov 12

Adobe Ships Election Day Security Update for Flash

Adobe has released a critical security update for its Flash Player and Adobe AIR software that fixes at least seven dangerous vulnerabilities in these products. Updates are available for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android systems.

Today’s update, part of Adobe’s regularly scheduled patch cycle for Flash, brings Flash Player to version 11.5.502.110 on Windows and Mac systems (other OS users see graphic below). Adobe urges users to grab the latest updates from its Flash Player Download Center, but that option pushes junk add-ons like McAfee VirusScan. Instead, download the appropriate version for your system from Adobe’s Flash Player Distribution page. Most users can find out what version of Flash they have installed by visiting this link.

The Flash Player installed with Google Chrome should soon be automatically updated to the latest Google Chrome version, which will include Flash Player 11.5.31.2 for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Note that Windows users who browse the Web with Internet Explorer and another browser will need to apply the Flash update twice, once using IE and again with the other browser. Internet Explorer 10 users on Windows 8 can grab the update via Windows Update or from Microsoft’s site, or wait for the browser to auto-update the plugin.

Adobe’s advisory about this update is available here, including links to update AIR if you have that installed. An Adobe spokesperson said the company is not aware of any active attacks or exploits in the wild for any of the issues patched in this release. Nevertheless, it’s a bad idea to delay Flash updates; the software’s ubiquity makes it a primary target of malware and miscreants alike.


6
Nov 12

Cyberheists ‘A Helluva Wake-up Call’ to Small Biz

The $180,000 robbery took the building security and maintenance system installer Primary Systems Inc. by complete surprise. More than two-dozen people helped to steal funds from the company’s coffers in an overnight heist in May 2012, but none of the perpetrators were ever caught on video. Rather, a single virus-laden email that an employee clicked on let the attackers open a digital backdoor, exposing security weaknesses that unfortunately persist between many banks and their corporate customers.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based firm first learned that things weren’t quite right on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, when the company’s payroll manager logged into her account at the local bank and discovered that an oversized payroll batch for approximately $180,000 had been sent through late Tuesday evening.

The money had been pushed out of Primary Systems’ bank accounts in amounts between $5,000 and $9,000 to 26 individuals throughout the United States who had no prior interaction with the firm, and who had been added to the firm’s payroll that very same day. The 26 were “money mules,” willing or unwitting participants who are hired through work-at-home job schemes to help cyber thieves move money abroad. Most of the mules hired in this attack were instructed to send the company’s funds to recipients in Ukraine.

“The payroll manager contacted me at 8:00 a.m. that day to ask if I’d authorized the payroll batch, and I said no, it must have been a bank error,” said Jim Faber, Primary Systems’ chief financial officer. “I called the bank and said they said no, they did not make an error. That was a helluva wake-up call.”

The company’s financial institution, St. Louis-based Enterprise Bank & Trust, declined to comment. But of course, mistakes were made all around. Primary Systems’ employees failed to be wary of virus-laden email attachments, and relied too heavily on its firewalls and antivirus software to block attacks. The bank failed to bat an eyelash before processing a $180,000 transfer marked as “payroll” on a Tuesday, even though the company has always processed its payroll batch on Friday mornings. It also failed to flag as strange the overnight addition to Primary’s payroll of 26 new employees located in nearly as many states, even though almost all of the victim firm’s legitimate employees are based in Missouri.

The only parties to this crime who didn’t make missteps were the thieves. According to Faber, investigators believe the crooks cased the joint virtually before launching the heist, which came in just below the $200,000 threshold that would have prompted the bank to obtain verbal permission from Primary Systems for the transfer.

“If it was over $200k, [the bank] wouldn’t have allowed the transfer to happen without confirming it with us,” Faber said. “But this just flew right under that kickout. Our payroll is a lot less than that. This was six times our normal payroll and was in mid-week.”

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