An earlier version of this blog post incorrectly stated that Oracle had shipped security updates for its Java software. Oracle did push out an update for Java earlier this month — Java 6 Update 32 — but the new version… Read More »
I spent the past week vacationing (mostly) in Southern California, traveling from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and on to wine country in Santa Ynez. Along the way, I received some information from a law enforcement source in the area about a recent ATM skimmer attack that showcased a late-model all-in-one skimmer.
A deep sense of doubt and dread began to sink in halfway through our journey down a long, lonely desert highway from just outside Austin to coastal Texas. We were racing against the clock (we’d just scarfed down our third meal in a row at a roadside Subway shop), yet my minivan companions — a filmmaker from California and a husband-and-wife camera crew — seemed pleased with the footage we’d collected so far. I was far less sanguine about our prospects, and was almost certain that our carefully-laid plans to ambush a money mule on camera were about to unravel.
Microsoft’s most recent anti-botnet campaign — a legal sneak attack against dozens of ZeuS botnets — seems to have ruffled the feathers of many in security community. Their chief criticism is that the Microsoft operation exposed sensitive information that a handful of researchers shared in confidence, and that countless law enforcement investigations may have been delayed or derailed as a result. In this post, I interview a key Microsoft attorney about these allegations.
Recent ebanking heists — such as a $121,000 online robbery at a New York fuel supplier last month — suggest that cyber thieves increasingly are cashing out by sending victim funds to prepaid debit card accounts. The shift appears to be an effort to route around a major bottleneck for these crimes: Their dependency on unreliable money mules.
Mules traditionally have played a key role in helping thieves cash out hacked accounts and launder money. They are recruited through email-based work-at-home job scams, and are told they will be helping companies process payments. In a typical scheme, the mule provides her banking details to the recruiter, who eventually sends a fraudulent transfer and tells the mule to withdraw the funds in cash, keep a small percentage, and wire the remainder to co-conspirators abroad.
A number of readers responded to the story I published last week on the Flashback Trojan, a contagion that was found to have infected more than 600,000 Mac OS X systems. Most people wanted to know how they could detect whether their systems were infected with Flashback — and if so — how to remove the malware. This post covers both of those questions.
Adobe and Microsoft today each issued critical updates to plug security holes in their products. The patch batch from Microsoft fixes at least 11 flaws in Windows and Windows software. Adobe’s update tackles four vulnerabilities that are present in current versions of Adobe Acrobat and Reader.
Seven of the 11 bugs Microsoft fixed with today’s release earned its most serious “critical” rating, which Microsoft assigns to flaws that it believes attackers or malware could leverage to break into systems without any help from users. In its security bulletin summary for April 2012, Microsoft says it expects miscreants to quickly develop reliable exploits capable of leveraging at least four of the vulnerabilities.
A series of hacks perpetrated against so-called “smart meter” installations over the past several years may have cost a single U.S. electric utility hundreds of millions of dollars annually, the FBI said in cyber intelligence bulletin obtained by KrebsOnSecurity. The law enforcement agency said this is the first known report of criminals compromising the hi-tech meters, and that it expects this type of fraud to spread across the country as more utilities deploy smart grid technology.
Smart meters are intended to improve efficiency, reliability, and allow the electric utility to charge different rates for electricity at different times of day. Smart grid technology also improves a utility’s ability to remotely read meters to determine electric usage.
Apple on Monday released a critical update to its version of Java for Mac OS X systems that plugs at least a dozen security holes in the program. More importantly, the patch includes fixes for a flaw that attackers have recently pounced on to broadly deploy malicious software, both on Windows and Mac systems.
It was mid November 2011. I was shivering on the upper deck of an aging cruise ship docked at the harbor in downtown Rotterdam. Inside, a big-band was jamming at a reception for attendees of the GovCert cybersecurity conference, where I had delivered a presentation earlier that day on a long-running turf war between two of the largest sponsors of spam.
The evening was bracingly frigid and blustery, and I was waiting there to be introduced to investigators from the Russian Federal Security Service; several FSB agents who attended the conference told our Dutch hosts that they wanted to meet me in a private setting. Stepping out the night air, a woman from the conference approached, formally presented the three men behind her, and then hurried back inside to the warmth of the reception