Monthly Archives: June 2012

Who Is the ‘Festi’ Botmaster?

June 13, 2012

Pavel Vrublevsky, the co-founder of Russian payment processor ChronoPay, is set to appear before a judge this week in a criminal case in which he is accused of hiring a botmaster to attack a competitor. Prosecutors believe that the man Vrublevsky hired in that attack was the curator of the Festi botnet, a spam-spewing machine that also has been implicated in a number of high-profile denial-of-service assaults.

Microsoft Patches 26 Flaws, Warns of Zero-Day Attack

June 12, 2012

Microsoft today released updates to plug at least 26 separate security holes in its Windows operating systems and related software. At the same time, Microsoft has issued a stopgap fix for a newly-discovered flaw that attackers are actively exploiting.

Feds Arrest ‘Kurupt’ Carding Kingpin?

June 12, 2012

The Justice Department on Monday trumpeted the arrest of a Dutch man wanted for coordinating the theft of roughly 44,000 credit card numbers. The government hasn’t released many details about the accused, but data from a variety of sources indicates he may have run a large, recently-shuttered forum dedicated to cyber fraud, and that he actively hacked into and absconded with stolen card data taken from other fraud forums.

This much the government is saying: David Benjamin Schrooten, 21, appeared in Seattle federal court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to charges of bank fraud, access device fraud and conspiracy. Schrooten was accused of running Web sites that sold stolen credit card numbers in bulk. Authorities said Schrooten was extradited to the United States after being arrested in Romania, and that another man — 21-year-old Christopher A. Schroebel of Maryland — was an accomplice and also was charged.

How Companies Can Beef Up Password Security

June 11, 2012

Separate password breaches last week at LinkedIn, eHarmony and exposed millions of credentials, and once again raised the question of whether any company can get password security right. To understand more about why companies keep making the same mistakes and what they might do differently to prevent future password debacles, I interviewed Thomas Ptacek, a security researcher with Matasano Security.

Ptacek is just one of several extremely smart researchers I’ve been speaking with about this topic. Below are some snippets from a conversation we had last week.

Alleged Romanian Subway Hackers Were Lured to U.S.

June 6, 2012

The alleged ringleader of a Romanian hacker gang accused of breaking into and stealing payment card data from hundreds of Subway restaurants made news late last month when he was extradited to face charges in the United States. But perhaps the more interesting story is how his two alleged accomplices happened to have come to this country willingly: They were lured here by undercover U.S. Secret Service agents who promised to shower the men with love and riches.

Attackers Hit Weak Spots in 2-Factor Authentication

June 5, 2012

An attack late last week that compromised the personal and business Gmail accounts of Matthew Prince, chief executive of Web content delivery system CloudFlare, revealed a subtle but dangerous security flaw in the 2-factor authentication process used in Google Apps for business customers. Google has since fixed the glitch, but the incident offers a timely reminder that two-factor authentication schemes are only as secure as their weakest component.

In a blog post on Friday, Prince wrote about a complicated attack in which miscreants were able to access a customer’s account on CloudFlare and change the customer’s DNS records. The attack succeeded, Prince said, in part because the perpetrators exploited a weakness in Google’s account recovery process to hijack his email address, which runs on Google Apps

‘Flame’ Malware Prompts Microsoft Patch

June 4, 2012

Microsoft has issued a security update to block an avenue of attack first seen in “Flame,” a sophisticated new malware strain that many experts believe was designed to steal data specifically from computers in Iran and the Middle East.

According to Microsoft, Flame tries to blend in with legitimate Microsoft applications by cloaking itself with an older cryptography algorithm that Microsoft used to digitally sign programs.