Welcome to the first post in our new blog series, the Veracode Application Security Weekly News Roundup. Every Friday we will be compiling and releasing our list of the top news items of the week. This week features a handful of excellent articles from the cyber security world on topics like social media security, malware attacks on the U.S. government, and hacktivism.
The theft of over 45,000 Facebook logins by a piece of malware called Ramnit has been grabbing a few headlines lately. Ramnit is a worm that uses stolen Facebook logins to spread the virus to other users while attacking software and files on the host’s computer. The worm has been around since 2010 and has targeted corporate networks as well as individuals’ financial information and login credentials for a variety of sites. It has been estimated that over 800,000 internet users have been impacted by Ramnit since September 2011. Facebook reports that they are working on stopping and further preventing the malware from spreading.
2011 saw a major increase in the amount of cyber attacks committed against governments and corporations, with millions individuals being impacted as well. According to USA Today’s Byron Acohido, this trend is likely to see an uptick in 2012. Organizations are becoming increasingly concerned with internet security as hacktivist attacks harm more and more internet users.
Richard Clarke, former cyber advisor to Bush and Clinton governments, shared his thoughts recently on the changing cyber threat environment and evolving cyber legislation.
Continuing with the theme of cyber attacks against major organizations, The New York Times released an article yesterday on attacks made against a variety of government departments. Internet Security researchers believe that the attacks are being made by Chinese hackers using malware called Sykipot. It appears that the malware targets employee smart cards used by employees at the Defense Department, Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Social Security Administration, Treasury Department, and a multitude of other government organizations. In addition to stealing information, the malware sends emails containing infected PDF attachments to the contacts of compromised accounts. The extent of their damage is still under investigation.
On a somewhat brighter note, companies are banding together to battle online theft. This Wall Street Journal article by Suzanne Katner tells of how rival banks are working together to counteract cyber attacks. Security officials from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and several other Wall Street financial firms will be meeting this month with plans to create an organization that will scan bank data to identify possible attacks. Bank of America has also been working with experts from other Banks to collaborate on solutions to these security problems. This sort of cooperation is relatively new, as banks typically don’t like to openly share information, especially with rivals. Hopefully we will see similar efforts across other industries as these problems continue.
Dennis Fisher of the ThreatPost security blog tells of researchers’ latest efforts in penetrating the Blackberry Playbook tablet. Researchers from the Intrepidus Group have succeeded in using a token for Blackberry’s Bridge Bluetooth application to access Playbook user’s email accounts, calendars, and other information. The issue has been brought to the attention of Research in Motion, the company that makes the Playbook app for Blackberry. Playbook is expected to be targeted by more researchers and hackers until RIM releases Playbook 2.0, in which the issue will be resolved.
That’s it for our first weekly news roundup. Share your top picks with us, and let us know if we missed anything that you think should have been on our list. Stay tuned for our post next Friday, and have a great weekend.