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September 5, 2015 / 21 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘cyber’

IRS $50M Cyber Security Scandal Stretches to Russia

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

A major attack this year by cyber security criminals on the computer network at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service originated in Russia, sources confirmed to Fox News late Wednesday.

The Associated Press has also cited two anonymous sources who reported the IRS believes the hackers are part of a sophisticated criminal operation in Russia. Neither report connected the attack to the Russian government.

But both pointed out that this is not the first time that the IRS has been successfully breached by cyber thieves. Taxpayers whose accounts were accessed will be notified and provided with credit monitoring services, the IRS said.

The IRS inspector-general reported in 2012 hackers managed to manipulate the IRS system into sending 655 tax refunds to a single address in Lithuania. Another 343 tax refunds were sent to another address, this one in Shanghai. Following these attacks, system administrators tweaked the network safeguards to block other hackers.

This year’s attack began sometime in February, according to the report, and continued until mid-May. So far, the thieves have stolen at least $50 million in fraudulent tax refunds. That figure does not include the cost of tracking the breach, nor the expense involved in fixing it and preventing future attempts.

They used a software called “Get Transcript” to access the data. But in order to get into the records, the thieves first had to clear a security screen that required the use of taxpayer information such as a Social Security number, birth date, street address and tax filing number.

According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the hackers used stolen Social Security numbers and other information to gain their access to taxpayers’ accounts. Then they used information from prior tax returns to file current fake returns seeking refunds.

“We’re confident these are not amateurs,” Koskinen told Fox News. “These actually are organized crime syndicates that not only we, but everybody in the financial industry are dealing with.” The IRS estimates that it paid out some %5.8 billion in 2013 to identity thieves, both foreign and domestic.

At least 104,000 taxpayer records dating back up to five years and perhaps more were stolen in the cyber heist, officials said.

The IRS notified the Department of Homeland Security following the breach, a federal law enforcement source said. The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a June 2 hearing to question Koskinen and Treasury Inspector-General for Tax Administration J. Russell George on the issue.

“When the federal government fails to protect private and confidential taxpayer information, Congress must act,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said Wednesday in setting the hearing.

US Govt IDs North Korea in Sony Cyber Terror Attack

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The U.S. government has linked North Korea to the cyber terror siege of Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the massive cyber attack that nixed the entire release of an new comedy film appears to have also cowed the American entertainment industry.

By pulling “The Interview” from circulation, Sony could lose as much as $100 million, according to a report in Business Insider\.

The movie, which depicts an assassination attempt on the life of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, outraged that country. North Korea demanded during the production phase that the U.S. government cancel the movie. That did not happen; in fact, two White House officials had actually approved the plot line before the comedy went to production.

Once the hacker group “Guardians of Peace” followed up three weeks of a cyber siege with an actual physical terror threat, Hollywood went into a panic and so did the entire American entertainment industry.

First the Landmark Theater chain canceled its December 25 New York City premier of the film at the Sunshine Theater on the Lower East Side. Then four of the largest chains backed out of showing the movie altogether, comprising thousands of small theaters around the United States and Canada.

Unnamed U.S. government sources told NBC News that a “linkage to the North Korean government” had been found to prove it was “centrally involved” in the cyber attack.

And in a report published in The New York Times, bits of the evidence were pieced together. They showed how the hacker group was taking orders from North Korea, and how they carried out a previous similar attack against South Korea, using commercial tools routed via Bolivian servers last year. Similar tools were used in 2012 against Saudi Arabia.

Sony itself is also examining the possibility the hackers had inside help as well: the names of Sony servers and administrative credentials were used to allow the malware to spread across the company’s network.

Experts said the hack is “the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. government seems to have signaled its de facto surrender to North Korea, the apparent patron behind the “Guardians of Peace.” U.S. media quoted senior government officials who said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea over the attack and threats that followed. No one would speak on the record, and officials said the White House had yet to decide how to respond.

Japan also has had something to say about the matter, because it is apparently engaged in delicate negotiations with North Korea over the return of its citizens kidnapped years ago.

U.S. national intelligence officials concluded the cyber attack was state-sponsored and “far more destructive than any seen before on American soil,” NYT reported. A senior administration official admitted the attack that began by wiping out the data on Sony’s corporate computers had become “a threat to the safety of Americans.”

Not only North Korea but hackers based in China, and sponsored by that government as well, have taken aim before at U.S. corporations. This latest attack, however, “was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities,” the official told NYT.

Massive attacks aimed at the computer systems of the White House itself, as well as those of the State Department, and JPMorgan Chase banking system, have kept counter cyber terror officials busy. The first two attacks were tentatively attributed ultimately to Moscow; the latter is still a question mark.

But the ambiguous response by the White House to the most devastating cyber attack ever on a U.S.-based corporation has done nothing to reassure American citizens. Nor has it inspired confidence among U.S. allies, who are watching to see if, when and how the White House will respond to the attack, termed by some as an “act of war.”

Sony Hackers Issue First Terror Threat to US Movie-Goers … From North Korea?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Americans are revisiting their experiences with terror via the Sony Pictures Entertainment cyber attack — but the latest warning from the attackers escalated on Tuesday to the real thing.

The hacker group calling itself ‘Guardians of Peace’ which began a massive cyber-siege against Sony on November 24 told movie-goers to avoid seeing the upcoming new movie “The Interview,” or else.

The attack is believed to have been launched by North Korea in retaliation for the film’s plot line, which is a comedy revolving around the assassination of that country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un. North Korea has made it clear it is outraged by the plot and although it officially denied having carried out the attack, lavishly praised those who did.

A nuclear reactor destroyed in northeastern Syria September 6, 2007 by Israel in order to prevent the production of weapons of mass destruction was being built at the time by North Korean technicians, according to international media reports at the time. North Korea had for years been a player in the Middle East, sharing its nuclear technology with Syria and other players, swapping expertise with Iran.

In June, North Korea called on Washington DC to block the release of the controversial comedy “The Interview” or face a “decisive and merciless countermeasure,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Warning. We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” read the note allegedly written by the hacker group.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)

“Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”

The warning was issued at approximately 9:30 am together with another barrage of files linked to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton.

The FBI still sees “no credible evidence of a threat” but is taking the issue seriously, as are a number of cyber security firms. “The FBI is aware of recent threats and continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate the Sony attack,” the FBI told the Times in an email.

Likewise, Ralph Echemendia, head of Red E-Digital once worked with Sony on cyber security issues and told the Times Tuesday, “This now borders on terrorist activity and would define the Guardians of Peace as a terrorist group.”

The LA premier of the film was held at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel last week despite the hacker attack. Security was ramped up, as was the pace of the event. No interviews were allowed on the red carpet.

A similar studio premier is set for New York City this Thursday at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, on the Lower East Side. But given the challenges already facing the city’s police department from the groundswell of protests around the Big Apple, it is unlikely that studio execs will be willing to risk much more than a fairly modest affair. Nevertheless, beyond that point, the film is expected to hit theaters as scheduled on December 25.

Pro-Hamas Hackers Trying to Cripple Israel in Secret Cyber War

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Israeli cyber security forces foiled a major cyber attack by pro-Hamas hackers during Operation Protective Edge, but hackers remain determined to harm essential Israeli infrastructure.

While the Iron Dome system intercepted missiles and IDF robots destroyed terror tunnels, the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) foiled an attack against Israel website over the Internet. Hackers from around the world planned the attack with the help of Iran on Al-Quds Day, an annual event organized by Iranian leaders against Zionism. T

“There was a direct connection between the progression of the fighting and cyber attacks,” according to Col N., the commander of the IDF’s cyber defense division.

“It wasn’t like this in previous operations,” he added. “For the first time, there was an organized cyber defense effort alongside combat operations in the field. This was a new reality.”

The attack’s massive scale came as a surprise to Israeli forces. At the beginning of the operation, security services and Internet providers identified only a few attempts to commit cyber attacks. They defined pro-Palestinian hackers as independent actors whose attacks were neither sophisticated nor coordinated.

But as the operation continued, Israel’s understanding of the threat evolved. Col. N. said it became clear that pro-Palestinian groups played a role in the attack. “Today, they’re organizing much more quickly, and it takes them much less time to carry out powerful strikes,” he explained. “During Operation Protective Edge, we saw attacks on a greater scale and on a more sophisticated level. A significant amount of thought and investment stood behind the attacks we saw.

“I won’t be surprised if, next time, we meet [terrorists] in the cyber dimension.”

Terrorists could steal top-secret security information, gain remote access to armed drones and use them to attack Israel, seize credit-card information, hack into the Tel Aviv stock exchange, and shut down Israel’s electrical grid. For years, global security experts have warned of a massive attack that would paralyze the state and disable the military.

Col. N warned that radical powers such as Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah are intensifying the cyber threat against Israel. “There is a significant amount of development in the cyber field. This is a field that [these groups] are already involved in … and all of these groups share information.”

 

Netanyahu to Address Davos Forum on ‘Israel – Innovation Nation’

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel Wednesday to the 2014 World Economic Forum in Davos, where he will deliver an address under the heading “Israel – Innovation Nation,” with an emphasis on the cyber industry.

He also will attend the IT session, in the presence of Cisco CEO John Chambers, and a cyber session that is expected to draw dozens of corporate managers and senior government officials from countries active in the field.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is due to meet with Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer and with Google Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora and will emphasize Israeli innovation and the technological leadership of the Israeli high-tech industry in order to expand economic cooperation with the two companies.

Google has bought out Israeli firms, most notably Wade, for which it paid more than $1 billion. It also has established an active presence in Israel, including a research and development center.

“Israel is an exception on the Western economic scene,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said Tuesday, “We have succeeded in dealing with the global economic crisis better than almost all Western countries. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to develop new markets and new partners and this is my goal in going to Davos. My intention is to talk with leading global high tech companies, in the cyber and other fields, in order to tell them to come to Israel, invest in Israel and create jobs in Israel.”

US Security Expert Warns of Dangers in Israel’s Digital Plan

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

The director of a Washington-based security forum warns that Israel’s innovative plan to go digital could compromise its national security.

“There is national security and innovation and you have to find the right balance,” Cyber Security Forum Initiative chief Paul de Souza told Bloomberg News. The government plans to work with Cisco System to make Israel the first total digital country with a fiber-optic network built for Israel Electric Corp.

Cisco CERO John Chambers said last month that his company would secure the network  and make it “the best there is in security on a global basis.” The company also created a technology incubator in Israel for cyber defense startups.

De Souza warned that a failure to build a multi-layered and complex security system would allow criminals or terrorists to “harvest millions of zombies,” referring to computers that are compromised so they can be remotely controlled. “Imagine Israel with millions of zombies that have super capability and can bring down countries,” he said. “Not only can these computers attack Israel itself, but they can at the same time use Israel as a way to attack other countries in the whole false flag thing and put the blame on Israel.”

#OPIsrael Cyberattack: Hackers Mostly #Fail

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

The Hackers group Anonymous on Saturday night tried to make good on their threats and began to knock down a large number of Israeli websites, including government offices – for a few minutes at least. But mostly it’s more bluster than success.

Anonymous, in collaboration with pro-Palestinian cyber-terrorists initiated an attack on government sites and large organizations in Israel as “revenge” for Israel’s role in the Palestinian conflict, but really its about their Antisemitism.

Among other websites, they knocked down for a brief period of time include the Ministry of Defense’s, and the Ministry of Education’s, the Israeli EPA’s, military-industry’s, and the Central Bureau of Statistics’ websites.

They also took down the Israeli Cancer Association’s website and dozens of small Israeli sites. At some of the sites the hackers left pro-Palestinian messages and loud music.

The El Al website was downed as well, and that is one of the few that actually took a long time to go back online.

Access to some websites have slowed down, presumably due to the massive attacks, but they did not collapse.

Most of the sites returned to full activity after several minutes, a couple after several hours.

In fact, many of the sites the hackers are claiming via Twitter, that they’ve taken down, are actually working fine. Israel has been employing a number of tricks that have kept the cyber attacks at bay.

The Anti-Jewish Hacktivists are also publicizing what they claim are login passwords for various sites.

So far it appears that #OpIsrael is more bluster than success.

 

Israel’s security apparatus was prepared to face the cyber attack took place. There is concern among security experts that the attack, which began Saturday night, will encourage hackers and terrorist organizations around the world to join the “Anonymous” efforts, making it difficult for Israel’s security systems to withstand the pressure.

According to instructions given employees in the Defense Ministry and other outfits, work today might be disrupted in various computerized systems, and there may be some cessation of operations, in order to perform evaluations of incoming attacks.

A senior security official said in a closed forum a few days ago, that intelligence has been gathered against hackers and other entities that may participate in the attack. On Sunday there will be an assessments of the attack, to optimize the defenses and minimize the damage that may disrupt the systems’ activities.

 

On the other side of the fence, WhiteHat Israeli hackers have taken down or hacked a number of anti-Israeli sites in retaliation, including the OpIsrael website where they added facts about Israel and had the site play Hatikvah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/cyber-attack-defense-and-education-websites-downed/2013/04/07/

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