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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘hackers’

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.

Russian Hackers Reading Obama’s Personal E-mails

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Russian hackers who invaded President Barack Obama’s personal e-mail last year were far more successful than previously reported, The New York Times reported Sunday.

No classified information was hacked, but the invaders were able to read President Obama’s personal correspondence with diplomats and e-mails concerning policy and legislation.

The hackers penetrated the State Dept.’s unclassified e-mail system and Obama’s unclassified account.

The invasion, although it did not reach classified information, could be extremely embarrassing for the Obama administration. It is assumed that the hackers were working with or for the Kremlin.

“This has been one of the most sophisticated actors we’ve seen,” one senior American official told the newspaper. “It’s the Russian angle to this that’s particularly worrisome,” another senior official said.

The president reportedly writes on personal emails about subjects ranging from his golfing to efforts by Republican Congressmen to hamper his proposed deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

If the mails reach the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he might learn secrets about how President Obama missed an easy putt on the 17th hole, or perhaps what he really thinks about Sen. Bob Corker, who initiated the bill that would require Obama to submit to Congress for review any final deal with Iran.

If President Obama wrote to a diplomat about what he really thinks about Putin, the Russian president will read some unflattering remarks, assuming Obama does not see him as a “warm friend.”

And what does Obama write about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his emails? He also is probably not described as a “warm friend.”

The White House is not revealing the content of the material that was hacked in order not to hint to the Russians how much investigators know about the computer invasion.

And perhaps the Russian hackers now know what many Americans would like to know about Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal account for State Dept. correspondence.

President Obama not only knew about Clinton’s routine of using her personal account for government business but also wrote to her on her private account, “hdr22@clintonemail.com.”

After Obama told CBS News that it was “through news reports” that he’d learned that Clinton was using her personal account, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “The president — as I think many people expected — did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with the secretary of state.”

The Republican National Committee accused Obama of misleading the American public by having said he knew of Clinton’s practice “through news reports.”

Any questions about Obama’s correspondence with Clinton can be directed to the Russian hackers.

JewishPress.com Gets Spray Painted

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Pardon our disappearance, the JewishPress.com website was hacked overnight.

The attack was launched around 2:30 AM Israel time, at which point the hackers, who claimed to be from Gaza, caused a page in Arabic to display on top of the JewishPress.com page.

The main photo in their hack was an Islamist sitting on a horse carrying what appears to be an Islamic State (Da’esh) flag, while standing near the Dome of the Rock on a desolate and ravaged Temple Mount.

Strangely enough, the hack also displayed a whiny YouTube video flaunting their constant humiliation by the Zionists, a complaint that their fellow Islamists have abandoned them to the Zionists, and how they welcome the bliss of death by the Zionists. It sounded like they were saying Allah is a Zionist.

Go figure — It must be a cultural thing to wear your degradation on your (or someone else’s) sleeve.

As they spray-painted our page and slashed the tires, the hackers also tried to torch the entire site with their downloaded root-kit, but failed.

The hackers actually managed to kick themselves off our system in the middle of their vandalism.

That happens when junior hackers get their hands on sophisticated off-the-shelf hacking tools and weapons which they don’t really know how to use properly.

Certainly an apt analogy for not letting the Islamic Republic of Iran acquire nuclear weapons.

What they did was an annoyance, the equivalent of sticking chewing gum in your door locks and spray-painting graffiti on your storefront window.

But that’s why God created automated backups, though a site our size takes time to properly restore and secure.

Hackers and haters obsessively and relentlessly go after Jewish websites, and the bigger you are the more likely they are to specifically target you, as other large Jewish websites also recently discovered.

Over the past 4 years, hackers have repeatedly been trying to dig their tunnels into the JewishPress.com (and failing). Perhaps there’s just a little too much electricity flowing into Gaza, that this time they got lucky.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to review our security and business continuity procedures.

Children with Dangerous Toys

Threatened Anonymous ‘Electronic Holocaust’ Fails

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

A threatened “hacktivist attack” against Israeli websites by the Anonymous collective slated for today (Tuesday, April 7) has thus far failed to materialize.

No major government websites were affected by the annual April 7 attack despite the threat of an “electronic holocaust” broadcast by the group on its video message.

A handful of sites belonging to some musicians and a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were hit. Visitors to their sites were confronted with photos of a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem or terrorists holding an ISIS flag, with a message signed by “AnonGhost.”

The group also posted a video message saying the hack was a response to ‘crimes in the Palestinian territories” and cited last summer’s war in Gaza.

Israel’s Computer Emergency Response Team – a civilian cyber security group – noted the attack is one that takes place every year on this day.

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.

Cyber Attacks Crippled Adelson’s Casino Firm because He Said ‘Bomb Iran’

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Cyber hackers crippled the computer network of the giant Las Vegas Sands Corp, headed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, to punish him for saying that Iran should be bombed if it cannot be stopped from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The attack occurred last February but was not publicized until BusinessWeek exposed it in its new edition dated next week.

Las Vegas Sands refused to comment.

The hackers sent Las Vegas Sands engineers scrambling to the casino floor underneath their offices to yank out network cords from computers.

Businessweek’s investigation of the cyber-attack revealed that Las Vegas Sands computer engineers concluded that attackers, who wiped out several hard drives with a malware virus, did not tap into the computer system to steal money but were carrying out an act of revenge for Adelson’s anti-Iran remarks at Yeshiva University in 2013. There are strong suspicions that the cyber attack originated in Iran.

In his remarks at the Yeshiva University panel discussion on “Will Jews Exist?” Adelson, an open supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing Republicans, said about Irene’s nuclear development:

What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen. You see that desert out there? I want to show you something.’

[After dropping a nuclear bomb on an Iranian desert,] “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded after  two weeks later and said that the American government “should slap these prating people in the mouth and crush their mouths.”

That was in October 2013.

Two months later, according to BusinessWeek, the hackers took action and attacked the Las Vegas Sands’ IT network, only the second known incident of trying to destroy a corporation. The other attack was last month on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hackers continued their attacks last January when they attacked a huge slot machine casino and resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The malware attack wiped out data on computers and servers and erased hard drives.

The attack worsened in February, and the company was forced to disconnect its servers from the Internet to protect itself from worse damage, but there was no interference with activities of Las Vegas Sands hotel guests and casino players.

The hackers also hit Las Vegas Sands’ websites and posted images of flames on one of Sands’ American casinos and also posted a warning, “Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a Crime.”

They also left a personal message  for Adelson: “Damn A, Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.”

The attack on Las Vegas Sands was an act of war. Bringing a country to its knees can be done a lot more efficiently and without deaths by using cyber attacks instead of bombs.

Last month, the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures leaked company secrets and personal information, and security experts suspect the perpetrators are a group that is working for the North Korean regime, whose nuclear capacity could wipe out the West and which is working hand-in-hand with Iran.

North Korea might be upset at Sony for its new project called ”The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

North Korea would “mercilessly destroy anyone who dares hurt or attack the supreme leadership of the country, even a bit,” a government spokesman has stated.

 

 

 

Was Sony Corp. Struck by ‘Malicious Software’ Cyber Attack?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

A secret 5-page “flash” went to security professionals at companies and other businesses across the U.S. Monday, warning of “malicious software” being used in hack attacks on America.

The warning issued by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided technical details about the malicious software being used in the attack but omitted the name of the specific target.

The report said the malware overrides data on hard drives of computers, which can make them inoperable and shut down networks. It is extremely costly and difficult – if not impossible – to recover the data from hard drives attacked by the malware, according to the report.

The warning follows a cyber attack last week that ravaged the computer system at Sony Pictures Entertainment. It tore the protection from at least five motion pictures that were in production but not yet ready for release, and uploaded them to the Internet for direct public viewing.

An FBI spokesperson declined to comment when asked if the malware had been used against the California-based unit of Sony Corp, Reuters reported.

Israel has been a frequent target of cyber attacks. Hackers linked to numerous international organizations declared a ‘day of attack’ against Israeli websites last month, calling November 14 “another round in the cyber war against Israel.”

Dr. Tal Pavel of International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism – an Israeli expert on cyber security and the Arab Internet — issued the warning about the attack. The post was based on a report in Arabic on several Palestinian Authority web sites, among others, claiming to be a response to “the ongoing Israeli attacks on the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/was-sony-corp-struck-by-malicious-software-cyber-attack/2014/12/02/

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