Consumer genealogy website MyHeritage said that email addresses and password information linked to more than 92 million user accounts have been compromised in an apparent hacking incident.
MyHeritage said that its security officer had received a message from a researcher who unearthed a file named “myheritage” containing email addresses and encrypted passwords of 92,283,889 of its users on a private server outside the company.
“There has been no evidence that the data in the file was ever used by the perpetrators,” the company said in a statement late Monday.
MyHeritage lets users build family trees, search historical records and hunt for potential relatives. Founded in Israel in 2003, the site launched a service called MyHeritage DNA in 2016 that, like competitors Ancestry.com and 23andMe, lets users send in a saliva sample for genetic analysis. The website currently has 96 million users; 1.4 million users have taken the DNA test.
According to MyHeritage, the breach took place on Oct. 26, 2017, and affects users who signed up for an account through that date. The company said that it doesn’t store actual user passwords, but instead passwords encrypted with what’s called a one-way hash, with a different key required to access each customer’s data. So we ask “Why did it take so long to declare a breach”
In some past breaches, however, hashing schemes have been successfully converted back into passwords. A hacker able to decrypt the hashed passwords exposed in the breach could access personal information accessible when logging into someone’s account, such as the identity of family members. But even if hackers were able to get into a customer’s account, it’s unlikely they could easily access raw genetic information, since a step in the download process includes email confirmation.
In its statement, the company emphasized that DNA data is stored “on segregated systems and are separate from those that store the email addresses, and they include added layers of security.”
MyHeritage has set up a 24/7 support team to assist customers affected by the breach. It plans to hire an independent cybersecurity firm to investigate the incident and potentially beef up security. In the meantime, users are advised to change their passwords.
Why would hackers “Criminals” want to steal and then sell DNA back for ransom? Hackers could threaten to revoke access or post the sensitive information online if not given money. This data could be very valuable to insurance companies (Medical, and Life), mortgage companies, and then you ask “why”? In a world where data is posted online, it could be used to genetically discriminate against people, such as denying mortgages or increasing insurance costs. (it doesn’t help that interpreting genetics is complicated and many people don’t understand the probabilities anyway.) This data could be sold on the down-low or monetized to insurance companies, You can imagine the consequences: One day, I might apply for a long-term loan and get rejected because deep in the corporate system, there is data that I am very likely to get Alzheimer’s and die before I would repay the loan. In the future, if genetic data becomes commonplace enough, people might be able to pay a fee and get access to someone’s genetic data, the way we can now access someone’s criminal background.
Case and point, Sacramento investigators tracked down East Area Rapist suspect Joseph James DeAngelo using genealogical websites that contained genetic information from a relative, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Thursday.
The effort was part of a painstaking process that began by using DNA from one of the crime scenes from years ago and comparing it to genetic profiles available online through various websites that cater to individuals wanting to know more about their family backgrounds by accepting DNA samples, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi.
This really should not be big news, I’ve been stating it since Alexa came out. The MIC is open all the time unless you “Mute” it and data is saved and transmitted to Amazon. Make sure you understand the technology before you start adding all of these types of IoT devices in your home, as I call them “Internet of Threats”
The call that started it all: “Unplug your Alexa devices right now.”
Amazon confirmed an Echo owner’s privacy-sensitive allegation on Thursday, after Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO-7 reported that an Echo device in Oregon sent private audio to someone on a user’s contact list without permission.
“Unplug your Alexa devices right now,” the user, Danielle (no last name given), was told by her husband’s colleague in Seattle after he received full audio recordings between her and her husband, according to the KIRO-7 report. The disturbed owner, who is shown in the report juggling four unplugged Echo Dot devices, said that the colleague then sent the offending audio to Danielle and her husband to confirm the paranoid-sounding allegation. (Before sending the audio, the colleague confirmed that the couple had been talking about hardwood floors.
After calling Amazon customer service, Danielle said she received the following explanation and response: “‘Our engineers went through all of your logs. They saw exactly what you told us, exactly what you said happened, and we’re sorry.’ He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes. ‘This is something we need to fix.'”
Danielle next asked exactly why the device sent recorded audio to a contact: “He said the device guessed what we were saying.” Danielle didn’t explain exactly how much time passed between the incident, which happened “two weeks ago,” and this customer service response.
When contacted by KIRO-7, Amazon confirmed the report and added in a statement that the company “determined this was an extremely rare occurrence.” Amazon didn’t clarify whether that meant such automatic audio-forwarding features had been built into all Echo devices up until that point, but the company added that “we are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s questions about how this user’s audio-share was triggered.
Update, 5:06pm ET: Amazon forwarded an updated statement about KIRO-7’s report to Ars Technica, which includes an apparent explanation for how this audio may have been sent: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like “Alexa.” Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a “send message” request. At which point, Alexa said out loud “To whom?” At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, “[contact name], right?” Alexa then interpreted background conversation as “right.” As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.
Amazon did not explain how so many spoken Alexa prompts could have gone unnoticed by the Echo owner in question. Second update: The company did confirm to Ars that the above explanation was sourced from device logs.
A security flaw founded in Ring’s video doorbell can let others access camera footage even if homeowners have changed their passwords, according to media sources.
This can happen after a Ring device owner gives access to the Ring app to someone else. If it is given to an ex-partner, for example, after the relationship turned sour, the partner may still monitor the activity outside the front door using the camera, and download the video and control the doorbell from the phone as an administrator.
It doesn’t matter how many times Ring device owners have changed the password, the Ring app will never ask users to sign in again after the password is changed.
Ring was notified of the issue in early January and claimed to have removed users who were no longer authorized. However, in the test carried out by media outlet The Information’s staff, these ex-users could still access the app for several hours.
Jamie Siminoff, CEO of Ring, has acknowledged the issue and responded that kicking users off the platform apparently slows down the Ring app.
After the issue was reported, Ring made another statement, suggesting that Ring customers should never share their usernames or passwords. The company recommended that other family members or partners sign in via Ring’s “Shared Users” feature.
In this way, device owners have control over who has access and can immediately remove users if they want.
“Our team is taking additional steps to further improve the password change experience,” said Ring in a statement.
Ring was acquired by Amazon for US$1 billion at the beginning of this year. Amazon operates in-home delivery service, the Amazon Key, relying on security devices at the front door such as smart doorbells, door locks and security cameras.
Any security flaws like the one found in Ring will make it difficult for the e-commerce giant to convince people that it’s safe for Amazon’s delivery people to enter their houses when nobody’s home.
Please make sure to secure all of your IoT devices as we know most of them are wide open to attacks.
Security researchers have built a master key that exploits a design flaw in a popular and widely used hotel electronic lock system, allowing unfettered access to every room in the building.
The electronic lock system, known as Vision by VingCard and built by Swedish lock manufacturer Assa Abloy, is used in more than 42,000 properties in 166 countries, amounting to millions of hotel rooms — as well as garages and storage units.
These electronic lock systems are commonplace in hotels, used by staff to provide granular controls over where a person can go in a hotel — such as their room — and even restricting the floor that the elevator stops at. And these keys can be wiped and reused when guests check-out.
It turns out these key cards aren’t as secure as first thought.
F-Secure’s Tomi Tuominen and Timo Hirvonen, who carried out the work, said they could create a master key “basically out of thin air.”
Any key card will do. Even old and expired, or discarded keys retain enough residual data to be used in the attack. Using a handheld device running custom software, the researchers can steal data off of a key card — either using wireless radio-frequency identification (RFID) or the magnetic stripe. That device then manipulates the stolen key data, which identifies the hotel, to produce an access token with the highest level of privileges, effectively serving as a master key to every room in the building.
This wasn’t an overnight effort. It took the researchers over a decade of work to get here.
The researchers started their room key bypass efforts in 2003 when a colleague’s laptop was stolen from a hotel room. With no sign of forced entry or unauthorized access to the room, the hotel staff are said to have dismissed the incident. The researchers set out to find a popular brand of smart lock to examine. In their words, finding and building the master key was far from easy, and took “several thousand hours of work” on an on-off basis, and using trial and error.
“Developing [the] attack took considerable amount of time and effort,” said Tuominen and Hirvonen, in an email to ZDNet.
“We built a RFID demo environment in 2015 and were able to create our first master key for a real hotel in March 2017,” they said. “If somebody was to do this full time, it would probably take considerably less time.
There was good news, the researchers said.
“We don’t know of anyone else performing this particular attack in the wild right now,” said the researchers, downplaying the risk to hotel customers.
Their discovery also prompted Assa Abloy to release a security patch to fix the flaws. According to their disclosure timeline, Assa Abloy was first told of the vulnerabilities a month later in April 2017, and met again over several months to fix the flaws.
The software is patched at the central server, but the firmware on each lock needs to be updated.
Looking forward to another local speaking event here in Sacramento:
By invitation only, DSA Technologies is hosting FBI expert Kurt Pipal and licensed Computer Forensics Investigator Michael Reese to discuss the current state of Cybercrime in the Northern California & Sacramento Area. Executives who are responsible for the public perception for their organizations should attend.
This event will feature several security topics frequently seen in the news today, including:
• Financial Fraud
• Intellectual Property Threats
• Identity Theft
• Phishing/Social Engineering scams
• Attacks on Critical Infrastructure
Where: Morton’s Steakhouse
621 Capitol Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814
When: April 19th @ 11:30AM
Event Partners: FBI, Palo Alto Networks
On Wednesday, at about 12:15 pm EST, 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit the developer platform GitHub all at once. It was the most powerful distributed denial of service attack recorded to date—and it used an increasingly popular DDoS method, no botnet required.
GitHub briefly struggled with intermittent outages as a digital system assessed the situation. Within 10 minutes it had automatically called for help from its DDoS mitigation service, Akamai Prolexic. Prolexic took over as an intermediary, routing all the traffic coming into and out of GitHub, and sent the data through its scrubbing centers to weed out and block malicious packets. After eight minutes, attackers relented and the assault dropped off.
“We modeled our capacity based on fives times the biggest attack that the internet has ever seen,” Josh Shaul, vice president of web security at Akamai told WIRED hours after the GitHub attack ended. “So I would have been certain that we could handle 1.3 Tbps, but at the same time we never had a terabit and a half come in all at once. It’s one thing to have the confidence. It’s another thing to see it actually play out how you’d hope.”
Akamai defended against the attack in a number of ways. In addition to Prolexic’s general DDoS defense infrastructure, the firm had also recently implemented specific mitigations for a type of DDoS attack stemming from so-called memcached servers. These database caching systems work to speed networks and websites, but they aren’t meant to be exposed on the public internet; anyone can query them, and they’ll likewise respond to anyone. About 100,000 memcached servers, mostly owned by businesses and other institutions, currently sit exposed online with no authentication protection, meaning an attacker can access them and send them a special command packet that the server will respond to with a much larger reply.
Unlike the formal botnet attacks used in large DDoS efforts, like against Dyn and the French telecom OVH, memcached DDoS attacks don’t require a malware-driven botnet. Attackers simply spoof the IP address of their victim and send small queries to multiple memcached servers—about 10 per second per server—that are designed to elicit a much larger response. The memcached systems then return 50 times the data of the requests back to the victim.
Known as an amplification attack, this type of DDoS has shown up before. But as internet service and infrastructure providers have seen memcached DDoS attacks ramp up over the last week or so, they’ve moved swiftly to implement defenses to block traffic coming from memcached servers.
“Large DDoS attacks such as those made possible by abusing memcached are of concern to network operators,” says Roland Dobbins, a principal engineer at the DDoS and network-security firm Arbor Networks who has been tracking the memcached attack trend. “Their sheer volume can have a negative impact on the ability of networks to handle customer internet traffic.”
The infrastructure community has also started attempting to address the underlying problem, by asking the owners of exposed memcached servers to take them off the internet, keeping them safely behind firewalls on internal networks. Groups like Prolexic that defend against active DDoS attacks have already added or are scrambling to add filters that immediately start blocking memcached traffic if they detect a suspicious amount of it. And if internet backbone companies can ascertain the attack command used in a memcached DDoS, they can get ahead of malicious traffic by blocking any memcached packets of that length.
“We are going to filter that actual command out so no one can even launch the attack,” says Dale Drew, chief security strategist at the internet service provider CenturyLink. And companies need to work quickly to establish these defenses. “We’ve seen about 300 individual scanners that are searching for memcached boxes, so there are at least 300 bad guys looking for exposed servers,” Drew adds.
Most of the memcached DDoS attacks CenturyLink has seen top out at about 40 to 50 gigabits per second, but the industry had been increasingly noticing bigger attacks up to 500 gbps and beyond. On Monday, Prolexic defended against a 200 gbps memcached DDoS attack launched against a target in Munich.
Wednesday’s onslaught wasn’t the first time a major DDoS attack targeted GitHub. The platform faced a six-day barrage in March 2015, possibly perpetrated by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. The attack was impressive for 2015, but DDoS techniques and platforms—particularly Internet of Things–powered botnets—have evolved and grown increasingly powerful when they’re at their peak. To attackers, though, the beauty of memcached DDoS attacks is there’s no malware to distribute, and no botnet to maintain.
The web monitoring and network intelligence firm ThousandEyes observed the GitHub attack on Wednesday. “This was a successful mitigation. Everything transpired in 15 to 20 minutes,” says Alex Henthorne-Iwane, vice president of product marketing at ThousandEyes. “If you look at the stats you’ll find that globally speaking DDoS attack detection alone generally takes about an hour plus, which usually means there’s a human involved looking and kind of scratching their head. When it all happens within 20 minutes you know that this is driven primarily by software. It’s nice to see a picture of success.”
GitHub continued routing its traffic through Prolexic for a few hours to ensure that the situation was resolved. Akamai’s Shaul says he suspects that attackers targeted GitHub simply because it is a high-profile service that would be impressive to take down. The attackers also may have been hoping to extract a ransom. “The duration of this attack was fairly short,” he says. “I think it didn’t have any impact so they just said that’s not worth our time anymore.”
Until memcached servers get off the public internet, though, it seems likely that attackers will give a DDoS of this scale another shot.
What is a DDoS Hack and How Do You Avoid Them?
DDoS! It stands for distributed denial of service, a kind of attack that turns insecure, internet-connected devices into a sort of zombie army. So here’s how you can avoid being part of that zombie army.
Hackers are always trying to find creative and new ways to steal data and information from businesses. While spam (unwanted messages in your email inbox) has been around for a very long time, phishing emails have risen in popularity because they are more effective at achieving the desired endgame. How can you make sure that phishing scams don’t harm your business in the future?
Phishing attacks come in many different forms. We’ll discuss some of the most popular ways that hackers and scammers will try to take advantage of your business through phishing scams, including phone calls, email, and social media.
Do you receive calls from strange or restricted numbers? If so, chances are that they are calls that you want to avoid. Hackers will use the phone to make phishing phone calls to unsuspecting employees. They might claim to be with IT support, and in some cases, they might even take on the identity of someone else within your office. These types of attacks can be dangerous and tricky to work around, particularly if the scammer is pretending to be someone of authority within your organization.
For example, someone might call your organization asking about a printer model or other information about your technology. Sometimes they will be looking for specific data or information that might be in the system, while other times they are simply looking for a way into your network. Either way, it’s important that your company doesn’t give in to their requests, as there is no reason why anyone would ask for sensitive information over the phone. If in doubt, you should cross-check contact information to make sure that the caller is who they say they are.
Phishing emails aren’t quite as pressing as phishing phone calls because you’re not being pressured to make an immediate decision. Still, this doesn’t lessen the importance of being able to identify phishing messages. You might receive tailor-made customized phishing messages with the sole intent of a specific user handing over important information or clicking on a link/attachment. Either way, the end result is much the same as a phone call phishing scam;
To avoid phishing emails, you should implement a spam filter and train your employees on how to identify the telltale signs of these messages. These include spelling errors, incorrect information, and anything that just doesn’t belong. Although, phishing messages have started to become more elaborate and sophisticated.
Social media makes it incredibly easy for hackers to assume an anonymous identity and use it to attack you; or, even more terrifying, the identity of someone you know. It’s easy for a hacker to masquerade as someone that they’re not, providing an outlet for attack that can be somewhat challenging to identify. Some key pointers are to avoid any messages that come out of the blue or seemingly randomly. You can also ask questions about past interactions that tip you off that they may (or may not) be who they say they are.
Ultimately, it all comes down to approaching any phishing incident intelligently and with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Last December, government services in Mecklenburg, North Carolina, ground to a halt. What began as a malicious email attachment sent to a county employee turned into a crippling cyberattack that held 48 of the county’s 500 data servers hostage.
The attack prevented services ranging from intakes at the county jail to processing applications for marriage licenses. Contractors were among those hit the hardest. Unable to schedule inspections or receive approval to pour foundations or complete electrical work, contractors had to put development projects on hold during the multiday recovery process.
“Real estate firms have been generally lucky where they have not experienced the type of breaches that you see in other industry sectors, and that has probably given many people a false sense of security,” Baker Tilly Cybersecurity and IT Risk Senior Manager Mike Cullen said. “As other businesses get better at security, criminals are looking for easy targets. Construction and real estate could be such targets because they have historically not always taken the necessary precautions.”
Cullen works with Baker Tilly clients to lead and execute IT risk assessments, IT process audits and information security assessments, among other cybersecurity initiatives. Historically, real estate companies were at lower risk because they maintained less personal information and intellectual property than financial or healthcare businesses. More recently, attackers have been drawn to the select pool of wealthy investors real estate ventures attract, Cullen said.
Data like personal information, blueprints and schematics, access to building technology systems and financial information can be sold or used to gain a competitive advantage. Money can be skimmed from tenant and vendor accounts or credit cards and extorted directly thanks to ransomware. Last June, property management firm BNP Paribas Real Estate reported a ransomware attack that took down most of its global systems.
The rise of the Internet of Things, which I call Internet of Threats has brought the threat of cyberattacks more directly into tangible property. Building managers have started to embrace more systems that allow them to manage security infrastructure, HVAC, lighting controls and utilities remotely. This gives hackers another point of entry for attacking systems and stealing data, Cullen said.
In the past, building management systems were more proprietary and offline, creating a higher barrier to entry for hackers. Newer building systems are more standardized, using software obtained from vendors. These programs, like all software, come with vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Many companies may also have insufficient password protection or outdated antivirus programs that contribute to heightened cyberrisk.
More than directly sabotage the systems themselves, hackers can pull personal data from “smart” or intelligent building infrastructure. In November 2013, hackers infiltrated Target Corp.’s HVAC contractor’s systems to steal the payment card records and other personal information of nearly 110 million customers. The company reported a gross financial loss of $252M by the end of Q4 2014 as a result of the cyberattack.
Risk will continue to rise as intelligent buildings gain popularity. According to Faculty Executive, an estimated 95% of building systems connected to the internet have insecure connections, and 65% of vendors have remote access to building systems.
Talking to vendors about potential cyberthreats and hiring a dedicated person in charge of cybersecurity are the first steps real estate companies should take in arming themselves against the growing risk, Cullen said. Companies must have an employee who spends at least 50% of their time on the job dealing with cybersecurity.
Once key personnel are put in place, creating a security program that is specific to the type of real estate business and adaptable to new threats will ensure a strong defense against future attacks.
“It is impossible to prevent 100% of every attack,” Cullen said. “Your security program needs to include how you react to an incident so that you can respond in a timely and thoughtful way instead of a fire drill, figure-it-out-as-you-go strategy.”
Global spending on cybersecurity will exceed $1 trillion over the next five years, from 2017 to 2021, with 1.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2019. While the industry is growing, real estate might not be able to attract the same top talent as the finance or healthcare sectors.
“Other industries have more money to attract top talent and CRE has not been willing to spend as much on cybersecurity, which means they are not getting the best resources,” Cullen said. “To be prepared for what is ahead, real estate companies will need to invest more in cybersecurity.”
Unlike the initial reports suggested about Intel chips being vulnerable to some severe ‘memory leaking’ flaws, full technical details about the vulnerabilities have now been emerged, which revealed that almost every modern processor since 1995 is vulnerable to the issues.
Disclosed today by Google Project Zero, the vulnerabilities potentially impact all major CPUs, including those from AMD, ARM, and Intel—threatening almost all PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, regardless of manufacturer or operating system.
These hardware vulnerabilities have been categorized into two attacks, named Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715), which could allow attackers to steal sensitive data which is currently processed on the computer.
Both attacks take advantage of a feature in chips known as “speculative execution,” a technique used by most modern CPUs to optimize performance.
“In order to improve performance, many CPUs may choose to speculatively execute instructions based on assumptions that are considered likely to be true. During speculative execution, the processor is verifying these assumptions; if they are valid, then the execution continues. If they are invalid, then the execution is unwound, and the correct execution path can be started based on the actual conditions,” Project Zero says.
Therefore, it is possible for such speculative execution to have “side effects which are not restored when the CPU state is unwound and can lead to information disclosure,” which can be accessed using side-channel attacks.
The first issue, Meltdown (paper), allows attackers to read not only kernel memory but also the entire physical memory of the target machines, and therefore all secrets of other programs and the operating system.
“Meltdown is a related microarchitectural attack which exploits out-of-order execution in order to leak the target’s physical memory.”
Meltdown uses speculative execution to break the isolation between user applications and the operating system, allowing any application to access all system memory, including memory allocated for the kernel.
“Meltdown exploits a privilege escalation vulnerability specific to Intel processors, due to which speculatively executed instructions can bypass memory protection.”
Nearly all desktop, laptop, and cloud computers affected by Meltdown.
Spectre Attack: The second problem, Spectre (paper), is not easy to patch and will haunt people for quite some time since this issue requires changes to processor architecture in order to fully mitigate.
Spectre attack breaks the isolation between different applications, allowing the attacker-controlled program to trick error-free programs into leaking their secrets by forcing them into accessing arbitrary portions of its memory, which can then be read through a side channel.
Spectre attacks can be used to leak information from the kernel to user programs, as well as from virtualization hypervisors to guest systems.
“KAISER patch, which has been widely applied as a mitigation to the Meltdown attack, does not protect against Spectre.”
According to researchers, this vulnerability impacts almost every system, including desktops, laptops, cloud servers, as well as smartphones—powered by Intel, AMD, and ARM chips.
What You Should Do: Mitigations And Patches
Many vendors have security patches available for one or both of these attacks.
Windows — Microsoft has issued an out-of-band patch update for Windows 10, while other versions of Windows will be patched on the traditional Patch Tuesday on January 9, 2018
MacOS — Apple had already fixed most of these security holes in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2 last month, but MacOS 10.13.3 will enhance or complete these mitigations.
Linux — Linux kernel developers have also released patches by implementing kernel page-table isolation (KPTI) to move the kernel into an entirely separate address space.
Android — Google has released security patches for Pixel/Nexus users as part of the Android January security patch update. Other users have to wait for their device manufacturers to release a compatible security update.
Mitigations for Chrome Users:
Since this exploit can be executed through the website, Chrome users can turn on Site Isolation feature on their devices to mitigate these flaws.
Here’s how to turn Site Isolation on Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS or Android:
Copy chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process and paste it into the URL field at the top of your Chrome web browser, and then hit the Enter key.
Look for Strict Site Isolation, then click the box labeled Enable.
Once done, hit Relaunch Now to relaunch your Chrome browser.
There is no single fix for both the attacks since each requires protection independently.