Anonymous, SSL Worries, Spear Phishing Lead Week's Security News
A recap of the past week's IT security news includes multiple spear phishing attacks, arrests of suspected Anonymous and LulzSec members and concerns about SSL security.
Major Spear phishing attacks continued to make headlines in the past week. Japan's largest defense contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, disclosed it had discovered more than 80 servers and computers had been infected with several types of malware in its headquarters, manufacturing plants and shipyards around the country.
As the company continued its investigation and was criticized by the Japanese government for not reporting the incident earlier, security researchers speculated the malware was most likely downloaded on to Mitsubishi Heavy's systems as part of a phishing attack.
Spear phishing was also to blame for the attack that compromised more than 400 Websites hosted by domain registrar GoDaddy. GoDaddy denied that its servers had been compromised, noting that attackers had accessed each of the affected accounts with proper login credentials. The attackers had injected redirect rules into the Web server configuration files to divert site visitors to malware-laden Websites.
Trend Micro also uncovered a massive cyber-espionage campaign similar to the one publicized by McAfee in August. Dubbed "Lurid" by researcher, the campaign targeted over 1,400 computers belonging to space agencies, diplomatic missions, and non-governmental organizations across 61 countries.
The victims were primarily in Russia and the Russian Federation, although systems in India, Vietnam and Mongolia were also compromised. Lurid was different from previous cyber-espionage operations in that the command and control servers were located in the United States and the United Kingdom.
DigiNotar, the embattled Dutch certificate authority that had been breached in June, finally closed its doors this week, filing for bankruptcy. The company never recovered from the discovery that a security breach allowed attackers to issue more than 500 fraudulent digital certificates for major Websites such as Google and that the certificates had been active in the wild for almost two months. Microsoft, Adobe, Mozilla, Google, and Apple all revoked DigiNotar's root keys, making it impossible for the certificate authority to continue in business.
While many researchers claimed the entire incident was a sign that the certificate authority system was broken, others argued it just meant CAs needed to invest in strong infrastructure and continuously verify their business processes protected the environment.
A pair of reports highlighted the threat careless employees pose to an organization's security. A report form Cisco found that federal IT managers consider negligence by their employees as one of the biggest threats. A Ponemon Institute report found that e-mail was considered the biggest source of data leaks as employees could send sensitive data to unauthorized people outside the company, or store sensitive information in their Inboxes without encrypting it first.
On the same day that Adobe was touting the benefits of its latest Flash Player 11 software, it also released an emergency patch to address a zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player 10. The zero-day, a cross-site scripting flaw reported by Google, was already being exploited in the wild, Adobe said. The update addressed other critical vulnerabilities as well.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested two men on Sept. 22, one in Phoenix and one in San Francisco, who are thought to be members of LulzSec and Anonymous hacking collectives.
The man arrested in Phoenix is thought to be a member of LulzSec and part of the attack on Sony. The San Francisco suspect is accused of taking part in an attack on Santa Clara County government Websites. Two other men, one in Mountain View and another in Fairborn, Ohio, were also indicted Sept. 21 for taking part in the distributed denial of service attack against Santa Cruz Country's servers.