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April 9, 2009

Security and Hacking: Reporting Cyber Crime

security-keyboard-handcuffsOver the past few months, I’ve been writing a lot about cyber crime and security vulnerabilities, especially as it impacts social media and blogs. The April 1, 2009, expansion of the Conficker/Downadup Worm Infection worried many as the 1 in 16 ratio of infected computers increased dramatically around the globe and attacks were aimed at social media services like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

With the increase in cyber crime and security issues, and the growing profit found in cyber crimes, where do you go to report cyber crime if you find it or are a victim of it? read more

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March 26, 2009

Social Media Sites Risk Growing Threats and Attacks

Exploring Social Media article series badgeAccording to Investor’s Business Daily, evil is sweeping social networks, moving beyond email and blogs to where you like to virtually hang out and congregate:

Security experts last week warned that a new strain of the Koobface virus is hitting Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. It looks for links and passwords to other social networking sites.

Social networking site owners work actively to put a lid on nefarious activity. On Tuesday, a federal judge in northern California issued a temporary restraining order against three people accused of widespread spamming and phishing attacks on Facebook. It comes three months after Facebook won a suit that prevents another group of spammers from using or accessing Facebook data and applications.

Virus creators are increasingly targeting social networking sites and other Web 2.0 technologies such as the micro-blogging site Twitter and instant messaging services from Google, AOL and others. Virus writers are also creating fake profiles of celebrities, real friends or business associates hoping people will link with them. Users can be tricked into linking to the fake profile, which can be loaded with various forms of malicious software.

The article by Brian Deagon showcased Facebook users who responded to an email from a “friend on Facebook” to visit a link that initiated a program that “rifled through his hard drive, installed malicious software and sent the same e-mail to all of Daradics’ friends on his Facebook profile.” read more

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January 19, 2009

Security and Hacking: Protect Thyself and Thy WordPress Blog

WordPress Security Tips and TechniquesThe front page of CERT/CC, the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute and cyber security experts, looks back at 2008 as the 20th anniversary of the Morris worm, sometimes called the “Great Worm,” which crippled the Internet in 1988. Created by Robert Morris, now an associate professor at MIT, it was one of the first computer worms to infect the brand new Internet, exploiting known vulnerabilities and causing millions in damages. It also was the first conviction in the United States as part of the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Years ago, a friend of mine worked for Boeing IT and taught many company workshops and training programs that began with an amusing lecture on “Safe Computer Sex.” She taught fellow employees to take care when flipping floppies to avoid transferring computer program infections across the network. How far we have come from those days.

As our dependence upon the web increased with email communication, spammers, hackers and attackers spread evil through your email inbox. Now, they are attacking our websites, social media tools, and web browsers.

Microsoft announced recently security issues with the Internet Explorer web browser and the dangers of visiting websites that could exploit that security vulnerability. Many warned to not use Internet Explorer until it was patched and updated.

Google created the Browser Security Handbook to help people and developers understand the security issues facing web browsers and the steps to take to protect individuals and web applications.

As mentioned in the last article in this series on web and blog security and hacking, Security and Hacking: The State of WordPress Blogs, WordPress, Movable Type, and other popular web services are not immune from security hacks or vulnerabilities. read more

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January 16, 2009

Downadup Worm Infection: Cyber Attacks on the Rise in 2009

SecurityFocus reports an estimated 3.5 million computers have been compromised due to a “Downadup worm,” a malicious bot that spreads through websites and blogs.

The Downadup worm, a malicious program that spreads using a recently patched Windows flaw, has compromised more than 3.5 million computers, security firm F-Secure stated this week.

The Downadup worm has successfully spread because it uses a major flaw that Microsoft patched in October to remotely compromise computers running unpatched versions of the Windows operating system. However, the malicious program’s greatest strength appears to be a feature that allows worm-controlled computers to download malicious code from a random drop point.

The program generates addresses for 250 different domains each day. The botnet controller need only register one of the domains and set up a download server to update the bot program with different functionality, said Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure.

“The bad guys only need to predetermine one possible domain for tomorrow, register it, and set up a website, and they then gain access to all of the infected machines — pretty clever,” Hyppönen said in a blog post.

According to the report, the Downadup worm uses Windows XP’s vulnerability in processing remote procedure call (RPC) requests. While a patch was issued and warnings announced, not everyone has upgraded. The top countries hit by the MS08-067 Worms, as F-Secure calls them, are China, Brazil, and Russia, but it is expected to spread further unless server administrators and webmasters update and patch their Windows Servers and Windows programs immediately, including Internet Explorer.

ZD-Net Security Threats reports that the first sign of infection is usually found when users accounts cannot access their accounts and they are locked out of the Active Directory domain as the worm tries to crack passwords in Windows Servers.

Tracking the Downadup infection, F-Secure reported that reports of infections are up by more than one million within just one day, and growing. As last check, they estimate 3,521,230 infections worldwide. read more

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