#395 Jan 05 2015 – Hacking the Hackers

This week’s headline story: Hacking the Hackers

hackerU.S. banks that were attacked by Iran-based hackers in late 2012 reportedly considered hacking the Iranians in response, according to Bloomberg News. The FBI is “looking into whether hackers working on behalf of any U.S. financial institutions disabled servers that were being used by Iran to attack the Web sites of major banks.” Under the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, knowingly accessing a computer without authorization to access data, cause damage or extort payments, even in justified retaliation, is a criminal offense that can carry heavy penalties. For some, the risk of being prosecuted is increasingly being outweighed by the frustration of becoming the victims of costly, business-damaging hacks. The Bloomberg article cites several security experts and former law-enforcement officials who said organizations that have been hacked are itching to strike back. Cybercrime could be costing the global economy as much as $575 billion in losses, according to a June 2014 report from Intel’s McAfee computer security firm.

in other tech news…

  • President Obama orders stricter sanctions on North Korea after Sony hack [Engadget]President Obama has issued an executive order that calls for even more restrictive sanctions on North Korea for its role in the massive hack attack on Sony Pictures late last year. In his words, the new financial clampdown is because of North Korea’s “destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December.” President Obama also said that this next-level financial crackdown was only the “first aspect” of its response against Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
  • China Flat Out Denies Blocking Gmail Access [NewsFactor]Gmail Struggles for Air in China [Ecommerce Times]

    Gmail has become unaccessible to users in China. Google has verified that the problem isn’t with its own servers, but is more likely an issue with China’s firewall. China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman denies that China is blocking access to gmail. Michael Jude, a program manager with Stratecast says that there’s little doubt that the Chinese government is behind the outage. He believes that its the beginnings of a cyberwar. In general, there are two primary ways to wreak havoc on the Internet, Jude suggests. One is to simply shut down your opponent’s Internet facilities – as was done to North Korea, the second is to deny your opponent access to your people and companies as China has done to Google on several occasions. From a strategic point of view, the move could be interpreted as “a very clear message that we need them more than they need us,” Jude suggests.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Can Fingerprint Photos Fool Apple’s Touch ID? [NewsFactor]Hackers are working on methods of cracking Apple’s Touch ID system. The Chaos Computer Club, a European hacker network, claims it can fool Touch ID using photographs of fingerprints found on polished surfaces.
  • Lizard Squad Thugs Offer DDoS Attacks as Paid Service [NewsFactor]Lizard Squad, the hacker group that brought down Sony’s PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live on Christmas day, is renting out its Distributed Denial of Service tool as a public service. An image posted on the Daily Dot shows options for eight different monthly service plans, ranging from $5.99 for a 100-second DDoS attack to $129.99 for a 30,000-second attack payable using the cyber-currency bitcoin.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Microsoft Reportedly Building New Browser [NewsFactor]Microsoft is reportedly working on a new web browser codenamed “Spartan.” The new browser is expected to be more lightweight like Chrome and Firefox. It would allow Microsoft to start fresh, shedding the negative perceptions of Internet Explorer. Analysts are predicting that Spartan will make its debut during a January 21, invitation-only event offering a peek at Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system.

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