Cyber Threats: Week in Review with Russia, Yahoo & Bitcoin

Media Division | August 9, 2016

It’s been another exciting week in the cyber security world. From politically-motivated attacks to out-of-control Jeeps, here are 5 of the top stories out this week.

Russian Hackers

If you’ve seen the news at all you, you have heard that Russian hackers are accused of manipulating the upcoming election in the US. A professor at King’s College in London announced on Twitter that the DNC malware had an identical command-and-control address (and SSL certificate) to Russian military intelligence malware used to hack the German Parliament in 2015. What is less clear is why hackers are targeting Democratic Party marks in particular. Trump fans, perhaps? He did recently (jokingly?) ask Russia to hack Hilary Clinton.

South Korea vs North Korea

North and South Korea have long been foes, and in recent years their struggle has gone cyber. Earlier this year, top South Korean officials even fell for text phishing scams (one more reason for every organization to train all employees on cyber security and common lures).

This week we learned that North Korea likely stole emails and passwords from South Korea. Officials from South Korea claim that the goal is to disrupt government and military action. It seems their northern enemy, famously appearing dark from outer space, may have more going on than meets the electronic eye.

Yahoo Database Leak

Also this week, a notable sale on the cyber black market: email addresses and passwords for more than 200 million Yahoo accounts, for the low price of about $2,000. You’d think that given the possible security compromise, Yahoo would at least warn customers to change their passwords, as it did after a similar attack in 2014. To date, no such warning has been issued. Let’s just take it as a reminder to regularly change passwords, and warn employees and customers to do the same.

It’s a great time to take a look at your internal cyber security policies regarding passwords, email use, and other key safety issues.

The Hacking of Automobiles

Since auto makers developed a centralized computer system in the mid-80’s, every major car manufacturer has produced vehicles with a computer. Add to that the recent addition of Bluetooth functions in most automobiles, and you’ve got hackable cars.

Wired announced that this week at the Black Hat security conference, automotive cybersecurity researchers intend to present new ways that vehicles can be hacked. Known ways continue to get patched, but that doesn’t mean that hackers won’t continue to develop new strategies.

More feasible attacks include electronic functions, such as cutting an engine, unlocking doors and piggybacking on Bluetooth features. As the number of auto functions expands, so does the possibility of disabling them, such as when hackers fooled a Tesla S’s autopilot recently.

Despite personnel-related setbacks, self-driving cars appear to be in the near future; it means another level of cybersecurity to prepare for.

Bitcoins’ Stolen Money

Also this week, Bitcoin took a plunge after $70 million dollars’ worth was stolen through a hack on the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. Since Bitcoin operation is dependent upon a digital wallet and has no fixed value, Bitcoin is particularly vulnerable to the woes of public opinion.

Bitcoin doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, though, since it is considered one of the most anonymous, secure forms of payment. It may want to make you keep very little in your Bitcoin wallet. It also means time to examine the effect of public opinion on companies as a result of cyber-attacks.

With so much happening in the cyber world, on both micro and macro scales, it seems Mr. Robot might never run out of material to draw from.

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