Monday, April 2, 2012

The Future is Now - The Dark Side and Hacktivism

We live in times when technology is exceeding the understanding of educational institutions and corporations. A highly social Web and a bad economy is making the Dark Side -- the Internet underworld where cybercrime and hacking run rampant -- overwhelming. Hacktivism is the new, hip thing; it has become a hobby for people with higher-than-average computer knowledge.

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Google Gives Users a Gander at the Trails They Leave

Google has launched a new tool called "Account Activity," designed to give users a detailed glimpse into their Web usage across all Google sites and services. Account Activity is a personalized, detailed monthly report on Web activity with Google search, Gmail accounts, YouTube and social network Google+.

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Microsoft bot takedowns help, but are no cure

Takedowns of Zeus botnet command and control servers like the one executed last week byMicrosoft and others do reduce the criminal activity they spawn - for a while - but attackers learn from the experience and come back with more sophisticated techniques, a security expert says.
Eliminating the servers that issue commands and gather stolen data can stop a particular criminal enterprise temporarily, but without grabbing the people behind it, a new botnet is likely to emerge to replace the ones that are disabled, says John Pironti, president of IP Architects, LLC.
"Adversaries will study how Microsoft did this and create ways to get around it in the future," he says. "They'll change their methods and practices and won't make the same mistake twice."
In fact, even as Microsoft grabbed servers that zombie machines were reporting back to with stolen banking data, criminals are already using more sophisticated means. Whereas the Zeus botnet employed a beacon reporting system in which drone machines report to a singleserver, newer botnets use command and control servers that are linked peer-to-peer to make discovery and takedowns harder, Pironti says.

Malware infects Macs through Microsoft Office vulnerability

Security researchers have encountered new email-based targeted attacks that exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Office to install a remote access Trojan horse program on Mac OS systems.
The rogue emails appear to target Tibetan activist organizations and distribute booby-trapped Microsoft Word documents that exploit a known remote code execution vulnerability in Microsoft Office for Mac, according to malware experts from security firm AlienVault.
"This is one of the few times that we have seen a malicious Office file used to deliver Malware on Mac OS X," said AlienVault security researcher Jaime Blasco in a blog post on Tuesday.
Security researchers from Mac antivirus vendor Intego believe that the attacks might become more widespread. "This malware is fairly sophisticated, and it is worth pointing out that the code in these Word documents is not encrypted, so any malware writer who gets copies of them may be able to alter the code and distribute their own versions of these documents," they said in a blog post on Thursday.
"The attack will be very effective on those who have not updated their copies of Microsoft Office, or aren't running antivirus software," the Intego researchers said.

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The Privacy Pickle

"Is privacy only for those with something to hide?" is the title of an open ballot on TuxRadar that has kicked off quite a debate. TuxRadar points to the full-disk encryption option now offered by several Linux distributions -- along with potential law-enforcement implications -- but the topic is also particularly timely in light of Canonical's recent moves to step up Ubuntu's privacy protections.

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