Information Security News
The hackers who broke into Target's corporate network and made off with payment card data for 40 million of its customers gained entry using authentication credentials stolen from a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) subcontractor that has done work for a variety of other large retailers, according to a report published Wednesday by KrebsOnSecurity.
Reporter Brian Krebs writes:
Sources close to the investigation said the attackers first broke into the retailer’s network on Nov. 15, 2013 using network credentials stolen from Fazio Mechanical Services, a Sharpsburg, Penn.-based provider of refrigeration and HVAC systems.
Fazio president Ross Fazio confirmed that the U.S. Secret Service visited his company’s offices in connection with the Target investigation, but said he was not present when the visit occurred. Fazio Vice President Daniel Mitsch declined to answer questions about the visit. According to the company’s homepage, Fazio Mechanical also has done refrigeration and HVAC projects for specific Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and BJ’s Wholesale Club locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the company had no additional information to share, citing a “very active and ongoing investigation.”
It’s not immediately clear why Target would have given an HVAC company external network access, or why that access would not be cordoned off from Target’s payment system network. But according to a cybersecurity expert at a large retailer who asked not to be named because he did not have permission to speak on the record, it is common for large retail operations to have a team that routinely monitors energy consumption and temperatures in stores to save on costs (particularly at night) and to alert store managers if temperatures in the stores fluctuate outside of an acceptable range that could prevent customers from shopping at the store.
“To support this solution, vendors need to be able to remote into the system in order to do maintenance (updates, patches, etc.) or to troubleshoot glitches and connectivity issues with the software,” the source said. “This feeds into the topic of cost savings, with so many solutions in a given organization. And to save on head count, it is sometimes beneficial to allow a vendor to support versus train or hire extra people.”
Wednesday's post reports several newly available details, including a timeline of the attack. The attackers, Krebs says, spent about 13 days uploading their card-stealing malware to a small number of point-of-sale terminals within Target stores to make sure it worked as designed. They then pushed the malicious software to a majority of Target's cash registers and actively collected card records captured from live customer transactions.
Pro-Syrian hackers have produced evidence that they intercepted the sensitive communications of eBay security personnel as the employees responded to a recent hack of the company's UK websites. The incident underscores the lack of success some of the world's most powerful tech companies have withstanding everyday attacks.
An image posted over the weekend shows an e-mail purportedly sent by Paul Whitted, whose LinkedIn profile lists him as a senior manager at eBay overseeing "incident management and resolution of major site issues." The February 1 message addresses other eBay employees and raises the possibility that one or more of their computers—or at least one of their e-mail accounts—was compromised as they were discussing a hack last Saturday on eBay and PayPal websites.
GOP Report Stresses Gov't InfoSec Flaws
Days before the Obama administration will release a framework aimed at securing the nation's critical infrastructure, Senate Republicans issued a report detailing vulnerabilities in federal IT, suggesting the White House get its own house in order ...
by Sean Gallagher
NBC News has published new documents from the National Security Agency trove provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The latest revelation is that British intelligence agency GCHQ conducted a covert campaign against Anonymous in September of 2011, crippling one operation by the hacktivist group and unmasking several of its members. The slides indicate that the GCHQ infiltrated the Internet relay chat (IRC) for Operation Payback, a collective “op” by hackers affiliated with Anonymous that targeted PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa after they stopped electronic donations to WikiLeaks.
The irony of the efforts is that the GCHQ operative used almost precisely the same sort of techniques and methods that hackers who have often aligned themselves with Anonymous employ. The GCHQ employed a covert informant to conduct the campaign, and the informant used social engineering, denial-of-service attacks, and malware against the targets.
It’s not clear if there’s a connection between the GHCQ’s “CHIS” (covert human intelligence source) and the FBI’s turning of Hector “Sabu” Monsegur in June of 2011. But the timing of the GCHQ's operation against the Anonymous IRC corresponds to the time frame during which Sabu became a government informant.
Our reader Rodney sent us a link to a story that apparently aired on NBC Nightly News last night:
"I was wondering if someone could do a piece on the report that was on NBC's Nightly News last night (see link below) regarding connecting personal devices like smart phones and laptops to the Internet while in Sochi for the Olympics. The first video leaves out some details that the second video reveals. The first video aired on NBC, the second did not. It seems as if the first video was sensationalism. The second video revealed that the journalist had willingly clicked on links to download the malware. The first video made it look like they only had to connect to become infected. I know that it can happen, but they made it sound like it will definitely happen."
The first video  shows how a brand new computer is infected while connected to the a hotel network in Russia. "If they fire up their phone at baggage claim, it is too late" the announcer states to introduce the story. The reporter then states that his Android Phone was hacked almost immediately hacked "before we even finished our coffee". It then states that the two computers at the hotel where hacked as well "very quickly".
A second video ("Open Hunting Season for Hackers" Same URL as earlier video) clarifies things a bit. The journalist clicked on a link. However, the link does appear to have been somewhat targeted as it came to him addressing him as a journalist and promised leads for a story. We don't know if there where additional warning signs.
There was also a brief twitter exchange about this story with Kyle Wilhoit, the security expert in the story:
So in short, it was not "uninitiated".
How dangerous is it to travel?
The report states that there is no expectation of privacy. I think this is a good assumption to go with no matter where and how you use the Internet. Many privacy rules are just that: Rules. To actually have privacy, you may need to go a step further and put technical controls in place. We covered travel security before, but here some of the main points:
- Patch before you go, not while on the road.
- Use a VPN whenever possible
- Use anti-malware / personal firewalls
- Don't leave your computer unattended
- encrypt your disks
- Power down your system if you have to leave it in your room and setup a BIOS/Firmware password.
- use hotel safes / lock down cables if you don't have another choice (yes, they can get broken into easily. But it is even easier to take a system that is not in the safe)
- if you have a choice, a wired connection is a tiny bit more secure then WiFi.
(also see the April 2011 edition of Ouch http://www.securingthehuman.org/newsletters/ouch/issues/OUCH-201104_en.pdf )
Will you get hacked "automatically as you have a coffee"? Who knows. But if, it may as well happen while you have the coffee at home. The risk isn't as much the location as a recent breach of PoS systems in hotels from Chicago to Merrillville shows.  . One of the great things about the internet is that distance doesn't really matter that much. Russian hackers can get to you while you (and they?) are in there PJs no matter where.
In the end, I am not sure if "TV magic" is the right way to educate users about the risks.
Posted by InfoSec News on Feb 05http://gizmodo.com/the-u-s-governments-cybersecurity-is-a-total-shitshow-1515947200