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State Department and White House Networks Hacked at the Same Time

The State Department’s unclassified email system was compromised in recent weeks, at the same time as a White House network, and officials took the State system offline. This is according to department officials.

The maintenance has disrupted email traffic of State Dept. employees and the ability to access public websites, a senior department official told Nextgov. State expects systems to be back up soon.

It is believed hackers backed by a nation state, likely Russia or China, infiltrated the White House system in September or October. Officials were still working to suppress abnormal behavior on that network as recently as late October.

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It is unclear why officials waited this late to disconnect potentially infected systems at State.

 “The department recently detected activity of concern in portions of its unclassified email system,” the official said. “There was no compromise of any of the department’s classified systems.”

The official declined to comment on the identities of the attackers or how long the suspicious activity had been going on.

The event was detected “simultaneously” to the White House incident, the official said. The repairs had been specifically planned for now. State is bolstering the security “of its main unclassified network during a scheduled outage of some Internet-linked systems,” the official said.

Highly sophisticated malware isn’t limited to relatively high-profile sabotage code like Stuxnet — sometimes, it’s designed to fly well under the radar. Symantec has discovered Regin, a very complex trojan that has been spying on everyone from governments to individuals since at least 2008. The malware is highly modular, letting its users customize their attacks depending on whether they need to remote control a system, get screenshots or watch network traffic. More importantly, it’s uncannily good at covering its tracks. Regin is encrypted in multiple stages, making it hard to know what’s happening unless you capture every stage; it even has tools to fight forensics, and it can use alternative encryption in a pinch. Researchers at Symantec suspect that the trojan is a government-created surveillance tool, since it likely took “months, if not years” to create.

If it is meant for spying, though, it’s not clear just who wrote the malware or why. Unlike Dragonfly and other instances of professionally-made malware, Regin’s origin hasn’t been narrowed down to a particular country or region. About half of the infections have taken place in Russia and Saudi Arabia, but you can also find victims across India, Iran and multiple European nations. Also, it’s definitely not limited to telecoms or other high-value targets — 48 percent of known victims are people and small businesses. While Regin could easily be part of an online espionage campaign, it’s hard to rule anything out at this point.

[Image credit: Patrick Lux/Getty Images]

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Via: Financial Times

Source: Symantec Follow @DailyTechWhip

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

The post Sophisticated malware has been spying on computers since 2008 appeared first on Daily Tech Whip.

Postal Service says it is victim of hacking attack

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service said Monday it is the victim of a cyberattack and that information about its employees, including Social Security numbers, may have been compromised.

The FBI and other federal agencies are investigating, the agency said in a statement.

Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said personal information that may have been obtained in the attack includes…

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LISTEN: Israel considers attack on Iran as talks produce no deal; Gorbachev organizes new int'l body (Second Coming Watch Sunday Roundup #44)

LISTEN: Israel considers attack on Iran as talks produce no deal; Gorbachev organizes new int’l body (Second Coming Watch Sunday Roundup #44)

Daniel Whyte III

[ca_audio url_mp3=”https://www.buzzsprout.com/4994/223111-israel-considers-attack-on-iran-as-talks-produce-no-deal-gorbachev-organizes-new-int-l-body-second-coming-watch-sunday-roundup-44.mp3” url_ogg=”” download=”true” align=”none”] (Download/Listen to MP3)

This is the Second Coming Watch Sunday Roundup for November 23, 2014. On the Roundup we feature the top 10 prophecy-related…

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U.S. Postal Service data breach may compromise staff, customer details

By Doina Chiacu WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Postal Service was the victim of a cyber attack that may have compromised the personal information of more than 800,000 employees, as well as data on customers who contacted its call center during the first eight months of this year. Employee data may include names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, beginning and end dates of employment and emergency contact information, the Postal Service said on Monday. … http://dlvr.it/7TQDyt

NSA: China and '1 or 2 other countries' have ability to shut down U.S. power grid (Second Coming Watch Update #538 with Daniel Whyte III)

NSA: China and ’1 or 2 other countries’ have ability to shut down U.S. power grid (Second Coming Watch Update #538 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III

[ca_audio url_mp3=”https://www.buzzsprout.com/4994/222982-nsa-china-and-1-or-2-other-countries-have-ability-to-shut-down-u-s-power-grid-second-coming-watch-update-538.mp3” url_ogg=”” download=”true” align=”none”] (Download/Listen to MP3)

Let’s take a quick look at today’s prophecy-related headlines which point towards the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the end of the…

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Online criminals aren’t just trying to extract ransoms from unsuspecting individuals; they’re targeting whole cities, too. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has revealed that hackers tried to hold a city database hostage in April, demanding 2,000 Bitcoins (currently worth about $803,500) before they handed it back. Thankfully, the emphasis is on “tried.” As Duggan explains, Detroit wasn’t even using that database any more — it simply ignored the ransom request.

Not that Motor City is taking the attempt too lightly. Duggan sees it as a “warning sign” that Detroit needs to catch up on its technology infrastructure; accordingly, there are security updates underway. It might be a race against time. While the local government’s network escaped any serious danger in the spring, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be lucky the next time around.

[Image credit: soloway / Alamy]

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Via: Detroit Metro Times, RT

Source: The Detroit News Follow @DailyTechWhip

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

The post Hackers tried to hold a Detroit city database hostage appeared first on Daily Tech Whip.

The anatomy of a data breach: stolen details in demand on shadowy secondary markets

Graphic by Daniela Guzman, dguzman@acfcs.org
November 13, 2014

In the online arms race between cyber criminals with viral smart bombs and companies crafting ever more ironclad virtual vaults to keep them out, it seems this year that the bad guys have taken down more than their fair share of key strongholds – from big banks and their coveted cache of financial data to retailers replete with customer card details – though the war is far from over.

Once breached, the data is scrutinized by the unscrupulous, sifted and shifted much like prospectors panning for gold. They want to cull their haul, to pull out the most critical details, which will then be bundled together, repackaged for resale and sent or sold to conspirators around the world to keep the criminal enterprise running. This is all typically done in an incredibly tight time frame, in some cases minutes or even hours, to maximize the amount of money stolen or packages purloined before banks turn the leaky spigot off and investigators attempt to follow them down the rabbit hole.

ACFCS created a presentation to explain what happens before, during and after a cyber attack, following the data through this elaborate web of financial crime.

State Department Hacked

A U.S. national flag and its shadow on the Harry S. Truman Building at the Department of State are pictured in Washington, in this October 24, 2014 file photo.
CREDIT: REUTERS/LARRY DOWNING/FILES

The U.S. State Department’s unclassified email systems were the victim of a cyberattack in recent weeks, around the same time as White House systems were breached, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.

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The US government is no stranger to dealing with cyberattacks, but it just took a rare and relatively extreme step to keep itself safe. The State Department shut down its entire unclassified email system this weekend to bolster its defenses after spotting “activity of concern” (read: potential data breaches) that happened at the same time as an earlier hack that targeted the White House. Officials aren’t naming culprits at this stage — they’ve pinned some previous attacks on China and Russia, but it’s not clear that there was digital warfare involved this time around. More details are expected to come once the security upgrades are in place, so you may get a better sense of what happened in the near future.

[Image credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]

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Source: AP (SFGate) Follow @DailyTechWhip

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

The post State Department shuts down unclassified email to cope with hack appeared first on Daily Tech Whip.