Equifax has revealed the extent of a security breach that occurred earlier this year. It is thought that 2.5 million more Americans than previously thought may have had information compromised in the huge cyber security breach at the firm. This means that a total of 145.5 million customers were affected.
Critics say that the company failed to take proper steps to guard information – such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses – and waited too long to inform the public.
Equifax disclosed the attack last month, estimating that around 400,000 Britons and 100,000 Canadians may also have had data compromised.
Richard Smith, former boss of Equifax, is to testify in Congress about the attack. He apologised ahead of the hearing for the firm’s failing and urged the US to adopt new standards for customer credit information. Mr smith said that the attack made him believe that consumers should have sole control over when their credit information may be accesses.
Mr Smith also offered a timeline of events of the incident –
- first attack occurred in May – with hackers taking advantage of a software vulnerability that Equifax was warned about in March and did not address
- An intrusion was identified on the 29th July
- An investigation ordered by the company revealed the enormity of the attack by mid-August
Mr Smith said Equifax faced a huge task to prepare to respond to customers. The firm was overwhelmed by calls after the breach became public and faced problems with the website it created to address customer complaints.
Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (2nd October)
Alphabet’s Google has struck a $1.1bn (£822m) deal with Taiwan’s HTC to expand its smartphone business. Google will not take a stake in the firm, but will acquire a team of people who develop Pixel smartphones for the US company and receive a non-exclusive license for HTC’s intellectual property. According to HTC half their smartphone research and development team – about 2000 people – will go to Google.
HTC was once a major player in the smartphone market but has struggled to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung. Google expects the deal to close by early 2018 – provided it gets the all clear from regulators. This deal marks a move by Google to boost its hardware capabilities.
HTC makes Vive, the VR headset favoured by Google, as the alternative Oculus Rift is owned by Facebook. Vive is reportedly outselling Oculus Rift by a margin of nearly two to one, albeit with modest numbers, but is recognised by many as the superior system.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (21st September)
More than 2 million users of anti-malware tool CCleaner installed a version of the software that had been hacked to include malware. Piriform, the developer of CCleaner now owned by security firm Avast, says its download servers were compromised at some point between 15th August, when it released version v5.33.6162 of the software, and the 12th of September, when it updated the servers with a new version.
In that period, a Trojan was loaded into the download package which sent ‘non-sensitive data’ from infected users’ computers back to a server located in America. The data, according to Piriform, included ‘computer name’, IP address, list of installed software, list of active software, list of network adapters.
As well as the data leak, however, the infection also resulted in a ‘second stage payload’ being installed on to the infected computer – another piece of malware, which Piriform says was never executed.
The company says 2.27m users were infected, but added that ‘we believe that these users are safe now as our investigation indicates we were able to disarm the threat before it was able to do any harm.’
Compromising downloads to trusted software is an increasingly common route by which malware authors infect devices. The method is known as a ‘supply chain’ attack. It works because the attackers are relying on the trust relationship between a manufacturer or supplier and a customer.
www.theguardian.com/uk/technology (19th September)
Microsoft has confirmed that some users of Outlook are unable to send emails or access their accounts.
Hundreds of users from around Europe have commented on the website Downdetector that they have been affected by the problem.
A common issue seems to be that emails remain in the draft folder and are not being delivered to recipients.
‘Intermittent connectivity is affecting customers in some European countries, which we are working to resolve as soon as possible,’ said a Microsoft representative. They are monitoring the environment while connectivity recovers.
www.bbc.technews (19th September)
A Russian-funded campaign to promote divisive social and political messages on its network has been discovered by Facebook. Approximately, £77,000 has been spent on over 3000 ads over a two year period.
The adverts did not back any political figures specifically, but instead posted on topics such as immigration, race and equal rights. Facebook has said it is co-operating with a US investigation into the matter. The advertisements were in breach of Facebook’s terms and conditions and spread false information to around 470 accounts
“The ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum,” the company said in a blog post published on Wednesday.
The company said it believed, but could not independently confirm, that the accounts were created by the so-called Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based group known for posting pro-Kremlin messages on social media.
The accounts in question have now been shut down.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (7th September 17)
Research from Google suggests that cyber thieves have made in the region of £19m over the past two years.
‘It has become a very, very profitable market and is here to stay,’ said Elie Bursztein from Google who, along with colleagues Kylie McRoberts and Luca Invernizzi carried out the research.
Ransomware is a malicious software that infects a machine and then encrypts or scrambles files so they no longer can be used or read. The files are only decrypted when a ransom is paid.
The data gathered showed that there were 34 variants of ransomware, the most popular being Locky and Cerber.
Mr Bursztein said that the gangs behind the ransomware explosion were not likely to stop soon, even though there is competition from newer variants such as SamSam and SPora.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (27the July 2017)