These days, it appears as if no one is safe from hackers. Just a week after the security firm Kaspersky announced that they had been hacked comes word that LastPass, a password security company, has been hacked as well.
We might be entering a whole new era of malware, one where even those who lack any semblance of deep technical expertise will be able to acquire and disseminate viruses and the like on the fly.
Speaking to this point, security researchers at McAfee recently discovered a new piece of software which makes it exceedingly easy for anyone to create their own ransomware. The online software, which runs on TOR, is called Tox and, believe it or not, is completely free to use. The developers of the software aim to make money on the back end by taking a cut of any successful ransomware campaigns its users run.
Here’s how it all works.
A new in-depth study from Google reveals that the security questions most individuals use as an additional layer of security are often less secure and easier to guess than user-chosen passwords. This is especially problematic given that security questions are often the only line of defense when a password is forgotten and needs to be resent or reset.
Interestingly enough, Google found that security questions tend to be weak because many individuals lie when answering them. Specifically, Google discovered that many people who provide fake answers to security questions do so to make them harder to guess. But as it turns out, “on aggregate this behavior had the opposite effect as people harden their answers in a predictable way.” Compounding the problem is that many users, as a result, also have a difficult time remembering their security question answers in the first place. This is especially true when the questions chosen are exceedingly specific.
500 million Android devices at risk: Researchers find that factory reset doesn’t completely wipe data
One of the most important things to do before selling or giving away a used smartphone is to wipe the device clean. After all, the last thing anyone wants is for a complete stranger to have access to all of their personal data. Unfortunately for Android users, researchers from Cambridge University recently discovered that performing a data wipe on Android devices doesn’t clear the device as one would expect.
Because people are generally unable to come up with rock-solid passwords on their own, many websites that require user-generated passwords employ “password strength meters” which inform users how secure their chosen password is.
If you choose “Puppy” as a password, you’re liable to be told your password is weak and encouraged, if not downright forced, to pick a new one. On the other hand, picking something like “24DoYz@93mU” will likely see you pass with a “strong password” blessing.
Now, new research has discovered that the reliability of many password strength meters themselves may not be all its cracked up to be.
Given the myriad of security mechanisms and technologies tech companies have developed, it’s easy to fall into a sense of complacency and think that what you’re doing is safe from prying eyes.
Truth be told, if skilled attackers really want to see what you’re up to online, there’s not really much you can do to stop them.
Case in point: Last week at the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition, all 4 major browsers were exploited.Safari, Firefox, IE, Google Chrome — none of these browsers can provide safe refuge from hackers.
While the NSA certainly has the technical chops to eavesdrop, monitor, and intercept all types of electronic communications, they’re also not afraid to employ more straightforward and simpler spycraft methods when it comes to keeping an eye on enemies of the state.
Former NSA director Keith Alexander will charge companies up to $1 million a month to keep them safe from online hackers, Foreign Policy reports. Apparently Alexander and business partners from IronNet Cybersecurity have founded a new firm after leaving the government and military in March. The company supposedly offers a new technology that has a “unique” approach when it comes to detecting hackers online. More →
More documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden detail another bulk data collection spying initiative that consists of monitoring services like Facebook and Google’s YouTube and Blogger in order to accurately observe trends with the general, worldwide population, and even predict certain events. NBC News has obtained a copy of a presentation delivered by GCHQ to the NSA in 2012 that details a “Squeaky Dolphin” mass surveillance program – a real-time user and data collection initiative that monitors YouTube views, Facebook likes and Blogspot or Blogger visits for analysis. More →
Security firm AVG on Tuesday updated its PrivacyFix security app for Android devices to include mobile location tracking features that would prevent stores and advertisers to track users by monitoring their Wi-Fi connectivity habits. According to Forbes, the app, which also allows users to manage privacy settings across websites, will henceforward block Android devices from transmitting their MAC address when their owners are out and about, by blocking Wi-Fi access to untrusted hotspots. More →
Eight tech giants have joined forces demanding NSA reform in a “Global Government Surveillance Reform” campaign, including AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, The Hill reports. The companies have expressed their requests in an open letter to Obama and members of Congress, and listed five governing principles that should be used for surveillance reform on the campaign’s website. More →