In-depth security news and investigation
  1. E-Verify’s “SSN Lock” is Nothing of the Sort

    One of the most-read advice columns on this site is a 2018 piece called "Plant Your Flag, Mark Your Territory," which tried to impress upon readers the importance of creating accounts at websites like those at the Social Security Administration, the IRS and others before crooks do it for you. A key concept here is that these services only allow one account per Social Security number -- which for better or worse is the de facto national identifier in the United States. But KrebsOnSecurity recently discovered that this is not the case with all federal government sites built to help you manage your identity online. A reader who was recently the victim of unemployment insurance fraud said he was told he should create an account at the Department of Homeland Security's myE-Verify website, and place a lock on his Social Security number (SSN) to minimize the chances that ID thieves might abuse his identity for employment fraud in the future.
  2. Ransomware Gangs Don’t Need PR Help

    We've seen an ugly trend recently of tech news stories and cybersecurity firms trumpeting claims of ransomware attacks on companies large and small, apparently based on little more than the say-so of the ransomware gangs themselves. Such coverage is potentially quite harmful and plays deftly into the hands of organized crime. Often the rationale behind couching these events as newsworthy is that the attacks involve publicly traded companies or recognizable brands, and that investors and the public have a right to know. But absent any additional information from the victim company or their partners who may be affected by the attack, these kinds of stories and blog posts look a great deal like ambulance chasing and sensationalism.
  3. COVID-19 ‘Breach Bubble’ Waiting to Pop?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for banks to trace the source of payment card data stolen from smaller, hacked online merchants. On the plus side, months of quarantine have massively decreased demand for account information that thieves buy and use to create physical counterfeit credit cards. But fraud experts say recent developments suggest both trends are about to change -- and likely for the worse.
  4. Russian Cybercrime Boss Burkov Gets 9 Years

    A well-connected Russian hacker once described as “an asset of supreme importance” to Moscow was sentenced on Friday to nine years in a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to running a site that sold stolen payment card data, and to administering a highly secretive crime forum that counted among its members some of the most elite Russian cybercrooks.
  5. New Charges, Sentencing in Satori IoT Botnet Conspiracy

    The U.S. Justice Department today criminally charged a Canadian and a Northern Ireland man for allegedly conspiring to build multiple botnets that enslaved hundreds of thousands of routers and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices for use in large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. In addition, a defendant in the United States was sentenced to drug treatment and 18 months community confinement for his admitted role in the conspiracy.
  6. ‘BlueLeaks’ Exposes Files from Hundreds of Police Departments

    Hundreds of thousands of potentially sensitive files from police departments across the United States were leaked online last week. The collection, dubbed "BlueLeaks" and made searchable via a new website by the same name, stems from a security breach at a Texas web design and hosting company that maintains a number of state law enforcement data-sharing portals online.
  7. Turn on MFA Before Crooks Do It For You

    Hundreds of popular websites now offer some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA), which can help users safeguard access to accounts when their password is breached or stolen. But people who don't take advantage of these added safeguards may find it far more difficult to regain access when their account gets hacked, because increasingly thieves will enable multi-factor options and tie the account to a device they control. Here's the story of one such incident.
  8. FEMA IT Specialist Charged in ID Theft, Tax Refund Fraud Conspiracy

    An information technology specialist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was arrested this week on suspicion of hacking into the human resource databases of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 2014, stealing personal data on more than 65,000 UPMC employees, and selling the data on the dark web.
  9. When Security Takes a Backseat to Productivity

    "We must care as much about securing our systems as we care about running them if we are to make the necessary revolutionary change." -CIA's Wikileaks Task Force. So ends a key section of a report the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency produced in the wake of a mammoth data breach in 2016 that led to Wikileaks publishing thousands of classified documents stolen from the agency's offensive cyber operations division. The analysis highlights a shocking series of security failures at one of the world's most secretive organizations, but the underlying weaknesses that gave rise to the breach also unfortunately are all too common in many organizations today.
  10. Privnotes.com Is Phishing Bitcoin from Users of Private Messaging Service Privnote.com

    For the past year, a site called Privnotes.com has been impersonating Privnote.com, a legitimate, free service that offers private, encrypted messages which self-destruct automatically after they are read. Until recently, I couldn't quite work out what Privnotes was up to, but today it became crystal clear: Any messages containing bitcoin addresses will be automatically altered to include a different bitcoin address, as long as the Internet addresses of the sender and receiver of the message are not the same.

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