Crypto Exchange And XRP Refuge Bitsane Vanishes, Scamming As Many As 246,000 Users

Exchange for Ripple's XRP scam users.

Ireland-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitsane disappeared without a trace last week, likely taking hundreds of thousands of users’ assets with it.

Account holders told Forbes that attempts to withdraw bitcoin, XRP and other cryptocurrencies began failing in May, with Bitsane’s support team writing in emails that withdrawals were “temporarily disabled due to technical reasons.” By June 17, Bitsane’s website was offline and its Twitter and Facebook accounts were deleted. Emails to multiple Bitsane accounts are now returned as undeliverable.

Victims of the scam are comparing notes in a group chat with more than 100 members on the messaging app Telegram and in a similar Facebook group. Most users in the groups claim to have lost up to $5,000, but Forbes spoke with one person in the U.S. who says he had $150,000 worth of XRP and bitcoin stored in Bitsane.

Bitsane’s disappearance is the latest cautionary tale for a cryptocurrency industry trying to shed its reputation as an unsafe asset class. Several exchanges like GateHub and Binance have been breached by hackers this year, but an exchange completely ceasing to exist with no notice or explanation is far more unusual.

Bitsane had 246,000 registered users according to its website as of May 30, the last time its homepage was saved on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Its daily trading volume was $7 million on March 31, according to CoinMarketCap.

“I was trying to transfer XRP out to bitcoin or cash or anything, and it kept saying ‘temporarily disabled.’ I knew right away there was some kind of problem,” says the user who claims to have lost $150,000 and asked to remain anonymous. “I went back in to try to look at those tickets to see if they were still pending, and you could no longer access Bitsane.”

At the height of the cryptocurrency craze in late 2017 and early 2018, Bitsane attracted casual investors because it allowed them to buy and sell Ripple’s XRP, which at the time was not listed on Coinbase, the most popular U.S. cryptocurrency exchange. CNBC published a story on January 2, 2018 with the headline “How to buy XRP, one of the hottest bitcoin competitors.” It explained how to buy bitcoin or ethereum on Coinbase, transfer it to Bitsane and then exchange it for XRP.

Three of the five Bitsane users Forbes spoke to found out about the exchange through the CNBC article. Ripple also listed Bitsane as an available exchange for XRP on its website until recently. A Ripple spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Bitsane went live in November 2016 according to a press release, registering in Dublin as Bitsane LP under CEO Aidas Rupsys, and its chief technology officer was Dmitry Prudnikov. Prudnikov’s LinkedIn account has been deleted, and neither he nor Rupsys could be reached for comment.

A separate company, Bitsane Limited, was incorporated in England in August 2017 by Maksim Zmitrovich. He wanted to own the intellectual property rights to part of Bitsane’s code and use it for a trading platform his company, Azbit, was building. Zmitrovich says Bitsane’s developers insisted that their exchange’s name be on the new legal entity he was forming. But Azbit never ended up using any of the code since the partnership did not materialize, and Bitsane Limited did not provide any services to Bitsane LP.

On May 16, Bitsane Limited filed for dissolution because Zmitrovich wasn’t doing anything with it and the company’s registration was up for renewal. Some of the Bitsane exchange’s victims have found the public filing and suspected Zmitrovich as part of the scam, but he insists accusations against him are unfounded.

He says he hasn’t spoken to Prudnikov—who was in charge of negotiations with Azbit—in at least five months, and Prudnikov has not returned his calls since account holders searching for answers began contacting him. Azbit wrote a blog post about the Bitsane scam on June 13, explaining Bitsane Limited’s lack of involvement.

“I’m sick and tired of these accusations,” Zmitrovich says. “This company didn’t even have a bank account.”

The location of the money and whereabouts of any of Bitsane LP’s employees remain a mystery to the scam victims, who are unsure about what action to take next. Multiple account holders in the U.S. say they have filed complaints with the FBI, but all of them are concerned that their cash is gone for good.

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I’m a reporter on Forbes’ wealth team covering billionaires and their fortunes. I was previously an assistant editor reporting on money and markets for Forbes, and I covered stocks as an intern at Bloomberg. I graduated from Duke University in 2019, where I majored in math and was the sports editor for our student newspaper, The Chronicle. Send news tips to htucker@forbes.com.

Source: Crypto Exchange And XRP Refuge Bitsane Vanishes, Scamming As Many As 246,000 Users

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Critics:

Cryptocurrency and crime describes attempts to obtain digital currencies by illegal means, for instance through phishing, scamming, a supply chain attack or hacking, or the measures to prevent unauthorized cryptocurrency transactions, and storage technologies. In extreme cases even a computer which is not connected to any network can be hacked.

In 2018, around US$1.7 billion in cryptocurrency was lost due to scams theft and fraud. In the first quarter 2019, the amount of such losses was US$1.2 billion.

Exchanges

Notable cryptrocurrency exchange hacks, resulting in the theft of cryptocurrencies include:

  • Bitstamp In 2015 cryptocurrencies worth $5 million were stolen
  • Mt. Gox Between 2011 and 2014, $350 million worth of bitcoin were stolen
  • Bitfinex In 2016, $72 million were stolen through exploiting the exchange wallet, users were refunded.
  • NiceHash In 2017 more than $60 million worth of cryptocurrency was stolen.
  • Coincheck NEM tokens worth $400 million were stolen in 2018
  • Zaif $60 million in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Monacoin stolen in September 2018
  • Binance In 2019 cryptocurrencies worth $40 million were stolen.

Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC’s complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold “investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated” from mining.

Following its shut-down, in 2018 a class action lawsuit for $771,000 was filed against the cryptocurrency platform known as BitConnect, including the platform promoting YouTube channels. Prior fraud warnings in regards to BitConnect, and cease-and-desist orders by the Texas State Securities Board cited the promise of massive monthly returns.

OneCoin was a massive world-wide multi-level marketing Ponzi scheme promoted as (but not involving) a cryptocurrency, causing losses of $4 billion worldwide. Several people behind the scheme were arrested in 2018 and 2019.

See also

How Your Credit Card Information Is Stolen and What to Do About It

Your credit card information can be stolen right under your nose without the actual card leaving your possession. Unfortunately, most victims of this type of credit card theft don’t what’s happening until after their credit card account information has already been used. Often, fraudulent credit card charges are the first sign that credit card information has been stolen. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to clear your name and get your credit card accounts under control.

How Thieves Steal Credit Card Information

In many instances, thieves don’t steal your credit card information directly from you. Instead, they get it somewhere else in the credit card processing chain.

Hacking Into Other Businesses

Thieves can steal your information by breaching a company where you’ve used your credit card or a company that handles some aspect of credit card processing. Since data breaches target entire organizations, sometimes millions of consumers have their credit card information stolen, as was the case in the Equifax data breach of 2017.2

Skimming

A credit card skimmer is a small device that captures your credit card information in another otherwise legitimate transaction. Thieves secretly place credit card skimmers over the credit card swipe at gas stations and ATMs and retrieve the information captured.

Installing Malware or Viruses

Hackers can design software that’s downloaded in email attachments or other software and sits on your computer, tablet, or smartphone undetected. In one instance, hackers take advantage of public Wi-Fi to trick people into installing malware disguised as a software update. The software monitors your keystrokes or takes screenshots of your page and sends the activity to the thief

Phishing Scams

Thieves set up traps to trick consumers into giving up credit card information. They do this by phone, by email, through fake websites, and sometimes even via text message. In one scam, for example, you may verify some personal information in a call that you think is from your credit card issuer’s fraud department, but it’s really from a scammer. It’s important that you only give out your credit card and other personal information only in transactions you can be sure are safe.6

Dumpster Diving

Throwing away documents or receipts that have your full credit card number printed puts you at risk of theft. Always shred these documents before tossing them in the trash. Unfortunately, you can’t control how businesses dispose of their records. If they fail to shred records that contain credit card information, the information is at risk of being stolen.

What Thieves Do With Your Credit Card Information

If a thief gets access to your credit card information, they can profit from it in a few different ways. All of them can make life more difficult for you. Thieves can use your credit card information to buy things over the internet. It’s much easier for them to do this if they also have your billing zip code and the security code from the back of your credit card.

Thieves may also sell your credit card information on the dark web—and the more information they have, the more it’s worth. For example, it may be sold for a higher price if the thief also has your name, address, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and three-digit security code from your credit card.8

Thieves can also make legitimate-looking credit cards by programming your credit card information on a gift card or prepaid credit card. When the card is swiped, the transaction processes just like it would if you swiped your actual credit card.9

How to Know If Your Credit Card Information Has Been Stolen

This kind of credit card theft can go undetected for several months. It’s not like a physical credit card that you notice is missing. You likely won’t know until you notice unauthorized charges on your credit card account.

Don’t count on your bank to catch instances of credit card theft. Your credit card issuer may call you or freeze your account if they notice purchases outside your normal spending habits, but don’t take for granted that your bank will always notify you of potential fraud.

Monitor your credit card often and immediately report fraudulent purchases, regardless of the amount. It’s not enough to read through your transactions once a month when your credit card statement comes. Once a week is better, and daily or every other day will let you spot fraudulent purchases before the thief can do too much damage to your account. Some credit cards can send real-time transaction notifications to your smartphone.

Also pay attention to news regarding hacks and data breaches. News reports will often include the name of the store affected and the date or date range the data beach occurred. If you shopped during that time period, there’s a chance your credit card information was stolen.

What to Do If Your Credit Card Information is Stolen

It’s easy to know when your actual credit card has been stolen because your credit card is actually gone. It’s not as easy to know when your credit card information has been stolen. Often, you only notice signs that hint your credit card information has been stolen, like unauthorized purchases on your credit card.1

If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft of any kind, including having your credit card information stolen, then you can visit IdentityTheft.gov. The website, which was created by the Federal Trade Commission, will walk you through the steps you need to take to report it and recover.

Review your recent credit card transactions to see if there are any you didn’t make. Note the fraudulent charges you found. Even if you didn’t find any fraudulent charges, call your credit card issuer and let them know you think your credit card information has been stolen. Let your card issuer know of any transactions on your account that you didn’t authorize.

You have protection under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act if your credit information is stolen. You’re not liable for any unauthorized charges so long as you report the loss before your credit card is used. You must report the transactions to your credit card issuer so they can investigate and remove them from your account.

The credit card issuer will cancel your old credit card account, remove the fraudulent transactions from your account, and send a new credit card and a new credit card number. Continue monitoring the transactions on your new credit card. Also shred any documents with your credit card information on them. As soon as you start using your credit card, the details are at risk of being stolen.

Keeping Your Credit Card Information Safe

If you use your credit card at all, anywhere, your information is at risk. Still, there are a number of things you can do to keep your credit card information safe. That includes using strong passwords, being cautious about where you use your credit card, always using secure websites, and avoiding storing your credit card details in your web browser.13

By LaToya Irby

More Contents:

IRS & Global Tax Enforcers Expand War on Cryptocurrency Fraud

Tax authorities, both domestic and abroad, have been continuously building an arsenal of tools and experts to monitor and audit crypto transactions. This increased weaponry has led to a growing number of international arrests by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ), with each member organization arresting individuals allegedly involved in crypto fraud, and/or seizing funds from their activities.

Not surprisingly, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is keeping pace with these efforts and closing in on those who may have attempted to take advantage of the perceived anonymity of these transactions to evade taxes. As these tax authorities continue their collective efforts, the question becomes: who will be the next target of this expanding arsenal?

Crypto tracing for hire

Public records reveal that the IRS and other federal agencies have recently entered into agreements with a number of private cryptocurrency analytics companies to gain access to certain blockchain tracing software. This is unsurprising, given the US government’s recent outreach to members of the cryptocurrency community. For example, the IRS recently sought assistance from several cryptocurrency tax software companies for the audits of tax returns involving on-chain and off-chain cryptocurrency transactions.1

The statements of work for these arrangements provide that the IRS “is engaging outside contractors to assist our revenue agents in calculating taxpayers’ gains or losses as a result of their transactions involving virtual currency.” The DOJ is also advertising positions for crypto experts to assist law enforcement with “undercover operations on the Dark Web and undercover cryptocurrency transactions, technical skills and technology to perform block-chain analysis to trace transactions.”2

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CI), the largest federal law enforcement agency in the US Department of Treasury, is also expanding its crypto capabilities. As part of its Cryptocurrency Initiative, IRS CI recently issued a public request for tools related to cryptocurrency, including applications “to more easily trace privacy coins and other protocols that provide anonymity to illicit actors.” This coordinated effort by the IRS and other federal agencies to acquire crypto talent forecasts a looming crackdown on the use of virtual currency for illicit purposes, and those that facilitate its use for those purposes.

International enforcement: Pooling of resources

The global tax community has also pooled its resources to target crypto fraudsters. The J5, which consists of the leaders of the tax enforcement agencies in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, England, and the United States, was formed to investigate and combat cross-border tax and money laundering threats, including cybercrime, cryptocurrency, and enablers of global tax crimes. This has led to the J5 making several recent arrests involving certain cryptocurrency transactions. One of the J5’s stated missions is to “collaborate internationally to reduce the growing threat to tax administrations posed by cryptocurrencies and cybercrime and to make the most of data and technology.”

The J5 has held annual events known as “Challenges,” where investigators, cryptocurrency experts, and data scientists from the member nations exchange data and techniques. These combined efforts have led to an uptick in enforcement activity by member nations, including:

Two men were arrested in February 2020 in the Netherlands on suspicion of money laundering using cryptocurrencies via the subject crypto service provider. This arrest was the apparent culmination of the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service’s investigation of a crypto service provider discussed during the 2019 Challenge. The amount laundered was approximately US$118,800, indicating that the J5’s targets are not limited to the million-dollar players.

A Romanian programmer in Germany was arrested and pleaded guilty in July 2020, for conspiring to commit wire fraud and offering and selling unregistered securities. The activity is connected with the programmer’s role in a cryptocurrency mining scheme that defrauded investors of at least US$722 million worth of bitcoin.

The DOJ has also continued its enforcement efforts in earnest. Just last month, the DOJ:

  • Announced the seizure of millions of dollars in bitcoin associated with financing of terrorist organizations, including al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The operation involved, among other things, an investigation into certain alleged Syrian charities and also led to the unsealing of criminal charges for two Turkish individuals. Acting United States Attorney Michael R. Sherwin commented that this seizure, the largest of its kind, “reflect[s] the resolve . . . to target and dismantle these sophisticated cyber-terrorism and money laundering actors across the globe. While these individuals believe they operate anonymously in the digital space, we have the skill and resolve to find, fix and prosecute these actors under the full extent of the law.”
  • Filed a civil forfeiture complaint related to two hacks of virtual currency exchanges by North Korean actors. The complaint alleges that these North Korean players stole millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency and then laundered the same through Chinese over-the-counter crypto traders. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division proclaimed, “Today’s action publicly exposes the ongoing connections between North Korea’s cyber-hacking program and a Chinese cryptocurrency money laundering network.”
  • The first hack dates back to July 2019 when an agent tied to North Korea allegedly stole over US$272,000 worth of crypto. This agent then engaged in “chain hopping,” a process whereby the user converts cryptocurrency into other forms of crypto in order to make the illegal transactions more difficult to trace. Then, in September 2019, another agent with ties to North Korea hacked a US-based company, stealing nearly US$2.5 million in crypto.

Avoiding the land mines and risks: The time to act is now

The message is ominous. The recent J5 activity and the US government’s stockpiling of crypto experts and tracing software leaves little doubt that tax enforcement efforts in the crypto space is ramping up. Indeed, in its February 18, 2020, newsletter, the J5 warned that “it cannot be ruled out that more international investigations by the J5 countries will follow” from the data sharing at the Challenges.

At home, the DOJ, IRS, and IRS CI remain laser focused on abusive crypto schemes, as evidenced by their call to arms for crypto experts and tracing software. While the above DOJ actions focus on anti-money laundering activity, they demonstrate a growing familiarity with these systems which will lead to future cases in other areas, including tax evasion.

Thus, any company operating in this high-risk industry should consider whether its compliance measures are adequate to protect its systems from being used, purposefully or not, to further activity that may become the focus of the government’s increasing scrutiny in this space. This is especially so in light of the DOJ’s updated guidance for corporate compliance programs places greater emphasis on continuous data driven compliance programs that are responsive to industry risks.


Footnotes

1 Hamza Ali and Allyson Versprille, IRS Seeking Private Companies to Aid With Cryptocurrency Audits, Bloomberg Law: Tax 2 Dark Web and Cryptocurrency International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Attorney Advisor

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Windows 10 Users Beware New Hacker Attack Confirmed By Google, Microsoft

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know.

Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs.

Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure. Microsoft failed to issue a security patch within that hugely restrictive timeframe, and Google went ahead and published details of the zero-day vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2020-17087.

The bug itself sits within the Windows Kernel Cryptography Driver, known as cng.sys, and could allow an attacker to escalate the privileges they have when accessing a Windows machine. The full technical detail can be found within the Google Project Zero disclosure, but slightly more simply put, it’s a memory buffer-overflow problem that could give an attacker admin-level control of the targeted Windows computer. Recommended For You

While attackers are known to be actively targeting Windows systems right now, that doesn’t mean your system is going down. Firstly, I should point out that, according to a confirmation from Shane Huntley, director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, the attackers spotted exploiting the vulnerability are not targeting any U.S. election-related systems at this point. That’s good news, and there’s more.

While Microsoft has confirmed that the reported attack is real, it also suggests that it is limited in scope being targeted in nature. This is not, at least as of yet, a widespread broad-sweep exploit. Microsoft says that it has no evidence of any indication of widespread exploits.

PROMOTED Civic Nation BrandVoice | Paid Program Election Day On College Campuses: Not A Day Off, A Day On MORE FROM FORBESNew Windows 10 Remote Hacking Threat Confirmed-Homeland Security Says Update NowBy Davey Winder

Then there’s the attack itself which requires two vulnerabilities to be chained together for a successful exploit to happen. One of them has already been patched. That was a browser-based vulnerability, CVE-2020-15999, in Chrome browsers, including Microsoft Edge. As long as your browser is up to date, you are protected. Microsoft Edge was updated on October 22 while Google Chrome was updated on October 20.

There are no known other attack chains for the Windows vulnerability at this point. Which doesn’t mean your machine is 100% safe, as an attacker with access to an already compromised system could still exploit it. However, it does mean there’s no need to hit the panic button, truth be told. Microsoft has also confirmed that the vulnerability cannot be exploited to affect cryptographic functionality.

I reached out to Microsoft, and a spokesperson told me that “Microsoft has a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and update impacted devices to protect customers.”

As for that seven-day disclosure deadline from the Google Project Zero team, the Microsoft spokesperson said that “while we work to meet all researchers’ deadlines for disclosures, including short-term deadlines like in this scenario, developing a security update is a balance between timeliness and quality, and our ultimate goal is to help ensure maximum customer protection with minimal customer disruption.”

Although Microsoft has not commented on the likely timing of a security patch to prevent exploitation of this Windows vulnerability, the Project Zero technical lead, Ben Hawkes, has tweeted that it is expected as part of the Patch Tuesday updates on November 10.

How big a threat is this to your average Windows user? That remains to be seen, but currently I’d classify it as a be aware but don’t panic situation. Hang-fire, ensure your web browsers are bang up to date, and you should be fine. There are far more significant risks to your data than this zero-day attack, in my never humble opinion. Risks such as phishing in all forms, password reuse, lack of two-factor authentication and software that isn’t kept up to date with security patches.

MORE FROM FORBESHacker Uploads Own Fingerprints To Crime Scene In Dumbest Cyber Attack EverBy Davey Winder Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Davey Winder

Davey Winder

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

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Business News

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know. Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs. Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure.

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Coronavirus Fighting Supercomputers Cryptojacked to Mine Privacy Coin Monero (XMR)

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An array of supercomputers hosted at universities across Europe have been hijacked (or “cryptojacked”) in order to mine the privacy coin Monero (XMR).

Even worse, some of these computers had been dedicated to crunching numbers for research on COVID-19.

The intrusions occured on supercomputer clusters in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and probably Spain, according to a report by ZDnet.

Some of the compromised universities include Stuttgart, Ulm, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Tübingen University, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, the Technical University of Dresden, the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, and the Swiss Center of Scientific Computations.

The attackers likely gained access from compromised SSH login credentials given out to other universities in Canada, China and Poland, in order to access the supercomputing arrays. There is some evidence that the attacks were all carried out by the same group, although it is not conclusive.

A look at the recent hashrate on the Monero network shows a healthy pair of spikes in May to about 1.4 gigahashes/second, although this jump does not seem outside the realm of normalcy.

Not much change(source: Bitinfocharts.com)

CryptoGlobe recently reported that the hashrate on the Monero network had been mostly static even as the network’s transaction rate was on the rise.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pixabay.com

By Colin Muller

Source: https://www.cryptoglobe.com

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Cryptojacking has shaken up the cyber security landscape over the last two years. Here, we take an in-depth look at this cyber-crime trend. Download this report for more information on cryptojacking: https://resource.elq.symantec.com/cry…

CEOs Are Feeling Better About Data Security–but Hackers Aren’t Far Behind

No matter what you do to protect your business from hackers, cybersecurity will always be a moving target.

Increasingly sophisticated hacking techniques mean CEOs always have to stay one step ahead of the latest ploys. A November Inc. survey of CEOs and other senior executives from more than 150 Inc. 5000 companies asked respondents about their level of confidence in the security of both their company and personal data. The results: 53 percent of respondents said they feel more confident about the security of their company’s data now compared to five years ago, while just 28 percent said the same about their personal data.

Matt Singley, founder of Chicago real estate firm Pinnacle Furnished Suites, is concerned about new methods being used by hackers, but feels confident in his company’s defenses against them. One way the company minimizes the potential impact of a breach is by storing customer information only when necessary. Pinnacle also performs regular audits to purge its system of data it doesn’t need. “The only way to be completely secure with your data,” he says, “is to not store it.”

John Kailunas II, CEO of wealth management firm Regal Financial Group, says that the external threats his company faces have increased in both quantity and complexity. The company has countered this by adding required security awareness training for every employee and hiring cybersecurity consultants to recommend changes. Kailunas says cybersecurity is an issue that requires constant examination. “Still,” he adds, “we have seen a significant improvement in our ability to identify potential threats.”

Advances in hacking practices aren’t the only factor that have made security more challenging. “More and more, people are working from different devices that companies own,” says Shana Cosgrove, CEO of cloud software firm Nyla Technology Solutions, which provides software and cybersecurity services to the Department of Defense. “It’s a lot harder to handle security when you don’t own the entire platform.”

Jack Wight, CEO of device rebate company Buyback Boss, says his company is under near-constant attack from hackers trying to access bank account information. Scammers will spoof the company’s vendors over email and ask for wire payments, so Buyback Boss has implemented a policy of always calling vendors before sending payments. “Five years ago there just wasn’t as much of this going on,” he says. “Now we’re dealing with scammers almost on a daily basis.”

Claude Burns used to work in data security for the U.S. Navy before founding corporate beverage service Office Libations. He says his knowledge of the cybersecurity field has led him to be constantly on guard. “I don’t think any information is safe or secure,” he says. “Your personal information is out there. Companies whose whole job is to protect it, like Equifax, are getting breached and hacked repeatedly.”

Burns compares being hacked to getting in a car accident: Drive enough miles, and it’s going to happen eventually. For him, the key is making sure that if something does look weird, his team can detect it quickly. “That way,” he says, “when something does happen, you’re able to mitigate the damage from it. In other words, wear your seat belt.”

Source: CEOs Are Feeling Better About Data Security–but Hackers Aren’t Far Behind

Thanks Bitdefender for sponsoring this video! Try Bitdefender Total Security 2019 FREE for 90 days at https://lmg.gg/tqbitdefender There have been plenty of headlines about data breaches lately…but where does all that data go once it’s been stolen? Techquickie Merch Store: https://www.lttstore.com Follow: http://twitter.com/linustech Join the community: http://linustechtips.com Leave a reply with your requests for future episodes, or tweet them here: http://twitter.com/jmart604

Microsoft Issues Excel Security Alert As $100 Million ‘Evil Corp’ Campaign Evolves

Russian cybercriminal group Evil Corp is using Microsoft Excel to infect victims

Evil Corp may well be best known to millions of viewers of the Mr. Robot TV drama as the multi-national corporation that Elliot and FSociety hack. However, back in the real world, Evil Corp not only exists but is weaponizing Microsoft Excel to spread a malware payload. Researchers from Microsoft Security Intelligence have this week taken to Twitter to warn users to be alert to the ongoing campaign being run by Evil Corp, also known as TA505. Like most successful cybercriminals, Evil Corp is constantly evolving in terms of techniques and tools. The latest twist in this felonious tale involves Microsoft Excel as a payload delivery vehicle.

Who or what is Evil Corp?

Evil Corp, or TA505, is a Russia-based hacking group that has been credited with being the mastermind behind a $100 million (£76 million) global bank fraud. Two alleged members of Evil Corp were charged by U.S. prosecutors with bank fraud in December 2019, although both remain at large. One of them, Moscow-based Maksim Yakubets, is thought to be the Evil Corp leader and currently carries a $5 million (£3.8 million) bounty issued by the U.S. Justice Department. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has stated that Yakubets is believed to provide “direct assistance to the Russian government’s malicious cyber efforts.”

Thought to have been active since at least 2014, Evil Corp shows little sign of reigning back on the cybercrime activities it is renowned for: the distribution of banking Trojans and ransomware malware. New research from cyber-intelligence outfit Prevailon suggests that TA505 has compromised more than 1,000 organizations. Organizations that include two U.S. state government networks, two U.S. airlines and one of the world’s top 25 banks.

What is the Excel alert that Microsoft Security Intelligence researchers have tweeted?

In something of a tweetstorm on January 30, the Microsoft Security Intelligence team alerted users to a new and active malware campaign from the Evil Corp actors. After what the Microsoft researchers referred to as “a short hiatus” by Evil Corp, they warned that a new “Dudear” phishing campaign was up and running, still deploying an information-stealing Trojan known as GraceWire but doing so using tweaked tactics.

The use of HTML redirectors, to avoid having to use malicious links in emails or infected attachments, means that the threat actors can directly download a malicious Excel file on the victim to drop the Trojan payload. Not that there is no interaction from the user required, of course. The victim still needs to open the Excel file that is automatically downloaded, and they will still have to enable editing and enable content in order to be infected.

How can you mitigate against the Evil Corp Excel threat?

Microsoft is proving to be more than just reactive to malware threats, adopting a proactive position as far as these kinds of phishing campaigns are concerned. When the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center discovered an advanced persistent threat (APT) hacking group, thought to be operating out of North Korea, using carefully constructed fake domains to spoof victims into thinking they were dealing with Microsoft, a powerful legal counterpunch soon closed them down.

As far as this latest Evil Corp campaign is concerned, however, the biggest mitigation clue has already been given in my last paragraph: don’t enable editing of that Excel file you didn’t ask for, and certainly don’t enable content. Microsoft Security Intelligence has confirmed that Microsoft Threat Protection will stop this latest attack threat, Office 365 also detects malicious attachments and URLs used in such phishing emails. Finally, Microsoft Defender ATP will detect and block the Evil Corp threat trinity of malicious HTML, Excel file and payload.

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Source: Microsoft Issues Excel Security Alert As $100 Million ‘Evil Corp’ Campaign Evolves

How Hackers Bypass Gmail 2FA at Scale – Joseph Cox

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If you’re an at risk user, that extra two-factor security code sent to your phone may not be enough to protect your email account. Hackers can bypass these protections, as we’ve seen with leaked NSA documents on how Russian hackers targeted US voting infrastructure companies. But a new Amnesty International report gives more insight into how some hackers break into Gmail and Yahoo accounts at scale, even those with two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled.

They do this by automating the entire process, with a phishing page not only asking a victim for their password, but triggering a 2FA code that is sent to the target’s phone. That code is also phished, and then entered into the legitimate site so the hacker can login and steal the account. The news acts as a reminder that although 2FA is generally a good idea, hackers can still phish certain forms of 2FA, such as those that send a code or token over text message, with some users likely needing to switch to a more robust method.

“Virtually in that way they can bypass any token-based 2FA if no additional mitigations are implemented” Claudio Guarnieri, a technologist at Amnesty, told Motherboard in an online chat. 2FA is adding another layer of authentication onto your account. With token-based 2FA, you may have an app that generates a code for you to enter when logging in from an unknown device, or, perhaps most commonly, the service will send a text message containing a short code that you then type into your browser.

 

 

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