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News This Week

 

NEWS THIS WEEK: Kaspersky ban underway for U.S. agencies; Equifax data breach lawsuits pile up; Europe plans new agency to quell cyber threats

By Byron V. Acohido

The U.S. government moved to ban the use of a Russian brand of security software by federal agencies amid concerns the company has ties to state-sponsored cyber espionage activities. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke ordered that federal civilian agencies identify Kaspersky Lab software on their networks. After 90 days, unless otherwise directed, they must remove the software, on the grounds that the company has connections to the Russian government, and its software poses a security risk. The Department of Homeland Security “is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Equifax admits losing data for 143 consumers; Symantec finds dozens of U.S. power plants compromised; Trump wants hacked email lawsuit thrown out

By Byron V. Acohido

Credit-reporting agency Equifax said hackers gained access to sensitive personal data—Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses—for up to 143 million Americans, a major cybersecurity breach at a firm that serves as one of the three major clearinghouses for credit histories. Equifax said the breach began in May and continued until it was discovered in late July. It said hackers exploited a “website application vulnerability” and obtained personal data about British and Canadian consumers as well as Americans. Social Security numbers and birth dates are particularly sensitive data, giving those who possess them the ingredients for identity fraud and other crimes. Equifax also lost control of an unspecified …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Scammers target hurricane victims; pacemakers at risk of being hacked; Tillerson signals closure of cybersecurity office

By Byron V. Acohido

Scammers are using robocalls to try to fleece survivors of Hurricane Harvey. The robocalls tell people that their premiums are past due and that they must send money immediately or else have their flood insurance canceled. “That is pure fraud. You should only be taking information from trusted sources,” said Roy E. Wright, director of the National Flood Insurance Program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Saundra Brown, who handles disaster response for Lone Star Legal Aid in Houston, described a typical move by dishonest contractors: They ask a survivor to sign a contract for repairs on a digital tablet, but when printed out, the bid is thousands of dollars higher. Or the survivor may have unwittingly …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Identity theft hits record levels globally; Researchers find robots susceptible to hacks; Sen. McCain calls Trump’s cybersecurity policy ‘weak’

By Byron V. Acohido

In the news this week, identity theft is reaching “epidemic levels,” says U.K. fraud prevention group Cifas, with people in their 30s the most targeted group. A total of 89,000 cases were recorded in the first six months of the year, a 5 percent increase over the same period last year and a new record. “We have seen identity fraud attempts increase year on year, now reaching epidemic levels, with identities being stolen at a rate of almost 500 a day,” said Cifas CEO Simon Dukes. “The vast amounts of personal data that is available either online or through data breaches is only making it easier.” ID theft accounts for more than half the fraud that Cifas records. …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Ukrainian hacker with tied to DNC hack surrenders; Uber agrees to improve privacy; Scottish paliament hacked

By Byron V. Acohido

In the news this week, a Ukrainian hacker called “Profexer” who built one of the tools used to penetrate the Democratic National Committee servers last year has turned himself in to authorities. The man, who first contacted Ukrainian police earlier this year, claims he wrote a piece of software called the PAS Web shell, which the Department of Homeland Security has identified as malware used in the hack. The hacker maintains that he wasn’t behind the attack, which resulted in the release of thousands of emails sent by DNC staffers during the presidential campaign. Because there is no evidence that he used the tool to carry out the attack, he wasn’t arrested. Profexer is in touch with …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Walmart tracks customers’ facial expressions; teachers hacked; Asians seek cyber insurance

By Byron V. Acohido

In news this week, Walmart has filed a patent for video technology to track customers’ facial expressions as they shop, potentially allowing employees to address customer needs before they have to ask. The system would use video to scan for customers who are frustrated or unhappy if they can’t find a product or figure out pricing. The system also could see when a display or product pleases shoppers. According to the patent filing, Walmart says it’s easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. Walmart also will use the technology to analyze trends in shoppers’ purchase behavior over time, according to the patent filing. The system links customers’ facial expressions to their transaction data—meaning how much they’re …more

NEWS THIS WEEK: Anthem exposes medicare patients’ records; hackers easily break into voting machines; white supremisist hacks billboards

By Byron V. Acohido

In news this week, it turns out the HBO hack may have been far worse than the initial leaks of a few unaired TV show episodes suggested. A security company hired by HBO to scrub search results for the hacked files from search engines says hackers stole “thousands of Home Box Office internal company documents.” The disclosure came as part of a takedown notice sent to Google to force the search engine to take down links to the leaked files. The notice also detailed that the hackers did away with “masses of copyrighted items including documents, images, videos and sound.” Hackers approached media outlets with the news that they had broken into HBO’s networks and released episodes …more