White House Braces for Cyber Terror Armageddon

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Oct 142014

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FOX Business reports, President Barack Obama said cyber terrorism is an enormous threat to national security. He adds the White House is bracing for a “possible doomsday scenario,” if hackers and scammers successfully permeate government and business computer systems or breach security firewalls at major banks. The president was sharing his thoughts on cyber terrorism recently at a fundraiser in New York City and a stop in Greenwich Connecticut.

“The president is worried that cyber criminals could literally wipe out the identities of millions of people through some breach of government systems and that could lead to massive chaos,” persons attending the events told FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino, breaking the White House candid revelation here.

President Obama said it “would take Bonnie and Clyde a thousand years to do what three people in a room with a server can now do.” Such hackers and scammers “could steal $100 million” in a relatively short time. They might be able to someday “take down the banking system,” if the nation’s cyber security does not improve, writes FOX Business.

The president said “15 years ago, cyber terrorism was not even on the radar screen, but that it will be one of the biggest concerns for whoever is president after him.” persons in attendance to the president’s events said to FOX Business.

“It’s not cyber war, it’s cyber terrorism, and I’m afraid the game is just beginning. Very soon, many countries around the world will know it beyond a shadow of a doubt,” Eugene Kaspersky told reporters at a Tel Aviv University cyber security conference.

Kaspersky stern warning came after researchers at Kaspersky Lab unearthed Flame, possibly the most complex infrastructure-sabotaging computer worm ever.

Flame attacks Windows operating systems and is capable of recording audio via a microphone, taking screen shots, turning Bluetooth-enabled computers into beacons to download names and phone numbers from other Bluetooth enabled devices.

“Software that manages industrial systems or transportation or power grids or air traffic must be based on secure operating systems. Forget about Microsoft, Linux or Unix,” Kaspersky warns.

Kaspersky believes that it is essential to “view cyber weapons with the same seriousness as chemical, biological and even nuclear threats.”

United States, Britain, India, Israel, China and Russia are among the countries capable of developing anti-Flame software, which Kaspersky estimates cost $100 million to develop.

Cyber Terror is a Growth Industry

These top 5 nations are spending the most on cybercrime, as a percentage of GDP: Germany at 1.6%, Netherlands at 1.5%, United States and Norway each at 0.64%, and China at 0.63%, according to a 2014 report of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), sponsored by McAfee and Intel.

Bottom-line takeaway: Beware where you click, no matter what website you’re visiting or what social media you’re using! #FixIt

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“Cybercrime is a growth industry. The returns are great, and the risks are low,” says CSIS. “We estimate that the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime is more than $400 billion. A conservative estimate would be $375 billion in losses, while the maximum could be as much as $575 billion. Even the smallest of these figures is more than the national income of most countries, and governments and companies underestimate how much risk they face from cybercrime, and how quickly this risk can grow.”

The Center for Strategic and International Studies finds that the most significant cost of cybercrime is degradation across the private-sector to the bottom-line performance of corporations, and deterioration across the public-sector to national economies.

“Cybercrime damages trade, competitiveness, innovation, and global economic growth,” CSIS points out. CSIS concludes, “What cybercrime means for the world is:

  1. The cost of cybercrime will continue to increase as more business functions move online and as more companies and consumers around the world connect to the Internet.
  2. Losses from the theft of intellectual property will also increase as acquiring countries improve their ability to make use of it to manufacture competing goods.
  3. Cybercrime is a tax on innovation and slows the pace of global innovation by reducing the rate of return to innovators and investors.
  4. Governments need to begin serious, systematic effort to collect and publish data on cybercrime to help countries and companies make better choices about risk and policy.”

Hackers & Spammers are Attacking Social Media with Worms, Spiders and Roaches

Where’s the online can of RAID?

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Global spam volume has been spirally upward for the first time in decades. The rise is attributed to those “growth hormone” offers as well as more global spam coming from emerging markets.

The rise of malicious and suspicious URLs increased 12%, as cybercriminals continued their movement away from malicious robots, as the primary distribution mechanism for malware. McAfee warns further that a “drive-by download” has the advantage of being less susceptible to law enforcement action.

“Cybercriminals have come to appreciate that sensitive personal and organizational information are the currency of their ‘hacker economy,’” explains Vincent Weafer, a McAfee senior vice president.

“The resurrection of Koobface reminds us that social networks continue to present a substantial opportunity for intercepting personal information. Within the enterprise, we see password-stealing Trojans evolving to become information-gathering tools for cyber-espionage attacks. Whether they target login credentials or intellectual property and trade secrets, highly targeted attacks are achieving new levels of sophistication,” Weafer warns.

Cybersecurity analysts say the way people save their sensitive online information feeds the malicious online worms, spiders and roaches. When hackers and scammers steal a Facebook or LinkedIn user’s log-in, contacts, and preferences, personal data is fed to the cyber-criminals, who can then tailor a more sophisticated social media spam campaign.

Facebook and LinkedIn are realizing that “sometimes scammers will set up a fake page to look like a Facebook login page or a LinkedIn user profile page, hoping to get you to enter your email address, password, or establish a LinkedIn connection inside an “Open Network” or “I connect with all invites” user offering. Once inside, the scam is on from the hacker, ranging from unethical deal making inside fake partnerships, to annoying online letter offers from fake trustees, asking you to be an illegal “patsy or mule” inside an international money laundering scheme of one million pounds or some other alternative international currencies.

Make sure you check the online social media page’s credibility or the URL (web address) before you provide any of your personal information or establish any kind of connection inside your network. Hackers and spammers feed off this inside information and bury themselves deep inside your followers and connections and reproduce their malicious worms, spiders and roaches inside your life and the lives of others, who are partnering to do business with you and your business.

Where’s that online can of RAID again?

Impact of Cyber Terror on Corporate Interests

President Obama’s recent remarks in New York and Connecticut come as JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank by assets, disclosed a massive cyber attack in which a hackers obtained the names and addresses of 76 million households. The bank said the hackers did not obtain more sensitive information, and were not able to access the personal accounts of customers, FOX Business reports.

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Corporate America is increasingly alarmed and concerned about cybersecurity and data breaches, including digital assaults and attacks, which I discussed in a recent LinkedIn article entitled, “Digital Assaults are Defeating Our Digital Devices.”

All we need is one’s zip code, gender, and date of birth to identify 87 percent of the population inside the United States. As ‘big data’ gets bigger and ‘cloud-streaming’ fills our sky, digital assaults are destroying our digital devices at alarming rates. Cyber-attacks, terrorism, interstate conflict, natural and man-made disasters, healthcare services and economic assaults are the top five global threats to American and international security.

Make no mistake access to our information is easy nowadays. How vulnerable are we to cyber-security attacks and assaults?

“Cyber-assaults on the nation’s critical infrastructure are on the rise at alarming rates,” I said to Government Security News. #FixIt

Massachusetts-based store, TJ Max, shocked consumers when it first disclosed back in 2007 that hackers had gained access to more than 45 million credit and debit card accounts. Seven years later in 2014, five major digital assaults by hackers and scammers have infected secured data systems at retail stores, hotel chains, and even Internet services, like Zappos, Yahoo, and LinkedIn.

A British telecom company now has a corporate policy it will no longer make Yahoo Mail the default email service for its 6 million customers after hackers and spammers with malicious malware infected too many customers with their online worms, spiders, and roaches. Yahoo Mail has been “plagued by security vulnerabilities, and many customers have been under assault from hackers. They have complained of an increase in spam sent to their contacts and being locked out of their accounts by hackers who hijacked their passwords.”

From huge retailers, like Target, wherein hackers hit 40 million credit and debit card accounts in December 2013, to Home Depot, where scammers breached 56 million consumer credit accounts in September 2014, and even recently your neighborhood corner ice cream shop, Dairy Queen, major firms have had major online data security breaches affecting consumers of corporate firms’ products and services.

Go Local has compiled a list of ten major security breaches, which is also summarized here, that have occurred that you need to stay closely aware of so you can continue to protect yourself as consumers, because such security breaches are rising and continuing.

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White Lodging Services – Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Westin

February 2014

Number of affected customers yet to be determined

White Lodging Services, whose large hotel holdings include Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, The Westin, Radisson, Renaissance, and Holiday Inn, announced that the firm’s online consumer data security had been hacked. A data breach occurred at 14 of the holding company’s properties including Marriott, Radisson, Renaissance, Sheraton, Westin and Holiday Inn franchises around the country. The digital assaults may have included a breach of information about hospitality consumer names printed on credit or debit cards, the actual numbers, the security codes and expiration dates.

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Michaels Stores

January 2014

Number of affected customers yet to be determined

Michaels Stores announced that it was looking into a possible data security breach that may have led to customers’ debit and credit card information being compromised. Michaels has more than 1,250 locations in the United States.

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January 2014

Up to 81 million users in the United States impacted

Yahoo disclosed its email customers may have had their passwords compromised through a third-party application. The web company recently identified a coordinated effort to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo Mail accounts. The internet email service firm immediately asked users to reset passwords on all email accounts the firm found were impacted.

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Neiman Marcus

January 2014

1.1 million consumers affected

Premium retailer Neiman Marcus revealed more than 1.1 million customers’ secure information was breached by a digital assault to the retailer’s secured data system. Between July 2013 and October 2013, customer payment cards could have been potentially visible to digital hackers and scammers. Neiman Marcus disclosed further that 2,400 unique customer payment cards used at the high-end retailer’s stores were eventually used fraudulently.

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December 2013

110 million consumers impacted

Target announced that 70 million consumers’ personal information was breached, as well as 40 million customer accounts hacked, as criminals gained access to encrypted PIN numbers, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates, and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on the back of cards.

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Adobe Systems

October 2013

150 million customers affected

Computer software giant, Adobe, disclosed that hackers obtained personal data for almost 38 million of its customers, including names, credit and debit card numbers, and expiration dates. Adobe later discovered in November 2013 that the hackers had posted the personal data of more than 150 million Adobe users.

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January 2012

24 million customers affected

Online retail store, Zappos, announced that it had been hacked, exposing the names, addresses, phone numbers, partial credit card numbers, and email addresses of 24 million customers. Zappos immediately sent emails to all customers directing them to change their passwords.

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Global Payment Systems

March 2012

7 million customers affected

Credit card processor service, Global Payment Systems, discovered that 1.5 million credit card records had been stolen from its secured data system. About 5.5 million additional consumer records were compromised as a result of the digital assault, bringing the total to 7 million.

Global Payments was delisted from the payment card networks until it could prove it was in compliance with security standards. In April 2013, the payment card networks returned Global Payments its client list after it proved it was compliant with security standards.

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April 2011

77 million digital game consumers affected

Sony was hacked through its PlayStation Network twice. The first security breach exposed customers’ personal information to hackers, but not their credit card information. A follow-on digital assault did result in customers’ credit card information being stolen. The pair of digital assaults affected 77 million people.

Two weeks after the double digital assaults, Sony released a PlayStation 3 firmware update as a security patch, requiring users to change their password.

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March 2011

Tens of millions affected

Epsilon, the world’s largest permission-based email marketing service with more than 2,500 clients sending 40 billion emails annually, announced that the names and email addresses of customers of Citigroup, TiVo, and many other U.S. companies, were exposed in a massive data security breach. The large-scale digital assault affected names and email addresses stored in over 108 retail stores, major financial firms, and non-profit organizations, like The College Board, imposing potential FERPA legal risks and implications.

Epsilon notified its corporate clients of the breach on April 1, 2011. Epsilon’s corporate clients then notified their customers about the digital assault and data security breach. Epsilon stated that 50 clients were affected, but the exact number of names and email addresses has not been released. Computerworld.com estimated that “tens of millions” of people were affected.

Adobe Call Center:

Target Call Center:

Neiman Marcus Call Center:

Yahoo Call Center:

Michaels Stores Call Center:

White Lodging Call Center: .

For more information, Rhode Islanders may contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Office of Attorney General at or by email at contactus@riag.ri.gov.


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