Week in security: hackers and government working together

Governments and hackers may not have always seen eye-to-eye, but NSA head Keith Alexander bridged that gap by asking hackers at the Defcon conference for their help in securing the Internet. As he should: with Defcon over and another Black Hat conference now concluded , new idiot-proof hacking tools on the market; new malware that can compromise your BIOS without leaving a trace; a live WiFi hack that some thankfully say will have zero effect on enterprise WLANs; and new critical vulnerabilities in Huawei routers (Huawei is looking into it ); and debate over whether companies should hire criminal hackers to help them; security threats remain a moving target. (click here for a Black Hat slideshow and here for shots from Microsoft's BlueHat Prize contest).

Closer to home, the Cyber Security Summit 2012 kicked off in Sydney, with experts warning the best security offence is a good defence and a CSO photo gallery capturing the ongoing events. Among other happenings, Visa Australia outlined plans to introduce EMV capabilities by April 2013 and one expert " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432598/focus_business_security_compliance_cso/">argued that businesses must focus on security rather than tick-the-box compliance.

High-profile events are inevitably a magnet for fraudsters, and the Olympics has proved to be no exception. UK police were warning citizens not to pay a £100 ransomware "fine" that " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432630/police_alert_after_ransom_trojan_locks_up_1_100_pcs/">locked up 1100 PCs, a UK hacker was sentenced to six months in juvie for leaking Tony Blair's address book, while other cyber-attacks were expected and reports said Anonymous could target Olympics sponsors BT and GlaxoSmithKline . On a curious note, Anonymous seemed to have convinced a French T-shirt maker to back down from its efforts to register the hacking group's name and logo in France.

Dropbox blamed the breach of an employee's account for a recent spam attack on its users; Twitter was hit by a flood of malware spam ; while Facebook faced allegations of enabling click fraud and " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432606/facebook_admits_83m_its_accounts_fake/">admitted that 83m of its accounts are fake. There were other warnings about being aware of ever-present privacy intrusions, even as it was revealed that a UK company had mailed a spy Trojan to pro-democracy activists in Bahrain. A clever new Mac Trojan , reported by security firm Intego and named 'Crisis', suggested it was the product of a commercial hacking toolkit.

Google was tightening the screws on Android developers pushing misleading apps into the Play store, while critics were concerned about Tesco security after it sent plain-text password reminders to a customer. LastPass added new security features blocking access via notorious anonymous-access group TOR, while an Australian security consultancy is seeing " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432599/spy_school_surfaces_corporate_espionage_tactics_defences/">good interest in its upcoming 'spy school' security seminars.

Around the world, authorities were on the defensive as a breach of South Korea's Korea Telecom was found to have been in place for five months. European Union authorities were pushing online service providers to salt their users' stored password hashes, while reports found that mobile malware cases had tripled in the first half of 2012 and that Asia is now the top spam-relaying continent .

And even as the UK and France demand excess Google Street View data, an assistant commissioner with the AFP was calling for data-retention laws and US authorities were pushing for updated Privacy Act provisions. The FTC specifically wants tighter regulations around the protection of child-related information, while many were arguing that American legislators should reinvigorate the push for a stalled cybersecurity bill even as the US Senate delayed and potentially killed it off – sending opponents " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432561/senate_cybersecurity_bill_stalled_opponents_want_more_changes/">clamouring for more changes and " http://www.cso.com.au/article/432579/heated_debate_over_stalled_cybersecurity_bill_pits_pro-defense_democrats_vs_hands-off_republicans/">political rivals into the ring.

A recent, massive data loss could have affected 4 million Canadians, reports suggested. But if you're after mind-boggling numbers around security, a new security project is monitoring the price of stolen credit-card data in underground forums.

With cloud computing on the rise, the importance of cloud service level agreements has come to the fore. So, too, is the importance of securing databases that are becoming increasingly massive, fluid entities. A solid security culture is also essential here, while others are recommending that big business turn to big-data analytics to improve their security.

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I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.