'Project HellFire' Demonstrates Need for Stronger Passwords

Latest attack compromises more than a million records

In the wake of news that the FBI has arrested a LulzSec hacker on charges related to attacks against Sony Pictures, a new team of hackers is making headlines. Team GhostShell has published over a million hacked records, and it promises there's more to come.

The new attacks are part of "Project HellFire." Project HellFire is intended as a form of online protest against banks and politicians, and as retaliation for arrested hackers. Team GhostShell says, "We are also letting everyone know that more releases, collaborations with Anonymous and other, plus two more projects are still scheduled for this fall and winter. It's only the beginning."

An analysis from a security vendor suggests that most of the breaches were a result of SQL injection attacks. The attacks were aimed at consulting firms, manufacturing firms, government agencies, and banks. Team GhostShell was able to capture Admin passwords, usernames and passwords from customer accounts, and other files and documents.

Apparently, the credit history of individuals makes up a significant portion of the hacked data, so there might be a subsequent rash of identity theft and fraudulent credit accounts.

One thing that stands out in the analysis, though, is that weak passwords continue to be a major issue. Many of the compromised accounts use silly passwords like "123456." One law firm defaults to using the user's initials pre-pended to "law321," and it doesn't require users to change their passwords making for very weak, and easily guessed passwords.

You should have some sort of cross-device security tools in place to protect against malware and other attacks across your PCs, tablets, and smartphones. But, even the best security software won't make up for a weak password, and it won't protect you from attacks targeted at third-party sites and services you do business with.

Two-factor authentication--like that implemented recently by Dropbox--is a step in the right direction. At least with two-factor authentication an attacker would still have to have access to your fingerprints, or physical possession of your smartphone to use in conjunction with a cracked password.

But--with or without two-factor authentication--there's no reason to make it easier than necessary for the bad guys. Passwords like "123456," or "qwertyu," or "password" don't even require any sort of password cracking tool, and provide attackers with at least one of the keys to your personal data and information. Also, make sure you never--under any circumstances--share your password with anyone.

Again, though, you can't control the security--or lack thereof--of the third-party entities you do business with online. All you can do is choose to do business with sites and services that take security seriously--and use different passwords for each site so that a breach of one doesn't become a breach of your entire online presence.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Charles Ripley

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place