The week in security: ABC hacked as firms weigh big-data security

An increasing number of DDoS attacks will be application based, Gartner has warned, but it’s not the only threat companies face: researchers unearthed two new Java zero-day bugs, while indications were that spammers are tapping into a vulnerability of their own in the form of mobile SMS – with new unlimited plans offering new opportunities for exploitation.

Security vendor Trustwave was suffering its own phishing campaign, while studies suggested that Stuxnet malware had actually been in use since at least 2007. Symantec promptly beat that, suggesting the code had actually been in development since 2005.

Meanwhile, new malware known as MiniDuke was being labelled as a cyberespionage attack as it tore through 23 European governments, while the Bank of America suffered from a data breach that it blamed on a third party.

It’s not alone: an Islamic hacking group has promised to resume its cyberattacks on US banks, while investigators warned about a loophole in HTML5 that can be used to fill a victim’s hard drive with junk data.

Staying on top of such attacks is important not only for the obvious reasons, but because – a new study tells us – suffering a cyberattack or data breach tends to scare off investors. Of course, causing one can present its own problems too, as WA hacker Dylan Wheeler is finding out.

The director of the FBI was arguing that attribution, not improved defence, is the key to winning the domestic cyber war, although there’s no sign that it will help the ABC, which confirmed its TV show Making Australia Happy had been breached, with 49,500 usernames and hashed passwords leaked and analysts suggesting the event was an important lesson for other companies. HP released its formal big data security strategy, while RSA promoted its own big data security and risk-governance products. Some were lapping it up, while others were questioning whether enterprise security teams will bite onto this latest catchphrase and still others rejected it out of hand. Cloud-storage company Box rolled out some enhancements to improve confidence in its file-sharing service, while an Azure outage led to free software for monitoring the lifespan of digital certificates.

On the privacy front, Harvey Norman was forced to apologise after it accidentally sent customers a $5 credit offer even though they had not opted in to receive it. An analysis by security vendor Palo Alto found that social networking, file sharing and video applications are not a major security risk after all, despite what many think. That title goes to Windows XP and the Firefox Web browser, apparently, after an analysis at security firm Sourcefire concluded those two products had the largest number of high-severity vulnerabilities. As if on queue, Dimension Data’s NZ security assurance team uncovered new vulnerabilities in IE8 and Windows XP – and, in a separate incident, Adobe unleashed an emergency Flash update and said attacks were being aimed at Firefox users and its own sandbox plugin.

Meanwhile, McAfee and Check Point were embracing sandboxing to combat advanced persistent threats, while the continuing problems for Adobe were a reminder of the need to update, update, update.

Perhaps motivated by reports that mobile users have a great fear of losing personal data or that mobile security is a systemic problem, the US government took a significant step by moving against mobile device makers that fail to facilitate updates for Android devices quickly enough. Also on the mobile front, Samsung improved its management of BYOD environments.

For its part, Trend Micro added a Facebook scanner to its mobile security suite, while a Japanese Internet security agency was warning about Android malware promising nude pictures in exchange for personal information. General Dynamics was looking to bring US government-level security to consumer smartphones, while Juniper Networks’ new corporate network defences use device fingerprinting to detect and block attacks – but it received mixed reviews from early evaluators.

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Warning: Tips for secure mobile holiday shopping

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.