Highlighting the rampant fear of attacks these days, there were claims that the 'Armada' copycat DDoS extortionists made $100,000 without actually launching an attack – or even having the ability to do so. Indeed, in some circles it's all about what you are seen to do as much as what you actually do – and, for aspiring security specialists, this can sometimes make all the difference.
Two security leaders shared their perspectives on social-media security, even as phishing emails were found to be using unique subject lines and Office documents that helped them slip past spam filters.
Torrent-download site The Pirate Bay was hit by ads spreading ransomware – which you might expect to happen eventually – but ransomware also infiltrated the Web site of toy maker Maisto, which you probably wouldn't. Meanwhile, a cyberespionage group was seen to be abusing the Windows hot-patching mechanism to hide malware activities.
Verizon's latest Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) warned that enterprises are falling behind in the fight against phishing and security breaches, and that they are still making the same mistakes as they always have – even with tools such as password managers promising to improve security significantly. Along the same lines, it was revealed that developers from hundreds of companies had leaked access tokens for their Slack accounts in public GitHub projects.
Seemingly fulfilling that prophecy, organisations including financial-transactions clearinghouse SWIFT and the Qatar National Bank were reporting that they had been hit by security breaches. This, despite a modicum of progress made as an Estonian man was jailed for over 7 years for his role in a global DNS hijacking botnet.
Here's one to file in the confidence-in-government drawer: the FBI now says it can't share the iPhone 5c hack it purchased with Apple because it doesn't even know how the tool works – and didn't buy full 'rights' about the hack. Similarly, the Australian government seems to be struggling enough with encryption that prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is citing it as a significant hurdle for law-enforcement authorities.
Somewhat more confidence-inspiring is the US government's cyberwar against ISIS, which analysts say could borrow from the tactics cybercriminals use against their business targets and is likely to take advantage of ISIS hackers' unorganised, underfunded capabilities.
US authorities were also being proactive in seemingly contradictory ways, as legislators passed a bill to strengthen email and cloud data privacy – and the Supreme Court green-lighting an expansion of the FBI's computer-search powers.