The week in security: Ransomware mutating, IoT devices exploited for botnets

IBM Australia's investment in an Australian cybersecurity centre of excellence is the latest in a series of industry commitments that have been attributed to the pro-investment climate created by the Coalition government's investment and cybersecurity agendas.

One of the key areas of investigation in such centres will be in addressing Internet of Things (IoT) security issues that were on the agenda as vendors faced the need to improve their security from the beginning of their product development cycles.

As if on queue, there were reports that attackers had compromised more than 25,000 digital video recorders and CCTV cameras, using them to launch DDoS attacks. Indeed, highlighting the extent of the problem, researchers found more than 100 DDoS botnets built using malware for embedded Linux built into many IoT devices.

An end-user survey suggested that 1 in 3 cases of systems downtime were being attributed to security breaches; little wonder that visibility of network activity was being recognised as key to managing the threat from IoT and other attacks in business terms.

There were reports that Intel was considering selling off the security business it built around its acquisition of antivirus vendor McAfee, while Symantec products were found to have flaws that left computers vulnerable to hacking.

Ditto the Flash Keyboard app which, security analysts warned, can do some pretty dangerous things – as has a decade-long Iranian cyberespionage operation that was dismantled by researchers.

Even as figures showed the use of encryption had in a decade, there were warnings that many people were also not protecting their data by failing to properly erase it from hard drives sold second-hand on online forums.

Even as a Kaspersky Labs analysis found that encrypting ransomware is booming, new ransomware called Bart took a different tack to locking files, stuffing them into password-protected ZIP archives while trying out different pricing mechanisms to maximise return.

Also getting flexible was WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play. Such new approaches inevitably force businesses to adjust their defensive strategies, which is causing the US Department of Homeland Security to try to figure out how malware is morphing so it can plan how to block it when it becomes a reality.

US authorities were also hitting problems as a surveillance-powers bill was put on hold due to concerns about a lack of oversight. A comparison of smartphone sales suggested that Huawei was outperforming Samsung and its other Android rivals when it comes to security patches.

Also on the mobile front, observers picked up on a surge in mobile ransomware use while a mobile Trojan that secretly installs pornography apps on victims' phones was found to have hit millions of phones.

The US tax authority had to disable a PIN-based electronic filing feature after it was the subject of repeated attacks, while Google CEO Sundar Pichai had his social-media account hacked. Also apparently hacked were 10 million US patient records, which were being offered for sale on the black market by a hacker for some $US820,000 ($A1.1m).

Also compromised was a database of terror suspects used by banks and other groups as a 'terrorism blacklist'.

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Tags cybersecurityLinuxsymantecIoTCCTV camerasmalwarekaspersky labsDDoS attacksIBM Australia

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