In the headlines: Anonymous vs ISIS, Australian attorney general, NTP and DDoS exploits

Anonymous vs ISIS

Naturally, even cybersecurity news in this past week has centred around ISIS in the wake of the Paris attacks. The main headline has come from Anonymous, who have again but more formally waged ‘war’ on ISIS themselves. So far their efforts seem to have focused on communication; deleting thousands of Twitter accounts they believe are associated with the terrorist group. One notable aspect of how ISIS recruit supporters is through social media such as Twitter and Facebook, with an estimated 46,000 affiliated Twitter accounts. The move by Anonymous was announced immediately after ISIS dubbed the group ‘idiots’ and began circulating some useless cybersecurity advice to its followers via messaging app Telegram.

Anonymous’s efforts, dubbed #OpParis are likely to irritate the group and possibly damage their recruitment opportunities.

Australian attorney general warns terrorism means privacy will suffer

Australian Attorney General George Brandis has said that Australians should expect ‘greater impediments to personal privacy’ in the wake of the Paris attacks. Measures have already become more strict under his tenure, with legislation passed to collect call records, IP addresses, location and billing information but it remains to be seen what further changes might be made. He also said during the interview by Nine Network that the situation with ISIS was tantamount to war.

UK warns terrorists are targeting hospitals, power stations and air traffic control

In an address at GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters, a branch of British intelligence), chancellor George Osborne warned that terrorists will also be making efforts to target national infrastructure in order to carry out attacks. He also said that the government intend to double cybersecurity spending over the next five years. While we know such attacks are possible, we are yet to see terrorist groups like ISIS leverage this type of capability.

NTP being made more secure to avoid DDoS exploits

A new beta version of the Network Time Protocol (NTPsec) has been released, in efforts to avoid exploitation in DDoS attacks. Currently only available for open source use and feedback, the protocols codebase has been greatly streamlined; reduced from 30,000 lines of code to just 884. One of the project’s lead developers Eric S Raymond said: ‘The most important change you can’t see is that the code has been very seriously security-hardened, not only by plugging all publicly disclosed holes but by internal preventive measures to close off entire classes of vulnerabilities.’

Hackers offer 200,000 Comcast user passwords for sale

Hackers have offered 200,000 Comcast user passwords for sale on the dark web, leading to a mass password reset from the company. What’s interesting in this case is that this was not a breach, but the result of users being duped into revealing their passwords themselves. Fortunately, Comcast’s own security officer discovered the passwords up for sale and initiated the mass reset before any accounts were known to be exploited. A reminder to be more careful with our password management!

Vodafone reveal breach as further arrests made in TalkTalk case

In the wake of the large TalkTalk breach and as a third man was arrested in the case, Vodafone announced their own breach. Affecting just 1827 users, who have all since been informed, Vodafone have not revealed how the attack was carried out.

The number of customers affected by the TalkTalk breach has now been revised; originally given as 4 million, the number is now down to 1.2 million. In addition to usernames, emails and passwords 21,000 of these included bank account details and 28,000 credit card details.

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