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No doubt it’s been a crazy week for anyone even remotely interested in Bitcoin. Mt. Gox, once the largest Bitcoin marketplace out there, has shut down, putting a bitter end to an almost month-long situation in which all withdrawals were halted because of “technical issues”.
Mt. Gox BTC price evolution in February 2014, source: Clark Moody
As customers were unable to move their funds out from Mt. Gox, the world’s most famous exchange essentially became isolated from the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem, making the Bitcoin price traded on Mt. Gox plummet to as low as $100 for 1 BTC before the exchange went completely offline.
In our forecast for 2014, we’ve stated that attacks on Bitcoin, specifically attacks on Bitcoin pools, exchanges and Bitcoin users will become one of the most high-profile topics of the year. These attacks will be especially popular with the fraudsters as their cost-to-income ratio is very favorable.
While the Mt. Gox incident might be the most significant in Bitcoin history to-date, as it is rumored to be worth 744,408 Bitcoins, or more than $300 million at current BTC prices, the only question that remains unanswered is what actually caused it.
This week, Apple has released a small but very important update to their popular mobile operating system - iOS 7.0.4. According to the details provided, by Apple, the update comes with several bug fixes and improvements, including a fix for an issue that causes FaceTime calls to fail in some cases.
But the latest iOS update also comes with an important security fix for CVE-2013-5193, a vulnerability allowing App and In-App purchases to be completed with insufficient authorization - meaning that the password prompt presented to a signed in user before making an App purchase could have been bypassed and the transaction completed without providing a password.
Why are updates so important?
This software update for iOS, just like many other software updates for any platform, shows once again the importance of updating. Updates don’t just fix innocent bugs, they don’t just improve the user’s experience. They do that, yes, but most of the times updates also fix security vulnerabilities which can be exploited in-the-wild.
How to update your iOS device?
The quickest way to update your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is to do it directly from the device. Just make sure you have everything backed up before you proceed, that you are connected to a WiFi network and the device has enough power, then just go to Settings › General › Software Update. If an update is available, tap Download, then Install.
You can also update your device through iTunes, while it’s connected through a cable. For more details and tips, Apple has a complete step-by-step guide available here: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4623
As Bitcoin reached an all-time high of $327/BTC, news about yet another huge robbery hit the world of crypto-currencies. One of the relatively new “Bitcoin banking” services named inputs.io claimed it has been compromised by hackers. The attackers were able to penetrate the server on October 23 and 26 and transfer 4100 BTC (approximately US$1.2 million). According to “Tradefortress”, the service owner, the attackers used old email accounts together with a password reset technique: “They were able to bypass two-factor authorization due to a flaw on the server host side”.
Right now it is not possible to confirm that this was a real hack, and not merely a site owner scamming customers. But it is not the first time this has happened - there were a number of similar incidents in recent years on many different bitcoin storage and exchange services. Examples include, in May and July 2012, the Bitconica theft (approx. 58,000 bitcoins stolen), Linode hacks in March 2012 (approx. 46,000 bitcoins stolen) and Bitfloor Theft in September 2012 (approx. 24,000 bitcoins stolen).
All this accidents happened because of silly mistakes made by service operators. Bitfloor was robbed because its unencrypted wallet backup was mistakenly stored on some of the servers. The Bitconica theft occured when a top privileged email account was compromised giving the cybercriminals access to Bitconica’s rackspace server where the wallet was kept. There are hundreds of similar examples.
Bitcoin is a secure and viable currency, but its security ultimately depends on its users. If users are unable to establish the security of their own wallets they definitely will lose them.
The best strategy for storing and using Bitcoins securely is “Don’t keep all of your eggs in the same basket”. Use different approaches for short-term and long-term storage. The most flexible solutions are usually the least secure ones as well. You don’t want to keep all of your bitcoins on your mobile or Blockchain wallet for instance - but just enough for weekly use. At the end of the week, you can top-up your Bitcoins from your long-term storage, the one which is secured.
If you own a couple of Bitcoins, then the most important thing is how to keep them safe. Here’s a couple of tips from our side based on personal experience and watching cybercriminals at work.
First of all – the Bitcoins should not be kept in online stock exchange services or banks that are new and untrustworthy. Keep in mind that most of these services are anonymous; owners are only known by nicknames so most likely, you will not be able to get a refund of your money if something bad happens. Even if a service has a perfect reputation, it could also be compromised like any ordinary bank. To store your Bitcoins, you can use an open-source “offline” bitcoin client like Electrum or Armory. These encrypt your wallet with a strong password and protect it, ensuring that only you have access to your crypto-currency.
Passphrases for your bitcoin wallets and online storages should be complex as possible – use open source password generating software.
Once you have your bitcoins in an “offline” wallet, secured by a strong password, make sure your PC is protected with a good, solid antivirus and your PC has the latest software updates installed. If you have a huge amount of bitcoins - you should keep them in a wallet on a PC that is not connected to the Internet at all!
Some say Bitcoins will bring down governments or even the society as we know it; others advocate it as the solution to all our financial problems. To be honest, when it comes to Bitcoins, nobody knows what the future will bring. One thing is for sure, though - cybercriminals are highly interested into stealing your hard earned crypto-currencies, so we’re likely to see more attacks in the future.
Last week, Google has released the 4.4 (KitKat) version of their omni-popular Android OS. Between the improvements, some have noticed several security-related changes. So, how much more secure is Android 4.4?
When talking about Android 4.4 (KitKat) major security improvements, they can be divided into 2 categories:
1. Digital certificates Android 4.4 will warn the user if a Certificate Authority (CA) is added to the device, making it easy to identify Man-in-the-Middle attacks inside local networks. At the same time, Google Certificate Pinning will make it harder for sophisticated attackers to intercept network traffic to and from Google services, by making sure only whitelisted SSL certificates can connect to certain Google domains.
2. OS hardening SELinux is now running in enforcing mode, instead of permissive mode. This helps enforce permissions and thwart privilege escalation attacks, such as exploits that want to gain root access. Android 4.4 comes compiled with FORTIFY_SOURCE set at level 2, making buffer overflow exploits harder to implement.
Earlier today, Softpedia reported that an Algerian hacker using the nickname MCA-CRB has managed to deface the Romanian sites of Google (google.ro) and Yahoo! (yahoo.ro).
When we found out about this incident we were pretty skeptical of these websites being hacked. A website as large as Google can be hacked, in theory, but it’s highly unlikely. We then noticed that both domains resolve to an IP address located in the Netherlands: 188.8.131.52 (server1.joomlapartner.nl) – so it rather looks like a DNS poisoning attack.
The question which remains unanswered up until now is where exactly the DNS spoofing/poisoning attack has happened.There are several possible scenarios here:
Several Eastern European banks have started notifying their customers in the beginning of last week that their cards have been blocked and will be replaced with new ones. Most of the banks did not give out any more details about what happened, and in many cases even failed to notify their customers prior to actually blocking their cards. Is it just another day in the payment processing business? Based on the rushed response from banks and the lack of information surrounding the case, I would say no.
It all started one week ago after the state-owned Romanian bank CEC Bank blocked ~17,000 cards in response to a security breach at one of VISA’s European payment processor.
The reaction of other banks followed soon. The Romanian branch of ING Bank also confirmed to have blocked compromised cards, but didn’t put out a number. They say they’ve only blocked a few cards, but are closely monitoring the situation.
A few days later, Serbian banks also started blocking thousands of cards for security reasons. Raiffeisen Bank, Komercijalna and Societe Generale confirm they have been informed by VISA about some of their customer’s cards being compromised. Very similar to what happened in Romania.
Rumors indicate the European branch of an electronic payment services provider, Euronet Worlwide, to be the source of this breach. This information has been going around Romanian business media (1, 2) – and though it hasn’t been confirmed officially, it would explain why customers from different banks in different countries were affected.
It’s very hard to assess the severity of this security breach, as the banks’ reaction to these events was very mixed. Some banks proceeded immediately to blocking and replacing all affected cads, while others decided to monitor the situation more closely.
Currently, it’s very hard to get a full picture of what is going on, but as it usually happens, these are unlikely to be isolated incidents. Actually, these stories could be just the tip of the iceberg. If you have recently received such a notification from your bank, we’d like to hear from you, especially if it’s outside Serbia and Romania.
Meanwhile, make sure to follow these 3 basic steps to make sure you don’t become a victim of credit card fraud:
Last, but not least, we know it’s the holiday season and shopping is on everyone’s mind. So if you want to keep your money safe when doing online shopping, this insightful article we’ve put together is for you: Online shopping made safe and convenient.
What a coincidence! The same day I start tumblring, Tumblr users get hit by what seems to be one of the most publicized phishing attacks the social network has seen so far.
Yet another phishing attack has resulted in thousands of accounts being compromised. Nothing new here. Phishing is a game of numbers – so even though many users are aware of this threat, there still are some of them who fall victim to this old social engineering trick. Therefore, even with just a low efficiency rate in terms of percentage, thousands of accounts can still be easily compromised by cybercriminals if the phishing page is seen by enough people.
So – for those of you out there who still don’t know the basics of avoiding becoming a victim of phishing attack, here are a couple of tips:
Over the weekend, a lot of Facebook users started receiving malicious chat messages from their friends that looked like this:
“Father crashes and dies because of THIS message posted on his daughters profile wall!” - followed by a shortened URL (using the bit.ly URL shortening services). The missing apostrophe in the word "daughter's" - i.e. "daughter's profile wall" – could be a clue that the message is not genuine, or at least that the author is not a native English speaker, but let’s take a look at what would happen to a user who falls for this social engineering trick.
A new Twitter XSS exploit was identified in the wild as it started to be used by cybercriminals overnight.
But how many people clicked the link? The bit.ly statistics for one of the malicious links are more than worrying, showing an alarming number: more than 100.000.
All clues point to Brazil as the originating country for this attack. First, the 2 domain names used to get the stolen cookies are registered under Brazilian names. More than that, one of them is actually also hosted in Brazil. Last, but not least, just take a look at the tweet used in distributing this malicious payload:
Pe Lanza da banda Restart sofre acidente tragico - it's a short tweet in Portugese about the Brazilian pop band Restart suffering a "tragic accident". I'd say there's not much doubt about the origins of this attack.
We've added detection for the malicious scripts as Exploit.JS.Twetti.a and also made sure the URLs used in this attack are blacklisted. We are currently working on taking down the malicious URLs and minimizing the damage as much as possible. Twitter along with other significant industry peers have of course been notified.
UPDATE: Twitter has confirmed the vulnerability is fixed now.
In a long overdue move, Twitter turned off basic authentication for third-party applications, while enforcing OAuth for all apps. This is a move that should be applauded by anyone concerned about the security of their Twitter account.
This latest move covers a potential vulnerability in the process of giving read/write access to third-party applications, which could lead to a Twitter account being compromised. Well, not anymore. You don't need to give your username and password to third-party developers anymore if you want to use their application on your Twitter account.
Being always concerned about security, I salute Twitter's move to enforce OAuth. This lets me use an application without having to share my Twitter username and password with an unknown entity. Also, hats off to all developers that updated their applications in time and made this change as seamless as possible for the majority of users.
However, keep in mind that OAuth doesn't protect against local attacks - stealing passwords straight from the users' machines. Make sure you use a clean computer when you log-in to Twitter. Also, for more tips on staying safe, I invite you to read my quick How to Avoid Getting Your Twitter Account Hacked guide on Threatpost.