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Are you having trouble today on your Facebook account? Could the massive cyber attack of botnets reported in the Wall Street Journal be the reason? Was Facebook hacked too? What you should know and do.
Internet security firm NetWitness has discovered coordinated internet security breaches that span the globe. NetWitness works for both U.S. government agencies and many in the private sector and the information on the cyber attacks has been turned over the FBI. The cyber attacks apparently began in Germany in 2008 and over the last 18 months hackers in Europe and China have succeeded in breaking into over 2,400 government and corporate computers. In at least 100 cases, hackers gained accessed to corporate servers. Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the U.S. appear to have the highest concentration of affected computers.
The numbers so far:
Agencies and Companies Affected by the Cyber Attack:
The damage is still being accessed and those affected are still being notified. NetWitness is not naming companies but at least two companies have confirmed that they were hit:
-Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company
-Cardinal Health Inc.
Both of these companies say that the problems have been isolated and contained. Merck has stated that, “no sensitive data was compromised”
-Ten U.S. government agencies were reportedly compromised
This included theft of a soldier’s military email account with the username and password.
Two other companies have been rumored to be hit but neither has confirmed an attack:
-Juniper Networks Inc., a software company
Is it possible that companies could have been affected by the cyber attacks and not be aware of a problem? Could Facebook being down today be a result of being hacked by this cyber attack? Is it all part of the Kneber botnet that is reported to be dragging Facebook down today and stealing passwords and information from social networking, banking and email and wreaking all sorts of havoc – both to your personal information and to the online services we use most?
According to NetWitness principal analyst Alex Cox, “It is 100 percent certain that many organizations have no idea they are victimized by these types of problems because they’re just not tooled to see them on their networks.”
What information was stolen?
In this large-scale cyber attack, the stolen data thus far appears to include:
-Company files, including email attachments
-Online credit card transactions
-Intellectual property, including upcoming versions of software products, contracts, corporate documents and presentations
-Email log ins for banking
How did hackers break in?
It’s not a new trick but apparently it is still a successful one. Hackers lured employees to click on links to contaminated web sites, ads and email attachments. In some cases the ads were ironically for products to clean up viruses.
In at least one U.S. company there is evidence pointing to employee involvement. In the past hackers have obtain private information on individuals and used it to extort sensitive information from an employee.
The spyware used in these attacks allowed hackers to control the infected computers remotely. Computers were brought into cyber armies called “botnets,” an invasion not blocked by all anti-virus software. The spyware used appears to be an expensive version of ZeuS, which is available online for free in a basic form. A Department of Homeland security has listed ZeuS as among the top five malware tools reported.
Adam Meyers, a senior engineer at government contractor SRA International Inc. reviewed the reports by NetWitness and said, “”If you’re a Fortune 500 company or a government agency or a home DSL user, you could be successfully victimized.”
Reminders to protect yourself:
Update your antivirus software programs
Change your passwords
Run a scan of your computer – delete and clean any threats.
Do not open links sent to you via Facebook private messages or in your email unless you are positive that they are legitimate.