The Month in Hacks: March 2017

Hack remains unconfirmed as iCloud accounts held for ransom, third-party messaging apps suffer from several vulnerabilities and gift card balances are drained by a bot. It's all this and more in The Month in Hacks.

Hackers Demand Ransom for Stolen iCloud Accounts. Apple Denies Hack

Hacking group, Turkish Crime Family, made news this month when they claimed to have stolen a massive trove of iCloud accounts and were threatening to delete them unless paid a ransom of $75,000 by Apple before April 7th. Details remain murky as security professionals look to verify the accounts, but Apple so far has denied the hacks occurred, no ransom was paid and no accounts have been deleted to this point. Regardless, it is recommended that everyone protect their iCloud account immediately by updating passwords and turning on two-factor authentication.

Hackers Use Photos to Access WhatsApp and Telegram User's Accounts

Users of the popular third-party messaging apps WhatsApp and Telegram were targeted by hackers in March. Hackers sent photos containing malicious code to WhatsApp and Telegram users. Once the user downloaded the image, hackers received full access to the user's stored data, photos, chats, videos, audio and contacts. Both apps use end-to-end encryption, making the companies unable to detect any malicious code hidden in images. Fortunately, the hack only affected the browser-based versions of the apps, so users who exclusively used the mobile apps were not vulnerable. WhatsApp patched the flaw within 24 hours, while Telegram made the necessary security updates within five days.

High-Profile Twitter Accounts Hacked Due to Twitter Counter Vulnerability

A recent vulnerability in the social media analytics service Twitter Counter allowed hackers to gain access to several high-profile Twitter accounts, including Forbes, Amnesty International, UNICEF and the European Parliament. Hackers changed account images to the Turkish flag and posted messages comparing the Dutch to Nazis. Twitter Counter is still working to find the source of the vulnerability.

New Report Reveals Almost 1.4 Billion Data Records Compromised in 2016

Gemalto this month released its 2016 Breach Level Index showing 2016 as a monumental year in cybersecurity and data breaches, with almost 1.4 BILLION data records compromised. This information was pulled from 1,792 publicly disclosed data breaches, and equated to an increase of 86% of data records breached as compared to 2015.

Verifone Investigates Internal Networks Breach

As first reported by Krebs on Security, credit and debit card payments giant Verifone this month announced it was investigating a breach of its internal computer networks that appeared to have impacted a number of companies running its point-of-sale solutions. Verifone claims this breach did not reach outside its internal networks, and did not impact its payment services network. Investigations are ongoing, but it appears intruders had gained access to Verifone's internal networks since mid-2016.

Vulnerabilities Discovered in Messaging App Used by White House Staffers

Several critical vulnerabilities have been found in Confide, a secure messaging app used by many of Trump's White House staff. Not only do the vulnerabilities allow hackers to access the contact details and messages of Confide users, but they can also alter the contents of a message or image in transit. Confide has since rolled out a patch to fix the vulnerabilities, and assured customers that they didn't have any record of the flaws being exploited by hackers.

Online Gift Cards Exploited by Bots

Almost 1,000 online retailers found their gift cards targeted by GiftGhostBot this month. The bot, using a random number generator, attacked retailers' websites with almost 1.7 million numbers per hour. Once the bot found legitimate gift card combinations, hackers either resold the information on the Dark Web or used the cards to purchase goods.

The GiftGhostBot operators set up a sophisticated, brute-force bot attack and have so far avoided detection. Any retailer that offers online gift cards is still vulnerable to attacks, and it is suggested that online sellers put additional security measures in place to minimize the likelihood of attack.

Linux Vulnerability Dating Back to 2009 Discovered

A vulnerability that may have existed as early as 2009 has been discovered in several Linux programs. The flaw allows an unauthorized user to gain root privileges and cause system crashes in Red Hat, Debian, Fedora, SUSE, and Ubuntu. Linux patched the bug quickly after it was discovered, but any Linux user who hasn't installed the latest update is still vulnerable to hacks."

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