News On Hacks

FBI: Hundreds Of Thousands May Lose Internet In July

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Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON (AP) — For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.

Unknown to most of them, their problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org , that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

Most victims don’t even know their computers have been infected, although the malicious software probably has slowed their web surfing and disabled their antivirus software, making their machines more vulnerable to other problems.

Last November, the FBI and other authorities were preparing to take down a hacker ring that had been running an Internet ad scam on a massive network of infected computers.MORE

Fake Instagram app infects Android devices with malware

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InstagramTempted to try out the much talked about Instagram app? Well, be careful where you get it from – as malware authors are distributing malware disguised as the popular app.

It’s a rain cloud on a summer’s day for the Instagram photo-sharing smartphone app, which is otherwise having a glorious time right now.

First of all, Instagram released a first version for Android and managed to get five million downloads in less than a week.

Then the 13-employee firm managed to sell itself to Facebook for a cool $1 billion, making some of us wonder about privacy, and others think – “to heck with that, do I have a program that’s never earnt any money that I might be able to flog to Mark Zuckerberg?”.

Naturally, the Facebook acquisition news raised Instagram to even higher levels of public awareness and that’s where the bad guys stepped in.

Cybercriminals have created fake versions of the Instagram Android app, designed to earn money from unsuspecting users.MORE

3 Hackathons Trying to Change the World

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Scott Henderson is managing director of CauseShift, writes about social impact for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and is founder of NewEmpireBuilders.com, a media collaborative covering the startups, non-profits, and companies making the world better.

When you think of hackathons, you might think of coding, right? That’s certainly where the concept came from, but it’s taking on new meaning, as more non-profits and civic leaders embrace it as a format for social innovation.

In recent years, hackathons have helped city governments across the country build new web and mobile applications. These apps provide services like a way to report potholes. Now, hackathons are being used by an even wider range of sectors that involve social good. Below are three that are leading the way.MORE

Corrupt call center workers selling your private information for pennies

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Thief with secrets image courtesy of ShutterstockAccording to the Daily Mail an undercover investigation in India has uncovered that some call center workers have been selling confidential information on nearly 500,000 Britons.

Undercover reporters from The Sunday Times met with two individuals who claimed to be IT workers who offered to provide them with 45 different types of data gathered from the victims.

Information offered up included names, addresses, phone numbers and credit card details (including CCV/CVV codes and expiration dates).

The reporters allege they could purchase the records for as little as 2 pence apiece ($0.03 USD). One of the IT workersthieves bragged:

"These [pieces of data] are ones that have been sold to somebody already. This is Barclays, this is Halifax, this is Lloyds TSB. We’ve been dealing so long we can tell the bank by just the card number."more

How Anonymous spied on FBI / UK Police hacking investigation conference call

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http://sophosnews.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/conference-call-spy-170.jpg” alt=”Conference call spy image from Shutterstock” align=”right” hspace=”10″ vspace=”10″ />

Conference call spy image from ShutterstockLast month, we reported how a conference call, between the FBI and Scotland Yard, discussing their investigation into Anonymous hackers had been secretly recorded by the hacking collective and published on the net.

We surmised at the time that the unknown hackers might have secretly accessed the call by compromising a police investigator’s email account, as the call-in details and passcode were posted by Anonymous on their usual dumping ground – the PasteBin website.

http://sophosnews.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/fbi-email1.jpg” alt=”Conference call email, republished by Anonymous” />

Conference call email, republished by AnonymousYesterday’s announcement by the FBI about the prominent LulzSec hacker Sabu, and other alleged hacktivists, has revealed more details about what actually happened.

According to an FBI press release, a Garda (Irish police) officer who was invited to attend the conference call about ongoing hacking investigations forwarded the message to a personal email account.

Unfortunately, that personal email account was compromised by a hacker.MORE

Facebook Canada Hosts Youth Focused Hack-a-thon

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Hack-a-thons are becoming popular ways to get a massive group of hackers together for a manic, usually overnight blitz to code something cool. Hack for a Cause is one of the newest to apply that Red Bull-fueled creativity to social and charity causes.

In just 12 hours (6 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, EST), 60 coders created 12 products that were ready to ship. The event, hosted at Facebook Canada’s Toronto headquarters, was organized by Free the Children, a Canadian charity that empowers youths across North America to create positive change.

The rules of the hack-a-thon were pretty simple: Come up with some product that will help Free the Children get kids engaged in positive actions. In response, Hack for a Cause turned out Facebook apps to help log and share volunteerism, a mobile app that accepts and displays donation pledges, an interactive map that allows users to see local philanthropic meet ups, educational mobile games and more.

Even though Hack for a Cause is relatively single-minded, as far as hack-a-thons go, providing Free the Children with new technology will hopefully have widespread impact as well. Besides, it’s not such a bad idea to host a group of uber-talented coders and get some awesome new products in return. It’s a smart move by Free the Children that may help some kids get more involved in social change.MoRe

FBI investigates grade change hacking at Santa Clara

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Mark Loiseau, who says the FBI gained access to his Verizon and Google Voice accounts

A Twitter post from an undergraduate student at Santa Clara University has prompted the school to acknowledge that it asked the FBI to investigate how a few dozen grades were electronically altered.

Mark Loiseau, 25, a senior electrical engineering student, received an unpleasant surprise this morning: three FBI agents showed up at his off-campus apartment wanting to have a friendly chat with him.

FBI agent Jeffrey Miller and his colleagues had complete dossiers on him and his friends, Loiseau told CNET this afternoon. “They had all my grades. They had pictures of me.”

It started out as a friendly conversation, Loiseau said, but then the FBI agents began to suggest that he was involved in illegally changing his or someone else’s grades. After receiving a denial, the trio of agents said that lying to a federal agent was a crime and that they wanted to search his computers.MORE