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Showing posts from March, 2006

Identity Theft and the Torn Up Credit Card Application

You should never throw out any piece of paper with any contact information on it. Any such papers should be shredded, rather than tossed out. In particular, never throw out credit card statements, always shred them, preferably in a cross-cut shredder. If you are not taking the risk of identity theft seriously, this article on "The Torn Up Credit Card Application" should strike an appropriate amount of fear, just enough to convince you to buy a small home-office shredder. Technorati Tags:

Virus Vulnerability for RFID (Radio Frequency ID tags)?

The breeding ground for the computer virus will be expanding continually and rapidly over the next decade as appliances, automobiles, and all manner of other things become equipped with wireless networking and miniature computers. Cell phone and similar networks may enable worms to leap between devices over long distances and other networks over short distances. Researchers have recently demonstrated that RFID tags may be vulnerable next. Articles on the topic: RFID worm created in the lab [NewScientist.com]Viruses leap to smart radio tags [BBC.co.uk]RFID tags could carry computer viruses [SecurityFocus.com] The details for the curious: RFID Viruses and Worms The AntiVirus paradigm that we [the IT community and industry] have foisted upon PC users is already breaking down under the strain of too many virus variants and too many non-technical PC users. The paradigm probably won't work at all for cell phones and the paradigm is completely broken for the typical RFID device whi…

McAfee AntiVirus false positives - older, "reliable" signatures pose risk too

False positives are the bane of AntiVirus and IDS/IPS systems. On the one hand, hundreds and even thousands of new threats are released each week, where they must be discovered, submitted to vendors, analyzed by vendors, definitions, signature files or heuristic algorithms must be tweaked, tested, released to customers, and finally deployed to customer systems. All of this must be done in as short a time as possible, since the threats often spread in minutes and hours. AntiVirus signatures are often available within two days from the first appearance of a threat on the network. Polymorphic techniques, even simple ones like automatically generating dozens or more variants at the threat's compile time, are becoming more common making it more difficult for AntiVirus vendors to keep up with the expanding threat pool every year. Today we learned that an error in a signature file caused the McAfee AntiVirus system to delete good files from production systems. This unfortunate accide…

Citibank PINs and the botnet arms race

I noticed this tidbit from a Gartner researcher quoted in a story about the recently disclosed PIN theft. PIN Scandal "Worst Hack Ever;" Citibank Only The Start "That's the irony, the PIN was supposed to make debit cards secure," Litan said. "Up until this breach, everyone thought ATMS and PINs could never be compromised."    - Avivah Litan, Gartner I wish the reporter or Gartner researchers would have checked with me or someone else who has direct experience auditing software systems. I've been warning my clients for years about the security exposure from data retention for e-commerce and credit card transaction systems and I know a number of other security professionals who've been doing the same. In fact, given the number of thefts of credit card data stolen from 3rd party web sites that have occurred in recent years it's unlikely that this is the first PIN number theft to have occurred, counter to the implication in this story. It…

Identity Theft & the Mail Box Meth Gang

Botnets are the big guns in the Identity Theft world, ripping millions of identities from hard drives around the world -- not just home users, but web servers and database servers getting thousands or tens of thousands or millions pieces of data at once. However, low tech methods of data harvesting are still used. Low tech methods, too, appear to be evolving as increasingly organized, larger scale efforts are being uncovered, paralleling what we see in the internet security world. The canonical examples of organized crime driving spyware, worms and botnets has been shady advertising schemes. However, it's clear that identity theft is also a driver. But what drives the identity theft? Well, money obviously, but apparently drugs are behind some of it, too. The North County Times (San Diego) has an interesting story with quite a few details about one gang of Meth users turning to identity theft to pay for their habit. Apparently 14,000 credit card numbers were gathered by t…

Phishing: more clever, more evil, every day

This phishing scam, targeted at customers of Chase bank, is simple and direct. Fear it. Well, at least be aware of the general tendency of phishing scams to exploit basic human trust relationships with increasing sophistication. They get better and better every day, and they are building up quite a library of clever tricks. It looks like it came from your bank. The text is simple, direct, clear, and free from glaring grammatical errors.It appears to be a simple request. The apparent source of the email is obscured.It appears to be from: Chase Online Services TeamIt exploits the HTML processing ability of most modern email clients to obscure the actual target of the "click here" link (which I've removed, but which was obviously something other than chase.com.) Here's the simplest, most direct, most likely to succeed phishing scam email I've seen to date: Dear Chase Member: We have processed your request to change your e-mail address, based upon the info…