Tag Archives: NightLion Security

RESEARCHERS PROVE ABILITY TO HACK DEVICES USING SOUND WAVES

Yesterday, computer security researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina proved they have discovered a way to hack into a device using sound ways. This newly found weakness allows them to control or influence devices through tiny accelerometers. Accelerometers are instruments that measure acceleration and are manufactured as dynamic silicon chip-based devices used to sense movement or vibrations known as microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS. They are used for navigating, determining the orientation of a tablet and calculating distance in fitness monitors. Accelerometers are standard in consumer products such as smartphones, Fitbits and automobiles.

In the paper highlighting the research, they demonstrate how they were able to add additional steps to a Fitbit monitor, as well as, play a “malicious” music file from a smartphone, demonstrating they can control the phone’s accelerometer. Kevin Fu, one author of the paper, stated, “It’s like the opera singer who hits the note to break a wine glass, only in our case, we can spell out words.” He went on to say, “You can think of it as a musical virus.”

In addition, research from the paper shows that with the toy car, they did not infiltrate the car’s microprocessor, but rather controlled the car by forcing the accelerometer to generate fake readings. Computer security researchers remarked that this is new insight into cybersecurity challenges in complex systems, which show how analog and digital components can interact in unpredictable ways.

Vinny Troia, CEO of NightLion Security commented, “as we see a heightened push to develop self-driving vehicles from numerous companies, undetected vulnerabilities, such as this one, that could allow an attacker to remotely control a self-driving vehicle is disturbing, but a reality that should be seriously considered.”

The computer security researchers will be presenting their findings at the IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy in Paris next month.

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CloudPets’ Poor Security Leads to Millions of Childrens’ Voice Recordings Leaked

CloudPets’ Internet of Things (IoT) teddy bear leaked more than 2 million voice recordings of parents and children because of their poor database security. This is only the latest compromise to occur with children’s toys. In January, Germany issued a ban on its internet-connected doll, Cayla, and demanded parents destroy them. With the CloudPets leak, everyone’s fear of what the privacy risk to children is with these smart toys has been brought to life.

The breach was first reported on Tuesday in a blog post by Troy Hunt, a Microsoft guru who specializes in cloud and online security. Hunt informs that CloudPets’ data was saved to a MongoDB database on an Amazon-hosted service that was publicly available and required no authentication, not even a password. Hunt goes on to say that the database was filed by Shodan, a search engine known for finding connected things, and evidence shows that since December 25, 2016 the stored data had been accessed multiple times by multiple people. CloudPets’ parent company, Spiral Toys, was notified at least four times about the breach, however, Hunt explains that some attempts to contact the company failed due to dead email addresses. In any event, there is no way Spiral Toys was not aware of the leak due to evidence left from criminal ransom demands.

Although this is a wake-up call to parents, businesses can take a lot away from the CloudPets breach, explains cybersecurity expert, Vinny Troia, CEO of NightLion Security. “Many businesses have not taken cybersecurity as seriously as they should be, until it’s too late,” Troia continues, “they take shortcuts that do not properly protect them against cyber criminals, and then are floored when their system becomes compromised.” Troia goes onto to explain that today cybersecurity needs to be at the forefront of businesses’ minds or they are going to be the next Spiral Toys.

The CloudPets incident is only the most recent compromise involving IoT toys, but they are certainly not the last. Both businesses and parents need to take the proper steps to protect the user data and their children from the darker side of the cyber world.

IRS Cautions of New W-2 Phishing Scam

Tax season is upon, which means time for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to release its “Dirty Dozen” scam list for 2017. This annual list features numerous schemes taxpayers may encounter throughout the year, but mostly occur during tax season.

It is no surprise that phishing scams are at the top of the list. Earlier this month, the IRS warned about a very refined and evolving W-2 scam that is targeting school districts, corporations, hospitals, nonprofits and regular taxpayers. According to the IRS, this particular phishing scam is not an IRS impersonation, but instead scammers are sending an email to a company’s payroll department as a company executive. The email requests a list of employees and their W-2 information, which gives the scammer access to the employees’ personal and tax information.

IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, commented, “this is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme.’’

According to the IRS website, the list also includes:

  • Phishing: Fake emails or websites that attempt to steal personal information.
  • Phone Scams: Calls from criminals pretending to be IRS agents.
  • Identity Theft: Criminals file fraudulent returns using a stolen Social Security number.
  • Return Preparer Fraud: Be aware of dishonest return preparers.
  • Fake Charities: Be aware of criminal groups acting as charitable organizations to receive donations from innocent contributors.
  • Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should be wary of anyone promising inflated refunds.
  • Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit usually unobtainable to most taxpayers.
  • Falsely Filling Deductions on Returns: Avoid the temptation to falsely raise deductions or expenses on their returns to pay less than what they owe or possibly receive greater refunds.
  • Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Don’t let scammers talk you into inventing income to invalidly qualify for tax credits, like Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Abusive Tax Shelters: Don’t use abusive tax structures to dodge paying taxes.
  • Frivolous Tax Arguments: Don’t use frivolous tax disputes to avoid paying taxes.
  • Offshore Tax Avoidance: Money and income in offshore accounts is becoming more and more heavily enforced.

Koskinen advises people to avoid opening emails or clicking on websites stating to be from the IRS. He goes on to remind that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. In addition to Koskinen’s advice, cybersecurity expert, Vinny Troia, CEO of NightLion Security adds, “cyber criminals are getting smarter. Make sure you’re using strong, tricky passwords to protect your personal information and networks. All sensitive information should be backed up with two-step authentication, which helps prevent cyber criminals from hacking into a system. Be completely sure your network has no vulnerabilities these hackers can exploit; my team offers 24/7 emergency service to companies who have been exploited.”

Click here to view the full “Dirty Dozen” list.

Gmail Forbids JavaScript Attachments

As of February 13, Gmail is no longer allowing emails to be sent with a JavaScript attachment. Gmail restricts numerous file attachments for security purposes and now .js files have been added to the list.

“JavaScript files have been the main source of malware viruses within the past few years”, says NighLion Security CEO Vinny Troia. This is exactly why Google has begun forbidding .js attachments.

That being said, Gmail users should keep in mind that malware can be found within other file attachments that are not yet a part of Gmail’s restricted list. According to iTech Post, Malware is being reported to have switched from using JavaScript to SVG attachments and malicious LNK. The malware is being embedded into ZIP archives with malicious PowerShell scripts attached.

Per security experts, PowerShell is a scripting language in the Windows system used for automated administration tasks. These scripts have been used to download malware in the past, and some malware programs are written entirely in PowerShell.

Regardless of this malware switch, by blocking emails with JavaScript attachments Gmail is eliminating one of the main sources of malware transportation. Nonetheless, if you need to send a .js file for a legitimate purpose, you can do so using Google Drive, Google Cloud Storage or other types of storage solutions.

A good rule to live by is if you don’t know a file type or what it does, don’t open it.