Category Archives: Cyberattack

HBO Programming Stolen In Cyberattack

NEW YORK (CBS SF/AP) — HBO has had some of its programming stolen in what is being described as a cyber incident.

The company says that it is working with law enforcement and cybersecurity firms.

gotdtargaryen01 HBO Programming Stolen In Cyberattack

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 (credit: Helen Sloan/HBO)

HBO CEO Richard Pepler says in an email to the network’s employees that “proprietary information” was stolen in the hack. Spokesman Jeff Cusson would not comment on which specific TV episodes, movies or other video the hackers made off with.

Hacking Hollywood can have significant repercussions. Sony struggled in the aftermath of its huge hack in 2014, which leaked employee emails as well as films.

In April, a hacker claimed to have released episodes of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” before their release by the streaming site.

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Surfer Works From Bedroom To Beat Worldwide WannaCry Cyberattack

ILFRACOMBE, England (AP) — As a vast “ransomware” attack raced from computer to computer, infecting tens of thousands around the world, a young tech expert worked from his bedroom in England to bring the rampage to a halt. But Marcus Hutchins doesn’t consider himself a hero. The 22-year-old credited with cracking the WannaCry cyberattack told The Associated Press he fights malware because “it’s the right thing to do.” In his first face-to-face interview, Hutchins, who works for Los Angeles-based Kryptos Logic, said late Monday that hundreds of computer experts worked throughout the weekend to fight the virus, which paralyzed computers in some 150 countries. “I’m definitely not a hero,” he said. “I’m just someone doing my bit to stop botnets.” • ALSO READ: Experts See Possible North Korea Links To Global Cyberattack In the first hours after the virus struck Friday, the computer whiz and surfing enthusiast who lives with his family in a small seaside town in southwest England discovered a so-called “kill switch” that slowed the unprecedented outbreak. He then spent the next three days fighting the worm that crippled Britain’s hospital network as well as factories, government agencies, banks and other businesses around the world. WannaCry paralyzed computers running mostly older versions of Microsoft Windows by encrypting users’ computer files and displaying a message demanding a ransom of $300 to $600 to release them; failure to pay would leave the data mangled and likely beyond repair. Hutchins said he came across the solution when he was analyzing a sample of the malicious code and noticed it was linked to an unregistered web address. He promptly registered the domain, something he regularly does to discover ways to track or stop cyber threats, and found that stopped the worm from spreading. Kryptos Logic chief executive Salim Neino said Hutchins’ quick work allowed him to slow the virus on Friday afternoon European time, before it could fully affect the United States. “Marcus, with the program he runs at Kryptos Logic, not only saved the United States but also prevented further damage to the rest of the world,” Neino said in an interview from Venice, Italy. “Within a few moments, we were able to validate that there was indeed a kill switch. It was a very exciting moment.” Neino said the worm was “poorly designed” – patched together and a “sum of different parts” with an unsophisticated payment system. Kryptos Logic is one of hundreds of companies working to combat online threats for companies, government agencies and individuals around the world. Hutchins himself is part of a global community that constantly watches for attacks and works to thwart them, often sharing information on Twitter. It’s not uncommon for members to use aliases, to protect from retaliatory attacks and ensure privacy, and Hutchins has long tweeted under the handle MalwareTech, which features a profile photo of a pouty-faced cat wearing enormous sunglasses. But he realizes his newfound fame will mean an end to the anonymity. “I don’t think I’m ever going back to the MalwareTech that everyone knew,” said the curly-haired young man, shrugging and flashing a winning smile. Hutchins’ mother Janet, a nurse, couldn’t be prouder – and was happy to have the veil of anonymity lifted. When her son made the breakthrough, she said, she wanted to tell the world about it. “I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t,” she said. And now he’s a celebrity. He’s been in touch with the FBI, as well as British national cyber security officials. His new life is likely to be a big adjustment. Hutchins works out of his bedroom in the seaside resort town of Ilfracombe on a sophisticated computer setup with three large screens. The concept of celebrity was clearly foreign to him. He was nervous about giving an interview. The journalists were given the address minutes before it started, and had to provide a password before Hutchins would let them in. As he did a sound-check for the camera, he was so anxious he misspelled his last name, giving it as “H-U-T-C-H-I-S,” without the “n.” His mother made tea and coffee for the visitors. Once Hutchins started to talk, he relaxed. Constantly smiling, he was shy and polite, and happy to explain how he fights malware. He said he was eager to get through the media frenzy and go back to his normal life. “I felt like I should agree to one interview,” he said. Many will be following his next moves. CyberSecurity Ventures, which tracks the industry, estimates global spending on cybersecurity will jump to $120 billion this year from just $3.5 billion in 2004. It forecasts expenditures will grow between 12 percent and 15 percent annually for the next five years. “While all other technology sectors are driven by reducing inefficiencies and increasing productivity, cybersecurity spending is driven by cybercrime,” the firm said in a February report. “The unprecedented cybercriminal activity we are witnessing is generating so much cyber spending, it’s become nearly impossible for analysts to keep track.” After more analysis, Hutchins, an avid surfer, plans to take a vacation – traveling to Las Vegas and California on the company dime. One guess on what he’ll be doing: Yes, surfing. On waves this time. © Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Experts See Possible North Korea Links To Global Cyberattack

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Cybersecurity experts are pointing to circumstantial evidence that North Korea may be behind the global “ransomware” attack: the way the hackers took hostage computers and servers across the world was similar to previous cyberattacks attributed to North Korea. Simon Choi, a director at South Korean anti-virus software company Hauri Inc. who has analyzed North Korean malware since 2008 and advises the government, said Tuesday that the North is no newcomer to the world of bitcoins. It has been mining the digital currency using malicious computer programs since as early as 2013, he said. In the attack, hackers demand payment from victims in bitcoins to regain access to their encrypted computers. The malware has scrambled data at hospitals, factories, government agencies, banks and other businesses since Friday, but an expected second-wave outbreak largely failed to materialize after the weekend, in part because security researchers had already defanged it . • ALSO READ: Surfer Works From Bedroom To Beat Worldwide WannaCry Cyberattack Choi is one of a number of researchers around the world who have suggested a possible link between the “ransomware” known as WannaCry and hackers linked to North Korea. Researchers at Symantec and Kaspersky Lab have found similarities between WannaCry and previous attacks blamed on North Korea. While Choi’s speculation may deepen suspicions that the nuclear-armed state is responsible, the evidence is still far from conclusive. Authorities are working to catch the extortionists behind the global cyberattack, searching for digital clues and following the money. “We are talking about a possibility, not that this was done by North Korea,” Choi said. — ABOUT THAT NORTH KOREA LINK WannaCry paralyzed computers running mostly older versions of Microsoft Windows in some 150 countries. It encrypted users’ computer files and displayed a message demanding $300 to $600 worth of the digital currency bitcoin to release them; failure to pay would leave the data scrambled and likely beyond repair . The hackers appeared to have taken control of computers and servers around the world by sending a type of malicious code known as a worm to file-sharing protocols. The worms quickly scanned computers with vulnerability, in this case the older versions of Microsoft Windows, and used those computers as hackers’ command and control centers. This method, which allows quick and massive infections of computers with security weaknesses, has been found in previously known North Korean cyberattacks, including the Sony hack in 2014 blamed on North Korea. “Since a July 2009 cyberattack by North Korea, they used the same method,” Choi said. “It’s not unique in North Korea but it’s also not a very common method.” Choi also cited an accidental communication he had last year with a hacker traced to a North Korean internet address who admitted development of ransomware. South Korea was mostly spared from the latest ransomware attack, partly because constant threats from the North have made the government and companies careful about always updating their software. South Korea has been a frequent target of cyberattacks that it traced to its northern neighbor. Some high-profile attacks between 2009 and 2013 shut down government websites, banking systems and paralyzed broadcasters. On Monday, the Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab said portions of the WannaCry program use the same code as malware previously distributed by the Lazarus Group, a hacker collective behind the 2014 Sony hack. But it’s possible the code was simply copied from the Lazarus malware without any other direct connection. Kaspersky said “further research can be crucial to connecting the dots.” Another security company, Symantec, has also found similarities between WannaCry and Lazarus tools, and said it’s “continuing to investigate for stronger connections.” If North Korea, believed to be training cyber warriors at schools, is indeed responsible for the latest attack, Choi said the world should stop underestimating its capabilities and work together to think of a new way to respond to cyber threats, such as having China pull the plug on North Korea’s internet. “We have underestimated North Korea so far that since North Korea is poor, it wouldn’t have any technologies. But North Korea has been preparing cyber skills for more than 10 years and its skill is significant. We should never underestimate it,” Choi said. — FOLLOW THE MONEY Researchers might find some additional clues in the bitcoin accounts accepting the ransom payments. There have been three accounts identified so far, and there’s no indication yet that the criminals have touched the funds. Although bitcoin is anonymized, researchers can watch it flow from user to user. So investigators can follow the transactions until an anonymous account matches with a real person, said Steve Grobman, chief technology officer with the California security company McAfee. But that technique is no sure bet. There are ways to convert bitcoins into cash on the sly through third parties. And even finding a real person might be no help if they’re in a jurisdiction that won’t cooperate. — TELL-TALE SIGNS James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said U.S. investigators are collecting forensic information – such as internet addresses, samples of malware or information the culprits might have inadvertently left on computers – that could be matched with the handiwork of known hackers. Investigators might also be able to extract some information about the attacker from a previously hidden internet address connected to WannaCry’s “kill switch.” That switch was essentially a beacon sending the message “hey, I’m infected” to the hidden address, Weaver said. That means the very first attempts to reach that address, which might have been recorded by spy agencies such as the NSA or Russian intelligence, could lead to “patient zero” – the first computer infected with WannaCry. That, in turn, might further narrow the focus on possible suspects. — THE PLAYERS Forensics, though, will only get investigators so far. One challenge will be sharing intelligence in real time to move as quickly as the criminals – a tricky feat when some of the major nations involved, such as the U.S. and Russia, distrust each other. Even if the perpetrators can be identified, bringing them to justice could be another matter. They might be hiding out in countries that wouldn’t be willing to extradite suspects for prosecution, said Robert Cattanach, a former U.S. Justice Department attorney and an expert on cybersecurity. On the other hand, the WannaCry attack hit – and annoyed – many countries. Russia was among the hardest hit, and Britain among the most high-profile, and both have “some pretty good investigative capabilities,” Cattanach said.

Fears Next Global Cyberattack Could Hit Infrastructure, Nuclear Plants, Railways

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — A cybersecurity expert says the biggest cyberextortion attack in history is going to be dwarfed by the next big ransomware attack. Ori Eisen, an expert in Arizona, says the cyberattack Friday that held hospitals, factories and government agencies hostage around the world appears to be “low-level” stuff, given the ransom demands. But he says the same thing could be done to crucial infrastructure, like nuclear power plants, dams or railway systems. Eisen says “this is child’s play, what happened. This is not the serious stuff yet. What if the same thing happened to 10 nuclear power plants, and they would shut down all the electricity to the grid? What if the same exact thing happened to a water dam or to a bridge?” Eisen says the internet itself is diseased and these attacks will continue until some serious restructuring is done. He says “today, it happened to 10,000 computers … there’s no barrier to do it tomorrow to 100 million computers.” A young cybersecurity researcher has been credited with helping to halt the spread of the global ransomware cyberattack by accidentally activating a so-called “kill switch” in the malicious software. The 22-year-old Britain-based researcher, identified online only as MalwareTech, found that the software’s spread could be stopped by registering a garbled domain name. The paper quoted the researcher as saying: “This is not over. The attackers will realize how we stopped it, they’ll change the code and then they’ll start again.” He urged Windows users to update their systems and reboot. The worldwide cyberextortion attack has been called “unprecedented” by Europol, which is investigating who is behind it. The worldwide cyberextortion attack has prompted Microsoft to take the unusual step of making security fixes available for older Windows system. Before this, Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001’s Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations that pay extra for extended support. But millions of individuals and smaller businesses still had such systems. Microsoft says now it will make the fixes free for everyone. Friday’s attack was based on a Windows vulnerability that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency and was later leaked to the internet. Microsoft released fixes for the vulnerability in March, but computers that didn’t run the update were subject to the ransom attack. Once inside an organization’s network, the malware behind the attack spread rapidly using this vulnerability.
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Massive Ransomware Attack Cripples Computer Networks In Over 60 Countries

LONDON (CBS / AP) — Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies. It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded. The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet. Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck. All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software, which so far has been responsible for tens of thousands of attacks, in more than 60 countries. That includes the United States, although its effects there didn’t appear to be widespread, at least initially. The attack infected computers with what is known as “ransomware” – software that locks up the user’s data and flashes a message demanding payment to release it. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware. Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.” Security experts said the attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally from computer to computer when employees share documents and other files. Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely. Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organizations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread. “For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented,” he said. The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering. Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software “patches” for those holes. But many companies and individuals haven’t installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn’t fix. By Kaspersky Lab’s count, the malware struck at least 74 countries. In addition to Russia, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm. Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency. Doctors’ practices and pharmacies reported similar problems. Patrick Ward, a 47-year-old sales director, said his heart operation, scheduled for Friday, was canceled at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or bloodwork couldn’t be accessed. “Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization,” he said. “It’s stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compromised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service. “It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” she said. Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack. Authorities said they were communicating with more than 100 energy, transportation, telecommunications and financial services providers about the attack. Spain’s Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit. Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. In 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers. Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals’ old operating systems and confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers. He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed, “IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced.” “Looking at the trends, it was going to happen,” he said. “I did not expect an attack on this scale. That was a shock. TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report