My top security threats of 2016 in review

Since I began writing a series of newsletters for Inside Security in June, I have covered some of the most important data leaks or security threats each week. Here are my favorites:

Yahoo for the Big Kahuna award: Billions of emails served, thanks to Yahoo. The gift that keeps on giving, and also taking shareholder value too. My analysis and lots o’ links here.

In a class by itself is the Mirai botnet. Dyn’s analysis of the Krebs’ attack is here. Then more than 900,000 customers of German ISP Deutsche Telekom were knocked offline with new variant. It didn’t help matters that DT allowed the rest of the world to remotely manage these devices.

Schneider Electric gets the two times the charm award. Both Unity Pro and PanelShock utility software programs of theirs were compromised in a matter of days; both were attacks that could harm industrial control networks. This could be the return of Stuxnet. The published advisory is here.

The Australian Red Cross receives the bloodbath award. A million or so medical records of blood donors have, ahem, leaked. Gotta love those Aussies: “This is a seriously egregious cock-up,” said one researcher.

Three Mobile (UK) receives the can you hear me now award. Contact details of six million of its customers has been exposed, which are about two-thirds of their total. Hackers used an employee’s login credentials to gain entry.

The friends with benefits award goes to, naturally, the Friend Finder Network. They exposed more than 412 million accounts, including millions of supposedly deleted accounts, thanks to a local file inclusion flaw. Actually, this is their second such award: they were also breached in 2015.

DailyMotion and Weebly both share the password is ‘password’ award. DailyMotion had more than 80 million of their account IDs and passwords exposed. Only a fifth of these accounts had passwords and they were fortunately encrypted. The company admitted the breach in a blog post. Leaked Source obtained the data file. As for Weebly, they had more than 40 million accounts compromised earlier this year. Fortunately, their stolen passwords were stored using the strong hashing function BCrypt, making it difficult for hackers to initially obtain users’ actual passwords.

Payday awards. Criminals continue to figure out ways to make ATMs spit out their cash drawers. Two this year are notable: Alice (discovered recently by Trend Micro researchers) and Cobalt, where Group IB has named the organization behind the thefts. Both are very sophisticated attacks, and we should expect more in 2017.

The pixel perfect award goes to an attack called Steganos. Millions of people visiting mainstream websites over the past two months have been exposed to a novel form of malicious ads that embed attack code in individual pixels of the banners. This exploit has been around for several years. Its unusually stealthy operators scored a major coup by getting the ads displayed on a variety of unnamed reputable news sites, each with millions of daily visitors. It hides parts of its code in the parameters that control the pixel colors used to display banner ads.

Vera Bradley stores receive the attention shoppers award. They notified customers of a credit card exploit, which affects customers paying by credit cards in their stores from July and September of this year. Card numbers and names were captured by malware found running in their data center. The company has 150 stores selling fashion merchandise.

Oops mom, no firewall award goes to a Finnish facilities manager. Thanks to no firewall and a DDoS-based DNS attack.  At least two housing blocks in the city of Lappeenranta were affected and confirmed by the facilities management company. Hackers gained remote access to the HVAC systems. Luckily, outdoor temperatures weren’t critical.

The award for security starts in the home goes to so many companies it is hard to pick just one, but let’s give the honor to the Ameriprise employee who had a home-based network storage device with no password whatsoever. The drive was synchronized with one in his office, allowing anyone to view sensitive client data. Expect more of these sorts of attacks as the line between home and work continues to disappear.

And the most zero days reported in the past year: Adobe Flash, of course. No week would be complete without one!

What were your favorite breaches of the past year?

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