What we’re reading in security

Welcome to the first installment of “what we’re reading.” Each week we ask the various departments within Intermedia’s organization to share news stories that pique their interest. Sometimes these stories are industry or tech-focused, sometimes just fun.

This week we sat down with Andy, Senior Security Architect and Ninad, Security Engineer, to see what they’re reading. Andy and Ninad focused on recent high-profile hacks, government data and equipment breaches, as well as some news on Edward Snowden, and the rise of phony online reviews specifically in the booming moving/storage service industry:

Supplier of Government mass surveillance software gets hacked – An Italian company called “Hacking Team” that provides Government-scale surveillance systems was hacked, revealing over 400GB of damning internal communications, sloppy internal security practices, secret backdoors into customers’ accounts and dealings with multiple governments accused of human rights violations and crimes against humanity as well as communications with the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the DEA. A rather excellent multi-part write up on the event can be found here, which provides a timeline of the hack as well as an overview of the potential repercussions all told from a surprisingly objective viewpoint.

Andy’s take on the article?

“As the article so perfectly states, many around the world, especially those who advocate for higher levels of personal privacy are basking in the feeling known as ‘Schadenfreude’. It’s a German word used to describe the pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune. While getting hacked usually involves high levels of sympathy for the targeted firm, this case doesn’t seem to elicit the same level of sympathy, especially as people burrow deeper and deeper into the communications and records leaked. Moral of the story? Nobody is safe from hacking!”

Summary and timeline of recent US Government data breaches – These well-made illustrated timelines were created to show the scale and duration of many of the well-known breaches that revealed millions of employee personnel files and sensitive security clearance documents.  It was recently reported that 21.5 million personal records were exposed in the OPM hack, including social security numbers, addresses, healthcare records and even fingerprint information.

Andy’s take on the article?

“While previously disclosed information on these hacks has been patchy and incomplete, this article pulls all of it together into one consolidated piece and provides a wonderful illustration of the whole event which has been going on over the last several months. The graphics are beautiful and can help you to better understand the impact of the hack. It also serves to remind us once again that everyone is susceptible to hacking.

German owned missile battery briefly taken over by hackers while stationed in Turkey – This one is seriously scary. Unknown hackers briefly took over an anti-aircraft Patriot missile system stationed in Turkey and owned and operated by Germany. The hack was detected when the missile system started carrying out unexplained orders and is suspected to have been accomplished using one of two known weak spots in the system that can be potentially exploited by hackers.

Andy’s take on the article?

“Hacking airplanes and cars have both been in the news recently and while these are scary, hacking a missile battery brings the fear factor to an entirely different level. We sincerely hope this does not become a regular occurrence in the future as new upgraded and better defended systems go online.”

Possibility exists in the future for Edward Snowden to return to the United States – For the first time, former US Attorney General Eric Holder has stated that he believes the “possibility exists” for a deal to be made with Snowden that would allow his return back into the United States.

Andy’s take on the article?

“While Holder retired from his position last April, he acted as Attorney General from the time of the initial leak in 2013 until then, presiding over the actual criminal complaint currently preventing Snowden from returning. While he has no official capacity to make this return a reality, his public opinion could signify a shift in the Obama administration’s attitude on the matter. This could potentially be the first step on the path to Snowden’s return to the country he fled over two years ago.”

Phony online reviews continue to spread…this time among moving and storage companies – The Internet is a great source for researching companies with which you wish to do business. However, fake reviews and dodgy search engine manipulation techniques are drowning out legitimate reviews, giving way to a sea of glowing fake endorsements. The latest wave of phony endorsements? Storage and moving companies. This comprehensive article highlights the history of this trend, and red flags to look out for.

Ninad’s take on the article?

“Many people these days rely on reviews from Google and Yelp when selecting a service. As this trend continues to become more widespread, users need to be more vigilant and thorough in reviewing online endorsements – and should try to find alternative sources of reviews to see if they’re consistent across sites.”

 

Stay tuned to the blog for more “what we’re reading” round-ups…next up is support!

About Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Sr Marketing Communications Manager at Intermedia