FBI Personnel Files Breached In Recent OPM Hack


The FBI Is Offering A $3 Million Reward For Information Leading To The Arrest Or Conviction Of This Russian Hacking SuspectThe recent cyberattack that compromised the servers containing information on federal employees may have also hit the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The attacks, which were first reported here and have led to the Office Of Personnel Management admitting that Social Security numbers of employees were exposed as well as other sensitive information in data packets on their servers, appear to have also affected agents with the F.B.I.

According to a source in the agency, the breach was the second such attack to affect them personally, with the first being via Anthem Blue Cross which took place last February.

The source says that they were notified by OPM last month that their information was compromised.

When pressed further, they did state that they weren’t sure that it was an agency-wide problem.

A wider breach of F.B.I. files would be a catastrophic danger to national security.

Speculation as to is behind these cyberattacks has fallen squarely on China’s doorstep.

While the White House has not officially stated that China was behind them, members of Congress have aired their suspicions.

Observers have their doubts of the breach as well as the veracity of the source.

Christopher A. Smith


White House Eyes Sanctions After Second Computer Breach


White House Chimes In On Turkey's Blocking Of TwitterAdding to the chaotic aftermath of the discovery of government personnel systems being hacked, the White House admitted that there was another computer breach.

The second computer breach involved the information of relatives of federal employees and their friends and associates.

Other affected parties included defense contractors and other agencies.

President Obama is currently weighing whether to enact stern financial sanctions against the hackers.

This is a new policy that came about thanks to an executive order signed in April that would authorize the Treasury Department to issue and enforce these sanctions against groups and individuals involved in damaging cyberattacks and those who stood to gain from them.

The order came about after a cyberattack against Sony Pictures leaked numerous files and sensitive information, and was declared to be the work of North Korea.

If the United States went down this path with China, who they highly suspect of being behind the attacks based on their investigations thus far, it would be a very significant move given China’s steadfast denial and the uneasy tone surrounding relations between the two countries.

The government is now in the process of installing tighter cybersecurity measures and further encryption on all of their servers.

Christopher A. Smith


Social Security Numbers Of Every Federal Employee Stolen In Recent Hack


2000px-Simple_Monitor_Icon.svgIn the wake of the recent hacking attack on the servers of the Office of Personnel Management, the worst fears have been realized in the midst of the continued investigation of events.

A government employee source close to the investigation has revealed in reports that the cyberattack that took place in December resulted in the theft of the personnel data of every federal employee, including Social Security numbers.

The file packet itself contains up to 780 different pieces of information on every employee listed.

The OPM database doesn’t include the information of members of Congress and staff, however.

The union is upset with what they see as the Obama administration’s suppression of how serious the situation is. J.David Cox, president of the American Federation of Federal Employees, issued a letter on the matter to the head of the OPM.

In it, he expressed the union’s collective frustration that “very little substantive information has been shared with us, despite the fact that we represent more than 670,000 federal employees in departments and agencies throughout the executive branch.”

It has been speculated that China was behind the cyberattack, with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada mentioning “the Chinese” in discussing reasons for the attack on the Senate floor.

The Chinese government has sternly denied their involvement, and there is no official comment on that part of the matter by American officials.

Christopher A. Smith


Syrian Electronic Army Hacks And Defaces U.S. Army Website


Adult Dating Site Hacked - Thousands Of Customer Records Leaked OnlineThe Syrian Electronic Army has struck at the United States military once again.

In a near repeat of web-based attacks as first reported here earlier, it was confirmed tha the U.S. Army website was defaced by hackers claiming affiliation with the notorious Syrian Electronic Army.

The evidence left on the site contained a pop-up message that stated: “Your commanders admit they are training the people they have sent you to die fighting.”

The main landing page of the Army’s website was down, along with the homepage for the United States Strategic Command and the official page for the US Cyber Command.

No other Army sites were affected.

Screenshots of the hack were later uploaded to the Syrian Electronic Army’s Twitter account, which showed that the attackers gained access via the content delivery network of Limelight Networks.

When contacted, Limelight stressed that they were doing everything they could to investigate the matter and work with government officials.

The SEA Twitter account in the past has been the source of leaks of sensitive information concerning joint efforts by the U.S. and Turkish forces and Syrian rebels looking to oust Bashir Al-Assad out of his dictatorial position.

The U.S. Army had no public comment on the attacks.

Christopher A. Smith


Massive Data Breach Hits Federal Employees


Adult Dating Site Hacked - Thousands Of Customer Records Leaked OnlineA significant and troubling attack by hackers on a government agency’s servers has affected the sensitive data of millions of former and current federal employees.

Reports on Thursday stated that the Office of Personnel Management was hit with a cyberattack that seemed to have its origins in China, according to law enforcement officials that are investigating the matter.

The attack affected the personal data of close to 4 million employees both currently working within the government and those no longer doing so.

OPM began to suspect malicious activities as early as April on their servers.

In May, the Department of Homeland Security stepped in to explore the situation and concluded that the information systems of OPM had indeed been tampered with.

This was following another previously disclosed attack on OPM and other agencies such as State Department and the White House.

The attack affected OPM’s IT systems and those information databases it kept on the Department of The Interior’s servers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stepped in to get to the bottom of the breach.

While government officials have not gone on record to say that China is directly responsible, they have chastised the country for rampant cyberattack threats in addition to spying and theft.

China, for its part, adamantly denies any wrongdoing.

All of the affected parties are currently being contacted by OPM, who plans to offer identity theft assistance to all involved.

Christopher A. Smith


eNom Suffers DNS Attack


700,000 Routers Found To Be Vulnerable To DNS HijackingA prominent domain registrar came under attack, and there still are questions as to why.

Customers of eNom, a renowned domain registrar company, received a letter on Thursday from the CEO, Taryn Naidu.

The letter began as such: “Enom recently became the subject of what appears to be a very sophisticated attack by a group that targets large internet infrastructure companies. Within hours of this attack, we were in contact with federal law enforcement and the affected parties. This attack hijacked the DNS traffic of 4 domains for a very short period of time before we mitigated the situation.”

It appears that no other customers except the four received this letter.

Even more curious is the fact that while the letter was intended to maintain transparency, there are still questions as to whether one of the four is the Federal Reserve Bank of St.Louis, who reported a DNS server attack earlier in the week.

eNom is their domain registrar, and the tools hijackers went after are those that they use.

There has been no comment provided from eNom’s parent company whether the two incidents are linked, but the odds lean heavily towards that possibility.

The DNS attacks such as these are becoming more frequent and problematic for cybersecurity professionals who point to weaknesses in webhosting services that can be exploited by means of social media maneuvers to redirect to rogue websites.

Christopher A. Smith


United Airlines Will Offer Up To 1,000,000 Air Miles To Bug Bounty Hunters


Passport Scanning Comes To United Airlines Mobile AppFor all of those security experts who are avid travelers, United Airlines is looking to give you the Monty Hall treatment and make you a sweet deal.

Capitalizing on a growing trend in cyber-security in rewarding those who find flaws that hackers can take advantage of, the airline company is following the lead of Facebook & Microsoft in looking to recruit established researchers to track down any and all flaws within their website and booking system.

The airline announced the move online stating,  “If you think you have discovered a potential bug that affects our websites, apps and/or online portals, please let us know. If the submission meets our requirements, we’ll gladly reward you for your time and effort.”

The difference between United and the other companies is that they will offer air miles to those researchers based on their findings. There are a couple of prerequisites in place, however.

Those interested first have to be members of the airline’s frequent flyer program, Mileage Plus. There’s also a tiered system of mileage rewards in place, with high-level security flaws earning those that find them some serious miles that can total one million.

But aggressive tactics in trying to find the flaws, such as conducting tests with other individuals’ Mileage Plus accounts for example, will not only disqualify you but place you under criminal investigation.

To those who are still interested, happy hunting!

Christopher A. Smith


NGINX Seeks To Garner Market Share With Their New Web Server


NGINX Seeks To Garner Market Share With Their New Web ServerApache dominates the server market, owning over half the market.

NGINX wants to take a bite out that share with the release of their new server, loaded with new features.

Some of those features, as reported here, are:

Faster Load Balancing Algorithm, Full-Featured TCP Load Balancing, High Availability, Updated Extended Status Dashboard, Unbuffered Upload Support, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Authentication For Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP).


Cyberespionage Group Infiltrates Defense Contractors And Others


Cyberespionage Group Infiltrates Defense Contractors And OthersA cyberespionage group based in Lebanon has compromised the web servers of many defense contractors, telecommunications operators, media groups and educational organizations.

The compromise impacts servers across at least 10 countries.

The attack, dubbed Volatile Cedar, began in 2012, but has just been discovered recently.

Web servers appear to be the group’s preferred method of entry, as opposed to other groups that use phishing or other methods.

Check out more details of this developing story here.


SAP Acquires Concur For $7.3 Billion


SAP Acquires Concur For $7.3 BillionSAP, the German software giant, has spent $7.3 billion acquiring Concur.

It was an all-stock deal, which means they paid $129 per share. That’s a 20 percent premium over the stock value on September 17th, but below the all-time high of $130.36 from January this year.

It’s part of SAP’s effort to expand their reach into the cloud computing industry. The Concur acquisition will expand SAP’s cloud users to 50 million, up from 38 million currently.

It’s a smart move, given that cloud computing – using networks and remote data centers instead of servers – has grown by 20 percent. Plus, those growth figures are estimated to accelerate as more and more businesses and software companies turn to the cloud for storage and business solutions.

The acquisition was funded by a credit facility agreement of up to 7 million euros.

Spencer Grover