Recent Posts

Messy And Loud Hack In South Korea Doesn’t Look State Sponsored

A researcher who has studied the malicious software used in the attacks on media outlets and banks in South Korea this week said the attacks were coordinated, but messy and loud, without many of the hallmarks of a state sponsored hacking operation. Richard Henderson, a Security Strategist at Fortilabs at Fortinet Inc. said that the malware used in the attack was programmed to begin operating at 2:00pm local time, suggesting that those behind it had planned their operation for weeks or months before launching it. Still, Henderson said many details of the attack make it dissimilar from so-called “advanced persistent threat” or APT-style hacks that are carried out by foreign governments or groups working on their behalf. Henderson said that Fortinet analysts first obtained a copy of the malware on March 19, a day before the attacks. Researchers there had already identified the “time bomb” hidden in the code, which was […]

DPRKurious: Is North Korea Really Behind Cyber Attacks On The South?

The news keeps coming out of South Korea, where a mysterious rash of hacks and virus infections early Thursday compromised tens of thousands of machines running at banks, broadcasters and other firms, erasing data and causing widespread disruption. Here’s the latest: South Korean Officials “Strongly Suspect” North Korea South Korean government officials made their most direct statements to date (albeit anonymously) on the possible source of the attack, saying that they had a “strong suspicion” that the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was responsible. Speaking to the YonHap News Agency, the official, identified as a “high ranking official in the office of President Cheong Wa Dae,” refused to elaborate. However, he may have been referring to the preliminary results of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) which traced the malicious code responsible for crippling computers at broadcasters and banks to an IP address in China. South Korean […]

Update: Destructive Hacks Hit South Korean Media, Banks

Editor’s Note: Updated to include information from AlienVault on the attacks. – PFR 3/20/2013 Destructive cyber attacks against media outlets and banks in South Korea have ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with charges that the government of reclusive North Korea was behind the hacks. According to a report in South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the attacks began at 2:00PM local time in South Korea and affected the computer networks of three broadcasters and two banks. Broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN all reported that their computer networks were “halted” at that time. Shinhan Bank and Nonghyup made similar reports to the National Police Agency (NPA), according to Yonhap. Unlike past distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that are believed to have been launched by the DPRK against the South, the latest incursions come at a time of extreme military tension on the peninsula, and caused damages to South Korean […]

Welcoming A New Sponsor: The Trusted Computing Group!

The Security Ledger is a new, online publication that’s serious about reporting on security and “The Internet of Things.” While we’ve had tremendous success in our first six months of operation, any new endeavor involves some risk. That’s why I’m thrilled to have had the backing of some forward-looking sponsors: Qualys and Veracode. And today, I’m happy to add a new name to that list: The Trusted Computing Group (TCG). For those of you who aren’t familiar with TCG, its best known as the group behind the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) secure, cryptographic chip that ships with almost every modern desktop and notebook PC. The TPM assures a hardware-based root of trust on compliant system, allowing TPM-equipped systems to securely generate cryptographic keys that can authenticate each endpont for use in secure, online transactions and communications. But TCG actually does a lot more. As a security beat reporter, for example, I […]

Botnet Of Embedded Devices Used To Map Internet

Botnets are mostly linked with spam e-mail campaigns, denial of service attacks and data theft. But global networks of compromised hosts can be used for a variety of ends – not all of them malicious. That was the idea behind “Internet Census 2012,” a stealth project by an unnamed and unknown researcher/hacker to map the entire IPV4 Internet address space using a massive network of compromised devices. The results, published in the form of a research paper, underscore the problem of  unsecured embedded devices, including set top boxes, home routers and critical infrastructure, with the hacker able to locate and compromise these systems, creating a botnet of more than 420,000 nodes. According to a copy of the report, the project grew out of an experiment to locate unprotected devices online using nmap, the open source scanning tool. By compromising each vulnerable host and then enlisting it to scan for other […]