-=[BUSTED]=- 14 Charged In $30million Scam

The FBI has charged 14 people in a massive and long running credit card and bank fraud scheme.  From approximately 1999 to 2011, the defendants based in Manhattan and Queens, NY engaged in a conspiracy scheme involving the use of collusive merchants to charge credit cards for goods and services that were never actually provided.

The defendants also engaged in a conspiracy to defraud financial institutions by obtaining mortgages, loans, lines of credit, and opening bank accounts using fictitious or stolen identities. For example, 2 defendants obtained both a mortgage and a home equity loan, totaling over $500,000, using a fictitious name, social security number, and other fictitious personal information.  Also, in November 2010, 2 defendants stole an identity and used that real information to obtain a bank loan and credit cards in that person’s name.

Several banks were also defrauded through check kiting schemes.  During the course of the scheme, 1 defendant discussed his ability to purchase bank routing numbers from a bank employee and another discussed his ability to produce counterfeit bank checks to conduct a check kiting scheme.



Astaro Security Gateway – Home User UTM

Got an old PC and a couple network interface cards lying around?  Do you want a pretty decent all-in-one security system for your home network?  Astaro Security Gateway (formerly Astaro Security Linux) is an all-in-one network security gateway providing Unified Threat Management with a firewall, intrusion protection, antivirus, spam protection, URL filtering, and a VPN gateway.

Features include a modern packet filter, intrusion detection and prevention, portscan detection, content filtering, virus detection for email and Web traffic, profile handling, L2TP, IPSec, SSL, and PPTP VPN tunneling, spam blocking, proxies for HTTPS, HTTP, FTP, POP3, SMTP, DNS, VoIP, SOCKS, and Ident, logging, and reporting. 

It supports Ethernet, VLAN, PPP, PPPoE, PPPoA, Cable Modem, IPv6, QoS, Link Aggregation, and WAN-Uplink-Load balancing in routing, and bridge mode. The WebAdmin GUI, Install Wizard, Change Tracking, Printable Configuration, and Up2Date service make it easy to install, manage, and maintain.

It sets up in less than an hour, and works incredibly well.  Check it out.  http://www.astaro.com/products/astaro-security-gateway-software-appliance

ISP’s “Not Interested” In Malware Prevention

According to the V3.co.uk website, ISP’s are unwilling or unable to clean up the Internet that they provision of malware and attack code.  The problem is pervasive, multi-jurisdictional, and complicated by legal obstacles, lack of legislation, and even contractual obligations.  Having worked with various CIRTs, Spam, Malware and Phishing groups of which Canadian ISPs have been active and contributing partners over the years, I understand some of the many challenges that they face.

There are concerns of imposed liability, censorship, privacy, and also little monetary motivation for a service provider to filter traffic.  But if not at the ISP level, where?  The malicious content that is on the Internet seems to eminate from websites, hosting providers, and email providers.  Why not their?  Impose regulations requiring all websites to be properly registered, identities verified, and then crack down on the crack-heads that put the content that is causing the problems into 10×10 cinderblock rooms with no RJ45 ports to peak through.

In my humble opinion, the Internet was built poorly, and remains broken.  It was designed to provide a redundant communication vehicle concerned only with availability, not confidentiality, integrity or authetication controls.  It needs to return to its original untrusted purpose, and a separate network should be designed with security in mind at the ROOT, and made available for sensitive business and financial transactions.  Operating Systems should be developed with integrity checking built-in.  Anti-malware platforms need to monitor expected behaviors and report deviations in a manner that users can understand and make good decisions about.  Everything else is just patchwork.  I had more confidence in my old BBS than I do in the Internet.

In my fantasy world, anonymity should be retained on the untrusted Internet, but has no place in the world of business.  Just my 2¢, collect the whole dime.

EU: Cyber Attacks “Acts Of War”

The BBC is reporting that Tony Blair’s former top national security adviser states an online attack by one state on another could be considered an “act of war”.  I couldn’t agree more, and in light of recent events that the CBC has reported, China has some explaining to do…

Sir Richard Mottram told a House of Lords inquiry new “laws of war” were needed to cope with this threat.  He also criticised the EU for the multi-million pound theft of carbon credits, saying its apparent lack of cyber security “took my breath away”.  Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary William Hague called for countries to come together to agree a set of rules to prevent “cyber war”.  He revealed that the Foreign Office IT system had come under attack from a ”hostile state intelligence agency” as recently as January.

All of these events come amid claims from Bruce Schneier that the threat of online war is being exaggerated.  I tend to collect the evidence, and look for patterns.  I don’t know what Bruce is seeing, but I sure don’t like what I am seeing, and someone either needs to patch the great wall, or answer for their actions.

BBC Report

Canadian Government Under Attack

The Canadian government is under attack, apparently from China, giving foreign hackers access to highly classified information and forcing at least two key departments off the internet, according to CBC reports.  The attack was first detected in early January.  Hackers took over control of government computers belonging to top officials, most likely through drive-by web attacks or Trojan horse programs.  A spear-phishing email campaign was launched targeting executives and their staff with provocative messages containing malicious links or attachments.  Social engineering attacks were also used once the email system was compromised, asking staff to reveal passwords to key networks.  Once the attack was detected, security officials shut down all internet access in both affected departments in an attempt to stop the information leakage.  The containment effort left thousands of public servants without internet access.  Service has slowly been returning to normal since the attack.

The attacks were traced back to computer servers in China, but there is no way of knowing for certain if the hackers are Chinese, or using China to cover their tracks.  The Canadian government initially issued a statement dismissing it all as an “attempt to access” federal networks.  It has refused to release any further information.

CBC has confirmed that the attackers successfully penetrated computer systems at two main economic nerve centres, the Finance Department and Treasury Board, apparently taking control of computers in the offices of senior executives as part of a scheme to steal passwords that unlock entire government data systems.  It is unclear whether the attackers were able to compromise other networks and sensitive data.  The government is trying to keep the security breach under tight wraps.

 CBC Report