Senators blame Target execs for big data breach

By Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog

Target’s top dogs were raked over the coals at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.

Two Democratic senators criticized Target’s management for not stopping a huge data breach of its systems, citing several missed opportunities to thwart the attack and protect customer data.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-West Virg., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Con., pointed to Target’s failure to heed alerts issued by its expensive new FireEye malware detection systems and blamed its top executives.

“The best technology in the world is useless unless there’s good management,” Blumenthal said. “And here, to be quite blunt, there were multiple warnings from the company’s anti-intrusion software; they were missed by management.” …more

Q&A: Why FireEye alerts failed to stop Target hackers

(courtesy Threat Geek)

(courtesy Threat Geek)

By Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog

KINGSTON, Wash. – Target paid good money to install FireEye’s malware detection technology last year.

FireEye caught the bad guys already inside Target’s network. Alerts were issued – but ignored, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Were the tools oversold or poorly implemented? Or was dysfunction in Target management more to blame? LastWatchdog asked Jim Jaeger, Chief Cyber Services Strategist, General Dynamics Fidelis …more

Faked tax returns using stolen Social Security numbers swamp IRS

sh_IRS tax_550pxBy Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog

KINGSTON, Wash. – Fraudsters once again are having a field day using stolen personal data to file bogus tax returns, ripping off billions from the U.S. treasury and setting in motion a huge hassle for victimized citizens.

This crime is so easy to execute that petty thieves and organized crime gangs are doing it at scale. The government has stepped up arrests, but is no where near making a substantive dent, nor creating a meaningful deterrent.

Falsified returns are so easy to cash in because the IRS does not authenticate tax returns or W-2 forms prior to issuing a refund. And all a scammer needs is a name and Social Security Number. He or she can then fabricate a return and route the  refund to an address or bank account he or she controls. Last Watchdog asked iovation’s CTO Scott Waddell for some context: …more

Windows XP hackers prep for April 8 end of security patching

A shopper browses Windows goods. (courtesy Microsoft)

A shopper browses Windows goods. (courtesy Microsoft)

By Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog

KINGSTON, Wash. — A huge opportunity for hackers to infiltrate thousands of SMBs and enterprises is about to open up.

More specifically, the juicy targets include any company or organization still using Windows XP servers, desktops and laptops — anywhere inside a corporate network — after April 8.

That’s the date when Microsoft will no longer issue security patches, nor provide any technical support, for XP. Microsoft has been clanging the warning bell for more than a year, including posting this countdown clock.

“Unsupported systems provide a target-rich environment that will allow for cyber criminals to create an exploit and leverage it without the threat of it being shut down by security patching,” says Vinny Sakore, Cloud Security Program Manager at ICSA Labs.

After brief respite, spam, malware infections on the rise

By Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog
 SEATTLE – The major forms of Internet crime are nothing if not  resilient.
Consider  what a major advance it was for the good guys last October when the Russian Interior Ministry announced the arrest  of  “Paunch,” accusing the hefty Russian male of being the ring leader of the gang responsible for the creation and proliferation of the Blackhole exploit kit.
 The arrest of Paunch, whose real identity has yet to be publicly disclosed, and 12 others by Russian authorities demonstrated that the elite cyber gangs may not be untouchable. And it also showed a resolve among Russian political leaders to mitigate cybercrime some in the global security community doubted. …more

Why Amazon, Google and Microsoft have little to fear from European privacy rules

110803_Googlespy(Editor’s note: In this guest Last Watchdog essay, Nicos Vekiarides, founder and CEO of TwinStrata, argues that threats to constrain U.S. cloud service providers may contain more bark than bite.)

By Nicos Vekiarides, Special for Last Watchdog

Surely by now, you may be tired of hearing about the Snowden effect. While the revelations over the past year swirling around the NSA are certainly concerning, the truth is the threat of unauthorized access to data has always been a specter – whether it be a government agency, big tech, hacktivists or cyber spies.

Realistically, while privacy regulations will periodically get scrutinized, and often strengthened, few if any true “anti-American” laws will go into effect—especially with the three most prevalent cloud providers operating in Europe today: Amazon, Google and Microsoft. …more

Security startup Metapacket offers manual protection to smaller businesses

Nir Krakowski, CEO, Metapacket

Nir Krakowski, CEO, Metapacket

By Byron Acohido, Last Watchdog
SEATTLE –  Scores of tech security entrepreneurs, backed by deep-pocketed angel investors, are hustling to match the success of malware detection company FireEye, which recently made founder Ashar Aziz the newest member of Forbes list of billionaires.
Then there is Nir Krakowski, a bright young Israeli coder whose startup, Metapacket, is a throwback …more