Articles on Cybercrime

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Cyberattacks on major technology providers and the interconnected world of software and hardware that power the global economy continued at a relentless pace in 2021. Instead of one company at a time being victimized in a traditional data breach, thousands were often exposed simultaneously. Businesses, hospitals and schools also worked to defend themselves against an onslaught of ransomware attacks, which increasingly reap $10 million dollars or more in extortion payments, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. officials and security experts said the past year has been one of the worst on record for cybersecurity, marked not just by such repeated discoveries of bugs considered historic in their scope and potential severity but an onslaught of ransomware attacks on...

Click here to read more »

In the months since President Biden warned Russia's Vladimir Putin that he needed to crack down on ransomware gangs there hasn't been a massive attack like the one last year that resulted in gasoline shortages. Still, there has been a barrage of lower-profile episodes that have upended businesses, governments, schools and hospitals , the Associated Press reports. Lewis & Clark Community College in Illinois canceled classes for days after a ransomware attack last month knocked critical computer systems offline. “That first day,” said president Ken Trzaska, “I think all of us were probably up 20-plus hours, just moving through the process, trying to get our arms around what happened.”

...
Click here to read more »

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, which Jen Easterly runs, stood up a resource page Tuesday to help erase a flaw it says is present in hundreds of millions of devices, the Associated Press reports. Easterly deemed the flaw “one of the most serious I’ve seen in my entire career, if not the most serious.” Publicly disclosed last Thursday, the flaw is catnip for cybercriminals and digital spies because it allows easy, password-free entry. The Department of Homeland Security sounded a dire alarm, ordering federal agencies to urgently eliminate the bug because it’s so easily exploitable — and telling those with public-facing networks to put up firewalls if they can’t be sure. The...

Click here to read more »

Indiana state Rep. Mike Karickhoff proposed a bill that was signed into law in April requiring all public agencies to report cyber attacks to the state after his local library shut down because of a ransomware attack that made him realize the state didn’t know much regarding the frequency and severity of cyber attacks, Stateline reports. Most states don’t have such statutory requirements, but are slowly moving toward imposing them. West Virginia, Washington and North Dakota recently passed similar laws. So far, Indiana has received 73 reports from governments, according to Tad Stahl, director of the Indiana Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Five involved ransomware, 36 involved compromised emails and the rest were other types of cyberattacks.

...

Click here to read more »

State attorneys general and regulatory agencies are cracking down on the many cryptocurrency scams that fool people by using buzzwords like “Elon Musk,” “doubling your money” and “a great new investment,” Stateline reports. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that people lost more than $200 million from fraudulent cryptocurrency payments in the third quarter of this year, nearly as much as from illegitimate bank transfers. Attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York have issued fines and cease and desist orders to stop fraudulent crypto companies. More than 30 states considered bills in this year’s legislative sessions dealing in some way with cryptocurrency regulation. The growth of bitcoin has contributed to the increase in scams. One bitcoin was...

Click here to read more »

The Justice Department announced charges against hackers allegedly affiliated with a major ransomware organization and the recovery of over $6 million extorted by the group, the Washington Post reports. The Treasury Department announced the imposition of sanctions against the hackers, and the State Department added REvil to a bounty program that offers rewards for information leading to the identification or location of any its main leaders. The moves represent the most comprehensive action by the Biden administration to counter ransomware attacks that have risen to such damaging levels that President Biden has twice warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about the need to take action against criminals operating from Russian

...
Click here to read more »

Suspected foreign hackers have breached nine organizations in the defense, energy, health care, technology and education sectors -- and at least one of those organizations is in the U.S., according to security firm Palo Alto Networks, CNN reports. With the help of the National Security Agency, researchers are exposing an ongoing effort by these unidentified hackers to steal key data from U.S. defense contractors and other sensitive targets. The goal in going public with the information is to warn other corporations that might be targeted and to burn the hackers' tools in the process. The NSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are tracking the threat. In this case, the hackers have stolen passwords from...

Click here to read more »

The Justice Department is stepping up actions to combat ransomware and cybercrime through arrests and other actions, says Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, as the Biden administration escalates its response to what it regards as an urgent economic and national security threat, the Associated Press reports. The actions are intended to build off steps including the recent extradition to the U.S. of a suspected Russian cybercriminal and the seizure in June of $2.3 million in cryptocurrency paid to hackers. Though not a new phenomenon, ransomware attacks — in which hackers lock up and encrypt data and demand often-exorbitant sums to release it to victims — have exploded in the last year with breaches affecting vital infrastructure and global...

Click here to read more »

The Office of the National Cyber Director wants to bring cohesion to efforts to strengthen computer defenses across a set of more than 100 civilian agencies even as it seeks to drive more robust cybersecurity in the private sector. "This is the beginning, not the end" of the attempt to ensure that the U.S. enjoys a secure and open Internet, said National Cyber Director Chris Inglis in a Washington Post interview laying out strategic vision for the federal government's newest agency. Part of that effort may eventually include cybersecurity mandates for critical infrastructure. "You can't rule that out," said Inglis, who was confirmed by the Senate as the first national cyber director in June. He noted that...

Click here to read more »

The hackers linked to Russia who were behind last year's compromise of the U.S. government and private companies including the SolarWinds Corp. increased their attacks in recent months. Cybersecurity experts say that they are breaking into technology companies to steal sensitive information. Research from Microsoft Corp. shows that in a campaign dating back to May of this year, hackers targeted over 140 technology companies including ones that manage and resell cloud-computing services. The attack was successful against as many as 14 technology companies, reports the Wall Street Journal. It involved techniques such as phishing or guessing user passwords to gain access.

"This recent activity is another indicator that Russia is trying to gain long-term, systematic access to...

Click here to read more »

A new poll shows that the majority of Americans on both sides of the aisle are concerned about cyberattacks on U.S. computers and see both China and Russia as major threats, the Associated Press reports . The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll showed around 90 percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that their personal information will be hacked and around two-thirds are very or extremely concerned. Roughly 75 percent see the Chinese and Russian governments as major threats and about half see the Iranian government as one. A large majority of people over 60 think that Russia and China are a big threat but only around half of those under...

Click here to read more »

When Teiranni Kidd walked into Springhill Medical Center on July 16, 2019, to have her baby, she had no idea the Alabama hospital was in the midst of a ransomware attack. For nearly eight days, computers had been disabled on every floor. At the nurses' desk in the labor and delivery unit, medical staff were cut off from the equipment that monitors fetal heartbeats in the 12 delivery rooms. Kidd's daughter, Nicko Silar, was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The condition triggers warning signs on the heart monitor when the squeezed cord cuts off the supply of blood and oxygen to the fetus. Diagnosed with severe brain damage, she died nine months later, reports the...

Click here to read more »

The U.S. released a high-profile Russian cybercriminal this week, at least a year before his prison sentence was expected to finish, handing him over to Russian authorities despite long resisting Moscow's efforts to retrieve him, the Wall Street Journal reports. Alexei Burkov, 31, was placed on a commercial airline flight on Monday. Burkov was extradited to the U.S. in late 2019 from Israel on hacking-related charges, including fraud, identity theft, computer intrusion and money laundering. He pleaded guilty to running web forums where hackers swapped stolen data. Last year, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Israeli authorities had arrested Burkov at the request of the U.S., prompting a yearslong battle between the U.S. and Russia....

Click here to read more »

Cryptocurrency is computer code that allows people to send and receive funds, recording the transactions on a public ledger known as a blockchain. Because of the lack of user data, cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have been hailed as a safe haven for criminal activity. Fueled by anonymity, the industry allows hackers, tax evaders and other bad actors to launder money secretively, outside of the traditional banking system. Online scammers made off with $2.6 billion in 2020, according to a Chainalysis report . That year, ransomware attacks more than quadrupled. F orensics investigators scrupulously mapping activity on blockchains and figuring out who is

...
Click here to read more »

The Biden administration blacklisted a Russian-owned cryptocurrency exchange for helping launder ransomware payments, an unprecedented action meant to deter future cyber-extortion attacks by disrupting their primary means of profit, reports the Wall Street Journal . The targeting of SUEX OTC was the first time the Treasury Department has sanctioned a digital currency platform. The department also issued fresh warnings to the private sector that businesses risk penalties and fines for paying ransoms or handling such transactions. The actions on Tuesday are the latest effort by the Biden administration to curtail the growing problem of ransomware attacks, which are estimated to take hundreds of millions of dollars annually from U.S. businesses and have hobbled critical infrastructure. Russian criminal hacker groups...

Click here to read more »

Pages

Any opinions expressed or positions taken here on Crime and Justice News are those of their respective
authors and should not be construed to be the opinions of ASU or any of its sub-units or programs.