Equifax breach exposed more than previously thought. The Equifax breach may have exposed more personal information of customers than previously thought.

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The Equifax hack could be worse than we thought. By Donna Borak and Kathryn Vasel

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) — The Equifax breach may have exposed more personal information of customers than previously thought.

Additional information, including tax IDs and driver’s license details, may have been accessed in a hack that affected 145.5 million customers, according to confidential documents Equifax provided to the Senate Banking Committee seen by CNN.

The disclosure follows Equifax’s original announcement of the breach in September, which compromised sensitive data like names, date of birth, Social Security numbers and home addresses.

In its original announcement of the hack, the company had revealed that some driver’s license numbers were exposed. The new documents show that the license state and issue date might have also been compromised.

Equifax spokesperson Meredith Griffanti told CNNMoney Friday that the original list of vulnerable personal information was never intended to represent the full list of potentiality exposed information.

The new documents now raise questions of how much information hackers may have accessed in Equifax’s cyber attack.

In its response to lawmakers, Equifax said the pieces of information compiled is “not exhaustive,” but represents common personal information that hackers usually search for.

Criminals can use personal information like this to open bank accounts and lines of credit, like a credit card or mortgage, without the victim’s knowledge.

“The more information scammers have about you, the easier it is for them to impersonate you,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director at the National Consumer Law Center. “And the easier it is for them to get by the protocols that banks and others use to make sure they are dealing with the right individual.”

The unauthorized access occurred from May through July 2017. The hackers exploited a website application vulnerability to gain access to the files, according to the company.

Apple #AirPod smokes, then blows up, report says. A Florida man says one of his Apple AirPods started smoking as he was working out at a St. Petersburg gym.

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Apple AirPod smokes, then blows up by By Caitlin McGarry  | Tom’s Guide

Jason Colon didn’t actually see his AirPod burst into flame, because he took the device out of his ear and left it on a piece of gym equipment to seek help. But when Colon returned, the AirPod had popped open, and char marks turned parts of the white plastic grey.
“I didn’t see it happen, but, I mean, it was already fried,” Colon told local television station WFLA TV.

WFLA reached out to Apple after Colon told his story. An Apple spokesperson told the station that the company is investigating the situation.

This is the first time AirPods have made headlines for exploding, so it doesn’t appear to be a widespread issue. A search of Apple’s support forums turned up two reports of AirPods growing warm or hot after 30 minutes of use.

Personally, I have owned a pair of AirPods for more than a year and have worn them daily without any sign of battery issues. But devices with lithium-ion batteries have been known to explode in the past.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is a prime example — the company had to recall its flagship smartphone altogether after multiple devices blew up. Apple’s AirPods have three lithium-ion batteries: one in each earbud, and another in the charging case.

Ransomware Posing as Flash Player Download A new strain of ransomware hit organizations throughout Eastern Europe earlier this week. Spread through compromised websites, the Bad Rabbit ransomware poses as an Adobe Flash Player download, and after infecting one machine, can quickly spread through an organization’s network without being detected.

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The Latest Ransomware Presents Itself as an Adobe Flash Player Download

Nextgov | By Keith Collins |

A new strain of ransom ware, called Bad Rabbit, began hitting organizations throughout Russia and Eastern Europe on Wednesday (Oct. 25). The malware is being spread through compromised websites, presenting itself as an Adobe Flash Player download.

“When users visited one of the compromised websites, they were redirected to 1dnscontrol[.]com, the site which was hosting the malicious file,” according to a blog post by Talos, Cisco’s threat intelligence team.

Once infected with the ransom ware, victims are directed to a web page on the dark web, which demands they pay 0.05 bit coin (roughly $285 USD) to get their files back.

After one computer on a network is infected, Bad Rabbit can quickly and covertly spread through an organization without being detected. Although the ransom ware has been detected in several countries, it appears to be concentrated in organizations in Russia and Ukraine, particularly media outlets.

U.S. Takes Down International #ID #Theft Ring the U.S. Justice Department indicted 36 people in connection with an international identity theft ring known as #Infraud. #cyberfraud

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International Cyber Crime Ring Smashed After More Than $530 Million Stolen

CNN | By Ben Westcott

US authorities have indicted 36 people for stealing more than $530 million from victims across the world in one of the “largest cyber fraud enterprises ever prosecuted.” In a statement, US investigators claimed the accused were taking part in a massive operation known as the Infraud Organization, which stole and then sold other people’s personal information, including credit card and banking information. “Today’s indictment and arrests mark one of the largest cyberfraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the US Department of Justice,” Acting Assistant US Attorney General John Cronan said in a statement. Cronan said it was believed the group had intended to cause losses totaling more than $2.2 billion during their seven years of operation. Authorities have already arrested 13 people from a range of countries including the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Italy. The Infraud Organization has been in operation since October 2010, according to the statement from the US Justice Department, when it was launched by a 34-year-old Ukrainian man Svyatoslav Bondarenko. He had wanted to grow the organization into the internet’s largest “carding” group — that is, a criminal group who buy retail purchases with counterfeit or stolen credit card information. Their motto was, “In Fraud We Trust.” According to the Justice Department statement, there were 10,901 registered members of the Infraud Organization as of March 2017, who were divided into specific roles. They ranged from the “administrators” who oversaw the organization’s strategic planning and approved membership, all the way down to the “members” who used the Infraud forum to facilitate their criminal activities. Law enforcement agencies from across the world collaborated on the investigation into Infraud, including Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Luxembourg, among many others.

IRS warns tax preparers about a new refund scam. Only a few days into the tax-filing season, the #IRS is sounding an alarm about a new tax scam. Specifically, it’s warning #tax preparers to be on guard about the scam, which is aimed at stealing #taxpayers’ refunds by using data compromised in tax preparers’ offices. Kathy Kristof | CBS News | MSN

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The agency said it has already received a number of fake tax returns that had accurate taxpayer names, addresses, Social Security numbers and even bank account information for the victims.

In an unusual twist, some bogus refunds were actually directed to the real taxpayers’ bank accounts, the agency said. A criminal, posing as a debt collector, then contacted the taxpayers saying the refunds had been sent in error and the victims should forward the money to the crook.

Because these fake returns contained all of the taxpayer’s correct information, down to the right number of dependents, the IRS believes the scam started in tax-preparation offices. The agency assumes that the data was compromised because some preparers were taken in by phishing scams that then loaded malicious software onto their computer systems, making all the taxpayer information that was kept by these preparers vulnerable to theft.
Government website to help victims of identify theft. The IRS said it’s still in preliminary stages of investigating the con and can’t quantify how many people have been affected. But because this type of scam has a way of burgeoning overnight, the agency wanted to immediately warn preparers to secure their computer systems.

“Given the history that we have seen on scams like this, when these start, they tend to proliferate quickly,” said IRS spokesman Terry Lemons. “When a scam turns out to be successful, they tend to expand. We wanted to alert tax professionals to be on the lookout.”

Unfortunately for consumers — the ultimate victims of this con — those who find themselves hit by tax fraud have a far more difficult course than consumers whose credit card accounts have been stolen. In the latter case, consumers have a number of steps they can take to deter criminals from using that stolen information to open up new accounts.

In the former case, the first inkling that a taxpayer would get that they were victimized is when their electronically filed return gets rejected as a duplicate. At that point, in addition to reporting the fraud to the credit bureaus and the Federal Trade Commission, tax fraud victims need to fill out a special IRS form, 14039. The taxpayer’s 1040 must then be filed on paper, with the fraud affidavit attached to the front.
How the tax bill will affect the returns of three American families
Be prepared that this will dramatically slow your refund. Lemons said the typical tax identity fraud takes roughly four months to investigate and resolve.

Since tax ID theft peaked in 2013, the IRS has taken a host of steps, including forming a security partnership with preparers and software companies, to stamp out tax return fraud. The agency has also launched a pilot program that has added 16-digit identifiers to some employer’s W-2 information. The agency hopes this will help it spot and stop identity thieves before they take off with taxpayer refunds.

These efforts have helped cut ID theft reports nearly in half over the past year.

“We have stepped up our defenses, and the private sector tax community has worked to strengthen their security too,” Lemons said.

Still, this newly discovered fraud is ominous and suggests that individual taxpayers should also be on guard.

Make sure that you keep updated security software on your home computer and ask any tax preparer you hire how your data is protected, Lemons suggested. If any of your W-2 forms contain the new 16-digit identifiers, also make sure to include that number on your tax return. That will help the IRS know the return truly came from you, not an identity crook.

#SID2018 Is the Internet Safer? Today is the annual Safer Internet Day, an effort to promote safer and responsible use of the internet and mobile phones that is celebrated by over 120 countries. Several cyber experts and companies weigh in on the dangers that younger internet browsers face, and how government, industry, parents, and others in the community can help reduce usage risks.

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#SID2018: Is the Internet Safer?

Infosecurity Magazine | By Dan Raywood | February 6, 2018

Today is the annual Safer #InternetDay, where the reality of online threats are detailed in the effort to encourage users to take better safety steps online.

According to research released by the UK Safer Internet Centre, a study of 2000 eight- to 17-year-olds, found that 11% had “felt worried or anxious on the internet,” while respondents had felt inspired (74%), excited (82%) or happy (89%) as a result of their internet use in the previous week.

This year’s event is using the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you” with a strong emphasis on using the internet and what makes users feel good or bad. In a time where more is being done to deliver a safe experience online – including free SSL certificates, the launch of a new version of the TLS protocol and the ability to filter out certain words on Twitter – it does seem that more is being done to provide a safer and better experience for all online.

Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said that the internet does have a positive effect on young people’s lives, but we must all recognize the dangers that can be found online. “Only by working together can government, industry, parents, schools and communities harness the power of the internet for good and reduce its risks.”

At the recent White Hat Ball, it was revealed that in 2017, there were over 12,000 counselling sessions in which children spoke to Childline about experiences of online sexual abuse, bullying and safety.

Will Gardner, a director of the UK Safer Internet Centre and CEO of Childnet, said: “Safer Internet Day gives us the unique opportunity to collectively promote respect and empathy online, inspire young people to harness their enthusiasm and creativity, and support them to build positive online experiences for everyone. It is #inspirational to see so many different organizations and individuals come together today to build a better internet.”

After all, a #safer #internet means more young people are encouraged to learn more about the internet and its workings, and therefore see the benefits of a career in cybersecurity.

Raj Samani, chief scientist and fellow at McAfee, said the reality is that we need to continue raising awareness for codes of best practice online. “Cyber-criminals are constantly on the lookout for slip ups and mistakes which allow them to access lucrative private data – from bank account details to medical history: consumers must be aware of the threats online – not least because the blurring of work life boundaries today means bad habits online can quickly slip into the office.”

As a result, Samani recommended that businesses should offer staff training to build up a strong security culture across their entire organization.

He added: “Implementing the right technology is vital but, at the end of the day, it’s about looking for a blended approach which suits your specific organization. This means finding the right combination of people, process and technology to effectively protect the organization’s data, detect any threats and, when targeted, rapidly correct systems.

“Safer Internet Day acts as a timely reminder for organizations to ensure the correct training is in place so staff can remain cyber-savvy online.”

To tie-in with the day, ENISA published the Cybersecurity Culture in Organizations report, in order to promote both the understanding and uptake of cybersecurity culture programs within organizations. ENISA said that a decent culture is achieved by:

• Setting #cybersecurity as a standing agenda item at board meetings to underline the importance of a robust cybersecurity culture

• Ensure that employees are consulted and their concerns regarding cybersecurity practices are being considered by the cybersecurity culture working group

• Ensure that business processes/strategies and cybersecurity processes/strategies are fully aligned

“While many organizations and employees are familiar with related concepts such as cybersecurity awareness and information security frameworks, cybersecurity culture covers a broader scope. The idea behind this concept is to make information security considerations an integral part of an employee’s daily life,” ENISA’s announcement said.

Part of this was to appreciate that “cyber threat awareness campaigns alone do not provide sufficient #protection against ever evolving cyber-attacks,” and that technical cybersecurity measures need to be in accordance with other business processes, and it is important that employees need to act as a strong human firewall against cyber-attacks.

A safer internet is better for all, although a cynic of such awareness days would suggest that there should be year-round awareness of the issues and part of developing a culture is the constant awareness. Regardless, some action is better than none and it is reassuring to see such positivity about internet usage in 2018.

Border Agents are Searching Through More Travelers’ Devices Than Ever

Nextgov | By Jack Corrigan |

Customs and Border Protection released fresh guidelines on Friday detailing how and when border officials can examine information on electronic devices of travelers entering and leaving the country.

The new directive keeps intact most of the broad authorities given to federal officials at the border while putting some limits on how extensively they can search personal electronic devices. CBP dug through the electronic devices of 30,200 people entering and leaving the country in fiscal 2017, up from 19,051 the previous year.

The order comes as the Trump administration looks to tighten border security and travelers enter the U.S. with record numbers of phones, laptops and tablets in tote.

The policy replaces the previous directive issued in 2009, adapting and providing more thorough instructions on how officials should handle encryption and other advanced technologies.

“In this digital age, border searches of electronic devices are essential to enforcing the law at the U.S. border and to protecting the American people,” said CBP Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner in a statement. “CBP’s authority for the border search of electronic devices is and will continue to be exercised judiciously, responsibly, and consistent with the public trust.”

Electronic device searches help combat terrorism and other illegal activity like child pornography and visa fraud, according to CBP. Despite the nearly 60 percent increase in searches, only about one in every 13,600 international travelers has their devices searched.

Officials still can check local data, but under the new guidance they cannot conduct a more thorough search unless they have reasonable suspicion that the person broke the law or presents “a national security concern.” The order maintains that “many factors” can cause suspicion and justify an “advanced search,” which uses external equipment to review, copy and analyze the contents of a device.

Federal agents also have the power to access encrypted or password-protected information stored on personal electronics. If individuals don’t cooperate in unlocking an inaccessible device, CBP can seize and open it with technical assistance.

The guidance also details the conditions under which CBP can store and share information gathered from personal devices and how agents should deal with sensitive information like medical records and attorney-client communication. Officials also shouldn’t detain devices for more than five days without extenuating circumstances, according to the order.

While the policy change marks a shift away from the more ambiguous, wide-ranging authority given to border officials under the Obama administration, some civil liberty advocates don’t think it goes far enough.

“It is positive that CBP’s policy would at least require officers to have some level of suspicion before copying and using electronic methods to search a traveler’s electronic device,” said Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement. “However, this policy still falls far short of what the Constitution requires: a search warrant based on probable cause.”

Guliani reiterated travelers should not be obligated to give officials access to their private information and called on Congress to push CBP to further change its policy.