Social Media Firestorms of the Week, AP Hack and OpUSA Top the List
SOCIAL MEDIA FIRESTORM
Hacks, attacks and alerts from Firestorm
Following last week’s attack of the AP Twitter account (view our recorded webinar for more on this), Twitter accounts belonging to The Guardian newspaper have fallen at the hands of hackers belonging to the Syrian Electronic Army as well.
Within minutes of the AP attack, the message was retweeted 3,000 times, markets dropped by $136 billion in value and the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted almost 150 points before it was reported as a hack by AP Corporate Communications.
This most recent Guardian attack, as detailed by the NakedSecurity Sophos website, “the hackers have been making a habit of breaking into high profile Twitter accounts in recent weeks – their attack on AP’s Twitter account where they posted fake news of an explosion at the White House, actually managed to cause a drop in the Dow Jones. In this most recent incident, unauthorised messages were posted from the newspaper’s @GuardianSustBiz and @BusinessDesk accounts.
As for Twitter itself, the microblogging service is now working on two-factor authentication, a system in which users can strengthen their accounts by using a double-step method of logging in.
Detailed in a memo posted on BuzzFeed, Twitter warns that it expects high profile account hijackings — like the one that took down the AP’s Twitter account last week — to continue. “Please help us keep your accounts secure,” the memo pleads. It returns to a similar note: “Help us protect you.”
Some of the memo’s advice is advice any service would give its users: change your passwords, keep your email accounts secure, look out for suspicious activity — the company warns that hackers are using advanced “spear phishing” tactics.
But other sections reflect a scramble for a solution: “Designate one computer to use for Twitter,” the company recommends. “Don’t use this computer to read email or surf the web, to reduce the chances of malware infection.” Yes: Twitter is telling journalists to stay off the internet on the computers they use for Twitter. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, in other words.
Related: Read Twitter Two-Factor Authentication: Too Little, Too Late?
A warning has been sent out to financial institutions and government agencies as the collective known as Anonymous has announced their OpUSA. The Operation as put forth by the hackvist group is supposed to target banks and government websites and is supposed to kick off on May 7th. Some security experts are advising the targeted organizations to prepare for Distributed Denial of Service Attacks and harden their sites against them.
The advice to prepare for DDoS attacks would appear to make sense as Anonymous has used them to great effect in the past, but as the technology behind DDoS Attacks improves we have to wonder if most current mitigation policies will have any effect at all. According to a recent pastebin file, the attacks will not just come in the form of DDoS, but will also be DNS hijacks, redirects, data breaches and more.
“You can not stop the internet hate machine from doxes, DNS attacks, defaces, redirects, ddos attacks, database leaks, and admin take overs”
DDoS also has not been associated with data breaches. It has been an outage, plain and simple, noted one expert who indicated it was not that different from going down in an electrical storm.
The United States Department of Labor website is the latest high-profile government site to fall victim to a watering hole attack. Researchers at a number of security companies reported today that the site was hosting malware and redirecting visitors to a site hosting the Poison Ivy remote access Trojan.
The malware has since been removed and law enforcement is investigating.