Cybersecurity Report: July 15, 2015

July 15, 2015 in Cybersecurity News, Data Breach
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Hacktivist Group AnonOpsIndia Hacks BSNL Website, Days After Hacking Nation’s PAN Database

As a protest against the Indian government’s recent push on net neutrality and Digital India, AnonOpsIndia, a hacktivist group, compromised BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) Telecommunications’ websites on Friday. Prior to the BSNL hack, AnonOpsIndia, usually referred as “Anonymous India,” has already compromised the nation’s PAN database and a coal-sector website last week. In the BSNL attack, the group replicated the entire database of the organization which had sensitive information of over 30 million users. The group described the main purpose of the attack as below, “When the government stops listening to the people, it’s time to wake them up. There will be no #DigitalIndia until and unless government of India stops their surveillance projects & make their systems secure.”

Mastercard Testing Facial Recognition Security App

Mastercard is testing a smartphone app that uses facial recognition to verify online purchases. Users can hold their phones up to the face level to approve transactions. This is not the first time facial recognition was used in verification of online purchases. When Google first tried this technique on Android phones, problems were quickly surfaced. For example, people could simply take a photo of somebody else and present it to the camera to unlock the phone. Although Mastercard’s app requires users to blink to prove that they are human, people could still spoof this by animating photographs. Until now, Mastercard’s facial recognition trial has involved 500 users in U.S.. Security experts think that the facial recognition technique should to be an extra layer of security, such as a companion with a PIN, instead of the only security guard of online transactions.

WikiLeaks: US Spy Agency Targeted Top Brazilian Officials

WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website, published a National Security Agency list of 29 Brazilian government phone numbers that the American spy group monitored. Aside from the list of numbers, which included the number of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, NSA was also found to have been targeting top political and financial officials. According to The Intercept, the publication that first reported the WikiLeaks data, the surveillance was alleged to start no later than 2011 and there was no indication that the eavesdropping had stopped. This latest WikiLeaks disclosure was followed by the website’s recent releases about the surveillance of U.S. on German and French government officials.

Cyber Attack on Edinburgh City Council

It was recently released that the database of Edinburgh City Council was compromised in a malicious cyber attack happened at the end of June. More than 13,000 email addresses were stolen. The council assured those affected that no other personal data were accessed, but there would be a potential increase in spam or phishing emails. The incident was reported to both the Information Commissioner and the UK Government’s Computer Emergency Response Team. According to a council spokesman, preventative measures have been taken by the web service providers to make sure that the risks associated with attacks are carefully dealt with.

Outages at NYSE, United Airlines, Expose Digital Vulnerabilities

On Wednesday morning, the New York Stock Exchange suddenly halted all trading due to unexplained technical problems, United Airlines grounded all 4,900 worldwide flights, and the returned a 504 error indicating some systematic error on tne news organization’s servers. Operations at, United and NYSE were all back to normal in a couple of hours. None of the officials from these three organizations, neither does White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, has acclaimed that the outage was part of a cyber attack. NYSE officials have been working with the Department of Homeland security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department to resolve the situation.

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