News briefs: Breaking security news from the Cybersecurity Act to Gauss

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Researchers uncover causes of MilitarySingles.com hack
Researchers uncover causes of MilitarySingles.com hack

»The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 was defeated in the Senate. The bill would have incentivized those companies that operate critical infrastructure to meet security best practices. The bill was re-introduced in July to include privacy concessions and rid the enforcement oversight it originally gave to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. But, a number of Republicans opposed the measure saying it would burden businesses.

»Researchers, for the first time, analyzed spyware known as FinFisher, which has been used to spy on dissidents in the Middle East. Produced by U.K.-based Gamma Group, FinFisher's capabilities include eavesdropping on Skype calls. The malware was analyzed by researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto after they received copies of FinFisher, which protesters in Bahrain emailed to a Bloomberg News reporter. Gamma Group has faced scrutiny since it was revealed that the company sold its surveillance technology to the repressive Mubarak regime in Egypt.

»The latest nation-state-created espionage malware to target computers in the Middle East is Gauss, which was designed on the same platform as Flame. So far, researchers at Kaspersky Lab, who discovered the strain, have only gleaned insight about its password-stealing capabilities. At least 2,500 computers, mostly in Lebanon, have been hit with the malware, though researchers are unsure how the infections are happening. Once on a system, Gauss, likely a product of the U.S. government, is capable of siphoning the login credentials for a half-dozen banks in Lebanon, as well as Citibank and PayPal.

»The prolific spam botnet Grum officially is offline. Security firm FireEye and nonprofit Spamhaus worked with local internet service providers in Panama, Russia and the Ukraine to shut down the remaining command-and-control (C&C) servers powering the botnet. A few days earlier, Dutch police seized two of the four C&C hubs that controlled Grum. Before the dismantling, Grum accounted for about 17 percent of the world's total spam volume and was one of the top three botnets in terms of volume sent.

»Hackers and security pros from around the world converged on Las Vegas for the 15th annual Black Hat conference. Among the research, speakers showed how to bypass a widely used hotel room lock, exploit near field communication (NFC) technology to steal mobile device data and trick Google's Bouncer mobile app malware scanner. The sister DefCon show included a keynote from Gen. Keith Alexander, the National Security Agency's director, who used some of his talk to encourage audience members to join the NSA. He promised the privacy-obsessed crowd that the NSA doesn't keep a profile on every American, but during a separate talk, Bill Binney, an NSA whistleblower, dismissed Alexander's comments as misleading.

»After a breach of eight million user passwords, business networking site LinkedIn announced that it already has taken up to a $1 million hit to respond to the incident. During its second-quarter earnings call, company CFO Steve Sordello said the costs involved with recuperating so far range from $500,000 to $1 million, which is going toward forensic work and “other elements” relating to the breach. LinkedIn expects to add $2 million to $3 million in costs this quarter toward those efforts.

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