All posts by Damien Garvey

NHS Website Sent Users to Malware Site

The NHS is at the centre of another controversy as their website has been redirecting thousands of people to pages that contained malware or advertising.

The problem was first experienced during the weekend where users inevitably took to social media sites to express their anger and views about the situation.

A user, who goes by the name Muzzers on Reddit, stated that he came across the problem when searching for flu shot information.

Muzzers stated, “So while attempting to access flu shot information I stumbled upon a page which redirected me to an advertisement. Digging a bit deeper I found hundreds more pages which redirect to either an advertisement or malware infested page.”

In total, it is believed that the problem affected over 800 pages but the site administrators have been keen to stress that the problem wasn’t caused by hackers but by a typo by a developer.

A spokeswoman for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) which runs the NHS website told the Guardian, “Last year, a developer accidentally put “” rather than “” as the source for the JavaScript file. Last night someone in the Czech Republic took ownership of the incorrectly spelt domain it was referring to; the correctly spelled one is actually owned by Google. Although the typo existed in NHS Choices code, until the point the domain name was purchased, this was not causing any issues.”

The vast majority if not all of the affected links have now been corrected but it remains unclear just what impact this has had as there is the potential threat that personal data has been compromised.

Internet security expert Graham Cluey finds the explanation baffling and if it is true, then anybody who inadvertently downloaded the malware could be at risk.

Cluey stated, “I’m surprised by that explanation… what often happens is that a hacker will find a weak point and inject a piece of code to exploit it and set up a domain name. Otherwise whoever registered the domain name in the Czech Republic must have scanned the code, which few do, or registered numerous websites in the hope of getting lucky.”

A spokeswoman for the HSCIC claimed that they will ensure that no reoccurrence of this will ever happen again.

She stated, “NHS Choices is treating this issue with urgency and once resolved we plan to undertake a thorough and detailed analysis to ensure that a full code review is undertaken and steps put in place to ensure no reoccurrence.”

It today’s world, it is now imperative that all data is protected by a robust backup solution to ensure that it can be recovered. Users need to also ensure that they protect their machines by ensuring that they have the latest security updates installed and working properly.

Hackers Successfully Target White Lodging

Hackers have successfully targeted the company White Lodging which has resulted in data belongs to thousands of people being compromised according to independent researcher Brian Krebs. The data breach has exposed customer data such as credit and debit card information.

White Lodging who maintains 168 hotel franchises under nationwide brands that include Hilton, Marriott, Westin and Sheraton have said that they are currently conducting an investigation into how the data was compromised.

Meanwhile Marriott have stated that they will continue to monitor the situation.

Jeff Flaherty who is a spokesman for Marriott explained, “We are working closely with the franchise management company as they investigate the matter. Because the suspected breach did not impact any systems that Marriott owns or controls, we do not have additional information to provide.”

The data breach has been linked back to White Lodging after banking fraud investigators investigated hundreds of fraudulent card activities at specific Marriott hotels. The common link was that the fraudulent card activities were being used at Marriott hotels that are managed by White Lodging. The fraudulent purchases were made in shops and restaurants at the hotels but weren’t used to book a room.

Krebs stated, “But those same sources said they were puzzled by the pattern of fraud, because it was seen only at specific Marriott hotels, including locations in Austin, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Louisville and Tampa. Turns out, the common thread among all of those Marriott locations is that they are managed by White Lodging.”

This is the latest major incident in the U.S. where debit and credit card information has been stolen by hackers in recent months after the retail giant Target was successfully attacked. In this attack alone, up to 110 million customers were affected.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “We are committed to working to find not only the perpetrators of these sorts of data breaches, but also any individuals and groups who exploit that data via credit card fraud.”

It is now vital that all companies ensure that they have the best security plan in place and is regularly tested to help protect themselves against the ever increasing threat of cyber hackers and cyber thieves. This should be supported with a robust backup solution to ensure that data can always be recovered no matter what action a hacker or cyber thieves takes such as modifying or deleting the data.

South Korea Fine Google after Illegal Data Gathering

South Korean regulators have fined Google for illegally gathering personal data whilst taking pictures for its Street View service in 2009 and 2010.

The Korean Communications Commission (KCC) held a meeting a decided to impose a fine of 210million won ($196.000). The KCC have also ordered Google to delete all data that was collected illegally and to keep everyone notified of progress through their website.

According to the KCC, the data that was illegally collected consisted of internet IDs, passwords, network addresses, text messages, and credit card numbers.

Google has already admitted that they obtained the personal data from home wireless networks when the Street View car drove past but claimed that they were merely trying to ascertain the location of Wi-Fi networks to build up a list of assisted location services for mobile users.

The KCC are keen to send out a message that anyone who is caught collecting data unlawfully in South Korea will be punished how they deem appropriate.

Lee Kyung-jae who is the chairman of the KCC stated, “The latest penalty is the first of its kind imposed on a global company that violated the private information protection laws. The commission will punish those who collect information of the Korean public without exception.”

South Korea isn’t the first nation to impose a fine on Google after they have gathered data illegally whilst taking pictures for its Street View service.

Previous cases against Google include the German privacy regulator imposing a €145,000 ($189,000) fine and the French data protection authority enforcing a €100,000 ($142,000) fine for the same reasons. Google was also fined $7 million by the U.S. authorities in March 2013.

In today’s world, it is now vital that all networks and computers are kept as secure as possible by ensuring everything has the latest security program updates applied and is protected by a strong password.

The ease that Google accumulated all this personal data should be of a huge concern especially as cyber hackers and cyber thieves are continuously developing more sophisticated methods of attacks.

It is also vital that a robust backup solution is utilised to ensure that data can be recovered if it is deleted or modified.

Global Smartphone Shipments Set New Records for 2013

Recent statistics show that there has been a huge surge in the number of smartphones that were shipped during 2013.

According to statistics that were released from International Data Corporation (IDC), 1.004 billion smartphones were shipped in 2013. This is an increase of 38.4% from 2012 where a total of 725.3 million smartphones were shipped.

Therefore, the sales of smartphones accounted for more than half of the overall total of mobile phones sold in 2013 which totaled 1.8 billion.

Ryan Reith who is the program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker stated, “Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost. Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference-maker. “

Reith added, “Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume. Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.”

Samsung led the way by capturing 32.3% of global smartphone sales in 2013 with Apple achieving 15.5%.

Neil Mawston who is an Executive Director at Strategy Analytics stated, “Apple grew a sluggish 13 percent annually and shipped 153.4 million smartphones worldwide for 15 percent market share in 2013, dipping from the 19 percent level recorded in 2012. Apple remains strong in the high-end smartphone segment, but a lack of presence in the low-end category is costing it lost volumes in fast-growing emerging markets such as India.”

Smartphones have become more popular over the years due to the multifunctional features they provide as they can be used for both business and personal purposes. As a result of this, there has been a large increase in the amount of data that is being stored on them. It is therefore vital that the owner of the smartphone takes responsibility to ensure that the device is properly protected and that a secure backup of the data on the phone is taken regularly.

By taking a regular backup of the data, the owner can be assured that the data on their phone will not be lost regardless if it is lost, stolen or becomes damaged.

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