Tag Archives: Russia

Home Depot Investigate Possible Data Breach

American retailer Home Depot has confirmed that they are currently investigating a possible data breach which may have resulted in customer credit and debit card information being compromised.

Home Depot is currently working with the police to see if they have suffered a data breach after security expert Brian Krebs reported that hackers are selling details of stolen credit and debit cards used at the retailer.

Paula Drake who is a spokeswoman for Home Depot has confirmed that that they are currently investigating a possible data breach and that they will notify customers immediately if the investigation concludes that data has been compromised.

Drake stated, “Protecting our customers’ information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers. If we confirm that a breach has occurred, we will make sure customers are notified immediately.”

Brian Krebs reported on his website that several banks believe that Home Depot is the source of the data breach which has exposed credit and debit card information. Krebs also reported that the stolen information could go back to April or May and that there are signs that the data was stolen by the same group who were involved in the Target data breach.

Krebs stated, “There are signs that the perpetrators of this apparent breach may be the same group of Russian and Ukrainian hackers responsible for the data breaches at Target … among others.”

The Target data breach resulted in 40 million credit and debit card data information and personal data belong to a total of 70 million customers being compromised.

Brian Krebs also stated that the stolen information was for sale on Rescator was labelled American sanctions. Krebs believes that this was retribution for the US and European sanctions against Russia.

NATO Websites Suffer Downtime after Cyber Attack

Several public NATO websites suffered downtime after being successfully targeted in a cyber-attack which has been traced back to the Ukraine.

A group who go by the name Cyber Berkut stated that they were behind the attack as they aren’t happy with NATO’s interference in Ukrainian affairs.

A statement released on their website read, We, Cyber Berkut, announce that today at 6:00 p.m. we started the cyberattack on NATO resources. We, Cyber Berkut, will not allow the presence NATO occupation on the territory of our homeland, because it opposes NATO intervention in Ukraine.

The main NATO website was affected along with a cyber-security centre in Estonia which is linked to the alliance. NATO has yet to confirm the source of the attack but have claimed that none of their essential systems had been compromised.

A spokeswoman for the alliance Oana Lungescu stated, Our experts working to restore normal function. No operational impact … The attack hasn’t affected the integrity of Nato’s systems.

John Bumgarner who is the chief technology officer at the US Cyber Consequences Unit claims that all of the evidence that has been collected so far, points in the direction of pro-Russian sympathisers being behind the attacks.

Bumgarner stated, One could equate these cyber attacks against Nato as kicking sand into one’s face.

Tensions between Russia and the West have intensified ever since Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory in the Crimea region after former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown.

Ukrainian and Russian websites have both been targets for cyber-attacks in recent weeks but this appears to be the first major attack on a Western website since the crisis began.

Ukraine IT outsourcing industry at risk from crisis

The crisis in Ukraine has recently escalated to what William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, has called “Europe’s biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century”. This announcement came after Russian troops moved across the border to occupy several military bases on Ukrainian soil. The Western powers, including the USA and major partners in the EU, have jumped to express their support for the new Ukrainian government, and have strongly criticised the aggression shown by Russia. In response to the occupation by Russian troops, Russia has been threatened with economic and political actions with the aim of isolating it from the international community. Despite mobilisation of troops by Russia, military intervention does seem unlikely, although not impossible.

As the crisis gradually unfolds, it is becoming easier to see how Ukraine will be affected. One area which may suffer is the country’s IT outsourcing industry, which has a value of roughly 1 bn per annum. For several years now Ukraine has been a technology hub, although relatively unknown to Western Europe, with its first ventures into IT taking place under the former USSR. Over the years this has been built into a skilledworkforce, with 30,000 students graduating in IT related subjects each year, and a good infrastructure across the country, for example broadband speeds are similar to the UK’s.

The billion pound industry is helped by several incentives, such as low corporation tax for IT companies, lower wage demands by the Ukrainian workforce and several organisations, such as the Ukrainian HI-Tech Initiative setup with the purpose of promoting Ukrainian IT interests.As well as a high number of IT graduates, Ukraine already has a large skilled workforce, with 25,000 specialised IT workers and 1,000 outsourcing companies.

Ukraine has recently announced that conscription has been initiated, presumably in preparation for a conflict with Russia. This could pose a very real problem for the IT workforce in Ukraine, as many of the employees are the type of person that would be conscripted (young male adults). However unlikely, if a conflict between the Ukraine and Russia did break out, it could have a detrimental effect on the IT outsourcing industry.

What is certain is the longer this crisis goes on, the longer Ukraine will suffer as a whole. As military action is not preferred, the main weapons available to the West are diplomatic and economic sanctions against Russia. However, any economic action will surely affect the IT industry in some form. Hopefully, the IT industry will be able to withstand whatever comes as a result of this crisis, one way or another.

NSA & GCHQ Target Mobile Apps to Gain Personal Data

It has been reported that personal data has been obtained by the British spy agency, Government Communications HQ (GCHQ) and the US spy agency, National Security Agency (NSA) from smartphone apps which leak personal data.

The documents were leaked by Edward Snowden who is currently living in asylum in Russia and faces espionage charges in the USA after revealing the NSA’s telephone and surveillance programmes last year.

It is reported that the leaked documents show that mapping, gaming and social networking apps are providing the GCHQ and NSA with location information and other details such as their political association and sexual orientation.

One app that has been heavily exploited is Angry Birds. It is one of the leading apps with a download count of over 1.7 billion worldwide.

Rovio, the company that made the app Angry Birds claimed that they have no knowledge of the GCHQ or NSA trying to collect data from their app.

Saara Bergström, who is Rovio’s VP of marketing and communications stated, “Rovio doesn’t have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks. Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned (NSA and GCHQ).”

Angry Birds wasn’t the only app to be detailed in which personal data was obtained. In one of the leaked documents, there was a list which detailed other mobile apps which could be exploited. Such apps that were listed included the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Flixster and Flickr.

Reports in the New York Times and the Guardian suggested that the joint spying programme “effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system.”

The NSA has released a statement claiming that these allegations are not true. In the statement, they claimed that, “Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. We collect only those communications that we are authorised by law to collect for valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes – regardless of the technical means used by the targets.”

The GCHQ refused to comment but claimed that all of its activities were “authorised, necessary and proportionate.”

With social media apps and gaming apps becoming more and more popular, it is important that you are happy with just how much personal data is potentially being disclosed as it is unknown just who may be able to access it.

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