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Security News: 10,000 dark web sites taken offline by Anonymous

Online grooming, smart home hack, a global wave of banking malware, 10,000 dark web sites taken offline by Anonymous and the increasing ubiquity of ransomware and its popularity among cyber villains – there’s rarely a quiet day in the realm of cyber skulduggery.
 

A salutary tale of predatory behaviour

When warning about the dangers children can face from online predators, there is a risk of overstating the case and alienating people. It can often feel that a picture is being portrayed of an internet that is teeming with people full of malicious intent.
Clearly this isn’t the case, but if you peek into the dark web you can receive a jolt at some the material that is posted, including tips swapped between predators on how to avoid detection and even abuser’s chat rooms that are divided into the preferred age groups of children they seek to exploit.
It’s rare however to read a frank account of how a predator groomed his victim. But there are exceptions and recently The Independent ran a story on how an 11 year old girl was snared by a predator after her mother allowed her to open a Facebook account.
The age restriction on Facebook is 13 years but as every parent knows the power of pester over weeks and months can wear down even the most adamant mother or father.
What’s particularly striking about the story is the girl’s mother was a social worker and as such is trained and clued up on how to identify abuse from 100 yards.
The predator made 'friends’' with other girls at the victim’s school and by the time he ‘friend requested’ the 11 year old they had 32 mutual friends. Such are the ways of the online groomer.
It’s a compelling, open and frank read, if not distasteful given its subject matter. But if you want to know how predators operate you can read the article here.

Smart home hack

Many media outlets love a good ‘hit em between the eyes’ story and a smart home hack in St Augustine, Florida, US certainly fit the ‘sensationalist’ bill.
There’s a video here of the story but just in the way of an introduction the smart home owners in question have all manner of smart devices hooked up in their bungalow.
One evening, said homeowner, gave a voice command to a smart voice hub to turn of the desk lamp. However, another voice from an IP camera interjected and said ‘don’t turn the desk lamp off’ and then added that the home owner really should change their camera password.
The home owner had left the default password in place.
The story is illustrative of just how vulnerable smart homes are. That said, the hacker seemed benign and was probably just playing around.
But there is far more malign cyber fraudsters out there and they’re certainly not going to announce their presence.
As smart devices and smart homes become more prevalent, users will need to be aware of smart home vulnerabilities, of which there are many, unless they unwittingly want to end up on mainstream news outlets as victims of smart ransomware attacks or smart identity theft attacks.
And it’s a nailed down certainty that smart devices and smart homes are going to become a big target for villainous cyber miscreants.

Global banks hit by cyber attacks

A wave of global malware attacks against banks have been detected. Banks in 31 countries have been hit.
Polish financial institutions have been hit hardest but that said banks in the US, Mexico, Brazil, the UK and Denmark have also been hit.
The malware is believed to originate from the notorious Lazurus cyber-crime outfit which certainly has form in this area.
It claimed the group was behind last year’s mega heist in which $81 million was lifted from Bangladesh’s central bank.

Anonymous hacker hits child abuse content

What were we saying about overstating the threat from online predators?
The ever informative Graham Cluely website is running a story about an Anonymous hacker who claims to have taken down 10,000 dark web sites because they were hosting child abuse material and other disturbing content.
Certainly, the dark web does play host to lots of malign and nefarious content, among other things, and for those with a technical bent the story is interesting.
The Anonymous group has long been opposed to child abuse content and should be applauded for doing what it did.
It often receives a lot of bad press in the main stream media but it sometimes does what law enforcement doesn’t but should do.

Ransomware knows no limits

SC Magazine is running an interesting feature on the threat that ransomware continues to pose and questions whether its set to target dentists and GPs after hitting a large number of NHS sites last year.
There’s an interesting quote: “In the UK, SC Media UK knows of one dental practice in London that had its data held for a ransom of £20,000. The practice owner managed to retrieve the data with the help of an IT expert, and didn't end up paying the ransom but the practice had to close the door to its patients for a week.”
In 2016 ransomware ruled the malware roost and it looks set to continue its popularity among cyber crooks as ransomware-as-a-service becomes a common method of distribution.
Ransomware is a nasty, pernicious and frustrating threat that empties your pockets – and its one to watch out for.

Keep your eyes peeled for phishing emails promising untold riches, parcels that you never ordered and other suspicious messages and attachments.  Don’t click on links and don’t open attachments if you don’t know the sender.
The likelihood is that these emails are hiding ransomware or other types of malware.

Protection

BullGuard provides a raft of products designed to safeguard all aspects of your online life and that of your children. This ranges from identity theft to social media protection for the kids and rigorous robust defences against all types of malware including ransomware. What’s more Dojo by BullGuard is set to be released in the coming year which provides the most advanced, in-depth and comprehensive defences for the smart home and smart devices.
 
Filed under: Security News

Written by Steve Bell

Steve has a background in IT and business journalism and in the past has written extensively for both the UK national and trade press including The Guardian, Independent-on-Sunday, The Times, The Register, MicroScope and Computer Weekly. He's also worked for most of the world's largest IT companies in a copy and content producing capacity. He has a particular focus on IT security and has been involved in writing about the industry at various levels ranging from magazine launches to producing newsletters. He also runs a small copy writing business called Art of Words. When not bashing away at a keyboard he can sometimes be found in a boxing gym making futile efforts to keep fit or marveling at the works of Sufi poets such as Jalaluddin Rumi and Hafiz of Shiraz.

More articles by Steve Bell

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