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CYBER WARS
Global ransomware attacks on the rise: Europol
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) July 25, 2017


Six billion records hacked so far this year: researchers
Washington (AFP) July 25, 2017 - A surge in computer hacking has led to the breach of more than six billion records so far this year, topping the total for 2016, security researchers said Tuesday.

Virginia-based Risk Based Security said in its mid-year report that it identified 2,227 publicly disclosed data compromise events through June 30 affecting business, government, medical and educational data.

"It is stunning to see the steady increase in the number of breaches impacting one million or more records," said Inga Goddijn, Executive Vice President for Risk Based Security.

The report said hackers are increasingly targeting employment and tax records. Some attacks successfully used "phishing" or spoofing or emails to obtain tax information from US citizens. Other targets included human resources departments, employment agencies and aggregators of employment data.

"While news of politically motivated foreign interference in election systems continues to dominate the headlines, the breach activity we are tracking this year is a stark reminder of just how many data compromise incidents are motivated by financial gain," Goddijn said.

"As long as information can be quickly monetized and systems remain vulnerable to attack, we should not expect to see any slowdown in breach activity."

Global ransomware attacks soared by over 11 percent in the 12 months to March, Europol reported Tuesday, but specialist tools developed with its partners had helped unlock some 28,000 encrypted devices.

"Ransomware has soared since 2012, with criminals lured by the promise of profit and ease of implementation," the European police agency said in a statement.

According to a report by cybersecurity specialists Kaspersky Lab, the "total number of users who encountered ransomware between April 2016 and March 2017 rose by 11.4 percent compared to the previous 12 months, from 2,315,931 to 2,581,026 users around the world".

Europol and Kaspersky joined forces with the Dutch police and others a year ago to establish the "No More Ransom" initiative, just months before a couple of high-profile cyberattacks made headlines.

In May the WannaCry attack claimed more than 300,000 business victims across 150 countries in its first few days, Europol said.

The attack, using a type of malware that encrypts files on an infected computer and demands money to unlock them, crippled "critical infrastructure and businesses," Europol said.

Then last month similar attacks hit Europe and North America, and were revealed to be an updated version of a malware called Petya.

"Some organisations are still struggling to recover from ExPetya attacks of 27 June," the police agency said.

Europol has now posted some 54 decryption tools, provided by nine partners, on the "No More Ransom" website. Theses tools have helped "decrypt more than 28,000 devices, depriving cybercriminals of an estimated eight million euros in ransoms".

More than 100 partners, including Barclays bank and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, have joined the "No More Ransom" initiative.

The website is now available in 26 languages, including Bulgarian, Chinese, Malay, Tamil and Thai.

Europol repeated its warnings to ensure that security on all computer systems was updated.

"If you do become a victim, it is important not to pay the ransom," it warned, urging victims to call in the police.

jkb/shm/jj

BARCLAYS

CYBER WARS
'Oh, bother': Chinese censors can't bear Winnie the Pooh
Beijing (AFP) July 17, 2017
Has Winnie the Pooh done something to anger China's censors? Some mentions of the lovable but dimwitted bear with a weakness for "hunny" have been blocked on Chinese social networks. Authorities did not explain the clampdown, but the self-described "bear of very little brain" has been used in the past in a meme comparing him to portly Chinese President Xi Jinping. Posts bearing the image ... read more

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