Fraud, deception or Ignorance in IT Safety?
Again it was the Dutch NOS last night that gave me the idea of reflection on today’s blog. Their newscast and articles on NOS.nl is all about cybercrime. The news was that last year (October 2012), cyber criminals using the botnet Citadel was able to acquire over 750 GB of data. The data is coming from computers involving the Energy industry, Media corporations, Hospitals, Universities and airlines. The data seems to have gone to eastern European cyber criminals. Over 150.000 computers infected in the Netherlands alone.
Watching it, you could see login details, passwords, network layouts, detailed notes from a doctor and the medication prescribed. The amount of information was staggering! I looked a little further into this botnet. Its name is Citadel. It seems to be an ingenious piece of work. This is something the NSA, GCHQ or the FSB and several other Boy Scout units of a governmental type. When looking at the info, there was an implied strength that it could go passed and ignores many anti-virus systems. When looking at my own provider, there was an interesting lack of information regarding this botnet.
So we are looking at a three edged sword.
Are anti-viral protectors committing fraud? When looking at a Norton protection plan, and I see the green ‘Secure’ sign. Am I really secured? Tracy Kitten from Bankinfo security wrote: “Segura notes that hackers claim PCs relying on anti-virus solutions from Microsoft Security Essentials, McAfee, and Norton were infected. ‘That’s kind of worrisome,’ he says. ” So, am I paying for security I am not receiving?
It seems that this secure statement is also a case of deception. My Norton anti-virus states a secure setting, yet, citadel was initially designed to collect bank information for cyber criminals. From the two facts earlier, I must also conclude that the banks have been insincere to me on more than one occasion (big surprise I know). They claim safety and security, whilst 150.000 computers in the Netherlands seem to prove the opposite. Especially considering that banks have been trimming down on staff because much more goes on-line, yet there is no clear information that the cyber divisions of the financial industry is making any kind of strong progress. The BBC stated on Oct 10, 2012, that GBP 341 million was acquired through card fraud in 2011. The events involving Citadel imply that the losses in 2011 are not likely to go down any day soon.
Last is about Ignorance. That would be you the reader and me. These anti-viral dealers leave us with a false sense of security while we are charged $70-$100 a year, whilst it lowers intrusions, but not remove the threat. I must confess that we are all likely a lot safer with then without anti-viral protection. So stopping anti-virus protection is the worst of ideas.
I feel slightly safer as I have always refused any kind of on-line banking option. From the 90’s I knew that their X-25 protocols had several weak spots, which is now getting me to the last part of this.
If Windows is so weak, volatile and easily transgressed upon, then the dozens of security updates seem little more than a smoke screen. I reckon a lot of us should seriously consider moving to another system like Linux. Linux has proven to be a very secure system. We used to consider Apple to be very secure as it was a Unix based system, which has all matters of security or a much higher level than Windows ever had. However, that it is now an INTEL based system with Microsoft attachments makes me wonder if it remained that secure.
What is my issue with this all is that Yesterday’s news on Citadel was known with the Dutch cyber security for months, and little was done, the newscast even mentioned that many had not been alerted to this danger. I reckon that IF there is truth on transgression on ‘secured’ systems, we need to consider the dangers of connected networks. This likely endangered the infrastructure, and it definitely endangered personal information of millions. With that state of mind, how should we see the security of corporate and personal systems in the UK, US and Australia?
Consider that the implied ignoring of Cyber security is mentioned (but unproven as far as the validity of sources go). Yet, when I seek places like Norton, I get no answer (connection was reset). If we can believe people like Tracy Kitten then the financial sector that relies on massive internet presence, we are in serious trouble. On the other side is the opinion showing on the NOS site by Professor Michel van Eeten from the TU Delft. It is not really created to a directed attack. He compared it to a buck shot into the internet. It was designed to acquire login, passwords and bank details.
My issue is the fact that 150.000 systems were infected! The one flaw in the NOS newscast is the absence of the cyber safety factor. Whether Common Cyber Security was used by those infected. If so, then why are these questions not openly directed at the makers of Norton Anti-Virus, McAfee, Kaspersky and a league of other Cyber Safety providers?
Fraud, deception or Ignorance in IT Safety?