Week in review: Study of hacker forums, creating effective CAPTCHAs, and trust relocated for yet another CA

Here’s an overview of some of last week’s most interesting news, podcasts, reviews and articles:

Irresponsible IT disposal methods
Although data security is the primary concern when decommissioning IT equipment, only 61 per cent of companies currently data wipe all of their redundant computers.

A study of hacker forums
Recently Imperva released a report analyzing the content and activities of an online hacker forum with nearly 220,000 registered members. In this podcast, Rob Rachwald, the Director of Security Strategy at Imperva talks about how this forum is used by hackers for training, communications, collaboration, recruitment, commerce and even social interaction. Commercially, this forum serves as a marketplace for selling of stolen data and attack software.

How does GFI LanGuard help network administrators?
Managing an IT network that is continuously changing and growing is not a trivial task. Once the network comprises more than a handful of machines, it becomes a near-impossible task to monitor it manually.

Multitasking DevilRobber Trojan targets Mac OS X users
Another week, another Mac OS X Trojan spotted. Both Sophos and Intego have detected a Bitcoin-mining Trojan that also opens a backdoor into the infected system and steals Bitcoins from the user’s wallet file and information such as login credentials, browsing histories and data regarding the use of Truecrypt software and TOR.

How to create effective CAPTCHAs
Half a year ago, a team of researchers from Stanford University’s Security Laboratory has managed to build a computer program able to solve audio CAPTCHAs and to define how future audio CAPTCHAs should sound like in order to avoid being cracked by computers. Since then, the same team has concentrated on making that same software able to break currently used text-based CAPTCHAs in order to reveal their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

Nearly 50 chemical, defense companies hit with cyber espionage attacks
Nearly 50 (and quite possibly more) companies in the chemical, defense, and other sectors have been hit with a spear phishing campaign carrying a backdoor Trojan with the ultimate goal of exfiltrating R&D and manufacturing information, revealed Symantec in a newly released report.

Online social networks: Malware launch pads
Social networks serve as seamless communication channels, but at the same time they are ideal launch pads for malware infections. As a result there has been a tremendous increase in the dissemination of malware infections through social networks.

Cybercriminal gang ringleaders convicted for stealing over $4.5 million
Two Ukrainians who admitted to have been the ringleaders of a criminal ring bent on stealing money from online bank accounts have finally been sentenced to four years and eight months in jail each, reported the London Metropolitan Police.

Researchers to be rewarded for coordinating software vulnerabilities
Vulnerability researchers are being invited to participate in a new program under which Secunia will confirm vulnerability discoveries independently of any software vendor, and handle coordination with the vendor on the researchers’ behalf.

The value of digital content
Although 51% of Americans have experienced a computer crash where they lost all of their digital files, more than one-third (39%) admit they have never backed up their computers, or haven’t done so in more than a year.

Duqu installer exploits zero-day bug in Windows kernel
An installer for the Duqu Trojan has been discovered by CrySys, the Hungarian firm that initially discovered the threat, and the file has shed some light onto how the threat managed to find its way to the targeted computers.

iPhone and iOS Forensics
With the seemingly unstoppable popularity of Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone and the iPad, forensic specialists need to learn about the specific device models and their features, functions and file system, how to use the most popular commercial tools for analyzing and recovering the data and applications contained within them, and how to do it all in a legal manner. Luckily, all that knowledge is shared in this book.

First joint EU-US cyber security exercise
The day-long table-top exercise, Cyber Atlantic 2011, is using simulated cyber-crisis scenarios to explore how the EU and US would engage each other and cooperate in the event of cyber-attacks on their critical information infrastructures.

Five million new malware samples
In the third quarter of 2011 alone, five million new malware samples were created. In addition, Trojans set a record for becoming the preferred category for cybercriminals to carry out their information theft, representing more than 75 percent of all new malware.

Kelihos, Waledac and Storm malware believed to have same author
Having analyzed the code of the Kelihos malware, Pierre-Marc Bureau, senior malware researcher at antivirus company ESET, posits that its author is the same person (or group of people) who has developed the Storm worm and the Waledac malware. In this podcast he talks about how tracking malware authors’ evolving skills can help security professionals and companies fight cybercrime.

Unique malware URLs increased 89 percent
IID attributed the large increase in malware sites to the reemergence of the Avalanche phishing gang, which was responsible for two thirds of all the phishing attacks that took place in the second half of 2009.

Mobile screen-spy software recreates passwords
When typing in confidential information on the phone, the more paranoid among us usually surreptitiously check if someone is behind or near us and can read what we write. But, according to a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, that might not be enough to thwart resolute spies.

Malaysian CA issues 22 weak certs, gets its certificate revoked
Microsoft, Mozilla and Google have announced that they are revoking trust in Malaysia-based DigiCert Sdn. Bhd., an intermediate certificate authority authorized by well-known CA Entrust, following the issuing of 22 certificates with weak keys, lacking in usage extensions and revocation information.

Latest spam trends and predictions for the end of the year
As the percentage of fraudulent emails received by users in the third quarter of 2011 has risen sharply and they represented 2 percent of all received spam emails, Kaspersky Lab warns users to be on the lookout for phishing scams targeting online gamers, official government organizations and supposed notifications from various popular companies such as MacDonald’s saying that the user has won a prize.