The week in security: AusCERT back, eBay hacked

A massive compromise of online auction house eBay once again raised concerns about online security.

A massive compromise of online auction house eBay once again raised concerns about online security, as the company exhorted its 128 million users to change their passwords.

The data was compromised after hackers penetrated eBay's corporate network and gained access to a database containing encrypted passwords and other personal data.

While that large-scale breach caused its share of problems, a report from Trustwave suggested that point-of-sale attacks were actually the largest problem in the security sphere in 2013, with POS attacks accounting for a third of all data breaches during the year and a large global botnet of infected POS systems discovered, as if to reinforce the point. Utilities were also continuing to prove a popular target, with a US public utility hacked after attackers exploited a weak password security system.

The AusCERT conference saw all kinds of vulnerabilities and technological efforts discussed, ranging from the NSW Electoral Commision's challenges around e-voting and discussions about the value of biometrics to the role of big data in breach responses and the laws of thermodynamics as they apply to information security.

There was speed debating and Incident-response lessons learned, as well as the awarding of four awards recognising outstanding contributions to the Australian information security sector.

Further afield, Cisco head John Chambers was pleading with US government authorities to work to restore trust in US tech firms. Yet he may be asking the wrong person, after revelations that the US National Security Agency has been recording and archiving nearly all mobile calls made in the Bahamas. It has also, according to information from Julian Assange, been recording and storing nearly all domestic and international phone calls from Afghanistan.

New legislation curtailed the NSA's surveillance abilities slightly – although not as much as some would have liked – while the US Justice Department moved to charge Chinese military officials with hacking US companies to obtain trade secrets. The move was an attempt to direct a global discussion about cyberhacking and surveillance, according to some, with US lawmakers applauding the move as a sign that the US government was fed up with state-sponsored cyberattacks.

The Chinese government is also fed up, blocking IT products that don't pass its cybersecurity testing and banning Windows 8 from government use in apparent retribution for Microsoft's withdrawal of Windows XP support.

Deeper in the enforcement-action file was a mass crackdown on those involved with the BlackShades Trojan, which saw law enforcement agencies from 16 countries arrest 97 people and stood as a model for collaborative cybercrime enforcement action even as 'script kiddies' mourned its passing. Also demonstrating increased collaboration were the US and Israel, which joined forces for cyber security research.

Moves by security software giant Check Point Software Technologies saw the creation of a new alliance facilitating the aggregation of threat data. Senetas, for its part, also tried to improve the availability of top-tier security by releasing a high-security encryption tool for SMBs while Cisco announced it would acquire malware prevention company ThreatGRID and launched a barrage of new security products at its Cisco Live conference.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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