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InfoSec News Nuggets 04/20/2021

1 – “Huge upsurge” in DDoS attacks during pandemic

Researchers at Netscout have released a report analyzing the malicious internet traffic of 2020 and comparing it to the years before. Some of the results were as expected: Brute-forcing credentials and more targeting towards internet-connected devices were foreseeable and have been discussed at length. And even a record-breaking year in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks might have been expected as it follows the upward trend over the years. But the sheer number of attacks, their size, and a new big player in the field of DDoS extortion may raise some surprised eyebrows. A DDoS attack stops people from using a computer system by keeping it so busy with traffic from multiple locations that it is overloaded and either crashes or is permanently busy. Because they work by delivering more traffic than the system or network under attack can handle, they hinge on an attackers’ ability to deliver significant volumes of traffic.


2 – How the Biden Administration Can Make Digital Identity a Reality

While data breaches and ransomware attacks kept the cybersecurity industry preoccupied last year, the scope of the SolarWinds data breach far surpassed common exploits, garnering mainstream and social media attention. The breach impacted several of the country’s largest technology companies, including Cisco, Microsoft, and NVIDIA, as well as the US Departments of Commerce, Homeland Security, and Treasury. This incident prompted President Joe Biden to quickly sign the American Rescue Plan Act into law, prioritizing cybersecurity and allocating $2 billion to modernize the country’s digital infrastructure. The Biden administration has promised to broadly improve digital security, monitoring, and response times, establishing a modern “digital identity” system of particular importance. A digital identity system compiles specific information, such as proof of age, passport number, and basic health and financial data, into one “card” that resides on your phone, backed with biometric security.


3 – A Tesla Helped Police Track Down a Hate Crime Suspect

Throughout December, someone was setting fires at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Presbyterian Church, a “predominately Black” congregation located in Springfield, Massachusetts. An FBI affidavit claims that the last of these fires, set on Dec. 28, “essentially destroyed” the building—burning away large parts of the interior. During this period, the same person is suspected of having carried out a “series of tire-slashings” targeted at vehicles near or around the church—a majority of which were owned by Black individuals. Court documents illustrate how state, local and federal authorities used a variety of surveillance footage and data collection to piece together Vulchev’s whereabouts and place him at or near these crimes. In particular, the vandal slipped up when he allegedly slashed the tires of a Tesla located not far from the church. Authorities say one of the car’s many pre-installed security cameras caught blatant images of the culprit as he damaged the tires, then later returned to steal them along with the vehicle’s rims.


4 – NATO tests its hand defending against blended cyber-disinformation attacks

Member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have banded together in recent days to confront an apparent cyberattack carried out against a NATO member’s critical infrastructure, according to the alliance. NATO is also working to battle a stream of disinformation about the attack against island state Berylia that has flooded social media, the alliance said. While many world leaders have faced off with blended cyber and disinformation operations in recent years, the NATO members in this case are not in fact facing a real threat. NATO crafted the scenario, which was carried out by a fabricated non-NATO nation-state “Crimsonia,” as part of an annual simulation exercise.


5 – Geico admits fraudsters stole customers’ driver’s license numbers for months

Geico, the second-largest auto insurer in the U.S., has fixed a security bug that let fraudsters steal customers’ driver’s license numbers from its website. In a data breach notice filed with the California attorney general’s office, Geico said information gathered from other sources was used to “obtain unauthorized access to your driver’s license number through the online sales system on our website.” The insurance giant did not say how many customers were affected by the breach but said the fraudsters accessed customer driver’s license numbers between January 21 and March 1. Companies are required to alert the state’s attorney general’s office when more than 500 state residents are affected by a security incident. Geico said it had “reason to believe that this information could be used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits in your name.”

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