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February 25, 2013

Microsoft Latest In Long Line of Hacking Victims

Trojans, suspicious URLs skyrocket in 4Q of 2012: McAfee

Microsoft is the latest victim of the Java zero-day exploit that has hit Facebook, Apple and Twitter.

As one technology giant after another is hit by the insidious malware, it begs the question: who will be next?

Microsoft went public with news of the hack of an undetermined number of computers in its Mac business unit late Friday (Feb. 22). The company said there is no evidence customer data was compromised.

Trustworthy Computing Security general manager Matt Thomlinson posted the following statement on the Microsoft Security Response Centre blog:

As reported by Facebook and Apple, Microsoft can confirm that we also recently experienced a similar security intrusion.

“Consistent with our security response practices, we chose not to make a statement during the initial information gathering process. During our investigation, we found a small number of computers, including some in our Mac business unit, that were infected by malicious software using techniques similar to those documented by other organizations. We have no evidence of customer data being affected and our investigation is ongoing. 

“This type of cyberattack is no surprise to Microsoft and other companies that must grapple with determined and persistent adversaries (see our prior analysis of emerging threat trends). We continually re-evaluate our security posture and deploy additional people, processes, and technologies as necessary to help prevent future unauthorized access to our networks.”

Facebook, Apple and Twitter have all been hacked this year due to flaws in Oracle’s Java software. A Java zero-day exploit allowed malware to access the computers of both Facebook and Apple employees. It has recently come to light that the data breach of 250,000 Twitter users is also linked to the zero-day exploit.

Popular iOS programming website iPhoneDevSDK has admitted it was the source of the malware that infected Facebook, Apple and Twitter. Hackers hit a single administrator account at iPhoneDevSDK and it blossomed from there.

Hackers also breached customer support service Zendesk last week, accessing the personal data, including e-mail addresses, of some Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest users.

The surge in hacking is no surprise to McAfee, however.

The computer security company’s fourth-quarter 2012 Threats Report revealed the number of trojans created to hijack passwords skyrocketed 72 percent last quarter.

“Our analysis of web threats found that the number of new suspicious URLs increased by 70 percent this quarter,” the report said. “Most of those servers are, as you may have guessed, in the United States. Most phishing attacks aim for financial targets, but we saw a rise in those against online auctions and multi-player online gaming.

“Malware that attacks deeper in a system, at the master boot record, climbed for the second straight quarter. These threats can remain on a system for a long time without the victim’s knowledge and download other forms of malware. We expect to see further growth in attacks on the system stack.”

The report said Operation High Roller and Project Bliztkrieg continue to be threats to banks and other financial companies.

Also, mobile malware has nearly double in each of the last two quarters of 2012.

“At the start of the new year, the total number of samples in our mobile malware ‘zoo’ reached 36,699, with 95 percent of that arriving in 2012,” McAfee said. “In all of 2011 we gathered only 792 samples.”


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