January 10th, 2019
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Credit-monitoring company Equifax Inc. suffered a security breach that could affect up to 143 million people in the United States, as well as expose the “limited personal information” of an undisclosed number of Canadian and British Equifax users.
Equifax did not indicate the number of Canadians/British that could be affected or how, and Equifax Canada spokesperson Tom Carroll said the company is not providing any further information on the impact of the hack in Canada.
Based in Atlanta, Equifax is one of three major credit bureaus in the United States. Between May and July of this year, the company stated that cyber-attackers exploited a U.S. website application to access files which contained the personal information sought by the hackers.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do.”
Names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers and drivers license numbers were all among the information obtained. Equifax said its core credit-reporting databases don’t appear to have been breached.
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Equifax CEO Richard Smith said in a statement. “I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”
For more information, and to find out if you have been personally affected, you can use the website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, which has been set up by Equifax. The website allows users to verify if their information was potentially affected, and helps them sign up for the free credit-file monitoring and identify-theft protection offered by Equifax in light of the breach.
NOTE: Some people are furious about the site’s functionality, and it includes an arbitration clause, which means that people who use the site waive their rights to a class-action lawsuit.
While SolidTrust Pay was not affected by the attack, events such as these serve as a reminder to always employ best security practices. We suggest that users update passwords and use a password manager, delete old accounts with personal information if you are no longer using them, and follow our 10 steps for better internet safety!
The hackers responsible for last week’s globe-spanning ransomware attack have made a public statement for the first time since the attack.
The group responsible for #NotPetya have allegedly surfaced on the deep web with a statement offering the decryption key to all files encrypted by the ransomware they unleashed from Ukraine last week.
The post was first picked up by Motherboard after the group used the Bitcoin wallet associated with the ransomware to make a small donation to the Tor-only announcement service DeepPaste, which is where the message appeared.
The message makes a request for 100 bitcoins, which is over $250,000 in today’s market.
According to The Verge, “the message includes a file signed with Petya’s private key, which is strong evidence that the message came from the group responsible for Petya. More specifically, it proves that whoever left the message has the necessary private key to decrypt individual files infected by the virus.”
There was also a link to a chatroom included in the messages. During an interview conducted in the chatroom, someone claiming to be one of the malware authors told Motherboard that the price was so high because it’s for the key “to decrypt all computers.”
Motherboard offered the unknown group an individual file that had been decrypted by the malware and asked them to send it back decrypted as proof that they had the decryption key. The unknown individuals in the chatroom were unable or unwilling to decrypt the file.
Some are still convinced that this attack has nothing to do with money or ransomware.
“This is a fear, uncertainty and doubt case,” claimed the founder of Comae Technologies Matt Suiche in an online chat with Motherboard. “This is a clear attempt from the attackers to try to further confuse the audience by changing the wiper narrative into a ransomware one again.”
A massive ransomware campaign has been identified on June 27, 2017, and is currently unfolding worldwide. The attack has been dubbed “NotPetya” by Kaspersky Lab and other experts in the field who state that, in comparison to earlier versions of the Petya malware, this new variant has major differences in its operations. Bitdefender Labs confirmed in an update earlier today that the ransomware uses the NSA’s EternalBlue exploit to propagate.
If you’re unfamiliar with ransomware, it’s a pretty simple concept. Cyber-criminals and hackers develop a tool or program which, upon gaining access to a targeted PC, will close off access and encrypt the files of the target. The administrator of the infected target will not be able to access anything unless they pay a ransom in Bitcoin, which is the USD equivalent of $300 in this case. If the ransom isn’t paid, the malware may destroy all of your files — or at least never allow you to regain access to them again.
If your computer has been affected by this most recent ransomware, your screen will look something like this:
While Ukraine’s government, National Bank, transportation services and largest power companies are bearing the brunt of the attack right now, and some experts have speculated that this might be a politically motivated attack against Ukrainian infrastructure, there are also notable reports of the virus springing up across Europe and even in parts of the US.
This is just seven weeks after one of the largest ransomware outbreaks in history, WannaCry, swept the globe and wreaked havoc on airports, hospitals, schools, businesses and personal laptops in nearly 100 countries.
As mentioned by CNET, “WannaCry was supposed to be a wake-up call for people to update their computers with the latest software. But it appears people just forgot about the attack and went on with their lives.”
As described by Microsoft, some of the ways your PC can be infected by ransomware include:
- Visiting unsafe, suspicious, or fake websites.
- Opening emails and email attachments that you weren’t expecting or from people you don’t know.
- Opening malicious or bad links in emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media posts, or in instant messenger chats, like Skype.
At SolidTrust Pay, one of our top priorities is security. While we are at very little risk of being affected by this recent outbreak as a business, we are certainly concerned for our users and merchants. We encourage anybody who is reading this to follow the steps laid out by Microsoft on protecting your PC against ransomware attacks.