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Monday, August 15, 2016

Data Compromise: The Next Chapter

Updated: The Equation Group hack has been verified.

It seems the Oracle MICROS malware insertion hack went a bit deeper and had a suspicious purpose. Several hotels in the US, run by HEI hotels and resorts, that run the MICROS points-of-sale and hospitality software, have been breached. This means the credit card info for lots of people has been compromised. The list of dates affected by the breach indicate that the MICROS hack went in as early as March, 2015!

It is curious that the Westin City Center in Washington D.C. was included in the list, and was compromised for more than 9 months following September, 2015. This amounts to total operational awareness for whoever is running the breach. Let's admit it: if you wanted to know what is happening in US politics, what better way than to own than the comings and goings in Washington D.C.? I suspect FSB, the entity that has replaced the infamous Russian KGB.

I doubt we have seen a complete list of breaches with MICROS. If you are an IT person, visit Krebs on Security for a good list of IOCs (indicators of compromise). If you use MICROS, then change your passwords immediately.

Recently we saw the DCCC hack and the dox'ing of a huge amount of congress, on Guccifer 2.0's site.

This, once again, speaks of a state actor attempting to disrupt American politics.

But there are still a few hacks that can't be assigned easily to state actors. The recent data breach of Sage software, based in the UK, used for accounts and payroll processing, indicates that hackers are still largely following the money.

My sense is that data compromise is perpetrated on an agenda rather than simply because "people have the right to know", the tired axiom used by the media to depict crusading whistleblowers.

More often than not we are seeing criminals looking for ways to pry money out of rich people. Or directly from banking systems. But that might simply be a cover for state actors, who are building a database much deeper than Google's. And for much darker purposes.

And Now For Something Completely Disastrous

In today's news is another story that strongly correlates to the awful scenario in which the NSA's reputed-to-exist Equation Group has been hacked. This group is responsible for Stuxnet, Duqu, Gauss, and other famous modular virus architectures used to hack, among other victims, the Iranian uranium centrifuges.

This story is developing as I write, but an analysis of the example data provided by the hackers, the Shadow Brokers, by Matt Suiche appears to confirm the hack. Just read that source to see how desperate the situation is.

Here is an example of a state actor being hacked. My fears for the Gauss modular virus architecture used to be that it would get reverse engineered and modified by less scrupulous hackers. Now my fears are that essentially every hacker will possess this toolkit. Some eastern European hacking consortium will productize it, make it easy to use, and disseminate it for bitcoins. It's a virtual Pandora's Box.

Update: The Equation Group hack appears to heavily utilize RC5 and RC6 encryption. Comparison of the code by Kaspersky's GReAT team shows it matches the Equation Group's signature. It's all wrapped up in the magical P and Q constants used by Rivest's RC5/6.

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