Threat Level Thursday: Home Depot, Hacktivists vs. Islamic State, and Critical Updates
Welcome to this week's Threat Level Thursday where Home Depot falls prey to the same predator that snatched up Target, hacktivists fight against the Islamic State in the digital realm, and both Adobe and Microsoft release critical updates.
Home Depot Hacked a la Target
Home Depot shoppers got quite the shock this week when they were cast into the same boat Target customers were put in at the beginning of the year: victims of a massive data breach. The nationwide retailer confirmed that its payment-card processing systems had been under malicious surveillance stretching back to April. Home Depot says that it doesn't have specifics on the scope of the breach, but many experts believe the hackers made away with over 40 million credit cards over the busy summer. Numbers like that make the Home Depot breach larger than the Target debacle of last year's holiday season.
While there's little anyone can do about what's already been stolen, five U.S. states and two U.S. senators have called for investigations into the matter. Spearheaded by California, Connecticut and Illinois, with the added efforts of New York and Iowa, the effort probe will try to decipher what exactly happened and whether Home Depot can be considered negligent in the matter.
"If Home Depot failed to adequately protect customer information, it denied customers the protection that they rightly expect when a business collects such information," the senators said in a statement. "Such conduct is potentially unfair and deceptive, and therefore could violate the FTC Act."
Oh, the kicker? Looks like the Home Depot bug is basically the same one that affected Target.
Hacktivists Take On the Islamic State
With the entire nation wondering what the fallout from President Obama's Syrian strategy will be, some are already taking matters into their own hands. Hacktivists have been engaging the Islamic State in cyberwarfare, using Twitter and other resources to undercut the jihadists' movement. Some of them are affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army, others with Iranian paramilitary groups, but there's also support from enigmatic U.S. hackers as well. Given the Islamic State's heavy use of social media, online presence and videos, cyberwarfare could be a far more effective way to dismantle the ideologies driving the Islamic State than airstrikes.
Use Adobe or Microsoft Software? Update!
Users of Adobe and Microsoft software would do well to hit the update button. Both companies released critical patches this week that address a number of vulnerabilities.
Adobe's update fixes 12 security problems in its Flash Player and also plugs some loopholes in its AIR software. Microsoft fixed at least 42 vulnerabilities in Windows, Internet Explorer, Lynch, and .NET Framework, with 37 of them in the Internet Explorer update. The patch is labeled as "critical" so be sure to download it as soon as you can.
"If you use any of these, it's time to update!" says cybersecurity expert Michael Krebs.
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