Threat Level Thursday: China Snoops, the Pentagon vs. Snowden, Home Depot Fallout, and Gmail is Safe
Welcome to this week's Threat Level Thursday, where we find the Chinese snooping again, the Pentagon beefing up against more Snowdens, wesee how much Home Depot's credit card breach might end up costing, and why Google says not to worry about Gmail being hacked.
Spying on U.S. Airlines
Chinese hackers have once again made headlines in the United States after being caught stealing over four million health records last month. This time around, however, the victims are U.S. airlines.
According to a U.S. Senate panel, Chinese hackers affiliated with the government (as seems to be the case) have been peeking into data from U.S. airlines and any other firms involved with U.S. troop and military equipment movements.
"These peacetime intrusions into the networks of key defense contractors are more evidence of China's aggressive actions in cyberspace," said Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.
The yearlong investigation also found that there were key communication gaps that prevented contractors from properly sharing information with each other, allowing the hackers to exploit the lack of cooperation.
Pentagon vs. Snowdens
As much as most of the world thanks leaker Edward Snowden, the U.S. government definitely doesn't. According to a Politico report, the Pentagon will be introducing several new measures to prevent leaks of classified government data. Certified contractors with sensitive information will be required to subject themselves to federal scrutiny and hold annual training programs on insider threats.
"Information about employees' browsing on those networks will be combined with data analysis tools to spot suspicious behavior such as a Middle East analyst rooting around in intelligence documents related to China or Russia or an employee accessing documents at unusual hours," reads the Politico report.
Home Depot Breach Could End Up Costing Billions in Fake Charges
Home Depot recently revealed that it could be the victim of the largest credit card heist in history. An estimated 40 million credit cards may have been siphoned out of Home Depot's networks, and a new estimate by credit protection firm BillGuard puts the fake charge damages at a whopping $3 billion. Billguard also says that the average fraudulent charge on a stolen credit card amounts to $332.
Google's Anti-Hijacking Software Wins
Rest easy folks. Earlier reports seemed to indicate that nearly five million Gmail usernames and passwords were leaked onto a Russian Bitcoin forum, but lucky for those who use the world's most popular email service, it looks like most of them are gibberish. Google responded to the security breach fears in a blog post last week stating that only 2 percent of the username and password combinations might have worked and most efforts were blocked by the service's internal anti-hijacking system. As usual, Google recommends changing passwords and making sure they are secure if you're still unsure of whether your Gmail account has been a victim.
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