Weekly Security Roundup with Clinton Pownall

By Clinton Pownall
 President & CEO
 Computer Business
 Consultants

Hackers Breach Thousands of Security Cameras in Hospitals, Prisons, Gyms, Schools, and Tesla Facilities. Bloomberg carries a story about a group of hackers who “breached a massive trove of security-camera data collected by Silicon Valley startup Verkada Inc., (which provides security cameras and software), gaining access to live feeds of 150,000 surveillance cameras inside hospitals, companies, police departments, prisons and schools.” The article notes that the hacked camera data included gaining access to 220 cameras inside Tesla factories and warehouses, and to 330 security cameras inside the Madison County Jail in Huntsville, Alabama, as well as to cameras inside software provider Cloudflare Inc., and multiple locations of luxury gym chain Equinox. “In addition, hackers were able to view video from inside women’s health clinics, psychiatric hospitals and the offices of Verkada itself.” Bloomberg reports: “The data breach was carried out by an international hacker collective and intended to show the pervasiveness of video surveillance and the ease with which systems could be broken into.”


Microsoft Exchange Attack: “A Ticking Time Bomb.” Last week I wrote about the massive Microsoft Exchange Server attack. The fallout may be just beginning. Krebs on Security carries a follow-up report with the chilling headline: “Warning the World of a Ticking Time Bomb.” The story notes that “Globally, hundreds of thousands of organizations running Exchange email servers from Microsoft just got mass-hacked, including at least 30,000 victims in the United States.” While Microsoft issued a security update to prevent future attacks from targeting the vulnerability, the update doesn’t close the “back doors” that attackers installed on Exchange servers. Brian Krebs describes the issue: “Each hacked server has been retrofitted with a “web shell” backdoor that gives the bad guys total, remote control, the ability to read all email, and easy access to the victim’s other computers. Researchers are now racing to identify, alert and help victims, and hopefully prevent further mayhem.” CSO Online carries an article on the deep complexity of finding and disabling backdoors that were planted by what is believed to have been a group of Chinese hackers. The headline sums up the difficulty: “Why the Microsoft Exchange Server attack isn’t going away soon.” The Hacker News carries the headline “Hackers Are Targeting Microsoft Exchange Servers With Ransomware,” confirming fears that other cybercriminals would use the backdoors to launch their own attacks—including ransomware.


“Welcome to the era of the mega-hack.” That’s the headline in a recent ZDNet story that looks at how software flaws—such as the one that allowed the recent Microsoft Exchange Server attack—are being “weaponized” to launch massive attacks against “thousands of organizations at once.” The article reads in part: “Hacking groups have different motivations: state-backed hackers want to gain access to as many systems as possible before deciding which have strategic value (either as a source of intelligence or as a stepping-stone to compromising other systems); cyber criminals want to break in where they can to either steal data or deliver money-making ransomware. Either way, threat actors are now sophisticated enough to respond to weaknesses quicker than ever before. That’s bad for everyone.”


“Alarming number of consumers impacted by identity theft, application fraud and account takeover.” That’s the headline from Help Net Security on the pervasiveness of identity theft. Citing a recently released report from Aite Group, the article says: “From 2019 to 2020, 47% of U.S. consumers surveyed experienced identity theft; 37% experienced application fraud (i.e., the unauthorized use of one’s identity to apply for an account), and 38% of consumers experienced account takeover over (i.e., unauthorized access to a consumer’s existing account) over the past two years.” Help Net Security quotes Melissa Townsley-Solis, Head of GIACT, a fraud detection service as saying: “Identity theft has become significantly more evolved and sophisticated over the past few years. Businesses and financial institutions must keep up. To combat fraud, they will have to ramp up their customer authentication process by monitoring and validating their consumers at every touch point, throughout the customer lifecycle. And with so much personally identifiable information already exposed and publicly available, they will also have to improve and diversify the types of data being used.”


Clinton A. Pownall is the President & CEO of Computer Business Consultants and has been in the IT field since 1990. Pownall served in the U.S. Navy for six years as a Weapons Systems Technician and has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. Through Computer Business, he was one of the first to pioneer VoIP technology using satellite communications. Pownall serves on several boards and committees and has a strong affiliation with various education groups, local school districts, and served in regional efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates NextGen Foundation. He serves as a Vice President of the Board of Director for the Orlando Shakes Theater and is heavily involved in the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, West Orange Chamber of Commerce, and the Orlando Economic Partnership.