When he is not lobbing missiles into the Sea of Japan, shooting his rivals with anti-aircraft guns or having his brother poisoned, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is taking time out to rob Western banks.
Cyber security outfit Symantec said that a North Korean hacking group known as Lazarus was likely behind a recent cyber campaign targeting organizations in 31 countries, following high-profile attacks on Bangladesh Bank, Sony and South Korea.
Writing in its corporate bog Symantec said researchers have uncovered four pieces of digital evidence suggesting the Lazarus group was behind the campaign that sought to infect victims with “loader” software used to stage attacks by installing other malicious programs.
Symantec researcher Eric Chien said that it was reasonably certain Lazarus was responsible.
The North Korean government has denied allegations it was involved in the hacks, and said its glorious leader was at a wine and cheese evening when the attacks happened and there were nearly a dozen generals who can give him an alibi.
Symantec said it did not know if any money had been stolen. Nonetheless, Symantec said the claim was significant because the group used a more sophisticated targeting approach than in previous campaigns.
Lazarus has already been blamed for a string of hacks dating back to at least 2009, including last year’s $81 million heist from Bangladesh’s central bank, the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment that crippled its network for weeks and a long-running campaign against organizations in South Korea.
Symantec has one of the world’s largest teams of malware researchers, regularly analyses emerging cyber threats to help can defend businesses, governments and consumers that use its security products.
The firm analyzed the hacking campaign last month when news surfaced that Polish banks had been infected with malware. At the time, Symantec said it had “weak evidence” to blame Lazarus.
Symantec said the latest campaign was launched by infecting websites that intended victims were likely to visit, which is known as a “watering hole” attack.
Hackers and cyber-criminals are acting a lot more professional and adopting all those annoying “best practice” systems and standards.
A new report says that the approach is improving the efficiency of their attacks against enterprises and consumers.
Kevin Haley, director, Symantec Security Response said that advanced criminal attack groups now echo the skill sets of nation-state attackers.
“They have extensive resources and a highly-skilled technical staff that operate with such efficiency that they maintain normal business hours and even take the weekends and holidays off. We are even seeing low-level criminal attackers create call center operations to increase the impact of their scams.”
These professional attack groups are the first to leverage zero-day vulnerabilities, using them for their own advantage or selling them to lower-level criminals on the open market where they are quickly commoditised.
In 2015, the number of zero-day vulnerabilities discovered more than doubled to a record-breaking 54, a 125 percent increase from the year before, reaffirming the critical role they play in lucrative targeted attacks, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report.
Meanwhile, malware increased at a staggering rate with 430 million new malware variants discovered in 2015. The sheer volume of malware proves that professional cybercriminals are leveraging their vast resources in attempt to overwhelm defenses and enter corporate networks.
A report said that malware aimed at Apple devices has doubled this year, and will face further attacks in 2016.
The BBC reported that Symantec and FireEye are predicting that Apple will face increased threats in 2016.
The Apple operating system – OS X – is subject to way fewer attacks than Windows, Symantec said, but the number was seven times greater this year and last.
Attacks on Apple’s iOS operating system, used in iPads and iPhones is also increasing.
Apple notebooks have shown steady growth during 2015 while Windows notebook sales have been flat.
That may be the reason for hackers taking time to devise methods involving Apple users.
Most pundits believe that by the end of this decade all sorts of things will be connected to each other and some believe that this could pose a serious security risk.
Symantec believes it has the answer to these problems. It estimates that IoT deviees will number 25 billion by 2020 and has now introduced embedded critical system protection.
This, it said, protects IoT devices from zero day attacks and will protect your TVs, your cars, your lights and your washing machines from being hacked.
The company said it has set up links with vendors in the automotive, industrial control and semiconductor industries in a bid to get agreement about the risks.
Symantec signed a deal with Wincor Nixdorf to protect banks – ATMs – and the retail industry, and will work with semi companies including Texas Instruments to protect hardware things.
But while Symantec may propose, it may not have the power to dispose because the whole world+dog of vendors wants a share in the internet of things and currently there is a grievous lack of standardisation.
Software security company Symantec has decided to sell off its data storage business Veritas to private equity firm Carlyle.
It is all rumour and speculation at the moment, but the deal could be officially announced today when Symantec reports its quarterly earnings.
Carlyle is saying nothing but the deal has leaked already. Bloomberg had reported first last month that Symantec was nearing a deal to sell Veritas to Carlyle for between $7 billion and $8 billion.
Symantec has been seeking buyers for Veritas for several months, but interest from potential buyers was limited because of a tax burden associated with splitting the company.
Symantec had been planning to separate its business focused on corporate and consumer security software, which had $4.2 billion in revenue last year, from Veritas, which has about $2.5 billion in revenue.
Carlisle was a bit of a headache for Mary Queen of Scots, we hope that Symantec’s storage outfit does not meet a similar fate.
Symantec wants to sell its Veritas data storage business to private equity firm Carlyle Group.
The word on the street is that Symantec was nearing a deal to sell Veritas to Carlyle for between $7 billion and $8 billion, but few other details are known.
Symantec shares rose 2.64 percent in after-hours trading, after closing up 0.5 percent, at $22.79, in regular trade on the Nasdaq.
Symantec has been seeking buyers for Veritas for several months but interest from potential buyers had been limited because of a tax burden associated with splitting the company.
Symantec had been planning to separate its business focused on corporate and consumer security software, which had $4.2 billion in revenue last year, from Veritas, which has about $2.5 billion in revenue. It announced the tax-free spinoff last October.
Investors have wanted Symantec to become more agile and capitalise on faster growing businesses, whether it’s through corporate breakups or divestitures. Looks like this deal is exactly what they wanted.
A sea change is happening in China where kids who would normally be hackers are turning into security experts.
Chinese companies are finding themselves being turned over regularly and with the increase in the number of cyber-attacks, many hackers are finding it increasingly lucrative to go above board and join the country’s cyber security industry.
Reuters cited the CV of Zhang Tianqi, a 23-year old Beijinger who spent his high school years infiltrating foreign websites by probing for vulnerabilities on overseas gaming networks.
He is now the chief technology officer of a Shanghai-based cyber security firm which owns Vulbox.com, a site offering rewards for vulnerability discoveries, and internet security media site FreeBuf.com.
Zhang said that there’s a trend of China taking information security very seriously and to tackle a huge problem of cybercrime dozens of cyber security companies are now cropping up across China according to industry observers, populated by young techies with bona fide security skills and work experience at firms like Alibaba, Tencent Holdings and Baidu.
China wants people with local security skills rather than relying on foreign firms like Symantec, Kaspersky and EMC who might have links with foreign governments.
Former hackers say the majority of their peers are joining a burgeoning industry to help China firms fend off the numerous attacks they face themselves, normally from the US and from cut-throat Chinese rivals.
Some of the shift away from hobby hacking might have been spurred by a government crackdown on China’s hacking community five years ago – around the same time Beijing passed a series of laws banning hacking and spamming tools and requiring telecom operators to help suppress attacks.
Many chose to shift from “black hat” activities to “white hat” ones, using their skills to find network vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed.
Factory revenues in purpose built backup appliances (PBBAs) amounter to £719.3 million in the first quarter of this year – growing 6.9 percent compared to the same quarter last year.
EMC is the king of the PBBA market and has 52.4 percent share of the market, followed by Symantec (18.5%), IBM (5.2%) and HP (4.5%).
That’s according to a quarterly survey from IDC, which said Barracuda, Quantum and Dell had 3.5%, 3.3% and 2.9% market share, respectively.
This is all good news said Liz Conner, a senior analyst who minds storage systems at IDC.
“Vendors continue to focus on enhancing and updating their PBBA product portfolios. The results are more flexible, agile and now, typically hybrid, products that are helping to meet a wider range of data protection needs.”
Worldwide PBBA capacity in the first quarter reached an astonishing 647 petabytes, up 32.3 percent compared to the same quarter of 2014.
Security company Symantec said it has introduced an upgrade to its Data Loss Prevention (DLP) program aimed at ensuring cloud access is free from data loss and theft.
The product now covers cloud email and storage and has integrated its offering with Box.
DLP now supports Office 365 for enterprises using it in the cloud. Its partnership with Box means that employee accounts can be monitored to see what information is being used and how it’s shared.
DLO 14’s endpoint agent will also protect sensitive information for people using Cloud File, Sync and Share, Symantec said.
Amit Jasuja, a senior VP at Symantec said that DLP is a content aware system which helps enterprises know where and how sensitive corporate information is being stored and used.
“We are extending DLP to cloud email and storage to provide our customers the control and visibility they need to secure their sensitive information as they take full advantage of the cloud,” he said.
Symantec remained the number one vendor of security software in 2014, with the whole market worth $21.4 billion – up 5.3 percent from the year before.
In second place was Intel McAfee, followed by IBM, Trend Micro, EMC and other players.
But although there’s overall market growth, according to market research company Gartner, there was a decline in consumer security software.
This hit Symantec because consumer security software forms 53 percent of its total security revenues.
IBM had a particularly good year, growing its revenue by $1.5 billion, largely as a result of strong adoption of security information and event management products by large enterprises.
Gartner said this particular sector is growing strongly as enterprises realise the need for threat detection and response to protect their IT systems.