Cyber Crime Trends in 2019

Malaika Naidu

In 2017, 2 billion data records were compromised,
followed by more than 4.5 billion records in just the first half of 2018.

With every passing year, and at an accelerated pace since 2010, cybercriminals are using more advanced and scalable tools to breach privacy. And they are clearly getting results!

In the last 2 years, we see some cyber-crimes becoming more prevalent than others. Cyber safety organisations around the world fear that the growth of cyber-crimes in just these 6 months of 2019 will surpass the numbers of 2017 and 2018 put together. Give that a serious thought for a minute.

Cyber-crimes grow and evolve with consumer behaviour trends. So, the trending cyber-crimes complement our usage patterns of the internet and technology. In the last decade, emails and chat rooms used to be the most common methods of communication online. This decade, we see a shift to mobile apps like WhatsApp and Viber and social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Naturally, we see a shift from the number of email related frauds to social media frauds. Not to say that email frauds don’t happen anymore, it’s just that today we are more vulnerable on social media. And the numbers support this claim.

In 2018 alone, social media fraud increased by 43% from the year prior. Similarly, fraud in mobile channels has grown significantly in the last few years. In the same year, almost 70% of cyber-crimes originated or took form through vulnerabilities in mobile channels. A white paper, ‘Current State of Cybercrime – 2019’ by RSA Security says that the ease of use of such channels, absence of usage fees and other such simplicities will only help this trend grow exponentially.

So, what do we need to look out for in 2019?

Phishing Attacks

Phishing, as the name suggests, is looking or seeking private information under a guise. This usually happens through emails, instant messaging or text messages. The attacker masquerades as a trusted entity in order to hook and procure information such as passwords and PINs. One of the most efficient cyber-crimes, phishing is only growing in its complexity, ensuring its success further.  To add to the problem, phishing kits are easily available on the dark net. Meaning anyone with basic technical knowledge can purchase the kit and execute the attack. Once a phishing attack is successful, there is very little recourse for the victim.

Remote Access Threats

Basically, remote access is to gain unauthorised administrator access to a device, such as a computer or smart TV, from a remote network. This means the device being attacked and the device that is executing the attack are on separate networks. In 2018, the biggest remote access attack was cryptojacking, which targeted cyptocurrency owners. Now with Internet of Things and connected homes, we have only made ourselves even more vulnerable. These attacks can happen on any device connected to a network with open ports. Most common devices to come under this attack are computers, cameras, smart TVs, Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices, alarm systems and home appliances.

Smartphone Vulnerabilities

We’ve started using mobile phones for everything from communication to banking. We are comfortable accessing and/or storing sensitive information on our mobile phones without proper protection of any sort, unlike how almost all of us have a firewall or antivirus on our computers. Think about all the apps that have access to data on your phones. Have you done your due diligence before downloading a random photo editing app? Aside from apps, another way attackers exploit our phones is through the two-step authentication system. While being one of the most widely used cybersecurity tools, it has actually increased our security risk in case a phone is stolen or lost.

How? Many platforms, including Facebook and Gmail, allow you to login on a fresh device using a code that will be sent to your phone. Similar vulnerabilities arise with OTPs. So, while this system adds a layer of security, it also makes you vulnerable in case your phone is stolen.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Future of Tech

Every development in technology can be used for good and bad, as the user may see fit. Industries are working on cybersecurity systems perfected with AI, while hackers are using the same technology for themselves to become more effective. It doesn’t help that the qualities of AI inherently serve malicious purposes. AI systems are easy to create and separate the human element. Meaning, the hacker gets the advantage of being disconnected from the crime while still bearing the fruit. As we continue to pour millions into the development of AI, we’re simultaneously making it easier for cybercriminals. Think about the robots that are being developed for the medical industry – how do we prevent that robot from being hacked and turning violent instead of helpful?
Or even chatbots? Airline companies, banking websites, almost all e-commerce websites, and even educational organisations have chatbots on their websites. We’ve become comfortable chatting with a bot and often share privileged information when seeking help from the chatbot. How do you confirm that the chatbot hasn’t been compromised by a hacker? Are you mindful of what information you may be sharing with a hacker or do you share whatever information is asked for hoping to get help with whatever your grievance was?

Technology is both a friend and a foe. The expansive penetration of internet accessibility has only added to our conveniences and our problems. Be vigilant and do your due diligence when interacting through technology, straight away from the moment you go live on the internet.

What are some of the steps you take to protect yourself online?

VPN when using a public Wi-Fi?
Anti-virus on your phone?
Covering your webcam when not in use?
Turning off appliances/electronics when not in use?

Take a minute and think over your safety and security online – it is critical and completely in your hands!!!

The 9 sides of cyber security

Endpoint security — Network Security — Application Security — Incident Response — Regulatory Compliance — Data Protection — Training — Testing — Contingency Planning

9 Sides of Cyber Security

1. End-point security

Endpoint security requires that each computing device on the network comply with certain standards before network access is granted.

Endpoints include laptops, desktops computers, smart phones, and other communication devices, tablets, specialized equipment such as bar code readers, point of sale (POS) terminals etc.

End-point security encompasses:

  1. Host-based firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and intrusion prevention systems
  2. Host-based anti-virus systems, anti-malware systems, anti-spyware systems, anti-rootkit systems, anti-phishing systems, pop-up blockers, spam detection systems, unified threat management systems
  3. SSL Virtual Private Networks
  4. Host Patch and Vulnerability Management
  5. Memory protection programs
  6. Control over memory devices, Bluetooth Security
  7. Password Management
  8. Security for Full Virtualization Technologies
  9. Media Sanitization
  10. Securing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Systems

2. Network Security

Network security relates to the cyber security aspects of computer networks and network-accessible resources.

Network Security encompasses:

  1. Secure authentication and identification of network users, hosts, applications, services and resources
  2. Network-based firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and intrusion prevention systems
  3. Network-based anti-virus systems, anti-malware systems, anti-spyware systems, anti-rootkit systems, unified threat management systems
  4. Network Patch and Vulnerability Management
  5. Virtual Private Networks
  6. Securing Wireless Networks
  7. Computer Security Log Management
  8. Enterprise Telework and Remote Access Security
  9. Securing WiMAX Wireless Communications
  10. Network Monitoring
  11. Network Policy Management

3. Application Security

Application security relates to the cyber security aspects of applications and the underlying systems.

Application attacks include:

  1. Input Validation attacks such as buffer overflow, cross-site scripting, SQL injection, canonicalization
  2. Authentication attacks such as network eavesdropping, brute force attacks, dictionary attacks, cookie replay, credential theft
  3. Authorization attacks such as elevation of privilege, the disclosure of confidential data, data tampering, luring attacks
  4. Configuration management attacks such as unauthorized access to administration interfaces / configuration stores, retrieval of clear text configuration data, lack of individual accountability, over-privileged process & service accounts
  5. Sensitive information attacks such as access to sensitive data in storage, network eavesdropping,
  6. Session management attacks such as session hijacking, session replay, man in the middle,
  7. Cryptography attacks due to poor key generation or key management and weak or custom encryption,
  8. Parameter manipulation attacks e.g. query string manipulation, form field / cookie / HTTP header manipulation,
  9. Exception management attacks such as denial of service,
  10. Auditing and logging attacks

4. Cyber Incident Response

Incident Response relates to the plans, policies, and procedures for handling cyber security incidents.

Broadly speaking, Cyber Incident Response covers:

  1. Organizing an Incident Response Capability
  2. Preparing for and preventing Incidents
  3. Detection and analysis of Incidents
  4. Containment, Eradication, and Recovery
  5. Post Incident Activity

Specifically, Cyber Incident Response encompasses:

  1. Forensic Imaging & Cloning
  2. Recovering Digital Evidence in Computer Devices
  3. Mathematical Authentication of Digital Evidence
  4. Analysing Data from Data Files, Operating Systems, Network Traffic, Applications, and Multiple Sources
  5. Analyzing Active Data, Latent Data, and Archival Data
  6. Wireless, Network, Database and Password forensics
  7. Social media forensics
  8. Malware, Memory and Browser forensics
  9. Cell Phone Forensics
  10. Web and Email investigation
  11. Analysing Server Logs

5. Regulatory Compliance

Regulatory Compliance relates to measures undertaken to ensure compliance with applicable laws and mandatory cyber security standards.

Failure to meet regulatory compliance requirements can result in civil and criminal action and even imprisonment for organization heads.

Usage of consolidated and harmonized compliance controls ensures regulatory compliance without unnecessary duplication of effort and activity.

One such control system is the “Effective Compliance and Ethics Program” contained in Chapter 8B2.1 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual issued by the United States Sentencing Commission.

Another control is the “AS 3806- 2006” issued by Standards Australia. This provides guidance on:

  1. The principles of effective management of an organization’s compliance with its legal obligations, as well as any other relevant obligations such as industry and organizational standards
  2. The principles of good governance and accepted community and ethical norms.

6. Data Protection

Data Protection relates to the cyber security aspects of protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.

From a Data Protection perspective, data can be classified into 3 types — data at rest, data in motion and data under use.

Critical and confidential data includes source code, product design documents, process documentation, internal price lists, financial documents, strategic planning documents, due diligence research for mergers and acquisitions, employee information, customer data such as credit card numbers, medical records, financial statements etc.

Data Loss Prevention solutions:

  1. Identify confidential data
  2. Track that data as it moves through and out of enterprise
  3. Prevent unauthorized disclosure of data by creating and enforcing disclosure policies

Various encryption technologies such as symmetric encryption, public key encryption, and full disk encryption can be used for data protection.

A data protection policy involves:

  1. Instituting good security and privacy policies for collecting, using and storing sensitive information
  2. Using strong encryption for data storage.
  3. Limiting access to sensitive data.
  4. Safely purging old or outdated sensitive information.

7. Cyber Security Training

Cyber Security Training is a formal process for educating personnel about cyber security and building relevant skills and competencies.

Cyber Security Training ensures that relevant personnel understand their cyber security responsibilities. This enables them to properly use and protect the information and resources entrusted to them.

Effective cyber security training must include:

  1. Real-world training on systems that emulate the live environment,
  2. Continual training capability for routine training,
  3. Timely exposure to new threat scenarios,
  4. Exposure to updated scenarios reflecting the current threat environment,
  5. Coverage of basic day-to-day practices required by the users

8. Cyber Security Testing

Cyber Security Testing is the process of ascertaining how effectively the entity meets specific cyber security objectives.

Cyber Security Testing encompasses:

  1. Review Techniques, which include Documentation Review, Log Review, Ruleset Review, System Configuration Review, Network Sniffing, and File Integrity Checking
  2. Target Identification and Analysis Techniques, which include Network Discovery, Network Port and Service Identification, Vulnerability Scanning, Active & Passive Wireless Scanning, Wireless Device Location Tracking, and Bluetooth Scanning
  3. Target Vulnerability Validation Techniques which include Password Cracking, Penetration Testing, Penetration Testing and Social Engineering
  4. Security Assessment Planning which includes Developing a Security Assessment Policy, Prioritizing and Scheduling Assessments, Selecting and Customizing Techniques, Assessment Logistics, Assessor Selection and Skills, Location Selection, Technical Tools and Resources Selection, Assessment Plan Development and Legal Considerations
  5. Security Assessment Execution which includes Coordination, Assessing, Analysis, Data Handling, Data Collection, Data Storage, Data Transmission and Data Destruction
  6. Post Testing Activities which includes Mitigation Recommendations, Reporting and Remediation/Mitigation

9. Contingency Planning

Contingency planning revolves around preparing for unexpected and potentially unfavorable events that are likely to have an adverse impact.

Types of Contingency Plans are:

  1. Business Continuity Plan
  2. Continuity of Operations Plan
  3. Crisis Communications Plan
  4. Critical Infrastructure Protection Plan
  5. Cyber Incident Response Plan
  6. Disaster Recovery Plan
  7. Information System Contingency Plan
  8. Occupant Emergency Plan

Stages in the Information System Contingency Planning Process are:

  1. Developing the Contingency Planning Policy Statement
  2. Conducting the Business Impact Analysis
  3. Identifying Preventive Controls
  4. Creating Contingency Strategies
  5. Plan Testing, Training, and Exercises
  6. Plan Maintenance

22 Essential Skills for a Cyber Crime Investigator

22 Skills of a Cyber Crime Investigator

We live in a world where everything seems to be getting hacked — Airplanes, ATM machines, Baby monitors, Biometric devices, Bitcoin wallets, Cars, CCTV cameras, Drones, Gaming consoles, Health trackers, Medical devices, Power plants, Self-aiming rifles, Ships, Smart-watches, Smartphones & more.

The increasing global cost of cybercrime ($100 billion+ a year) has led to a massive surge in the demand for cybercrime investigators. This article explores the 22 skills every cybercrime investigator must have.

Skill 1: Web Technologies

Considering the magnitude and impact of web attacks, it is necessary for a cyber crime investigator to understand some of the technologies that run the Internet and the World Wide Web.

This includes practical activities including hosting a domain, creating SFTP users, setting up custom MX records, setting up, configuring & administering private email accounts, databases, and Virtual Private Servers, configuring SSL for secure websites and deploying cloud infrastructure. The investigator must also understand installing, configuring & deploying content management systems and e-commerce platforms.

Skill 2: Web Hacking

Since a majority of cyber crime cases involve web-hacking or web-attacks, it is essential for cyber crime investigators to have a strong knowledge of the techniques of web hacking such as Footprinting, Bypassing Authorization Schema, SQL injection, Cross Site Scripting (XSS), Broken Authentication, Session Hijacking, Unvalidated Redirects & Forwards, and Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF).

Skill 3: Suspect interviewing

Effective suspect interviewing is an essential skill for cybercrime investigators. The investigator must understand the difference between an interrogation and an interview and how to prepare for and conduct a suspect interview. The investigator must be able to detect deception, document an interview and get an admission from a suspect. An investigator must also know how to conduct an inquiry in an organization.

Skill 4: Documentation

Even the best investigation is worthless if it is not supported by accurate and relevant documentation and that’s why a thorough understanding of documentation is essential for a cybercrime investigator.

Skill 5: Law

Every step of an investigation must be in compliance with the law and that’s why a thorough understanding of the applicable law is essential for a cyber crime investigator.

Skill 6: Phishing tools, techniques, and counter-measures

Phishing is one of the most popular techniques among hackers and financial cyber criminals. This makes it important for a cyber crime investigator to understand phishing tools, techniques, and counter-measures.

Skill 7: Virtual Payment Systems

Virtual Payment Systems have taken the global money markets by storm. A cyber crime investigator must have a strong understanding of how these systems work.

Skill 8: Financial instruments and concepts

Financial crimes are some of the most interesting cases that cyber crime investigators are called upon to solve. These include including advance-fee scam, bank frauds & carding, charge back fraud, check washing, check fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, insider trading, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud, ponzi schemes, securities fraud, skimming, wireless identity theft and more.

Skill 9: Forensic accounting

Forensic Accountants are called upon in cases involving economic damages calculations, bankruptcy, securities fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, business valuation, and e-discovery. It is important for a cyber crime investigator to have a basic understanding of forensic accounting.

Skill 10: Fraud Investigation

Many times a cyber crime investigator is called upon to handle fraud investigations. An investigator must understand Fraud (its extent, patterns and causes), Fraud Risk Assessment & Management, Fraud Prevention, Detection & Reporting.

Skill 11: Bitcoin & other crypto-currencies

Bitcoin is, without doubt, the most famous crypto-currency. It gained a lot of notoriety during the crackdown on Silk Road, an underground online marketplace trading in drugs, stolen financial information, weapons & more.

Considering the use of bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) by criminals, a strong understanding of bitcoin forensics is essential for cyber crime investigators.

Skill 12: Malware incident prevention & incident response

Considering the impact of malware, it is essential for a cyber crime investigator to have a strong understanding of malware incident prevention and malware incident response.

Skill 13: Dark Web

The World Wide Web that the vast majority of netizens use is also referred to as the clearnet — since it primarily is unencrypted in nature. Then there is the deep web — the part of the clearnet, which is not indexed by search engines. Deep web includes data stored in password-protected pages and databases. The darkweb is a small part of the deepweb. The deepweb consists of darknets including peer-to-peer networks, Freenet, I2P, and Tor. The Tor darkweb is also called onionland, since its top level domain suffix is .onion and it uses the traffic anonymization technique of onion routing.

Considering the popularity of the darkweb amongst the organized criminals groups, a cyber crime investigator must have a thorough working knowledge of the dark web.

Skill 14: Email investigation

Despite the popularity of instant messengers (such as Whatsapp) and social media, email remains one of the most popular methods of online communication in the world. This makes it essential for a cyber crime investigator to have a strong knowledge of email tracking & tracing.

Skill 15: Log analysis

In a large number of cyber crime cases, the investigation begins with an analysis of server logs. It is essential for a cyber crime investigator to have a sound working knowledge of server log analysis.

Skill 16: Browser forensics

In many cases of cyber crime, valuable evidence can be obtained from web browsers. This makes it important for a cyber crime investigator to have a strong practical knowledge of browser forensics.

These evidence points include history, bookmarks, credit card information & contact information stored in autofill, saved passwords, files in the download location. Browser forensics also involves analysis of cloud printers and other connected devices, extensions, cookies and site data, location settings and exceptions, media settings (like camera and microphone permissions) & exceptions, unsandboxed plug-in access & exceptions, automatic downloads and exceptions and more.

Skill 17: Social Media Forensics

It’s probably not incorrect to say that almost every Internet user is part of at least one social media platform. This makes social media forensics an essential skill for a cyber crime investigator.

Skill 18: Google Ecosystem & its Forensics

Google isn’t just a search engine anymore. The Google ecosystem is all around us — Gmail, YouTube, Google groups, Google sites, Google plus, Google keep and so much more. This makes Google forensics a must-have skill for cyber crime investigators.

Skill 19: Forensic technologies

It is essential for a cyber crime investigator to have a strong working knowledge of forensic technologies, cyber forensic concepts and ISO/IEC 27037 — the most important global standard for identification, collection, acquisition and preservation of potential digital evidence.

Skill 20: Cyber security

A basic working knowledge of cyber security is essential for everyone and more so for cyber crime investigators. Aspects of information security include Application Security, Cloud Computing Security, Computer Security, Cyber Security Standards, Data Security, Database Security, Information Security, Internet Security, Mobile Security, and Network Security.

Skill 21: Cryptography & Steganography

Many people use cryptography and steganography. And these include criminals and terrorists. Hence a working knowledge of these is useful for cyber crime investigators.

Skill 22: Password recovery & forensics

In many cases it is found that potential evidence is locked up in password protected files. This makes it essential for cyber crime investigators to have a strong practical knowledge of password recovery & forensics.

Cyber Education- the Road Less Known

Cyber Education - the road less known

I’m not a techie, nor a lawyer and yet here I am in a field that takes on both these mammoths. I’ve been here a long time; India’s had her cyber law in place since the year 2000. So, it’s deeply disappointing to see the confusion in students and professionals alike about the various aspects of a cyber education.

Yes, I said cyber education and not just an IT education. So, I’m not only talking about the technology in cyberspace. I’m referring to the other side of the spectrum.

9 out of 10 people today have faced some type of cybercrime. And yet, almost 7 out of those 9 will not know what to do about it.

I thought about cybercrime, you know, as a non-techie and a non-lawyer, and decided to break it down to its foundation stones.

Here, let’s create our first bifurcation. Cybercrime may be divided into 2 parts — Pre-crime and Post-crime

Pre-crime

This is where your crime hasn’t happened yet. So, you are basically hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. This can also be divided further into:

1. Cyber security

In layman’s terms, every step that you take to ensure that your computer hardware, computer software, networks, accounts etc. remain safe from any breach, aka cybercrime, is cyber security. Simple, isn’t it? Well, simple is where this article stays. You want a connoisseur’s break up of the cyber security menu, see: The 9 sides of cyber security

2. Cyber Insurance

The obvious next step in pre-crime schedule. What you may not be able to secure ought to be insured.

Post-crime

This is where your cybercrime worst has happened. Now, hopefully, you aren’t affected too badly. But even if you are, there are divisions to this part that can help you.

1. Cyber Law

This is the law that governs cyberspace and as often as not has jurisdiction beyond your country. So, where do you report a cybercrime. Cyber law tells you the where, how and whom to approach. It also tells you the punishments for various cybercrimes. You know, in case you may be committing one?

2. Cyber Investigation

Here’s where the sleuths step in. Professionals here need to have that investigative streak and need to be armed with the latest tools and techniques of cyber investigation. This is where you get answers to how the cybercrime was committed and with any luck, may just get the criminal. And again, if you want the real dirt on what all an investigator needs to know, see — 25 Skills Essential for a Cyber Crime Investigator

So, you’re a student or professional who has a thought that they want a piece of the humongous cybercrime pie. This article may just have helped you understand where you want to be.

Just be prepared to keep learning to stay abreast in this ever-evolving super-exciting space.

Hospital Hacks!

Hacker Footprints in Hospitals

Hacking Computers
Hacking Mobiles
Hacking WiFi
Hacking Cars
Hacking Trains
Hacking Planes...

If you think that simply staying away from the computer or the internet can save you from the trap of hacking, you are wrong because the list doesn’t end here. There is one more item to add to the list - Hospital Equipment.

Hospital equipment is vulnerable to hacking. Let’s look at a scenario. You are in a hospital bed and thinking about recovering from your illness because you are at the best hospital and the doctors are extremely professional. Do you need to worry about anything?

Yes, because hackers can remotely manipulate the dosage of medicine coming out your drug infusion pump. These pumps are commonly used to deliver antibiotics, morphine drips and chemotherapy.

A defibrillator, a Bluetooth enabled device which is used to give shocks to a patient’s heart, can be manipulated to give random shocks or prevent a needed shock. Digitally stored medical records can be altered causing misdiagnosis and patients getting the wrong drugs. Medical reports like CT scan reports can be accessed on a hospital network. There is other life support equipment also which is vulnerable to hacking like medical ventilators, heart-lung machines and much more.

Hackers are breaking into the computer networks of healthcare facilities with increasing frequency and taking valuable personal information that is often secured improperly. Hackers are targeting systems that store troves of valuable personal information held in electronic medical records.

Nowadays to increase the efficiency of the flow of patients’ information to medical staff, the medical equipment that is used supports everything from WiFi to Bluetooth communication. However, these devices are not properly secure, as they keep weak passwords like ‘1234’ or they have default passwords such as “password” or “admin,” that makes the work easy for hackers.

The health care industry has these alarming security problems with medical equipment. Another reason is there is no security assessment before any medical equipment goes to market. Thus, there is a need to secure the devices with encryption and authentication before it goes to market and fix those which are already there.

We are in an age where emerging technology is trying to make life easy for us. But, it comes with strings attached. We still have a long way to go before we reach a stage where we can blindly trust technology.

Romanian Hackers' Heaven

Romanian Hackers' Heaven

If you thought, Bucharest, the Romanian capital, is the only famous city in Romania, think again!

A tiny town, three hours from Bucharest, has now made its name around the world as Hackerville.

Râmnicu Vâlcea, a small town of only about a 120,000 residents shows its true colours when you see the incongruous signs of wealth - high-end Mercedes, Audis, BMWs driven by mere youngsters showing off their gold chains and hi-tech gadgets.

"Hackerville" is not exactly apt as these youngsters are less hackers and more internet fraudsters and malware attackers. Most of these affluent youngsters target businesses using malware attacks.

Authorities in Romania say that Râmnicu Vâlcea has seen millions of dollars coming in over the last ten years or so all thanks to these schemes. Râmnicu Vâlcea is flourishing because of its cyber crime based industry.

How a Remote Town in Romania Has Become Cybercrime Central - www.Wired.com

In Romania, A Quiet City Has Become The Global Hub For Hackers And Online Crooks - www.worldcrunch.com

Also read: World's Top 5 Cybercrime Hotspots

http://www.asclonline.com/blog

Airplanes Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks: US Govt Report

Commercial flights may be vulnerable to in-flight attacks by attackers using
the planes wireless entertainment systems, a US Government report has shown.

A report, released on 14th Apr 2015, by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) claims that this is one of the numerous cyber security threats that need to be addressed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as flight technology moves forward.

The report also claims that it is the more modern planes that are more vulnerable to such attacks as these are more dependent on emerging technology.

The GAO spoke to several cyber security experts who allegedly are of the opinion that flight firewalls could be bypassed if they were using the same wiring and routers as the flight's entertainment systems.

For the full report, Click here.

A similar report had also been published by GAO in Jan 2015. Click here

Biohacking: Intriguing Science or Hazard?

In its original sense, hacking involves taking things apart and putting them back together again in new, different ways. This sort of tinkering has helped in the creation of the “maker movement”, which has grown into a worldwide community of people constructing things ranging from robots to 3D technology.

Bio hacking is a fairly new concept that involves people getting together to explore biology. Bio hackers have started to organize themselves in a movement called DIYBio (Do-It-Yourself Biology). It takes place in small labs where the belief is that “biology is technology”; that DNA is a form of software that can be moulded to design biological processes and devices. There is a growing concern that such amateur laboratories could provide a sort of training for bio terrorists or something equally bad, but they’re still nascent worries.

Nearly fifty cities, mostly in America and Europe, are now home to groups of bio hackers where they meet and experiment. No one can confirm the number of bio hackers around the world but the movement’s main online list boasts of more than 4,000 members and is growing rapidly.

Now, hacking also has a negative connotation – when a hacker hacks your computer, you’d want him/her to be punished. But that’s not bio hacking. Bio hacking means learning about stuff by building, and trying to make things and seeing what eventually happens.

Another concept of hacking is from a different source, where a person hacks into his own body. There are two types of bio hacking – one is something you do with biology, outside yourself. The other perspective is one where you hack your own biology and gain control of systems in your body that you would not have access to.

An Australian news site has interviewed bio hacker Dave Asprey a.k.a. The Bulletproof Executive, who is spearheading a new breed of bio hackers – a group obsessed with making yourself faster, smarter and stronger through a combination of caveman diets and the latest in modern technology. Mr Asprey got hooked on to the idea after running his own software company left him rich but unhappy. He was overweight at 130 kg and wandered around dazed every day.

He poured $300,000 into hacking his own body and now runs an empire touting everything from his morning coffee to his followers. He takes supplements and applies electricity to his muscles and brain, saying that it helps improve his body and mind.

He has not published his work in scientific journals or even had his work evaluated, but he staunchly maintains that he’s a bio hacker.

All this sounds interesting and is definitely catching everyone’s eye, but how do you define a complex, multi-layered term such as this one? Who draws the fine line between miracle and disaster?

Since this is a community-run pastime, you, the reader, should decide.

Oh Phish, after Apple it’s Google

After Apple’s high profile iCloud disaster, Google is the latest cyber crime victim. In Google’s case, Russian hackers posted usernames and passwords of 4.93 million Google accounts to a Russian bitcoin forum.

Now, there’s some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that somebody got their hands on nearly 5 million Google users along with passwords and made them public. The good news is that even if your Google address is on the list, the password maybe too old to merit much concern (i.e. the user might have changed his/her password at some point).

The Russian technology blog, Habrahabr, has a theory that the leaked addresses and passwords were most likely compiled through phishing scams, people using weak passwords and other common mistakes new Internet users make; not as a result of a hacked Google server. Similar databases of email addresses and passwords from Yandex and Mail.ru, two popular Russian- language services, were also made public this week.

Many online news sites got in touch with Google regarding this debacle. In a statement sent to TIME Online, Google said it had “ no evidence that our systems have been compromised.”

“The security of our users’ information is a top priority for us,” the statement reads. The company added that whenever it is alerted that an account may have been compromised, “then we take steps to help those users secure their accounts.”

If you want to check whether your account is included in the leak, you can head to “isleaked.com” and enter your email ID. We would ideally not recommend this as email addresses can be accumulated and used for spamming. The best solution would be to keep changing your passwords periodically, irrespective of whether your Google ID is or isn’t on the list.