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No-fly zone: Hackers force Polish airline to cancel flights

No-fly zone: Hackers force Polish airline to cancel flights
June 22, 2015

By Byron Acohido, ThirdCertainty

Ten planes and around 1,400 passengers of Polish airliner LOT were grounded June 21 after a hacking attack jammed the carrier’s systems, the company said. LOT’s computer system suffered an attack that left it unable to send flight plans to the aircraft before takeoff. Without this document—which details the route, weather and other important information—the planes were unable to fly. The issue, which took five hours to solve, meant that 10 flights were canceled and around 15 were delayed at Warsaw Chopin Airport. Source: CNBC

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Merger mania

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax departments, tax-preparation firms and financial-products firms are combining to prevent cyber criminals from using stolen data to file fraudulent tax refunds. The degree of cooperation among these groups is unprecedented. While past coordination was limited by legal and other barriers, “now we’ve had to join forces to deal with this epic wave of fraud,” says Julie Magee, Alabama’s revenue commissioner and a board member of the Federation of Tax Administrators, a group of state tax officials. The IRS has stopped 3 million fraudulent filings so far this year, up about 30 percent from this time last year. The IRS lost more than $5.8 billion to stolen-identity refund theft in 2013. Source: The Wall Street Journal

Inside job

Eight people, including a Montefiore Medical Center employee, were charged with stealing more than 12,000 patients’ identities to make thousands of dollars in purchases, most at department stores in Manhattan. The suspects are charged with grand larceny and identity theft. “In case after case, we’ve seen how theft by a single company insider, who is often working with identity thieves on the outside, can rapidly victimize a business and thousands of its customers,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “A hospital employee privy to confidential patient records allegedly sold financial information for as little $3 per record.” Source: WABC, New York

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Not camera ready

In a rare move against the growth of license plate readers, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed a plan passed by both houses of the Legislature to buy the scanners. Law-enforcement agencies use the specialized cameras to scan cars and compare them to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months or years. “Camera programs … that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information … that, unfortunately, can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse,” Jindal said. The bill would have limited the retention period to 60 days. Source: Ars Technica


And the hits just keep on coming

After the Office of Personnel Management breach, which led to millions of federal employees’ personnel records being stolen, the OPM informed employees of a credit and identity protection plan. These notices were quickly duplicated by a hacker and used to send phishing emails to trick users into handing over personal information. The OPM began sending email notifications on June 8, telling recipients to click on an embedded link to register for credit-monitoring services. Phishing messages appeared almost immediately after the real messages were sent. One senior official said that Department of Defense security believes the original OPM hackers obtained a copy of the real announcement email and modified it for their own purposes. Source: ZDNet

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Still evolving

Small companies that don’t think they need cyber insurance coverage might be in for a rude awakening. “The small-to-midsize markets, mostly those with less than 10 employees, are not buying cyber policies,” said Christie Lucas, vice president and product manager at the Erie Insurance Group. “Most are purchasing embedded coverages into their current basic package policy, in addition to their property and liability,” and agents are finding it challenging to sell cyber-risk coverage, she said. Since the needs of larger markets are different from smaller markets, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. “Because the cyber-risk market is relatively new and there is not a lot of in-house expertise, companies are doing a lot of research to ascertain exactly what coverage suits their particular needs,” said Matt Cullina, CEO at CyberScout. Source: Market Watch

Across the nation

A woman is facing 66 charges related to identity theft, Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor Joseph Deters said. Among the charges Allison Spadafore faces include 45 counts of identity fraud. Deters’ office alleges Spadafore used 40 stolen identities to open bank accounts and make purchases. … A Madison, Wis., man was convicted on federal charges of tax fraud and identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. Haroun Omar was found to have used others’ names and Social Security numbers to fraudulently obtain federal income tax refunds. Losses to the IRS total more than $300,000. … Dover, N.H., police said an elaborate credit and debit card scam is targeting people on New Hampshire’s seacoast and in Maine. The thieves are turning stolen numbers into new cards, and victims may not realize their credit or debit card number has been stolen. Sources:; The Wisconsin State Journal; WMUR, Manchester, N.H.


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