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Attacks/Breaches

10/26/2015
05:30 PM
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15-Year-Old Arrested For TalkTalk Attack

U.K. police collar Northern Ireland youth for questioning, while security industry tries to make sense of confusing information out of TalkTalk CEO.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested today in Northern Ireland for his suspected involvement in the cyberattacks against British ISP TalkTalk last week, according to the United Kingdom's Metropolitan Police.

Met police stated that a house was searched in County Antrim, N.I. and the boy is being held for questioning on suspicion of offenses under the U.K.'s Computer Misuse Act.

Last week, British ISP TalkTalk -- which focuses on the consumer and small business markets -- was the victim of a data breach, most likely caused by a SQL injection attack, which may have exposed data on all its 4 million customers -- including names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, account information, and "incomplete" financial data and truncated credit card numbers. The company has stated that not all of the data was encrypted.

One of its websites was also hit with a denial-of-service attack, which may have been used to distract TalkTalk's IT security team from the attacker's data thievery. After the incidents, the company voluntarily brought the websites back down while they investigated what happened and bolster security.

TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding on Friday told the BBC she had received a ransom demand via email. Saturday, Brian Krebs reported that sources close to the incident told him the attacker demanded £80,000 (~$122,000), payable in Bitcoin, or the company's customer records would be published. Krebs also reported that a security researcher going by the handles Fearful and Glubz had recently posted a vulnerability in a TalkTalk website and said on Twitter that they were expecting a visit from the police.

TalkTalk's CEO, Dido Harding, has been front-and-center. She began speaking to the media soon after the attack was discovered, but some of her messaging has caused greater confusion -- perhaps because of miscommunications with or misunderstandings by the internal IT team. For example, Harding told the Financial Times it was a "sequential" attack, when she meant SQL injection attack. She stated it was just a DDoS on the customer-facing Website and no core systems had been compromised, when a data breach and a doxing threat would indicate there was more to it. 

The company is working with BAE Systems and Scotland Yard on the investigation. They have not yet made any offers for credit reporting or related services to affected customers.

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio
 

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/26/2015 | 11:16:58 PM
"Sequential"
More than anything else, this story really demonstrates the importance of experienced and prepared PR and having good crisis communications.  Here, the CEO just comes off looking like an idiot, which is unfortunate.

Unsurprisingly, the company's stock was down more than 12% yesterday.
RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 8:36:02 AM
Re: "Sequential"
Agreed. In cases like this, should the CEO be giving the press release? Or should it be someone with a greater exposure and a higher knowledge base to the current ongoings.
SgS125
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SgS125,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 9:15:15 AM
Encryption part of story is meaningless -why include it?
Whether the data was encrypted or not has nothing to do with the ability of an attacker to compromise credentials and steal whatever the stolen account has access to.  In this case probably a service account in a program with full read rights.  Why is the media so obsessed with reporting about encryption?  If someone gets compromised the encryption does NOTHING to protect you.  The media is just spreading ignorance to the public which does not care and can only remember that that encryption is some kind of protection.  A falsehood that is spread.
RajanP605
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RajanP605,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2015 | 10:04:25 AM
Re: "Sequential"
Unfortunately there are many idiots out there with their big egos, total ignorance and just a good vocabulary / speaking skills that cover their ignorance.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 11:54:34 AM
Somebody arrested?
That is surprising that they locate and arrested somebody. We need more examples of these. What is surprising is that although we know what the solution is there is still SQL injection out there.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 11:56:26 AM
Re: "Sequential"
CEOs are never good communicators. They always need PR persons.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 11:58:03 AM
Re: "Sequential"
Agree, it should always be somebody who knows how to communicate to mass audience.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 12:01:32 PM
Re: Encryption part of story is meaningless -why include it?
I would think encryption is part of the solution, without it there are other opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities. SQL injection is just one of those.
Dr.T
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Dr.T,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 12:08:29 PM
Re: "Sequential"
I hear you, at the same time PR person is critical when there is a security bridge, otherwise things go worse than bridge itself.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/27/2015 | 8:25:58 PM
Re: "Sequential"
@Ryan: Indeed.  I could understand if this was a nimble startup, but not a major ISP or telco!
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
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