Wednesday, December 30, 2015

These Hacks A Whole Lot of Nothing

"Three men were charged Tuesday in a computer hacking and spamming scheme that federal prosecutors in New Jersey said compromised the personal information of 60 million people and netted more than $2 million in profits. Timothy Livingston, 30, of Boca Raton, Fla., operated a business known as A Whole Lot of Nothing that sent spam e-mails on behalf of clients including insurance companies and online pharmacies, charging $5 to $9 for each spam e-mail that resulted in a completed transaction, according to authorities. In addition to Livingston, the indictment charged Tomasz Chmielarz, 32, of Rutherford, N.J.; and Devin McArthur, 27, of Ellicott City, Md., with conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Livingston and Chmielarz also were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with electronic mail."


As toys get smarter, privacy’s in play

"Police in the United Kingdom arrested a 21-year-old man on Tuesday as part of the investigation into a massive hack against Hong Kong-based toymaker VTech. VTech sells popular toys for very young children, including smartwatches and tablets. The November breach of several company databases exposed information about roughly 5 million adults and more than 6 million children around the world, including names, genders, and birthdates. Tech site Motherboard reported that some pictures, chat logs between parents and their kids, and even audio recordings were also leaked, but the company has said it ‘‘cannot confirm’’ that data was reached by the hacker. The incident raised new questions about the digital security of toys at a time when big corporations are increasingly marketing dolls and other devices that connect to the Internet and collect data about children."

"VTech reveals data breach hit 5 million customers" by Bree Fowler Associated Press  November 30, 2015

NEW YORK — VTech, a maker of high technology gear for youths, says the personal information of about 5 million of its customers and their children may have been stolen by hackers.

The Hong Kong-based company disclosed the breach of a customer database late last week but didn’t say how many people could be affected until Monday.

The news comes as the holiday shopping season is accelerating and children’s smartwatches and tablets made by companies such as VTech are expected to be high on wish lists. VTech’s Kidizoom Smartwatch is predicted to be a top seller, while its InnoTab tablets have been popular in the past.

Compromised information in the VTech breach includes the names, birth dates, and genders of child users. It also includes adult user information including names, e-mail addresses, passwords, secret questions and answers for password retrieval, IP addresses, mailing addresses, and download histories.

The affected database doesn’t contain any credit card numbers or personal identification information such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, VTech says.

Customers from the United States and 15 other countries were affected.

The hacking serves as a reminder to parents to be careful about what kinds of information about their children they enter on Internet-connected devices. While devices such as kid-friendly smartwatches and tablets may block a child’s access to the bulk of the Internet, they’re still a potential target for hackers.

The breach took place on Nov. 14 and was discovered 10 days later. It involved customer data stored on the company’s Learning Lodge app store database. Customers use Learning Lodge to download apps, games, e-books, and other content to VTech products.

VTech Holdings Ltd. says it has contacted all affected users by e-mail and has temporarily suspended its Learning Lodge website and some others as a precaution.


Surely the NSA would have a clue regarding the culprits.

And thus ends another day on the blogging grid.

UPDATE: Tabloids on the hook for record damages in hackings