Sunday, September 11, 2011

Start carrying some cash

If you're not prone to keeping a little cash in your pocket, consider getting back in the habit.

The Department of Homeland Security is warning of possible cyber attacks on financial institutions. 

The website Computerworld reports:

 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today issued a somewhat unusual bulletin warning the security community about the planned activities of hacking collective Anonymous over the next few months.
The bulletin, issued by the DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), warns financial services companies especially to be on the lookout for attempts by Anonymous to "solicit ideologically dissatisfied, sympathetic employees" to their cause...
One of the attack tools highlighted in the alert is dubbed #RefRef, which is said to be capable of using a server's resources and processing power to conduct a denial of service attack against itself.

"Anonymous has stated publicly that the tool will be ready for wider use by the group in September 2011," the DHS said. "But though there have been several publicly available tools that claim to be versions of #RefRef, so far it's unclear "what the true capabilities of #RefRef are."
Before you blow off the warning, consider that Anonymous has targeted financial institutions before.

From Retail Week, December 9, 2010:

MasterCard has acknowledged interruption of its payment services after  it was hacked yesterday, while Visa became the latest payment service to be attacked by cyber-raiders overnight. 
MasterCard’s corporate website went down after hackers from the group Anonymous carried out a denial of service attack (DDOS) yesterday.
The group of hackers is opposed to the refusal of payment companies to process donations to whistleblower website WikiLeaks and has threatened PayPal and Amazon, which withdrew hosting of WikiLeaks’ site.
Technology news service Next Web has reported today that the PayPal website is down, potentially the result of another DDOS attack, and that PayPal has also decided to allow payments to go through to the WikiLeaks account once more.
Mastercard insisted yesterday payment services had not been affected by the hacking but has since released a statement saying it experienced limited interruption of some web-based services.
The latest DHS warning suggests the hackers have grown more sophisticated, and may have recruited allies within financial institutions. With the government giving clear warning of cyber attacks, it just makes sense to tote some cash. 

Carry enough to buy your lunch at work or to buy a tank of gas to get home. Just in case you unexpectedly find your plastic, or even complete credit card networks, become temporarily disabled. 

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