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Expect targeted attacks after massive Epsilon email breach, say experts

Gregg Keizer | April 4, 2011
Security experts today warned users to watch for targeted email attacks after a breach at a major marketing firm that may have put millions of addresses in the hands of hackers and scammers.

One sale, said Moore and Carey, would be to hackers hoping to break into the network of a large company, or a government agency. For example, the database could easily be mined for very specific addresses, those belonging to employees at certain companies, workers at government agencies or military personnel.

"They could go after Cisco or RSA employees whose addresses were used to contact the banks and brands," said Carey. "There will be lots of corporate and .gov and .mil addresses in the database, and someone will target those."

The March hack of RSA Security's network began with just such a targeted attack, the company confirmed last week. According to RSA, hackers gained access to its corporate network and lifted information about its SecurID two-factor authentication products after sending messages to a small number of employees.

One of those workers opened a malicious Excel attachment that contained an exploit of a then-unpatched vulnerability in Adobe Flash, giving the attackers the foothold they needed.

"This list will save [attackers] a lot of the leg work they usually have to do to target individuals," said Moore. "It eliminates the first burden of [hacker] research."

Cluley, Moore and Carey had little advice other than to refrain from clicking on links embedded in email messages.

"The model is pretty much broken," said Moore. "You now have to treat every message from these companies as suspect."

 

 

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