IC3 Issues Alert on Gift Card Scams

Original release date: June 11, 2015

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released an alert warning consumers of fraud around the resale of gift cards. The secondary gift card market has grown in recent years, and criminal activity has been identified on sites facilitating such exchanges. When purchasing gift cards, look for reputable merchants who will ensure resold cards contain correct balances.

US-CERT encourages consumers to review the IC3 Alert for more details on avoiding gift card fraud and US-CERT Security Tip ST07-001 for information on shopping safely online.


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Report: Hack of government employee records discovered by product demo

As officials of the Obama administration announced that millions of sensitive records associated with current and past federal employees and contractors had been exposed by a long-running infiltration of the networks and systems of the Office of Personnel Management on June 4, they claimed the breach had been found during a government effort to correct problems with OPM's security. An OPM statement on the attack said that the agency discovered the breach as it had "undertaken an aggressive effort to update its cybersecurity posture." And a DHS spokesperson told Ars that "interagency partners" were helping the OPM improve its network monitoring "through which OPM detected new malicious activity affecting its information technology systems and data in April 2015."

Those statements may not be entirely accurate. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the breach was indeed discovered in April. But according to sources who spoke to the WSJ's Damian Paletta and Siobhan Hughes, it was in fact discovered during a sales demonstration of a network forensics software package called CyFIR by its developer, CyTech Services. "CyTech, trying to show OPM how its cybersecurity product worked, ran a diagnostics study on OPM’s network and discovered malware was embedded on the network," Paletta and Hughes reported.

And, according to federal investigators, that malware may have been in place for over a year. US intelligence agencies have joined the investigation into the breach. But it's still not even clear what data was accessed by the attackers.

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Megaweirdness: FBI-seized domains still in limbo after DNS hijacking

In mid-May, the Federal Bureau of Investigations lost control over seized domains, including Megaupload.com, when the agency failed to renew a key domain name of its own. That domain, which hosted the name servers that redirected requests for seized sites to an FBI Web page, was purchased at auction—and then used to redirect traffic from Megaupload.com and other sites to a malicious site serving porn ads and malware. Weeks later, those sites are still in limbo because somehow, despite a law enforcement freeze on the domain name, the name servers associated with Megaupload.com and those other seized sites were changed to point at hosts associated with a domain registered in China.

As Ars reported on May 28, the domain CIRFU.NET had been registered by the FBI through GoDaddy to provide domain name servers and Web servers for the FBI's Cyber Initiative and Resources Fusion Unit (part of FBI's Cyber Division). The FBI failed to renew the domain on April 1, however, and on May 13 the domain was acquired at an auction by "Syndk8 Media Limited"—a front company registered at a Gibraltar mail and call forwarding service by a "black-hat SEO" Web marketer who calls himself Earl Grey.

That created some problems, because up until at least May 27, the name servers listed in Whois data for Megaupload.com and several other seized sites were still hosts on CIRFU.NET—meaning that whoever controlled CIRFU.NET essentially controlled the FBI's seized domains. And for a number of days up until May 28, the new owner of CIRFU.NET apparently gave control over to an individual who had registered CIRFU.BIZ—a domain that in turn served up a stream of "zero-click" advertisements for porn, advertisements that were really Web exploit malware, and other malicious or otherwise undesirable ads.

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