Bank Shuts Down Web Site After Phishing Attack

A phishing attack led the Bank of New Zealand to take its online banking web site offline Thursday to prevent scammers from draining customer accounts. The bank said that although there had been no threat to its Internet infrastructure, the site was shut for eight hours to protect customers who shared their banking logins with a spoof web site operated by a phishing crew. The BNZ web site came back online Thursday evening with "restricted functionality," and returned to full service on Friday, bank spokesman told the National Business Review.

Bank of New Zealand said it will continue to closely monitor Internet banking transactions, and has revised daily transaction limits for all customers. The bank also suspended Internet banking access for customers who enteered their details at the fake site.

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Microsoft Updates Fix for Critical Win2K Hole

Microsoft has issued workaround instructions for a buggy patch issued last Tuesday as part of its monthly security update. The patch repairs a critical security hole, which could leave Windows 2000 systems open to an Internet worm attack. Microsoft says that few systems have been affected by issues with the update for a security hole known as MS05-051, which could allow attackers to gain control of Windows 2000 computers via an unchecked buffer in the Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC).

Late last week users began reporting significant problems on some Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 systems after the patch was applied. Although few users were directly affected, the bug reports may have prompted many network administrators to delay patching their systems until the issues were resolved.

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OpenSSL Patches Security Hole

OpenSSL has released a software update to fix a flaw that could make it easier for hackers to attack secure web servers. The security issue could allow attackers to force an SSL-enabled site to use the outdated and potentially insecure SSL version 2.0 protocol.

Some secure web sites allow visitors to connect using earlier versions of SSL, an option which can be enabled by OpenSSL's SSL_OP_ALL setting. Normally, web servers will default to the most current encryption protocol supported by the user's browser, usually TLS or SSL version 3. But a flaw in the SSL_OP_ALL implementation could allow an attacker to trick the server into using SSL 2.0.

"An attacker acting as a 'man in the middle' can force a client and a server to negotiate the SSL 2.0 protocol even if these parties both support SSL 3.0 or TLS 1.0," notes the advisory from OpenSSL. "The SSL 2.0 protocol is known to have severe cryptographic weaknesses and is supported as a fallback only." The OpenSSL Project is advising users to either upgrade their server software with the latest version or disable SSL 2.0 entirely.

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Phishing Defense a Key Factor in eBay-VeriSign Deal

Paypal will implement strengthened anti-phishing measures for up to 1 million users next year through a deal announced yesterday between VeriSign and eBay, which operates Paypal. While most of the headlines focused on eBay's purchase of VeriSign's payment processing unit for $370 million, the most widely-felt benefit of the deal will likely be the enhanced security for Paypal, which has been relentlessly targeted by phishing scams.

The agreement calls for eBay to buy up to 1 million two-factor authentication tokens from VeriSign. eBay and PayPal plan to begin the rollout of two-factor authentication to customers in 2006, including marketing and security programs designed to "promote customer adoption."

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VeriSign Acquires, Declares War on ‘Splogs’

VeriSign has acquired, the primary weblog "ping" service tracking how often weblogs are updated. The deal capped a wild Thursday in the blogosphere, which started with the announcement that America Online has bought Weblogs Inc., one of the most prominent blogging networks.

While the AOL-Weblogs Inc. deal is focused on content, VeriSign's purchase of from founder Dave Winer is all about infrastructure. "For a long time, ping servers could be stood up as a single box running on a fast business DSL connection," noted VeriSign's Mike Graves on the company's Infrablog. "Those days have passed at least for the popular ping servers; pings are well on their way to requiring serious infrastructure. That’s where VeriSign comes in."

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Scams Targeting Online Games: Old Phish With Fresh Bait

Are phishing crews paying more attention to virtual worlds? Phishing attacks on massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have been around since at least 2002, and perhaps earlier. But some observers of online games say the growing market for virtual currency and player accounts may be attracting fresh attention from phishing scams, which are mass-mailing "bait" e-mails seeking to capture gamers' account logins.

Phishing attacks most commonly target banks, credit card companies and payment sites such as Paypal. This year phishers have expanded their target list to include smaller regional banks and credit unions. While phishing attacks on online games aren't new, they may represent a logical area of expansion for these scams, given the growing value of player accounts, the youthful demographics of online gaming, and a recent influx of new players due to the popularity of World of Warcraft.

A recent phishing attack targeting users of EVE Online was reported by Terra Nova, a blog that follows trends in virtual worlds. The bait email purports to be from the game's security team, investigating unusual account activity and sending victims to a spoof site at a server in Spain.

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