We’ve seen plenty of reports about websites becoming compromised or vulnerable to attacks.
But what happens if you’re not only a victim of a malicious attack, but also someone who has access to your data?
This week, we spoke with David L. Lidz, senior security researcher at Symantec, who has been tracking and reporting on online attacks and exploits for nearly a decade.
Lidz has been working to understand how malicious code and network attacks work and why a malicious hacker can hijack an online account and hijack your online activity.
Lids first encounter with the concept of an online attack came when he was investigating a spam email scam that involved sending fake credit card numbers to unsuspecting users.
“I was working on a project at the time, and I noticed that a bunch of spam emails had been sent to the same people.
One of the emails said, ‘Hey, I’m sending you fake credit cards.
If you click the link and pay the money, you’ll get the cards in a few minutes.
That was really scary.
And I was thinking, ‘I can’t do that, because that’s what we do for all of our customers, so it’s really, really risky to send the spam.'”
Lidis email account was compromised when someone he was emailing to was able to obtain his personal data and redirect his requests to an external website.
The problem, he says, is that the spam emails have different levels of severity, and this level of spam attack can be even more harmful.
“When someone sends a spam message, it’s basically sending the message to the whole world, and they don’t send it to the users that are most vulnerable.
So, if you click on a link that says, ‘Sign up for this newsletter,’ the spam is going to send it all to your computer.
So it’s going to get sent to all the computers in the entire world.
That’s a very significant attack.”
The same level of malicious code can be used to send your personal information to a malicious website, and the only way to stop that attack is to be aware of what you’re sending.
Lids first idea to figure out what’s happening with online attacks came in the form of a recent research paper he authored.
“I came across an email that said, you can’t send us your credit card information, because you’ve been compromised.
So I decided to go back and look at the emails that were sent out by the spammer, and all they were sending was the same type of malicious email.
They were sending a very simple email that had no attachments, and when I clicked on the link, it redirected me to a website that they’d put malware on,” Lids said.
“And the website was a compromised version of Gmail, which means that the email was from Gmail itself.”
“So, when I was able, after looking at all the spam and looking at every email that was sent out, I realized that Gmail was really vulnerable to an online malicious attack,” Lidis said.
As he started looking for ways to detect and respond to online attacks, he came across a vulnerability in Google’s Chrome browser that allowed an attacker to compromise a victim’s browser, and then steal data.
The attack on Lids Gmail account was so severe that the researchers could see it as the result of an Internet-of-Things attack, in which a malicious actor can intercept and manipulate data sent from an internet-connected device.
Lides research has shown that it’s possible to bypass security features in an attacker’s browser and send malicious data.
“Google Chrome is vulnerable to Internet-based attacks, but because they’re vulnerable to them, Google can do the same thing with the Chrome browser,” Lidds said.
“The problem with the Internet of Things is that attackers can intercept data sent by connected devices and send it back to the attacker.
So if Google is able to intercept data and send back the malicious data to the attackers, the attackers can steal data from the victim.”
While Lids team was able detect a vulnerability, the attack did not result in an attack that was successful, Lids says.
“But it did give me an idea of what to look for in the attack and how to react,” he said.