Important News

U.S. acknowledges North Korea behind WannaCry attacks

                Remember that global ransomware attack back in May? The one that left over 200,000 computers in over 150 countries encrypted, including the UK’s National Health Service? The U.S. declared on Monday that they have identified who is responsible, and the answer should come at no shock…

For years, North Korea has been leveraging computer hacking tools that enable them to cause global disruptions at low costs. Kim Jong Un has accelerated the development of these tools and continues to invest in cyber activity that is capable of damaging bigger, more powerful nations. In 2014, North Korea successfully hacked the network of Sony Pictures, extracting corporate information, disrupting systems and ultimately demanding the studio cancel the release of one of their upcoming films, a comedy that depicts the assassination of Kim Jong Un himself. This attack and subsequent ones have resulted in economic sanctions imposed by the US. The Trump administration has similarly called on “all responsible states” to respond to North Korea’s cyber activity by implementing all relevant United Nations Security Council sanctions.

                North Korea was widely suspected to be behind the attack before the public announcement last Monday. British intelligence acknowledged North Korea as the party responsible back in October, and the CIA issued a similar statement last month linking North Korea to the attacks, though this is the first time it has been publicly stated. “North Korea is directly responsible.” Said Thomas Bossert, Trump’s national security advisor. “We do not make this allegation lightly. It is based on evidence. We are not alone with our findings either.”


These are the shocking, real-life results of a data breach- were you affected?

                A research firm that specializes in the Dark Web recently made a discovery that should frighten, infuriate and concern you all at the same time. 4iQ is a group of researchers focused on Identity Threat Intelligence, and has indexed billions of exposed identities across the Dark Wed. A report released yesterday identified an easily accessible and interactive database of over 1.4 billion user credentials being circulated on the Dark Web. Comprised from over 252 separate data breach incidents, this is one of the largest active databases discovered on the Dark Web, and to make matters worse, it appears that most of the information contained in the database is completely accurate.

                So, if you were asking what it meant for you that Yahoo!, or Equifax, or Gmail, or whoever it was, experienced a recent data breach, here is your answer: Your personal credentials to accounts containing sensitive information could be sitting on this database, being distributed amongst hackers on the Dark Web. Essentially, your identity could be up for sale on the black market. If I haven’t already frightened you into changing your passwords on commonly used applications, then I would ask you to do so now, for your own protection. This should be done every time a company whose products you use experiences a data breach. You can be assured, that if your sensitive data, or even your identity, is stolen, the big companies responsible for compromising your information in the first place won’t be on the hook. This is one real-life example of how everyday consumers will suffer, now and for many years to come, for the negligent security practices in place at some of the largest institutions in the world. So take the steps needed to protect yourself and remind friends and family to do the same.

What are the most common passwords used?

                The researchers at 4iQ compiled the most commonly used passwords found in the database, and the findings could at least shed some light on how widely used these passwords actually are. Naturally, hackers’ very first efforts will be to try to gain access using these common passwords, so if you still use ‘qwerty’ to log into Facebook, it’s really only a matter of time…

Top 25 Used Passwords:


1 – 123456- used 9,218,720 times 

2 – 123456789- used 3,103, 503 times 

3 – qwerty- used 1,651,385 times 

4 – password- used 1,313,464 times 

5 – 111111- used 1,273,179 times 

6 – 12345678

7 – abc123 

8 – 1234567 

9 – password1 

10 – 1234567890 

11 – 123123 

12 – 12345 

13 – homelesspa 

14 – iloveyou 

15 – 1q2w3e4r5t 

16 – qwertyuiop 

17 – 1234 

18 – 123456a 

19 – 123321 

20 – 654321 

21 – 666666 

22 – 123 

23 – monkey 

24 – dragon 

25 – 1qaz2wsx

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Our September issue of SIMformation provides you with three “Don’t Do This” tips to improve your cybersecurity and protect personal information.  Also, we discuss whether or not there is truly