Ransomware Dundee: A Report on Cyber Crime Down Under

Taking advice from the internet and using it in real-life situations is not usually a lifehack that I would advise; that being said, I am here to offer a bit of advice. If you ever open your mailbox and find a USB flash drive, please do not insert said drive into your computer unless you know who put it there and why they didn’t just deliver it to you directly. This may seem like common sense to most people, but residents of a Melbourne, Australia suburb did not seem to possess this rudimentary level of technological knowledge.

Police in Pakenham, Australia are currently investigating reports from numerous residents that mysterious USB drives have been appearing in mailboxes throughout the community. When inserted into a computer, the flash drive runs a program offering a free Netflix subscription. Once the user initiates the process of signing up for the service, ransomware installs itself onto the machine. For those unfamiliar with the technology, ransomware has become a relatively common method of predatory cyber activity. Ransomware works by encrypting files stored on the user’s computer, then charging the user a fee to unlock their personal files. The ransomware forces the user to pay the fee in Bitcoin so there is no trace as to where the funds are going to or who is receiving them.

So far, only three residents have stepped forward and admitted to being duped into installing the application, though police believe that others have been impacted and are too embarrassed to step forward. Over the past few years, large-scale organizations have been impacted by ransomware and have paid extreme amounts of money to unlock their files. One of the more popular targets of ransomware purveyors are healthcare organizations. One prominent example of this is an attack earlier this year on the Kansas Heart Hospital. Ransomware forced the hospital to pay over $17,000 (miniscule compared to the original request of $3.4 million) to unlock patient and personnel files and then demanded a second payment to unlock the rest of the files that were still being held captive. Experts claim that the ransomware problem will “get worse before it gets better.”

As students, and as humans in general, we love free stuff. Next time you come across a free flash drive in your mailbox, take a second to think of the potential costs that this “free” piece of technology may bring on you. Personally, I’d much rather pay the $10 for a new flash drive than run the risk of obliterating my computer’s integrity for free.

HM Health Solutions – Project: Future

HM Health Solutions will be hosting Project: Future, an on-site recruiting event, on October 14, 2016, from 9:00am to 3:30pm. The event will take place at HM Health Solutions Headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh. This is a great opportunity for students to gain a deeper knowledge of the company’s cloud technology, network with hiring managers and executives, and learn about the benefits of working for HM Health Solutions.

HM Health Solutions is looking for students that are interested in the following:

  • Client Counseling
  • Application Development
  • Project Management / Business Analysis
  • Information Technology

Students should be undergraduate (juniors and seniors only) or graduate level. Students can apply by sending their resume to scott.ludwig@highmarkhealth.org. Students must apply by October 6th. All attendees will receive a special invitation on October 7th.

Visit careers.highmarkhealth.org/hmhscampus for more information.

RMU’s Online M.S. in IT Project Management Ranked #1 by College Choice

RMU’s online Master’s degree in Information Technology Project Management was ranked number 1 by College Choice for the country’s Best Online Master’s in Management Information Systems degree programs.

Some of the deciding factors for the rankings of the top 10 institutions listed are reputation, tuition rate, and career placement.

MITRE Corporation Presentation

Hosted by  Top Secret Colonials

The MITRE Corporation will have a presentation on Monday, October 3rd from 4:30 – 5:40 pm, Wheatley Atrium.   MITRE Corporation is a Federally Funded Research and Development Center, supporting over seven defense and civil agencies (including the National Institute of Standards for Cybersecurity and healthcare). Dr. Susan Tisdale will provide an overview of MITRE, its work, opportunities for summer internships, and how to apply for those internships. The presenter, a 20-year military veteran and 10 year MITRE employee will also discuss government opportunities as a federal employee, military member and contractor.

Students will earn SET credit. Snacks will be provided.

Cybersecurity in the Automotive Industry

Over the past decade or two, RMU has grown into a rather diverse university in regards to the variety of degrees available. With the influx of new technology during this time period, the need for cybersecurity has risen exponentially. RMU’s cyberforensics and information security program has done nothing but grow since its inception. If you were to ask students in the program where their dream job would be, most would probably respond with a government, law enforcement, or financial institution of some sort. If you happen to ask the same question at some point in the near future, you may be surprised to discover students who are looking for work in the automotive industry.

As I mentioned before, the growth of technology and integration of tech into our everyday lives has created new weak points for cyber criminals to exploit. Computers are increasingly being used in vehicles to control and operate basic functions and a number of features, such as remote engine start, can now be controlled through the use of smartphone apps. To combat the risk that modern vehicles are threatened with, Volkswagen is teaming up with Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s intelligence agency. The joint venture was created with the goal of protecting the next generation of cars from hackers. The new company, called CyMotive Technologies, will be primarily run by acting chairman, Diskin, while Volkswagen will possess a 40% stake in the company.

This may be the first time you have heard of a cybersecurity firm dedicated specifically to automotive security, but it won’t be the last. IBM and Harman are two other major companies that have previously invested money in other Israeli firms focused on automotive security. These companies are hoping to restrict and limit automotive hacking while it is still in its infant stages. While we do not know what automotive advances will look like in the future, or what kind of features will become the new standard, one thing can be assumed for sure: the need for competent cybersecurity professionals will continue to increase.

PNC Technology – Internship Opportunity

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. is seeking Technology Interns for the summer of 2017. The internship program will be available in Pittsburgh, PA, Philadelphia, PA, and Cleveland, OH. The program will be ten weeks long; there are three separate internship opportunities with PNC Technology: Business Systems Analyst Intern, Application Developer Intern, and Infrastructure Analyst Intern.

Business Systems Analyst Intern – interacts with clients and service partners (both internal and external) to coordinate the development, analysis, implementation, and on-going support of approved system enhancement requests.

Application Developer Intern – interacts with all members of the application development team, business analysis team and business service partners to successfully implement system enhancement requests.

Infrastructure Analyst Intern – interacts with all members of the support team and individual Line of Business partners and internal clients as needed per project.

Qualifications:

  • Sophmore or Junior working towards a Bachelor’s Degree
  • GPA of 3.0 or above

Apply at http://www.pnc.jobs/students or on ColonialTRAK.

There will also be a booth for PNC at the RMU Career Fair on September 26, 2016. Representatives from PNC will be available to speak with and interview students.

For more information about the internship:   ColonialTRAK Job Posting

For more information about the Career Fair:   Career Fair Information

Galaxy Note S7: Is It Safe?

Unless you’ve somehow been able to avoid social media and the news over the past few weeks, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about the two hottest (literally and figuratively) pieces of recent tech news. I, of course, am referring to the announcement of the iPhone 7/7s and the spontaneous combustion of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 batteries. I won’t waste your time by touching on my opinion of the new iPhone in this article but will instead give you a summary of what is going wrong with the Note 7’s.

When I first heard about the exploding Note 7 batteries, my immediate reaction was along the lines of “just like those hoverboards!” I’m sure we all remember the emails from last year informing students that they were no longer allowed to ride or even store hoverboards on campus grounds. It turns out that the Note 7’s are having the same exact issue as some of the cheaper hoverboard models did.

Much like hoverboards, cell phones utilize lithium ion battery packs as their primary power source. The science behind lithium ion battery packs is fairly simple and has been around for many years. Issues arise when the thin piece of plastic separating the positive and negative ends of the battery becomes punctured. This forces the battery to short circuit and, in turn, forces the point where the separating plastic was ruptured to become the path of least resistance for the electrical current. When this happens, the liquid electrolyte, which makes up most of the battery internals and also happens to be very flammable, heats up. If the electrolyte solution heats up too quickly, it can cause the phone to heat up to an extreme temperature or even explode in rare cases.

As I mentioned before, the Note 7 is by no means the first phone to encounter this issue. The reason that it is affecting Note 7’s in particular is because of too much external pressure during the manufacturing process. The pressure plates used during the manufacturing process squeezed the battery too tightly and forced the positive and negative poles of the battery to come into contact. These poles can only come into contact if the piece of separating plastic is punctured, thus creating the path of least resistance directly between the two poles.

The phone industry is well aware of the potential risks that lithium ion battery packs can cause but most likely will not move away from the use of the packs until a better (affordable) technology comes along. Frankly, the lithium ion route is cheap and relatively safe, so advancement in terms of power supply will only happen when alternatives can be produced cheaply. Samsung is not the only company to have had issues with lithium ion battery technology. Nokia and Apple have both had issues with dangerous batteries in the past (in 2004 and 2009 respectively).

The risk of your battery exploding is very small but it is better to be safe than sorry. Independent analysis states that less than 1,000 of the 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7’s (.01%) that were previously manufactured have experienced issues.  Samsung is offering refunds to users who have purchased the faulty Galaxy Note 7’s and has already switched battery suppliers. If you happen to have a Galaxy Note 7, it is within your best interest to return the phone as soon as possible to eliminate potential risk. You will either receive a full refund or you can trade it in for a different Samsung smartphone.