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Weak Passwords Leave VoIP Phones Vulnerable To Hacking, Experts Warn

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VoIP phones can be hacked on account of weak passwords, according to security researchers, IT PRO reported. Hackers can make and take calls, transfer them without the user’s knowledge and listen in on private conversations.

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Security researchers warned that the Internet telephony handsets used in many enterprises are vulnerable to attack by hackers, who are making millions using hijacked phones to dial premium-rate numbers, according to techweekeurope.co.uk.

Installers Fail To Change Passwords

Paul Moore, a security expert, uncovered this liability after consulting on the installation of some VoIP phones. He noticed IT professionals and installers failed to change default passwords, intending to do this at a later time. As soon as the phone became active, the installer thinks about their next install job and gives no thought to hardening the security of the device just installed.

The lack of device level authentication poses a major problem, Moore said. Hardware from well-established names such as Snom, Ubiquiti UniFi and Cisco, usually assumed to be secure when put behind a firewall, were in fact not secure.

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Experts Demo Vulnerabilities

Moore, working with Scott Helme and Per Thorsheim, both fellow security professionals, demonstrated how easy it is to hack VoIP phones.

Moore reset a Snom 320 VoIP phone to its default settings. All the hacker needed to do was visit a site infected with a malicious payload to gain full control of the device. The hacker can then block incoming calls, call premium-rate numbers and quietly listen to the user’s conversations.

Snom told The Register that the tests the researchers used was a beta version of its software which the company has since updated. Moore, however, said the outdated firmware was marked as the latest version. He said he planned to redo the tests with the latest software.

Alan Woodward, a security expert at the University of Surrey, told techweekeurope.co.uk that Internet-connected VoIP handsets using default settings are easy to find by entering the right search terms in Google. They can also use search services like Shodan that target Internet-connected devices.

Even if they take basic security precautions, VoIP phones are still vulnerable since they are easier to hack and harder to update than full-blown computer systems, Woodward said.

Because the device runs Unix, it is possible to hack it like any other computer, Woodward noted in an advisory. The VoIP manufacturer oftentimes builds to a price point and security is not top of mind. The added difficulty of updating embedded software when a problem occurs compounds the problem.

Also read: Study: Reused HTTPS certificates & SSH keys put millions of devices at risk

U.K. Prone To Hacker Scams

Woodward said attackers use premium-rate scams to make millions. He cited a report by Nettitude that indicated the U.K. was especially affected by such scams. Moore has advised the phone makers to take better care in securing their products before releasing them.

If vendors have to supply devices with default credentials, they should disable all other functionality until a sufficiently secure password replaces it, Moore said. He also encouraged IT staffers to be more aware of the dangers of any Internet-connected device. IT people should remember the device is basically a PC that has all the vulnerabilities associated with a PC.

Users should not assume a device is safe simply because it is operating as the manufacturer intended, Moore said. Instead, they should seek professional advice.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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Breaches

Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop

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It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.

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Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum

Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.

The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.

A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.

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Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.

Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market

The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.

Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.

Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)


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Coders Safeguard Vulnerable Ethereum Wallets Following Security Breach

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Ethereum suffered large-scale security breaches last week after anonymous hackers targeted vulnerable wallets in the network, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. However, it didn’t take long for a volunteer group of coders to “rescue” the funds in 500 at-risk wallets before the same attackers could get to them too.

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White Hat Group Takes Charge

The so-called White Hat Group showed initiative by “rescuing” the funds using the same techniques the thieves employed to compromise $32 million USD worth of ether from three multi-signature wallets. As of Monday, the White Hat Group of ethical hackers was in possession of $86 million worth of ether and an additional $122 million in tokens.

Tokens are digital assets that are sold during an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) fundraising event. They have proven to be extremely popular.

Tens of millions of dollars worth of ether and tokens have already been returned to their owners. The White Hat Group says it will issue full refunds by the end of July.

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Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also breached last week, resulting in the loss of more than $7 million worth of ether.

Security Breaches Nothing New in Crypto World

For all its benefits, cryptocurrency has been vulnerable to several high-profile security breaches. Last summer, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex was the target of a major attack that resulted in the theft of around $70 million worth of bitcoins. In response, the exchange announced a controversial plans to “socialize” its losses among all users. Each Bitfinex trader was docked 36% as a result.

Bitcoin prices declined sharply following the attack, stopping what had been a blistering summer of gains.

Ethereum Enterprise Alliance

For anyone doubting the potential of the ether, take a look at the list of companies participating in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). The EEA is a forum that connects Fortune 500 companies, startups and academics with ethereum subject matter experts.  The EEA is made up of multinational banks and some of the world’s biggest technology companies.

The forum has made cyber security a top priority, according to a May 22 press release. In the release, companies like Infosys, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Synechron and others expressed their intent to contribute to the future of ethereum’s security.

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