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Cisco Owns the Highest Number of Net-Security Patents!

This comes as a revelation of the latest LexInnova report

No matter which country you reside in or what profession you’re into, the perils of online security are bound to set you thinking. No matter how many doors and windows you close to prevent these perils from penetrating your digital world, there seems to be some little opening or hole in the wall through which threats attempt to enter. It is indeed scary and a slight miss could land you in grave situations.

To keep you safe and covered, different brands providing Internet security solutions constantly strive at offering you better and more sophisticated tools. To keep these tools integral to their system, companies patent their security portfolios so that you remain secured under their protective umbrella and enjoy using the different security systems as well.

As per the latest assessment done by LexInnova, Cisco rules the roost at owning net security patents. It owns as many as 6442 patents – all related to network security. Symantec follows this number and stands at the second position with 5757 patents. However, although these are impressive numbers, there are intellectual properties of other brands that are equal or higher in quality, such as Check Point, Juniper Networks, and Palo Alto Networks, but their numbers aren’t that great. Therefore, these names do not appear on the list of the top three, as released by LexInnova. The company with the third highest net security patents is Daylight.

It is also worth mentioning in the same breath that the assessment reports also highlight that the US, China and Canada remain the top owners of security patents along with Australia. So, it is good to see that there is a varied participation of countries working on securing our digital lives rather than the onus lying on just a select few.

However, it is yet to be seen if some of these smaller companies will be acquired by the bigger brands. That, only time can tell. For now, it is Cisco celebrating the victory…

Avira Wins the Case against Angry Birds-Styled Game

A lawsuit against Avira was filed when the security software had earlier blocked a bundle of software downloads from a game. Freemium GmbH has filed the lawsuit against the antivirus giant stating that Avira has dismissed the software updates released by the game firm. Freemium had claimed up to six months in prison sentence and a whopping amount of €250,000 fine against Travis Witteveen, the managing director of Avira on the ground of violation of trade regulations in Berlin District Court.

Freemium GmbH has filed a cease-and-desist order against Avira in Berlin District Court when the German security firm has issued warnings of bundle of additional software released by Moorhuhn Remake game. The security firm warned that the software bundle might pose threat to gamers’ computers. However, the three-judge panel in Berlin District Court has rejected the lawsuit on the ground of lack of adequate evidences and also ordered Freemium to bear the court costs of €500,000 (US$551,000), as per the latest updates released by Avira of the case. Earlier in May, Berlin District Court has given verbal verdict and now, the court has given written orders.

Avira has warned users that the download manager of Moorhuhn Remake software is a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP). This PUP category of software is not directly marked as malicious software, but such software may enable other malicious software such as, adware to download on users’ devices. As a user, we often overlook and bypass warnings of such downloads and end up downloading many adware which leak information about our overall computer and internet usage. The Angry Birds remake game, Moorhuhn Remake, is one of such software publishers to bundle in many trial version of software within the main software package so that gamers will download those advertising programs along game’s own software update. One of the programs which came packed with Moorhuhn Remake was a download manager called which is released by Axel Springer, as detected by Avira. There are several other programs embedded in the bundle of software such as PC TuneUP, Zoomit, Web Companion, Super Easy Register Cleaner, Sparpilot, Driver Finder, OK Freedom and Browsing Secure.

Though the game software claimed that users have options to choose not to download these tools, but Avira said that neither any fine print nor the licensing terms had given clear discrimination between the main Moorhuhn Remake software and other bundled software.

China-US Cyber War Update: Chinese Hackers Had Access to US Security Clearance Database

Chinese hackers have kept the World Wide Web busy with as the news of their cyber onslaught of US government systems revealed over the weekend. Over the five years, US intelligence agencies were tracking multiple groups of Chinese hackers who were extracting information from various US segments including energy plants, defense contractors, and electronics manufacturers. However, US agencies have lost track of some Chinese hackers over the one year as they shifted their target to US government systems and hit the Office of Personnel Management. And how they cracked and burrowed deep into those systems is recently discovered as New York Times released a spine chilling update. NYT’s findings revealed that Chinese hackers not only attempted to hook in top the database, but they actually had access and inside help into the database.

NYT said:

“Undetected for nearly a year, the Chinese intruders executed a sophisticated attack that gave them “administrator privileges” into the computer networks at the Office of Personnel Management, mimicking the credentials of people who run the agency’s systems, two senior administration officials said. The hackers began siphoning out a rush of data after constructing what amounted to an electronic pipeline that led back to China, investigators told Congress last week in classified briefings.

Much of the personnel data had been stored in the lightly protected systems of the Department of the Interior, because it had cheap, available space for digital data storage. The hackers’ ultimate target: the one million or so federal employees and contractors who have filled out a form known as SF-86, which is stored in a different computer bank and details personal, financial and medical histories for anyone seeking a security clearance.

“This was classic espionage, just on a scale we’ve never seen before from a traditional adversary,” one senior administration official said. “And it’s not a satisfactory answer to say, ‘We found it and stopped it,’ when we should have seen it coming years ago.”

Once hackers got administrators’ privileged access, the risks of secondary penetration cannot be avoidable. They can now access any other computer system which is connected to OPM data. US administration is trying to comprehend which other sectors are the next target of Chinese hackers. Times magazine has claimed that “lax security at the Internal Revenue Service, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Energy Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission — and the Department of Homeland Security, which has responsibility for securing the nation’s critical networks.”

NSA Launched But, Failed to Infect North Korean Nuclear Plant with Stuxnet Virus

The National Security Agency tried to infect a Stuxnet-variant virus to sabotage the nuclear plant of North Korea, but eventually it failed, reported Reuters.

Earlier, NSA launched a similar cyber attack campaign on Iran’s nuclear program in 2009 and 2010, jointly with Israeli forces. Anonymous U.S. Intelligence sources who were familiar with this covert campaign told Reuters that right around the same time of the year when US deployed the Stuxnet virus on Iranian nuclear program back in 2009 and 2010, NSA tried to launch a Stuxnet-style virus which failed to debilitate Korean plant.

According to the news, NSA designed the virus which would be enabled when accessed any computer settings in Korean language. Despite its high-end attempt of virus attack, NSA agents failed to access the core systems which were connected to the nuclear weapon program of North Korea. North Korean security system is widely marked for closed secrecy – so much so that any civilian requires a police permission to even buy and own a computer and even certain restriction is applied to Internet access. The one primary connection which is given to North Korea comes from China.

The United States has been deeply concerned about the strength and efficacy of the nuclear program of Iran and North Korea. Since NSA had already successfully disrupted the nuclear plant by allying with Israeli forces five years back, so their efforts to run the similar Stuxnet virus program on North Korea came as no surprise, reasoned Tim Erlin, the director of security strategy and IT risk of Tripwire, the computer security. He said that North Korea’s singular reliance on China’s internet connection seemingly barred NSA’s cyber attack efforts to attack and crack into the systems. As per Erlin, “they are simply harder to attack with precision cyber-weapons. There’s only one way in, and it’s well guarded. That isolation comes at great cost, of course, but it does provide this advantage.”

Security Questions as Authentication: Robust or No Good?

Are security questions difficult to crack? Not really, if it is the scam artists that you are referring to!

Yes, this once used to be one of the safest hurdles that you could create to deny cyber crooks from entering your digital fort. However, with sophisticated tools now available to crack these relatively simple security questions, cyber criminals aren’t lagging too much behind you where it comes to cracking these barriers.

On an average, users prefer to set up easy questions like:

  • What’s your mother’s maiden name?
  • What’s your first pet’s name?
  • What’s your school’s name?
  • What’s your favorite food?

Certainly, they have two benefits for choosing one of these. One, the answer would be unique and two it will be easier for them to remember the passcode. Nonetheless, in the midst of these, users often underestimate the simplicity of finding the answer – most security questions (such as the above) have been cracked by scammers in less than 10 attempts. This is indeed alarming and scary.

Thankfully, there are better authentication gates now available that you can use to secure your digital life. This includes reset codes sent via SMS to the registered mobile numbers and alternate e-mail addresses where the websites can validate you.

If you are still caught up in the debate that security questions are still secured, here’re some specific facts and figures that could help you believe otherwise…

  • Pizza is invariably the answer for most users who put up the security question “What’s your favorite food?” An attacker has around 20% chances of cracking this one in the first guess itself.
  • For Spanish-speaking users who deploy “What is your father’s middle name?” as a security question, an attacker has over 20% chances of cracking it within ten guesses.

And if these failed to impress you, here’s more…

For the relatively tougher questions, there is a high chance that you may not be able to recall the answer to when needed.

This will leave you in a position where either you will have to slog to come up with the right answer or get it reset using alternate methods such as SMS-based codes or details sent to your secondary email address.

In both the cases, it would be easier and effective for you to remember your passcode and use it promptly when needed.


Google has been working hard on coming up with a solution that is better and reliable as compared to security questions and at the same time also simpler for users to use. The brand has summarized their findings in a paper that was recently presented at the International World Wide Web Conference 2015. As per the paper, Google has “… concluded that secret questions are neither secure nor reliable enough to be used as a standalone account recovery mechanism…” So, in all probabilities, if you are interested in securing your online life, (which obviously you should), you ought to grow out of the security questions and move on to stricter blockades that include the ones discussed above.

Computer Expert Hacked Entertainment System to Make Planes Fly Sideways

Earlier in April 2015, Christ Robert was banned from boarding United Airlines flight following his tweet on his skills on hacking planes’ networks. But that stern rejection could not stop him from hacking planes, according to a recent FBI.

He hacked and flew plane sideways!

Once again, Christ Robert, CTO and founder of One World Labs, is in the news for admittedly hacking the communication system of the plane and manipulating the navigation of the plane. He has stated that while he was flying on the plane, he could access the entertainment system of the plane under his seat. He connected the in-flight entertainment system of the plane to his computer and then, modified the code and seized the Thrust Management System using default username and passwords. Roberts has revealed that he has hacked planes more than “15 to 20 times” within the course of 2011 and 2014 by simply plugging an Ethernet wire to the entertainment box that lies under the seat. This time, he has changed the mode of flight of engines into the climb mode and made the plane fly sideways.

According to FBI,

“He [Roberts] stated that he successfully commanded the system he had accessed to issue the “CLB” or climb command,” FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in the warrant application. “He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights.”

According to the FBI search document released in February 13, 2015, the computer expert has hacked the entertainment systems of Boeing 757s, Boeing 737s and Airbus A-320 aircraft. Roberts is also known to use programs to track air traffic from the cockpit in his inclination of discovering flaws and loopholes insecurity system. His tweet read that “Over last 5 years my only interest has been to improve aircraft security… given the current situation I’ve been advised against saying much.”

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Call Now: +1 833-522-1003