Security Brief: John McAfee and Flaws in Popular Services

The main stories from the week between December 3 and December 9

Over the past week, we’ve reported about a number of interesting information security-related topics, but most of them have been about John McAfee – the founder of the world-renowned antivirus company – and vulnerabilities in a number of popular services.

John McAfee’s latest “adventures” started a few months ago when we learned that he had some run-ins with Belizean authorities.

One month ago, McAfee went on the run after being unofficially named the prime suspect in the murder case of his neighbor.

He then secretly fled to Guatemala where he attempted to seek political asylum, but his location was exposed by the metadata from a picture taken by Vice Magazine. Shortly after, he was taken in by Guatemalan law enforcement that accused him of illegally entering the country.

On Friday, we learned that McAfee was rushed to a police hospital after having a breakdown caused by high stress.

Last week, we attended the DefCamp 2012 Bucharest security conference. There, we learned from security researcher Bogdan Alecu, that some mobile phone users could surf the web for free.

Then, on Monday, we found out about a SMS spoofing vulnerability that affected Twitter users. The social media network’s representatives quickly came forward to say that they addressed the issue, at least for some customers.

Another important security hole has been identified in the iOS version of the popular picture sharing application Instagram. Experts found that cybercriminals could hijack user accounts.

Tumblr was also found to contain some serious vulnerabilities. The ones who discovered them notified the company, but when they saw that nothing had been done about it, they decided to deface several thousand blogs to prove their point.

Vulnerability Lab researchers have identified more flaws in Skype. Microsoft’s security team managed to address two of them, but one locally-exploitable issue remains unfixed.

Other noteworthy stories from this week are the Stratfor hack-related accusations brought by authorities against Barrett Brown, the conviction of a 22-year-old Anonymous hacker in relation to DDOS attacks launched against PayPal, and the data breach that affected the NDB Swiss intelligence agency.

Also, in case you’ve missed it, Acer India was hacked, and a piece of malware managed to find its way onto the computers of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

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