by Constantine von Hoffman

Cybersecurity News Roundup: Huge Botnet Shut Down; Dropbox Hack; and Wall St. Tech Recruiter Attacked

Jul 20, 20123 mins
CybercrimeData BreachSecurity

This week's IT security news roundup features stories on the shutdown of the world's third-largest spam botnet; a possible hack of the Dropbox cloud-storage service; a Wall St. IT recruiting site that was attacked; and more.

World’s Third Largest Spam Botnet Shut Down
: Security-research group FireEye and spam-tracking service SpamHaus worked with ISPs to shut down the Grum spam botnet. The Grum botnet was reportedly responsible for as much as 18 percent of the world’s spam, and it was thought to be the third-largest spam botnet in operation. The takedown effort began with the removal of two command-and-control servers in the Netherlands by local police, who were contacted by FireEye researchers.  Two additional C&C servers were also in operation, one in Panama and one in Russia. After the servers in the Netherlands were taken down, the ISP in Panama that owned the suspect server responded to pressure from researchers and removed it. The two Dutch servers were replaced with six new servers located in the Ukraine. When the researchers at FireEye learned of this development, they passed the information along to others in the security community, including Spamhaus and CERT-GIB, the Russian computer emergency response team. Carel Van Straten and Thomas Morrison from Spamhaus and Alex Kuzmin from CERT-GIB reached out to contacts in Russia and the Ukraine, and within a few hours the servers were taken offline as well. As a result, the number of Grum-infected IP addresses sending spam dropped from roughly 120,000 to 21,000.

Dropbox Probes Possible Hack: Dropbox hired investigators to find out why some of its European users are receiving spam sent to email addresses associated with their accounts. A note on the cloud-storage service’s user forum says the investigators have not yet been able to confirm any unauthorized activity. Many users reported receiving the spam via email addresses used only for Dropbox. The spam, written in German, English and Dutch, advertises gambling websites.

Wall Street IT Recruiting Service Attacked: Hackers published files containing data on tens of thousands of IT professionals taken from, a site that focuses on IT professionals who are seeking Wall Street jobs or who work with Wall Street firms. The data was apparently stolen by a hacker who is a member of a group called TeamGhostShell. An inspection of the published data by Computerworld showed first and last names, mailing addresses, email addresses, usernames, hashed passwords and phone numbers of thousands of people. Many of the thousands of hashed passwords seem to have already been decrypted into their clear text form.

Mother Hacks School System 110 Times to Change Kids’ Grades: Catherine Venusto, a former secretary at Pennsylvania’s Northwestern Lehigh School District, hacked into the school system’s computers and changed her daughter’s grade from an F to an M and her son’s grade from a 98 to a 99.  She was charged with three counts each of unlawful use of a computer and computer trespass and released on $30,000 unsecured bail. State police say she admitted changing the grades, and while she agrees her actions were unethical, they apparently aren’t illegal.