Top Cyber Attacks of 2016

Top Cyber Attacks of 2016

We live in a world where cyber-attacks, data leaks and security breaches quite frequently make it to the breaking news headlines! Government agencies, corporates firms and leading banks – all have had to deal with cyber-attacks in past. The year 2016 was no different and saw some of the worst cyber-attacks in the history. From influencing US Presidential elections to banks losing money, the year 2016 has seen it all.

Here is a summary of some of the biggest cyber-security attacks, breaches and data thefts that came into light in 2016.

US Presidential Elections – Leaked Emails

The year 2016 saw hackers get access to email communication between US Democratic National Committee’s (DNC – Democrats) Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and one of her close associate John Podesta who was the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign. The leaked emails were later published by Wikileaks in the run up to the US Presidential elections and thus attempted at influencing the elections.

It is believed that in the run up to the elections, hackers had sent phishing emails to numerous members of Democrats and one such phishing email was also sent to John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, asking John to change his password. John’s close aide spotted the phishing email and forwarded it to a computer technician who in turn, by mistake, flagged it as legitimate instead of illegitimate. This mistake led hackers access to over 60000 emails in John Podesta’s email account. The leaked emails were subsequently published by Wikileaks.

Philippines Voter Data Leak

Weeks before Philippines General Elections which were scheduled on May 9th 2016, the database of Philippines Commission on Elections (COMELEC) was breached and records of approximately 55 million registered voters were exposed and published in the public domain.

This was Philippines’ worst ever data leak that had put voters at risk and exposed registered voters’ data into public domain including their personal information, fingerprint data and passport information, etc.

A Philippines based hackers group called Anonymous Philippines claimed the responsibility of the hack, and voters’ data is believed to have been made public by LulzSec Pilipinas.

Multiple SWIFT Cyber Attacks

The year 2016 saw multiple attacks on SWIFT transaction software to steal millions from various banks across the globe. SWIFT or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications is a global financial messaging system used by banks and other financial entities.

In February 2016, hackers took advantage of this SWIFT system and stole 81 million dollars from Bangladesh Central Bank.

The second, third and forth similar incident took place in May 2016 when hackers again abused the SWIFT system and attacked banks in Vietnam and Philippines. In June 2016, the fifth SWIFT hack incident happened when hackers stole 10 million dollars from a Ukrainian bank through SWIFT system.

Dyn DDoS Attack

On October 21st 2016 hackers launched a massive cyber-attack against US DNS service provider Dyn which caused a temporary shutdown of major websites including Twitter, Netflix, Amazon, Airbnb, PayPal, The New York Times, SoundCloud, Shopify, and many others.

The services to affected websites remained disrupted for almost an entire day and caused inconvenience to over a billion customers worldwide.
The hackers carried out this attack by compromising thousands of IoT (Internet of Things) endpoint devices using a special malware, making the devices behave like bots, which transformed into a bigger botnet and eventually caused a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on Dyn servers.
Hacker groups like SpainSquad, Anonymous and New World Hackers claimed the responsibility for carrying out Dyn DDoS cyber-attack.

Yahoo! Twin Data Breaches

In September 2016, technology giant Yahoo shocked the world when it revealed that around 500 million user accounts have been breached. What was more embarrassing for Yahoo and shocking for the users was when Yahoo later announced that the breach had actually occurred in the year 2014 but surfaced out only in 2016.

But this was not the end of embarrassment for Yahoo. In December 2016, Yahoo further disclosed that a separate security breach incident had occurred way back in August 2013 wherein over one billion user accounts had been compromised.

The two data breaches had led to theft of consumer data including name, email address, phone number, date of birth, security questions with answers, and passwords. This sensitive data is supposedly still circulating on the dark web.

These twin data breaches of Yahoo are considered to be largest in the history of Internet. Yahoo initially had blamed state-sponsored agencies for the breach but later withdrew its statement, currently the inquiry into the breach is still on-going.

LinkedIn Hack

While LinkedIn was actually hacked in 2012 but the actual revelations came into limelight only in 2016.

LinkedIn was hacked way back in 2012 when its data was breached by Russian hackers and it was believed about 6.5 million user accounts were compromised, which resulted in login details (email and password) of these user accounts being stolen. The hackers were easily able to crack the passwords, the reason being, although the passwords were encrypted, but were not salted when stored in the LinkedIn database.

In 2016 the LinkedIn hack again surfaced out when it was revealed that the actual number of user accounts compromised due to 2012 breach was much higher, more than 117 million users were actually hacked. The details of the compromised user accounts, emails and passwords, were apparently sold on the dark web. It is believed that this sensitive information is still being circulated on the dark web.

DDoS attack on automated systems in Finland

In October 2016 hackers carried out a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on automation system of two buildings in Finland resulting in disruption of the heating systems. The building automated systems remained affected for over a week causing severe inconvenience to the residents during the cold winter season.

The DDoS attack had put the building automation system in an endless cycle of reboot, making devices restart every few minutes, causing disruption of the services. The attack had also stopped remote-access to the automation system hampering the efforts to diagnose and fix the issue remotely.
This attack raised a big question on the security of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, and also emphasizes the need to have stronger cyber security for Internet of Things.

Ransomware Attacks

The year 2016 saw a series of ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a malware that encrypts your files, holds them hostage and then demands money to decrypt the files, payments made to anonymous bitcoin accounts.

Ransomware attacks were rampant in 2016 and has proved to be successful money-making model for cyber criminals. Ransomware cyber criminals made over $1 billion in 2016.

Tumblr Hack

Tumblr, a popular social blogging website, announced in May 2016 that it had suffered a security breach in 2013 which led to 65 million user accounts being compromised. Sensitive data like emails and passwords of tumblr users were leaked and circulated on the dark web as per reports.

– Captain Krypto

Kryptotel is an IT Security Services and Product Development Company specializing in Cyber Security and Secure Communications. Kryptotel develops secure communication applications with strong encryption and security features. Feel free to consult Kryptotel for your cyber-security challenges.

Encryption Algorithms

Encryption Algorithms

In our previous blog post ‘Encryption‘ wherein we explained encryption and different encryption methods. This blog post is subsequent to that and here we will explain different types of encryption algorithms that are most commonly used in cyber-security world.

Types of Encryption Algorithms

  • Triple DEC/DEC
  • RSA
  • AES
  • Blowfish
  • Twofish
  • MD5
  • SHA
  • HMAC

Triple DES or DES/3DES

Data Encryption Standard encryption algorithm was first used and endorsed by US Government in 1977. DES encryption algorithm forms the basis for ATM PIN authentication and also utilized in UNIX encryption password. DES is a block cipher with 64-bit block size and uses 56-bit keys.

Triple DES or 3DES was designed as a more secure and stronger encryption algorithm to replace the original version of DES algorithm. Triple DES encrypts the data three times with three different individual keys of 56-bits each, which makes the total cumulative key length up to 112-168 bits long.


RSA is a public-key encryption algorithm and a standard for encrypting sensitive data sent over an insecure network like the Internet.

RSA encryption algorithm was first introduced by Rivest, Shamir and Adleman at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the year 1977. It is with reference to these three individuals that this method of encryption was named as RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman).

RSA, a public-key cryptography, is an asymmetric encryption which uses two different but mathematically linked keys for encryption and decryption. In RSA encryption algorithm, a public-key is used for encryption and a private-key for decryption. The public-key could be shared with others but the private-key must always be kept secret.

RSA is one of the most popular and widely used encryption algorithm for encryption and digital signatures in the cyber-security world today.


AES or Advanced Encryption Standard is an encryption algorithm that was announced and approved by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in November 2001. AES replaced DES encryption algorithm and became a standard encryption technique for the US government in 2002.

AES encryption algorithm was developed by two cryptographers from Belgium, Joan Daemen and Vincent Rijmen, who submitted it to NIST where it was approved. AES, originally named Rijndael, is a family of ciphers with different key and block sizes.

AES encryption algorithm comprises of three block ciphers of 128-bits, 192-bits and 256-bits. Although encryption with AES 128-bits is quite strong and efficient, 192-bits and 256-bits key is used for higher grade of encryption.

AES is a symmetric encryption algorithm and uses a single private-key for both encryption and decryption processes. AES encryption algorithm is used by numerous organizations worldwide apart from being trusted by the US government.


Blowfish is a symmetric block cipher that was developed and introduced by Bruce Schneier in 1993 as an alternative to the encryption algorithms existing at that point in time.

Blowfish has a 64-bit block size and a variable key length from 32-bits up to 448-bits. Blowfish encryption algorithm splits a message into the blocks of 64-bits and then encrypts the blocks individually.

Blowfish is unpatented and a free to use encryption algorithm, easily available in the public domain.


Twofish is a block cipher encryption algorithm based on Blowfish encryption algorithm. Twofish was one of the five finalists at NIST to replace DES encryption algorithm where NIST eventually selected and standardized the Rijndael algorithm, commonly known as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm.

Twofish is a symmetric key block cipher with a block size of 128-bits and key size ranging from 128-bits to 256-bits. Twofish algorithm being a symmetric encryption technique uses a single key for encryption and decryption.

Twofish encryption algorithm was designed by a team of cyber-security experts led by Bruce Schneier at Counterpane Labs in the year 1998. Like Blowfish, Twofish is also unpatented, license-free, free-to-use and available in public domain.


MD5 Algorithm was developed by Professor Ronald L. Rivest of MIT in 1991, and is widely used to verify data integrity. MD5 is a one-way hash function which creates a 128-bit hash value, and is most commonly used in digital signature applications.

MD5 algorithm has been optimized for 32-bit machines and was designed to replace MD4, an earlier hash function also designed by Rivest.

MD5 algorithm verifies data integrity by processing a variable-length message into a fixed-length output hash of 128-bits. MD5 algorithm is sometimes also referred to as Message-Digest algorithm.


SHA or Secure Hash Algorithm is a family of cryptographic functions which includes SHA-0, SHA-1, SHA-2 and SHA-3.
SHA algorithms are component of SSL certificates to verify data integrity, that is to ensure that the data has not been modified.

SHA-1 cryptographic hash function that was designed by the United States’ NSA in 1995. However, SHA-1 is no longer considered to secure enough and post 2010 many cyber-security experts have recommended the use of SHA-2 or SHA-3 as a replacement to SHA-1. Most of the popular browsers would stop the support for SHA-1 based SSL certificates.

SHA-2 is also designed by NSA and was first published in 2001. SHA-2 is a set of cryptographic hash functions which includes six hash functions of different digest sizes: SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512, SHA-512/224, and SHA-512/256.

SHA-3, formerly named Keccak, was designed by cryptographers Guido Bertoni, Joan Daemen, Michael Peeters, and Gilles Van Assche and was approved by National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a part of a competition which received 64 submissions from all over the world. Subsequently, SHA-3 standard was released by NIST in August 2015.


HMAC or Hash-based Message Authentication Code (HMAC), first published in 1996, is a type of message authentication code that involves both a secret cryptographic key and hash function. HMAC simultaneously verifies the data integrity and authenticates the message.

In HMAC, the message and the key are hashed in separate steps which adds to the security of HMAC. The cryptographic strength of HMAC is dependent on the strength and size of the hash function and size of the key.

IPSec and TLS protocols use HMAC-SHA1 and HMAC-MD5 encryption algorithms.

– Captain Krypto

Kryptotel is an IT Security Services and Product Development Company specializing in Cyber Security and Secure Communications. Kryptotel develops secure communication applications with strong encryption and security features. Feel free to consult Kryptotel for your cyber-security challenges.



In the contemporary world where the news about data leaks and security breaches have become quite frequent, cyber-security and more specifically encryption is an important concept for many companies to understand and implement.
Security breaches and data leaks cost millions of dollars to organizations. IT Security has become the highest priority for many global companies and government departments.

There are many security protocols and technologies available which help organizations to secure their infrastructure, data and communications. However, encryption is one of the most important part of IT security strategies that are implemented by companies and government departments.

Encryption is a technique which helps protect the data and communications.

What is encryption?

Encryption is a technique of encoding the information in such a manner that it becomes unreadable and only authorized parties are able to access it. The authorized party can access the information using a key which decodes the information.

The encrypting process basically transforms the information or a message from plain text to cipher text by encrypting it using an encryption algorithm. The cipher text can only be read when it is decrypted using a key, which only the authorized party will have. Encryption ensures that data is not read or altered by unauthorized parties.

Here is an example of how encryption works.

When you send an email using an encrypted email service, the plain text message is scrambled and made unreadable for unauthorized parties.

This is how an encrypted email message looks like:


Only the intended authorized recipient can decrypt the above encrypted text. The authorized party receives a private key from the sender of the email, using this private the authorized recipient can decrypt the email.

Decrypted email text:

"Hello John, How are you doing?
Join me for a cup of coffee next week in San Francisco.

Different Encryption Methods

Symmetric Encryption:

Symmetric Encryption, also known as private-key cryptography, uses a single key for encryption and decryption. The sender encrypts the data with a private-key, sends the encrypted data to the authorized recipient, the recipient uses the same private-key to decrypt the data.
Symmetric Encryption is also known as private-key or secret-key cryptography because it uses a secure private-key for both encrypting and decrypting processes.

Asymmetric Encryption:

Asymmetric Encryption, also known as public-key cryptography, uses two different keys for encryption and decryption and hence differs from symmetric method. In asymmetric method, a public-key is used for encrypting process whereas a private-key is used for decrypting process.


Hashing is a type of cryptographic security which generates a unique fixed-length value or a hash for a message or data. Hashing is irreversible, once a message is condensed into an irreversible fixed-length value, it cannot be reversed. This is where hashing differs from encryption which is a two step process where a message is first encrypted and then decrypted, which is not the case with hashing. Hashing is a single step irreversible process.

Hashing is used to verify the data and check if the data has been tampered with, and cannot retrieve the original message.

– Captain Krypto 🙂

Kryptotel is an IT Security Services and Product Development Company specializing in Cyber Security and Secure Communications. Kryptotel develops secure communication applications with strong encryption and security features. Feel free to consult Kryptotel for your cyber-security challenges.

Mobile Applications & Security Vulnerabilities

Mobile Applications and Security Vulnerabilities

Mobile Applications & Security Vulnerabilities

There are over 2 billion smartphone users in the world today. The enormous rise in the use of smartphones globally has also led to a surge in the usage of mobile applications. There are over 2.2 million Android based applications in Google PlayStore and over 2 million iOS applications in Apple’s AppStore.
Applications, in general, are becoming a dominant form of digital interaction and hence applications are not just limited to smartphones. Applications are developed and used for wearable devices, for devices connected in Internet Of Things, Smart Cities and Smart homes, etc. These devices communicate with each other via applications which makes security in applications all the more important. Security is critical in applications and therefore applications need to be without any security vulnerabilities, but that is not the case. Application do have security vulnerabilities.

Some of the common security vulnerabilities in mobile applications are explained below.

Weak Server-side Components:

Mobile applications communicate to the servers using APIs. The communication requests from APIs need to be properly verified and authenticated before allowing an access to back-end services. Absence of proper security verification and authentication would lead to security vulnerabilities.

Weak server-side security vulnerabilities include Cross-site scripting and forgery, weak authentication system, injection attacks, etc.

Data Leakage and bad storage practices:

Mobile applications collect a lot of data. Some of the data collected by applications is required for them to function, but there is also unnecessary data collected which is a cause of concern. It is critical that the collection of data by apps doesn’t compromise a user’s privacy. An unsecured app could leak the user’s private data. There have been various researches and studies which show how mobile apps have been collecting user’s personal information and then leaking the same data to agencies or third-parties.

Here are some common ways mobile applications expose user data:

Using a misconfigured or insecure ad and/or analytics framework. A framework which is not properly configured or doesn’t proper security measures could be a potential security vulnerability to collect and expose user’s personal and sensitive information.

Unencrypted data transmission from between the app and the back-end server.

Unnecessary logging by the applications becomes a vulnerable point to expose data to unauthorized third-parties.
Android applications have an option of storing the data on external storage which is a point of vulnerability because the applications cannot trust that files have not been modified.

When users sync their data to a cloud platform which is not secure increases vulnerabilities of exposing the data to unauthorized access.

Weak Encryption & Security Protocols:

Mobile applications become prone to external attacks in absence of strong encryption algorithms and security protocols. Attackers use information stored in the cookies and environment variables to bypass the security and access the data on the mobile device. Mobile applications needs to built with latest and strong encryption algorithms which meet the modern security requirements.

Below are some facts as per HPE 2016 Cyber Security Report:

  • 52.1% of applications accessed geolocation data
  • 70% of education applications on iOS accessed geolocation data
  • 11.5% of applications accessed contacts
  • 40.9% of social networking applications accessed contacts
  • 19.8% of finance applications accessed contacts
  • 16.3% of applications accessed calendar data
  • 41.9% of iOS game applications accessed calendar data
  • 52% of iOS weather applications accessed calendar data
  • 61.7% of applications used ad or analytics frameworks to expose data
  • 64.8% of health applications used ad or analytics libraries to expose data
  • 53.2% of medical applications used ad or analytics libraries to expose data
  • 43.8% of finance applications used ad or analytics libraries to expose data
  • 94.8% of applications include logging methods
  • 70.6% of applications can access external storage

(Link to the detailed report:

-Captain Krypto 🙂

Kryptotel is an IT Security Services and Product Development Company specializing in Cyber Security and Secure Communications. Kryptotel develops secure communication applications with strong encryption and security features. Feel free to consult Kryptotel for your cyber-security challenges.

Wearable Technology & Security Concerns

Wearable Technology & Security Concerns

The use of wearable technology has been on a rise in last few years, and so are the security concerns that come along.

What is Wearable Technology?

The terms ‘wearable technology‘, ‘wearable devices‘, ‘wearable gadgets‘, or simply ‘wearables‘ are referred to the class of electronic technology devices that can be worn on the body. Wearables are created by integrating technology or computers into clothing and accessories which can be easily worn around the body.

[blockquote author=”” link=”” target=”_blank”]Wearable technology is most often advocated as one of the greatest application of Internet Of Things considering the fact that wearables have the potential to completely transform the way we live, today and in future.[/blockquote]

Although these wearable gadgets can perform same computing tasks as mobile devices and laptop computers, but wearables are primarily designed to track health and fitness related information. The sophisticated modern wearable tracking devices are made up of smart sensors and scanning features which help track physiological functions of the body. Therefore, helping consumers achieve their health and fitness goals.

Examples of Wearable Gadgets?

Below are some of the wearable gadgets available in the market that are most commonly used.

Fitness Trackers: Fitness Trackers help in monitoring exercises and physical activities by tracking biofeedback from the body. They are based on sensors and are worn around the wrist, connected wirelessly to the smartphone via bluetooth displaying health and fitness related information on the smartphone application.
Smart-watches: The modern smart-watches are not designed just to display the time, but is door to your digital world. Smart-watches are worn around the wrist and connected to your smartphone, and generally displays notifications from phone calls, messages, emails and social media.

Some other types of wearables are sports watches, smart jewellery, implantables, etc.

What are the security concerns of Wearable Technology?

No doubt that the use of wearable technology is on a rise, and there has been an increase in the popularity of wearable devices. But along with the popularity growth of wearables there has been in an increase in the concern over security with such devices.

While wearables such as fitness trackers, smart-watches, sports watches, smart clothing provide great benefits to the consumers, at the same time consumers need to be cautious about the possible security concerns of wearable devices. Most of these wearable gadgets are Bluetooth enabled and connect to the Internet, they are vulnerable in absence of proper security measures like encryption and authentication.

Wearable devices such as fitness trackers monitor and track activities and health related information of consumers all around the clock, therefore huge amount of private and sensitive data is collected and stored by these devices.

[blockquote author=”” link=”” target=”_blank”]This makes wearables an attractive target for hackers to get unauthorized access to this private information and monetize it.[/blockquote]

In absence of strong security measures, hackers could manage to get access to these health records and make money by selling these records.

Some of the known security vulnerabilities in wearables are: SQL Injection, Phishing, Buffer Overflow Attacks, etc.
Consumers also need to be cautious about allowing manufacturers of such wearable devices permission to share their information with third-parties. Reputed and well-known brands usually implement appropriate security and privacy measures. Consumers should avoid low-cost and poorly designed wearable devices that may possibly create security threats.

-Captain Krypto 🙂

Kryptotel is an IT Security Services and Product Development Company specializing in Cyber Security and Secure Communications. Kryptotel develops secure communication applications with strong encryption and security features. Feel free to consult Kryptotel for your cyber-security challenges.

Blockchain Technology and Cyber Security

Blockchain technology was first introduced in digital currencies or crypto-currencies (Bitcoins) in the year 2009.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain technology was first introduced in digital currencies or crypto-currencies (Bitcoins) in the year 2009.

Crypto-currencies, like bitcoin, are currencies that exist only in the digital world. These are not physical tangible currencies that move from one hand to another. People make transactions in the digital world and transactions are verified and based on a consensus mechanism in the massive peer-to-peer network.

The crypto-currency bitcoin is based on blockchain technology. The transactions in bitcoin happen by changing the ownership creating a record in the blockchain. The blockchain in the crypto-currency system are managed by distributed nodes, all holding a digital ledger of the entire blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized distributed database system secured using cryptographic technology. Since the blocks are distributed across the world and there is no centralization of the data and the fact that blockchain system uses cryptography to keep transactions secure, makes blockchain system one of the most talked about and revolutionary concepts in the current age.

[blockquote author=”” link=”” target=”_blank”]Blockchain technology is the backbone technology behind Bitcoin![/blockquote]

Blockchain technology goes far beyond the crypto-currencies, it is going to revolutionize the digital interactions in coming years. Blockchain technology will revolutionize the cyber security and has the potential to disrupt many industries.

Blockchain definition: A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, comprised of unchangable, digitally recorded data in packages called blocks. These blocks are stored in a linear chain and each block in the chain contains data which is cryptographically hashed. The blocks of hashed data draw upon the block just before in the chain, ensuring all data in the overall blockchain is not tampered with and remains unchangeable.

Cyber Security and Blockchain Technology

Cyber Security has been a growing concern for individuals, business organizations and governments in recent times. As state-sponsored surveillances, hacking, security bugs, online frauds and malicious codes have become increasingly common these days, the demand for a more robust and a reliable security system has become critically important.

With Internet of Things, Smart Houses and Smart Cities concepts coming to reality today and our increased dependency on computer-driven systems, a strong and robust cyber security has become a need of the hour. According to a study by Gartner the number of things connected to Internet was 4.9 billion in 2015, and forecast the number would reach 25 billion by the year 2020. Each of these things connected to the internet is a vulnerability and provides a potential threat to the whole system. Therefore it becomes critical strengthen and make cyber security more efficient.

Online breaches and security attacks into traditional banking systems have resulted into a lot of people losing their hard-earned money. In the past number of e-commerce systems have also been affected due to cyber attacks. Personal information and private communication of a lot users has been accessed unauthorizedly either by illegal hackers or due to government surveillances. All these online breaches, hacks or cyber attacks were possible because of weak and inefficient cyber security system in place. Also, because of the fact that the system or platform was centralized in nature and hence easier for the hacker to take control over.

[blockquote author=”” link=”” target=”_blank”]This is where Blockchain comes in and provides a viable alternative. Blockchain technology alleviates a lot of cyber security concerns because of its decentralized and distributed system.[/blockquote]

A way forward to secure these computer-driven systems is decentralization and distribution of data. Since blockchain based systems are distributed in nature, they could effectively play a greater role in creating robust cyber security systems. In a typical blockchain system, data is kept on various systems and servers across the world, thus removing a central point of control. Blockchains could also be used in secure communication systems by distributing workloads and creating consensus mechanism in the control systems. Acquiring consensus of all of the network is impossible for a hacker to achieve, hence saving the system from being taken over by unauthorized parties.

Cyber Security of the future is going to be revolutionized by Blockchain technology. Decentralization, distribution of data systems, and consensus mechanism in blockchain make it a very popular weapon for cyber security specialists.

Blockchain technology is still in its nascent stage but it surely is a technology with a potential to watch out for in the future!

– Captain Krypto 🙂

Feel free to get in touch with Kryptotel for any further information about encrypted smartphones. You might as well be interested in KryptoPhone – the customized encrypted smartphone by Kryptotel. To know more about KryptoPhone, please visit us at: