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Content Widget Maker Taboola Is Hacked On Reuters

Syrian Electronic Army targets widget used by many publishers to surface content that the reader might like.

Taboola, a widget used by many electronic publishers to help readers find additional content, was hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) yesterday.

"Today [Monday], between 7AM - 8AM EDT, an organization called the Syrian Electronic Army hacked Taboola’s widget on Reuters.com," said Taboola founder and CEO Adam Singolda in a blog. "The intruder was redirecting users that accessed article pages on reuters.com to a different landing page."

Taboola is also used by other popular websites, including Time, The Weather Channel, BBC, and USA Today, but the Reuters hack is the only one mentioned in the blog.

Taboola did not immediately address the SEA's claims that it had also hacked Taboola's Paypal account. The SEA posted a copy of what appears be the Paypal page of Taboola on its website.

"The breach was detected at approximately 7:25am, and fully-removed at 8am," said Singola. "There is no further suspicious activity across our network since, and the total duration of the event was 60 minutes.

"While we use 2-step authentication, our initial investigation shows the attack was enabled through a phishing mechanism. We immediately changed all access passwords, and will continue to investigate this over the next 24 hours."

"Websites need to think long and hard not only about the security of their own servers, but whether the companies who are providing widgets and plugins that power the websites are taking security as seriously themselves," said security expert Graham Cluley in a blog about the incident. "After all, at the end of the day, the typical user is going to view the incident as Reuters being hacked – not Taboola." 

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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Christian Bryant
50%
50%
Christian Bryant,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 2:09:55 AM
50% Social
A solid reminder that a righteous hack is often 50% or better composed of a social element.  Some laugh these days at the idea of phishing getting the better of everyday users, let alone IT staff, but the social hack still rules and is often at the root of a technical hacking triumph.

Think before you answer that email, that caller or that person standing in front of you.  And for crying out loud, please use better passwords!  Stop reusing your passwords and tokens; use a random password and token generator, keep all accounts separate and recycle passwords regularly.  Inevitably, by making your job easier, you're also making the cyber criminals' jobs more easy, too.
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