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Thursday Threat Report: True extent of man in the middle attacks exposed, the Racing Post breach, and NSA snooping gets dirty

Welcome to ITProPortal's Thursday Threat Report, where we round up the three greatest security threats facing Internet users, smooth-running enterprise, and occasionally even the survival of the world as we know it. Hold onto your hats - things are about to get scary.

The Racing Post breach

The Racing Post suffered a significant security breach to its website on Friday and Saturday in which a database was accessed and customer details were stolen.

The horse racing and gambling venue revealed in an email to its readers that, "despite our best efforts, the security on has been breached over the last 36 hours, in a sophisticated, sustained and aggressive attack".

In response to the breach, the Racing Post assured users that it is currently reviewing all of its security measures and would be putting in "even stronger protection" to prevent this from happening again.

Man in the middle attacks

So-called "man in the middle attacks" are happening much more frequently than we realise, according to a net-monitoring firm. The attacks, which involve "targeted Internet traffic misdirection," see Internet traffic redirected remotely through an attacker's servers, allowing data in transit to be observed or even changed, before reaching its intended recipient.

Monitors Renesys claimed that it had seen traffic intended to travel only the short distance across one US city get redirected halfway around the world before arriving at its destination. The redirect results in a slight delay, but not usually enough to alert the suspicions of the hijacked party. So be careful what you share, people!

NSA monitoring of pornography habits

Are you a political activist with unsavoury online habits? Then you might be worried by recent revelations that the NSA has been snooping on those who visit adult websites, and storing the information to discredit them in the future.

This is an example of "how 'personal vulnerabilities' can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation, and authority," activist Glenn Greenwald wrote in the Huffington Post on Tuesday evening.

In the document dated October 2012, the NSA identified six Muslim men who were "prominent, globally resonating foreign radicalizers." The document claimed the NSA had collected information about these individuals, which if exposed, "would likely call into question a radicalizer's devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority."