Friday, January 21News That Matters

Tag: Computer Security

China’s Olympics App for Athletes Has Security Flaws, Study Says

Technology
In preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Japan worked to develop a contact tracing app that would track foreign visitors, but concerns quickly mounted over bugs in the software and whether all visitors would own smartphones on which to install the app.The Citizen Lab report said MY2022 failed to confirm a unique encryption signature with the server where it was transferring data. In effect, that meant hackers could intercept the data without Chinese officials necessarily knowing. Other parts of the app, like its built-in messaging service, failed to encrypt metadata, making it easy for owners of wireless networks or telecoms to detect which phone was messaging another and at what time.“All the information you are transmitting can be intercepted, particularly if you are on an untrusted n...

Biden Administration Warns Against Spyware Targeting Dissidents

Technology
WASHINGTON — The federal government on Friday warned the public about the risks of commercial surveillance tools that have been used to spy on journalists and political dissidents by infecting their phones with malware.The warning, issued by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, came after the Biden administration’s actions in November against the NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance company, and other firms that have developed malware. When placed on a target’s phone, the software gives access to nearly all content on the device.The administration has been trying to make it more difficult for surveillance companies to operate in order to push them out of the business of developing commercial spyware that can be misused. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the spyw...

Someone Offered ‘Harvard’ Jobs to Known Women in India. It Was a Scam.

Technology
“There was a lovely Harvard shield,” Mr. Roy remembered. “I didn’t have the slightest doubt.”Harvard says it fiercely protects its trademark, employing software to detect new websites that infringe on its brand, but Mr. Newton, the university spokesman, declined to say if it had detected HarvardCareer.com. The scammers continued to use it to send emails, capitalizing on Harvard’s reputation. They also copied employment documents from Harvard’s official website, using them as fodder as the scam advanced.In February 2020, right before Covid-19 exploded across the world, Ms. Razdan was told the job was hers. It paid $151,000 a year, far more than she was making at NDTV. She received a lengthy contract that included everything from arbitration clauses to details about dental insurance. She was...
Microsoft Seizes 42 Websites From a Chinese Hacking Group

Microsoft Seizes 42 Websites From a Chinese Hacking Group

Business
Microsoft said on Monday that it had seized 42 websites from a Chinese hacking group in an effort to disrupt the group’s intelligence-gathering operations.The company said in a news release that a federal court in Virginia had granted Microsoft’s request to allow its Digital Crimes Unit to take over the U.S.-based websites, which were being run by a hacker group known as Nickel or APT15. The company is redirecting the websites’ traffic to secure Microsoft servers to “help us protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel’s activities.”Microsoft said it has been tracking Nickel since 2016 and had found that its “highly sophisticated” attacks intended to install unobtrusive malware that allowed for surveillance and data theft.In this most recent case, Nickel was attacki...
Companies Linked to Russian Ransomware Hide in Plain Sight

Companies Linked to Russian Ransomware Hide in Plain Sight

Technology
MOSCOW — When cybersleuths traced the millions of dollars American companies, hospitals and city governments have paid to online extortionists in ransom money, they made a telling discovery: At least some of it passed through one of the most prestigious business addresses in Moscow.The Biden administration has also zeroed in on the building, Federation Tower East, the tallest skyscraper in the Russian capital. The United States has targeted several companies in the tower as it seeks to penalize Russian ransomware gangs, which encrypt their victims’ digital data and then demand payments to unscramble it.Those payments are typically made in cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies like Bitcoin, which the gangs then need to convert to standard currencies, like dollars, euros and rubles.That this ...
Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Maker NSO Group

Apple Sues Israeli Spyware Maker NSO Group

Business
An opening for Apple’s lawsuit emerged in March, after NSO’s Pegasus spyware was discovered on the iPhone of a Saudi activist. Citizen Lab discovered that NSO’s Pegasus spyware had infected the iPhone without so much as a click. The spyware could invisibly infect iPhones, Mac computers and Apple Watches, then siphon their data back to government servers, without the target knowing about it.Citizen Lab called the zero-click infection scheme “Forced Entry” and passed a sample of it to Apple in September. The discovery compelled Apple to issue emergency software updates for its iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and Mac computers.The sample of Pegasus gave Apple a forensic understanding of how Pegasus worked. The company found that NSO’s engineers had created more than 100 fake Apple IDs to carry ...

Alan Paller, a Mover on Cybersecurity Threat, Is Dead at 76

Technology
Mr. Paller’s pet project was the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation, which hosts hacking challenges for high school and college students. The idea was based in part on the example of China, which runs regular hacking competitions to identify its next generation of digital warriors.“We have no program like that in the United States — nothing,” Mr. Paller told The Times in 2013. “No one is even teaching this in schools. If we don’t solve this problem, we’re in trouble.”His program offers college scholarship funds and free SANS trainings, with the goal of finding and developing 25,000 new “cyberstars” by 2025. Last year, Mr. Paller and Mr. Lyne rolled out a new game, CyberStart, which challenges students to track down cybercriminals, in exchange for $2 million in scholarship funds.“People ...
A Rare Win in the Cat-and-Mouse Game of Ransomware

A Rare Win in the Cat-and-Mouse Game of Ransomware

Technology
While Emsisoft would not identify the victims, it said they had included key manufacturers, transportation companies and food suppliers across continental Europe, Britain and the United States.The timeline of Emsisoft’s effort overlaps with BlackMatter’s ransomware assaults last month on two American agriculture organizations: NEW Cooperative, an Iowa grain cooperative, and Crystal Valley, a Minnesota farming supply cooperative. Both cooperatives recovered quickly, suggesting that Emsisoft might have helped. Neither company returned requests for comment.Eric Goldstein, the executive assistant director for cybersecurity at the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, called the effort a model for public and private collaboration. The agency is trying to develop a comprehens...
The Sheikh, the Businessman and a Hacking Mystery on 3 Continents

The Sheikh, the Businessman and a Hacking Mystery on 3 Continents

Business
Though the judge questioned the credibility of that story, his ruling against Mr. Azima should have ended the case. But soon, a reporter with Reuters contacted one of his lawyers and said the news organization had records indicating that BellTroX had sent him phishing emails.Mr. Azima, Mr. Massaad, their lawyers and other associates would uncover over 150 phishing emails, sent to them between 2015 and 2017, that bore the fingerprints of BellTroX, court filings state.Mr. Azima’s lawyers then hired a private investigator. That investigator, Jonas Rey, stated in an affidavit filed in Mr. Azima’s London lawsuit that an unnamed associate in India put him in touch with a computer specialist who used to work at CyberRoot.According to the investigator’s affidavit, that ex-employee, Vikash Kumar Pa...
How to Protect Yourself From Online Card Fraud

How to Protect Yourself From Online Card Fraud

Business
The service is used by more than 10,000 merchants and has “tens of millions” of cardholder participants, said Sukhmani Dev, senior vice president of digital products, North America, at Mastercard.Here are some questions and answers about safe practices when shopping online:How else can I protect myself?The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips: Shop with a credit card online, and never buy anything from online sellers that accept payment only by gift cards, money transfers or cryptocurrency. Such payments are nearly impossible to trace and reverse, and criminals often tell people to use those methods so they can get cash quickly, the commission says.Vet unfamiliar websites before shopping by searching online for the merchant’s name and the word “complaint” or “scam,” the agency advise...