Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘cybersecurity

Assange Charged With Conspiracy

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Julian Assange was arrested earlier today at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he had been sheltered for going on seven years (since 2012).

According to reporting from The New York Times, the U.S. charged Assange of conspiring to hack a computer as part of the 2010 release of reams of secret American documents. 

The charge was filed in March 2018 and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. The Times noted that it was not an espionage charge, which could have carried much more significant penalties.

Mr. Assange has been in the sights of the United States government since his organization’s 2010 disclosures. Most recently, Mr. Assange has been under attack for his organization’s release during the 2016 presidential campaign of thousands of emails stolen from the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, leading to a series of revelations that embarrassed the party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. United States investigators have said that the systems were hacked by Russian agents; the conspiracy charge against Mr. Assange unsealed Thursday is not related to the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s election influence.

Mr. Assange will have the right to contest the United States extradition request in British courts. Most people who fight extradition requests argue that the case is politically motivated rather than driven by legitimate legal concerns.

But the Times also note that his:

initial arrest on Thursday arose from something much more innocuous: He faces a charge in a British court of jumping bail, and the Metropolitan Police said in a statement that Mr. Assange had been arrested by officers at the embassy on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in 2012, for failing to surrender to the court. A British judge found him guilty of skipping out on bail.

So why did Ecuador give Assange up?

“Finally two days ago, WikiLeaks, the organization of Mr. Assange, threatened the government of Ecuador,” Mr. Moreno said, an apparent reference to allegations from the organization that Mr. Assange had been subject to a spying operation. “My government has nothing to fear and doesn’t act under threat.”

In his video, Mr. Moreno singled out the recent release by WikiLeaks of information about the Vatican as evidence that Mr. Assange had continued to work with WikiLeaks to violate “the rule of nonintervention in the internal affairs of other states.”

Written by turbotodd

April 11, 2019 at 11:32 am

Facebook Security Flaw

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The New York Times is reporting that Facebook said today an attack on its computer network led to the exposure of information from nearly 50 million of its users.

Facebook said it discovered the breach earlier this week, “finding that attackers had exploited a feature in Facebook code that allowed them to take over user accounts.”

The Times reports that Facebook said it did not know the origin or identity of the attackers, nor had it fully assessed the scope of the attack, and is in the beginning stages of its investigation.

Here’s Facebook’s detailed explanation of the exploit and the actions it says it has taken:

Our investigation is still in its early stages. But it’s clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted “View As”, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts. Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password every time they use the app.

Here is the action we have already taken. First, we’ve fixed the vulnerability and informed law enforcement.

Second, we have reset the access tokens of the almost 50 million accounts we know were affected to protect their security. We’re also taking the precautionary step of resetting access tokens for another 40 million accounts that have been subject to a “View As” look-up in the last year. As a result, around 90 million people will now have to log back in to Facebook, or any of their apps that use Facebook Login. After they have logged back in, people will get a notification at the top of their News Feed explaining what happened.

Third, we’re temporarily turning off the “View As” feature while we conduct a thorough security review.

This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code. It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As.” The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens.

The Times goes went on to write that:

One of Facebook’s most significant challenges has been convincing its users that it is responsible enough to handle the incredible wealth of data the company handles. More than 2 billion people use Facebook every month, and another two billion separately use WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by Facebook, and Instagram, the Facebook-owned popular photo-sharing app.

You know the drill.  Check your password, change it, etc ad nauseum ad infinitum.

Written by turbotodd

September 28, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Posted in 2018, cybersecurity

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Apple AR Acquisition

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Happy Thursday.

Reuters is reporting that Apple has acquired a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, a sign that Apple has ambitions to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world.

The company, Akonia, could not be immediately reached for comment, according to Reuters. it reports the company was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists and had originally focused on holographic data storage before pivoting to creating displays for AR glasses.

Neither the purchase price nor the date of the acquisition was revealed, although one executive in the AR industry said the Akonia team had become “very quiet” over the past six months.

Reuter’s suggests that this acquisition is the first clear indication about Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in AR hardware: producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit in the glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively low price.

Meanwhile, from The Verge we learn that Google’s Titan Security key set — which includes a USB key, a Bluetooth key, and various connectors — is now available to we mere mortals for only $50.

The Titan keys work as a second factor for a number of services, including Google Cloud customers, Facebook, Dropbox, and GitHub. But as The Verge points out, they’re built particularly for Google account logins, and, specifically, the Advanced Protection Program announced last October.

The Verge writes that “Because the keys verify themselves with a complex handshake rather than a static code, they’re far more resistant to phishing attacks than a conventional confirmtion code. The key was initially designed for internal Google use, and has been in active use within the company for more than eight months.”

Google has also indicated the production process makes the keys more resistant to supply chain attacks, because the firmware is sealed permanently Into a secure element hardware chip at production time in the chip production factory. Google says that the chip used is designed to resist physical attacks aimed at extracting firmware and secret key material.

Anything to keep the very bad people away from my data.

Written by turbotodd

August 30, 2018 at 9:49 am

Facebook Deletes 600+ Accounts Linked to Influence Campaigns from Iran and Russia

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Happy Thursday.

Facebook has once again removed multiple pages, groups and accounts for coordinated and authentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram.

The company indicated that “some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia.”

The Verge reported that Facebook took down 652 fake accounts and pages that published political content, the existence of which was first uncovered by the cybersecurity firm FireEye.

“These were networks of accounts that were misleading people about who they were and what they were doing,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a call with reporters. “We ban this kind of behavior because authenticity matters. People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook.”

Separately, CNBC is reporting that Apple has removed Facebook’s Onavo security app from the App Store because it does not comply with its privacy rules.

Citing a Wall Street Journal story from Wednesday, Apple officials told Facebook that Onavo violated the company’s rules on data collection by developers, and suggested last Thursday that Facebook voluntarily remove the app. 

Facebook acquired Israel-based Onavo in 2013, snapping up the free security app that lets users access a virtual private network, or VPN, to browse the web and download apps with a greater degree of privacy. Facebook in the past has offered that service to users without clearly disclosing that it owns the app, and has collected data about what other types of apps those customers use.

Written by turbotodd

August 23, 2018 at 9:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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The Spy Who Tracked Me

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This is a juicy headline from Bloomberg: U.K. Reveals its First Major Cyber-Attack Was Against IS

GCHQ isn’t typically known for advertising its very-much-behind-the-scenes-on-the-down-low headline making when it comes to espionage, cyber or otherwise.

But according to this Bloomberg report, Britain “carried out its first major cyber-attack in 2017, disrupting Islamic State’s communications and propaganda for much of the year.”

“This is the first time the U.K. has systematically and persistently degraded an adversary’s online efforts as part of a wider military campaign,” [GCHQ Director Jeremy] Fleming told a cybersecurity conference in Manchester, England, “Did it work? I think it did.”

Fleming (great last night for a spy head, right?) also mentioned Russia in his comments:

The use of a nerve agent against former double agent Sergei Skripal, he said, “demonstrates how reckless Russia is prepared to be, how little the Kremlin cares for the international rules-based order.” Russia “widely uses its cyber capabilities,” Fleming said, “blurring the boundaries between criminal and state activity” and deploying “industrial-scale disinformation to sway public opinion.”

Written by turbotodd

April 12, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Too Fit To Hack?

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We’ve become aware of two more major cyber security breach events over the past several days.

First, Under Armour went public with the news that in February around 150 million MyFitnessPal user accounts were hacked, stating that “an unauthorized party acquired data associated with MyFitnessPal user accounts.”

That data included usernames, passwords, and email addresses, but not bank, driving license or social security information.

No word on whether or not how many steps you took on average per day was revealed!

And The New York Times is reporting that a well-known ring of cybercriminals has obtained more than five million credit and debit card numbers from customers of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor. 

The company indicated that the data appears to have been stolen using software that was implanted into the cash register systems at the stores and that siphoned card numbers.

Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian company that owns both firms, suggested that its e-commerce platforms appeared to have been unaffected by the breach.

The Times’ story suggests that the Lord & Taylor theft is one of the largest known breaches of a retailer, and demonstrates how difficult it is to secure credit-card transaction systems.

Check out this white paper from IBM Security to learn more how your organization can take a proactive approach to threat detection and prevention.

P.S. Another one that missed my radar…Boeing was hacked by the “WannaCry” virus last week. CBSNews reported Boeing announced that it “detected a limited intrusion of malware” that “infiltrated “a small number of systems.”

An initial report from chief engineer Mike VanderWel at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering that “the virus would affect equipment used in functionality tests of airplanes and potentially ‘spread to airplane software’” and that it was metastasizing rapidly.”

Fasten your seat belts.

Written by turbotodd

April 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

Posted in 2018, cyber security, e-commerce

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Atlanta’s Cyber Attack

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In case you hadn’t heard or read, the city of Atlanta has been hamstrung by a ransomware attack that began last Thursday.

The New York Times’ Alan Blinder and Nicole Perlroth provided an update yesterday.  The key facts thus far:

  • This was one of the most “sustained and consequential cyberattacks ever mounted against a major American city.”
  • It “laid bare once again the vulnerabilities of governments as they rely on computer networks for day-to-day operations.”
  • The attackers, the “SamSam” hacking crew, locked up the city’s files, and gave the city a week to pay ~ $51,000 in ransom via Bitcoin.
  • While the attack didn’t impact Atlanta’s 911 calls or wastewater treatment, “other arms of city government have been scrambled for days.” 
  • But the Atlanta Municipal Court has been unable to validate warrants, police officers have been writing reports by hand, and the city has stopped taking employment applications.
  • Dell SecureWorks and Cisco Security are working to restore the city’s systems, and the city’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has not yet indicated whether the city would pay the ransom.

The Times also cited a 2016 survey of CIOs for jurisdictions across the country found that obtaining ransom was the “most common purpose of cyberattacks on a city or county government, accounting for nearly one-third of all attacks.”

In the meantime, many of Atlanta’s core public services are being delivered by that trusty and dependable standby, pen and paper.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to contend with ransomware, IBM Incident Response Services published this “Ransomeware Response Guide (Registration required).” 

Written by turbotodd

March 28, 2018 at 10:02 am

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