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#nationalcybersecuritymonth | Swiss Govt Says Ransomware Victims Ignored Warnings, Had Poor Security
Switzerland’s Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) today warned of ongoing ransomware attacks targeting the systems of Swiss small, medium-sized, and large companies.
According to the alert issued in collaboration with the Swiss Government Computer Emergency Response Team (GovCERT), the attackers have asked for ransoms ranging from thousands of Swiss Francs to millions — 1 million CHF is just over $1 million.
Over a dozen of such ransomware attacks that resulted in systems being encrypted and rendered unusable have been reported in recent weeks.
“The attackers made ransom demands of several tens of thousands of Swiss francs, in some cases even millions,” the alert says.
Swiss ransomware victims ignored warnings, had poor security
As MELANI and GovCERT discovered while investigating these ransomware incidents, recommended best practices such as MELANI’s information security checklist for SMEs were not implemented by the victims and previous warnings of such attacks were not taken into consideration.
The Swiss Government-funded cybersecurity body advises businesses not to pay ransoms to avoid becoming involuntary sponsors for the hackers’ ongoing campaigns.
Also, by paying them, businesses don’t have any guarantee that their data will be recoverable using decryption tools provided by the attackers.
It is important that the companies concerned contact the cantonal police immediately, file a complaint and discuss the further procedure with them. As long as there are still companies that make ransom payments, attackers will never stop blackmailing. – MELANI
MELANI also warned both SMEs and large companies that they are still at risk even after paying the ransoms and restoring their systems and data seeing that “the underlying infection from malware such as ‘Emotet’ or ‘TrickBot’ will remain active.”
“As a result, the attackers still have full access to the affected company’s network and can, for example, reinstall ransomware or steal sensitive data from it.”
MELANI said that there are examples of companies from Switzerland and other countries that were ransomed multiple times within short periods of time.
While analyzing the recently reported ransomware incidents, the Swiss cybersecurity body identified a number of weaknesses that allowed attackers to successfully breach the companies’ defenses (all of them can be mitigated by MELANI’s recommendations):
• Virus protection and warning messages: Companies either did not notice or did not take seriously the warning messages from antivirus software that malware had been found on servers (e.g. domain controllers).
• Remote access protection: Remote connections to systems, so-called Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP), were often protected with a weak password and the input was only set to the default (standard port 3389) and without restrictions (e.g. VPN or IP filter).
• Notifications from authorities: Notifications from authorities or from internet service providers (ISPs) about potential infections were ignored or not taken seriously by the affected companies.
• Offline backups and updates: Many companies only had online backups which were not available offline. In the event of an infestation with ransomware, these backups were also encrypted or permanently deleted.
• Patch and lifecycle management: Companies often do not have a clean patch and life cycle management. As a result, operating systems or software were in use that were either outdated or no longer supported.
• No segmentation: The networks were not divided (segmented), e.g. an infection on a computer in the HR department allowed the attacker a direct attack path to the production department.
• Excessive user rights: Users were often given excessive rights, e.g. a backup user who has domain admin rights or a system administrator who has the same rights when browsing the internet as when managing the systems.
Stream of ransomware warnings
Last year, in November, a confidential report issued by the Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that at least 1,800 companies from around the globe and with operations in various industry sectors were affected by ransomware attacks.
The three file-encrypting malware strains responsible for the infections — LockerGoga, MegaCortex, and Ryuk — relied on the same infrastructure and were previously spotted in attacks that targeted corporate networks and enterprises such as Norsk Hydro and Prosegur.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also warned private sector partners last month about Maze Ransomware operators focusing their attacks on US companies.
This warning came less than a week after the FBI warned private industry recipients about LockerGoga and MegaCortex ransomware infecting corporate systems from the U.S. and abroad in a flash alert marked as TLP:Amber.
“Since January 2019, LockerGoga ransomware has targeted large corporations and organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Norway, and the Netherlands,” the FBI announced at the time.
“The MegaCortex ransomware, first identified in May 2019, exhibits Indicators of Compromise (IOCs), command and control (C2) infrastructure, and targeting similar to LockerGoga.”
Yesterday, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) alerted organizations across all critical U.S. infrastructure sectors of a recent ransomware attack that hit a natural gas compression facility and took down pipeline operations for two days.
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(Reuters) – Twitter
The accounts were hacked through a third-party platform, a spokesperson for the social media platform said in an emailed statement, without giving further details.
“As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we locked the compromised accounts and are working closely with our partners to restore them,” the Twitter spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the IOC separately said that the IOC was investigating the potential breach.
Twitter also said Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona’s account faced a similar incident on Saturday.
“FC Barcelona will conduct a cybersecurity audit and will review all protocols and links with third party tools, in order to avoid such incidents,” the soccer club said in a tweet after the hack.
Last month, the official Twitter accounts of several U.S. National Football League (NFL) teams, including the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, were hacked a few days ahead of the Super Bowl.
Earlier this month, some of Facebook’s official Twitter accounts were briefly compromised.
(Reporting by Akshay Balan in Bengaluru, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)
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The oft-attacked city of Baltimore not only uses mind-bogglingly bad data storage. Its home state, Maryland, also knows how to swiftly propose mind-bogglingly bad legislation that would outlaw possession of ransomware and put researchers in jeopardy of prosecution.
It is, of course, already a crime to use the data/systems-paralyzing malware in a way that costs victims money, but proposed legislation, Senate Bill 30, would criminalize mere possession.
It’s not supposed to keep researchers from responsibly researching or disclosing vulnerabilities, but like other, similar “let’s make malware more illegal” bills before it, SB 30’s attempts to protect researchers could “use a little more work,” as pointed out by Ars Technica‘s Sean Gallagher.
It covers much of the same ground as does Federal law, but SB 30 would take it a step further by labelling the mere possession of ransomware as a misdemeanor that would carry a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The draft could get yet more draconian still: Earlier this month, members of the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee said they’d actually prefer to make the crime a felony, according to Capital News Service.
The problematic outlawing of “unauthorized access”
Besides mere possession of ransomware, the bill would outlaw unauthorized, intentional access or attempts to access…
…all or part of a computer network, computer control language, computer, computer software, computer system, computer service, or computer database; or copy, attempt to copy, possess, or attempt to possess the contents of all or part of a computer database accessed.
It would also criminalize acts intended to “cause the malfunction or interrupt the operation of all or any part” of a computer, the network it’s running on, and their software/operating system/data. Also verboten: intentional, willful, unauthorized possession or attempts to identify a valid access code, or publication or distribution of valid access codes to unauthorized people.
Where does that leave researchers? Partially protected by a thin blanket that doesn’t protect them from liability, experts say.
The bill does holler out an exemption for researchers, rendered in full caps in the draft:
THIS PARAGRAPH DOES NOT APPLY TO THE USE OF RANSOMWARE FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES.
But that doesn’t cover any of the extensive list of “thou shalt not touch without authorization” aspects of the bill that could spell trouble for researchers and keep them from reporting vulnerabilities. Well-known vulnerability disclosure policy expert Katie Moussouris – the founder and CEO of Luta Security and creator of Microsoft’s bug-bounty program – told Ars that as it’s now worded, the bill would…
…prohibit vulnerability disclosure unless the specific systems or data accessed by the helpful security researcher were explicitly authorized ahead of time and would prohibit public disclosure if the reports were ignored.
The truth is that organizations ignore responsible vulnerability reports all too often. That’s why responsible disclosure programs have reporting windows: once the clock ticks down, plenty of researchers give up on waiting for a response and go ahead and publish vulnerability details. The rationale: the longer a vulnerability exists, the higher the chance it will be exploited by hackers.
Maryland should follow Georgia’s lead and rethink this
SB 30 is currently still under review. Were it to pass in its current form, there is, of course, a chance that the governor might veto it. That’s what happened to the equally, similarly misguided hacking bill, SB 315, that was passed in Georgia in 2018.
From Governor Brian P. Kemp’s veto message:
Under the proposed legislation, it would be a crime to intentionally access a computer or computer network with knowledge that such access is without authority. However, certain components of the legislation have led to concerns regarding national security implications and other potential ramifications. Consequently, while intending to protect against online breaches and hacks, SB 315 may inadvertently hinder the ability of government and private industries to do so.
Hopefully, Maryland’s lawmakers will take a much closer look at the proposed bill and listen to experts like Moussouris. Hopefully, they’ll come to realize that the legislation may very well harm the very people who are working to protect the state.
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#nationalcybersecuritymonth | Johnson will defy US and allow use of Huawei, says top security adviser | Technology
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Bernie Sanders says “some wars are necessary”
11 January 2020
Since the Trump administration’s assassination of a top Iranian general brought the US to the brink of war, Senator Bernie Sanders has made frequent statements and appearances in which he has denounced the recklessness of the Trump administration and opposed a new war with Iran.
In addition to heavy activity on his presidential campaign’s social media accounts, Sanders has also made the rounds on talk shows, including the Late Show on CBS, the Today Show on NBC, and an interview on public radio.
This has been accompanied by the systematic promotion of Sanders, within pseudo-left and left-liberal publications, as the only anti-war candidate in the presidential election. Typical were headlines in Jacobin such as “Trump Wants to Drag Us Into War With Iran. Bernie Is the Candidate to Stop Him,” and in the Nation, “Bernie Sanders Is the Anti-War Candidate.”
Many people naturally assume that Sanders’ professed “democratic socialism” also means that the 78 year-old senator is an opponent of imperialist war. But in reality, since first entering Congress in 1991, Sanders has compiled a lengthy record of support for war and a defense of the predatory interests of American imperialism.
In one politically revealing statement made during his January 8 interview on NPR, Sanders declared:
“We should use our wealth and our resources, through carrots and sticks, to bring countries together, to end the kind of terrible conflicts that we are seeing all over the world, to strengthen international organizations where people can sit down and argue rather than shoot guns or drop bombs against each other.” In plain language, this means Sanders supports the use of military power, combined with diplomatic pressure, to enforce an international geopolitical order which is dominated by the United States.
“Now, I’m not a pacifist,” he hastened to add. “There are times when war may be necessary. But I believe, as somebody who as a young person opposed the Vietnam War, which was such a disaster for my generation, as somebody who helped lead the effort against the war in Iraq, which was such a disaster for our younger people, that I will do everything I can to resolve international conflict through diplomacy, through negotiations and not through the continuation of endless wars. Enough is enough.”
When Sanders here refers to “necessary wars,” he is not referring to popular revolutions against bankrupt social orders, or revolts by colonial peoples against their imperial masters. He is referring instead to those wars which are “necessary” to advance the interests of American imperialism.
Sanders’ record demonstrates what he considers “necessary wars.” In the first place, it includes the 1993 US intervention in the Somalian Civil War, in which the US deployed death squads from the Army Rangers, Delta Force and other special forces units to the impoverished but strategically located African nation to decapitate factions opposed to the establishment of a US puppet regime. It also includes the NATO air assaults against Serbia in 1999, launched on the pretext of stopping an imminent ethnic cleansing of Kosovars.
In 2001, Sanders participated in a near-unanimous vote in favor of the invasion of Afghanistan. Today—now that the near 20-year war is widely unpopular—Sanders conveniently declares that his earlier vote was a “mistake.” But he has continued to endorse US wars in the Middle East, including the US proxy war in Syria.
Sanders has also supported Israel’s repeated assaults on Gaza, imperialist war crimes made possible with the support of the United States. In a 2014 town hall meeting, Sanders shouted down an antiwar protester who challenged his support for Israel as it was committing egregious crimes against the Palestinian population.
Moreover, Sanders has publicly voiced support for the use of assassinations and “extraordinary rendition” in the so-called “War on Terror.” In 2015, when asked whether anti-terrorism policies under a Sanders administration would include drones and special forces, Sanders replied that he supported drones, “all that and more.” In his interview with NPR, Sanders deflected when asked whether he would leave “special operations” forces in Iraq after withdrawing ground troops.
Where Sanders has voted against military conflict, as in his vote against the Iraq War in 2002, he voted along with the majority of congressional Democrats. But this did not stop Sanders for voting repeatedly for massive military spending bills in the years after the invasion of Iraq. Sanders repeatedly describes the Iraq War as a “disaster” or a foreign policy debacle—but never as a crime whose architects should be prosecuted.
Sanders’ support for war is closely connected to his longstanding support for trade war with China—a position which raises the danger of a shooting war with a nuclear power and the world’s most populous country. In fact, his first piece of legislation in Congress was a bill he co-sponsored, along with Nancy Pelosi, opposed to establishing favorable trade relations with China. Since the election of Trump, Sanders has alternated between overtures of support for Trump’s trade war measures with China and attacks on Trump and even fellow Democrats for not committing sufficiently to a conflict with China.
This record is generally unknown to Sanders’ own supporters, in large part because, except for occasional verbal shows of opposition, which are designed to conceal his actual record and mislead popular opposition to war, Sanders has kept a studied public silence on foreign policy throughout his career.
But Sanders’ support for US imperialism exposes his professed “democratic socialism” as a fraud, since it is impossible to oppose the policies of the financial oligarchy at home while supporting wars fought on their behalf abroad. His support for over a quarter century of war, waged by the American capitalist class in a homicidal struggle to maintain its world dominance, is the clearest indication that, beneath his left-sounding rhetoric, Sanders is in fact a pro-capitalist politician.
Since the 2016 primaries, as Sanders has been elevated from the margins of the Democratic Party to one of its top public figures, he has been compelled to make more frequent and lengthy public statements on foreign policy, beginning with a major speech in 2017.
In that speech, made at the site of Churchill’s famous “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946, Sanders proclaimed his support for wars for “democracy” and “humanitarian intervention” and pledged his support for the Democratic Party’s warmongering against Russia and Syria. By his choice of venue and his praise in his speech for presidents Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, the architects of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Sanders implicitly cloaked himself in the mantle of Cold War-era anticommunism, signaling to the ruling class that he can be a reliable defender of their predatory interests.
In his criticisms of Trump’s drive to war against Iran, he is articulating not the deep hatred of the population for war but the tactical concerns of the Democratic Party. This is a fundamentally pro-war opposition, which is concerned primarily that Trump, in assassinating General Qassem Suleimani, acted rashly without making adequate preparations for a war with Iran, both from the standpoint of troop deployments in the Middle East and from the standpoint of conditioning the American public for the enormous material and human costs of such a war.
Moreover, the Democratic Party is concerned that a war with Iran would tie up hundreds of thousands of US troops which might be otherwise deployed against Russia, which they see as US imperialism’s chief adversary. Their demand that Trump continue his predecessor Obama’s military buildup against Russia is what lies at the heart of their campaign to impeach Trump and brand him as a stooge of Putin, a campaign which Sanders has supported.
Only a month ago, even in the midst of their vote to impeach Trump, congressional Democrats voted to hand him a $738 billion military budget, one of the largest in history. In the House, members of “the squad,” congresswomen aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America, were able to posture as opponents of war by casting meaningless votes against a budget whose passage was already secured. In the Senate, Sanders did not even make a show of opposition, deciding instead to abstain.
In promoting himself as a leading anti-war figure, Sanders is preparing a carefully laid-out political trap for the tens of millions of workers and young people who are opposed to war and deeply concerned about the devastating consequences, both at home and abroad, of a massive new war in the Middle East.
This is a repeat of the role which Sanders played in the 2016 primaries. He ran in order to capture the mass opposition to poverty, inequality and war among workers and youth, which has motivated a rapid and growing interest in socialism, in order to channel it back behind the Democratic Party where it could trapped and disoriented.
Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton, widely reviled as a warmonger and Wall Street hack, in the general election enabled Trump to capture some of this opposition through his right-wing populism, under conditions where workers were left with no other way to register their opposition to the entire political setup.
A genuine anti-war movement must be based on the working class, in complete opposition to all of the capitalist parties and their political enablers, and on the basis of genuine socialism, which seeks to put an end to war by abolishing its source, the capitalist system itself.
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In March of last year, Mark Zuckerberg made a dramatic pledge: Facebook would apply end-to-end encryption to user communications across all of its platforms by default. The move would grant strong new protections to well over a billion users. It’s also not happening any time soon.
What Zuckerberg didn’t spell out at the time is just how difficult that transition would be to pull off, and not just in terms of political hurdles from encryption-averse law enforcement or a shift in Facebook’s business model. Encrypting Facebook Messenger alone represents a herculean technical challenge. According to one of the Facebook engineers leading the effort, a version of Messenger that’s fully end-to-end encrypted by default remains years away.
“I’ll be honest right now and say we’re still in a place of having more questions than answers,” said Jon Millican, Facebook’s software engineer for Messenger privacy, in a talk today at the Real World Crypto conference in New York. “While we have made progress in the planning, it turns out that adding end-to-end encryption to an existing system is incredibly challenging, and involves fundamentally rethinking almost everything.”
Millican’s presentation at the conference, in fact, wasn’t about how Facebook plans to pull off the transition to default encryption for Messenger, which currently offers the feature only through its Secret Conversations mode. Instead, it seemed aimed at explaining the many hurdles to making that transition, and asking the cryptography community for ideas about how to solve them.
Millican readily admitted that means Facebook users shouldn’t expect to see a default encryption rollout for several years. That also likely means the company’s planned integration of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram messaging will take at least as long, given that all three would likely need to be end-to-end encrypted to avoid undermining the existing default protections in WhatsApp.
“We publicly announced the plan years in advance of being able to actually ship it,” Millican said of Messenger’s encryption rollout in an interview with WIRED ahead of his conference talk, while declining to say when exactly Facebook expects the rollout to be complete. “There are no imminent changes coming here. This is going to be a long process. We’re dedicated to getting this right rather than doing it quickly.”
“If this is taking several years, maybe they’re not putting their money where their mouth is.”
Matthew Green, Johns Hopkins University
Facebook Messenger’s bounty of features—video calls, group messaging, GIFs, stickers, payments, and more—almost all currently depend on a Facebook server being able to access the contents of messages. In an end-to-end encrypted setup, only the people at the ends of a conversation would possess the keys on their devices to decrypt messages, requiring that more of Messenger’s mechanics be moved to apps and browsers. Facebook’s servers would act only as blind routers, passing messages on without being able to read them—which also keep them safer from government agencies or other snoops.
Millican argues that getting to that point will require rebuilding every feature of Facebook Messenger from the ground up. “We’re looking at a full-stack rethink and re-architecture of the entire product,” he says. “We’re not just adding end-to-end encryption to a product, we’re building an end-to-end encrypted product.”
Facebook has, of course, already carried out the sort of billion-user transition to default encrypted messaging that it now says is so difficult. In 2016, Facebook-owned WhatsApp enabled default end-to-end encryption for all its billion-plus users. But Millican points out that transition also took years, despite the WhatsApp of 2016 having been much simpler than Facebook Messenger in 2020. He points to key differences in the two apps; WhatsApp doesn’t support multiple devices, beyond a desktop program that essentially routes messages via the user’s phone. And it doesn’t back up messages to a server so that they’re available when you reinstall the app. Messenger does both.
Apple may present another model of how to achieve the sort of massive end-to-end encrypted network Facebook has committed to create: It’s managed to build rich features and end-to-end encryption by default into iMessage. But it doesn’t have the sort of full-featured, independent web interface that Facebook Messenger offers, which presents other challenges, since it’s designed to allow users to send messages from any device. (WhatsApp’s web interface, like its desktop app, only works when it’s linked with a user’s phone.)
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Sweeping law changes proposed by an official inquiry into last year’s election and foreign interference have taken too long to be of use for next year’s election, Justice Minister Andrew Little says.
Parliament’s Justice Select Committee on Tuesday released the findings of its long-delayed report into the 2017 election and 2016 local body elections.
Major recommendations in a lengthy list of 55 include handing control of local elections from councils to the Electoral Commission and giving the Commission powers to enforce and investigate minor breaches of electoral law (major breaches would stay with the police).
They also cover changes to foreign donations, a ban on foreign Government’s owning New Zealand media organisations, changes to advertising laws, stricter requirements on parties to properly check the source of donations and recommendations aimed at defending against misinformation and hacking during the next election.
But Justice Minister Andrew Little, who has already introduced a series of changes to electoral laws in this term in Government, says the report has come back too late to be of any use before voters head to the polls in 2020.
“The inquiry has been going for over 18 months … It’s unfortunate that the delay means that we pretty much won’t be able to take anything else out of the report to make changes,” Little told reporters.
“When you leave it to two weeks before Christmas before an election year to recommend changes to the Electoral Act it’s pretty hard to make changes.”
Little has already introduced legislation based on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations and says he couldn’t wait any longer.
Changes already put forward by the Government include a ban on most foreign donations announced last week, and allowing voting at supermarkets on election day, revealed earlier this year.
National MP Nick Smith as blamed the Government for taking too long to get the inquiry going in the first place. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Select Committee process has been fraught, having gone through six different chairs this year and prompted National MP Nick Smith to describe it as a farce.
The committee is split between National and Labour Party members.
It wasn’t started until September, 2018, – a year after the election – and later expanded to also cover foreign interference risks – although intelligence agencies said their security protocols for dealing with foreign and cyber-security threats weren’t necessary in 2017. Two National and two Labour members also left the during the process.
The committee’s first chair, Labour’s Raymond Huo, stood down in April this year after a debate over whether to let China expert and University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady be heard.
In its response to Tuesday’s report, National said the process had also been turned into a “sham” by Little introducing electoral laws before the recommendations were out, and without consensus with the Opposition.
“I don’t think the Government took the inquiry seriously,” Smith said.
“It’s very disappointing and dismissive of the Minister. There’s many recommendations in there that are important.”
Smith said the Government had taken too long to begin the process.
“It’s peculiar for the Minister to be criticising the delay,” he said.
“They didn’t even start the inquiry until 12 months after the election. The extension of the terms of reference did not occur until late last year and we didn’t even hear submissions on the foreign interference issue until April this year.”
But Labour’s Meka Whaitiri, the committee’s last chair, said while she shared Little’s regret at the delay, she dismissed Smith’s criticism and said “a lot of diplomacy” had been required to get the report over the line.
“If it was just a single, stand-alone inquiry, but it was complicated that it was really three substantive inquiries in one,” she said.
“Put it this way, the fact that it’s a split Select Committee you are going to get robust debate. And that’s exactly what we got.”
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#cybersecurity | #hackerspace | Apple Confirms iPhone Regularly Gathers Location Data, But Says It Doesn’t Leave the Phone
Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans Apple confirmed that their latest iPhone 11 phones come with a feature that requires regular geolocation checks, but the company said that information doesn’t leave the phone. Security researcher Brian Krebs noticed that the latest iPhone 11 was making geolocation check seven when all apps that […] View full post on AmIHackerProof.com