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Edward Snowden is back in the news, talking about a plan that the NSA had to have malware in various app stores, like the Google Play Store, and Apple iTunes Store.
The NSA program was called IRRITANT HORN, with the US spy agency wanting to find the path of web traffic to and from mobile application severs that are owned by Google and Samsung. Once the NSA found this traffic, it would place an attack in the middle, where it could silently inject malware and spying tools into a mobile device of its choice.
After it had planted this software, it could pull out e-mails, texts, search history, call records, videos, photos and anything else you have on your device. Thanks to the user thinking they're on an official app store, they would be unaware that they're being attacked by the US government in the form of the NSA.
In an open letter to President Obama, more than 140 civil society groups, tech companies and tech leaders signed a statement showing concern regarding the US government's desire to view decrypted smartphone data. Both the FBI and Justice Department claim they support encryption, but want to create backdoors so law enforcement can gain access - but that seems unlikely without creating avenues that cybercriminals and foreign governments can also exploit.
Not surprisingly, law enforcement complain they will lose access to data and communications as more data can be encrypted - with Google and Apple providing ways to prevent outside snooping.
"Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy's security," the open letter reads. "Encryption protects billions of people every day against countless threats - be they street criminals trying to steal our phones and laptops, computer criminals trying to defraud us, corporate spies trying to obtain our companies' most valuable trade secrets, repressive governments trying to stifle dissent, or foreign intelligence agencies trying to compromise our and our allies' most sensitive national security secrets."
Even after seeing major retailers suffer data breaches, it still takes an average of 197 days to identify an advanced threat, with an additional 39 days to contain the security problem.
To make matters even worse, 38 percent relied on a "gut feeling" as the top method how retailers identify possible cybersecurity problems, according to the Ponemon Institute. Meanwhile, 23 percent turned to forensic evidence, 21 percent studied attacker signatures, while 16 percent received threat intelligence from other companies.
Instead of focusing on working with outside consultants to improve cybersecurity, retailers rather save the time and money - and instead rely on pointing fingers when a data breach occurs. However, the retailers and financial institutions suffer when a breach does take place, while the retailers suddenly scramble to react.
Cybersecurity experts are creating new methods to help companies fight back against distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, so hackers are shifting their efforts. To help avoid detection, DDoS attacks are using less bandwidth but increasing frequency and duration of their attacks.
The first quarter of 2015 has been extremely busy, with a record number of DDoS attacks - double year-over-year when compared to Q1 2014 - and the type of users being targeted is changing. One-third of all DDoS attacks focused on gaming-related servers and services, with the Lizard Squad and other groups trying to get attention from the media.
Not surprisingly, China accounted for 23 percent of DDoS traffic during Q1, with Germany (17 percent), and the United States (12 percent) rounding out the top three.
In a world of leaked information and hacking sprees, Australian cloud services provider Macquarie Telecom has been the first ever of its kind to be approved on the government's list of providers thanks to its performance in the security standards testing.
With this accreditation approved by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), Macquarie Telecom's Managing Director Aiden Tudehope stated "the ASD was detailed and thorough and Macquarie is proud that out hard work has been recognized in this way." Tudehope added that the motive for this accreditation is quite reasonable as "our analysis shows governments are increasingly looking for a range of cloud computing services for different data classification use cases."
Further privatization of Government services can be good or bad depending on which way the situation is assessed and it's up to you to decide if you're happy with this movement or not. Either way, congratulations Macquarie Telecom for being the first of a kind.
The VENOM vulnerability, which is the Virtualized Environment Neglected Operations Manipulation targeting data center software, allows cybercriminals to exploit remote access on virtual machines. If done, hackers are able to steal data - and gather information about the company's public cloud.
There is a fear that the VENOM puts intellectual property at risk, along with other personal information, so millions of users could be impacted. Although there were initial comparisons between Venom and Heartbleed, the new security flaw isn't quite on the same level.
"At this time, Venom poses the same level of risk as any new remote-code execution vulnerability," said Chad Kahl, Threat Intelligence Team Lead at Solutionary. "It is bad, but readily fixed or mitigated. First off, it only affects certain platforms. While popular, it doesn't span almost the entire Internet like Heartbleed did."
Combination lock users beware, this lock cracker designed by Samy Kamkar takes a mere 30 seconds to bust open your standard combination locks - as long as you've picked the first number manually.
With instructions posted up online on how to print one for yourself, this contraption will set you back around $100 from start to finish - not including the few thousand dollars spent on a 3D Printer.
Although not extremely useful, Samy has helped display the diversity of a 3D printer and also a design flaw that Master locks might want to fix.
It looks like the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has hacked the Washington Post again, this time taking aim at the news outlet's mobile website. The SEA, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, has reportedly launched more than 70 cyberattacks on western media outlets - typically defacing websites, publishing Tweets from hijacked accounts, and proving to be an annoyance.
The Post's mobile website and "some section fronts on the mobile site" were targeted, but nothing else was impacted. "The situation has been resolved and no customer information was impacted," said Shailesh Prakash, chief information officer of the Washington Post.
The Washington Post was hacked by SEA a few times in the past, with the first attack occurring in 2013, when hackers exploited a flaw located in third-party plugins. Another reported attack took place last August pointed Post visitors to the SEA's website.
Trying to directly attack banks and other financial institutions is increasingly difficult, so cybercriminals are finding new ways to cause mayhem.
A popular new method is victimizing the Starbucks mobile payment app and gift cards, as they are able to steal pre-loaded amounts off cards - and then use the auto-reload function to get to victims' debit and credit card accounts.
Hackers are always on the lookout for new vulnerabilities and loopholes that allow them to steal funds from companies and victims. "Fraud is moving away from banks into big e-commerce companies," said Avivah Litan, security analyst at Gartner, in a statement published by NBC News. "Criminals are learning how to turn rewards programs, points and prepaid cards into cash."
An international coalition and ground troops are giving ISIS fits in Iraq and Syria, but the terror group is still finding success online. Using a blend of social media and the Dark Web, the group is able to spread propaganda, recruit new members, and communicate with one another - but the Pentagon is working harder to interrupt ISIS's digital efforts.
For example, DARPA hopes its MEMEX technology, which has the ability to serve as a unique search engine, is able to track down Dark Web sites.
"Everything above the water is what we would call the surface web that can be indexed through Google or you can find through a search engine," said Lillian Ablon, researcher at Rand, in a statement published by CNN. "But below the water that huge iceberg up to 80% times bigger than what's above the water, that's the deep web, that's the part of the web that's not indexed. There is so much of the web that we can't just Google for; it's dark to us, it's dark to Google."