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Nearly 48 hours ago, South Korea saw a cyber attack that took down multiple banks and TV stations. It's now being reported that the cyber attack wiped the HDDs of the affected PCs, according to McAfee's analysis on the attack.
The PCs were infected by malware, wiping the master boot record (MBR) of the affected PCs. The MBR on a HDD contains crucial information on how the file systems on a HDD are organized, messing with this can take down a system easily. The malware used overwrote the data in the MBR with some weird characters: "PRINCPES, PR!NCPES, HASTATI." The attack also overwrote some random parts of the file system with the same weird characters.
The systems affected were then given a forced reboot command, but because the MBR and file system were attacked and thus corrupted, the restart was unable to complete.
Apple is implementing a security feature known as two-step verification. It's similar to the security measures used by Google and other web services. Users are able to enable the service through the Apple ID website, after which two-step verification will be required to make changes to a user's account.
Users will set up a trusted device, such as a Mac or iPhone, and will need to print a recovery key. In order to reset a user's password, they will need to have access to the recovery key that they printed out. The first time you attempt to buy an app on a new device, you'll be required to enter a pin that can be accessed from a trusted device.
You can head over to the Apple ID website to enable it for yourself. It's definitely recommended, though it's only currently available in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
A new virus specific to Mac has been discovered by Russian security firm Doctor Web. Named Trojan.Yontoo.1, the virus injects ads into webpages on the infected machine.
The malware works by installing an adware plugin into any of the popular browsers then overlays an advertisement in key locations on webpages. Doctor Web says that this trojan is just another piece of a large adware puzzle that has been infecting OS X for some time now.
The virus can be caught in several different ways, with the most popular method being the use of movie trailer pages in which users must install a plugin to view the content. Other methods of injection have been media player enhancement programs and download accelerators. One indication of infection is that when launched, Trojan.Yontoo.1 will prompt users to install a program called "Free Twit Tube" or something similar.
No information has been released from Apple on a removal tool yet, and it is expected that Apple will just patch its XProtect.plist which already blocks about 15 previous malware attacks. The best thing is to avoid any installs from unknown websites or anything that has a funny name. Remember, Google is your friend and if you are unsure of an application's validity, a five second search could prevent an infection. Be smart.
Just when Apple thought they were out of the woods, a new lockscreen vulnerability has been discovered. Apple released iOS 6.1.3 to fix a previously found lockscreen vulnerability, though it appears to have introduced a new one--or failed to fix one that was present in previous versions.
The bug isn't too difficult to activate, nor is it difficult to protect from. A person needs to simply make a telephone call by using Siri and remove the SIM card at the correct time. The bypass is demonstrated in the above embedded video.
To protect against the bypass until Apple fixes it, you just have to disable voice dial from the Password Lock screen. It's time for Apple to start working on iOS 6.1.4.
Samsung has confirmed that they are working on a fix for a flaw that allows bypassing of the lock screen. The bug was posted to the internet today and shows a method for bypassing the lock screen, permanently, if you have enough time to download an app from the Play Store.
The steps to reproduce the bug are below:
- From the lock screen, hit the emergency call button.
- Dial a non-existent emergency services number - e.g. 0.
- Press the green dial icon.
- Dismiss the error message.
- Press the phone's back button.
- The app's screen will be briefly displayed.
- This is just about long enough to interact with the app.
- Using this, you can run and interact with any app / widget / settings menu.
- You can also use this to launch the dialler.
- From there, you can dial any phone number (one digit at a time) and place a phone call.
- With Google Play, you can search for apps using the voice interface.
- You can download apps from the app store which will disable the screen lock.
The bug is only present on Samsung's implementation of Android. It doesn't seem to affect the stock build. In a statement, Samsung said, "We are aware of this issue and will release a fix at the earliest possibility. Samsung considers user privacy and the security of user data its top priority."
Microsoft is currently dealing with some high-profile hackings that have compromised the Xbox Live accounts of former and current Microsoft employees. The attack apparently used a series of stringed social engineering tactics that collected social security numbers and other information necessary to gain access to the accounts.
A group of attackers are using several stringed social engineering techniques to compromise the accounts of a handful of high-profile Xbox Live accounts held by current and former Microsoft employees. We are actively working with law enforcement and other affected companies to disable this current method of attack and prevent its further use.
It's not clear what Microsoft will be able to do to prevent this from happening in the future. Microsoft needs a way to properly identify an account's owner, but they can't prevent third-parties from giving out that private information.
NATO has released a new document that lays down the law about cyber warfare for all of its members. The document details what is considered acceptable and what is thought of as out of bounds for state sponsored hacking.
Hospitals, nuclear power stations, dams and dykes are all on the do not touch list much like similar UN resolutions that do not allow its members to bomb certain targets. The new document does give the go-ahead to enact analog war against a country who is digitally attacking you.
"An international armed conflict exists whenever there are hostilities, which may include or be limited to cyber operations occurring between two states or more." The Guardian suggest that this may roll over into the so-called "hacktivist" community as well. This could leave its members venerable to physical attack if a country deems them a threat.
Samsung will be issuing a fix for a bug that allows unfettered access to a locked Galaxy S3's files "shortly". Meanwhile, Lookout, the company behind the popular antivirus app of the same name, has already produced a fix that is currently available through the Google Play Store.
Lookout describes how their app protects devices from being exploited through this particular bug: "When Lookout detects the emergency contact dialer has been backgrounded, we preemptively bring it back to the forefront so that the rest of the phone cannot be accessed."
Lookout says they expect Samsung to be released shortly, though an official statement from Samsung has not been given. Lookout highly recommends updating to the latest patch whenever Samsung makes it available. You can read Lookout's full blog post about the issue here. To read more about the bug in the Galaxy S III, you can see our other coverage.
China has said that it is willing to cooperate with the US in an effort to curb future cyber-attacks allegedly coming from within its borders. The country said it is ready to open a "constructive dialogue" to help put a stop to internet related attacks.
In a report released by the Associated Press, a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said that he condemned the recent attacks. "Cyberspace needs rules and cooperation, not wars. China is willing to have constructive dialogue and cooperation with the global community, including the United States."
The response from China comes after White House national security adviser Tom Donilon released a statement saying "China should take serious steps to investigate and put a stop to these activities," and asked the country to "engage with us in a constructive direct dialogue to establish acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace."
Both the US and China have been working diligently to resolve their issues for quite a while now. After a visit by the Chinese Defense Ministry to the White House last year, then-US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said that it was "essential for our two nations to communicate effectively on a range of very challenging issues.. our goal is to establish a constructive relationship for the future." It appears that we may be well on the way to achieving that goal after today's news.
As part of Microsoft's Patch Tuesday, the Windows developer will be pushing out a total of seven updates for Internet Explorer, Silverlight, and Office. Four of the patches are marked "critical", which means that they allow an attacker to run malware on the PC just by the person visiting a web site.
One of the critical patches is destined to fix a security hole present in Internet Explorer 6 to Internet Explorer 10 across XP to Windows 8. The critical Office patch is an interesting one. Woflgang Kandek, CTO at security firm Qualys notes:
"It is puzzling to see such a high rating for this software that typically requires opening of an infected file in order for the attack to work. It will be interesting to see the attack vector for this vulnerability that warrants the 'critical' rating.
Like with all security updates, we recommend that you install these updates as soon as Microsoft makes them available.