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Preview: CircleID: News Briefs

CircleID: News Briefs

Latest news postings on CircleID

Updated: 2018-04-20T21:10:00-08:00


Teen Hacker Who Targeted High Ranking US Government Officials Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison


A British teenager who hacked into the online accounts of former CIA director John Brennan, former director of intelligence James Clapper, and other high-profile US government employees, was sentenced today for to two years in prison. Motherboard reports: "For a few months in late 2015 and early 2016, Kane Gamble, who went by the alias Cracka at the time, was the alleged 15-year-old leader of a hacking group calling themselves Crackas With Attitude or CWA. The group targeted and broke into Brennan’s AOL email account, Clapper’s internet provider account, and others, including a White House official. Gamble was arrested in February of 2016, and he pleaded guilty to ten hacking charges in October of last year."

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More under: Cybercrime

Large Open-Source Data Set Released to Help Train Algorithms Spot Malware


For the first time, a large dataset has been released by a security firm to help AI research and training of machine learning models that statically detect malware. The data set released by cybersecurity firm Endgame is called EMBER is a collection of more than a million representations of benign and malicious Windows-portable executable files. Hyrum Anderson, Endgame's technical director of data science who worked on EMBER, says: "This dataset fills a void in the information security machine learning community: a benign/malicious dataset that is large, open and general enough to cover several interesting use cases. ... [We] hope that the dataset, code and baseline model provided by EMBER will help invigorate machine learning research for malware detection, in much the same way that benchmark datasets have advanced computer vision research."

The liability involved with the availability of such open data sets is something researchers involved with EMBER say they have thought through and that the hope is openness will outweigh the risks.

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More under: Cybersecurity, Malware

Russia Wipes Out Over 17 Million IP Addresses In Efforts to Block Telegram


Post Russia's April 4th blockage of Telegram, increasing number of users in the country are turning to VPNs and proxies to continue their access to the messaging platform. As a result, the government has gone a step further and started blocking every possible way of connecting to Telegram. Over 17 million IP addresses have been wiped out from Google and Amazon's servers resulting in disruption of all types of services from online games to mobile apps or cryptocurrency exchange pages. Enrique Dans reporting in Forbes today: "Roskomnadzor's attempts to block Telegram amount to a denial of service attack on the Russian internet: many sites and services unrelated to Telegram are now blocked as part of this Soviet-style exercise in censorship. ... Telegram continues to operate with relative normality and the company has not detected a significant drop in user activity in Russia. ... Why is the Kremlin putting all these resources into blocking Telegram? The official version is that Telegram refused to provide a backdoor to decipher conversations on the service."

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More under: Censorship, Internet Governance, IP Addressing

Google Ends Domain-Fronting Feature Used by Censorship Tools


A recent change in Google's network architecture has put a stop to a so-called "domain-fronting" feature that allowed services use Google's network to get around state-level internet blocks. Russell Brandom reporting in the Verge: "Google said the changes were the result of a long-planned network update. 'Domain fronting has never been a supported feature at Google,' a company representative said, 'but until recently it worked because of a quirk of our software stack. We're constantly evolving our network, and as part of a planned software update, domain fronting no longer works. We don't have any plans to offer it as a feature."

The discontinuation of the domain-fronting service was first spotted by Tor developers on April 13th. Access Now is urging Google to reconsider the shutdown, stating approximately a dozen human rights-enabling technologies rely, in full or in part, on Google's commitment to protecting human rights and increasing internet freedom. Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager at Access Now says: "Google has long claimed to support internet freedom around the world, and in many ways, the company has been true to its beliefs. Allowing domain fronting has meant that potentially millions of people have been able to experience a freer internet and enjoy their human rights. We urge Google to remember its commitment to human rights and internet freedom and allow domain fronting to continue."

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More under: Censorship, Networks

Experts Urge Support for Security Researchers, Call a Stop to Intimidation Efforts


Over fifty experts and expert advocates have released an open letter in support of security research and against efforts to chill or intimidate security researchers. From Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT): "Computer and network security research, white-hat hacking, and vulnerability disclosure are legal, legitimate, and needed now more than ever to understand flaws in the information systems that increasingly pervade our lives. Security researchers hesitate to report vulnerabilities and weaknesses to companies for fear of facing legal retribution; these chilling effects invite the release of anonymous, public zero-day research instead of coordinated disclosure. The undersigned urge support for security researchers and reporters in their work, and decry those who oppose research and discussion of privacy and security risks. Harming these efforts harms us all."

Mike Masnick of Techdirt and a co-signer of the letter writes: "This may sound obvious, but increasingly we're seeing attacks on security researchers, where the messenger is blamed for finding and/or disclosing bad security practices or breaches… It's kind of sad that this kind of letter is even needed.."

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More under: Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

2.6 Billion Records Were Stolen, Lost or Exposed Worldwide in 2017, an 88% Increase From 2016



Over the past five years, nearly 10 billion records have been lost, stolen or exposed, with an average of five million records compromised every day. This according to a report released by digital security provider, Gemalto which has also revealed that 2.6 billion records were stolen, lost or exposed worldwide in 2017, an 88% increase from 2016. From the report: "Of the 1,765 data breach incidents in 2017, identity theft represented the leading type of data breach, accounting for 69% of all data breaches. Malicious outsiders remained the number one cybersecurity threat last year at 72% of all breach incidents.  Companies in the healthcare, financial services and retail sectors were the primary targets for breaches last year. However, government and educational institutions were not immune to cyber risks in 2017, making up 22% of all breaches."


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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Data Center, Malware

Enterprise Networks Are Being Impacted by Unwanted and Unidentified Cryptomining Activity


(image) Cryptomining attempts by top-performing cryptomining service types between October 2017 to March 2018 (Source: Zscaler)

Researchers at security service provider, Zscaler, are reporting that in the past six months they have blocked over 2.5 billion web-based cryptomining attempts within their cloud service. From the report: "Web-based methods allow website operators to use scripts to mine cryptocurrency within a browser, using the resources of the website visitor. We reported on the rise of this in our October 2017 ... As we have continued to monitor the trend in 2018, the volume of cryptomining transactions has grown. Enterprise networks are being impacted in various ways. Unwanted and unidentified mining activity inside networks causes increased wear and tear on corporate hardware, as the mining increases CPU cycles. Mining activity also hogs corporate network bandwidth and causes performance issues."

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More under: Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Malware, Networks

Iran Among Countries Affected by a Cyberattack That Left U.S. Flag on Screens


A hacking incident over the weekend attacked networks in a number of countries including data centers in Iran where they left the image of a U.S. flag on screens along with a warning: "Don't mess with our elections." Reuter reports: "The attack apparently affected 200,000 router switches across the world in a widespread attack, including 3,500 switches in our country [said Iran's Communication and Information Technology Ministry]. [T]he attack, which hit internet service providers and cut off web access for subscribers, was made possible by a vulnerability in routers from Cisco which had earlier issued a warning and provided a patch that some firms had failed to install over the Iranian new year holiday." The attack is reported to have been neutralized with hours and that no data has been lost.

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity, Networks

Researchers Discover Over 1.5 Billion Files Exposed Through Misconfigured Data Services


Many administrators misconfigure cloud storage, such Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) buckets, resulting in the contents being publicly-accessible. A security report from Digital Shadows reveals that the combined exposed files surpass 1.5 billion, that is over twelve petabytes of data exposed (12,000 terabytes). This is over four thousand times larger than the "Panama Papers" leak (2.6 terabytes). Michael Marriott reporting today in Digital Shadows writes: "It's not just the volume but the sensitivity of the data that is a major cause for concern. There were a number of instances of high severity exposure of personal information, intellectual property, and security assessments. There is an incredible amount of personal data exposed, including payroll, tax return and healthcare information. ... Furthermore, with GDPR fast-approaching, there are clear regulatory concerns for organizations surrounding the protection of personal data, particularly if employees and contractors are copying and archiving work files using cloud storage and NAS solutions."

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More under: Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Data Center, Privacy

Access Logs Reveal 12M Visits to .CM Typosquatted Sites Just in 2018 So Far


An anonymous tip has lead security experts Brian Krebs and Matthew Chambers to four years of access logs for the entire network of more than 1,000 dot-cm typosquatting domains. Brian writes: "A story published ... last week warned readers about a vast network of potentially malicious Web sites ending in '.cm' that mimic some of the world's most popular Internet destinations… If that piece lacked one key detail it was insight into just how many people were mistyping .com and ending up at one of these so-called 'typosquatting' domains. ... Matthew Chambers ... analyzed the access logs from just the past three months and found the sites were visited approximately 12 million times during the first quarter of 2018." Querying the logs also revealed hits coming from .gov and .mil sites.

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More under: Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Domain Names, Malware

EFF Urges EURid to Refuse EU Commission's "Misguided Advice" to Eliminate UK-Registered .EU Domains


In response to the European Commission surprise announcement last week that British domain owners may no longer be entitled to keep their ".eu" domain names, EFF is urging the registry for .eu (EURid) no to follow through. Jeremy Malcolm in an EFF blog post today writes: "If EURid follows the European Commission's misguided advice to eliminate UK-registered domains from the .eu domain space, enough time exists for the lost content to be archived, as occurred before the 2009 shutdown of Geocities. But it shouldn't have to come to that. Despite what the Commission's announcement suggests, the maintenance of legacy .eu domains held by British residents and organizations is consistent both with EU regulations, and with previous practice of other domain name registries. We strongly encourage EURid to push back against the European Commission's announcement and affirm that it will be safeguarding these domains following Brexit."

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More under: Domain Names, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Registry Services

Ten Countries Face Significant Internet Disruption After African Coast to Europe Submarine Cable Cut



The ACE (African Coast to Europe) submarine cable that runs along the west coast of Africa between France and South Africa (connecting 22 countries), was damaged on March 30. Reports of problems started appearing in social media over the next several days with 10 of the 22 countries having significant disruptions. David Belson, Oracle's Sr. Director, Internet Research & Analysis, reported today: "While the disruption begins at the same time across all six countries, it is interesting to note that the duration and severity of impact varied widely. The most significant, and longest-lasting disruption was seen in Mauritania, with a complete outage lasting for nearly 48 hours, followed by partial restoration of connectivity. Sierra Leone also saw a significant impact as a result of the cable cut, followed by a complete outage on April 1. However, we believe that the April 1 outage may have been government-directed, related to recent national elections. The differences in duration and severity may be related to the other international Internet connections, via terrestrial cable or satellite, that the providers in these countries have in place, resulting in varying levels of reliance on the ACE cable system."

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More under: Broadband

APNIC Labs Partners with Cloudflare for Joint DNS Research Project


APNIC Labs, the research arm of Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre, is partnering with Cloudflare for a joint research project relating to the operation of the DNS, reports Geoff Huston, APNIC's Chief Scientist. He writes: "Why is a Regional Internet Registry that looks after IP addresses interested in research into the behaviour of the DNS? At APNIC Labs we are deeply interested in the behaviours of underlying infrastructure elements of the Internet, and of course, that includes consideration of DNS names as well as the use of IP Addresses. We believe that names and addresses are critically intertwined on today's Internet. ... We are aware that the DNS has been used to generate malicious denial of service attacks, and we are keen to understand if there are simple and widely deployable measures that can be taken to mitigate such attacks."

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More under: Cybersecurity, DNS, IP Addressing

ICANN CEO "Cautiously Optimistic" EU to Provide Clear Guidance for Domain Industry GDPR Compliance


"ICANN could invoke emergency powers in its contracts to prevent Whois becoming 'fragmented' after EU privacy laws kick in next month," reports Kevin Murphy in Domain Incite. "Marby told us that he's "cautiously optimistic" that European data protection authorities will soon provide clear guidance that will help the domain industry become compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, which becomes fully effective May 25. But he said that a lack of such guidance will lead to a situation where different companies provide different levels of public Whois."

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More under: Domain Management, Domain Names, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Registry Services, Whois

Microsoft Announces $5 Billion Investment in IoT Over the Next Four Years


Microsoft will invest $5 billion in the Internet of Things over the next four years, said Julia White, Corporate Vice President, via a blog post today. She writes: "We're now seeing the kind of increased adoption and exponential growth that analysts have been forecasting for years, and we're just getting started. ... This increased investment will support continued innovation in our technology platform, as well as supporting programs. We will continue research and development in key areas, including securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and the edge, and investments to grow our partner ecosystem. Customers and partners can expect new products and services, offerings, resources and programs."

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More under: Internet of Things

SpaceX Authorized by U.S. Federal Communications Commission to Provide Broadband Satellite Services


(image) Falcon 9 launched in late February carried the first demonstration satellites for SpaceX’s satellite internet constellation (Starlink).

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved an application by Space Exploration Holdings (SpaceX) to provide broadband services using satellite technology in the United States and around the world. "This is the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies," stated FCC in a press release issued on Thursday. Grant Gross reporting from Internet Society writes: "If all goes as planned, Elon Musk's SpaceX will eventually launch 4,425 satellites into orbit with the goal of delivering broadband service to all corners of the Earth. ... Once deployed, the low-Earth orbit satellites will cover the entire United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eventually, provide 'full-time coverage to virtually the entire planet'."

SpaceX expects to have more than 40 million subscribers to its global satellite broadband service by 2025, bringing in over $30 billion in revenue, according to a Wall Street Journal report published last year based on internal company documents it had obtained.

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Wireless

Boeing Says WannaCry Outbreak 'Overstated and Inaccurate'


Various news outlets on Wednesday reported Boeing being hit by the WannaCry virus; the incident had initially triggered a widespread alarm within the company. Boeing feared the virus could hit equipment used in functional tests of airplanes ready to roll out and potentially 'spread to airplane software.' However the company later released a statement saying its network security "detected a limited intrusion of malware that affected a small number of systems," Richard Lawler reports in Engadget. "Even if this occurrence is as controllable as Boeing believes, it's surely not the last time we'll hear about a large organization suddenly locked out of its own computers."

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More under: Cyberattack, Malware

ICANN's GDPR Compliance Model for Whois Unlikely to Be Implemented in Time for May 25 Deadline


Domain name registries and registrars will not be able to implement ICANN's proposed overhaul of the Whois system in time for the EU's General Data Protection Regulation according to an estimated timetable from ICANN. Kevin Murphy reporting from Domain Incite reports: "Depending on the detail of the finalized plan, we could be looking at the back end of 2019 before all the pieces have been put in place. Crucially, the contracted parties warn that designing and rolling out a temporary method for granting Whois access to entities with legitimate interests in the data, such as police and trademark owners, could take a year."

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More under: Domain Names, ICANN, Registry Services, Whois

Close to 20% VPN Providers Reported Leaking Customer IP Addresses via WebRTC Bug


Close to 20% of popular VPN services are reported to be leaking customer's IP address via a WebRTC bug known since January 2015, and which "some VPN providers have never heard of." Catalin Cimpanu reporting in BleepingComputer: "The discovery belongs to Paolo Stagno, a security researcher who goes by the pseudonym of VoidSec, and who recently audited 83 VPN apps on this old WebRTC IP leak. Stagno says he found that 17 VPN clients were leaking the user's IP address while surfing the web via a browser. ... Stagno's code is based on the WebRTC bug discovered in January 2015 by security researcher Daniel Roesler."

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More under: Cybersecurity, IP Addressing, Privacy

Facebook Announces New Privacy and Security Settings Amid Outcry Over Data Collection Practices


In a blog post published today on its website, Facebook has announced it has adjusted its privacy settings in order to give its users more control over their information. The change comes following an outcry over a whistleblower's allegations that members' data was used to sway the 2016 U.S. election. Facebook's Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer, Policy and Ashlie Beringer, VP and Deputy General Counsel: "We've heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed. So in addition to Mark Zuckerberg's announcements last week — cracking down on abuse of the Facebook platform, strengthening our policies, and making it easier for people to revoke apps' ability to use your data — we're taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy. Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance."

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More under: Privacy, Web