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CircleID: News Briefs

Latest news postings on CircleID

Updated: 2016-12-07T18:50:00-08:00


Internet Society Urges for Increased Effort to Address Unprecedented Challenges Facing the Internet


The Internet Society urged the global Internet community to redouble its efforts in addressing the wave of unprecedented challenges facing the Internet during the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations-convened conference taking place in Mexico, 6-9 December. From a press release issued today in Guadalajara, Mexico: "With just under half of the global population expected to be online by the end of 2016, Internet growth rates are slowing, resulting in a deepening digital divide between those with access and those without. Deploying infrastructure, increasing usability and ensuring affordability are critical for expanding Internet access and globally eliminating divisions in society, as are the policy frameworks to enable this. In addition, issues such as blocking of content, privacy, mass surveillance, cybercrime, hacking, and fake news are all contributing to what is now a growing global erosion of trust amongst users."

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Censorship, Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Policy & Regulation, Security

Over $31 Million Stolen by Hackers from Russian Central Bank


Hackers have stolen over 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank, the bank reported today — the latest example of an escalation of cyber attacks on financial institutions around the globe. Reuters reports: "Central bank official Artyom Sychyov discussed the losses at a briefing, saying that the hackers had attempted to steal about 5 billion rubles. Sychyov was commenting on a central bank report released earlier in the day, that told about hackers breaking into accounts there by faking a client's credentials. The bank provided few other details in its lengthy report."

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More under: Cybercrime

Cyberattack Cuts Off Thousands of TalkTalk, Post Office Customers in UK


Thousands of TalkTalk and Post Office customers in the UK have had their Internet access cut by an attack targeting certain types of Internet routers, according to a BBC report on Thursday. "A spokeswoman for the Post Office told the BBC that the problem began on Sunday and had affected about 100,000 of its customers. Talk Talk also confirmed that some of its customers had been affected, and it was working on a fix. It is not yet known who is responsible for the attack. It involves the use of a modified form of the Mirai worm." Last week Germany's Deutsche Telekom reported close to a million of its customers had lost their internet connection as a result of the attack. Mirai was also involved in the historic October attack disrupting world's leading websites.

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More under: Cyberattack, DDoS

Gambia Criticized for Shutting Down Communication Networks on Election Day


(image) Gambia election day – Internet and international calls banned"Communication blackout shatters illusion of freedom during the election," says Amnesty International in a statement on Thursday. Amid blocks on the Internet and other communications networks in Gambia during today's presidential election, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa said: "This is an unjustified and crude attack on the right to freedom of expression in Gambia, with mobile internet services and text messaging cut off on polling day. Shutting down these communication networks shatters the illusion of freedom that had emerged during the two weeks period of the electoral campaign, when restrictions appeared to have been eased. ... Blocks on the internet and other communications networks amount to a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online."

— The election features three candidates, President Yahya Jammeh (APRC, Alliance for Patriotic Reconstruction and Construction), Adama Barrow (Coalition 2016, a coalition of opposition parties) and Mama Kandeh (GDC, Gambian Democratic Congress), in an election that will be won by whoever gains the most votes on 1 December. There is no second round and results are expected on 2 December.

— Govt of Gambia orders Internet blackout ahead of national election. Service down since 20:05 UTC on 30-Nov. Dyn Research / Dec 1


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More under: Censorship

'Avalanche' Network Dismantled in an International Cyber Operation Including Europol and the FBI


Global distribution of Avalanche severs. Source: / See Entire ImageAfter over four years of investigation, the international criminal infrastructure platform known as 'Avalanche' is reported to have been dismantled via a collaborative effort involving Public Prosecutor's Office Verden and the Lüneburg Police (Germany) in close cooperation with the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Department of Justice and the FBI, Europol, Eurojust and global partners. The takedown also required help from INTERPOL, the Shadowserver Foundation, Registrar of Last Resort, ICANN and domain name registries. Additional information below from the official report: — 5 individuals were arrested, 37 premises were searched, and 39 servers were seized. Victims of malware infections were identified in over 180 countries. Also, 221 servers were put offline through abuse notifications sent to the hosting providers. The operation marks the largest-ever use of sinkholing to combat botnet infrastructures and is unprecedented in its scale, with over 800,000 domains seized, sinkholed or blocked. — The Avalanche network was used as a delivery platform to launch and manage mass global malware attacks and money mule recruiting campaigns. It has caused an estimated EUR 6 million in damages in concentrated cyberattacks on online banking systems in Germany alone. — Monetary losses associated with malware attacks conducted over the Avalanche network are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of euros worldwide, although exact calculations are difficult due to the high number of malware families managed through the platform. — What made the 'Avalanche' infrastructure special was the use of the so-called double fast flux technique. The complex setup of the Avalanche network was popular amongst cybercriminals, because of the double fast flux technique offering enhanced resilience to takedowns and law enforcement action. — Malware campaigns that were distributed through this network include around 20 different malware families such as goznym, marcher, matsnu, urlzone, xswkit, and pandabanker. The money mule schemes operating over Avalanche involved highly organised networks of “mules” that purchased goods with stolen funds, enabling cyber-criminals to launder the money they acquired through the malware attacks or other illegal means. — Infographic / Operation Avalanche: Click here to see infographic illustrating the Avalanche operation. The detailed technical infographic also provided here. Additional reports: — Shadowserver: Avalanche Law Enforcement Take Down — Krebs on Security: 'Avalanche' Global Fraud Ring Dismantled Follow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Cybercrime, Malware [...]

Court Dismisses .Web Lawsuit, Says Agreement Not to Sue Is Enforceable


"Judge Percy Anderson of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California has granted ICANN's motion to dismiss in a lawsuit brought by a subsidiary of new TLD company Donuts," reports Andrew Allemann in Domain Name Wire. "Donuts filed a lawsuit because it was upset that Verisign was bankrolling another applicant's bid for the domain. Donuts believed that the applicant, Nu Dot Co, had undergone changes that required updating information with ICANN prior to the auction. ... But new TLD applicants agreed to not sue ICANN. Donuts argued to the court that this covenant not to sue was unenforceable because it was void under California law and unconscionable."

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More under: ICANN, Law, Top-Level Domains

Internet Archive to Build Copy in Canada in Wake of New U.S. Administration


"We are building the Internet Archive of Canada because, to quote our friends at LOCKSS, 'lots of copies keep stuff safe,'" writes founder Brewster Kahle in a blog post on Tuesday. "On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions." The organization is seeking donations for the project which is estimated to cost millions.

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More under: Censorship, Web

Group Creates International Association for Geographic TLDs



The operators of geographic top-level domains such as .nyc, .london, .berlin and .tokyo have founded an international non-for-profit association in Brussels. In a press release issued on Monday, the new association, GeoTLD Group announces plans to promote geographic top-level domains, "ensuring they become essential components of the digital infrastructure, benefiting stakeholders of a location, language or culture." Initial members of the GeoTLD Group include Amsterdam, Cape Town, Paris, Sydney and Vienna.

— "For over 30 years cities and regions have had to peg their digital identities to their respective countries top-level domains or international ones. Brussels, for instance, communicated online as With its own top-level domain, the City of Brussels is now of course using for its branding, locally and internationally."

— "The new digital identities have been well accepted by Internet users and are increasingly used by everyone locally – from governments and local companies, to individuals. With an international association we are now able to connect and promote the interests of our members and engage the different stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally." –GeoTLD Group's Chairman Sébastien Ducos

— The GeoTLD Group says it also plans to make more cities, regions and communities aware of the advantages of their own local Internet identity.

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More under: Top-Level Domains

Facebook Goes Live with Express Wifi in India


According to a new update on Facebook's website on Monday, a service called "Express Wifi" has gone live and plans are in place to expand to other regions soon. Express Wifi is a program that allows carriers, internet service providers, and local entrepreneurs work together, says the company, in order to help expand connectivity to underserved locations around the world. Napier Lopez reporting in TNW writes: "Facebook's Free Basics program — an attempt to bring free internet to developing areas — had quite the messy launch. After getting banned in India, now Facebook is trying a different approach. ... Unlike Free Basics, Express Wifi isn't, well, free. Instead, the program allows customers to purchase affordable data packs for access via Wifi."

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More under: Access Providers

For the First Time Wireless Carriers and Auto Makers Seek Common Ground on Wireless Standards


For the first time auto makers and wireless carriers are actually seeking common ground around the creation of the wireless new standard, writes Roger Lanctot, Associate Director in the Global Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics. "Most interesting of all as far as 5G is concerned is the involvement of the automotive industry in setting and testing the standard. ... In fact, the priorities of auto makers are in the forefront as the use cases are particularly suited to safety and smart city applications." However, Lanctot points out that disagreement among wireless experts could influence implementation outcomes. "The resulting confusion threatens to impede the adoption of new technologies as car makers, in particular, may cling to more familiar solutions."

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More under: Wireless

Germany's Leading ISP Deutsche Telekom Under Cyberattack, Close to 900K Customers Affected


Close to a million Deutsche Telekom customers have had trouble getting online since Sunday afternoon which the company on Monday confirmed to be the result of an "outside" attack. Around 900,000 customers with specific routers are reported to have been affected. "According to our knowledge, an attack on maintenance interfaces is currently taking place worldwide," reported to company on Monday. "This was also confirmed by the Federal Office for Information Security. Following the latest findings, routers of Deutsche Telekom costumers were affected by an attack from outside. Our network was not affected at any time. The attack attempted to infect routers with a malware but failed which caused crashes or restrictions for four to five percent of all routers. This led to a restricted use of Deutsche Telekom services for affected customers. We implemented a series of filter measures to our network."

Update, Nov 29: "German internet outage was failed botnet attempt," Eric Auchard reporting in Reuters from Frankfurt: "Deutsche Telekom's head of IT Security Thomas Thchersich told the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that the outages appeared to be tied to a botched attempt to turn a sizeable number of customers' routers into a part of the Mirai botnet."

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More under: Cyberattack, Malware

BITAG Outlines Steps to Dramatically Improve the Security and Privacy of IoT Devices


Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) today released a report outlining a set of guidelines it believes could dramatically improve the security and privacy of IoT devices and minimize the costs associated with the collateral damage that would otherwise affect both end users and ISPs. The report has also warned that unless manufacturers and distributors of IoT devices improve device security and privacy, consumer backlash may impede the growth of the IoT marketplace and ultimately limit the promise IoT holds. Other observations made in the report include: Insecure Communications: Many of the security functions designed for more general-purpose computing devices are difficult to implement on IoT devices and a number of security flaws have been identified in the field, including unencrypted communications and data leaks from IoT devices. Data Leaks: IoT devices may leak private user data, both from the cloud (where data is stored) and between IoT devices themselves. Potential for Service Disruption: The potential loss of availability or connectivity not only diminishes the functionality of IoT devices, but also may degrade the security of devices in some cases, such as when an IoT device can no longer function without such connectivity (e.g., a home alarm system deactivating if connectivity is lost). Device Replacement May be an Alternative to Software Updates — for Inexpensive or "Disposable" Devices: In some cases, replacing a device entirely may be an alternative to software updates. Certain IoT devices may be so inexpensive that updating software may be impractical or not cost-effective. BITAG Technical Working Group has provided a number of recommendations which including: IoT Devices Should Be Restrictive Rather Than Permissive in Communicating: When possible, devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. IoT devices should not rely on the network firewall alone to restrict communication, as some communication between devices within the home may not traverse the firewall. IoT Devices Should Continue to Function if Internet Connectivity is Disrupted: IoT device should be able to perform its primary function or functions (e.g., a light switch or a thermostat should continue to function with manual controls), even if it is not connected to the Internet. IoT Devices Should Continue to Function If the Cloud Back-End Fails: Many services that depend on or use a cloud back-end can continue to function, even if in a degraded or partially functional state when connectivity to the cloud back-end is interrupted or the service itself fails. IoT Devices Should Support Addressing and Naming Best Practices: Many IoT devices may remain deployed for a number of years after they are installed. Supporting the latest protocols such as IPv6 for addressing and naming will ensure that these devices remain functional for years to come. IoT devices should also support the use or validation of DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) when domain names are used. The lead editors of were Jason Livingood, Vice President of Technology Policy & Standards at Comcast and Nick Feamster, Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. Douglas Sicker, Executive Director of BITAG, Chair of BITAG's Technical Working Group, Department Head of Engineering and Public Policy and a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, chaired the review itself. Follow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Cyberattack, Internet of Things, Security [...]

Dyn Acquired by Oracle


Oracle this morning announced agreement to acquire Dyn, leading cloud-based Internet Performance and DNS provider. Dyn, which recently gained substantial media attention as a result of a historic cyberattack, drives 40 billion traffic optimization decisions daily for more than 3,500 enterprise customers, including preeminent digital brands such as Netflix, Twitter, Pfizer and CNBC. With the acquisition, Oracle says it will extend its cloud computing platform and provide enterprise customers with a one-stop shop for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).

There are no official announcements on the sale price however Dan Primack says it is just north of $600 million. Primack adds, "takeover talks between Oracle and Dyn began 'well before' the DDoS attack ... the incident had 'no impact' on the sale price but 'was a good test of the system's resilience as it was able to withstand the largest attack in history.'"

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More under: DNS

Russian Security Firm Kaspersky Announces Its Own Secure OS, 14 Years in the Making


Kaspersky introducing its own operating system, "with not even the slightest smell of Linux.""I've anticipated this day for ages — the day when the first commercially available mass market hardware device based on our own secure operating system landed on my desk," writes Eugene Kaspersky, Chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, in a blog post introducing company's layer 3 switch powered by Kaspersky OS. Kaspersky believes the OS will be "ideal for applications where a small, optimized and secure platform is required" — particularly when it comes to Internet of Things. The operating system is said to have three key distinctive features that set it apart. Kaspersky writes: — First, it's based on microkernel architecture, which allows to assemble 'from blocks' different modifications of the operating system depending on a customer's specific requirements. — Second, there's a built-in security system, which controls the behavior of applications and the OS's modules. In order to hack this platform, a cyber-baddie would need to break the digital signature, which — any time before the introduction of quantum computers — would be exorbitantly expensive. — Third, everything has been built from scratch. Anticipating your questions: not even the slightest smell of Linux. All the popular operating systems aren't designed with security in mind, so it's simpler and safer to start from the ground up and do everything correctly. Which is just what we did. The project nicknamed '11-11', started 14 years ago on November 11 when the company held its first meeting and took its time to gradually build momentum. "The question to which we were searching for an answer was this: how can we build an operating system that will be impossible to hack in principle?" recalls Kaspersky. No matter how difficult, he adds, it is better "to build IoT/infrastructure devices from the very beginning in such a way that hacking them is practically impossible." Follow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Cyberattack, Internet of Things, Security [...]

Microsoft's Datacenter in Wyoming Powered Entirely by Wind Energy


Microsoft has announced the purchase of its largest wind energy to date — 237 megawatts of wind energy — which will, in turn, allow its datacenter in Cheyenne, Wyoming to be powered entirely by wind power. These latest purchases bring Microsoft’s total purchase of wind energy in the U.S. to more than 500 megawatts, wrote Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer in a blog post. According to Microsoft's announcement earlier this year, roughly 44 percent of its electricity consumption by its datacenters comes from wind, solar and hydropower, and the company has expressed commitment to raising this to 50 percent by 2018, 60 percent by early in the next decade.

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More under: Data Center

German Minister: Facebook Should Be Treated as Media Company, Held Criminally Liable for Hate Speech


Germany's Justice Minister says Facebook should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform, suggesting he favors moves to make social media groups criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech. Caroline Copley reporting from Berlin in Reuters: "Under a program that runs until March, German authorities are monitoring how many racist posts reported by Facebook users are deleted within 24 hours. Justice Minister Heiko Maas has pledged to take legislative measures if the results are still unsatisfactory by then. Maas has said the European Union needs to decide whether platform companies should be treated like radio or television stations, which can be held accountable for the content they publish."

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More under: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Web

FCC Drops Every Major Item from the Agenda


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has taken all rulemakings off agenda a day after the Republican Party lawmakers' request. Jon Brodkin reporting in Ars Technica: "The Federal Communications Commission has deleted every major item from the agenda of its monthly meeting, apparently submitting to a request from Republicans to halt major rulemakings until Donald Trump is inaugurated as president. ... Wheeler's office hadn't said whether it will comply with the request, but today it announced the deletion of all items that were originally scheduled to be presented and voted on at tomorrow's meeting."

Update, 4:56 PM: "Dem senator slams GOP's request to FCC chair," Ali Breland reporting in The Hill: "Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on Wednesday blasted GOP calls for Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to avoid action on "controversial items" until the new administration. 'Blind and visually impaired individuals will suffer because Republicans and their allies on the Commission will not allow a vote to expand the amount of video-described programming available,' Markey said in a statement Wednesday."

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More under: Internet Governance, Net Neutrality, Policy & Regulation

Several Models of Android Devices Discovered Collecting and Transmitting Sensitive Personal Data


Several models of Android mobile devices discovered containing firmware that collect sensitive personal data about their users and transmitted this sensitive data to third-party servers without disclosure or the users' consent. The report comes from mobile application security and intelligence firm, Kryptowire — an offshoot of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Department of Homeland Security. From the report: "These devices actively transmitted user and device information including the full-body of text messages, contact lists, call history with full telephone numbers, unique device identifiers including the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI). The firmware could target specific users and text messages matching remotely defined keywords. The firmware also collected and transmitted information about the use of applications installed on the monitored device, bypassed the Android permission model, executed remote commands with escalated (system) privileges, and was able to remotely reprogram the devices."

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More under: Malware, Privacy

Akamai: DDoS Attacks Increased 71 Percent in Q3 2016 as Compared to Q3 2015



Akamai releases its Third Quarter, 2016 State of the Internet / Security Report, providing analysis of the current cloud security and threat landscape, including insight into two record setting DDoS attacks caused by the Mirai botnet.

The year of harbinger attacks: "Every couple of years the industry faces what could be considered 'harbinger attacks', where the size and scope of a security event are radically different than what has come before," says Martin McKeay, Akamai's senior security advocate and senior editor. "I believe the industry faced its latest 'harbinger' with the Mirai botnet. The Mirai botnet also made concrete the industry's fear that Internet of Things (IoT) and other Internet-connected devices could be used for both web application and DDoS attacks, illustrating the need for device manufacturers to place a greater emphasis on security."

Historical perspective: "Election Day traffic on Akamai in 2004 peaked at a relatively modest 21 Gbps. The 2009 Obama inauguration reached 1.1 Tbps and the Royal Wedding in 2011 hit 1.3 Tbps. More recently, the first 2016 Presidential debate peaked at 4.4 Tbps in September."

"The two largest DDoS attacks this quarter, both leveraging the Mirai botnet, were the biggest observed by Akamai to-date — recorded at 623 Gbps and 555 Gbps."

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More under: Cyberattack, DDoS, Security