Germany’s intelligence agency accused Russia of deploying cyberattacks against the country, including the spread of propaganda and attempts to destabilize the government. And why not? As we’ve noted before, if the US election taught Putin anything it’s that hacking really can make an impact.
That’s all the more reason to fully investigate Russia’s disruptive role in our election, which this week President Obama, two members of Congress, and prominent GOP Senator Lindsey Graham all did. Of course, as with Obama’s comprehensive cybersecurity plan, anything actionable will likely fall to the Trump administration. And elsewhere in potentially hostile foreign powers, we took a look at incredibly detailed 3-D renders of North Korea’s secretive space command center.
Also this week, secure chat app Wickr introduced an encrypted, self-destructive Slack alternative, while IBM Watson for Cybersecurity took off the training wheels, and is now fighting cybercrime for actual companies. And if we have to leave you with just one piece of advice, let it be this: Don’t trust third-party stores for Android apps. Ever. Just don’t.
And theres more. Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didnt break or cover in depth but that still deserve your attention. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there.
Apparently not content to stop at the US election, Russia has set its eyes on Germany next, according to that countrys intelligence agency. The BfV noted an uptick in propaganda campaigns being used to spread misinformation, with the ultimate intention of destabilizing the government and empowering extremist forces. If that sounds familiar, keep in mind that Germany also has an election of its own coming up next year, likely in September. Which is to say, dont expect this to end any time soon.
Add popular video site DailyMotion to the ever-increasing list of prominent websites fallen victim to a hack. This time, information from 85 million user accounts was stolen. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but the modest upside is that only a small percentage of those had any information attached to them beyond an email address. The 18 million records with passwords listed are hashed with a strong algorithm, making them difficult—though not impossible—to expose. No other personal information is at risk, which means that while this is still bad news, its not quite as devastating as, say, the 360-million-strong Myspace hack that came to light this spring. https://www.wired.com/2016/05/hack-brief-old-myspace-account-just-came-back-haunt/
The NSAs brain drain continues apace. In a talk this past Tuesday, former NSA director Keith Alexander said that people were increasingly leaving in large numbers, citing high salaries and private cybersecurity firms as a major retention impediment. Thats been an issue for years, but a report from CyberScoop https://www.cyberscoop.com/nsa-morale-down-keith-alexander-mike-rogers/ claims that its gotten significantly worse in recent months. Whats less clear is how to reverse the brain drain, and what its implications are for US security going forward.
Malware of any stripe is bad, but sometimes you can still tip your cap at ingenuity. Researchers at Eset this week revealed code that managed to hide itself in a heavily modified version of open-source traffic-measuring package Countly. Thats how it hitched a ride on various ad networks, which couldnt spot anything malicious in the code. The only indication of its presence is that it subtly changed the transparency of individual pixels, making it practically invisible to the human eye. It only targeted a subset of people using both Internet Explorer an unpatched Flash, but still, clever should get its due.
Matthew Bryant this week detailed how a DNS vulnerability that had been identified at cloud service provider Digital Ocean was also an issue at several similar companies, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud DNS, and Rackspace. In practice, it lets an attacker take over a domain and use it for malware or spam campaigns. At least 120,000 domains were implicated, though Bryant says most companies he reached out to were responsive about patching. Except Rackspace, which basically shrugged it off. But dont worry! If youre a Rackspace customers, Bryant also explains how to protect yourself.