Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Android Alert: Surveillance Malware Infects Telegram App

A new family of malware capable of comprehensive surveillance is targeting Android devices through the encrypted messaging app Telegram, according to research from antivirus vendor ESET.

The malware – which has mostly been distributed in Iran – ensnares its victims by posing as an application pledging more social media followers, bitcoin, or free Internet connections, according to ESET. Once downloaded, the malware can carry out surveillance tasks ranging from intercepting text messages to recording audio and screen images from devices, ESET researcher Lukas Stefanko explained in a blog post.

Each compromised device is controlled via a bot that the attacker commandeers via Telegram, which recently boasted 200 million monthly users.

Attackers can control victimized devices by simply tapping the buttons available in the version of the malware they are operating,” Stefanko wrote.

Such nefarious programs have been knocking on Google Play’s door in droves: With the help of machine learning, security specialists removed 700,000 malicious apps from the store last year. more

For Sale: Your Whereabouts

Verizon and AT&T have promised to stop selling their mobile customers' location information to third-party data brokers following a security problem that leaked the real-time location of US cell phone users.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) recently urged all four major carriers to stop the practice, and today he published responses he received from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint.

Wyden's statement praised Verizon for "taking quick action to protect its customers' privacy and security," but he criticized the other carriers for not making the same promise.

"After my investigation and follow-up reports revealed that middlemen are selling Americans' location to the highest bidder without their consent or making it available on insecure Web portals, Verizon did the responsible thing and promptly announced it was cutting these companies off," Wyden said. "In contrast, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint seem content to continuing to sell their customers' private information to these shady middle men, Americans' privacy be damned." more

Tesla's Sabotage / Espionage Wake-Up Call

Tesla has routed out a saboteur who changed code on internal products and exfiltrated data to outsiders, damaging company operations and possibly causing a fire, CEO Elon Musk told employees in an email...

Musk wrote in an email obtained by CNBC. “This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.”

While Musk said Tesla doesn't know the full extent of the employee's actions, “what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad,”...

“Trusted users always pose the highest risk as they have the means and only lack the motivation. In this instance, the motivation sounds personal, and that is quite often the case in corporate sabotage,” said Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra. “It is not clear how this event was detected, but it sounds like it was discovered after the damage already occurred and there is still work to uncover the extent of that damage.”

Whether addressing a rogue insider or an outsider who has gained access to employee credentials, he said, “enterprises benefit from internal monitoring that can detect suspicious behavior in order to prevent damage,” more

Thursday, June 14, 2018

World Cup Tip - Leave Your Electronics at Home

The top U.S. counterintelligence agent has warned Americans traveling to Russia for the 2018 World Cup against taking any electronics with them, saying soccer fans could be targeted by hackers.

William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a Tuesday statement that even those who see themselves as insignificant could become victims of Russian spying.

“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or another electronic device with you—make no mistake—any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” Evanina said, according to Reuters. more

Three Tips for Protecting a Business's Passwords

One of the common areas we see companies and technology groups struggling to manage securely and effectively is… passwords.  We know we need them (passwords), we know they need to be “secure”, and we know they’re a pain in the neck to keep organized.  That’s exacerbated exponentially when you factor in shared passwords and accounts for teams.
Tip 1:  Quit Using Excel to Manage Your Passwords...
Tip 2:  Know All of Your Org’s Accounts...
Tip 3:  Know Your Password Security Options...

Read the full details about each tip at

Cell Phone Passcode of 1+2+3+4 = 18 Years in Prison

A man serving 18 years in prison in South Carolina for burglary was rightfully convicted in part because he left his cellphone at the crime scene and a detective guessed his passcode as 1-2-3-4 instead of getting a warrant, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Lawyers for Lamar Brown argued detectives in Charleston violated Brown’s right to privacy by searching his phone without a warrant.

After storing the cellphone in an evidence locker for six days in December 2011, the detective guessed right on Brown’s easy passcode, found a contact named “grandma” and was able to work his way back to Brown.

The justices ruled in a 4-1 decision that Brown abandoned his phone at the Charleston home and made no effort to find it. The law allows police to look at abandoned property without a court-issued warrant allowing a search. more

X-Ray Vision Using Wi-Fi

The Machines now have X-ray vision. A new piece of software has been trained to use wifi signals — which pass through walls, but bounce off living tissue — to monitor the movements, breathing, and heartbeats of humans on the other side of those walls. The researchers say this new tech’s promise lies in areas like remote healthcare, particularly elder care, but it’s hard to ignore slightly more dystopian applications.

Click to enlarge.
 While it’s easy to think of this new technology as a futuristic Life Alert® monitor, it’s worth noting that at least one member of the research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology behind the innovation has previously received funding from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Another also presented work at a security research symposium curated by a c-suite member of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s high-tech venture capital firm.

Inverse recently caught up with project’s leader Dina Katabi, a 2013 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow who teaches electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, to talk about how the new tech may be used... more

Auction - Original artwork from Carry On Spying (1964)

Original artwork from Carry On Spying (1964) and Carry On Cowboy (1965) will go under the hammer with an estimate of £2,000 - 3,000 and £3,000 - 5,000 respectively

Both artwork pieces were illustrated by legendary British cinema poster designer, Tom Chantrell of Star Wars fame.

The auction will be live-streamed online for fans to track the bidding on auction day. Registration and bidding is now open. Bids can be placed online at, over the phone or in person.

Prop Store's Cinema Poster Live Auction is on Thursday 28th June.  more

Friday, June 8, 2018

U.S. Embassy in China Sends Alert About Mystery Health Issue

The U.S. Embassy in China sent its second alert in two weeks Friday to its citizens over unexplained health issues that have prompted the evacuation of a number of U.S. government employees working at a consulate in a southern city...

The incidents have raised fears the unexplained issues that started in Cuba in 2016 have expanded to other countries. China says it has uncovered no information that could point to a cause...

Friday's alert called for people to be attentive of symptoms including "dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, ear complaints and hearing loss, and difficulty sleeping." It urged them "not to attempt to locate the source of any unidentified auditory sensation. Instead, move to a different location." more

Two theories. One solution.

A new theory.
Attackers can cause potentially harmful hard drive and operating system crashes by playing sounds...

The attacks use sonic and ultrasonic sounds to disrupt magnetic HDDs as they read or write data. The researchers showed how the technique could stop some video-surveillance systems from recording live streams. Just 12 seconds of specially designed acoustic interference was all it took to cause video loss in a 720p system made by Ezviz. Sounds that lasted for 105 seconds or more caused the stock Western Digital 3.5 HDD in the device to stop recording altogether until it was rebooted.

U.S. to Thwart Spying at Singapore Summit with TSCM Bug Sweeps

U.S. officials say they are preparing to counter the Chinese spies they expect to be all over Singapore next week seeking inside information on the talks.

The Chinese, who have been known to bug everything from hotel keys to the gifts given to American visitors, are expected to deploy their increasingly sophisticated repertoire of intelligence gathering techniques, both human and electronic, in Singapore.

Areas of concern for the U.S. at the summit include:
  • U.S. officials are concerned China has recruited informants among the waiters and other staff in Singapore’s restaurants and bars, who are paid to eavesdrop on American customers and report back to their Chinese handlers.
  • Officials also expect electronic surveillance of the summit meeting sites. Americans will sweep for bugs (TSCM) in rooms at the Capello Hotel that could be used for side discussions, and could erect tents inside hotel meeting rooms to block any concealed cameras from viewing classified documents.
  • Chinese intelligence agencies have shown the ability to penetrate mobile phones even when they are off, and U.S. officials are now told to take their batteries out when they are concerned about eavesdropping, according to a U.S. intelligence official.
According to three U.S. officials, in one recent case a top U.S. official working in China repeatedly had trouble with his hotel key card. He had to replace it several times at the front desk because it wouldn’t open his door.

He brought one of the key cards back to the U.S., where security officials found a microphone embedded inside, according to the U.S. officials.

The Chinese have placed listening and tracking devices in chips embedded in credit cards, key chains, jewelry, and even event credentials, the officials said, often with the intent of capturing secret conversations among American officials. more

You can be sure same eavesdropping techniques and technology are being used for economic espionage here in the U.S. 

Fortunately, savvy private sector businesses are successfully employing similar Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) bug sweeps on a regular basis. Businesses that do not are getting their intellectual property pockets picked. ~Kevin

Woman Faces 4 Years in Jail, in Siberia, for GPS-Tracking Her Partner

Russia - A woman is facing up to four years in jail after trying to spy on her husband using a hidden GPS tracking and recording device.

The 33-year-old resident of Russia’s Siberian region of Omsk bought the GPS tracker online and installed the device in her husband's car as she suspected him of infidelity, according to a statement by Russia’s Investigative Committee.

After listening to her partner's comings and goings for “several months,” the woman, whose name has not been released by authorities, decided to sell the device online for 1,000 rubles ($16). It was during the money handover that police arrested the woman and charged her with “illegal acquisition and sale of special technical equipment intended for secretly receiving information," state news agency RIA Novosti reported. more

Click-bait headline, of course. The woman was already in Siberia. Which, reminds me of a 12 year old cut-up classmate in my math class. Teachers would try to give him a detention because of his antics, but for the longest time he wiggled out of them. "My mother is coming home from the hospital today. I can't stay." He fooled a lot of teachers, for many months, until they learned his mother was a nurse. ~Kevin

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

136 Old NSA Security Posters

In the 1950s and 1960s, the NSA made a bunch of posters to remind its employees that security is the most important thing, and that they must work hard to protect the country’s most important secrets.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request by the transparency site Government Attic, we can now see these quaint, sometimes hilarious, but also menacing, posters.

Here are all the 136 posters the NSA released. We’ve chosen a few that we thought were the best ones. Some of them are cutesy, some are kind of lame, others are dark and dystopian, and others are straight up incredible. more

Don't it just give you, "The locking pneumonia and floppy-copy flue."

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Stingrays in Washington DC Attacking Cell Phones – How they Work

A federal study found signs that surveillance devices for intercepting cellphone calls and texts were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year...

The discovery bolsters years of independent research suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation’s capital. Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers — sometimes known by one popular brand name, StingRay — are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services, including for such geopolitical rivals as Russia and China...

 The devices work by simulating cell towers to trick nearby phones into connecting, allowing the IMSI catchers to collect calls, texts and data streams. Unlike some other forms of cellphone interception, IMSI catchers must be near targeted devices to work.

When they are in range, IMSI catchers also can deliver malicious software to targeted devices for the purpose of stealing information stored on them or conducting longer-term monitoring of communications. more
Smartphone Security Tips