Monday, February 13, 2017

It’s not just Russia. 
Malware Attacks on Polish Banks Linked to Lazarus Group
BadCyber reported earlier this month that the systems of several Polish banks had been infected with a new piece of malware.  The attackers hijacked the website of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority ( and abused it to deliver malware to its visitors.
While there is no evidence that money has been stolen from banks or their customers, some of the organizations whose systems have been infected have noticed large outgoing data transfers.
   Several high profile attacks have been attributed to the Lazarus Group, including the 2014 attack on Sony, and the Dark Seoul and Operation Troy campaigns.  The actor has targeted government, military, media, aerospace, financial and manufacturing organizations primarily in South Korea and the United States.
Researchers also discovered links between Lazarus and an attack on a bank in the Philippines believed to have been carried out by the same cybercriminals that stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s Central Bank.

“Welcome home, comrade citizen.  E-Papers please.” 
A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone
Bikkannavar says he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol and pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN.  Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared.  Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.  
   The officer also presented Bikkannavar with a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” and explained that CBP had authority to search his phone.  Bikkannavar did not want to hand over the device, because it was given to him by JPL and is technically NASA property.  He even showed the officer the JPL barcode on the back of phone.  Nonetheless, CBP asked for the phone and the access PIN.  “I was cautiously telling him I wasn’t allowed to give it out, because I didn’t want to seem like I was not cooperating,” says Bikkannavar.  “I told him I’m not really allowed to give the passcode; I have to protect access.  But he insisted they had the authority to search it.”
   “In each incident that I’ve seen, the subjects have been shown a Blue Paper that says CBP has legal authority to search phones at the border, which gives them the impression that they’re obligated to unlock the phone, which isn’t true,” Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of CAIR Florida, told The Verge.  “They’re not obligated to unlock the phone.”
Nevertheless, Bikkannavar was not allowed to leave until he gave CBP his PIN.
   Eventually, the phone was returned to Bikkannavar, though he’s not sure what happened during the time it was in the officer’s possession.  When it was returned he immediately turned it off because he knew he had to take it straight to the IT department at JPL.  Once he arrived in Los Angeles, he went to NASA and told his superiors what had happened.  Bikkannavar can’t comment on what may or may not have been on the phone, but he says the cybersecurity team at JPL was not happy about the breach.  Bikkannavar had his phone on hand while he was traveling in case there was a problem at work that needed his attention, but NASA employees are obligated to protect work-related information, no matter how minuscule.  We reached out to JPL for comment, but the center didn’t comment on the event directly.

Man jailed 16 months, and counting, for refusing to decrypt hard drives
He’s not charged with a crime.  US judge demands he help prosecutors build their case.

Fancy AI stuff.  Would they solve the ‘student dilemma?’  (Do what I say or flunk!) 
Google's DeepMind puts AI agents in Prisoner's Dilemma to see if they fight or cooperate
DeepMind, the Alphabet owned subsidiary working of Google’s ambitious artificial intelligence projects, recently published a new study, which explores how AI agents handle situations involving social dilemmas.  To describe the phenomenon, researchers at DeepMind refer to the age-old game of Prisoner’s Dilemma.

The world, she is a-changing.
FedEx takes on Amazon with the new FedEx Fulfillment program
For the last several months, when we’ve mentioned Amazon and FedEx in the same sentence, it’s been to report on how the online retail company has been encroaching upon the shipment firm’s space.  After all, Amazon now has its own fleet of airplanes, ships, and more.  But now the tables are making a bit of a turn.  Earlier this week, FedEx announced the launch of FedEx Fulfillment, a new network geared towards small and medium-sized businesses that will allow them to store their goods at FedEx warehouses across the United States and Canada.  The global shipment company then sends packages off to their final destinations when customers place orders.

The economics of minimum wage?
Minimum Wage and Corporate Policy
by on
Gustafson, Matthew and Kotter, Jason D., Minimum Wage and Corporate Policy (January 2017).  Available for download at SSRN:
“We provide evidence that minimum wage changes significantly affect the investment and financing policies of labor intensive public firms.  
   Difference-in-differences estimates indicate that labor intensive firms in bound state-years respond to federal minimum wage increases by quickly and significantly reducing both investment and leverage, relative to similar labor intensive firms in other states.  

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