Thursday, July 27, 2017

My students have been discussing this.  They were shocked that government “managers” go off so lightly. 
Sweden Data Scandal Costs Two Ministers Their Jobs
Two Swedish ministers lost their jobs on Thursday over a huge leak of sensitive data that has rocked the fragile centre-left government.
But Prime Minister Stefan Lofven vowed he would be staying on despite speculation he could call a snap election.
Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, a political heavyweight previously seen as a likely future prime minister, has resigned, Lofven said at a press conference, adding that Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson will also step down.
   The scandal has blown up in recent weeks after it emerged that an entire database on Swedish drivers' licences was made available to technicians in the Czech Republic and Romania, with media reporting that the identities of intelligence agents may have been jeopardised.
   Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist kept his job in the reshuffle despite facing claims that, like the interior minister, he knew about the scandal but failed to tell the premier.
However, Hultqvist still faces the threat of being forced out in a censure motion launched by the opposition on Wednesday against all three ministers caught up in the scandal.

Interesting because Diebold also make voting machines.
Critical Vulnerability Found in Diebold ATM Machine
Seattle-based IOActive has issued a critical security advisory detailing a physical and authentication bypass in the Diebold Opteva ATM.
"IOActive has discovered two vulnerabilities in Opteva ATMs with the AFD platform that, when combined," warns the advisory "may allow an unauthorized user to vend notes from the device."
The combined use of the vulnerabilities is necessary because of ATMs' practice of separating the safe from the operating system. Diebold's Opteva line of ATMs with the AFD platform contain an upper cabinet for the operating system and a lower cabinet for the safe, each with its own authentication requirements.

Without hard currency, Kim can’t buy luxury goods.
North Korea’s Army of Hackers Has a New Target: Bank Accounts — “Operates Like Organized Crime”
North Korea’s cyberarmy has splintered into multiple groups and is unleashing orchestrated attacks increasingly focused on funneling stolen funds to the secretive nation, according to a government-backed South Korean report released Thursday.
The emphasis on finances represents a significant shift from Pyongyang’s prior patterns of attack seeking to obtain military information, destabilize networks or intimidate.  It also shows how North Korea’s fast-evolving—but costly—nuclear-missile program has accelerated its need for cash as it is subjected to financial sanctions.
   “North Korea now cares more about making money than causing disruptions or cyberterrorism,” said Joon Kim, owner of Naru Security Inc., who has advised South Korean law enforcement on cyber issues.
South Koreans have a unique lens into North Korea’s cyberoffenses, as Pyongyang’s longest-running and most frequent target.  South Korean government groups and agencies withstand 1.4 million hacking attempts a day, according to law-enforcement and intelligence officials.

Interesting paraphrase of “Those who do not study history…”
Those who fail to pay attention are often the first to succumb to new hacks and scams
   Scammers, having noted that mobile traffic is now greater than PC traffic on a worldwide scale, are starting to adapt their techniques to take advantage of mobile users.  And seeing as how mobile devices tend to be less protected than PCs, this is a winning move for them.
   Here’s an example URL from PhishLabs:
Visiting the site presents you with an exact replica of the actual mobile version of Facebook’s homepage, asking you to enter your credentials so you can log in.  A knowledgeable-but-inattentive user might glance at the URL, see, consider the coast clear, and sign in.
Once you enter your credentials, the game is over.
   Keen readers will note that the actual domain of this suspicious URL is

Fight back against ransomware.
NoMoreRansom Says 28,000 Victim Devices Decrypted
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the NoMoreRansom project.  The project comprises an alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry, currently totaling 109 partners.  Its purpose is to gather all known ransomware decryptors in one location (the NoMoreRansom website) so that ransomware victims can at least attempt to decrypt encrypted files.
The project was launched on July 25, 2016 by the Dutch National Police, Europol, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab and now holds access to 54 decryption tools provided by 9 partners and covering 104 ransomware families.  The site itself is available in 26 languages.

How might we use these techniques other than in elections? 
Russian Spies Used Facebook To Trick Macron Allies: Report
The Kremlin has long denied French President Emmanuel Macron's allegations of Russian subterfuge during his election campaign, but three different sources, including a U.S. congressman, have now told Reuters that an attempted surveillance operation on Macron did take place on social media.
According to the report, around two dozen Facebook accounts were created in the run-up to the election in attempts to infiltrate Macron's social circles, likely with malicious intent.
   During the alleged operation, Russian agents posed as people with common acquaintances of Macron’s associates and sought personal information about the candidate’s social life.
   Macron’s campaign suspected Russian intervention when his team was the target of a hack days before the election earlier this year, though French authorities have so far not blamed the cyberattack on any government.
U.S. intelligence agencies told Reuters in May that hackers with connections to the Russian government were involved in the French election, but they did not have conclusive evidence that the Kremlin ordered the hacking.

(Related).  Somewhat of a “Users Guide.”  Who would you like to be elected President in 2020?
Paper – The spread of fake news by social bots
by on
The spread of fake news by social bots, Chengcheng Shao, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Onur Varol, Alessandro Flammini, and Filippo Menczer. Indiana University, Bloomington. July 24, 2017.
“The massive spread of fake news has been identified as a major global risk and has been alleged to influence elections and threaten democracies.  Communication, cognitive, social, and computer scientists are engaged in efforts to study the complex causes for the viral diffusion of digital misinformation and to develop solutions, while search and social media platforms are beginning to deploy countermeasures.  However, to date, these efforts have been mainly informed by anecdotal evidence rather the systematic data.  Here we analyze 14 million messages spreading 400 thousand claims on Twitter during and following the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and election.  We find evidence that social bots play a key role in the spread of fake news.  Accounts that actively spread misinformation are significantly more likely to be bots.  Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users.  Humans are vulnerable to this manipulation, retweeting bots who post false news.  Successful sources of false and biased claims are heavily supported by social bots.  These results suggests that curbing social bots may be an effective strategy for mitigating the spread of online misinformation.” [via Pete Weiss]

Ensuring that no one interferes with Mark Zuckerberg’s run in 2020?  
Facebook funds Harvard group trying to fight election hacking
   The social media giant’s money will go to Defending Digital Democracy, a group led by former campaign chairs for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, based at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
   At Black Hat, an IT security conference, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said the project was born out of the company realizing that no one was taking responsibility for issues of election hacking.
   Facebook's efforts in the space come after CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially downplayed the platform being used as a mechanism to try to influence the election. 
"To think [Facebook] influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea," Zuckerberg said last November after the election.

X rays probably won’t kill your laptop. 
TSA to require electronics larger than cellphones be X-rayed
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced Wednesday that travelers will now be required to place all electronics larger than a cellphone into separate bins in order to receive X-ray screening.
It’s the latest move from the Trump administration as it looks to ramp up national security.
   The policy will not apply to passengers enrolled in TSA’s PreCheck program, and there have not been any changes to what is allowed in carry-on bags.

Is this what will replace Obamacare?
Amazon has a secret health care team called 1492 focused on medical records, virtual doc visits
   The new team is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems.  If successful, Amazon could make that information available to consumers and their doctors.  It is also hoping to build a platform for telemedicine, which in turn could make it easier for people to have virtual consultations with doctors, one of the people said.  

Interesting when viewed with the next article.
Meg Whitman leaves HP's board

(Related).  How bad does Meg want this job? 
Uber’s New CEO Short List Is Said to Include HPE’s Meg Whitman

WhatsApp: Now one billion people send 55 billion messages per day
The eight-year old messaging app WhatsApp is now used by one billion people every day.
WhatsApp reached the one billion active monthly user milestone a year ago, and now has 1.3 billion monthly active users, most of whom use it daily, according to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp shared the daily active user numbers in a blogpost along with other metrics showing how people use the app following Facebook's Q2 2017 earnings yesterday.

Perspective.  What works well on desktops is not as handy on Smartphones, the new hardware environment.
Google is killing Instant Search, which rendered search results in realtime as you typed.  The problem, according to Google, is we all now do most of our searching on smartphones, and Instant Search makes no sense on smartphones.  So killing the feature is the only sensible option.

On occasion, I find small companies that strike me as potentially important.  This might be one.
WalkMe raises $75M at a ‘$935M’ valuation for its on-screen guidance tech
Today, WalkMe — company that has built a cloud-based platform for businesses to make web and mobile interfaces and experiences easier to navigate with on-screen guidance and prompts — has raised $75 million.
   WalkMe’s core premise is that it builds tools to make a business’s software and apps more usable by its employees and customers.  When it was still a young company, back in 2012, I snarkily compared it to Microsoft’s Clippy, for its mission of offering assistance and helping show users around different features.
In reality, WalkMe’s platform is more powerful and complex than this: it observes how a user makes his or her way around a page on the screen, anticipates what that user might want to do next and notices when there are problems, and then makes suggestions and other helpful nudges.
It taps into the constant issues that business and software makers have with UX and UI that keep products from being ultilised quite how people hope they will be.

Stocking my Digital Forensics toolkit.
FireEye Releases Free Malware Analysis Toolbox
   FLARE VM – where FLARE stands for FireEye Labs Advanced Reverse Engineering – is a Windows-based security distribution inspired by Linux distros such as Kali and REMnux.  It was developed by FireEye threat researcher Peter Kacherginsky in order to address the challenges associated with maintaining a custom VM.
It provides a platform that includes a comprehensive collection of security tools that can be used to conduct malware analysis, reverse engineering, incident response, forensic investigations and penetration testing.  It includes disassemblers, debuggers, decompilers, static and dynamic analysis, exploitation, vulnerability assessment, and network analysis tools.
   FireEye has made available usage instructions and source code on GitHub.  A blog post published by the company also provides an example for how FLARE VM can be used to analyze a malware sample.

(Related).  Guidance is another big player in this field.  Apparently, Digital Forensics is gaining in importance. 
OpenText acquires forensic security vendor Guidance Software for $240 million
   This acquisition gives the company some overlapping functionality too, but Cheryl McKinnon, an analyst with Forrester Research who monitors the content management industry, says it also gives the company forensics tools, which are new to them.
“It certainly adds, with some overlap, to their eDiscovery and file analytics portfolio (i.e. , those tools to clean up network drives, detect sensitive text inside documents, etc.).  But OpenText has never had anything focused more on the forensic side of the discovery business. — that is, more security, deeper inspection of how information [has been] accessed, copied, etc. So that forensics side is net new for them,” McKinnon explained.
Not surprisingly, the company is focusing on that forensic piece in its announcement, but it’s also getting a rich set of eDiscovery tools, and a customer list that includes 78 of the Fortune 100 companies, according to the Guidance website.

Have 3D printer, will print.
View and Print in 3D More Than 200 Objects from The British Museum
The British Museum collection on Sketchfab contains 216 3D models of artifacts in The British Museum's collections.  You can view these models in 3D in your web browser or in a virtual reality viewer.  (To view the models in your browser your browser needs to support WebGL, you can test your browser here).  If you have a 3D printer, you can print the models yourself by downloading the corresponding files from Sketchfab.  You can also embed the models into a webpage as I have done below.
   Speaking of 2D views, the museum does offer more than one million images of their artifacts.

Just because…

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