InfoSec News Nuggets – June 13, 2018

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Apple bans mining cryptocurrency on iPhones

Apple has a clear message for cryptocurrency enthusiasts: Don’t mine it on our devices. It’s a new rule included in the latest version of Apple’s App Store policies, released last week as part of the company’s annual developer conference. The ban couldn’t be clearer. From section 2.4.2, “hardware compatibility,” emphasis ours: Design your app to use power efficiently. Apps should not rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources. Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.

Palmer Luckey’s border control tech has already caught dozens of people

During a news cycle where headline after headline covers the political, social, and emotional turmoil at the United States-Mexico border, departed Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey is proposing a blanket solution involving virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and a few very tall towers. This “virtual border wall” was revealed last year, but Wired has now reported more details about Luckey’s venture Anduril Industries. The company is touting a surveillance system called Lattice that would survey the motion of potential border-crossers from up to two miles away. Lattice, as detailed in Wired, is primarily based off of well-established security technologies — a combination of cameras, LIDAR, and infrared sensors — that capture data around the border. This is then analyzed by artificial intelligence that is trained to detect the difference between a tumbleweed, car, coyote, or human based on gait and other factors.

Wellington, Fla., almost faces data breach Waterloo

The City of Wellington, Fla. is informing its residents of a potential data breach after unauthorized charges began appearing on payment cards that citizens had used to pay their utility bills. Officials said the city’s Click2Gov payment system is likely the culprit and as a mitigation effort the municipalities connection to Superion, which produces software used by government offices, was severed. “What we know right now is that utility bills paid by credit cards between July 2017 to February 2018 may be at risk. The information at risk includes customer names, credit card number, and expiration dates.  Payments made over the phone were not affected, only payments made online through the Click2Gov portal,” the city said in a statement.

MIT researchers develop frequency-hopping transmitter that fends off attackers

Academic researchers say they have invented a transmitter that can secure billions of Internet of Things products by individually scattering each bit of data that a device wirelessly sends out onto different radio frequency channels, thus preventing attackers from intercepting a full packet and manipulating its data. In essence, the transmitter performs a new-and-improved version of a technique called “frequency hopping,” according to a press release issued by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the technology was developed.

Bad .Men at .Work. Please Don’t .Click

Web site names ending in new top-level domains (TLDs) like .men, .work and .click are some of the riskiest and spammy-est on the Internet, according to experts who track such concentrations of badness online. Not that there still aren’t a whole mess of nasty .com, .net and .biz domains out there, but relative to their size (i.e. overall number of domains) these newer TLDs are far dicier to visit than most online destinations. There are many sources for measuring domain reputation online, but one of the newest is The 10 Most Abused Top Level Domains list, run by Spamhaus.org. Currently at the #1 spot on the list (the worst) is .men: Spamhaus says of the 65,570 domains it has seen registered in the .men TLD, more than half (55 percent) were “bad.”

Lawmaker hopes to draw redline discouraging election cyberattacks

prominent lawmaker wants to draw a line in the sand to discourage hackers from targeting U.S. election systems. On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., suggested that the United States formally declare it will respond in cyberspace to any foreign interference in American elections. Warner, who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, proposed the idea in an amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense policy bill.

THE DAWN OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN NAVAL WARFARE

The U.S. Navy is investing real money to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into the force, requesting $62.5 million in the FY19 Defense Department budget for AI and rapid prototyping. As the technology matures, the Navy needs to adapt by displacing human intelligence in roles for which AI is better suited while being aware of the many roles in which human intelligence will still have an edge. The Navy should identify candidates for automation where, relative to human intelligence, AI is likely to be increasingly fast, agile, or low-cost.

Senator says Chinese hack of Navy contractor ‘very serious’

A Rhode Island Senator is describing the case of a Chinese government hack into a Newport Naval Station as “very serious.” Democratic U.S. Senator Jack Reed says Monday he spoke with the Navy’s top officer after last week’s report that the Chinese government hacked a contractor who works with one of the naval station’s operations. WPRI-TV reports hackers stole massive amounts of sensitive data related to undersea warfare, including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for U.S submarines.

US Government’s biometric database worries privacy advocates

It is something few Americans will have likely heard of, but the US Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) is catching the eye of privacy advocates – and not in a good way. Announced in 2017, on the face of it HART is just a bigger and better version of the DHS’s Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT), which dates back to the 1990s, before the DHS even existed. IDENT was built to gather data such as fingerprints and photographs of people entering the US – anyone who’s visited the country as a non-US citizen in the last 15 years or so will be in this database. Despite sounding similar, HART marks a step change in what such databases can be used for when combined with emerging technologies such as real-time facial recognition and biometrics.

Facebook Says its Competitors Are the Whole Internet, Because Facebook Is the Internet

Together, Facebook’s swath of competitors is the internet to the average American, and probably to citizens of other countries as well (especially in places where it’s tried to launch Free Basics.) As I’ve previously written, Facebook accomplished this by historically cloning or acquiring its competitors, making the service irreplaceable to millions of consumers. In 2013, it paid $150 million for Onavo, which allowed the company to monitor user activity and see which features they liked best. And on any other day, Zuckerberg would be touting Facebook’s ubiquitousness. “I always thought one day someone would connect the whole world, but I never thought it would be us,” he told the crowd at last year’s Facebook Community Summit.

Google removes inline installation option for Chrome extensions

Google is shutting down an often used vector for delivering malicious Chrome extensions to users by removing the inline installation option. “We continue to receive large volumes of complaints from users about unwanted extensions causing their Chrome experience to change unexpectedly — and the majority of these complaints are attributed to confusing or deceptive uses of inline installation on websites,” Wagner explained. “As we’ve attempted to address this problem over the past few years, we’ve learned that the information displayed alongside extensions in the Chrome Web Store plays a critical role in ensuring that users can make informed decisions about whether to install an extension. When installed through the Chrome Web Store, extensions are significantly less likely to be uninstalled or cause user complaints, compared to extensions installed through inline installation,” he shared.

Microsoft Releases Mitigations for Spectre-Like ‘Variant 4’ Attack

Updates released by Microsoft on Tuesday for its Windows operating system add support for a feature that should prevent attacks involving the recently disclosed speculative execution vulnerability known as “Variant 4.” Variant 4, which is similar to Spectre Variant 1, relies on a side-channel vulnerability known as Speculative Store Bypass (SSB) and it has been assigned the identifier CVE-2018-3639. When Variant 4 was disclosed, Intel announced that it had provided beta microcode updates to operating system vendors and equipment manufacturers to add support for SSBD. However, Intel says the mitigation will be turned off by default and the company believes many will leave it that way.

Top U.S. counterintelligence official: Kaspersky’s move to Switzerland doesn’t matter

The ongoing fight between the U.S. government and Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab led the company to begin moving “a good part” of its infrastructure to Switzerland in a highly-visible move toward transparency in the face of spying accusations. Kaspersky’s opening of a “Transparency Center” in Switzerland is significant but leaves open a wide range of questions. The company has described numerous independent review processes but there’s no information yet about who will actually be conducting reviews. A Kaspersky spokesperson did, however, tell CyberScoop that “U.S. and U.K. government representatives are welcome” to “explore and review the source code, updates and software assembler, as well as the way the data center is designed and managed.”

Internet Safety Month: How to protect your child’s privacy online

While most parents focus on personal privacy when it comes to online matters, remember that there is also what we call consumer or customer privacy. Your kids are already using and consuming services and software programs available online, whether they’re labeled free for use or not. This means that they also need to exercise the right to protect this type of privacy, too. Customer privacy centers on data companies collect about their users, regardless of age, whenever users interact with their sites. Taking the steps we prescribe below can help address the security of your child’s personal and consumer privacy.

VA considering blockchain to help track contract closeouts

The Department of Veterans Affairs is taking a look at how blockchain can bring more efficiency to its acquisition process — particularly how it finalizes completed contracts. The agency issued a request for information seeking industry input on how blockchain solutions can be used in “routine government contract procedures, and in particular, contract closeouts.” Blockchain has been a hot topic in federal circles of late with a litany of agencies examining how to leverage the distributed ledger technology to verify their operations.

Gangs Embrace Social Media With Often Deadly Results

Gangs’ embrace of social media to goad foes or conceal drug dealing in emoji-laden text is the biggest change in how gangs operate compared with 10 years ago, according to new law enforcement data provided exclusively to The Associated Press ahead of its release Tuesday by the Chicago Crime Commission. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites have radically altered gang culture in Chicago. They are having a similar influence on gangs nationwide. These days, there is nearly always a link between an outbreak of gang violence and something online, said Rodney Phillips, a gang-conflict mediator working in the low-income Englewood neighborhood where Reese lived and died. When he learns simmering tensions have spilled into violence, he no longer goes first to the streets. “I Google it,” Phillips said. “I look on YouTube and Facebook. Today, that’s how you follow the trail of a conflict.”

Researchers develop AI for detecting objects behind walls with a single photo

Seeing around the corners of walls may sound like the stuff of comic books and superhero movies, but a team at Boston University, Draper, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed an artificially intelligent (AI) system that does just that. At the IEEE International Conference on Computational Photography (ICCP) in Tokyo, Japan, researchers presented a computational photography technique that isolates shadows cast by hidden objects and uses algorithms to reconstruct them. “Imaging the scene behind a barrier can provide [a] tactical advantage in many real-life scenarios, for instance, autonomous vehicle navigation, and search and rescue,” Sheila Werth, the team’s lead investigator, said in a statement.