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InfoSec News Nuggets 01/05/2021

20 years of tech with Jeff: From green iMacs and DVDs to the iPhone era

My stint started in 2000 – I began at USA TODAY earlier, covering entertainment – when we spent a lot of time talking about the big three tech companies: AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft. AOL had just shocked the world by buying Time Warner for $165 billion. (You know how well that turned out. But I digress.) We did use computers, yes indeed, mostly desktops, and they were Windows machines with black-and-white monitors. We weren’t online; we went online, with a phone line attached to our computers. You know, the type we used on our landlines. Remember them? Apple back then had less than 3% market share. It didn’t start its evolution into the world’s most valuable $2 trillion company until 2001, when it introduced the iPod MP3 music player and helped bring digital music to the masses.


Los Angeles County deploys smartphone vaccine records

Los Angeles County residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine can now display proof on their smartphone, thanks to a new partnership between the local government and the software company Healthvana. Using a mobile app like Apple Wallet or Google Pay, Los Angeles residents who’ve received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to flash a virtual card — that serves as a record of which vaccine they received and when — to “prove to airlines, to prove to schools, to prove to whoever needs it,” Healthvana CEO Ramin Bastani told Bloomberg on Monday. Like many local governments, Los Angeles County is keeping track of who receives vaccinations, but prior to partnering with Healthvana, officials said they didn’t have an efficient, digital method for residents to prove they’d been vaccinated.


Mac Attackers Remain Focused Mainly on Adware, Fooling Users

The year 2020 kicked off with reports that Mac cyber threats had taken off, with machines encountering twice as many threats as Windows systems. But as the year came to a close, the average user of the Mac OS continued to see fewer malware and ransomware threats than Windows users, security experts say.

In February of 2020, endpoint security firm Malwarebytes reported that its Mac users encountered about twice as many “threats” as Windows users. Those threats, however, consisted mainly of potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and adware, not malware. While the data for the entire year has not been fully analyzed, the trend seems likely to continue, says Thomas Reed, director of Mac and mobile for Malwarebytes.


Slack suffers its first massive outage of 2021

Starting at approximately 10 AM EST, Slack suffered an outage where users cannot connect, messages cannot be sent and received, and channel history cannot be retrieved. This outage affects both the desktop client and the web interface, which at the time of this writing is displaying an error stating that they are “investigating the issue.” When the outage initially occurred, Slack stated it was affecting messaging and causing connection issues. Since then, it has progressed into an outage across all of Slack’s services. Slack has restored some of the functionality of the Slack client and can connect again to servers and receive and send messages. You may ned to reload Slack or terminate the process and launch it again before it will connect.


Fourth breach at T-Mobile puts focus on security post mergers

T-Mobile reported a breach that compromised customer data – the company’s fourth in three years – raises questions about whether the mobile carrier’s massive merger with Sprint left the combined company more vulnerable. Indeed, when companies merge, particularly sizable ones, the integration of technology systems and networks can often introduce new security considerations. “The volume of attacks and successful attacks against wireless carriers continues to rise. In this particular case, one has to wonder if it is related to the merging of two titans,” said Brandon Hoffman, chief information technology officer at Netenrich, who noted the string of successful attacks against T-Mobile as well as Sprint’s own “series of issues” over the past year. “In our industry, when issues continue regardless of impact, we usually go back to the drawing board,” said Hoffman. “It feels like there is an opportunity here to review the foundations of cyber relative to the merged entity and find out where quick wins can be had to shore up defenses.”


A nasty new PayPal phishing campaign is doing the rounds

A new phishing campaign has been identified that targets PayPal users with fraudulent text messages. The exploit attempts to steal a variety of sensitive user details, in addition to their PayPal credentials. The phishing campaign begins with an SMS message stating that the user’s PayPal account has been partially suspended due to suspicious activity. The user is then asked to click on a link that will enable them to verify their account. In what has become an increasingly common phishing tactic, the link actually leads to a fake login page that allows the attacker to steal the entered login credentials. The phishing page then asks for further details, including names, addresses, and bank details, which the attacker could use for further fraudulent activity.

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