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InfoSec News Nuggets 01/29/2021

Arrest, Seizures Tied to Netwalker Ransomware

U.S. and Bulgarian authorities this week seized the darkweb site used by the NetWalker ransomware cybercrime group to publish data stolen from its victims. In connection with the seizure, a Canadian national suspected of extorting more than $27 million through the spreading of NetWalker was charged in a Florida court. NetWalker is a ransomware-as-a-service crimeware product in which affiliates rent access to the continuously updated malware code in exchange for a percentage of any funds extorted from victims. The crooks behind NetWalker used the now-seized website to publish personal and proprietary data stolen from their prey, as part of a public pressure campaign to convince victims to pay up. NetWalker has been among the most rapacious ransomware strains, hitting at least 305 victims from 27 countries — the majority in the United States, according to Chainalysis, a company that tracks the flow virtual currency payments.


Google to Stop Collecting Advertising Identifiers in iOS Apps in Response to iOS 14’s Upcoming Tracking Prompt

Apple will soon require iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV app developers to request permission from users to collect their random advertising identifier (known as the “Identifier for Advertisers” or “IDFA”), which advertisers use to deliver personalized ads and track how effective their ad campaigns were. Specifically, users will be presented with a prompt to allow or deny tracking as necessary when opening apps on iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14, as part of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (“ATT”) policy. In response to this upcoming change, Google today announced that it will stop collecting IDFAs for the “handful” of its iOS apps that currently use it for advertising purposes once Apple’s new policy goes into effect. As a result, Google said it will not need to show Apple’s tracking permission prompt in its iOS apps.


Microsoft patented a chatbot that would let you talk to dead people. It was too disturbing for production

The internet is buzzing over a new technology created by Microsoft developers that could make it possible to have a virtual conversation with a deceased loved one (well, kind of). A patent granted to Microsoft last month details a method for creating a conversational chatbot modeled after a specific person — a “past or present entity … such as a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a celebrity, a fictional character, a historical figure,” according to the filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The technology is reminiscent of a fictional app in the dystopian TV series “Black Mirror” that allowed a character to continue chatting with her boyfriend after he dies in an accident, by pulling information from his social media. Want to talk music with David Bowie? Or get some words of wisdom from your late grandmother? This tool would theoretically make that possible. But don’t get too excited, or freaked out for that matter: The company isn’t planning to turn the technology into an actual product.


Stack Overflow: Here’s what happened when we were hacked back in 2019

Stack Overflow, a popular site amongst developers, has revealed more about a week-long breach that it disclosed in May 2019. Stack Overflow said at the time the attackers accessed user account data, and now the company says that after consulting with law enforcement, it can reveal more about what happened and how a newly registered user came to have moderator- and developer-level access. Last year, Stack Overflow said it had identified “privileged web requests that the attacker made that could have returned IP address, names, or emails for a very small number of Stack Exchange users.” According to the brand’s latest update, the hacker accessed and stole source code but it says the breach only affected 184 users.


Utah tests the waters in turning online catfishing into a criminal act

The State of Utah is considering changes to the law that will make online impersonation a criminal offense. As reported by Fox 13, lawmakers in the US state proposed a series of bills this week tackling Internet security and privacy. The main submission, House Bill 80, suggests amendments to existing data privacy laws including an “affirmative defense” for companies caught up in data breaches. However, House Bill 239, introduced by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, could be of more relevance to the general public if accepted into law., and could become a blueprint for other states to follow This proposed legislation tackles online impersonation, also known as catfishing, and seeks to make these activities criminal.


Tim Cook Implies That Facebook’s Business Model of Maximizing Engagement Leads to Polarization and Violence

“At a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theories juiced by algorithms, we can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement — the longer the better — and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible,” said Cook. “It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn’t come with a cost — of polarization, of lost trust and, yes, of violence,” he added. Cook highlighted two recent privacy measures that Apple has taken, including privacy labels in the App Store and App Tracking Transparency, which will require apps to request permission to track users starting with the next iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and tvOS 14 betas. Apple says the software updates will be released in the early spring. On an earnings call yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Apple’s privacy claims are often misleading and self serving.

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