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InfoSec News Nuggets – 05/10/2019

1 Former NSA analyst charged in leak of classified documents to reporter

A former National Security Agency analyst has been charged and arrested for illegally obtaining classified national defense information, including files on drone warfare, and disclosing it to a reporter. The charges, which were filed originally in March of this year in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, include obtaining, retaining, transmitting, and causing the communication of national defense information, disclosure of classified communications intelligence information, and theft of government property. The Department of Justice unsealed the charges against the former analyst, Daniel Hale of Tennessee, Thursday.


2 Equifax sued by the state of Indiana over 2017 breach

Almost two years after suffering a massive hacker attack, Equifax is still picking up the pieces, paying penalties through its nose. The latest act of retribution comes from the U.S. state of Indiana, which has sued the credit bureau this week for its monumental blunder. As most readers of this blog will recall, credit reporting agency Equifax in 2017 lost over 147 million customer records to hackers, exposing those affected to fraud and extortion schemes. The agency has been battered heavily over the incident, and continues to incur damage to this day. The most recent claim of restitution comes in the form of a lawsuit filed by the state of Indiana. Of the 147 million records exposed in the breach, 3.9 million belonged to Hoosiers (as residents of the state are nicknamed), according to a Wane.com report.


3 Canadian Mobile Provider Exposed Payment Card Numbers

An unsecured database belonging to Canadian mobile operator Freedom Mobile exposed personal details and unencrypted credit card data, according to two security researchers who discovered the data. Researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar published their findings on the blog of vpnMentor, and it was first reported by TechCrunch. In a statement to TechCrunch, Freedom Mobile – formerly known as Wind Mobile – says 15,000 customers were affected. The researchers, however, say 5 million records, which appeared to be tied to up to 1.5 million unique customers' accounts, were exposed. Freedom Mobile is part of Calgary, Alberta-based Shaw Communications, which is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. In its second quarter 2019 financial results, Shaw reported that Freedom Mobile had about 1.5 million customers.


4 A photo storage app used customers’ private snaps to train facial recognition AI

A photo storage app that offers users “free, unlimited private backup of all your life’s memories” has been secretly using customers’ private snaps to train and sell facial recognition software. As detailed in a report from NBC News, the startup Ever launched as a simple cloud storage business in 2013, but pivoted to become a facial recognition technology vendor in 2017 after realizing that a photo app “wasn’t going to be a venture-scale business.” Customers, though, were not informed of this change — or how their photographs and videos are now being used.


5 DoJ indicted a member of China-based hacking group behind Anthem hack

The US Department of Justice indicted Fujie Wang (32), a member of sophisticated Chinese hacking group that breached at several US companies, including the health insurer Anthem Inc. back in 2015. “A federal grand jury returned an indictment unsealed today in Indianapolis, Indiana, charging a Chinese national as part of an extremely sophisticated hacking group operating in China and targeting large businesses in the United States, including a computer intrusion and data breach of Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. (Anthem). ” reads the press release published by DoJ. Starting from February 2014, Fujie Wang and other members of the hacking group, including another Chinese individual charged as John Doe, carried out a series of spear-phishing attacks on U.S.-based organizations.


6 U.S. Blocks China Mobile, Citing National Security

US regulators on Thursday denied a request by China Mobile to operate in the US market and provide international telecommunications services, saying links to the Chinese government pose a national security risk. The Federal Communications Commission said that because of China Mobile USA's ownership and control by the Chinese government, allowing it into the US market "would raise substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks."  The decision brings the Chinese telecoms giant's eight-year effort to crack the US market to an end, but was not really a surprise since FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had publicly opposed the company's application last month.


7 Facebook Removed Pre-Approval for Some Cryptocurrency-Related Ads

Facebook announced an update to the platform's advertising policies which removes the requirement of businesses to get pre-approved for cryptocurrency ads related to blockchain tech, education or events, industry news, and more. This change comes after the social network completely banned cryptocurrency ads back on January 30, 2018, and then loosened the ban on June 26 allowing only pre-approved advertisers to run ads promoting cryptocurrency. The full list of cryptocurrency related ads allowed on the platform without pre-approval starting today is detailed on Facebook's "Apply for eligibility" Help Center page.


8 Whistleblower Says Facebook Generating Terror Content

Facebook is unwittingly auto-generating content for terror-linked groups that its artificial intelligence systems do not recognize as extremist, according to a complaint made public on Thursday. The National Whistleblowers Center in Washington carried out a five-month study of the pages of 3,000 members who liked or connected to organizations proscribed as terrorist by the US government. Researchers found that the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda were "openly" active on the social network. More worryingly, the Facebook's own software was automatically creating "celebration" and "memories" videos for extremist pages that had amassed sufficient views or "likes."


9 Tenants finally get physical keys after suing landlords for fitting Bluetooth smart-lock to front door

The owners of a Manhattan apartment block have agreed to give their tenants mechanical keys to end a court battle over a keyless smart-lock system. The landlords of 517-525 W 45th Street in New York installed the Latch smart-lock on the front door of the building when it was recently renovated. The gizmo allows tenants to, for instance, use a smartphone app to unlock the doors to the lobby, mail boxes, and elevators – something that can be useful to let visitors in if you live several floors up. But tenants were unhappy with the Latch app, and felt their privacy could be violated if the software was used to track their comings and goings.



A report recently released by an information security services firm claims that a group of hackers have released information exposed by a data breach against three of the major U.S. antivirus software companies. This group of hackers, self-named “Fxmsp”, aims to sell source code owned by companies, in addition to the keys to access their corporate networks for about $300k USD. In addition, hackers have revealed samples of information that seems to confirm the veracity of the attacks. According to the reports, the information security services firm notified the alleged victims of their investigation, in addition to providing some details to the police. The hacker group would have begun to offer this confidential information using private communication channels, such as dark web hacking forums or Telegram chats.

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