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InfoSec News Nuggets 08/17/2020

Instagram Retained Deleted Photos and Messages on Its Servers for Over a Year

Instagram has awarded a security researcher a $6,000 bug bounty payout after he found photos and private direct messages on the platform’s servers that he had deleted more than a year ago (via TechCrunch). Saugat Pokharel discovered that his content hadn’t been removed in October after downloading a copy of his data from the photo-sharing app. Instagram introduced the download option two years ago to comply with the European Union’s data privacy GDPR regulations. Instagram said the reason Pokharel’s information had never been entirely removed from its servers was down to a bug that it’s now fixed.

 

Mac malware spreads through Xcode projects, abuses WebKit, Data Vault vulnerabilities

Xcode projects are being exploited to spread a form of Mac malware specializing in the compromise of Safari and other browsers. The XCSSET malware family has been found in Xcode projects, “lead[ing] to a rabbit hole of malicious payloads,” Trend Micro said on Thursday. 

In a paper (.PDF) exploring the wave of attacks, cybersecurity researchers said an “unusual” infection in a developer’s project also included the discovery of two zero-day vulnerabilities. Xcode is a free integrated development environment (IDE) used in macOS for developing Apple-related software and apps. While it is not yet clear how XCSSET worms its way into Xcode projects, Trend Micro says that once embedded, the malware then runs when a project is built. 

 

iOS update arrives to fix ‘green tint’ iPhone 11 issue

iOS 13.6 went out to Apple’s mobile devices last month with Apple News upgrades and a digital car key feature, and now a new iOS 13.6.1 update is available. It addresses issues with storage space and the new Exposure Notification framework, but it will also be appreciated by iPhone 11 owners who complained of a strange green tint that appeared on their devices. Forum and Reddit posts indicated it would appear just after the device was unlocked, sometimes while using Night Shift or in a dark room. According to the update notes, Apple addressed a “thermal management issue” that could cause the green tint to appear. MacRumors had reported the issue cropped up after 13.4, and now it’s getting a fix before Apple rolls out iOS 14 to everyone’s phones and tablets.

 

A simple telephony honeypot received 1.5 million robocalls across 11 months

In an award-winning paper presented at the USENIX security conference this week, a team of academics from North Carolina State University presented a list of findings from operating a massive telephony honeypot for 11 months for the sole purpose of tracking, identifying, and analyzing the robocalling phenomenon in the US. NCSU researchers said they ran 66,606 telephone lines between March 2019 and January 2020, during which time they said to have received 1,481,201 unsolicited calls — even if they never made their phone numbers public via any source. The research team said they usually received an unsolicited call every 8.42 days, but most of the robocall traffic came in suden surges they called “storms” that happened at regular intervals, suggesting that robocallers operated using a tactic of short-burst and well-organized campaigns.

 

A college student used GPT-3 to write fake blog posts and ended up at the top of Hacker News

College student Liam Porr used the language-generating AI tool GPT-3 to produce a fake blog post that recently landed in the No. 1 spot on Hacker News, MIT Technology Review reported. Porr was trying to demonstrate that the content produced by GPT-3 could fool people into believing it was written by a human. And, he told MIT Technology Review, “it was super easy, actually, which was the scary part.” So to set the stage in case you’re not familiar with GPT-3: It’s the latest version of a series of AI autocomplete tools designed by San Francisco-based OpenAI, and has been in development for several years. At its most basic, GPT-3 (which stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”) auto-completes your text based on prompts from a human writer.

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