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InfoSec News Nuggets 08/20/2021

Census hit by cyberattack, US count unaffected

U.S. Census Bureau computer servers were exploited last year during a cybersecurity attack, but it didn’t involve the 2020 census, and hackers’ attempts to keep access to the system were unsuccessful, according to a watchdog report released Wednesday. The attack took place in January 2020 on the bureau’s remote access servers. According to the Office of Inspector General, the Census Bureau missed opportunities to limit its vulnerability to the attack and didn’t discover and report the attack in a timely manner. The statistical agency also failed to keep sufficient system logs, which hindered the investigation, and was using operating system no longer supported by the vendor, the watchdog report said. The bureau’s firewalls stopped the attacker’s attempts to maintain access to the system through a backdoor, but unauthorized changes were still made, including the creation of user accounts, the report said.


BlackBerry’s popular operating system for medical devices affected by critical vulnerabilities, drawing fed warnings

A critical set of software flaws first revealed in April also affects code made by BlackBerry that is used in countless devices in the medical, automotive and energy sectors, the technology vendor confirmed on Tuesday. A hacker who exploits the so-called BadAlloc software vulnerabilities, which Microsoft researchers uncovered, could cause devices running the software to crash. In BlackBerry’s case, the attacker would need to first gain access to a targeted network and then go after devices that are exposed to the internet. The affected software is BlackBerry’s QNX Real-Time Operating System, a suite of software that manages data across a network. It’s unclear just how many devices are running the affected BlackBerry software. The firm said last year that its QNX software was embedded in more than 175 million cars alone. A BlackBerry spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Apple photo-scanning plan faces global backlash from 90 rights groups

More than 90 policy groups from the US and around the world signed an open letter urging Apple to drop its plan to have Apple devices scan photos for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). “The undersigned organizations committed to civil rights, human rights, and digital rights around the world are writing to urge Apple to abandon the plans it announced on 5 August 2021 to build surveillance capabilities into iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products,” the letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook said today. “Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), we are concerned that they will be used to censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children.”


Liquid cryptocurency exchange loses over $90 million following hack

Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange Liquid has suspended deposits and withdrawals after attackers have compromised its warm wallets. Liquid is one of the largest cryptocurrency-fiat exchange platforms worldwide (based on daily traded spot volume). The exchange has more than 800,000 customers from over 100 countries and says that it reached a $1.1B+ daily trade volume this year. After discovering that its warm wallets were hacked, the crypto exchange moved its assets into a cold wallet. “We are currently investigating and will provide regular updates. In the meantime deposits and withdrawals will be suspended,” Liquid said. “A total of approximately 91.35mm USDe of crypto assets were moved out of Liquid wallets by an unauthorized party,” Liquid said in a follow-up incident report.


Gaming, Travel and Leisure Are Top Targets for Fraud Attempts

According to the study’s findings, approximately 36% of global respondents said they had been affected by digital fraud scammers related to COVID-19. A large percentage of approximately 39% are from the United States. Melissa Gaddis, senior director of customer success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion stated “One in three people globally have been targeted by or fallen victim to digital fraud during the pandemic, placing even more pressure on businesses to ensure their customers are confident in transacting with them”. As the two industries most affected by alleged digital fraud attempts globally, the gaming and travel and leisure industries saw year-over-year increases of 393.0% and 155.9%, respectively. In the United States, this rate increased 261.9% in the gaming industry and 136.6% in the travel and leisure industry.

Airline Employee Jailed for Spending Passengers’ Money

A former United Airlines employee has been sent to prison for stealing passengers’ financial data and using it to make fraudulent purchases. Hayder Lefta, of Manchester, New Hampshire, worked as a customer service representative at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in 2018 and 2019. Court documents showed that while assisting customers at the airport, the 25-year-old made a copy of their credit card numbers. Lefta later used these stolen card details to purchase airline flights and meals for himself and for friends without the card owners’ consent. Other expenses Lefta ran up on customers’ cards included bills for hotels he used for his personal leisure travel. An investigation into Lefta was launched after a United Airlines customer who had used the airport in September 2018 discovered charges on their credit card statement that they hadn’t made. The fraudulent charges included tickets on Turkish Airlines priced at $2,657 and $1,488, and a $112.31 order placed with a Manchester branch of pizza restaurant Domino’s. 


TikTok’s Algorithm Is Speeding Up the Spread of Covid-19 Vaccine Lies

TikTok—long known as an incubator for viral dance trends and memes—is reportedly gaining a reputation as a breeding ground for a far more insidious type of viral content: the spread of hoaxes and misinformation, specifically those pertaining to the Covid-19 vaccines. On Wednesday, Media Matters published new research findings that suggest that, despite community guidelines that specifically prohibit the spread of health misinformation, TikTok’s algorithm frequently amplifies lies about COVID-19 and vaccines to the platform’s 1 billion-strong user base. During the course of its research into Covid-19 misinformation on the platform, Media Matters engaged with anti-vaccination and COVID-19 misinformation by watching relevant videos all the way through and liking them. Sure enough, the positive engagement had the effect of filling the account’s “For You Page”—TikTok’s landing page for algorithmically recommended content—with videos that almost exclusively featured anti-vaccination and COVID-19 hoax content.

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