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InfoSec News Nuggets 09/02/2020

Former engineer pleads guilty to Cisco network damage, causing Webex Teams account chaos

A former Cisco engineer has admitted to illegally accessing Cisco’s network and wiping 456 virtual machines as well as causing disruption to over 16,000 Webex Teams accounts. Sudhish Kasaba Ramesh has taken a plea agreement in a federal court in San Jose after being accused of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ).  The 30-year-old engineer resigned in April 2018, but chose to access Cisco’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment roughly five months after leaving the company in order to deploy code that deleted 456 virtual machines (VMs).


The most popular brand websites hackers use for typosquatting campaigns

The most imitated websites that credential-stealing, financially-motivated hackers have resorted to mimicking include Wells Fargo, Netflix, Facebook, and Microsoft, according to new Palo Alto Networks research published Tuesday. Some of the other top brands that hackers have mimicked with typosquatting, a technique that relies on victims glancing over typos in website names that appear similar to other popular legitimate sites, also include PayPal, Apple, Royal Bank of Canada, LinkedIn, Google, Apple’s iCloud, Bank of America, Dropbox, Amazon, and Instagram, according to the research, which examines data collected in December 2019. The hackers have been using these malicious domains to distribute malware, reward scams, run phishing campaigns and technical support scams, Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 researchers said in a blog post.


Alexa can now pay for gas at over 11,500 Exxon and Mobil stations in the U.S.

In January, Amazon announced a new feature would allow Alexa users to pay for their gas at the pump using voice commands via Echo Auto and other Alexa-enabled mobility devices. Today, the company says the feature is now live at over 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations across the U.S., allowing customers to say “Alexa, pay for gas,” to begin the payment process. Amazon teamed up with Fiserv to help power the transactions by activating the pump and facilitating the token generation to ensure a secure payment experience. However, the transactions themselves will be processed through Amazon Pay, which uses the same payment information stored in the customer’s Amazon account. At launch, Amazon says the feature will work across Alexa-enabled devices, like Echo Auto, as well as in Alexa-enabled vehicles, and even through the Alexa app for iOS and Android.


Deepfake detection tool unveiled by Microsoft

Microsoft has developed a tool to spot deepfakes – computer-manipulated images in which one person’s likeness has been used to replace that of another. The software analyses photos and videos to give a confidence score about whether the material is likely to have been artificially created. The firm says it hopes the tech will help “combat disinformation”. One expert has said it risks becoming quickly outdated because of the pace at which deepfake tech is advancing. To address this, Microsoft has also announced a separate system to help content producers add hidden code to their footage so any subsequent changes can be easily flagged.


State voter registration systems have not been hacked, officials say

Federal and state officials said Tuesday that despite fears to the contrary, there’s no evidence that any state’s voter registration database has been hacked this year. A viral article in the Russian newspaper Kommersant claimed that a user on a Russian hacker forum had acquired the personal information of 7.6 million voters in Michigan and other voters in several other states, prompting claims that they had recently been hacked. But all that information was already publicly available, multiple officials said. “Voter information in Michigan and elsewhere is accessible to anyone through a FOIA request,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokesperson for Michigan’s State Department, said in a statement, referring to the Freedom of Information Act. “Our system has not been hacked.


The bizarre reason Amazon drivers are hanging phones in trees near Whole Foods

It sounds like a futuristic version of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair’s dystopian 1906 novel about Chicago slaughterhouse workers: But instead of toiling in meatpacking plants, modern day Chicago workers are resorting to desperate measures to earn a few bucks from Amazon—notably hanging phones from trees to win jobs. According to Bloomberg, the phone-hanging scheme lets drivers game the system by which Amazon awards delivery routes though its Flex app, which pays $18 hour/per hour for routes that take two to four hours to complete. The Flex app awards routes from Amazon’s warehouses and from Whole Foods grocery stores, which the company owns. The purpose of hanging phones in trees is to trick Amazon’s dispatch mechanism into believing the drivers are closer to a warehouse or store than they really are. The Flex app awards routes in part by a driver’s proximity to a pick-up point.


Apple and Google announce new automatic app system to track COVID exposures

Apple and Google are launching a new auto-generated software framework to help states deploy their own contact tracing apps. Developed as an extension of the earlier exposure notification framework, the new system allows public health authorities to avoid the broader development work of launching a standalone app, simply configuring the basic framework to their state’s needs. Existing applications won’t be affected by the new framework, and adopting the framework won’t prevent states from launching more involved apps in the future. “As the next step in our work with public health authorities on Exposure Notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app,” Apple and Google said in a statement.

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