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InfoSec News Nuggets 1/13/2020

1 – Facebook Is Forcing Its Moderators to Log Every Second of Their Days — Even in the Bathroom

When Valera Zaicev began working in Dublin as one of Facebook’s moderators a couple years ago, he knew he’d be looking at some of the most graphic and violent content on the internet. What he didn’t know was that Facebook would be counting the seconds of his bathroom breaks. “People have to clock in and clock out even when going to the toilet and explain the reason why they were delayed, which is embarrassing and humiliating,” Zaicev told VICE News. Facebook, which outsources the majority of its content moderation to over 15,000 third-party contractors, didn’t always keep those employees on such a tight leash. When Zaicev, 33, joined Facebook’s moderation army in July 2016, he found a professional workplace where he felt he received in-depth training and excellent treatment.


2 – Indian National Pleads Guilty to Owning, Funding, and Operating India-Based Call Centers That Scammed U.S. Victims Out of Millions of Dollars

An Indian national pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of Texas for his role in operating and funding India-based call centers whose callers, and U.S.-based conspirators, defrauded U.S. victims out of millions of dollars between 2013 and 2016. Hitesh Madhubhai Patel, also known as Hitesh Hinglaj, 43, of Ahmedabad, India, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and general conspiracy to commit identification fraud, access device fraud, money laundering, and impersonation of a federal officer or employee. “Hitesh Patel played a prominent role in this massive, India-based fraud scheme that bilked vulnerable Americans out of millions of dollars,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “This important resolution would not have occurred without the assistance of our Singaporean colleagues, to whom we extend our deep appreciation.”


3 – Latest ‘Intrusion Truth’ data dump peels back layers on Chinese front companies

Intrusion Truth is back. The anonymous group known in the cybersecurity world for publishing detailed blog posts about suspected nation-state hackers released new information Thursday alleging that Chinese technology companies are recruiting attackers working on Beijing’s behalf. By identifying job postings seeking offensive cybersecurity skills, the group wrote, they found a number of companies in Hainan, a province in South China, all using the same language in their advertisements. 


4 – What to Do When Your Budget Android Phone Arrives With Malware

There’s nothing wrong with the premise of the U.S. Government’s Lifeline Assistance program. It allows those with substantially low incomes—135 percent or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or less than $16,862 for a single-person household—to receive discounted or free phones and wireless services. However, when one of the phones being offered comes with malware preinstalled, that’s a big problem. At least, that’s the assertion from MalwareBytes, which noticed some issues with apps preinstalled on the one such phone, the Unimax U686CL sold by Virgin Mobile’s Assurance Wireless.


5 – Hundreds of millions of cable modems are vulnerable to new Cable Haunt vulnerability

A team of four Danish security researchers has disclosed this week a security flaw that impacts cable modems that use Broadcom chips. The vulnerability, codenamed Cable Haunt, is believed to impact an estimated 200 million cable modems in Europe alone, the research team said today. The vulnerability impacts a standard component of Broadcom chips called a spectrum analyzer. This is a hardware and software component that protects the cable modem from signal surges and disturbances coming via the coax cable. The component is often used by internet service providers (ISPs) in debugging connection quality.


6 – Mom Praises Smart Tech Gift for Saving the Day When Daughter Got Lost in a Crowd

For parents, losing a child in a crowd is a nightmare come true. For a child, it can be downright terrifying and scarring, as well. Thankfully, technology is making it easier to preempt this upsetting situation, as evidenced by a story out of Florida. A mom from Gulf Breeze shared how after Santa bought her two kids smartwatches, it helped her daughter Sophia reunite with her in a crowd. Ashley Ranow shared a photo of Sophia wearing her Verizon Gizmo Watch on Facebook, writing, “These watches that Santa brought… some thought we were crazy for getting them… We pay a service fee for them monthly through Verizon, but today they already paid off.” Ranow explained that the family was at a New Year’s Eve “beach ball drop” with a “couple hundred people.”


7 – Google to Windows 7 users: Chrome support will run until at least July 2021

Just as it did for Windows XP, Google is offering extended Chrome support for Windows 7 for at least 18 months after Microsoft stops delivering free patches for the desktop OS.  As most ZDNet readers would know, Microsoft is ending free support of Windows 7 next week, on January 14, 2020. Yet US government website traffic suggests nearly 20% of visitors who use PCs are still running Windows 7.  While consumers can either upgrade or live dangerously without Microsoft patches, businesses do have the option to pay for Extended Security Updates for Windows 7. It’s the business crowd that Google is considering with its new minimum 18-month extension on Chrome support for Windows 7 PCs. 


8 – Sodinikibi Ransomware Hits New York Airport Systems

Albany International Airport’s staff announced that the New York airport’s administrative servers were hit by Sodinokibi Ransomware following a cyberattack that took place over Christmas. Airport operations were not impacted by the ransomware attack and customers’ financial or personal information was not accessed by the attackers according to a statement from airport officials per WNYT-TV. No airline or TSA servers were affected in the incident, with airport officials saying that the vast majority of encrypted files being administrative documents and archived data.


9 – Hollywood Is Using Artificial Intelligence To Pick Its Next Blockbuster

For anyone who’s ever thought Hollywood’s output is formulaic and tired, the movie industry may be about to get worse. Major studio Warner Bros. has signed a deal with Cinelytic, which has developed an AI-powered system that can predict the likelihood of a film’s success based on such factors as actors, budget and brand. Predictably enough, Warner Bros. will be using Cinelytic’s software as part of the research process it undergoes when deciding which movies to commission. Cinelytic’s platform can determine the ‘value’ (i.e. profitability) of an actor in any major territory and also calculate how much money a film is likely to earn in cinemas and through supplementary merchandising (e.g. DVDs).


10 – SIM-Swapping Indictments Pile Up as Congress Begs the FCC to Do More

Back in 2018 cryptocurrency investor Michael Terpin filed a $224 million lawsuit against AT&T, claiming the mobile carrier failed to protect his account from hackers that stole his phone number—then made off with his identity and $23 million in cryptocurrency. This week a New York grand jury unsealed an indictment against the alleged perpetrator of the scam, 22-year-old Nicholas Truglia. The indictment charges Nicholas Truglia and up to 25 additional unnamed co-conspirators with several counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Truglia was arrested in late 2018 for a seperate SIM hijacking scam.


11 – Google details its three-year fight against the Bread (Joker) malware operation

Google said yesterday it successfully removed more than 1,700 apps submitted to the Play Store over the past three years that had been infected with various versions of the Bread malware, also known as Joker. Google described this malware operation as one of the most persistent threats it dealt with during the last few years. While most malware operators give up once Google detects their apps, the Bread group never did. For more than three years, since 2017, Bread operators have been churning out new versions of their malware on a weekly basis.


12 – 56.25 million US residents records collected by CheckPeople exposed on a Chinese server

A database containing the personal details of 56.25 million US residents that allegedly belongs to the CheckPeople.com website was exposed online on a server having a Chinese IP address. The huge trove of data includes names, home addresses, phone numbers, and ages. The size of the NoSQL database is 22GB and included metadata that links the collection to CheckPeople.com. The CheckPeople.com service allows subscribed users to search for information about people of interest (i.e. current and past addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, names of relatives, and even criminal records in some cases). The data are likely collected by the service from public sources.


13 – Man jailed for using data breach info leaks to claim over $12 million in IRS tax refunds

A St. Louis resident has been sentenced to four years behind bars for stealing the identities of US citizens to file fraudulent tax return claims, made possible through data leaked in security incidents.  Babatunde Olusegun Taiwo, alongside co-conspirators including Kevin Williams, used the personal identifying information (PII) of individuals laked due to a data breach at a payroll company to file false returns with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Thursday. 

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