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InfoSec News Nuggets 10/30/2020

Scammers are spoofing bank phone numbers to rob victims

It can be a very convincing trick…“You can check the number in your display online sir. You’ll see I’m really calling from your bank.” That is, of course, if you are unaware that phone numbers can be spoofed. Then again, they wouldn’t be successful scammers if they weren’t convincing. If you suggest calling them back, they’ll tell you it’s impossible to call their extension directly and you would have to go through the operator in the head office. Which could take a while and because of the urgency that is not really an option now, is it? The definition of spoofing is: to display characteristics that do not belong to you, in order to assume a false identity. We’ve talked about email spoofing in the past, but in this case we’re talking about caller ID spoofing. Caller ID spoofing is when someone calling your phone deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.


Maze Ransomware Gang to Shut Down Operations

Security researchers learned that the Maze digital crime gang is in the process of shutting down its ransomware operations. Bleeping Computer began hearing rumors of the shutdown in early September 2020. In an email conversation, a ransomware attacker told the computer self-help site that the Maze gang had stopped encrypting new victims in September 2020 and that it was attempting to compel its existing victims to pay their ransoms in anticipation of winding down its activity. Following that conversation, Bleeping Computer reached out to the Maze gang to confirm the rumors. The ransomware attackers responded by telling the site to await a press release. It wasn’t long thereafter that those responsible for Maze began cleaning up its data leaks site by removing all but two victims whose data had previously been published in their entirety on the portal.


Researchers propose ‘safe’ reinforcement learning algorithm for dangerous scenarios

A paper coauthored by researchers at the University of Toronto, the Vector Institute, and the University of California, Berkeley proposes a new method that allows reinforcement learning algorithms to accumulate knowledge while erring on the side of caution in dangerous situations. They claim their proposed approach can achieve competitive performance while incurring lower catastrophic failure rates during training versus prior methods. Reinforcement learning is a powerful framework because it allows agents to learn to make decisions automatically through trial and error. However, in the real world, the cost of those trials — and those errors — can be fairly high. For example, a drone that attempts to fly at high speed might crash and then be unable to attempt further trials due to physical damage. However, learning complex skills without any failures at all is likely impossible, making safe exploration methods desirable.


Can good cybersecurity policies improve our quality of life?

In 2020, The World Economic Forum (WEF) named cyberattacks as one of the top long-term threats facing the planet in its annual global risk analysis report. With the damage to reputation, consumer trust and financial loss now well documented during high-profile data breaches, businesses are more aware of the risk they face and how they can better protect themselves. However, one area of cybersecurity that receives less attention is the impact good cybersecurity practices can have on quality of life. The Mid-Year Data Breach QuickView Report, highlights the extent of this problem, revealing that the number of records exposed this year has been four times higher than any previously reported time period, at an incredible 27 billion. Yet, while the impact on organisations has been well documented in the media, cyberattacks such as the First American Financial Corp. data breach in 2019 has highlighted the long drawn out journey consumers also face when their information is taken.


True, the social networking app that promises to ‘protect your privacy,’ exposed private messages and user locations

True  bills itself as the social networking app that will “protect your privacy.” But a security lapse left one of its servers exposed — and spilling private user data to the internet for anyone to find. The app was launched in 2017 by Hello Mobile, a little-known virtual cell carrier that piggybacks off T-Mobile’s network. True’s website says it has raised $14 million in seed funding, and claimed more than half a million users shortly after its launch. But a dashboard for one of the app’s databases was exposed to the internet without a password, allowing anyone to read, browse and search the database — including private user data. Bret Cox, chief executive at True, confirmed the security lapse but did not answer our specific questions, including if the company planned to inform users of the security lapse or if it planned to disclose the incident to regulators under state data breach notification laws.

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