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InfoSec News Nuggets 11/30/2020

Networking equipment vendor Belden discloses data breach

American networking equipment vendor Belden said it was hacked in a press release published earlier this week. Belden says the security breach took place after hackers gained access to a limited number of its file servers.  The intrusion was detected after the company’s IT personnel detected unusual activity involving the compromised servers. A subsequent investigation revealed that the intruders had copied data of some current and former employees, as well as limited company information regarding some business partners. Belden is now notifying customers and employees whose data it believes was exposed in the incident. “Safety is always paramount at Belden and we take threats to the privacy of personal and company information very seriously,” said Roel Vestjens, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We regret any complications or inconvenience this incident may have caused and are offering assistance to those individuals who may have been impacted.”


Facebook’s controversial Libra cryptocurrency could launch in January

Libra, the cryptocurrency spearheaded by Facebook, could launch as early as January, according to The Financial Times, which reported that the project will likely be even more limited than its already stripped-down plan. The Libra cryptocurrency will likely be backed one-for-one by the US dollar, the newspaper reported Thursday. In April, the association launching Libra said it would create multiple single-currency stablecoins backed by major currencies, such as the dollar, euro and pound, as well as a coin based on a basket of currencies. A stablecoin is a cryptocurrency that links its market value to an external source like the dollar. The cryptocurrency’s launch is still dependent on regulatory approval, the newspaper said, citing three unnamed people. Facebook and the Libra Association, which is managing the project, declined to comment Friday.


Laser-Based Hacking from Afar Goes Beyond Amazon Alexa

Imagine someone hacking into an Amazon Alexa device using a laser beam and then doing some online shopping using that person account. This is a scenario presented by a group of researchers who are exploring why digital home assistants and other sensing systems that use sound commands to perform functions can be hacked by light. The same team that last year mounted a signal-injection attack against a range of smart speakers merely by using a laser pointer are still unraveling the mystery of why the microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) microphones in the products turn the light signals into sound. Researchers at the time said that they were able to launch inaudible commands by shining lasers – from as far  as 360 feet – at the microphones on various popular voice assistants, including Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Facebook Portal, and Google Assistant.


IRS Could Search Warrantless Location Database Over 10,000 Times

The IRS was able to query a database of location data quietly harvested from ordinary smartphone apps over 10,000 times, according to a copy of the contract between IRS and the data provider obtained by Motherboard. The document provides more insight into what exactly the IRS wanted to do with a tool purchased from Venntel, a government contractor that sells clients access to a database of smartphone movements. The Inspector General is currently investigating the IRS for using the data without a warrant to try to track the location of Americans. “This contract makes clear that the IRS intended to use Venntel’s spying tool to identify specific smartphone users using data collected by apps and sold onwards to shady data brokers. The IRS would have needed a warrant to obtain this kind of sensitive information from AT&T or Google,” Senator Ron Wyden told Motherboard in a statement after reviewing the contract.


‘Smart’ doorbells for sale on Amazon, eBay came stocked with security vulnerabilities

The U.K.-based security company NCC Group and consumer advocacy group Which? have found vulnerabilities in 11 “smart” doorbells sold on popular platforms like Amazon and eBay. One flaw could allow a remote attacker to break into the wireless network by swiping login credentials. Another critical bug, which has been around for years, could enable attackers to intercept and manipulate data on the network. The investigation focused on doorbells made by often obscure vendors, but which nonetheless earned top reviews and featured prominently on Amazon and eBay. The researchers raised concerns that some of the devices were storing sensitive data, including location data and audio and video captured by the doorbell’s camera, on insecure servers. One device made by a company called Victure, for example, sent a user’s wireless name and password, unencrypted, to servers in China, according to the researchers.

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