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InfoSec News Nuggets 12/15/2020

Microsoft, FireEye confirm SolarWinds supply chain attack

Hackers believed to be operating on behalf of a foreign government have breached software provider SolarWinds and then deployed a malware-laced update for its Orion software to infect the networks of multiple US companies and government networks, US security firm FireEye said today.  FireEye’s report comes after Reuters, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday intrusions at the US Treasury Department and the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The SolarWinds supply chain attack is also how hackers gained access to FireEye’s own network, which the company disclosed earlier this week. The Washington Post cited sources claiming that multiple other government agencies were also impacted. Reuters reported that the incident was considered so serious that it led to a rare meeting of the US National Security Council at the White House, a day earlier, on Saturday.


Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, and other Google services hit by massive outage

Multiple Google services and websites including YouTube, Gmail, Google Assistant, and Google Docs were down for around an hour on Monday morning after being hit with a widespread outage. Google acknowledged the issues with Gmail, affecting both its business and personal services, at 6:55AM ET, and said the problem was fixed for the “vast majority” of users at 7:52AM ET. Identical notices were posted across the status pages for the rest of Google’s services. Reports quickly mounted on Twitter after users couldn’t access Google’s basic services, causing the hashtag “#YouTubeDOWN” to trend. At its peak, the status page for Google’s services was a sea of red, to indicate they were all suffering an outage. All services are now green indicating that they’re fully operational.


Reddit has bought TikTok rival Dubsmash to boost video presence

Online discussion platform Reddit has confirmed reports that it has bought the lip-syncing video company Dubsmash. The move comes as multiple tech companies seek ways to compete with Chinese video platform TikTok. The company said that the app will retain its own branding and that all staff are being retained – including the company’s three co-founders, Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel, and Tim Specht. It added that the diversity of Dubsmash’s userbase was part of the appeal. TikTok dominates the short-form video market, the app recently beating out Facebook to become the most-downloaded app in 2020. This has seen other tech companies roll out their own competing offerings, or acquiring other video platforms. 


Hobbyist Cryptographers Seemingly Solve Infamous Zodiac Killer Cipher

After 51 years, a group of three hobbyist cryptographers is claiming to have cracked one of the most infamous ciphers created by the infamous Zodiac killer. In a video posted to YouTube, David Oranchak explains the processes he and two others went through to crack “The 340” cipher, which is made up of 340 symbols—some of which are English characters and others of which are cryptic marks. “Oh my god, so this is a big one. We have a solution for the 340, and it’s real,” Oranchak says in the video. Well-known cryptographers who analyzed the video and accompanying blog posts for Motherboard said that the group’s solution at least seems plausible. Oranchak told Motherboard he has been working on solving the 340 for more than a decade.


FCC begins process of halting China Telecom U.S. operations

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday it begun the process of revoking China Telecom’s authorization to operate in the United States as it took further steps to crack down on China’s role in U.S. telecommunications. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai noted several U.S. government agencies had recommended the revocation citing national security concerns. Pai said there are “significant concerns” that China Telecom will be forced to comply with Chinese government’s requests for information, including communications intercepts. China Telecom, the largest Chinese telecommunications company, has had authorization to provide telecommunications services for nearly 20 years. China Telecom Americas did not have an immediate comment.


Suspected Russian hackers breached U.S. Department of Homeland Security

A team of sophisticated hackers believed to be working for the Russian government won access to internal communications at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to people familiar with the matter. The breach was part of the campaign reported Sunday that penetrated the U.S. departments of Treasury and Commerce. DHS is a massive bureaucracy responsible for border security, cybersecurity and most recently the secure distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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