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InfoSec News Nuggets 3/4/2024

Hugging Face, the GitHub of AI, hosted code that backdoored user devices

Code uploaded to AI developer platform Hugging Face covertly installed backdoors and other types of malware on end-user machines, researchers from security firm JFrog said Thursday in a report that’s a likely harbinger of what’s to come. In all, JFrog researchers said, they found roughly 100 submissions that performed hidden and unwanted actions when they were downloaded and loaded onto an end-user device. Most of the flagged machine learning models—all of which went undetected by Hugging Face—appeared to be benign proofs of concept uploaded by researchers or curious users. JFrog researchers said in an email that 10 of them were “truly malicious” in that they performed actions that actually compromised the users’ security when loaded.


Hackers target FCC, crypto firms in advanced Okta phishing attacks

A new phishing kit named CryptoChameleon is being used to target Federal Communications Commission (FCC) employees, using specially crafted single sign-on (SSO) pages for Okta that appear remarkably similar to the originals. The same campaign also targets users and employees of cryptocurrency platforms, such as Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini, using phishing pages that impersonate Okta, Gmail, iCloud, Outlook, Twitter, Yahoo, and AOL.


A leaky database spilled 2FA codes for the world’s tech giants

A technology company that routes millions of SMS text messages across the world has secured an exposed database that was spilling one-time security codes that may have granted users’ access to their Facebook, Google and TikTok accounts. The Asian technology and internet company YX International manufactures cellular networking equipment and provides SMS text message routing services. SMS routing helps to get time-critical text messages to their proper destination across various regional cell networks and providers, such as a user receiving an SMS security code or link for logging in to online services. YX International claims to send 5 million SMS text messages daily.


Russia Clamps Down on VPNs, Furthering Restrictions on Internet Access

Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor plans to ban VPN services in Russia and Ukraine, potentially affecting free speech and information access, according to a new report by vpnMentor. The report, authored by Jeremiah Fowler, a cybersecurity researcher known for identifying misconfigured databases on the Internet, sheds light on Russia’s recent efforts to further restrict internet freedom within its borders. It highlights the country’s new ban on popular VPN (Virtual Private Network) services, a move experts believe will significantly undermine online privacy and increase online censorship in the country. The ban will come into effect on 1st March 2024. 


EU fines Apple nearly $2 billion for ‘blocking’ alternative music apps

Following months of speculation, the European Commission has officially handed down its fine to Apple, and it’s much higher than initially expected. Apple is on the hook to pay €1.8 billion ($1.95 billion) for restricting alternative music streaming apps on the App Store — the EU’s first fine for Apple and its third-largest ever announced. It follows an investigation initially opened in 2020 following Spotify’s filed complaint alleging Apple took steps to suppress the music service due to competition with iTunes and Apple Music. The Commission has announced “that Apple bans music streaming app developers from fully informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app and from providing any instructions about how to subscribe to such offers.” The practice, known as anti-steering, is illegal under EU antitrust laws.

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