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InfoSec News Nuggets 9/19/2019

Robocalls now flooding US phones with 200m calls per day

This is unlikely to surprise anybody who owns a phone: according to a new report, nearly 30% of all US calls placed in the first half of this year were garbage, as in, nuisance, scam or fraud calls. That puts the approximate volume of sludge coming into people’s phones at a mind-boggling 200 million unwanted calls per day. The TNS 2019 Robocall Investigation Report comes from Transaction Network Services (TNS), which markets a big-data analytics engine that aims to suppress unwanted calls to consumers by applying machine learning, as well as an authentication hub to help carriers combat illegal spoofing and to help consumers fend off robocalls.


Chicago brokerage to pay $1.5 million for cyber attack lapses

The U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday that a Chicago-based futures brokerage will pay a total of $1.5 million for letting cyber criminals breach the firm’s email systems and withdraw $1 million from a customer’s account. Phillip Capital Inc (PCI) neither admitted nor denied the CFTC’s findings or conclusions, the CFTC said in a settlement with the firm. A Phillip Capital representative did not return a call requesting comment.


Starbucks Japan is selling pens with built-in NFC wallets

Starbucks is releasing a new hardware product in Japan this month, and it’s a pen. Not a stylus or anything — an actual pen, with “coffee brown” gel ink, a drip coffee machine-inspired design, and the built-in ability to pay for things at Starbucks. “Starbucks Touch: The Pen,” for that is its name, contains an NFC reader that’s linked to a digital wallet. It works with FeliCa technology, which is ubiquitous in Japan and powers Starbucks’ popular domestic card system. I’m not totally sure how this is better than using mobile payments, but I guess if you want to leave your phone at home and get down to Starbucks for a hardcore study session, this could be useful.


Apple explores using multi-user eye tracking for games and more

A computer tracking where its user is looking isn’t that complicated, but eye tracking two people simultaneously is more challenging. Apple worked out a method, and sees the potential for games, security and even surgery. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent on a “Method for operating an eye tracking device for multi-user eye tracking and eye tracking device” (Pat. No. 10,416,764). This includes a discussion on the difficulties of tracking the eye movements of more than one person without devoting a camera to each one.


New Threat Actor Fraudulently Buys Digital Certificates to Spread Malware

Security firm ReversingLabs identified a bad actor that deceives certificate authorities into selling them legitimate digital certificates by impersonating company executives, according to a blog post by chief architect and co-founder Tomislav Pericin. Once purchased, the bad actor sells the certificates on the black market for digitally signing malicious files, mainly adware, he said. “Certificates are valuable resources to threat actors, as their mere presence can reduce the chance of early malware detection,” he wrote. “This is particularly true for financially motivated actors.”


Beware of Venmo Scams Targeting Users via Text Messages

A local police department in the U.S. are warning of a wave of phishing scams targeting users Venmo mobile payment service with text messages that direct to a fake website. Owned by PayPal, Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment app that allows sending and receiving money to and from contacts on your phone. Crooks use text messages to deliver links to a fake website that collects personal and banking information. The message informs the potential victim that their Venmo account will be charged unless they decline the operation. Phishing over SMS messages is also known as smishing.


Crypto-mining malware saw new life over the summer as Monero value tripled

Malware that mines cryptocurrency has made a comeback over the summer, with an increased number of campaigns being discovered and documented by cyber-security firms. The primary reason for this sudden resurgence is the general revival of the cryptocurrency market, which saw trading prices recover after a spectacular crash in late 2018. Monero, the cryptocurrency of choice of most crypto-mining malware operations, was one of the many cryptocurrencies that were impacted by this market slump. The currency also referred to as XMR, has gone down from an exchange rate that orbited around $300 – $400 in late 2017 to a meager $40 – $50 at the end of 2018.


Revealed: catastrophic effects of working as a Facebook moderator

The task of moderating Facebook continues to leave psychological scars on the company’s employees, months after efforts to improve conditions for the company’s thousands of contractors, the Guardian has learned. A group of current and former contractors who worked for years at the social network’s Berlin-based moderation centres has reported witnessing colleagues become “addicted” to graphic content and hoarding ever more extreme examples for a personal collection. They also said others were pushed towards the far right by the amount of hate speech and fake news they read every day.


One Arrested in Ecuador’s Mega Data Leak

An arrest has been made following the disclosure of a massive data leak affecting most of Ecuador’s population. Officials have confirmed the arrest of William Roberto G, manager of Ecuadorian consulting firm Novaestrat, which owned the unsecured Elasticsearch server. Earlier this week, researchers shared the discovery of a misconfigured database containing 18GB of information, including 20.8 million personal records.


JPMorgan Hacker Will Plead Guilty Over Role in Vast Cyber-Attack

A Russian hacker at the center of an alleged scheme to steal financial data on more than 80 million JP Morgan Chase & Co. clients will plead guilty later this month, according to a U.S. court filing. Andrei Tyurin, who was extradited last year from the Republic of Georgia, is accused of performing key tasks that netted hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds from the hack of JPMorgan and other companies. Tyurin has struck a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in New York to resolve the charges and is set to appear for a plea hearing next week.


Malindo Air confirms data breach, exposing millions of passengers’ personal data

Subsidiaries of  Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air have suffered a massive data breach, resulting in the information of millions of passengers – including passport details, home addresses and phone numbers – being leaked onto data exchange forums last month. Malindo Air CEO Chandran Rama Muthy confirmed the leak, saying the airline was in the middle of carrying out an investigation into the matter and had already reached out to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on Tuesday.


Election commission says it won’t de-certify voting systems running old versions of Windows

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has told lawmakers that it will not de-certify certain voting machines using outdated Microsoft Windows systems, a disclosure that highlights the challenge of keeping voting systems secure after a vendor ceases offering support for a product. While a voting machine would fail certification if it were running software that wasn’t supported by a vendor, the act of de-certifying the machine is cumbersome and “has wide-reaching consequences, affecting manufacturers, election administration at the state and local levels, as well as voters,” EAC commissioners wrote in a letter to the Committee on House Administration that CyberScoop obtained.


Teachers warn of “homework gap” stemming from lack of broadband access

Evidence shows that the digital divide among children in the U.S. is affecting students’ ability to learn and stay on track in schools, especially among lower-income students, the nonprofit Common Sense said in a report released Wednesday. The big picture: The Federal Communications Commission reported in May that more than 21 million Americans still don’t have access to high speed broadband internet. This includes the 12 million school-age children affected by the “homework gap.”


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to meet with policymakers about internet regulation

Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is headed back to Washington DC. On Wednesday, Facebook said the tech mogul will be meeting with policymakers this week to discuss the future of internet regulation. There are no public events planned, a Facebook spokesman said. He declined to say whether Zuckerberg would be meeting with President Donald Trump or share any more details about the visit. The Washington Post and Axios, which earlier reported the visit, said it’s Zuckerberg first known visit to DC since April 2018 when he testified before lawmakers in the wake of a major privacy scandal. Cambridge Analytica, a UK political consultancy, harvested the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their permission.


A facial recognition ban is coming to the US, says AI policy advisor

San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville have outlawed certain uses of facial recognition technology, with Portland potentially soon to follow. That’s just the beginning, according to Mutale Nkonde, Harvard fellow and AI policy advisor. That trend will soon spread to states, and there will eventually be a federal ban on some uses of the technology, she said at MIT Technology Review’s EmTechconference.


The techlash isn’t big enough to stop Facebook from selling video chat devices for your living room

A year ago, when Facebook launched its own video chat device, it seemed like a clueless move by an out-of-touch tech giant: Under fire for abusing its users’ privacy, Facebook was still stumbling forward with a video camera that would surveil its users in their homes. Who would want that? Plenty of people, Facebook seems to be insisting: Rather than walk away from its Portal devices, Facebook is pushing out more of them, including one that’s supposed to let your friends watch you watching Facebook videos on your TV.

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