How are hackers taking advantage of World Cup fever?
The World Cup presents a lot of opportunities for cyber-criminals, hackers to exploit fans.
Last week, a group of internet luminaries joined the chorus of voices objecting to a proposed change to EU copyright law: Article 13. The potential change was criticised by figureheads such as Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee among others, who cited economic and societal repercussions. The vote on the proposal is on 20 June.
Meanwhile in the US, Apple is closing a security flaw in iOS that had been used by law enforcement agencies to forcibly unlock iPhones in order to obtain evidence. The method was criticised by privacy groups, while police officers said it had provided invaluable help in hundreds of investigations.
Now that the bitcoin tidal wave has calmed down somewhat, a Texas academic has undertaken research he said proves that the massive price hikes of late 2017 were largely down to market manipulation.
World Cup presents an open goal for hackers
Researcher at Check Point Software Technologies have identified a phishing campaign linked to the start of this year’s FIFA World Cup, where attackers lured victims into downloading a fixtures schedule and result tracker.
The email attachment malware variant used is dubbed ‘DownloaderGuide’ and downloads potentially unwanted programs or PUPs.
It’s not uncommon for major events to see a spike in cybercrime, said Check Point’s threat intelligence group manager, Maya Horowitz. “With so much anticipation and hype around the World Cup, cyber-criminals are banking on employees being less vigilant in opening unsolicited emails and attachments.
“As such, it is critical that organisations take steps to remind their employees of security best practices to help prevent these attacks being successful.” Check out the live map of cyberattack threats here.
Europol foils infamous cybercrime gang
A long-running global cybercrime group, Rex Mundi, is in the process of being dismantled by Europol and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce. The investigation began after a UK company was hit with a cyber attack in 2017.
A French-speaking member of Rex Mundi demanded a €580,000 ransom in bitcoin, according to Infosecurity magazine. Since then, eight arrests have been made, with the most recent one in Thailand last week. Once Brexit comes into effect, the UK may find this kind of cross-border investigation more difficult to carry out.
Google Chrome leaves third-party extensions out in the cold
Google Chrome last week began to phase out extensions that originate from third-party websites.
Extensions platform product manager James Wagner said that inline extensions (aka third-party extensions) are far more likely to cause hassle for Chrome users. “When installing through the Chrome Web Store, extensions are significantly less likely to be uninstalled or cause user complaints, compared to extensions installed through inline installation.” The inline install API method will be removed by early December of this year.
The sigspoof flaw allowed hackers to easily spoof email signatures
Remember the years-old critical vulnerability in email encryption tool PGP? It basically failed to hide encrypted messages, but researchers have found another bug that allowed hackers to spoof digital email signatures.
GnuPG, Enigmail, and GPGTools were vulnerable to this particular flaw for decades. Researcher Markus Brinkmann found that anyone could spoof signatures using the public-private key method, easily allowing people to bypass email signature verification in encryption tools.
Cyber crime at World Cup is a very real threat to US fans, security experts say
Cyber crime is the most serious threat for U.S. fans traveling to Russia this summer for the World Cup, security experts say.
While headlines before the tournament warned of Russian hooligans possibly causing disruptions and Fox broadcaster Alexi Lalas saying he was confronted by an aggressive and angry fan while on assignment in Moscow, experts say Americans traveling to Russia should be more concerned about using their cell phones and having their personal information confiscated.
“Probably the greatest risk is going to be cyber security,” said Larry Pfeiffer, who served as chief of staff to former CIA Director Michael Hayden. “No. 1, Russia is a security state with one of the most advanced intelligence services in the world, and they are going to try to use this event to their advantage.”
Russian government agencies with the potential to hack devices are the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Main Intelligence Administration (GRU), Pfeiffer says.
“They’ve got an industrial-sized intelligence community that’s going to have the capability to handle vast amounts of data,” said Pfeiffer, director of the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security at George Mason University. “They will be sweeping up large amounts of data off of telephones being used in the country. Nobody should feel like they’re immune to that.”
Julian Sanchez, who studies privacy and national security at the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank, said travelers should bring or purchase a burner phone or other device. But if you can’t afford it, wipe the device before going to Russia.
“Back them up, wipe them clean and then bring them in a state with as little information as possible on them,” Sanchez said. “Especially big events like the World Cup, be cautious about what Wi-Fi you are using.”
So far there have been few reports of criminal activity against World Cup visitors. Russian media have reported that police agencies were told not to release details of negative incidents that may affect Russia’s reputation during the tournament.
Foreign security services have been known to use phishing, according to the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC). Phishing is when a person, application or device appears to be trustworthy in order to gain private information. People should not overshare their information with new acquaintances when at the World Cup, according to NCSC.
“Anyone traveling to Russia to attend the World Cup should be clear-eyed about the cyber risks involved,” NCSC director William Evanina said in a statement. “If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic devices with you —make no mistake — any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals.”
Pfeiffer said U.S. citizens should not trust well-established Wi-Fi networks, such as those in commercial hotels.
“The Russian intel services work closely with hotels and venues like that to be able to monitor communications,” Pfeiffer said. “The advice I give is in countries like Russia and China in particular, if you don’t have to bring a device, don’t bring one.”
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