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Inside Operation Diplomatic Specter: Chinese APT Group's Stealthy Tactics Exposed

Inside Operation Diplomatic Specter: Chinese APT Group's Stealthy Tactics Exposed

May 23, 2024 Cyber Espionage / Network Security
Governmental entities in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia are the target of a Chinese advanced persistent threat (APT) group as part of an ongoing cyber espionage campaign dubbed  Operation Diplomatic Specter  since at least late 2022. "An analysis of this threat actor's activity reveals long-term espionage operations against at least seven governmental entities," Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 researchers Lior Rochberger and Daniel Frank  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "The threat actor performed intelligence collection efforts at a large scale, leveraging rare email exfiltration techniques against compromised servers." The cybersecurity firm, which previously tracked the activity cluster under the name CL-STA-0043, said it's graduating it to a temporary actor group codenamed TGR-STA-0043 owing to its assessment that the intrusion set is the work of a single actor operating on behalf of Chinese state-aligned interests. Targets of the attacks i
Ex-NSA Employee Sentenced to 22 Years for Trying to Sell U.S. Secrets to Russia

Ex-NSA Employee Sentenced to 22 Years for Trying to Sell U.S. Secrets to Russia

May 01, 2024 National Security / Insider Threat
A former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been sentenced to nearly 22 years (262 months) in prison for attempting to transfer classified documents to Russia. "This sentence should serve as a stark warning to all those entrusted with protecting national defense information that there are consequences to betraying that trust,"  said  FBI Director Christopher Wray. Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 32, of Colorado Springs was employed as an Information Systems Security Designer between June 6 to July 1, 2022, during which time he had access to sensitive information. Despite his short tenure at the intelligence agency, Dalke is said to have made contact with a person he thought was a Russian agent sometime between August and September of that year. In reality, the person was an undercover agent working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). To demonstrate his "legitimate access and willingness to share," he then emailed the purported Russian ag
U.S. Government Releases New AI Security Guidelines for Critical Infrastructure

U.S. Government Releases New AI Security Guidelines for Critical Infrastructure

Apr 30, 2024 Machine Learning / National Security
The U.S. government has unveiled new security guidelines aimed at bolstering critical infrastructure against artificial intelligence (AI)-related threats. "These guidelines are informed by the whole-of-government effort to assess AI risks across all sixteen critical infrastructure sectors, and address threats both to and from, and involving AI systems," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  said  Monday. In addition, the agency said it's working to facilitate safe, responsible, and trustworthy use of the technology in a manner that does not infringe on individuals' privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. The new guidance concerns the use of AI to augment and scale attacks on critical infrastructure, adversarial manipulation of AI systems, and shortcomings in such tools that could result in unintended consequences, necessitating the need for transparency and secure by design practices to evaluate and mitigate AI risks. Specifically, this spans four diffe
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Webinar: How to streamline security reviews with Trust Center

websiteVantaCompliance / Security Audit
Learn how Vanta Trust Center can help provide real-time evidence for passing controls and automate responses to security questionnaires.
Defending Your Commits From Known CVEs With GitGuardian SCA And Git Hooks

Defending Your Commits From Known CVEs With GitGuardian SCA And Git Hooks

May 20, 2024Software Security / Vulnerability
All developers want to create secure and dependable software. They should feel proud to release their code with the full confidence they did not introduce any weaknesses or anti-patterns into their applications. Unfortunately, developers are not writing their own code for the most part these days. 96% of all software contains some open-source components, and open-source components make up between  70% and 90% of any given piece of modern software . Unfortunately for our security-minded developers, most modern vulnerabilities come from those software components.  As new vulnerabilities emerge and are publicly reported as  Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures  (CVEs), security teams have little choice but to ask the developer to refactor the code to include different versions of the dependencies. Nobody is happy in this situation, as it blocks new features and can be maddening to roll back component versions and hope that nothing breaks. Developers need a way to  quickly  determine if
German Authorities Issue Arrest Warrants for Three Suspected Chinese Spies

German Authorities Issue Arrest Warrants for Three Suspected Chinese Spies

Apr 23, 2024 Counterintelligence / National Security
German authorities said they have issued arrest warrants against three citizens on suspicion of spying for China. The full names of the defendants were not disclosed by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor (aka Generalbundesanwalt), but it includes Herwig F., Ina F., and Thomas R. "The suspects are strongly suspected of working for a Chinese secret service since an unspecified date before June 2022," the Generalbundesanwalt  said . Thomas R. is believed to have acted as an agent for China's Ministry of State Security (MSS), gathering information about innovative technologies in Germany that could be used for military purposes. The defendant also sought the help of a married couple, Herwig F. and Ina F., who run a Düsseldorf-based business that established connections with the scientific and research community in Germany. This materialized in the form of an agreement with an unnamed German university to conduct a study for an unnamed Chinese contractor regarding the
U.S. Sanctions Russians Behind 'Doppelganger' Cyber Influence Campaign

U.S. Sanctions Russians Behind 'Doppelganger' Cyber Influence Campaign

Mar 21, 2024 National Security / Data Privacy
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Wednesday announced sanctions against two 46-year-old Russian nationals and the respective companies they own for engaging in cyber influence operations. Ilya Andreevich Gambashidze (Gambashidze), the founder of the Moscow-based company Social Design Agency (SDA), and Nikolai Aleksandrovich Tupikin (Tupikin), the CEO and current owner of Russia-based Company Group Structura LLC (Structura), have been accused of providing services to the Russian government in connection to a "foreign malign influence campaign." The disinformation campaign is tracked by the broader cybersecurity community under the name  Doppelganger , which is known to target audiences in Europe and the U.S. using inauthentic news sites and social media accounts. "SDA and Structura have been identified as key actors of the campaign, responsible for providing [the Government of the Russian Federation] with a variety of servic
President Biden Blocks Mass Transfer of Personal Data to High-Risk Nations

President Biden Blocks Mass Transfer of Personal Data to High-Risk Nations

Feb 29, 2024 Cyber Espionage / Data Protection
U.S. President Joe Biden has  issued  an Executive Order that prohibits the mass transfer of citizens' personal data to countries of concern. The Executive Order also "provides safeguards around other activities that can give those countries access to Americans' sensitive data," the White House said in a statement. This includes sensitive information such as genomic data, biometric data, personal health data, geolocation data, financial data, and certain kinds of personally identifiable information (PII). The U.S. government said threat actors could weaponize this information to track their citizens and pass that information to  data brokers  and foreign intelligence services, which can then be used for intrusive surveillance, scams, blackmail, and other violations of privacy. "Commercial data brokers and other companies can sell this data to countries of concern, or entities controlled by those countries, and it can land in the hands of foreign intelligenc
U.S. Sanctions 6 Iranian Officials for Critical Infrastructure Cyber Attacks

U.S. Sanctions 6 Iranian Officials for Critical Infrastructure Cyber Attacks

Feb 03, 2024 Intelligence Agency / Cyber Security
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against six officials associated with the Iranian intelligence agency for attacking critical infrastructure entities in the U.S. and other countries. The  officials  include Hamid Reza Lashgarian, Mahdi Lashgarian, Hamid Homayunfal, Milad Mansuri, Mohammad Bagher Shirinkar, and Reza Mohammad Amin Saberian, who are part of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Cyber-Electronic Command (IRGC-CEC). Reza Lashgarian is also the head of the IRGC-CEC and a commander in the IRGC-Qods Force. He is alleged to have been involved in various IRGC cyber and intelligence operations. The Treasury Department  said  it's holding these individuals responsible for carrying out "cyber operations in which they hacked and posted images on the screens of programmable logic controllers manufactured by Unitronics, an Israeli company." In late November 2023, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infras
Former CIA Engineer Sentenced to 40 Years for Leaking Classified Documents

Former CIA Engineer Sentenced to 40 Years for Leaking Classified Documents

Feb 02, 2024 National Security / Data Breach
A former software engineer with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for transmitting classified documents to WikiLeaks and for possessing child pornographic material. Joshua Adam Schulte, 35, was originally charged in June 2018. He was  found guilty  in July 2022. On September 13, 2023, he was  convicted  on charges of receiving, possessing, and transporting child pornography. In addition to the prison term, Schulte has been sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release. "Schulte's theft is the largest data breach in the history of the CIA, and his transmission of that stolen information to WikiLeaks is one of the largest unauthorized disclosures of classified information in the history of the U.S.," the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)  said . The sensitive information shared by Schulte included a tranche of  hacking tools and exploits  that were denominated as  Vault 7  and 
China-Linked Hackers Target Myanmar's Top Ministries with Backdoor Blitz

China-Linked Hackers Target Myanmar's Top Ministries with Backdoor Blitz

Jan 30, 2024 Malware / Cyber Espionage
The China-based threat actor known as  Mustang Panda  is suspected to have targeted Myanmar's Ministry of Defence and Foreign Affairs as part of twin campaigns designed to deploy backdoors and remote access trojans. The findings come from CSIRT-CTI, which said the activities took place in November 2023 and January 2024 after artifacts in connection with the attacks were uploaded to the VirusTotal platform. "The most prominent of these TTPs are the use of legitimate software including a binary developed by engineering firm Bernecker & Rainer (B&R) and a component of the Windows 10 upgrade assistant to sideload malicious dynamic-link libraries (DLLs)," CSIRT-CTI  said . Mustang Panda, active since at least 2012, is also recognized by the cybersecurity community under the names BASIN, Bronze President, Camaro Dragon, Earth Preta, HoneyMyte, RedDelta, Red Lich, Stately Taurus, and TEMP.Hex. In recent months, the adversary has been attributed to attacks targeting
Chinese Hackers Launch Covert Espionage Attacks on 24 Cambodian Organizations

Chinese Hackers Launch Covert Espionage Attacks on 24 Cambodian Organizations

Nov 13, 2023 National Security / Cyber Attack
Cybersecurity researchers have discovered what they say is malicious cyber activity orchestrated by two prominent Chinese nation-state hacking groups targeting 24 Cambodian government organizations. "This activity is believed to be part of a long-term espionage campaign," Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 researchers  said  in a report last week. "The observed activity aligns with geopolitical goals of the Chinese government as it seeks to leverage their strong relations with Cambodia to project their power and expand their naval operations in the region." Targeted organizations span defense, election oversight, human rights, national treasury and finance, commerce, politics, natural resources, and telecommunications sectors. The assessment stems from the persistent nature of inbound network connections originating from these entities to a China-linked adversarial infrastructure that masquerades as cloud backup and storage services over a "period of several month
TikTok Assures U.S. Lawmakers it's Working to Safeguard User Data From Chinese Staff

TikTok Assures U.S. Lawmakers it's Working to Safeguard User Data From Chinese Staff

Jul 02, 2022
Following heightened worries that U.S. users' data had been accessed by TikTok engineers in China between September 2021 and January 2022, the company sought to assuage U.S. lawmakers that it's taking steps to "strengthen data security." The admission that some China-based employees can access information from U.S. users came in a letter sent to nine senators, which further noted that the procedure requires the individuals to clear numerous internal security protocols. The contents of the letter, first  reported  by The New York Times, shares more details about TikTok's plans to address data security concerns through a multi-pronged initiative codenamed "Project Texas." "Employees outside the U.S., including China-based employees, can have access to TikTok U.S. user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team," TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote in the m
Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Bill—Here's Everything You Need To Know

Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Bill—Here's Everything You Need To Know

Dec 07, 2018
Australia's House of Representatives has finally passed the "Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill 2018," also known as the Anti-Encryption Bill , on Thursday that would now allow law enforcement to force Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Signal, and other tech giants to help them access encrypted communications. The Australian government argues the new legislation is important for national security and an essential tool to help law enforcement and security agencies fight serious offenses such as crime, terrorist attacks, drug trafficking, smuggling, and sexual exploitation of children. Since the bill had support from both major parties (the Coalition and Labor), the upper house could vote in support of the Assistance and Access Bill to make it law, which is expected to come into effect immediately during the next session of parliament in early 2019. Although the new legislation does not properly clarify specifics around the potential power that the Assistance
Secret Charges Against Julian Assange Revealed Due to "Cut-Paste" Error

Secret Charges Against Julian Assange Revealed Due to "Cut-Paste" Error

Nov 16, 2018
Has Wikileaks founder Julian Assange officially been charged with any unspecified criminal offense in the United States? — YES United States prosecutors have accidentally revealed the existence of criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a recently unsealed court filing in an unrelated ongoing sex crime case in the Eastern District of Virginia. Assistant US Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, who made this disclosure on August 22, urged the judge to keep the indictment [ pdf ] prepared against Assange sealed (secret) "due to the sophistication of the defendant, and the publicity surrounding the case." Dwyer is assigned to the WikiLeaks case. Dwyer also said the charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges" in the indictment and can, therefore "no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter." WikiLeaks, the website that published thousands of classified U.S. government do
Iran Bans Pokémon GO — It's My Way or the Highway!

Iran Bans Pokémon GO — It's My Way or the Highway!

Aug 06, 2016
Pokémon GO has become the world's most popular mobile game since its launch in July, but not everyone loves it. Pokémon GO has officially been banned in Iran. The Iranian High Council of Virtual Spaces – the country's official body that oversees online activity – has prohibited the use of the Pokémon GO app within the country due to unspecified " security concerns, " BBC reports . The Iranian council did not detail why the country has actually banned its citizen from playing the wildly popular game. Although many countries, including Russia and China, have expressed security concerns over the smash hit augmented reality game, Iran has become the first country to introduce an official ban of Pokémon GO. Since its launch, Pokémon GO has officially been released in more than 35 countries so far with over 100 Million downloads and continues to make an estimated $10 Million in daily revenue. Despite strict Internet restrictions in Iran, Pokémon fans have still
Russia Wants to Kick Foreign Tech Companies Out Of The Nation

Russia Wants to Kick Foreign Tech Companies Out Of The Nation

Feb 13, 2016
Someone wants to kick Microsoft, Google and Apple off from his land, but himself uses Gmail and Mac. The newly appointed Internet Tsar German Klemenko , who is the first internet advisor of Vladimir Putin , wants to kick off American Giants from Russia. In a 90-minute interview conducted by Bloomberg, Klemenko expressed his interest to vanish the presence of tech biggies of foreign countries from Russia. Google & Apple have to Pay 18% more VAT As part of this, Klemenko plans to hike the tax on foreign companies, including Google and Apple, by 18% VAT on their applications & services sold online. It is estimated that Apple, Google and other companies are nearly gaining RUB 300 Billion (£2.7 Billion, US$4 Billion) in revenue every year from Russia. "When you buy an app from Google Play or the App Store anywhere in Europe, VAT is charged at the place of payment, but not here in our banana republic," says Klemenko. The proposed movement wi
Kazakhstan makes it Mandatory for its Citizens to Install Internet Backdoor

Kazakhstan makes it Mandatory for its Citizens to Install Internet Backdoor

Dec 04, 2015
Next in the queue, Kazakhstan is also planning to Spy on encrypted Internet Traffic of its citizens, but in the most shameless way. Unlike other spying nations that are themselves capable of spying on their citizens, Kazakhstan will force every internet user in the country to install bogus security certs on their PCs and mobile devices, allowing the 'Dictator' Government to: Intercept users' Internet traffic to any Secure website, i.e. Man-in-the-Middle  Attack Access everything from user's web browsing history to usernames and passwords to secure and HTTPS-encrypted traffic This Program will seriously restrict Citizens' Freedom of Speech and Expression. What the F… is "National Internet Security Certificate"? On Monday, the nation's largest Internet service provider Kazakhtelecom JSC published a notice, which said: Citizens are "obliged" to install a so-called " National Internet Security Certificate "
South Korean Nuclear Power Plant Hacked

South Korean Nuclear Power Plant Hacked

Dec 24, 2014
Koreans have once again gain media attention but this time not as an accused of any kind of hack attack, but as a victim of a severe attack on computers systems at a nuclear power plant in South Korea by an unknown hacker or a group. South Korea was hit by a cyber attack on its nuclear power plant, causing the operator to conduct drills in order to test the ability of the nuclear plant to cope with a full-scale cyber-attack. Although the plant's operator says no critical data has been leaked. The cyber attack came into light after a hacker posted blueprints of nuclear reactors online and threatened further "leaks" unless authorities close down the reactors. According to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency, the hacker was able to access blueprints of reactors, floor maps and other internal information on the plant. Last week with the help of a Twitter account named " president of anti-nuclear reactor group ," the hacker posted leaked data revea
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