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U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp

U.S. Court Orders NSO Group to Hand Over Pegasus Spyware Code to WhatsApp

Mar 02, 2024 Spyware / Privacy
A U.S. judge has ordered NSO Group to hand over its source code for  Pegasus  and other remote access trojans to Meta as part of the social media giant's ongoing litigation against the Israeli spyware vendor. The decision marks a major legal victory for Meta, which  filed the lawsuit  in October 2019 for using its infrastructure to  distribute the spyware  to approximately 1,400 mobile devices between April and May. This also  included  two dozen Indian activists and journalists. These attacks leveraged a then zero-day flaw in the instant messaging app ( CVE-2019-3568 , CVSS score: 9.8), a critical  buffer overflow bug  in the voice call functionality, to deliver Pegasus by merely placing a call, even in scenarios where the calls were left unanswered. In addition, the attack chain included steps to erase the incoming call information from the logs in an attempt to sidestep detection. Court documents released late last month show that NSO Group has been asked to "produce
FTC Slams Avast with $16.5 Million Fine for Selling Users' Browsing Data

FTC Slams Avast with $16.5 Million Fine for Selling Users' Browsing Data

Feb 23, 2024 Privacy / Regulatory Compliance
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has hit antivirus vendor Avast with a $16.5 million fine over charges that the firm sold users' browsing data to advertisers after claiming its products would block online tracking. In addition, the company has been banned from selling or licensing any web browsing data for advertising purposes. It will also have to notify users whose browsing data was sold to third-parties without their consent. The FTC, in its complaint,  said  Avast "unfairly collected consumers' browsing information through the company's browser extensions and antivirus software, stored it indefinitely, and sold it without adequate notice and without consumer consent." It also accused the U.K.-based company of deceiving users by claiming that the software would block third-party tracking and protect users' privacy, but failing to inform them that it would sell their "detailed, re-identifiable browsing data" to more than 100 third-partie
6 Ways to Simplify SaaS Identity Governance

6 Ways to Simplify SaaS Identity Governance

Feb 21, 2024SaaS Security / Identity Management
With SaaS applications now making up the vast majority of technology used by employees in most organizations, tasks related to identity governance need to happen across a myriad of individual SaaS apps. This presents a huge challenge for centralized IT teams who are ultimately held responsible for managing and securing app access, but can't possibly become experts in the nuances of the native security settings and access controls for hundreds (or thousands) of apps. And, even if they could, the sheer volume of tasks would easily bury them. Modern IT teams need a way to orchestrate and govern SaaS identity governance by engaging the application owners in the business who are most familiar with how the tool is used, and who needs what type of access.  Nudge Security is a  SaaS security and governance solution  that can help you do just that, with automated workflows to save time and make the process manageable at scale. Read on to learn how it works. 1 . Discover all SaaS apps used b
Meta Warns of 8 Spyware Firms Targeting iOS, Android, and Windows Devices

Meta Warns of 8 Spyware Firms Targeting iOS, Android, and Windows Devices

Feb 19, 2024 Mobile Security / Cyber Espionage
Meta Platforms said it took a series of steps to curtail malicious activity from eight different firms based in Italy, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) operating in the surveillance-for-hire industry. The findings are part of its  Adversarial Threat Report  for the fourth quarter of 2023. The spyware targeted iOS, Android, and Windows devices. "Their various malware included capabilities to collect and access device information, location, photos and media, contacts, calendar, email, SMS, social media, and messaging apps, and enable microphone,camera, and screenshot functionality," the company said. The eight companies are Cy4Gate/ELT Group, RCS Labs, IPS Intelligence, Variston IT, TrueL IT, Protect Electronic Systems, Negg Group, and Mollitiam Industries. These firms, per Meta, also engaged in scraping, social engineering, and phishing activity that targeted a wide range of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, Skype, GitHub, R
cyber security

NIST Cybersecurity Framework: Your Go-To Cybersecurity Standard is Changing

websiteArmorPointCybersecurity / Risk Management
Find everything you need to know to prepare for NIST CSF 2.0's impending release in this guide.
Global Coalition and Tech Giants Unite Against Commercial Spyware Abuse

Global Coalition and Tech Giants Unite Against Commercial Spyware Abuse

Feb 07, 2024 Spyware / Zero-Day Vulnerability
A coalition of dozens of countries, including France, the U.K., and the U.S., along with tech companies such as Google, MDSec, Meta, and Microsoft, have signed a joint agreement to curb the abuse of commercial spyware to commit human rights abuses. The initiative, dubbed the  Pall Mall Process , aims to tackle the proliferation and irresponsible use of commercial cyber intrusion tools by establishing guiding principles and policy options for States, industry, and civil society in relation to the development, facilitation, purchase, and use of such tools. The declaration stated that "uncontrolled dissemination" of spyware offerings contributes to "unintentional escalation in cyberspace," noting it poses risks to cyber stability, human rights, national security, and digital security. "Where these tools are used maliciously, attacks can access victims' devices, listen to calls, obtain photos and remotely operate a camera and microphone via 'zero-click&
Pegasus Spyware Targeted iPhones of Journalists and Activists in Jordan

Pegasus Spyware Targeted iPhones of Journalists and Activists in Jordan

Feb 05, 2024 Spyware / Surveillance
The iPhones belonging to nearly three dozen journalists, activists, human rights lawyers, and civil society members in Jordan have been targeted with NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to joint findings from Access Now and the Citizen Lab. Nine of the 35 individuals have been  publicly confirmed  as  targeted , out of whom six had their devices compromised with the mercenary surveillanceware tool. The infections are estimated to have taken place from at least 2019 until September 2023. "In some cases, perpetrators posed as journalists, seeking an interview or a quote from victims, while embedding malicious links to Pegasus spyware amid and in between their messages," Access Now  said . "A number of victims were reinfected with Pegasus spyware multiple times — demonstrating the relentless nature of this targeted surveillance campaign." The Israeli company has been under the radar for failing to implement rigorous human rights safeguards prior to selling
New iShutdown Method Exposes Hidden Spyware Like Pegasus on Your iPhone

New iShutdown Method Exposes Hidden Spyware Like Pegasus on Your iPhone

Jan 17, 2024 Spyware / Forensic Analysis
Cybersecurity researchers have identified a "lightweight method" called  iShutdown  for reliably identifying signs of spyware on Apple iOS devices, including notorious threats like NSO Group's  Pegasus , QuaDream's  Reign , and Intellexa's  Predator .  Kaspersky, which analyzed a set of iPhones that were compromised with Pegasus, said the infections left traces in a file named "Shutdown.log," a text-based system log file available on all iOS devices and which records every reboot event alongside its environment characteristics. "Compared to more time-consuming acquisition methods like forensic device imaging or a full iOS backup, retrieving the Shutdown.log file is rather straightforward," security researcher Maher Yamout  said . "The log file is stored in a sysdiagnose (sysdiag) archive." The Russian cybersecurity firm said it identified entries in the log file that recorded instances where "sticky" processes, such as
Most Sophisticated iPhone Hack Ever Exploited Apple's Hidden Hardware Feature

Most Sophisticated iPhone Hack Ever Exploited Apple's Hidden Hardware Feature

Dec 28, 2023 Spyware / Hardware Security
The  Operation Triangulation  spyware attacks targeting Apple iOS devices leveraged never-before-seen exploits that made it possible to even bypass pivotal hardware-based security protections erected by the company. Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which  discovered  the  campaign  at the beginning of 2023 after becoming one of the targets,  described  it as the "most sophisticated attack chain" it has ever observed to date. The campaign is believed to have been active since 2019. Operation Triangulation gets its name from the use of a fingerprinting technique called canvas fingerprinting to draw a yellow triangle on a pink background with Web Graphics Library ( WebGL ) in the device's memory. The exploitation activity involved the use of four zero-day flaws that were fashioned into a chain to obtain an unprecedented level of access and backdoor target devices running iOS versions up to iOS 16.2 with the ultimate goal of gathering sensitive information. The starti
Operation RusticWeb: Rust-Based Malware Targets Indian Government Entities

Operation RusticWeb: Rust-Based Malware Targets Indian Government Entities

Dec 22, 2023 Malware / Cyber Threat
Indian government entities and the defense sector have been targeted by a phishing campaign that's engineered to drop Rust-based malware for intelligence gathering. The activity, first detected in October 2023, has been codenamed  Operation RusticWeb  by enterprise security firm SEQRITE. "New Rust-based payloads and encrypted PowerShell commands have been utilized to exfiltrate confidential documents to a web-based service engine, instead of a dedicated command-and-control (C2) server," security researcher Sathwik Ram Prakki  said . Tactical overlaps have been uncovered between the cluster and those widely tracked under the monikers  Transparent Tribe  and SideCopy, both of which are assessed to be linked to Pakistan. SideCopy is also a suspected subordinate element within Transparent Tribe. Last month, SEQRITE  detailed  multiple campaigns undertaken by the threat actor targeting Indian government bodies to deliver numerous trojans such as AllaKore RAT, Ares RAT, an
Experts Detail Multi-Million Dollar Licensing Model of Predator Spyware

Experts Detail Multi-Million Dollar Licensing Model of Predator Spyware

Dec 21, 2023 Zero-Day / Mobile Security
A new analysis of the sophisticated commercial spyware called Predator has revealed that its ability to persist between reboots is offered as an "add-on feature" and that it depends on the licensing options opted by a customer. "In 2021, Predator spyware couldn't survive a reboot on the infected Android system (it had it on iOS)," Cisco Talos researchers Mike Gentile, Asheer Malhotra, and Vitor Ventura  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. "However, by April 2022, that capability was being offered to their customers." Predator is the product of a consortium called the Intellexa Alliance, which includes Cytrox (subsequently acquired by WiSpear), Nexa Technologies, and Senpai Technologies. Both Cytrox and Intellexa were  added  to the Entity List by the U.S. in July 2023 for "trafficking in cyber exploits used to gain access to information systems." The latest findings come more than six months after the cybersecurity vendor detai
Warning for iPhone Users: Experts Warn of Sneaky Fake Lockdown Mode Attack

Warning for iPhone Users: Experts Warn of Sneaky Fake Lockdown Mode Attack

Dec 05, 2023 Mobile Security / Spyware
A new "post-exploitation tampering technique" can be abused by malicious actors to visually deceive a target into believing that their Apple iPhone is running in Lockdown Mode when it's actually not and carry out covert attacks. The novel method, detailed by Jamf Threat Labs in a  report  shared with The Hacker News, "shows that if a hacker has already infiltrated your device, they can cause Lockdown Mode to be 'bypassed' when you trigger its activation." In other words, the goal is to implement Fake Lockdown Mode on a device that's compromised by an attacker through other means, such as  unpatched security flaws  that can trigger execution of arbitrary code. Lockdown Mode , introduced by Apple last year with iOS 16, is an  enhanced security measure  that aims to safeguard high-risk individuals from sophisticated digital threats such as mercenary spyware by  minimizing the attack surface . What it doesn't do is prevent the execution of mali
Zero-Day Alert: Apple Rolls Out iOS, macOS, and Safari Patches for 2 Actively Exploited Flaws

Zero-Day Alert: Apple Rolls Out iOS, macOS, and Safari Patches for 2 Actively Exploited Flaws

Dec 01, 2023 Spyware / Threat Analysis
Apple has  released  software updates for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and Safari web browser to address two security flaws that it said have come under active exploitation in the wild on older versions of its software. The vulnerabilities, both of which reside in the WebKit web browser engine, are described below - CVE-2023-42916  - An out-of-bounds read issue that could be exploited to leak sensitive information when processing web content. CVE-2023-42917  - A memory corruption bug that could result in arbitrary code execution when processing web content. Apple said it's aware of reports exploiting the shortcomings "against versions of iOS before iOS 16.7.1," which was released on October 10, 2023. ClĂ©ment Lecigne of Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has been credited with discovering and reporting the twin flaws. The iPhone maker did not provide additional information regarding ongoing exploitation, but previously disclosed zero-days in iOS have been used to  de
Stealthy Kamran Spyware Targeting Urdu-speaking Users in Gilgit-Baltistan

Stealthy Kamran Spyware Targeting Urdu-speaking Users in Gilgit-Baltistan

Nov 10, 2023 Privacy / Cyber Espionage
Urdu-speaking readers of a regional news website that caters to the Gilgit-Baltistan region have likely emerged as a target of a watering hole attack designed to deliver a previously undocumented Android spyware dubbed  Kamran . The campaign, ESET has  discovered , leverages Hunza News (urdu.hunzanews[.]net), which, when opened on a mobile device, prompts visitors of the Urdu version to install its Android app directly hosted on the website. The app, however, incorporates malicious espionage capabilities, with the attack compromising at least 20 mobile devices to date. It has been available on the website since sometime between January 7, and March 21, 2023, around when  massive protests  were held in the region over land rights, taxation, and extensive power cuts. The malware, activated upon package installation, requests for intrusive permissions, allowing it to harvest sensitive information from the devices.  This includes contacts, call logs, calendar events, location informa
SecuriDropper: New Android Dropper-as-a-Service Bypasses Google's Defenses

SecuriDropper: New Android Dropper-as-a-Service Bypasses Google's Defenses

Nov 06, 2023 Mobile Security / Malware
Cybersecurity researchers have shed light on a new dropper-as-a-service (DaaS) for Android called  SecuriDropper  that bypasses new security restrictions imposed by Google and delivers the malware. Dropper malware on Android is designed to function as a conduit to install a payload on a compromised device, making it a lucrative business model for threat actors, who can advertise the capabilities to other criminal groups. What's more, doing so also allows adversaries to separate the development and execution of an attack from the installation of the malware. "Droppers and the actors behind them are in a constant state of evolution as they strive to outwit evolving security measures," Dutch cybersecurity firm ThreatFabric  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. One such security measure introduced by Google with Android 13 is what's called the Restricted Settings, which prevents sideloaded applications from obtaining Accessibility and Notification Listener
CanesSpy Spyware Discovered in Modified WhatsApp Versions

CanesSpy Spyware Discovered in Modified WhatsApp Versions

Nov 03, 2023 Spyware / Mobile Security
Cybersecurity researchers have unearthed a number of WhatsApp mods for Android that come fitted with a spyware module dubbed  CanesSpy . These modified versions of the instant messaging app have been observed propagated via sketchy websites advertising such modded software as well as Telegram channels used primarily by Arabic and Azerbaijani speakers, one of which boasts of two million users. "The trojanized client manifest contains suspicious components (a service and a broadcast receiver) that cannot be found in the original WhatsApp client," Kaspersky security researcher Dmitry Kalinin  said . Specifically, the new additions are designed to activate the spyware module when the phone is switched on or starts charging. It subsequently proceeds to establish contact with a command-and-control (C2) server, followed by sending information about the compromised device, such as the IMEI, phone number, mobile country code, and mobile network code. CanesSpy also transmits det
SpyNote: Beware of This Android Trojan that Records Audio and Phone Calls

SpyNote: Beware of This Android Trojan that Records Audio and Phone Calls

Oct 16, 2023 Malware / Mobile Security
The Android banking trojan known as  SpyNote  has been dissected to reveal its diverse information-gathering features. Typically spread via SMS phishing campaigns, attack chains involving the spyware trick potential victims into installing the app by clicking on the embedded link, according to F-Secure. Besides requesting invasive permissions to access call logs, camera, SMS messages, and external storage, SpyNote is known for hiding its presence from the Android home screen and the  Recents screen  in a bid to make it difficult to avoid detection. "The SpyNote malware app can be launched via an external trigger," F-Secure researcher Amit Tambe  said  in an analysis published last week. "Upon receiving the intent, the malware app launches the main activity." But most importantly, it seeks accessibility permissions, subsequently leveraging it to grant itself additional permissions to record audio and phone calls, log keystrokes, as well as capture screenshots o
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