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Former Twitter Employee Found Guilty of Spying for Saudi Arabia

Former Twitter Employee Found Guilty of Spying for Saudi Arabia
August 10, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A former Twitter employee has been pronounced guilty for his role in digging up private information pertaining to certain Twitter users and turning over that data to Saudi Arabia. Ahmad Abouammo, 44, was convicted by a jury after a two-week trial in San Francisco federal court, Bloomberg  reported  Tuesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced. The  verdict  comes nearly three years after Abouammo, along with Ali Alzabarah and Ahmed Almutairi (Ahmed Aljbreen) were  indicted in 2019  for acting as "illegal agents" of Saudi Arabia, with the former also charged with destroying, altering, and falsifying records in a federal investigation. Prosecutors accused Abouammo and Alzabarah, both of whom joined Twitter in 2013, of being enlisted by officials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for  unmasking its critics  on the social media platform. According to court documents, both individuals leveraged their access to internal systems to unauthorizedly get hold of nonpubli

State-Backed Hackers Targeting Journalists in Widespread Espionage Campaigns

State-Backed Hackers Targeting Journalists in Widespread Espionage Campaigns
July 14, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
Nation-state hacking groups aligned with China, Iran, North Korea, and Turkey have been targeting journalists to conduct espionage and spread malware as part of a series of campaigns since early 2021. "Most commonly, phishing attacks targeting journalists are used for espionage or to gain key insights into the inner workings of another government, company, or other area of state-designated import," Proofpoint  said  in a report shared with The Hacker News. The ultimate goal of the "sustained" intrusions, the enterprise security firm said, is to gain a competitive intelligence edge or spread disinformation and propaganda. Proofpoint said it identified two Chinese hacking groups, TA412 (aka  Zirconium  or Judgment Panda) and  TA459 , targeting media personnel with malicious emails containing web beacons and weaponized documents respectively that were used to amass information about the recipients' network environments and drop  Chinoxy  malware. In a simila

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
July 02, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
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

Privid: A Privacy-Preserving Surveillance Video Analytics System

Privid: A Privacy-Preserving Surveillance Video Analytics System
March 29, 2022Ravie Lakshmanan
A group of academics has designed a new system known as " Privid " that enables video analytics in a privacy-preserving manner to combat concerns with invasive tracking. "We're at a stage right now where cameras are practically ubiquitous. If there's a camera on every street corner, every place you go, and if someone could actually process all of those videos in aggregate, you can imagine that entity building a very precise timeline of when and where a person has gone," Frank Cangialosi, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL),  said  in a statement. "People are already worried about location privacy with GPS — video data in aggregate could capture not only your location history, but also moods, behaviors, and more at each location," Cangialosi added. Privid is built on the foundation of  differential privacy , a  statistical technique  that makes it possibl

Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries

Israel Bans Sales of Hacking and Surveillance Tools to 65 Countries
November 26, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Israel's Ministry of Defense has dramatically restricted the number of countries to which cybersecurity firms operating in the nation are allowed to sell offensive hacking and surveillance tools to, cutting off 65 nations from the export list. The revised list, details of which were first reported by the Israeli business newspaper  Calcalist , now only includes 37 countries, down from the previous 102: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. Notably missing from the list are countries such as Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E, which have been previously identified as customers of Israeli spyware vendor NSO Group. In curtailing the exports, the mov

Report: Danish Secret Service Helped NSA Spy On European Politicians

Report: Danish Secret Service Helped NSA Spy On European Politicians
June 01, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used a partnership with Denmark's foreign and military intelligence service to eavesdrop on top politicians and high-ranking officials in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and France by tapping into Danish underwater internet cables between 2012 and 2014. Details of the covert wiretapping were  broken  by Copenhagen-based public broadcaster DR over the weekend based on interviews with nine unnamed sources, all of whom are said to have access to classified information held by the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste or FE). German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and the opposition leader at the time, Peer Steinbrück, are said to have been targeted through the Danish-American pact. Using the telephone numbers of politicians as search parameters, the report alleged that the NSA "intercepted everything from text messages to phone calls that passed through the ca

Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials

Researchers Uncover Android Spying Campaign Targeting Pakistan Officials
February 11, 2021Ravie Lakshmanan
Two new Android surveillanceware families have been found to target military, nuclear, and election entities in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of a pro-India, state-sponsored hacking campaign. Dubbed Hornbill and Sunbird, the malware impersonates legitimate or seemingly innocuous services to cover its tracks, only to stealthily collect SMS, encrypted messaging app content, and geolocation, among other types of sensitive information. The findings published by Lookout is the result of an analysis of 18GB of exfiltrated data that was publicly exposed from at least six insecurely configured command-and-control (C2) servers located in India. "Some notable targets included an individual who applied for a position at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, individuals with numerous contacts in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), as well as officers responsible for electoral rolls (Booth Level Officers) located in the Pulwama district of Kashmir," the researchers  said  in a Wednesday ana

Telegram Suffers 'Powerful DDoS Attack' From China During Hong Kong Protests

Telegram Suffers 'Powerful DDoS Attack' From China During Hong Kong Protests
June 13, 2019Mohit Kumar
Telegram, one of the most popular encrypted messaging app, briefly went offline yesterday for hundreds of thousands of users worldwide after a powerful distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack hit its servers. Telegram founder Pavel Durov later revealed that the attack was mainly coming from the IP addresses located in China, suggesting the Chinese government could be behind it to sabotage Hong Kong protesters. Since last week, millions of people in Hong Kong are fighting their political leaders over the proposed amendments to an extradition law that would allow a person arrested in Hong Kong to face trial elsewhere, including in mainland China. Many people see it as a fundamental threat to the territory's civic freedoms and the rule of law. Many people in Hong Kong are currently using Telegram's encrypted messaging service to communicate without being spied on, organize the protest, and alert each other about activities on the ground. According to Telegram, th

NSA Leaker 'Reality Winner' Gets More Than 5 Years in Prison

NSA Leaker 'Reality Winner' Gets More Than 5 Years in Prison
August 24, 2018Mohit Kumar
A former NSA contractor, who pleaded guilty to leaking a classified report on Russian hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election to an online news outlet last year, has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison. Reality Winner , a 26-year-old Georgia woman who held a top-secret security clearance and worked as a government contractor in Georgia with Pluribus International, initially faced 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, in the U.S. District Court in Augusta, Georgia on Thursday, Winner agreed to a plea agreement that called for five years and three months in prison with three years of supervision after release. Back in May 2017, Winner printed out a top-secret document detailing about the Russian hacking into U.S. voting systems, smuggled the report out of the agency in her underwear, and then mailed it anonymously to The Intercept. The Intercept, an online publication that has been publishing classified NSA documents leaked by Edward Snow

NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers

NSO Spyware Targets Saudi Human Rights Activists and Researchers
August 01, 2018Swati Khandelwal
Amnesty International, one of the most prominent non-profit human rights organizations in the world, claims one of its staff members has been targeted by a sophisticated surveillance tool made by Israel's NSO Group. The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that's mostly known for selling high-tech spyware and surveillance malware capable of remotely cracking into Apple's iPhones and Google's Android devices to intelligence apparatuses, militaries, and law enforcement around the world. The company's most powerful spyware called Pegasus for iPhone , Android , and other mobile devices has previously been used to target human rights activists and journalists, from Mexico to the United Arab Emirates. Pegasus has been designed to hack mobile phones remotely, allowing an attacker to access an incredible amount of data on a target victim, including text messages, emails, WhatsApp messages , user's location, microphone, and camera —all without the victim's knowl

macOS Malware Creator Charged With Spying on Thousands of PCs Over 13 Years

macOS Malware Creator Charged With Spying on Thousands of PCs Over 13 Years
January 11, 2018Mohit Kumar
The U.S. Justice Department unsealed 16-count indictment charges on Wednesday against a computer programmer from Ohio who is accused of creating and installing spyware on thousands of computers for more than 13 years. According to the indictment, 28-year-old Phillip R. Durachinsky is the alleged author of FruitFly malware that was found targeting Apple Mac users earlier last year worldwide, primarily in the United States. Interestingly, Durachinsky was just 14 years old when he programmed the first version of the FruitFly malware, and this full-fledged backdoor trojan went largely undetected for several years, despite using unsophisticated and antiquated code. The malware was initially discovered in January 2017 by Malwarebytes and then Patrick Wardle, an ex-NSA hacker, found around 400 Mac computers infected with the newer strain of FruitFly. However, Wardle believed the number of infected Macs would likely be much higher. The malware is capable of advanced surveillance

Kaspersky Lab Sues U.S. Government Over Software Ban

Kaspersky Lab Sues U.S. Government Over Software Ban
December 19, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has taken the United States government to a U.S. federal court for its decision to ban the use of Kaspersky products in federal agencies and departments. In September 2017, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) ordering civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab software from their computers and networks within 90 days. The order came amid mounting concern among United States officials that the Kaspersky antivirus software could be helping Russian government spy on their activities, which may threaten the U.S. national security. U.S. President Donald Trump also signed into law last week legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky products within the U.S. government, capping a months-long effort to purge Kaspersky from federal agencies amid concerns it's vulnerable to Kremlin influence. The Kaspersky's appeal is part of an ongoing campaign by the c

Is Your DJI Drone a Chinese Spy? Leaked DHS Memo Suggests

Is Your DJI Drone a Chinese Spy? Leaked DHS Memo Suggests
December 04, 2017Swati Khandelwal
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently accused Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), one of the largest drone manufacturers, of sending sensitive information about U.S. infrastructure to China through its commercial drones and software. A copy memo from the Los Angeles office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE) has begun circulating online more recently, alleging "with moderate confidence" that DJI drones may be sending US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data back to China. However, the bureau accessed "with high confidence" that this critical data collected by the DJI systems could then be used by the Chinese government to conduct physical or cyber attacks against the U.S. critical infrastructure and its population. The memo goes on to specify the targets the Chinese Government has been attempting to spy on, which includes rail systems, water systems, hazardous material storage facilities, and constructio

Kaspersky: NSA Worker's Computer Was Already Infected With Malware

Kaspersky: NSA Worker's Computer Was Already Infected With Malware
November 17, 2017Swati Khandelwal
Refuting allegations that its anti-virus product helped Russian spies steal classified files from an NSA employee's laptop, Kaspersky Lab has released more findings that suggest the computer in question may have been infected with malware. Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab on Thursday published the results of its own internal investigation claiming the NSA worker who took classified documents home had a personal home computer overwhelmed with malware. According to the latest Kaspersky report, the telemetry data its antivirus collected from the NSA staffer's home computer contained large amounts of malware files which acted as a backdoor to the PC. The report also provided more details about the malicious backdoor that infected the NSA worker's computer when he installed a pirated version of Microsoft Office 2013 .ISO containing the Mokes backdoor, also known as Smoke Loader. Backdoor On NSA Worker's PC May Have Helped Other Hackers Steal Classi

Kaspersky Opens Antivirus Source Code for Independent Review to Rebuild Trust

Kaspersky Opens Antivirus Source Code for Independent Review to Rebuild Trust
October 23, 2017Mohit Kumar
Kaspersky Lab — We have nothing to hide! Russia-based Antivirus firm hits back with what it calls a " comprehensive transparency initiative ," to allow independent third-party review of its source code and internal processes to win back the trust of customers and infosec community. Kaspersky launches this initiative days after it was accused of helping, knowingly or unknowingly, Russian government hackers to steal classified material from a computer belonging to an NSA contractor. Earlier this month another story published by the New York Times claimed that Israeli government hackers hacked into Kaspersky 's network in 2015 and caught Russian hackers red-handed hacking US government with the help of Kaspersky. US officials have long been suspicious that Kaspersky antivirus firm may have ties to Russian intelligence agencies. Back in July, the company offered to turn over the source code for the U.S. government to audit. However, the offer did not stop U.S. Dep

Google to add "DNS over TLS" security feature to Android OS

Google to add "DNS over TLS" security feature to Android OS
October 23, 2017Mohit Kumar
No doubt your Internet Service Provides (ISPs), or network-level hackers cannot spy on https communications. But do you know — ISPs can still see all of your DNS requests, allowing them to know what websites you visit. Google is working on a new security feature for Android that could prevent your Internet traffic from network spoofing attacks. Almost every Internet activity starts with a DNS query, making it a fundamental building block of the Internet. DNS works as an Internet's phone book that resolves human-readable web addresses, like thehackernews.com, against their IP addresses. DNS queries and responses are sent in clear text (using UDP or TCP) without encryption, which makes it vulnerable to eavesdropping and compromises privacy. ISPs by default resolve DNS queries from their servers. So when you type a website name in your browser, the query first goes to their DNS servers to find the website's IP address, which eventually exposes this information (metada

Israel Hacked Kaspersky, Caught Russian Spies Hacking American Spies, But...

Israel Hacked Kaspersky, Caught Russian Spies Hacking American Spies, But...
October 11, 2017Mohit Kumar
The cold cyber war has just turned hot. According to a story published  today by the New York Times, Israeli government hackers hacked into Kaspersky's network in 2015 and caught Russian government hackers red-handed hacking US government hackers with the help of Kaspersky. In other words — Russia spying on America, Israel spying on Russia and America spying on everyone. What the F^#% is going around? It is like one is blaming another for doing exactly the same thing it is doing against someone else. Wow! Well, the fact that everyone is spying on everyone is neither new nor any secret. However, somehow now Kaspersky Labs is at the centre of this international espionage tale for its alleged devil role. Just last week, the Wall Street Journal, an American media agency, published a story against the Kaspersky, a Russian antivirus provider, claiming that the Russian government hackers stole highly classified NSA documents and hacking tools in 2015 from a staffer's home

U.S. Believes Russian Spies Used Kaspersky Antivirus to Steal NSA Secrets

U.S. Believes Russian Spies Used Kaspersky Antivirus to Steal NSA Secrets
October 06, 2017Unknown
Do you know—United States Government has banned federal agencies from using Kaspersky antivirus software over spying fear? Though there's no solid evidence yet available, an article published by WSJ claims  that the Russian state-sponsored hackers stole highly classified NSA documents from a contractor in 2015 with the help of a security program made by Russia-based security firm Kaspersky Lab. Currently, there is no way to independently confirm if the claims on the popular security vendor published by the Wall Street Journal is accurate—and the story does not even prove the involvement of Kaspersky. "As a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight," Kaspersky said in a statement. The NSA contractor working with the American intelligence agency, whose identity has not yet been disclosed, reportedly do

Here's How CIA Spies On Its Intelligence Liaison Partners Around the World

Here's How CIA Spies On Its Intelligence Liaison Partners Around the World
August 24, 2017Swati Khandelwal
WikiLeaks has just published another Vault 7 leak, revealing how the CIA spies on their intelligence partners around the world, including FBI, DHS and the NSA, to covertly collect data from their systems. The CIA offers a biometric collection system—with predefined hardware, operating system, and software—to its intelligence liaison partners around the world that helps them voluntary share collected biometric data on their systems with each other. But since no agency share all of its collected biometric data with others, the Office of Technical Services (OTS) within CIA developed a tool to secretly exfiltrate data collections from their systems. Dubbed ExpressLane , the newly revealed CIA project details about the spying software that the CIA agents manually installs as part of a routine upgrade to the Biometric system. The leaked CIA documents reveal that the OTS officers, who maintain biometric collection systems installed at liaison services, visit their premises and se
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