It has been an interesting couple of weeks. Outside of the general news reporting about exploits and cyber attacks, it was hard to ignore the chatter from my own personal network of folks, both in technology and the intelligence community, telling me about the rising attacks from foreign shores.
Even tonight, a media report on CBC’s the National reported about another incident that was undetected until the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre learned about the Chinese-originating cyber attack from the CBC. (See Video).
In the past week, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft succumbed to malware exploits and the other day, Tumblr’s platform (which this site is hosted on) sent a notice announcing a ZenDesk exploit which exposed account-level data for support issues.
Over a few drinks tonight, a respected colleague and I shared the latest thoughts on technology trends and macro geopolitical trends before he shared an interesting tidbit about a friend in Davos exchanging some strong words with a Chinese official over the rise of cyber-attacks from the region. The Chinese official replied back, “You stole our gun powder…” Talk about taking the long-view.
Most troubling is the fact that most media reporting about origin of most cyber attacks appears to very unclear. Some officials in the US intelligence community told western media this week that a China-origin attack was unlikely as the cyber-exploits appear “sophisticated” and of East-European or Russian origin where the underground cyber-criminal networks run deep.
How would we know? It could be spin-doctoring on a much grander scale. I smelled a rat on some of the reporting.
Even worse, Anonymous has functioned trans-nationally without any defined geographical framework very similar Al-Qaeda. Could the attacks purely be Russian, East-European, China or Anonymous? No one really knows.
Recent CBC reports from the past year appear to indicate that “state-sponsored” Chinese cyber-attacks have been economically-tied and part of a newer form of cyber espionage as shown in this video:
On February 21, Malwarebytes’ communications team contacted me about the NBC.com hack the same day which embedded malicious iframe code to spread the Citadel Trojan. It was detected as Backdoor.Agent.RS.
On his blog, Dancho Danchev suggested that the criminals behind NBC.com’s hack may be the same people behind recent fake emails from Facebook and Verizon which directed unsuspecting users to exploit pages.
In other words, NBC.com was compromised for about 15 minutes and the actual iframe with the malicious redirect was embedded in a java-script file located on the web server for NBC.com. It used the RedKit exploit kit to spread the malware and exploited both Java and Adobe Reader. The malware, Citadel, is a reproduction of the Zeus banker Trojan and has the same capabilities of stealing financial information from users. In addition, it can execute subsequent malware by installing Ransomware on the victim’s system. The exploit has since been taken down.
Interestingly, as a long-time user of Malwarebytes, the anti-malware product protects desktops/laptops from this threat due to its behavior-based zero-hour engine that stops new malware that has not been seen before and doesn’t yet have a signature (i.e. antidote) created to update a user’s desktop anti-virus definitions.
Microsoft’s Security Response Center posted this statement about their recent intrusion similar to those at Facebook and Apple.
Whether these exploits are of cyber-criminal, trans-national or state-sponsored origin, what’s becoming more clear for me is the growing requirement of online users to protect their digital profiles, cloud-based files, and financial information pro-actively with as many security measures as possible.
For me, this transformation started with Google products with Google Authenticator to protect online products and products accessed from multiple smartphones and tablets.
A colleague forwarded this and while I don’t know the people behind it (CHForum.org), there were some interesting slides related to several macro events that have affected nations globally.
Executive Director: Oliver Sparrow
Oliver is a director, board advisor or non-executive director of a number of companies. He is also director of a charity called the Leadership Capacity Trust. He serves as a member of number of UK government projects. He was a commissioner on the World Commission on Globalization.
Oliver spent the bulk of his career in Shell, chiefly in strategic planning, corporate renewal, public affairs and venture capital. After Shell, he spent five years as a Director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, also known as Chatham House. Country assessments - their stability, their weaknesses and potential, negotiation around conflict - were and remain a central skill.
Oliver has lived and worked in a considerable number of countries, predominantly in the Pacific, Asia and Latin America. He speaks good Spanish. One of his companies is developing both gold mines and urban waste disposal projects in Latin America. He was born in the Bahamas and brought up in Africa. He was educated at Oxford, with a science and economics background which has since expanded into many fields. He enjoys exploring wild parts of the world for orchids, particularly the Himalayas. He is a fellow of the Peter Drucker foundation.
No No No. A Microsoft and Facebook account. :-)
This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. — Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst.
Here’s an update to the obvious. The other day while walking the streets of Toronto, I counted 20 - 20! - security cameras in one intersection between private condo cameras and Metro Toronto police security cameras.
Interesting enough, the Metro Police CCTVs were installed in the “Entertainment District” due to the concentration of nightclubs and party-goers which have always created tension and incidents; thereby giving rise to their installation.
Now, city politics has changed and the city core where “entertainment” meant “weekend madness” has given way to million dollar condos and retail. Will the Metro Police CCTVs be decommissioned? Doubtful.
Regardless, this is becoming the challenge of the 21st century because it threatens basic principles of democracy as we (“blindly”?) accept technology in a social context with each passing day.
Like never before, we can know so much about everyone and the people close to us with a simple click called “Like”.
Web profiles soon. If you had crazy photos before, now the web will see them. :D
There’s something to be said about images, pins, and browsing behaviour in a social media world. Our minds our visual. We know that. Photos represented a huge chunk of Facebook’s attention platform. That is why they bought Instragram.
We’re saying less and less in the form of tweets and read less online compared to the long-form print media articles that won prizes for journalistic excellence. Not sure where this is all headed but more and more folks are talking about “restlessness” and for the need to “unplug”. Read this article.
- Pinterest drives more than window shopping (pcworld.com)
- The Story Behind Pinterest’s Soaring Popularity (sysomos.com)
- STUDY: Pinterest Tops Facebook In Shopping Engagement (allfacebook.com)
I don’t think I have EVER seen a #Facebook down.
Dear Alex Bosika,
In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data. As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed. Recipes using Twitter Actions and your ability to post new tweets via IFTTT will continue to work just fine.
At IFTTT, first and foremost, we want to empower anyone to create connections between literally anything. We’ve still got a long way to go, and to get there we need to make sure that the types of connections that IFTTT enables are aligned with how the original creators want their tools and services to be used.
We at IFTTT are big Twitter fans and, like yourself, we’ve gotten a lot of value out of the Recipes that use Twitter Triggers. We’re sad to see them go, but remain excited to build features that work within Twitter’s new policy. Thank you for your support and for understanding these upcoming changes. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com.
*These Twitter policy changes specifically disallow uploading Twitter Content to a “cloud based service” (Section 4A https://dev.twitter.com/terms/api-terms) and include stricter enforcement of the Developer Display Requirements (https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-requirements).
- IFTTT To Remove Twitter Triggers Due To API Constraints, Your Recipes Are Baked (techcrunch.com)
- Twitter Screws Up IFTTT.com For The Rest Of Us (problogservice.com)
- IFTTT forced to remove Twitter triggers to comply with new API policies (thenextweb.com)
- IFTTT disables Twitter triggers, but not because of recent API changes (siliconrepublic.com)
- IFTTT disables Twitter Triggers due to Twitter’s third-party app policies (neowin.net)
- Twitter’s Walled Garden Will Leave IFTTT Recipes Out in the Cold (betabeat.com)
- IFTTT disables Twitter Triggers in response to Twitter’s new third-party app policies (theverge.com)
- Thanks Twitter…NOT! IFTTT Forced to End Twitter Mashups (infodocket.com)