Thursday, August 14, 2014

"If we get caught..." The Plan B of cyber espionage

"If we get caught, we can always point the finger at Israel.” That's the particular sense of humor of the US National Security Agency’s Tailored Access Operations Team (TAO), according to NSA’s former contractor Edward Snowden.

Yesterday the prestigious Wired magazine published an interview with Mr. Snowden, who had to flee from USA after revealing the questionable spying practices of NSA and many of its irregularities. Therefore, whenever this whistleblower speaks out, he captures everyone’s attention. This time, he uncovered the TAO team was behind a massive outage of Syria's internet access in 2012 while they were trying to install a wiretap on the country's networks. They tried to fix it and wipe their tracks but they failed. Then someone snapped the phrase that opened this article. He also spoke of the MonsterMind system designed to detect computer attacks against American servers, block them and counterattack automatically without human intervention or authorization.

One of the points always highlighted by Snowden is the huge amount of data on citizens across the World stored by the NSA. However, many times the face is the most important thing to capture someone. Here facial recognition technologies play an essential role. This way is how the FBI got the whereabouts of Neil Stammer, suspected of child sexual abuse who was escaped for 14 years. The U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) entered his photo on its new face recognition software and voila, they located him in Nepal, under the false identity of Kevin Hodges.

But if an intelligence service, a cybercriminal gang or even your mother wanted to know everything about your life today, they would only have to find a way to infect your phone with some sort of Trojan. For instance, Krysanec is a remote access Trojan (RAT) that has been detected disguised as a legitimate Android app sold in alternative app markets. It is also distributed in Russia through social networking and instant messaging.

On the other hand, AdThief malware for jailbroken iOS devices aims to steal the ad revenue generated on iPhone by intervening in the advertising processes and changing the developer’s ID. Thus cybercriminals are estimated to have redirected the revenues generated by 22 million ads directly to their pockets.

As you can see, the risks posed by mobile devices have grown exponentially in recent years. Therefore, companies specializing in their protection such as Lookout are experiencing some years of prosperity. Now this company wants to expand beyond the individual consumer market to large companies. To do this, they raised a financing round of $150 million.

Nevertheless, although cell phones have gained great importance, we must never let our guard down regarding our computers’ security. So, do not forget to update to the latest versions of Flash Player and Adobe Reader which Adobe just released to address a total of 8 vulnerabilities.

At this point, we leave you alone to keep enjoying this fantastic Thursday. To keep yourself informed, we invite you to follow us on our social channels (find the links at the right sidebar) or here on our blog. And do not forget that if you have any security mishap these days, you always can blame Israel.


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