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Watching a $1.14 million ransomware negotiation between hackers and scientists searching for COVID-19 treatments

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Watching a $1.14 million ransomware negotiation between hackers and scientists searching for COVID-19 treatments

An anonymous tip-off to BBC News enabled them to watch in real-time as an American medical university attempted to negotiate with the hackers who had infected its systems with ransomware.

As reporter Joe Tidy describes, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) was attacked by the notorious NetWalker ransomware on the first day of June.

Netwalker message

A ransom demand left by the gang directed the university dedicated to medical research to a payment page on the dark web, where they could find an FAQ, an offer of a “free” sample of a decrypted file (proving decryption was possible), and the ability – just like so many legitimate websites – to have a live chat with a support operator.

Netwalker chat message. Source: BBC News
NetWalker chat message. Source: BBC News

Of course, negotiating the safe recovery of your encrypted files is so much more stressful when the webpage also contains a countdown timer, threatening to either double the ransom demand or publish stolen data onto the internet if time runs out.

Six hours after asking, the University of California San Francisco must have been relieved to have been given more time, and for news of the attack to be removed from NetWalker’s public website.

Netwalker chat message. Source: BBC News
NetWalker chat message. Source: BBC News

However, the hackers demanded $3 million, and were less than impressed when whoever was at the UCSF’s end of the conversation begged them to accept $780,000 citing the “financially devastating” damage caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. UCSF has been conducting antibiotic clinical trials in the fight against COVID-19.

Netwalker chat message. Source: BBC News
NetWalker chat message. Source: BBC News

Ultimately, after what BBC News describes as a “day of back-and-forth negotiations,” the two sides agreed to a final payment of $1,140,895. 116.4 bitcoins were transferred to cryptocurrency wallets owned by the NetWalker gang the following day, and the university received the decryption software required to recover its affected data.

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Speaking to BBC News, UCSF explained why it had decided to give in to its digital extortionists:

“The data that was encrypted is important to some of the academic work we pursue as a university serving the public good.

“We therefore made the difficult decision to pay some portion of the ransom, approximately $1.14 million, to the individuals behind the malware attack in exchange for a tool to unlock the encrypted data and the return of the data they obtained.

“It would be a mistake to assume that all of the statements and claims made in the negotiations are factually accurate.”

Nobody likes the idea of cybercriminals making money out of successful ransomware attacks. Everytime one organisation decides to pay its extortionists it incentivises malicious hackers to launch yet more ransomware attacks against unsuspecting targets.

At the same time, I can understand how organisations that feel they have no other option might make the difficult decision that it’s better to pay the criminals than have their organisation further disrupted, or its data exposed on the internet.

The University is now said to be assisting in the FBI’s investigation into the attack, and restoring its affected systems.

One final thought for you all: whose interest is it in to tip-off BBC News about a ransomware negotiation as it happens?

Found this article interesting? Follow Graham Cluley on Twitter to read more of the exclusive content we post.

Source: https://www.grahamcluley.com/ransomware-ucsf-netwalker-coronavirus/

Cyber Security

Worldwide Endpoint Security Software Market Shares Report Reveals CrowdStrike is Shaping the Endpoint Market

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[ This article was originally published here ]

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–CrowdStrike® Inc. (Nasdaq: CRWD), a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection, today announced that it was identified as the fastest-growing endpoint security software vendor not only shaping the endpoint market but nearly doubling its market share within the IDC Worldwide Endpoint Security Software Market Shares, 2019: Vendors’ Pivot from Products to Platforms Accelerating (Doc # US46610420, June 2020) report. Highlighted in the report, CrowdStrike demon

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Source: https://www.cybersecurity-insiders.com/worldwide-endpoint-security-software-market-shares-report-reveals-crowdstrike-is-shaping-the-endpoint-market/

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Cyber Security

LinkedIn iOS App Caught Reading Clipboard With Every Keystroke, Says it is a Bug

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LinkedIn iOS App

LinkedIn caught snooping on the clipboard data of every keystroke, the issue was discovered with the beta version of iOS 14.

The LinkedIn iOS app is responsible for the privacy-intrusive behavior that spotted by a developer who goes with the twitter handle @DonCubed.

LinkedIn iOS App

DonCubed noticed that while using LinkedIn on his iPad Pro, a service copying the keystrokes from the clipboard on his MacBook Pro.

The data snooping was discovered using the new mechanism introduced in iOS 14 that alerts users when some app is reading contents from the clipboard.

The new feature with iOS 14 is a good upgrade to privacy, iOS 14 also alerts users when an app accesses their camera or microphone.

With the new mechanism, @DonCubed found that “LinkedIn is copying the contents of my clipboard every keystroke. IOS 14 allows users to see each paste notification.”

LinkedIn’s consumer products’ VP Engineering Erran Berger said that copying behavior is not an intended one, he further added that “the contents of the clipboard are not stored or transmitted. A fix for the issue is in the works, and should be available soon.”

Earlier TikTok caught accessing the clipboard every few seconds and the company said they are to remove the feature.

Not only TikTok many other apps like Twitter, Starbucks, Overstock, AccuWeather, and more caught reading users clipboard data.

You can follow us on LinkedinTwitterFacebook for daily Cybersecurity and hacking news updates.

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Source: https://gbhackers.com/linkedin-ios-app/

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Cyber Security

Spyse – A Cybersecurity Search Engine For Pentesters

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Spyse

Spyse is a cybersecurity search engine that has caught the attention of many pentesters due to its unique data-gathering design. Most services offer scanning tools, and Spyse places itself on a different tier by combining those tools into a search engine. 

Moreover, the search engine draws results from a massive database, with tons of technical internet data that is readily available for users. This means that users don’t have to perform new scans every time they need to find a specific chunk of data on the open-source.

With recent upgrades and neat productivity improvements, Spyse could be the next big thing in cybersecurity. 

How Spyse Works to Collect Data

Reducing scanning time is one of the most discussed, most asked for topics in cybersecurity. This is because users who need to perform reconnaissance on a bunch of targets, or even scan their own infrastructure, have to do so using a variety of different services for different types of data. Spyse’s solution is using a scanner infrastructure which performs data scans beforehand and offers readily processed data to the user. 

Spyse’s scanner infrastructure consists of ten self-developed scanners which are made to gather specific information from predetermined sources. The data is checked and sorted by Spyse algorithms, which can easily establish a source with faulty data if it comes up. 

Further enhancing the reach of their scanners is a global server distribution system. This system helps them reach for data all over the world, bypassing area scanning restrictions and internet service provider blocking. These developments enable Spyse to harvest large amounts of data from all over the internet uninterruptedly. 

Access to Expansive Database 

            As Spyse’s scanners harvest data from all over the world, their database offers easy access to this data with handy productivity perks. For example: data gathered by Spyse is interlinked before being stored in the database, resulting in a fruitful gathering experience. Users can travel through links of data and gain extra information on their targets, visualize relationships between different companies on the web and find more vectors of attack for their own infrastructure. 

            The database is stored on 50 highly-functioning servers that contain over 7 billion documents of technical internet information. This includes info such as DNS records, domains and subdomains, autonomous system data, SSL/TLS certificate data, and much more. All of this data can be obtained instantly, which is why Spyse is such a powerful tool for cybersecurity experts. 

Ways to Access Data on Spyse

            The main way to get data from Spyse is by using the web interface. It looks like a regular search engine, but tailored for cybersecurity. Users can perform a simple search by entering a query, or an advanced search using live filters. The results return on a new page which contains a multitude of data on the target, sorted into tables. These tables can be filtered to show precise results, after which data can be downloaded by the user. 

            Spyse has an API with documentation on Swagger, making the API flexible with many methods for use. These methods can be found detailed on the API docs of the Spyse website. All the GUI info can be easily attained with the API, and the user gets all the same data as they do on the web interface. As for a CLI, Spyse has yet to drop a release date. However, they do have a Python wrapper, that was made by an outsourced developer whose work has gained popularity amongst pentesters. 

Tools for Better Productivity 

            From all the features built to enhance the users’ search results, there are two features that stand out in particular. The first is called Advanced Search, a little button next to the search string enabling which allows the user to filter their results for precision. Users can apply up to 5 search parameters per query and greatly narrow down results from mass bulks of data. For example: by applying the DNS records filter, users will also find out expanded information about these records like who hosts them, what technologies are used by the host, and if they have any vulnerabilities. Advanced search is a handy addition when mass amounts of results are difficult to deal with. 

            Spyse also have a thing called the Scoring Tool, which works automatically every time you enter a query. This tool pre-scans a given target for vulnerabilities and gives it an overall security score of 0-100, which is presented among with your search results. The found vulnerabilities are sorted by their level of threat and can then be explored in detail. This is an especially useful feature for those who need to quickly build target lists or find out if their own infrastructure is facing threats. 

Final Words

  Spyse is an excellent tool for security specialists, pentesters and bug bounty hunters. These people share many of the same tasks when it comes to gathering data, and many of the same problems. Specialists can use Spyse’s tools to easily automate the data gathering process, simulate a hacker’s vision of their infrastructure, and (pentesters can) perform mock attacks. Spyse also grants full invisibility to the user when they are trying the defenses of infrastructure, or performing any data gathering tasks. Spyse also helps avoid rate limits when conducting heavy tasks like reconnaissance. 

            Overall, this cybersecurity search engine will be a useful tool for anybody looking to strengthen their infrastructure. There are a variety of ways one could implement Spyse: from bug bounty hunters making quick target lists, to business analysts observing the innovative trends of the technology market. In the right hands, the possibilities are only limited by imagination.  

Source: https://gbhackers.com/spyse-a-cybersecurity-search-engine-for-pentesters/

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