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HACKED- Windows 10, macOS, Adobe, VMware, Apple and Oracle at The Pwn2Own 2020!


Pwn2Own is a well-known computer hacking contest which is held once every year at the CanSecWest security conference. In this contest, the contestants are tested on how well they could exploit commonly used software and mobile devices with formerly unheard of vulnerabilities.

An issue as grave as the Coronavirus pandemic has clearly not affected the spirits of the Pwn2Own 2020 hacking competition which got done with its first two days.

On Day 1, security researchers and participants bagged a handsome amount of over $180,000 for exploiting the Windows 10, Ubuntu Desktop and macOS, mention sources.

Reportedly, a “team from the Georgia Tech Systems Software and Security Lab succeeded in exploiting a kernel privilege escalation to execute code on macOS” by way of Safari. The attack mechanism that ended up winning for the team $70,000 was comprised of 6 vulnerabilities.

Per the event page (thezdi.com), Georgia Tech employed a “6 bug chain to pop calc and escalate to root”.

The team that has won several preceding editions of the hacking contest, Team Fluoroacetate, won themselves a victorious $40,000 after they employed a “local privilege escalation exploit” meant for the Windows 10.

Reports mention that one of the two members of the aforementioned team also won himself a smashing amount of $40,000 for yet another privilege escalation exploit pursuing Windows 10.

As per sources, the RedRocket CTF team got themselves a win, owing to it to one of their members, Mafred Paul, who bagged an attractive amount of $30,000 for a local privilege escalation exploit focused on Ubuntu Desktop. The hack was about the manipulation of the ‘Input validation bug’.

On Day 2, The Fluoroacetate successfully targeted the Adobe Reader with a local privilege escalation by employing a pair of UAFs, mentioned sources and grabbed an amount of $50,000.

Per reports, the Synacktiv team targeted the VMware Workstation but unfortunately to no avail in the given duration of time. There also were special demonstrations of the Zero Day Initiative against the Oracle VirtualBox.

This was the very first time the organizers allowed “conditional remote participation” in the Pwn2Own hacking contest, understandably because of the increased concerns of people about traveling due to the Coronavirus outbreak.



Users can now Use 2 Step Verification on their Chrome and Safari Browser


Google has launched a new feature for ensuring users' security. You will now be able to enroll for 2 Factor Authentication Keys from Web browsers. Google is allowing you to enroll security keys on Android and macOS devices by making it easier to register for keys. "Two-factor authentication, also called multiple-factor or multiple-step verification, is an authentication mechanism to double-check that your identity is legitimate."


When you sign in into your account it asks for a username and password, this is the first verification process. Two-factor authentication adds another security layer after this to confirm your identity. It (2FA) could be a pin, a password, a one time password, a physical device, or biometric. It should be something only you have to know. Two-factor authentication is very important as a password isn't as protective as we believe. Cyber attackers can test billions of password combinations in a second.

Two-factor authentication or two-step verification adds another layer of protection besides a password, and it is hard for cybercriminals to get this second factor and reduces their chance to succeed. Now Google is offering these 2FA authentication keys, and you can register for these on macOS devices using Safari (v. 13.0.4 and up), and Android devices running Android 7.0 “N” and up, using the Google Chrome web browser (version 70 and up). Users can register these independently or with those who have signed up for the Advanced Protection Program. It's available for all users given you're using the mentioned version of the software.

What is Security Keys? 

Security Keys are the most secure form of two-factor authentication (2FA) or two-step verification to protect against various threats like hacking and phishing. Users are provided with physical keys that they can insert into the USB port of their device, when required the user will touch the key. On Android devices, the user will have to tap the key on their NFC ( Near Field Communication) enabled device. Android users can also opt for USB and Bluetooth keys. Apple mobile users will be provided Bluetooth-enabled security keys.

Apple Becomes the First Major US Company to Say that the ‘Corona’ Epidemic Will Hit Its Finances



The iPhone maker cautions that disturbance in China from the coronavirus will result in revenues falling short of forecasts'. Underscoring the fact that production and sales were influenced, Apple says that "worldwide iPhone supply would be temporarily constrained". 

Sales of Apple products would be lower, bearing in mind that most stores in China are either closed or operating at reduced hours, the company says, "while our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province - and while all of these facilities have reopened - they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated.” 

 "All of our stores in China and many of our partner stores have been closed," it added. "Additionally, stores that are open have been operating at reduced hours and with very low customer traffic. We are gradually reopening our retail stores and will continue to do so as steadily and safely as we can."

Experts have assessed that the virus may contribute towards the reduction in the demand for smartphones significantly in the first quarter in China, the world's biggest market for gadgets. 
The car industry is yet another sector that has been influenced by disturbance to its supply chain. 

A week ago, the heavy equipment manufacturer JCB said it was cutting production in the UK because of a shortage of components from China. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to customers, "While we have discussed a negative iPhone impact from the coronavirus over the past few weeks, the magnitude of this impact to miss its revenue guidance midway through February is clearly worse than feared," 

New virus cases outside the 'epicenter area’ has been declining throughout the previous 13 days. There were 115 new cases outside Hubei reported on Monday, sharply down from about 450 a week back. In any case, regardless of expectations that factories and shops are slowly easing back to normal, Apple's warning, however, will underline that China's economy will be greatly influenced by the coronavirus.

Apple Doubles Microsoft by 2:1 in Cybersecurity Threats


According to a fresh report on malware that further sinks deep into the debate of cyberattacks, research company Malwarebytes has used data from various fields to analyze the cybersecurity attacks that effected either the consumers or the business in 2019. But the most surprising thing is the platforms on which these attacks happened: Apple vs Microsoft. Surprisingly, the report tells us that the cybersecurity threats had a larger effect on Apple than that of Microsoft.


An insight into State of Malware Reports- 

The 2020 Malwarebytes research looked into the following fields for the potential cybersecurity threats: macOS and Windows, iOS and Android users, attacks based on web browsers, and attacks that happened on Windows or Mac PCs. After calculating the cybersecurity threats and analyzing the data, the 'State of Malwares' report revealed that cybersecurity threats against Apple increased by 400% in the year 2019. It also concludes that Apple outnumbers Microsoft by 2:1 in terms of cybersecurity threats.

The ratio shouldn't be ignored as Malwarebyte's Apple has a larger user base than Microsoft. Further, the report reveals that Mac files tend to have more malicious behavior (front and center) throughout the years, allowing more space for hackers to deploy evading techniques to escape iOS discovery. As the malware signs of progress keep affecting the iOS, users should rethink if they should install antivirus in their phones or not, as it opens up the space for cyber attacks.

Does it raise concern over Mac Security- 

If you look back in the past media coverage on cybersecurity, the reports would suggest that there were more attacks to Microsoft or Windows users than to Apple or iOS. But simply having fewer reports than Microsoft doesn't mean that Apple has better cybersecurity. There have been a few prominent incidents that raised suspicion over Apple's commitment to security. For instance, the iPhone specific threats, or the Siri feature that left encrypted emails encrypted, or the apps that could tell if "your iPhone was hacked," or to ensure the security of the Apple Smartwatch 5. The Malwarebytes report suggests that one shouldn't ignore this while moving into 2020, as 2019 showed it was a bad year for Apple.

Apple Deliberately Restricts Old Versioned iPhones' Performance; Gets Fined!



Apple, the technology giant famously known for its partially eaten logo among other things, was recently fined by France’s authority that regulates competition in the country, mentioned sources.

This apparently isn’t the first time that Apple has been fined by governmental authorities but it hasn’t mattered to the multi-million organization much before because of its money replenishing power.

Per reports, the reason behind this charging happens to be Apple’s voluntarily keeping the fact from its users that the software updates it released in 2017 could limit the functioning of the older versions of iPhones.

According to sources, Apple never updated its users that the time-worn batteries of the older iPhones, namely, iPhone 7, iPhone 6, iPhone SE and such wouldn’t be able to manage the increased battery usages.

The Directorate-General for Competition, Consumption and the Suppression of Fraud (DGCCSF) is the aforementioned body that in one of its reports elaborated upon how Apple’s software updates hindered the proper performing of older models of iPhones and how the company never realized their duty to enlighten the users about it.

The updates in question basically curbed the performance levels of iPhones to thwart excessive energy consumption of older versions of the phones, eventually trying to ward off a total crashing down of the devices.

The users could go back to older software versions or replace the battery and their iPhones could have a chance at working like they formerly did. The issue is a good initiative and has a solution but how are the people to know about this and act accordingly, if they aren’t duly apprised by Apple?

And what’s more, Apple restricted the users from returning to their previous software types, meaning the users couldn’t do much about the situation anyway!

Sources mentioned that Apple agreed to pay the fine of around $27.4 million for purposely limiting the performance of older iPhones and not alerting the users about it.

There was quite a hullabaloo outside of France as well regarding the same issue including lawsuits that got Apple to publicly apologize and offer free battery exchanges for affected devices.

As per sources, an Italian agency too had fined Apple and Samsung for not conspicuously informing the users on how to replace batteries.

But, $27.4 is next to nothing for a gigantic tech name like Apple. It would, with no apparent trouble, stock back the amount of money in just 2roper to 3 hours!

Apple Engineers unveils a proposal to standardize the two factor authentication process and Google backs it up!


Apple known for it's off the charts security features was recently troubled with hacks, malware and phishing attacks staining its reputation and customer trust. And to counter that, Apple has again risen to strengthen its security and user experience - the tech company is planning on standardizing two-factor authentication (2FA) to prevent security issues and phishing scams.

PhoneArena.com reported that Apple engineers have put forward a proposal to enable a standardized format for a two-factor authentication login method where users receive a one time password (OTP) via SMS during login. The suggestion was given by engineers of Apple Webkit, from the Safari browser - the default mackintosh browser. The suggestion was also backed by engineers working on Chromium, Google.

The feature would use SMSs containing the login URL. Usually, with two-factor authentication users have to see their mobile or write down the code and then try to login which makes the whole process long and frustrating but Apple always tries to give the customer the best experience and to tackle this they have come up with a standardize and automated method.

What's different with this feature than the other two factor authentications is that it will standardize the process and format for the browser and mobile applications. The incoming messages will be easily identified by the browser or mobile applications, the browser will recognize and identify the web domain in the SMS and automatically extract the One Time Password (OTP) and complete the login. This will prevent the user from being scammed as the process will be automated and the browser or the mobile app will recognize the authentic source.

 According to the report, "The proposal has two goals. The first is to introduce a way that OTP SMS messages can be associated with a URL. This is done by adding the login URL inside the SMS itself. 
The second goal is to standardize the format of 2FA/OTP SMS messages, so browsers and other mobile apps can easily detect the incoming SMS, recognize web domain inside the message, and then automatically extract the OTP code and complete the login operation without further user interaction." 
After enabling the feature, browsers and apps will be automated and complete the login through 2FA (two-factor authentication ) by obtaining the OTP. In case of a mismatch, the automatic process will fail and the user will be able to see the website URL and complete the login process.

Apple Engineers to Standardize the Format of the SMS Messages Containing OTPs


A proposal comes from Apple engineers working at WebKit, the core component of the Safari web browser, to institutionalize the format of the SMS messages containing one-time passwords (OTP) that users receive during the two-factor authentication (2FA) login process.

 With 2 basic goals, the proposal aims initially is to introduce a way that OTP SMS messages can be associated with a URL, which is essentially done by adding the login URL inside the SMS itself.

And the second being to institutionalize the format of 2FA/OTP SMS messages, so browsers and other mobile applications can undoubtedly distinguish the approaching SMS, perceive web domain inside the message, and afterward consequently extract the OTP code and complete the login operation moving forward without any further user interaction.

According to the new proposal, the new SMS format for OTP codes would look like below:

747723 is your WEBSITE authentication code. 
@website.com #747723 

The first line, intended for human users, permits them to decide from what site the SMS OTP code originated from and the second line is for both human users as well as for applications and browsers.

 Applications and browsers will consequently extricate the OTP code and complete the 2FA login operation. In the event that there's a 'mismatch' and the auto-complete operation falls flat, human readers will have the option to see the site's original URL, and contrast it with the site they're attempting to login.

On the off chance that the two are not similar, at that point, users will be alerted that they're very a phishing site and forsake their login activity.

When browsers will deliver components for reading SMS OTP codes in the new format, significant providers of SMS OTP codes are required to switch to utilizing it. Starting now, Twilio has already communicated its enthusiasm for actualizing the new arrangement for its SMS OTP administrations. 

Presently, while Apple (WebKit) and Google (Chromium) engineers are quite energetic about the proposition, Mozilla (Firefox) has not yet given an official criticism on the standard yet.

Alert! Your Mac maybe under threat - SHLAYER MALWARE attacks every 10th Mac OS


The macOS traditionally was always considered a safe bet compared to Windows but now even Apple is facing a dangerous security threat.


Kaspersky reports that Macs have become a hot target for a dangerous malware - SHLAYER, been active for two years this malware-infected 10 percent of MacOS, affecting more than one in ten users.

“The Shlayer Trojan is the most common threat on macOS,” Kaspersky Labs reported on Jan 23, 2020. The users from France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom become the top target of Shlayer in 2019.

As for what is Shlayer, Seals said, "Shlayer is a trojan downloader, which spreads via fake applications that hide its malicious code...Its main purpose is to fetch and install various adware variants. "These second-stage samples bombard users with ads, and also intercept browser searches in order to modify the search results to promote yet more ads."

As per the report by Kaspersky, after the malware is installed on the system it displays chains of advertisement, recovering advertisement revenue and slowing your Mac. “The macOS platform is a good source of income for cybercriminals,” warns Kaspersky. However, “the most widespread threats are linked to illicit advertising,” reassures the report.

Hides behind fake updates

The malware enters your system through fake flash updates, fooling the victim into installing the update and paving the way into your Mac. Many illegal streaming websites are filled with these fake updates. You may have encountered streaming websites asking for flash updates before playing the video, this malware hides behind such adverts.

"Our statistics show that the majority of Shlayer attacks are against users in the U.S. (31%), followed by Germany (14%), France (10%), and the UK (10%). This is wholly consistent with the terms and conditions of partner programs that deliver the malware, and with the fact that almost all sites with fake Flash Player download pages had English-language content", Kaspersky reports.

These fake updates could also be present on some legitimate websites, so be careful while downloading any updates.

Hacker Jailed on Charges of Blackmailing Apple


A twenty-two-year-old hacker has agreed that he tried to threaten Apple company by alleging that he had data of accounts of millions of iPhone users and that he would destroy these accounts if not given the ransom. The hacker is known to be Kerem Albayrak, living in North London, who scared to clear more than 300 million Apple users' iCloud accounts, demanding that the company gave him iTunes reward vouchers amounting to £76,000 ($1,00,000), as a ransom. However, while enquiring about the issue, Apple discovered that Kerem's claims were false, and he didn't jeopardize the company's safety system.


Kerem has been charged with the crime of data breach and blackmailing and has been sentenced 2 years of jail imprisonment, and 300 hours of community service (unpaid). Two years back, in March 2017, Kerem e-mailed Apple company's safety unit, declaring to have hacked more than 300 Million iCloud accounts of Apple users. To strengthen his claim, Kerem showed him hacking two iCloud accounts in a video that he uploaded on Youtube. The hacker blackmailed to trade the iCloud accounts' data, drop his data on the internet and restore the iCloud accounts if he was denied by Apple to give his iTunes bonus voucher-request. Kerem also agreed to accept cryptocurrency as a payoff, saying he would accept a return of $75,000, but later raised it to $1,00,000. 2 weeks after the threat was sent, Kerem was caught in his house in north London, by the London police.

The attack is called Credential Stuffing-
Apple examined his allegations but was unable to obtain any solid proof that the users' iCloud accounts were hacked. "The hacker collected passwords and e-mail addresses from different aids, that were exposed recently on charges of the data breach," says UK's National Crime Agency in its inquiry. It further says that the hacker sought his chance, checking whether the user had similar iCloud accounts and passwords. The attack is known as 'Credential Stuffing,' which allows the process to complete faster.

While the investigation was in process, Kerem told the investigators, "You have fame and everyone starts to respect you, once you have power on the internet." Along with the 300 hours of unpaid community service, Kerem has also received an electronic curfew of 6 months. "Kerem thought that he could avoid prosecution when he hacked 2 iCloud accounts and blackmailed Apple, an MNC giant," says Anna Smith, senior investigative officer, NCA.

Malware creators producing more dangers to mac-OS


Illegal affair in Mac operating system proceeds to increase, with malware makers producing out bugs that aim users of the popular operating system Apple. Discovered by Trend Micro as 'backdoor.macOS.nukespeed,' a new modification of a Mac backdoor is associated with the cyber-criminal club Lazarus, which was recently infamous for targeting Korean organizations with a crafted MS Excel spreadsheet.


Connections to a first Lazarus routine- 

A malicious sample that was discovered by a twitter user named cyberwar_15 was analyzed, and the experts found that the virus used an embedded excel sheet to target the user. This kind of attack is similar to the one which was conducted by the Lazarus group. But, contrary to the earlier hack which includes many routines based on the Operating system the Excel sheet is running on, the embedded macro in this catalog will simply work a PowerShell text that joins to 3 C&C servers, established by the group Lazarus.

The Mac package also holds fake and genuine Flash Players- 

Aside from the examined specimen, Qianxin Technology and @cyberwar_15 also found an inhospitable Mac application package doubted to be connected to the crime as it yields alike C&C servers with crafted spreadsheets. But, this is merely a bait as the original flash player file is carried as a concealed Mac OS catalog. The package holds 2 adobe flash player files, one being a genuine version while the other a fake version named as 'trojan.macOS.nukesped.b.' The application will operate on the micro-size flash player file as its primary actor, which is the fake variant that simply acts as an 'adobe flash player'. To hide the malicious hacking activity, the virus runs the genuine flash player to do the trick.

Conclusion- 

In contrast to Lazarus’ previous method that used macros to install a backdoor Mac file for the backdoor entry, the examples examined by TrendMicro show that hacks like these use a fake application as a decoy to run along with the malicious macOS attacks. The criminal groups like Lazarus have become a threat to cybersecurity, Lazarus has been expanding its reach of intervention by various programs.

NSO's Spyware Pegasus Taking Control of Mobile Devices through Apps


NSO's spyware Pegasus has been revealed to assume control for mobile devices through various apps; this is a matter of grave concern as cybersecurity firms have in the past also discovered the Pegasus software to exist in both the Apple and Android operating systems.

While WhatsApp said the number of infected users may go up from the present gauge of 1,400, as more users come forward with this issue, Newswire Reuters even reported citing to sources familiar with WhatsApp's internal investigation that the snooping may also include prominent government and military authorities in about 20 nations, aside from activists and journalists.

Raman Jit Singh Chima, Asia Policy Director, and Senior International Counsel at open internet advocacy group Access Now says that “Surveillance tech firms such as NSO and others market these capabilities with the intent of allowing their clients to hack and surveil all of the everyday smartphone activity of the targeted victim.”

He further included this may also include services, like Gmail, iMessage, Facebook, and Viber.

NSO's utilization of malware to control Apple devices is said to have been first discovered in 2016, and Apple along these lines had even released software upgrades in September 2016 after it found that hackers could have accessed its devices by making a victim click on a link and it was then speculated that Pegasus spyware could have been installed by misusing vulnerabilities in its software.

University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab, which aided WhatsApp in its investigation for the aforementioned issue, said in a 2018 report that Pegasus seems, by all accounts, to be being used by nations with 'dubious' human rights records and histories of harsh conduct by state security administrations.

This includes India too, as one NSO administrator named the Ganges is said to have been operated in India and was discovered by Citizen Lab. Most recently WhatsApp stresses the fact that the number of users affected may go up later on particularly in India because of the total absence of any surveillance reform or data protection laws.

Libreoffice Users Receiving Security Warnings While Installing Macos 10.15 Catalina


Users of the open-source office productivity software LibreOffice have reported keeping running into numerous security warnings when installing the app on the newly released macOS 10.15 Catalina.

It was during the public beta for macOS Catalina that some LibreOffice users observed that Apple's GateKeeper warnings were competent enough to scare off many users.

Despite the fact that Apple had cautioned macOS designers in June that all Mac applications that are marked with a Developer ID would likewise be 'notarized' by Apple and furthermore guaranteed this would empower a "more streamlined Gatekeeper interface" when users download macOS applications from the web.

While LibreOffice version 6.2 was not authorized, the most recent 6.3 version evidently has been. Be that as it may, as per LibreOffice, users are as yet getting the GateKeeper alert with the extra notice that "macOS cannot verify that is app is free from malware”.

"Although we have duly followed the instructions when users launch LibreOffice 6.3.x – which has been notarized by Apple – the system shows the following scary message: 'LibreOffice.the app cannot be opened because the developer cannot be verified', and provides only two options: Move to Bin (delete) and Cancel (revert the operation, i.e., do not run LibreOffice)," writes LibreOffice's Italo Vignoli.

LibreOffice anyway suggested a couple of ways through which the users can without much of a stretch 'bypass' the message. With respect to Apple's notarization, app developer Jeff Johnson has clarified that the key security benefit originates from the necessity that developers utilize their Apple ID and password for their developer account to submit the application to Apple for legal approbation.

Along these lines, the attacker would need to 'compromise' both a signing certificate and the developer's Apple ID in order to distribute the malware.

17 Trojan infested apps you need to delete from your iPhone right now!


Just like the ancient Greek story, where soldiers sneak into the gates of troy by hiding inside a wooden horse similarly Trojans sneak in your phone in the face of harmless apps that you voluntarily install. Apple users are being warned about such apps, to check their devices against a list of malware apps and delete them according to a report by Wandera.

Research team at Wandera, a software-as-a-service firm, has identified 17 apps that install malicious Trojan module on iOS devices. Apple says that the infected apps have been removed from the app store but after examination they found that the apps did not contain the claimed Trojan malware. Instead, the apps were removed because of being adware specifically called the "clicker Trojan malware" and included code that enabled artificial click-through of add and made it seem like you viewed an advertisement which is against App Store's guidelines. Apple further said that the protective tools of App Store have been updated to detect such apps.

 Below is the list of infected apps:

RTO Vehicle Information
EMI Calculator & Loan Planner
File Manager - Documents
Smart GPS Speedometer
CrickOne - Live Cricket Scores
Daily Fitness - Yoga Poses
FM Radio PRO - Internet Radio
My Train Info - IRCTC & PNR​ (not listed under developer profile)
Around Me Place Finder
Easy Contacts Backup Manager
Ramadan Times 2019
Pro Restaurant Finder - Find Food
BMI Calculator PRO - BMR Calc
Dual Accounts Pro
Video Editor - Mute Video
Islamic World PRO - Qibla
Smart Video Compressor

The developer of these is AppAspect Technologies, from India with apps for iOS as well as Android. Wandera said that on examining these apps, they didn't contain the clicker Trojan malware but they used too. Covington thinks it's a possibility that they used to contain Trojan but were pulled from the store, and republished after removing the Trojan module, perhaps the bust on Play store made them retreat and focus their attention on iOS.

According to Wandera, the Trojan not only performed adware but also steal information and data to send to external command or controller, create back-doors, performance degradation, battery drain and heavy bandwidth use. The fact that they published on App Store and remained undetected is alone a matter of concern. “We were amazed with this one,” Wandera VP Michael Covington said in a statement to Forbes. “We've seen a couple of issues creep into the Apple App Store over the last few months—and it always seems to be the network element.”

Apple stands it's ground that any such Trojan malware existed, saying there was no danger beyond ad click-through fraud. But the good news is, the problem is solved on deleting the apps and no remains are left behind. “There is no access to special frameworks that might have left something behind,” Covington explained.

Apple Apologises To Siri Users for “Not Fully Living Up To Their High Ideals”




Apple apologizes to Siri users for not 'fully living up to their ideals' as well as enabling temporary workers to tune in to voice recordings of Siri users so as to review them.

The announcement was made after a review of the grading programme was finished, which had been triggered to reveal its existence with the help of a Guardian report.

 “As a result of our review, we realise we have not been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologise, as we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users.” Apple said in an unsigned statement posted to its website.

The company committed to three changes to the way Siri is run after it resumes the grading programme:
  • It will no longer keep audio recordings of Siri users by default, though it will retain automatically generated transcripts of the requests.                                                                                
  • Users will be able to opt in to sharing their recordings with Apple. “We hope that many people will choose to help Siri get better,” the company said.                                                                        
  • Only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to those audio samples. The company had previously outsourced the work to contracting firms. Over the past two weeks, it has ended those contracts, resulting in hundreds of job losses around the world.


In the past six months, almost every significant producer of voice-assistance technology has been 'revealed' to have been operating human-oversight programs, having run them in discreetly for a considerable length of time. Many out of them have sworn in to change their frameworks.

Amazon was the first to have been identified, then came along Google and Microsoft, with the former pledging to review its safeguards and the latter updating its privacy policy.

Apple and Samsung smart phones emits more radiofrequency radiation than allowed


Radiofrequency radiation emitted from popular smartphones like iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8 is more than double over the legal safety limit set by the US regulators, a Chicago Tribune investigation reveals.

The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates phones emission, cleared the devices for the sale, on its website it states that the device “will never exceed” the maximum allowable exposure limit, which is harmful to humans.

“We take seriously any claims on non-compliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules,” agency spokesman Neil Grace said.

The test was sponsored by the Tribune and conducted as per the federal guidelines at an accredited lab.

A year ago, the Tribune set out an important question to explore: Are cellphones as safe as manufacturers and government regulators say?

The Tribune tested 11 cellphones by measuring how much radiofrequency radiations were absorbed by the human body if the device is positioned near to it. Most of the popular smartphones were proved to be hazardous for the human body.

Apple then issued a statement, questioning the Tribune's test results for the iPhone 7s “were inaccurate due to the test setup not being in accordance with procedures necessary to properly assess the iPhone models.”

“All iPhone models, including iPhone 7, are fully certified by the FCC and in every other country where iPhone is sold,” the statement said. “After careful review and subsequent validation of all iPhone models tested in the (Tribune) report, we confirmed we are in compliance and meet all applicable … exposure guidelines and limits.”

The Tribune tested 11 cellphone models by measuring how much radiofrequency radiation was absorbed by a simulated body positioned near the phone. The Federal Communications Commission has set an exposure limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over one gram of tissue.

A Slip-Up of Apple Leads to Most of Its Up-To-Date iPhones Vulnerable to Hacking Risk




Apple has apparently left its most up-to-date iPhones vulnerable against a rather hacking risk due to unpatching a bug in the most recent iOS 12.4 update that it had fixed in the earlier iOS 12.3 update. Furthermore, because of the slip-up, all iPhones running iOS 12.4 would now be very easily jailbroken and a few iPhone users have just tweeted that they are effectively running the "jailbreak".

Since jailbreaking an iPhone gives users a chance to modify their iOS devices and run unsupported apps,some security researchers have officially begun exploiting the vulnerability in iOS 12.4 and released a public "jailbreak" on an 'open-sourced software development platform' GitHub.

A security researcher going by the name of "Pwn20wnd" has published a jailbreakfor iOS 12.4, " The exploits for the iPhone can sell for millions of dollars, which means that no one has been willing to release jailbreak code publicly because Apple will quickly patch it," said the report.

Since had fixed this defect, found by a Google hacker, in the earlier iOS 12.3 version.

Ivan Krstic, Head of Security Engineering and Architecture at Apple had as of late declared to pay up to $1 million to security researchers for discovering the flaws and vulnerabilities as a feature of its bug bounty program, during the annual  Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas.

Nonetheless Security experts continue to warn users to be careful of what apps they download with this jailbreak.

New Vulnerability in Bluetooth Connections Allows Hackers to Spy on Private Conversations


Bluetooth is used worldwide as one of the most convenient methods of connecting and controlling the devices in range. However, according to a recent report, a vulnerability labeled as the KNOB (Key Negotiation of Bluetooth) attack has been found in Bluetooth connections.

All the Bluetooth compliant devices can be affected by the vulnerability, which allows attackers to spy on a victim's personal conversations. Hackers can also exploit the vulnerability to manipulate the data present on the compromised device.

How the attack unfolds? 

While establishing a functional Bluetooth connection, both the devices rely upon an encryption key. Therefore,
in order to execute the attack, hackers exploit the vulnerability in the Bluetooth standard and weaken this encryption of Bluetooth devices instead of breaking it straightaway.

The attacker gets in the way while the devices are setting up the encryption key and resorts to brute force attack for breaking the new key with less number of digits and manipulates both the devices to employ the new encryption key.

The vulnerability affects devices by some of the renowned manufacturers namely, Apple, Qualcomm, and Intel. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Blackberry, Broadcom and Chicony has already issued a patch to fix the flaw, as per the reports by Mashable.

The group of researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, University of Oxford, and CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security, who found this critical vulnerability, explained, "We found and exploited a severe vulnerability in the Bluetooth specification that allows an attacker to break the security mechanisms of Bluetooth for any standard-compliant device. As a result, an attacker is able to listen, or change the content of, nearby Bluetooth communication, even between devices that have previously been successfully paired."

Hack an iPhone, win $ 1 million


Apple has massively increased the amount it’s offering hackers for finding vulnerabilities in iPhones and Macs, up to $1 million. It’s by far the highest bug bounty on offer from any major tech company.

That’s up from $200,000, and in the fall the program will be open to all researchers. Previously only those on the company’s invite-only bug bounty program were eligible to receive rewards.

As Forbes reported on Monday, Apple is also launching a Mac bug bounty, which was confirmed Thursday, but it's also extending it to watchOS and its Apple TV operating system. The announcements came in Las Vegas at the Black Hat conference, where Apple’s head of security engineering Ivan Krstić gave a talk on iOS and macOS security.

Forbes also revealed on Monday that Apple was to give bug bounty participants “developer devices”—iPhones that let hackers dive further into iOS. They can, for instance, pause the processor to look at what’s happening with data in memory. Krstić confirmed the iOS Security Research Device program would be by application only. It will arrive next year.

$1 million for an iPhone hack

The full $1 million will go to researchers who can find a hack of the kernel—the core of iOS—with zero clicks required by the iPhone owner. Another $500,000 will be given to those who can find a “network attack requiring no user interaction.” There’s also a 50% bonus for hackers who can find weaknesses in software before it's released.

Apple is increasing those rewards in the face of an increasingly profitable private market where hackers sell the same information to governments for vast sums.

As Maor Shwartz told Forbes, the cost of a single exploit (a program that uses vulnerabilities typically to take control of a computer or phone) can fetch as much as $1.5 millon. An exploit targeting WhatsApp where no clicks are required from the user, for instance, can be sold to a government agency for that much, though such tools are rare. Only one or two a year will be sold, from a pool of around 400 researchers who focus on such high-end hacking. “It’s really hard to research them and produce a working exploit,” he said.

A Bunch of Loopholes in Apple’s iMessage App?


Apple’s devices could be vulnerable to attacks owing it to a few flaws that the researchers have uncovered in its iMessage app.

Where, in one case, the extent of severity of the attack happens to be so large that the only way to safe-guard the device would be to delete all data on it.

The other case saw some files being copied off the device without needing the user to do anything. The fixes were released last week by Apple.

But somehow there was a problem which couldn’t be fixed in the updates, which was brought to the attention of the company by the researchers.

Google’s Project Zero Team was established in July 2014 with an aim to dig all the “previously undocumented cyber vulnerabilities”.

Samaung, Microsoft, Facebook and a few others were warned off by this team regarding the problems in their code.

The unrepaired flaw, according to Apple’s own sources could aid the hackers to crash an app or execute commands of its own accord on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches.

Installation of new version of the iOS (iOS 12.4) has been strongly advised by the organization. The attacks/dangers could be easily handled by keeping the software up-to-date.

Israeli spyware firm NSO can mine data from social media accounts









An Israeli spyware firm has claimed that they can scoop  user data from the world’s top social media, the Financial Times report. 

The powerful malware Pegasus from NSO Group is the same spyware that breached WhatsApp data earlier this year. 

The firm said that this time their malware can scrap data from the servers of Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. 

According to the reports of the Times, the NSO group had “told buyers its technology can surreptitiously scrape all of an individual’s data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, according to people familiar with its sales pitch”.

However, the companies spokesperson denied the allegation in a in written statement to AFP’s request for comment. 
“There is a fundamental misunderstanding of NSO, its services and technology,” it said.

“NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure as listed and suggested in today’s FT article.”

In the mean time, Amazon and Google told AFP that they have started an investigation on the basis of report, but so far found no evidence that the software had breached their systems or customer accounts.