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Security Experts Say Hackers Can Hack Russian Banks In 5 Days


Experts from the information security company Positive Technologies came to the conclusion that hackers will need only five days on average to hack a large Russian Bank. Experts came to this conclusion on the basis of a number of tests. The attack was successful due to vulnerabilities in applications, software and password selection. In some cases, access to ATMs was obtained.

Tests in 10 banks from the top 50 banks showed that hackers need an average of 5 days to hack the Russian bank’s network. In cases where the hacker acts from the inside, he is able to get full control over the entire infrastructure of the Bank in two days.

During the audit of banks, whose names were not disclosed, experts simulated 18 cyberattacks. In eight cases, the attacks were carried out from the outside using only publicly available data, such as the Bank's website or an incorrectly configured database. In ten cases, the hacker attacked from inside the bank, that is, the hacker was in the Bank building and got access to the power outlet, Wi-Fi network, and so on, or thanks to an external attack, he gained access to user data of a bank employee. Social engineering methods were not used in the tests.

Passwords turned out to be the weakest point because most of them were selected using a combination of similar words or nearby keys. Under one very common password “qwerty123” in one of the credit organizations were more than 500 accounts.

New testing showed that hackers can penetrate from the Internet into the local network of seven out of eight banks.

However, Kaspersky Lab’s Leading Antivirus Expert Sergey Golovanov said, Due to the improvement of bank security systems, Russian-speaking hacker groups are increasingly attacking foreign credit organizations, they are switching to banks in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Facebook Data Breach: API Security Risks


In the year 2018 Facebook disclosed a massive data breach due to which the company had to face a lawsuit along with allegations of not properly securing its user data. The breach directly affected the authentication tokens of nearly 30 million of its users which led to the filing of several class-action complaints in a San Francisco appeals court. In the wake of the incident, Facebook pledged to strengthen its security.

A feature, known as "View As" which was employed by developers to render user pages was exploited by hackers to get access to user tokens. The theft of these tokens is associated with the advancement of a major API security risk, it also indicates how API risks can go unnoticed for such a long time frame. The trends in digital up-gradation have further pushed the process of continuous integration and continuous delivery – CI/CD, which are closely related concepts but are sometimes used interchangeably. The main purpose of continuous delivery is to ensure that the deployment of a new code takes the least possible effort. It enables DevOps to maintain a constant flow of software updates to fasten release patterns and reduce the risks related to development.

Conventionally, developers used to work on the parts of an application– one at a time and then manually merge the codes. The process was isolated and time-consuming, it led to the duplication of code creation efforts. However, as the IT ecosystem went on embracing the new CI/CD model and effectively sped up the development process while ensuring early detection of bugs, almost all the security has been commercialized by ace infrastructure providers namely Microsoft and Amazon. The commodities offered include authorization, container protection and encryption of data. Similarly, security components of first-generation firewalls and gateways like the protection of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks also constitute the infrastructure.

When it comes to navigating and communicating – especially through an unfamiliar space, APIs are a powerful tool with great flexibility in their framework. However, similar reasons also make APIs equally vulnerable also.

While giving insights into the major IT risk posed by APIs, Terry Ray, chief security officer for Imperva told, "APIs represent a mushrooming security risk because they expose multiple avenues for hackers to try to access a company's data."

"To close the door on security risks and protect their customers, companies need to treat APIs with the same level of protection that they provide for their business-critical web applications."

The API threat is basically rooted in its lack of visibility, Subra Kumaraswamy, the former head of product security at Apigee, an API security vendor owned by Google, while putting the risk into the perspective, told: "When you have visibility into your APIs throughout your organization, you can then put controls in place."

"You might decide that a certain API should only be exposed to in-house developers, not external, third-party ones. If you don't have visibility, you can't see who is accessing what."

While labeling the authorization and improper asset management as areas of key concern, Yalon told, “Authorization mechanisms are complex because they are not implemented in one place, but in many different components like configuration files, code, and API gateways."

“Even though this sometimes may look like simple housekeeping, having a very clear understanding of the APIs, with well-maintained inventory, and documentation (we whole-heartedly recommend Open API Specification) is very critical in the world of APIs,” he further said.

Most corporate networks in Russia are at cyber risks


Most (81 percent) of corporate and government structures networks were infected with malicious software. This is the conclusion was made by Positive Technologies specialists after analyzing the internal traffic of state organizations, industrial enterprises and other structures. IT analysts sound the alarm because employees of Russian companies and government agencies download movies from torrents, communicate via messengers and use simple passwords, increasing vulnerability.

Experts said that among the most common viruses are miners who mine cryptocurrency secretly from the owners and unauthorizedly display advertising software. A quarter of the networks are openly infected with spyware.

The company also reported that employees of 94 percent of Russian companies and government agencies download movies from torrents, communicate via messengers and use simple passwords like 12345. Positive Technologies also includes remote access to corporate resources as a risk factor. Experts explain that the employee's computer can be hacked and fraudsters will get access to the corporate network through it.

Analysts have noticed that it is extremely difficult to distinguish the actions of employees who run Tor, VPN and proxy servers from the actions of hackers because in both cases the same technologies are used. So hackers can steal data from the corporate information system without being noticed.
Sergey Zolotukhin, the trainer of the Group-IB computer forensics laboratory, explained that underestimating the level of development of cybercrime, a lack of attention to modern technologies and a low level of knowledge in this area affect the level of protection of companies from cyber threats.

Earlier, on February 10, it became known about a new type of fraud with Bank accounts of Russians. Scammers call the potential victim and ask which branch the client will come to close the account. The owners report that they did not make such a request to the Bank, after which they are offered to transfer all funds to a secure account.

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!

Teenager Arrested for DDoS Attack in Ukraine


Ukranian Police arrested a 16 yrs old teenager last month on charges of attacking a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to gain personal information about the users. The police (Ukranian) says that the teen used the technique of DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks to take down the local ISP. This happened after the local ISP refused to give the teenager the details of the user. The severity of the attack made the ISP contact law enforcement last year to resolve the issue.


"The officers at Ukraine Cyber Police hunted down the 16 yr old attacker in the city of Odesa in January," said the spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs in a conversation with ZDNet. We explored the teen's home and confiscated all the devices. Upon investigation, the teen was found guilty of the attack. According to the authorities that conducted the preceding inspection of the defendant's system, the authorities found software that the teen used to launch the DDoS attacks. Besides this, details of 20 different accounts related to distinct hacker forums were also found," said the Cyber Police of Ukraine in a statement.

 As per the Criminal Law of Ukraine, the person found guilty of DDoS attack faces imprisonment for up to 5 yrs in jail. However, the teen is not charged for the attempt of extortion to the ISP. The Ukrainian Police has denied releasing any further information regarding the case. It has also not disclosed the person affected by the DDoS attack saying, "the investigation is still in process." It is not the first incident where a DDoS attack was performed to steal user information.

 In several other cases, the hackers were able to take down the ISP network using a simple technique like DDoS Botnet. Other instances similar to this case appeared in countries like Cambodia, Liberia, and various other countries in South Africa. As per the observations, to perform attacks on massive scales of Junk Traffic, the hackers use DDoS Botnet, which is very capable. This happened in Liberia. Carpet Bombing is another efficient technique to perform such attacks (as per the incidents that happened in South Africa).

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.

The Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation proposes to create a single resource to combat cyber fraud


Specialized service for collecting data on cybercrime in the financial sector, which will help counteract fraud in cyberspace, may appear in Russia. The Prosecutor General's Office of Russia made a proposal to register Russian scammers.

It is noted that currently in Russia there is no specialized service that would allow solving the problems of citizens deceived by fraudsters online. Statements about crime have to be submitted to police departments. The current procedure requires only a statement about a crime or a report of a law enforcement officer about the detection of signs of a violation. According to the Prosecutor General's office, there is also no structure that carries out operational work with citizens on cybercrime.

The Department considers it necessary to protect citizens in cyberspace from scammers and create an opportunity to get help in such situations online. Thus, it is proposed to entrust the new structure with the duties of collecting, storing and systematizing data about fraudsters.

The new resource is proposed to be integrated into the Unified portal of public services and it will have to interact with law enforcement agencies. According to the authors, this will allow not only to register new cases of fraud but also to prevent further cases. Phishing and fraudulent sites will be blacklisted.

Financial market participants are aware of the project but do not want to comment on it. Financiers in informal conversations indicate that the project is "in the initial stage" and should not directly affect banks.

Human rights activists support the idea of the Prosecutor General's Office. According to the expert, one of the most common reasons for citizens to ask for help can be called phishing schemes, the damage amounts to billions of rubles a year. Therefore, thanks to the new service, a large amount of data will allow you to identify some common schemes, identify related persons. This will improve the quality of investigative actions and the detection of crimes.

In Russia, every third person has experienced cyber fraud, and almost every tenth has suffered from it. At the same time, according to experts, only about 7 percent of such cases reach the court.

Ransomware Hits Media Monitoring Company 'TV Eyes'


The latest ransomware has attacked 'TV Eyes,' a company that offers campaign monitoring services to TV and radio news broadcasts. PR agencies and newsrooms across the world mostly use TV Eyes service to keep a trace of their broadcast. "The ransomware infected the business somewhere around post-midnight on Thursday, 30th of January," said TV Eyes CEO David Ives in a conversation with ZDNet. The ransomware has damaged crucial TV Eyes servers and communications workstations, affecting the network mainly in the US, along with some other areas.


"We are still calculating the total damage caused by the ransomware to the company's network. However, the company has begun making retrieval attempts," said David to ZDNet. He further says, "TV Eyes is not thinking of paying the ransom demanded by the hackers. Instead, we are reviving the situation from existing backups and focusing on strengthening the affected network infrastructure." "MMS (Media Monitoring Suite), the main product of the TV Eyes company, is not in function since the last 2 days," according to various sources at PR agencies that worked with TV Eyes.

The TV Eyes service gives a platform that allows agencies in monitoring TV telecasts and Radio broadcasts mainly in the U.S (state and other 210 markets) and influential global media organizations. The Media Monitoring Suite-MMS permits the users to seek beyond podcasts for new keywords and also set up an email account for notifications of new events. TV Eyes is a very helpful tool for several journalists, PR agencies, and political parties for campaigning. David says there's no news confirming the comeback of the TV Eyes service in the near time. However, the company is working to restore services as soon as possible.

"The kind of services that companies like TV Eyes offer is often an easy target for the hackers because they know how much dependent and reliable the users of these tools are. Therefore, hackers know that such companies are vulnerable as their users are relying on them for the safety of their data," says Paul Martini, CEO, Iboss (cloud security company). The users of the TV Eyes service are concerned about the privacy of their data, which contains crucial financial information too.

Roskomnadzor blocked the email service Protonmail


The FSB of the Russian Federation reported that it was possible to install another email service that was used by an "electronic terrorist" to send messages about mining of objects with a massive stay of people in Russia. On Wednesday, the FSB and the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) announced the blocking of the Swiss postal service Protonmail.com.

"This email service was used by hackers both in 2019 and especially actively in January 2020 to send false messages about mass mining of objects on the territory of the Russian Federation under the guise of reliable information," said the representative of Roskomnadzor.

In turn, the FSB of Russia reported that this service is used starting from January 24. Messages with threats of mining were sent to the email addresses of courts in four regions of the Russian Federation. Last year, the same service was also used to send false terrorist threats, but on a smaller scale.
"The texts also indicated allegedly mined 830 social and transport infrastructure objects. All threats were false," the FSB reported.

ProtonMail CEO Andy Yen recently announced his decision to go to court because he believes the block is unfounded. According to him, blocking the service is an inefficient and inappropriate tool to combat cyber attacks.

"This will not stop cybercriminals from sending threats from another email service and will not help if the criminals are located outside of Russia. Cybercriminals are also likely to be able to bypass the block using one of their many VPN services," Ian said.

The head of the company stressed that blocking mail will only harm private users and restrict access to private information for Russians.

Recall that this is the third foreign mail service blocked by Roskomnadzor for spreading false messages about mining facilities in Russia. On January 23, Roskomnadzor announced the blocking of the StartMail service. It was noted that mass mailings of messages about the mining of various objects on the territory of Russia were carried out through this mail service. Emails have been received since November 28, 2019.

U.N Officials not using WhatsApp over Security Reasons


"The United Nations officials are not using WhatsApp for purposes of communication as it is unsafe and vulnerable to hacking," said a UN spokesperson last Thursday. The statement came out following the Jeff Bezos incident, where experts at the UN accused Saudi Arabia of hacking the WhatsApp account of Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos. The experts at the UN last week said that they had information suspecting the association of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince in the so-called cyberattack on Jeff Bezos that happened in 2018.


The officials have demanded an inquiry by American and other authorities as an immediate response, saying that the claims are based on a Forensic Report prepared by FTI, a consulting firm from Washington. The forensic report claims that Bezos' phone was hacked through an ill-disposed video file that was sent by the Saudi Prince via a WhatsApp account. Responding to the question "whether the United Nations Secretly General has used WhatsApp for communication purposes with Saudi Prince or any other world leaders?" Farhan Haq spokesperson of the U.N replied that "officials at the U.N are advised not to use WhatsApp application for messaging purposes as it is not a reliable social networking platform."

"Therefore, I believe that the U.N officials do not use the WhatsApp," Haq said later. According to him, the order to not use WhatsApp as a communication tool was given in June 2018, to the security officials. In response to this controversial action taken by the U.N, the company WhatsApp affirms that it offers one of the best safety to its more than 1.5 billion users.

"Each message sent via the app is protected through end-to-end encryption to maintain the confidentiality of the messages. No 3rd party, not even WhatsApp, can view the messages sent by users through WhatsApp. The encryption mechanism developed by WhatsApp is said to be one of the most secure technology according to the cybersecurity experts, and it is the most reliable platform out in the public," says Carl Woog, Director Communications at WhatsApp.

"Every app has a few flaws that can be exploited, but unlike WhatsApp, very few can resolve them immediately," said cybersecurity expert Oded Vanunu.

Simple Tips to Prevent your WhatsApp Account from Hackers


WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook), a popular social networking app, as we all know, is very easy to setup. But this simple process also opens your account to some vulnerabilities and threats, if you are not cautious while setting your WhatsApp account. Luckily, there exists an extra defense line to ensure the safety of your account, if your 6 digit activation code is hacked.


However, as noticed in the recent hacking incident against Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, it was observed that these security measures aren't enough to provide security. But it will somehow provide you an extra safety mechanism if, by any chance, the hacker gets your 6 digit security code. How to ensure the safety of your Whatsapp account? In normal circumstances, getting back to your hacked Whatsapp account is very simple: open the app, and while logging in, the app will send you another 6 digit code.

But the problem arises when the hacker, once having the hold of your account, intentionally puts up wrong verification codes to prevent further login into your account for up to 12 hours. The worst-case scenario arises when the user has not set up the 2 step authentication process, which permits the hacker to use a security pin of their own, restricting the user access to his Whatsapp account for a total duration of 7 days.

Therefore, it is always important to follow 2 basic rules:
  1. Don't disclose your 6 digit verification code- it doesn't matter if it's your parents, family, or friends. No one ever has a genuine intention to ask your Whatsapp code sent over the SMS, so never consider disclosing the details. 
  2. Set up a 2 step verification process- if in case, your account gets hacked by some reason, 2 step security pin ensures that only the user has the access to the Whatsapp account. 
How to set up the security pin-
  • Open Whatsapp and go to the settings option. 
  • Select account and hit 2 step verification. 
  • Setup your 6 digit security pin. 
  • You will be asked this every time you install your WhatsApp. You can also add your e-mail address as a backup if you ever lose your pin.

Russian Bank reminds about the danger of transferring personal data to someone


Transferring personal data to someone (details of cards and accounts, passport data), you can become a victim of cyber fraud, so you can not do this in any case, recalled the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Sberbank Stanislav Kuznetsov.

"Even if you take a picture of your card and send it to someone — this is basically already a leak. You might as well throw your wallet with your salary in the trash," he said.

He also said that in the second half of 2019, Russian companies faced large-scale phishing. "Last year, several organized criminal groups working in this direction became more active. One of them has made a big step forward in expanding its criminal activities. This is the RTM hacking group, it is Russian-speaking and operates in Eastern Europe, including Russia".

According to him, using modern software, RTM sends phishing emails to tens of thousands of companies in the country 10-15 times a month. Mr. Kuznetsov added that many companies open emails infected with viruses. "In this way, criminals get access to the company's accounting documents — with the help of a virus, they send the company's funds to their Bank accounts and gradually withdraw them," he said.

According to Mr. Kuznetsov, Sberbank has already given law enforcement agencies materials about almost 20 criminals from the group. There are at least five such groups, he said.

"This is not a new type of crime, but in the second half of last year, Russia faced it for the first time on this scale. As a result, some institutions of the financial system, as well as small and medium-sized companies in various industries were affected," said Stanislav Kuznetsov.

Recall, according to a study by TAdviser and Microsoft, in 2019, 76% of Russian medium and small businesses faced cybersecurity incidents. The main source of threats, businessmen called e-mail and external Internet resources.

More than half of Russian companies are concerned about the protection of personal data of employees and customers


The antivirus company ESET studied the state of information security in the Russian business sector, interviewing dozens of IT Directors and business owners. According to ESET research, different types of cyber threats affected 90% of Russian businesses. 60% of Russian IT managers are seriously concerned about the safety of personal data.

"The discontinuation of Windows 7 will play a role. Many Russian companies, despite the risks, will continue to use the operating system in the workplace. This will increase the risk of infection with new viruses, compromise and loss of corporate data," said the ESET representative. In addition, on January 14, 2020, support for the Windows 2008 and Windows 2008 R2 server systems was completed. They are used by many small and medium businesses. According to Ruslan Suleymanov, the Director of Information Technology Department of ESET Russia, this year, powerful and frequent DDoS attacks on the corporate sector and deepfakes will remain a trend.

Elena Ageeva, a consultant for the Information Security Center Jet Infosystems, notes that the development of cloud technologies will contribute to an increase in the number of attacks on cloud services.

According to InfoWatch, in Russia, ordinary employees have been and remain the main threat to the personal information of company customers. They account for more than 70% of the violations leading to leaks.

Andrey Arsentyev, head of the InfoWatch Analytics and Special projects Department, believes that phishing attacks will be further developed in 2020.

According to Dmitry Stetsenko, the head of the Kaspersky Lab’s group of system architects, attacks, almost undetected by standard antiviruses, through supply chains and BEC (Business Email Compromise) are gaining more and more popularity. After infecting the system, attackers prefer to use legal IT tools to develop attacks, which also complicates data protection.

Yevgeny Gnedin, head of Analytics at Positive Technologies, believes that attacks to steal information will prevail over attacks with the aim of direct financial theft. "Especially if the company does not provide ongoing monitoring of information security events and the investigation of cyber incidents," said the representative of Positive Technologies.

Russian banks to face risk due to a cancellation of support for Windows 7


Termination of technical support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems (OS) can become a serious problem for Russian banks. According to the architect of the Microsoft technology center in Russia, Ivan Budylin, now, banks are required to quickly switch to Windows 10, since working without technical support is contrary to information security requirements. He added that the lack of updates can lead to significant risks of data loss.

At the same time, according to the survey, credit institutions are not yet ready to completely abandon the old OS.

Some banks reported that they had signed an agreement with Microsoft for paid additional support for Windows 7 (EAS). However, the expert noted that paid support is not an alternative to updating the operating system, but a temporary measure.

A similar situation was already with the Windows XP operating system, which was not supported in 2017 but continued to be used. During WannaCry ransomware virus epidemic, some XP users faced a situation where the malware appeared on the computer, was blocked and deleted by the antivirus.
However, then the virus repeatedly tried to get into the computer again and was blocked again. This caused a huge load on the network, processor, and disk. The devices started working so slowly that it was almost impossible to do anything on them.

Therefore, experts recommended updating Windows 7 as soon as possible, even though antiviruses can protect an already unsupported system.

Yuri Brisov, a member of the Commission on legal support of the digital economy, said that by denying the ability to regularly and timely update systems, banks put their customers at risk, which is unacceptable.

According to Boris Yedidin, a lawyer and co-founder of Moscow Digital School, for using outdated programs and operating systems, banks can bring to administrative responsibility under the article “Violation of information protection rules”.

Recall that Microsoft has refused to support the Windows 7 operating system since January 14. The computer will work with the old OS, but the company does not provide technical support for any software updates, as well as security updates and fixes.

Russian experts warn the danger of charging the phone in public places


The number of charging stations at airports, bus stops, metro stations and other public places in Russia has been growing rapidly in recent years. However, using such USB-inputs is not safe because attackers can access data stored in the phone or download malware through them. Today in Moscow you can charge your gadgets at airports and train stations, in metro trains, buses, at public transport stops, and in shopping and entertainment centers.

According to Sergey Nikitin, Deputy head of Group-IB, standard USB cables contain four wires: two for data transfer and two for charging. The problem is that hackers embed a special device in the charging wire, or add a small computer to the charger itself. When people connect a gadget to charge, they connect it to some other device.

"Attackers can thus gain access to your device," said the expert. Nikitin gave an example of one of these attacks: a small computer sends malicious code to the gadget, runs it, and so the hacker gains access to the data of the smartphone. An expert at Jet Infosystems Georgy Starostin noted that cybercriminals can download photos from victim's phones for blackmail or infect the device with a virus.

According to him, charging stations in public places carry other risks, the company providing the service can also install additional equipment. According to him, this way it will collect user data for further analysis and sale to advertisers.

The Avast press service said that information is transferred via USB ports in the same way as to the computer. If there are any vulnerabilities in the USB phone software, hackers can gain full control of the connected phone.

Experts advised users to try to avoid charging stations in public places. Avast offered to buy a portable power supply for charging the gadget or USB cables in which the data wires are removed.

Cyber Attack Alert! Microsoft Gives Inside Revelations About RDP Brute Force Attacks


Microsoft conducted a long-term study, which majorly focused on RDP brute-force attacks, their success and the duration they last for.

Per sources, according to the reports of the study, over 0.8% of the RDP brute force attacks on an average last for about “2-3 days”. The study also revolved around the effect of such attacks on various business organizations.

Data from over 45,000 devices and workstations that ran “Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection” (commercial version of the free Defender anti-virus app) was acquired in terms of RDP login related acts.

According to reports, both failed and successful attempts at RDP login was part of the data collected for the detailed study that spread across numerous months of dedication.

Reportedly, the aforementioned successful and failed events include Windows events with ID 4264 and 4265, correspondingly. The usernames that the attackers or users may have used were also collected.


Per sources, RDP, Remote Desktop Protocol happens to be a feature of the Windows operating system that enables the users to log into a “remote computer” or device by way of an interface that looks much like a desktop, by means of the computer’s public IP address and port 3389.

Businesses and organizations usually make use of RDP and its provisions to manage servers, workstations and other connected devices in remote areas. It’s easier for the administrators and employees alike to work that way.

Brute force attacks have been pretty common on Windows devices especially via open RDP ports. Automated tools that the hackers use help them to create various combinations of passwords and usernames to figure out the target computer’s RDP login details.

Simple and basic combinations stand at the top of the hit list. The password and usernames combinations that have previously been leaked on the dark web are also used the most.

Where on an average these brute force attacks last for 2 to 3 days, in 90% of the cases, as the reports have found out, the attacks last for around a week.

According to the study reports the attacks spread across days because the hackers were trying out selected combos per hour rather than blindly shooting combos.

This clearly helped the attackers dodge the chances of their attack Internet Protocols getting banned by the firewalls.

Microsoft, according to sources, also mentioned that “0.8% of the devices that were attacked by the brute-force attacks were compromised. Also, that on an average a machine was expected to have a high probability of being compromised leading to an RDP brute force attack every 3-4 days”.

Per sources it’s imperative to look for the following things in a sign-in attempt:
 Event ID 4625 login type
 number of other devices with RDP inbound connections from one or more of the same IP
 number of failed sign-ins
 Event ID 4625 failure reason
 The number count of a username and the times it failed to log in
 number of RDP inbound external IP
 an hour and the day of the failed sign-in
 RDP connections
 Timing of successful sign-in attempts

To secure your device from such attacks, it’s supremely essential to monitor unknown connections and failed sign-in attempts.


Hackers Bypass the 2-step Verification to Invade Government Systems and Industries


2-step verification is an extra security measure that an application uses when connecting to a service or a device. But the 2-step authentication was avoided by a group of hackers from China known as APT20. The government, industries, and various corporations across the world are concerned about the issue. This is disturbing news for the world of cybersecurity. APT 20, a criminal hacking organization from China was able to avoid the important 2-step verification, that is used as a safety precaution by vast services on the internet such as Google, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc. But above all this, this issue is a major concern for banking institutions that rely on internet services for their conduct.



The APT20 group was caught avoiding the 2-step Verification: 

After successfully breaking the verification process, APT20 was able to get access to some government agencies, corporate databases, and servers of various industries. The activity was discovered by Fox-It, a Dutch security specialist, when it received a complaint from one of the victims and upon investigation, it was able to identify the criminal group responsible for the attack. The corporations hit by the attack are spread over 10 nations and different sectors, some of which include Germany, Britain, France, the US, and China. The sectors affected are flight, architecture, banking, power, security, transportation, HR services, etc. The attack, however, doesn't affect the general public, as it focuses much on the corporations.

What is a 2-step verification?

Today, 2-step verification has become an official security order and is used worldwide by the users as an assurance of security (even if the users are unaware, their systems rely on this method). The safety method comes along with an extension to the typical login-password credentials process. 2-step verification operates when the user enters his credentials while logging into a device, following which he is sent a temporary code.

The 2-step verification asks the user a temporary code that he has to enter while logging in to the device. For instance, Google systems like Gmail retrieves the user back to his device for confirming the identity. Only after making sure that the user is authenticated and not a fraud, he is allowed access into the specified device. After filling in the code, the user verifies his identification to the system.   

The Russian President created a new Department for information security


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree increasing the number of departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia from 41 to 42.  According to the Facebook page of the Department, the new 42nd Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry will deal with international information security, including the fight against the use of information technologies for military-political, terrorist and other criminal purposes.

The decree came into force on December 27, 2019.  The number of employees of the Central office of the Russian Foreign Ministry increased from 3,358 people to 3,391 people. The decree establishes a staff payroll for a year in the amount of 3,521,914.7 thousand rubles ($57,000).

Employees of the Department will have to propose measures to improve legislation to make it easier to cooperate with other countries and international organizations on the topic of information security.

"The main idea of the department is the development of generally accepted rules for conducting a cyber environment and for a collective response to challenges,” said Maria Zakharova, an official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Earlier, at the end of 2018, the Permanent Representative of Russia in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, announced that a new information security division would appear in the structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He noted that the decision was made due to the fact that information threats have recently become more relevant.

Recall that on December 28, it became known that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proposed by Russia to combat cybercrime.  The US did not support the initiative, considering the document redundant, as there is already an agreement on cybercrime, it's the Budapest Convention

The American side believes that the resolution is beneficial to Russia to create the necessary "type of control over the Internet space."

The Russian Foreign Ministry called the adopted resolution a new page in the history of the fight against cybercrime, stressing that the document actually secured the digital sovereignty of States over their information space.

Kremlin commented on the plans of the US cyber command


Member of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, Elena Panina, considers the tactics of countering possible "interference in elections", which the US cyber command is developing, as direct aggression against Russia.

Earlier, the Washington Post reported that the US cyber command is developing information warfare tactics against high-ranking Russian officials and businessmen in case Moscow tries to interfere in the 2020 elections. The goal of the cyber command may be representatives of the Russian elite.

"Attempts by the American side to present these plans as "defensive", as a possible response to the case of "interference in the American elections" look ridiculous. In fact, we are talking about the threat of direct aggression against Russia in the information space," said Panina.
According to her, the cynical nature of these actions is manifested in the fact that the United States decided to publicly blackmail Russian political and business elites, threatening to hack e-mail and invade personal space.

She believes that the purpose of public disclosure of such plans is an attempt to intimidate the Russian political class. "Such actions are more typical for a criminal group than for a legal State," stated Panina.

In addition, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sergei Tsekov, stated that there is nothing original in the published plans for conducting an information war.

"The United States is always waging an information war against Russia. This is the meaning of life for the American community. So there is nothing original in this statement. As for countering Russian" interference " in the elections, the Americans have already achieved a 100% effect. Russia has never interfered in the election process and is not going to," said he.

The Senator also expressed the opinion that the effect of any American tactics of conducting an information war against Russia "will be very weak".

"Russian society is consolidated and understands very well the nature and mentality of the American community. So we do not give in to any propaganda on their part," concluded Tsekov.

Recall that US intelligence agencies accused Russia of interfering in the election campaign before the 2016 presidential election. Later, a commission was formed to investigate these circumstances, led by special prosecutor Robert Muller, the former head of the FBI. 

Development Team Suffers Cryptocurrency Theft Worth $4,80,000


Hackers stole records relating to the extension unit of an unknown blockchain recently, taking cryptocurrency worth $480,000, which is known as an obscure token called NULS. The developing team working on NULS confirmed on Twitter that it suffered a hacking attack. Earlier in the morning, the company tweeted that around 2 million NULS ($4,80,000) were stolen from its account. From the amount that was stolen, the development team says that more than half the amount lost in the theft has been liquidated to other cryptocurrency forms, amounting roughly to $131,600.



The company is planning to 'Hard Fork' the transaction network and blockchain, a measure that stops the cryptocurrency once and for all. Fortunately, the incident didn't have a hard effect on the price of NULS. The reason for the theft is said to be a vulnerability found in software version 2.2. The reason for having little effect on its value might be due to the value dropping down already at over 95%, following the all-time high before the incident was exposed. The users that use NULS are requested by the company to update their software to the latest version available, as to prevent themselves from any hacking issue.

Similar to the incident when Ethereum also 'Hard Forked' to retrieve its taken cryptocurrency:
The acknowledgment of the NULS team to this issue of theft is nostalgic for how core developers of Ethereum countered the problem of 'DAO' hacking incident in the year 2016. The DAO (Digital Decentralized Autonomous Organization) was supported by active agreements that worked likewise to an enterprise funds stock but was driven by the investor. Certainly, following the incident in which Ethereum worth $40 Million was stolen by the hackers from the DAO, Ethereum development divided the blockchain separately into 2 divisions.

In the 1st division, the users stirred by the theft could recover the Ethereum funds. Meanwhile in the 2nd division resumed upholding the initial variant of the block-chain record known as 'Ethereum Classic.' To this day, that specific Hard Fork incident is still a controversy amid the critics, practicing it as evidence of the unification concerning Ethereum‘s administration. Fortunately, NULS is not as popular as Ethereum, so the hard forking step won't cause much of a controversy for the company.