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Man Sentenced To 12 Years For Attempting To Purchase Chemical Weapon On The Dark Web

 

A 46-year-old Missouri man has been sentenced to 12 years without parole in US federal prison today for trying to obtain a chemical weapon via an illicit Dark Website with Bitcoin currency; the weapon has the capacity to kill hundreds of people. 

According to the court, the man named Jason Siesser had admitted his cybercrime and accepted that he attempted to purchase a chemical weapon two times between 14 June and August 4, 2018. Additionally, the court document has also mentioned that he had provided the order shipping address in the name of a juvenile, whose name, address he used illegally to acquire this highly toxic weapon including five batches of cadmium arsenide, hydrochloric acid, and other chemical compounds. 

As per the information that the court has provided, three batches of this chemical concoction would be enough to kill more than 300 people at once. On August 4, 2020, Siesser has been to prison for attempting to obtain a chemical weapon. 

Jason had ordered chemical weapons on two different occasions, at first, he ordered two 10 milliliter units of chemical on 4th July of 2018 with the use of cryptocurrencies. When the seller did not ship the order, he contacted him continuously. Then it was on 9th July of 2018, when he contacted the seller and asked him to ship the order as early as possible because he planned to use it immediately after receiving it. 

Jason ordered his second chemical on 5th august of 2018 and again he made the payment with help of Bitcoin, worth roughly $150. Notably, what he ordered, was a very toxic chemical. 

During the investigating officers' raid at Siesser's home, they had found nearly 10 grams of the toxic chemical including cadmium arsenide, which can be deadly if it ingested or inhaled; approximately 100 grams of cadmium metal and more than 500 mL of hydrochloric acid had been found. 

"Writings located within the home articulated Siesser’s heartache, anger and resentment over a breakup, and a desire for the person who caused the heartache to die," said the Department of Justice.

Russian hackers suspected of stealing thousands of US State Department emails

In 2020, Russian hackers stole thousands of emails from U.S. State Department employees. As Politico reported, this is the second major hack of the department's email server in the last ten years, carried out "with the support of the Kremlin."

According to Politico sources, this time, hackers accessed the emails of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, as well as the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. A Politico source said it was unclear whether classified information was among the stolen emails. It also remains unclear whether the hack was part of a larger SolarWinds attack that gave hackers access to dozens of U.S. federal agencies.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment to the publication on the likely attack. "For security reasons, we cannot discuss the nature or extent of any alleged cybersecurity incidents at this time," said a State Department spokesman. Politico also sent a request to the Russian embassy in the United States. At the time of publication, the Russian side had not responded.

Recall, U.S. media reported on the large-scale hacking attack on the U.S. government on December 14, 2020. The hack was later confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies. According to their information, dozens of agencies were hacked, it was organized by Russian hackers. U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intention to impose sanctions against Russia for cyber attacks. On March 8, 2021, the media reported on White House plans to conduct covert cyberattacks on Russian networks in response to the SolarWinds hack.

Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov stressed Moscow's noninvolvement in the cyberattacks. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said that U.S. accusations that Russia was involved in a massive hacking attack on U.S. federal agencies were unproven.

Man Indicted In Kansas Water Facility Breach

 

Today the US Department of Justice charged a Kansas man for breaching a public water system and trying to shut down the water functioning process with the intention of damaging the local community. 

The official statement has been posted on Wednesday by the Department of Justice (DOJ); The 22-year-old man named Wyatt A. Travnichek, accused of hacking into the computer system of the local water utility is a native of Ellsworth County, Kan. He was well aware of the public damage that could be caused by getting access to the Ellsworth County Rural Water District's (also known as Post Rock Rural Water District) computer system with illegal means. He tried to sabotage the water running system, according to the sources. 

The episode first appeared on 27 March 2019, when Post Rock experienced an uncertified remote trespass the facility system and successfully shut down the whole functioning operations. 
Lance Ehrig, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas said that “By illegally tampering with a public drinking water system, the defendant threatened the safety and health of an entire community…”

“…EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to upholding the laws designed to protect our drinking water systems from harm or threat of harm. Today’s indictment sends a clear message that individuals who intentionally violate these laws will be vigorously prosecuted.” 

Nevertheless, the court’s documents had not mentioned whether Travnichek’s operation was successful or not. Additionally, the court did not explain how the operation was detected. In this regard, the officials stated that Travnichek was an employee of the Post Rock Rural Water District from January 2018 to January 2019 until he resigned from the facility in January 2019. 

Post Rock provides water facilities around eight Kansas counties. Part of Travnichek's job was to log in to the Post Rock computer system to monitor the plant after hours, but he ended up exploiting the system by illicitly accessing it. 

"He logged in remotely to Post Rock Rural Water District's computer system and performed activities that shut down processes at the facility which affect the facility's cleaning and disinfecting procedures with the intention of harming the Ellsworth County Rural Water District No. 1," the document further reads.

Hades Ransomware Attacks US Big Game

 

An obscure monetarily spurred threat group is utilizing the self-proclaimed Hades ransomware variant in cybercrime activities that have affected at least three victims since December 2020. Known victims incorporate a huge US transportation and logistics organization, a huge US consumer products organization, and a worldwide manufacturing organization. 

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP) utilized to compromise a victim network, escalate privileges, move laterally, evade defenses, exfiltrate data and deploy Hades ransomware are relatively consistent with other notable ransomware operators, utilizing a mix of commodity tooling and various living-off-the-land techniques. When Hades lands on a victim's machine, it duplicates itself and relaunches itself through the command line. The 'spare' duplicate is then erased and an executable is unloaded in memory. A scan is then performed in local directories and network offers to discover content to encrypt however every Hades sample secured uses a different extension. 

Moreover, Accenture recognized extra Tor covered up services and clearnet URLs by means of different open-source reporting relating to the Hades ransomware samples. For every examined sample, the ransom notes distinguished educate the victim to install Tor browser and visit the predetermined page. The Tor pages vary just in the Victim ID that is given, demonstrating every Tor address might be particularly created for every victim. Accenture Security distinguished an aggregate of six of these addresses, showing there could be three extra victims that they are unaware of as of now. 

Right now, it is hazy if the obscure threat group works under an affiliate model, or if Hades is appropriated by a solitary group. Under an affiliate model, developers partner with affiliates who are answerable for different undertakings or phases of the operation lifecycle, for example, conveying the malware, giving starting admittance to associations, or even target selection and reconnaissance. In any case, in light of intrusion information from incident response engagements, the operators tailor their strategies and tooling to deliberately chose targets and run a more “hands-on keyboard” operation to inflict maximum damage and higher payouts. 

Likewise, Accenture recognized similarities in the Hades ransom notes to those that have been utilized by REvil ransomware operators, where parts of the ransom notes observed contain identical wording.

U.S. authorities found no evidence of Russian hackers' influence on the presidential election

U.S. authorities found no evidence that hackers affiliated with foreign governments were able to block voters from voting, alter votes, interfere with the counting or timely transmission of election results, alter technical aspects of the voting process, or otherwise compromise the integrity of voter registration or ballot information submitted during the 2020 federal election.

This is reported in a joint report by the US Department of Justice (including the FBI) ​​and the Department of Homeland Security (including the Cyber ​​and Infrastructure Security Agency).

According to the report, "as part of Russia's and Iran's extensive campaigns against critical infrastructure, the security of several networks to manage some election functions was indeed compromised. But it had no meaningful impact on the integrity of voter data, the ability to vote, the counting of votes, or the timely transmission of election results. Iran's claims to undermine public confidence in the U.S. election infrastructure were false or exaggerated".

However, experts have identified several incidents in which malicious actors linked to the governments of Russia, China and Iran significantly affected the security of networks linked to U.S. political organizations, candidates and campaigns during the 2020 federal election. In most cases, it is unclear whether the attackers sought access to the networks for foreign political interests or for operations related to election interference.

In a number of cases, the attackers collected at least some information that they might have published in order to exert influence. However, no evidence of publishing, modifying or destroying this information was found.

"We found no evidence (either through intelligence gathering on the foreign attackers themselves, through monitoring the physical security and cybersecurity of voting systems across the country, or through post-election audits or any other means) that a foreign government or other parties compromised the election infrastructure to manipulate the election results," the report authors summarized.

Kremlin concerned about the report of possible US cyber attacks

The New York Times previously reported that the United States plans to carry out cyber attacks on the internal systems of the Russian authorities within the next three weeks

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is concerned about the report of possible cyber attacks by the United States. He also called the accusations of the US State Department of Russia spreading misinformation about foreign vaccines absurd.

Mr. Peskov commented on The New York Times report on the impending cyberattacks on the internal systems of the Russian authorities in response to the attack on SolarWinds. A Kremlin spokesman called it "alarming information" that appeared in a "fairly reputable American publication."

Dmitry Peskov said that "this is nothing but international cybercrime." "Of course, the fact that the publication admits the possibility that the American state may be involved in this cybercrime is a reason for our extreme concern," Mr. Peskov told reporters during a press call.

He also commented on the statement of the official representative of the US State Department, Ned Price, that four Russian online platforms run by the Russian intelligence services spread misinformation about vaccines approved in the United States. "We do not understand the reasons for such statements. We will continue to patiently explain that such reports are completely absurd," said Dmitry Peskov. "We have always been against politicizing any issues related to the vaccine in any way," added the Kremlin spokesman.

Mr. Peskov also said that the Russian vaccine "Sputnik V" is constantly criticized without any serious grounds. “The Russian vaccine is criticized on a daily basis with an attempt to pretend to be objective or without any attempts to pretend to be objective - just sweeping criticism. We've always been against it. The Russian Federation has not participated and is not going to participate in such an information campaign against any other vaccines," stated Dmitry Peskov.

Recall that on Sunday, The New York Times, citing sources in the US administration, reported that the US plans to carry out a series of cyberattacks on the internal systems of the Russian authorities over the next three weeks in response to an attributed hacker attack through SolarWinds software.

US court sentenced Ukrainian to seven years in prison for electronic fraud

A court in the United States has sentenced Ukrainian citizen Alexander Musienko to more than seven years in prison for participating in an online money-laundering scheme that legalized millions of dollars.

The suspect admitted his guilt in electronic fraud. On February 11, the court sentenced him to 87 months in prison (more than seven years). In addition, a citizen of Ukraine is obliged to pay more than $98.7 thousand in compensation.

As follows from the materials of the case, from 2009 to 2012, the 38-year-old Alexander Musienko from Odessa collaborated with computer hackers from Eastern Europe in order to get more than $3 million from the bank accounts of American companies. These funds were eventually stolen and legalized using bank accounts abroad.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, he legalized funds stolen by hackers in the United States. This task was entrusted to private individuals whom Musienko hired by fraud to perform the duties of financial assistants. They transferred the stolen funds to their bank accounts at the agreed time and immediately transferred them to third-party accounts registered outside the United States.

So, in September 2011, Musienko's financial assistants, who were sure that they were working for a legitimate business, hacked the online accounts of the North Carolina company and transferred a total of almost $296.3 thousand to two bank accounts controlled by Musienko.

The Department added that Musienko was arrested in South Korea in 2018 and extradited to the United States in 2019. Around April 2019, the FBI investigated the information on Musienko's laptop. As a result, files containing about 120 thousand payment card numbers and associated identification information were found.

ADT Technician Hacks Into Security Footage to Spy on Naked Women

 

A former ADT technician situated in Dallas has pleaded guilty to secretly accessing the security feed of more than 200 clients to watch them undress and take part in sexual activity, as indicated by federal prosecutors. Telesforo Aviles, 35, conceded in plea papers to hacking into the accounts in excess of 9,600 times throughout four and a half years, the U.S. Lawyer's Office for Northern District of Texas said in an official statement on Thursday. 

“This defendant, entrusted with safeguarding customers' homes, instead intruded on their most intimate moments," acting US Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement. "We are glad to hold him accountable for this disgusting betrayal of trust.” While working for ADT, a home security organization that gives alarms, cameras, and locks. Aviles observed client homes where attractive women lived, prosecutors stated, then repeatedly gained access to their video feeds for sexual gratification. The technician abused the organization's policies by clandestinely adding his own email address to accounts on ADT Pulse, an application that permits clients to check distantly on their homes' surveillance cameras.

The federal charges against Aviles were recorded against him in October 2020, five months after various ADT clients filed lawsuits against the organization in association with the security breach. ADT, which is situated in Florida, is as of now confronting three federal lawsuits identified with the occurrence. The breach affected 220 clients who lived in Texas. As per the claims, ADT started to inform clients about the breach back in April 2020, disclosing to them that one of their workers had accessed client accounts for around four and a half years. 

An ADT representative said the organization self-reported the occurrence in April 2020 on its site. "After we learned of the unauthorized access, we immediately took preventative steps to ensure this can never happen again, and we personally contacted each of our 220 customers who were impacted by this incident," the statement read. In the three lawsuits, the clients additionally asserted ADT attempted to get confidentiality arrangements while telling them of the security breach. In one case, a client said she was offered $2,500, as well as credit for monitoring services and upgraded equipment. When she refused, she alleged the organization increased their proposal to $50,000. 

“We remain committed in our attempts to resolve all affected customer concerns,” ADT said in a statement. Meanwhile, Aviles could face as long as five years in prison for pleading guilty to computer fraud, prosecutors said.

Parler on the Verge of Permanent Expulsion

 

Launched in 2018, Parler has become a place of refuge for individuals that have been prohibited or suspended by popular social networks including Facebook and Twitter for abusing those stages guidelines. The Henderson, Nevada–based organization has named itself as a free speech option in contrast to mainstream social networks and adopted a more loosened up approach to content moderation, attracting conspiracy theorists, members of hate groups, and right-wing activists who have transparently induced violence.

Google has suspended US-based microblogging stage Parler, where the majority of the supporters of active President Donald Trump are moving their base from its application store, referring to posts inducing viciousness and requesting strong moderation for heinous content from the social networking service. All the while, Apple had given Parler, the social network supported by conservatives and extremists, an ultimatum to implement a full moderation plan of its platform inside the following 24 hours or face suspension from the App store. 

The move by the two Silicon Valley organizations came the day when Twitter forever suspended Trump's account because of the "danger of additional prompting of viciousness". 

In suspending the service, Google, whose software powers Android telephones, referred to its approach against applications that promote violence and gave recent examples from Parler, including a Friday post that started "How do we take back our country? Around 20 or so coordinated hits" and another promoting "Million Militia March" on Washington. 

"To ensure client security on Google Play, our longstanding strategies require that applications showing user-generated content have moderation policies and implementation that eliminates offensive substance like spots that prompt violence. All developers consent to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months," Google said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Apple in a statement said it has gotten various complaints with respect to the offensive substance in Parler service, allegations that the application was utilized to plan, organize and encourage the criminal operations in Washington DC on January 6 that prompted death toll, various wounds and the devastation of property. 

Matze, who depicts himself as a libertarian, established Parler in 2018 as a "free-speech driven" alternative to mainstream platforms however started seeking right-leaning clients as prominent supporters of Trump moved there. On Parler, John Matze sent out an opposing vibe. "We won't give in to pressure from anti-competitive actors! We will and consistently have authorized our guidelines against brutality and criminal behavior. Yet, we won't cave to politically persuaded organizations and those authoritarians who scorn free speech!" he wrote in a message.

Court in the United States has sentenced Russian Andrey Tyurin to 12 years in prison for cybercrime

The Federal Court of the Southern District of New York sentenced Russian Andrey Tyurin to 12 years in prison for committing a number of cybercrimes. In addition, he was ordered to pay the United States 19 million dollars

The Russian Consulate General in New York is in contact with law enforcement agencies in the United States in the case of the Russian Andrei Tyurin, who was sentenced by the court to 12 years in prison for cybercrime, said the press secretary of the diplomatic mission Alexey Topolsky.

According to him, the conditions of detention of the Russian citizen were difficult in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Topolsky recalled that Tyurin contracted the coronavirus in an American prison.

"The Russian Consulate General in New York is monitoring the case of Andrei Tyurin and is in contact with US law enforcement agencies," said Topolsky.

In his last speech, Tyurin said that he sincerely repents for what he did.

According to the judge, Tyurin must reimburse the United States 19 million 214 thousand 956 dollars, this is the profit that he derived from his criminal activities.

By US standards, a 12-year sentence is not the harshest for such a crime, says international lawyer Timur Marchani.

"In the United States, for crimes related to cybersecurity, for crimes that entail hacking the banking system, some of the harshest penalties are provided. Here, the court took into account first of all the hacker's remorse and, most importantly, cooperation with the preliminary investigation authorities and then with the court," said Mr. Marchani.

Recall that the Russian was detained in Georgia at the request of the United States in December 2017. In September 2018, he was extradited to the United States. In September 2019, the Turin pleaded guilty to six counts of the indictment.

According to the investigation, Tyurin participated in a "global hacking campaign" against major financial institutions, brokerage firms, news agencies and other companies, including Fidelity Investments, E-Trade Financial and Dow Jones & Co.

Prosecutor Jeffrey Berman said that Tyurin ultimately collected client data from more than 80 million victims, "which is one of the largest thefts of American client data for one financial institution in history."

Credential Phishing Attack Impersonating USPS Targets Consumers Over the Holidays

 

As the year is coming to a wrap, the 2020 holiday season is being actively attacked by malicious actors.  In recent months, a steady upsurge has been witnessed in cybercrime related to online shopping as people have increasingly shopped online this year. Security experts have predicted a further spike in cyber scams during the holiday season, especially throughout the month of December. 

On Wednesday, Abnormal Security Corporation disclosed that its email security platform has blocked a credential phishing attack that was imitating the U.S. postal service for victims’ credit card credentials. The attack was pursuing recipients for special delivery charges so they can get their delivery within three days. 

Companies reported that peoples are approaching fast order delivery and online orders are continuing to pour in, because of this, courier services are facing more pressure from consumers. It's mainly due to the pandemic that online shipping demand has increased and the rise in online shipping is turning out to be vicious for inexperienced customers of USPS, Amazon, FedEx, and UPS. In a related blog post, Abnormal Security said that the hackers were taking advantage of those customers who were looking for fast delivery over the holidays. 

Recent research by CheckPoint revealed that shipping-related phishing emails have increased 440 percent in November 2020, in comparison to the previous month of October. Furthermore, more phishing scams are being anticipated this holiday season. 

Abnormal Security Platform said on its blog post that they managed to block the attacker before it could hack 15,000 to 50,000 mailboxes of the customers. 

According to intelligence, this attack itself imitates delivery notification emails from the USPS, notifying delivery payment confirmation to the customers that their parcel cannot be delivered until their payment gets confirmed. Although the platform has been hacked, emails were appeared as originating from real US postal service as it was using all official features of the US Postal Service. The email carried some link that leads the customer to a fake USPS tracking site asking for special shipping charges for their fast delivery; this page was ultimately leading recipients to share their credit card information. 

Hank Schless, Senior Manager, Security Solutions at Lookout said, "an attack like this can be even more effective if the target accesses it from a mobile device. It’s harder to spot a phishing attack on mobile than it is on a desktop. Since mobile devices have smaller screens and a simplified user experience, people are less inclined to verify the sender’s real email address or identity. In this particular case, if the targeted individual doesn’t know how to preview a link on mobile, they are at higher risk of falling for the scam."

As suggested by Jamie Hart, Cyber Threat Intelligence Analyst at Digital Shadows, users and security teams can follow the steps mentioned below to ensure the prevention of phishing attacks. 

• Install antivirus software 
• Frequently update all the systems which include the latest security patches and updates 
• Use a web filter that blocks suspected websites 
• Offer more often security training that includes when and where users should report suspected phishing emails.

SolarWinds Cyberattacks, Microsoft's Turn?

 

The United States is witnessing major cyberattacks, multiple government departments’ agencies are being targeted including treasury and commerce departments, homeland security and now Microsoft is the latest victim of a cyber attack. 

The ‘SolarWinds hack’ has emerged as one of the biggest cyberattacks against the US government, its agencies, and several other private companies, so much so that it has been said the world is under global cyber attack.  

According to Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, more victims are expected to surface as investigations continue. 

Government departments and private organizations all across the globe are facing difficulties in disabling the compromised SolarWinds products from their systems. 

Intelligences investigating the matter, have named the hack ‘Sunburst’, saying that it will take years to fully decipher these cyber-attacks including the attack vectors and the origin. In this regard, Smith further stated, “We should all be prepared for stories about additional victims in the public sector and other enterprises and organizations.” 

Furthermore, he said that Microsoft has already notified 40 of its security customers that its products are being found to be compromised. The malicious actors are seen to be targeting them “more precisely and breaching the security through additional and sophisticated measures". Experts have predicted the continuity of the attacks, saying more victims are likely to come up. 

As per the researchers, approximately 80 percent of these customers were located in the United States, while others were from Mexico and Canada in North America, Spain, Belgium, and the United Kingdom in Europe, and UAE and Israel in the Middle East. 

Attackers have targeted the government agencies, security and other technology firms, and private organizations of the abovementioned nations. 

However, above all, the campaign is “effectively an attack on the United States and its government and other critical institutions,” Smith warned. So far, six federal entities have been attacked: the Department of Energy, The Pentagon, the National Institute of Health, the Department of Homeland Security the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Commerce. 

The information about the attack has come from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) as the agency warned government and non-government agencies that there could be additional initial-access vectors, beyond the SolarWinds Orion platform. 

Sources from Reuters told that the malicious actors used Microsoft’s Azure cloud as part of their attacks, however, a Microsoft spokesperson denied this by saying that “there are no indications that our systems were used to attack others’’

Putin: the US State Department and the US intelligence agencies come up with fake about Russian hackers

According to the Russian President, he is counting on the experience of the President-elect of the United States, which will help solve some problems in relations between the two countries

Vladimir Putin called a provocation the question of the general producer of the RTVI channel Sergey Shnurov, who during a press conference asked why Russian hackers this time did not help Donald Trump become President of the United States and whether Russia is ready to provide asylum to the outgoing American leader.

"This is not a question, but a provocation. Hackers did not help Trump and did not interfere in the American elections. This is all speculation, an excuse to spoil relations between Russia and the United States, an excuse not to recognize the legitimacy of the US president for domestic political reasons," Putin said.

According to the Russian President, relations between Moscow and Washington have become hostages of the internal political situation in the United States: "It is their choice, let them do what they want."

Putin also expressed hope that "the elected President of the United States will understand what is happening." "He is an experienced man. We hope that some problems will be resolved under the new administration," the President said.

It is worth noting that the US authorities previously reported that hackers working for Russia obtained information from the databases of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Treasury and Commerce Department.

During a press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin named the real authors of the fakes about Russian hackers.

According to the President, they are the US State Department and the US intelligence agencies. He also added that it was they who in 2016 made a throw-in about the connections of hackers who hacked the mail of members of the US Democratic Party with Russian military intelligence.

"So they are the authors in fact. In any case, according to their instructions, this was done, it is quite obvious," the head of state said in a live broadcast.

On Thursday, December 17, the head of state held a large press conference. The event included a direct line with the President.

United States rejected Putin's offer to cooperate on cybersecurity

The US authorities for the first time publicly responded to the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin to resume cooperation in the field of international information security. US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers called the Kremlin's initiative "nothing more than false rhetoric, cynical and cheap propaganda.” And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Russia is dismissive of public security and international stability in cyberspace.

On September 25, Vladimir Putin invited the US authorities to resume cooperation in the field of international information security, which began in 2013 but was frozen due to disagreements over Ukraine and Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

The President of the Russian Federation then stated that the dialogue in the cyber sphere should not be a "hostage" of political disputes, and proposed a four-point program for restoring cooperation.

In a statement, the Russian President said that "the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital sphere is one of the main strategic challenges of our time." "Special responsibility" for preventing cyberwarfare lies, as the Kremlin said, "on key players in the field of international information security," that is, primarily on Russia and the United States.

On October 7, in an interview with the Russia TV channel, Vladimir Putin complained that there was no response to his proposal from the United States. "Unfortunately, as with a number of our other initiatives, there is no response to this, I believe, very important topic, although there are continuing complaints against us about our hyperactivity in the information sphere, interference in elections there, and so on, which have absolutely no basis,” said Mr. Putin.

The Russian Embassy denies the US charge of six Russians in hacking

The Russian Embassy in Washington denies US accusations against Russian citizens of hacking and destabilizing activities around the world

Russia has not been and is not engaged in carrying out cyberattacks in the world, said the Russian Embassy in Washington. The Department believes that the accusation of Russians in hacking is aimed at warming up Russophobic sentiments.

Earlier, the US Department of Justice and the FBI brought charges against six Russians of involvement in a series of hacker attacks and the spread of malware in order to attack the infrastructure of other countries. In particular, they are charged with spreading the NotPetya virus in 2017. It is alleged that these individuals are GRU employees. 

The Russian Embassy said that Russia "has no intention of engaging in any destabilizing operations around the world", as this does not correspond to foreign policy and national interests.

"It is quite obvious that such information occasions have nothing to do with reality and are aimed only at warming up Russophobic sentiments in American society, at deploying a "witch hunt" and espionage,” said the Embassy. According to the document, the US authorities are destroying Russian-American relations and artificially imposing on the Americans "a toxic perception of Russia and everything connected with it."

According to the US Department of Justice, the damage to the United States from the actions of Russian hackers amounted to more than $1 billion. They attacked companies and hospitals in the United States, Ukraine's energy systems, the French presidential election, and the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this shows Russia's disregard for public security and international stability in cyberspace.

Threats to U.S. Space Systems Multiply Rapidly; a Novel Approach Emerges For Protection



The increasing vulnerability of U.S. space systems lately has incited its rivals to begin with their development of mechanisms for disabling space assets as a method of 'hobbling the joint force' and subverting the economic performance of the nation.

The purpose of this progression is the dependence of America's military forces which are spread across the world for communications, navigation, reconnaissance, and weather forecasts and that the most critical infrastructure sectors in the U.S. economy depend on space frameworks for fundamental administrations.

As of late certain reports from intelligence agencies indicate that enemies have now started focusing not only on satellites, but also on the ground stations that control them, the links between the satellites and the stations, and the ability of the users to access certain services, like the Global Positioning System.

The reports depict various ways in which the U.S. space capabilities may be debased, from electronic jamming of signs to high-power lasers that visually impair sensors to physical attacks on control centers.

It is clearly evident that the dangers to the U.S. space system are increasing consistently, and cyber-attacks offer the broadest exhibit of alternatives to the greatest grouping of troublemakers. 

Against that background, just the previous month a national-security contractor ManTech, came up with a 'novel approach' to deal with protecting military, intelligent, and commercial space assets against cyber-attacks.

Dubbed as Space Range, and it permits users to 'replicate' space networks in a controlled environment with the goal that their vulnerability to cyber aggression can be evaluated. The $2 billion company headquartered in Northern Virginia, has been doing this kind of work for quite a while. It had created the defense department's first cyber test range in 2009, and three years ago even launched an Advanced Cyber Range Environment.

Space Range, which began on May 4, is unique in the sense that it permits profoundly talented cyber experts to attacks exact replicas of satellites, ground stations, uplinks/downlinks, and so forth in a hyper-realistic environment that is air-gapped from the outside world.

As a company press release puts it that gives players the “ability to find hidden vulnerabilities, misconfigurations and software bugs on precise network replications.” The entire framework depends on a software-defined infrastructure model that can be reconfigured in hours as opposed to weeks.

That good news when time and money of the users is concerned, however, the most significant feature of Space Range is that it offers engineers and operators a protected and legitimate setting where to practically investigate the 'hardening' of their overhead resources against cyber-attack.

Nevertheless, with space quickly turning into a field of extraordinary competition, there isn't a lot of uncertainty that the Pentagon's recently introduced Space Force will be 'robustly funded' going ahead.

ManTech's Space Range will in no time, probably transform into a significant tool in assisting the government and industry to figure out where training and hardening outlays should be concentrated.

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. 

The Kremlin opposed cross-border persecution of Russians in the United States


Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia, commenting on the largest award in history appointed for Russian hacker Maxim Yakubets, said that Moscow opposes cross-border persecution of Russians by the American authorities. The State Department announced awards of $5 million for information that would help detain the Russian Maxim Yakubets. American authorities consider this citizen of the Russian Federation the leader of the hacker group Evil Corp.

"The Russian side has repeatedly offered cooperation [in the fight against cybercrime], and our proposals were undesirable and misunderstood," said the Kremlin representative.

According to Peskov, Moscow considers crimes in the cybersphere very serious, the people who committed them should bear the deserved punishment.

"We traditionally advocate for cooperation in the investigation of such crimes and the capture of criminals, but in this case, we can't speak about cooperation, this is not our fault," said the representative of the Kremlin.

On December 5, the US State Department announced its readiness to pay $5 million for information that will help detain the alleged leader of the hacker group Evil Corp (also known as the Dridex Gang) Maxim Yakubets. This award was the largest in history of all that has ever been nominated for the head of a cybercriminal. Earlier, another Russian Evgeny Bogachev was the “leader” in this indicator, for whom in 2015 a prize of $3 million was offered.

Us and UK authorities accuse Yakubets of leading a group of hackers who stole more than $100 million. According to the US Treasury, Evil Corp is responsible for the development and distribution of the malware Dridex, used to infect the computers of 300 banks and financial companies in more than 40 countries.

According to Washington, Yakubets also provided direct assistance to the Russian government. The US Treasury Department claims that Yakubets worked for the FSB of Russia in 2017, and in April 2018 was allegedly in the process of obtaining permission from the FSB to work with Russian secret documents.

Facebook Dating Service available in 20 countries


Facebook has launched one of its most awaiting features; Facebook dating service in the United States and other 19 countries for its users who are above 18 years or older.

Currently, dating feature would be available in countries including US, Bolivia, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Laos, Guyana, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Philippines, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Columbia,  Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Facebook said that they would launch a dating service in Europe in early 2020. While there is no word when they would launch the service in South East Asia.

"Today people are asked to make a decision as to whether or not they like someone immediately based on a static profile. To help you show, rather than tell, who you are, we're bringing Stories to Dating," Facebook blog post.

The user can create a dating profile, which will be entirely different and separate from the main profile.  People can integrate their Instagram posts in a dating profile, by the end of the year, and they would be able to add Instagram followers to their Secret Crush lists, in addition of their Facebook friends.

"By the end of the year, we'll make it possible to add Facebook and Instagram Stories to your Dating profile too,"  Facebook wrote in a blog post.

The dating service won't match you with your  Facebook friend until you choose to use Secret Crush and your crush too should have added you to their crush list.

"All of your Dating activity will stay in Facebook Dating. It won't be shared to the rest of Facebook," said the company.

"Finding a romantic partner is deeply personal, which is why we built Dating to be safe, inclusive and opt-in. Safety, security and privacy are at the forefront of this product," blog post.

Facebook fined $5bn over Cambridge Analytica scandal










US regulators the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a fine of $5 billion on Facebook to settle an investigation into Cambridge Analytica scandal, reports in US media. 

The commission was investigating the data breach that that affected more than 87 million Facebook users. 

The main focus of the investigation was to find out whether Facebook had violated a 2011 agreement which prohibits companies from obtaining users data without notifying them. 

"With the FTC either unable or unwilling to put in place reasonable guardrails to ensure that user privacy and data are protected, it's time for Congress to act," US Senator Mark Warner said.

The fine of $5bn was sanctioned by the FTC in a 3-2 vote with Republican commissioners in favor and Democrats opposed.

According to the New York Times report the Democrats wanted to take stricter action against the firm,  while other Democrats criticized that the fine is too less.