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Understand how SIM Swapping can easily be used to hack your accounts!

We've all heard about sim swapping, SIM splitting, simjacking or sim hijacking- the recent trend with cybercriminals and now a study by Princeton University prooves the vulnerability of wireless carriers and how these SIM swapping has helped hackers ease their hands into frauds and crimes.



SIM swapping gained quite an attention when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account was hacked on his own platform. A study by Princeton University has revealed that five major US wireless carriers - AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Tracfone, and US Mobile - are susceptible to SIM swap scams. And this sim hijacking is on a rise in developing countries like Africa and Latin America.

What is SIM swapping? 

SIM swapping is when your account is taken over by someone else by fraud through phone-based authentication usually two-factor authentication or two-step verification. This could give the hacker access to your email, bank accounts, online wallets and more.

How does the swap occur? 

In a SIM swap, scammers exploit the second step in two-factor verification, where either a text message or a call is given to your number for verification.

Citywire further explains the process, "Usually, a basic SIM-card swapping work when scammers call a mobile carrier, impersonating the actual owner and claiming to have lost or damaged their SIM card. They then try to convince the customer service representative to activate a new SIM card in the fraudster’s possession. This enables the fraudsters to port the victim’s telephone number to the fraudster’s device containing a different SIM."

After accessing the account, the scammers can control your email, bank accounts, online wallets and more.

 Detecting SIM swapping attack

• The first sign is if your text messages and cell phones aren't functioning, it's probable that your account is hijacked.

• If the login credentials set by you stop working then it's probably a sign that your account has been taken over. Contact your telecom provider and bank immediately.

• If you get a message from your telecom provider that your SIM card has been activated on another device, be warned it's a red sign.

Researchers And Army Join Hands to Protect the Military’s AI Systems


As an initiative to provide protection to the military's artificial intelligence systems from cyber-attacks, researchers from Delhi University and the Army have joined hands, as per a recent Army news release. 

As the Army increasingly utilizes AI frameworks to identify dangers, the Army Research Office is investing in more security. This move was a very calculated one in fact as it drew reference from the NYU supported CSAW HackML competition in 2019 where one of the many major goals was to develop such a software that would prevent cyber attackers from hacking into the facial and object recognition software the military uses to further train its AI.

MaryAnne Fields, program manager for the ARO's intelligent systems, said in a statement, "Object recognition is a key component of future intelligent systems, and the Army must safeguard these systems from cyber-attack. This work will lay the foundations for recognizing and mitigating backdoor attacks in which the data used to train the object recognition system is subtly altered to give incorrect answers."


This image demonstrates how an object, like the hat in this series of photos, can be used by a hacker to corrupt data training an AI system in facial and object recognition.

The news release clearly laid accentuation on a very few important facts like, “The hackers could create a trigger, like a hat or flower, to corrupt images being used to train the AI system and the system would then learn incorrect labels and create models that make the wrong predictions of what an image contains.” 

The winners of the HackML competition, Duke University researchers Yukan Yang and Ximing Qiao, created a program that can 'flag and discover potential triggers'. And later added in a news release, "To identify a backdoor trigger, you must essentially find out three unknown variables: which class the trigger was injected into, where the attacker placed the trigger and what the trigger looks like," 

And now the Army will only require a program that can 'neutralize the trigger', however, Qiao said it ought to be "simple:" they'll just need to retrain the AI model to ignore it. 

And lastly, the software's advancement is said to have been financed by a Short-Term Innovative Research that grants researchers up to $60,000 for their nine months of work.

Malware Attack! Oregon County's Network Smashed By a Ransomware?


Per local news and reports, allegedly, a cyber-attack shook the Tillamook County of Oregon, USA when it rendered the local government’s services ineffective.

Apparently owing it to the cyber-attack, the county officials are back to basics with all their daily tasks and are working about the crisis.

When the computers in the various departments of the county started misbehaving, that’s when the officials grasped the severity of the situation and immediately warned the IT department.

That is when the IT department comprehended that the systems had been infected with encrypting malware. To contain the infection, all the affected servers and devices were instantly isolated.

There is no sincere evidence to show if the malware was used for a ransomware attack but it sure is being conjectured on the affirmative. Per sources, no request for a ransom has been posted so far.

Allegedly, the Oregon city was recently struck by a cyber-attack of the same nature about a week ago.

The damage is of such a severe type that along with infecting all of the county’s computers and servers it has seriously harmed both the online and offline phone systems given the “VoIP” (Voice over Internet Protocol) that they employ.

Per sources, to rummage the details of the cyber-attack including the source, type, and magnitude of the attack, the county especially engaged a “digital forensic” team from a well-known cyber-security organization.

There is no doubting the fact that the Oregon county systems have been shut by the attack indefinitely and there is no knowing when they’d be back on operations.

With quite a substantial population to be hit by a cyber-attack of such severity, Oregon County has never before experienced a similar attack. Hence they can’t exactly mention their modus operandi to their plan of mitigation.

Sources mention that the county officials have decided to subcontract a few response operations to counter the attack and its repercussions.

The cyber-crisis management team happens to be the best at what they do and are efficiently working towards containing and mending the damages done by the malware.

Alexander Baranov says Russia has nothing to do with the cyberattack on the friendly Austrian Foreign Ministry


The hacker attack that the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs underwent prompted European countries to take active measures to defend against such attacks. At the same time, the EU accuses Moscow of the attack, which makes no sense, given the friendly relations between Russia and Austria. Alexander Baranov, head of the Department of Information Security at the National Research University, commented on the situation.

According to the expert, anti-Russian accusations once again show the policy of Western "hawks" who regularly make groundless statements to undesirable countries.
"These accusations are completely groundless and are not supported by any arguments," Baranov said.

He stressed that Russia has absolutely no interest in attacking the Austrian Foreign Ministry. In addition, Austria supports the implementation of major projects, such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

"This is one of the friendliest countries in the European Union, I think. Therefore, I do not see any sense to attack its foreign Ministry, especially since the country is small and it does not play a decisive role," the expert believes.

In his opinion, the provocation is obvious in order to worsen relations between the countries.
"One of the most famous methods of hackers is to carry out an attack from the territory of States that have nothing to do with it. Most often it is China or India," Baranov explained.

The expert reminded that it is now almost impossible to track the end user if he uses an anonymizer. It is possible that the European security forces were able to establish any facts, but they are not able to make them public because of the secrecy.

He added that European politicians enjoy their impunity by regularly making unfounded accusations.
"Representatives of Russia have repeatedly asked for facts, but there is nothing, there is only empty talk," the expert concluded.

A hacker attack on the Austrian Foreign Ministry occurred in early January. In Vienna, they believe that the incident has a Russian trace while recognizing the absence of any evidence.

Earlier, the Austrian newspaper DiePresse reported that a number of EU countries decided to form a group to protect themselves from cyber attacks from Russia. Vienna will work together with Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Cyprus on this issue. These States consider themselves to be "victims of a Russian cyber-espionage".

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.

Internet Explorer Targeted by North Korean Hackers: How to Stay Safe?



In a recent cybersecurity issue, some hackers from North Korea are attacking Internet Explorer by exploiting a vulnerability, which is said to be a zero-day flaw. The company Microsoft has not yet spoken on the issue and is still silent. 



Users should immediately stop using Internet Explorer for a while to stay safe from the hackers, suggest cybersecurity experts. If the users still prefer to use Microsoft software, they can download the latest Edge Browser by Microsoft. The Edge browser is safe from the attack as well as offers a better user experience while browsing than Internet Explorer. Other secured browsers include Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

But if the users still want to use the traditional software, cybersecurity experts at Tom's Guide suggest downloading a limited time user account that is safe for any software modification.

Microsoft has scheduled to release its next security patch, not until the 11th of February, therefore, its a long wait before the latest update is issued.

Microsoft reveals the Flaw-

In an online advisory published on 17th January, Microsoft explained the vulnerability, saying the flaw allows the hacker to corrupt the memory and perform arbitrary coding. If achieved successfully, the hacker has full access to the system, the same as the genuine user.

"Let us imagine a scenario where the hacker hosts a website on the web, which is specially made to exploit the vulnerability via Internet Explorer, in this case, the hacker can lure the user to visit the website by sending him emails," says Microsoft.

Once the hacker has access to the admin user rights, the user system is hacked and the hacker has command over the system. He can modify the programs, install or delete any existing software or worse, delete important data.

The hackers are likely to be from North Korea-

One should not ignore this vulnerability because it has ties to hackers from North Korea. The attack on Internet Explorer seems to be similar to the one that affected the Mozilla firefox. Researchers at Qihoo 360 discovered the attack and accused Darkhotel, a group of hackers from North Korea, for carrying out this activity.

Modified TrickBot Trojan can now Steal Windows Active Directory Credentials


TrickBot trojan, a strain of malware that has been around affecting users since 2016 - is now evolved to steal Windows Active Directory credentials. Today, in the cybersecurity ecosystem it is considered as one of the top threats abusing businesses, experts estimate that TrickBot is responsible for compromising more than 250 million email accounts till date. Earlier, TrickBot went a step further while targeting Windows 10 users by disabling Windows defender onto their systems rather than just bypassing the protection. Fundamentally, TrickBot is a banking Trojan and is generally deployed through spearphishing emails like invoices mailed to the accounts department. Typically, it is attached as infected Microsoft Excel or Word documents. The malware can be spread across an organization in a number of ways, one of them is via exploiting vulnerabilities in a protocol called SMB which makes the process of sharing and accessing files on other systems easy for Windows computers.

First identified by Sandor Nemes, a security researcher from Virus Total, this new module of TrickBot dubbed as "ADII" further amplifies the threat it possesses for security, it steals Windows Active Directory information by executing a set of commands.

An Active Directory database is being created and stored into the default C:\Windows\NTDS folder on the domain controller, a server here is acting as the domain controller. Now, all the information including passwords, computers, users, and groups of Windows Active Directory are saved in a file by the name "ntds.dit" in the database. As all the aforementioned information is sensitive in nature, Windows resort to a BootKey that is located in the system component of the Registry and encrypts the information with the help of it. Admins who are responsible for database maintenance use a special tool known as "ntdsutil" to work with that database. Reportedly, standard file operations cannot access the BootKey.

How TrickBot Goes About Stealing Active Directory Credentials?


Administrators use the command "install from media", also known as "ifm", to create a dump of Active Directory. The command leads to the creation of an installation media for setting up new Domain Controllers. The new module "ADII" exploits the ifm command to produce a copy of the Windows Active Directory database; after the database is dumped into the %Temp% folder, the bot collects the information and transfers it to the admin. The collected data can be effective in infecting more systems in the same network and could also be employed by various other malware in search of similar vulnerabilities.

UK to develop a system to track cryptocurrencies


HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the UK Government has submitted a tender for the development of a system for monitoring financial transfers in digital money. The appearance of such a system in Russia could already have occurred.

Cryptocurrencies can be used not only for transferring funds or paying for services, but also for conducting criminal activities. This position was expressed by the UK tax service HMRC. The purpose of the introduction of this tool is the fight against criminal activity. It includes tax evasion and laundering of criminal proceeds.

Mikhail Mishustin, head of the Federal Tax Service of Russia and now Prime Minister, proposed the initiative to control income received through cryptocurrency for tax purposes in February last year.

"Money that a young person can freely move across the border using cryptocurrencies and other forms of payment, which the state does not notice and for which there is no regulatory framework, is dangerous," said Mishustin.

A similar system can already operate in Russia, suggested Dmitry Kirillov, a senior tax lawyer at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (Russia) LLP. He explained this by the fact that in 2018, the contract for the development of the Unified Information System was posted on the public procurement website. The 23rd page of the document states that "a tool should be created to analyze and identify illegal activities, including using cryptocurrencies."

"Apparently, the execution of the contract was completed. Therefore, I will not be surprised if the system already tracks cryptocurrency transactions of Russian users," said Kirillov.

Antonina Levashenko, the head of the Russian Center for Competencies and Analysis of Standards under the President of the Russian Federation, expressed a similar opinion. According to her, financial intelligence units of countries around the world are seeking to acquire effective tools for controlling cryptocurrency transactions, and Russia is no exception.

All experts agreed that a system for controlling transactions in cryptocurrency may appear in Russia. It is likely to focus on the fight against illegal income and the financing of terrorism.

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.

Experts predicted an increase in the number of DDoS attacks in 2020


In Russia, the number of DDoS attacks will increase due to the introduction of 5G technology, said Anton Fishman, head of the system solutions Department of the Group-IB.

He noted that the wider introduction of 5G will significantly increase the number of traditional attacks that providers have faced in recent years. "For example, the power and frequency of DDoS attacks will increase significantly due to many insecure devices."

According to him, a DDoS attack can be used as a distraction when stealing money from a Bank or disabling a service.

Earlier, Stanislav Kuznetsov, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Sberbank, said that the main areas that require attention when countering cybercrime are DDoS attacks, data leaks and fraud using social engineering methods. He explained that the number of DDoS attacks has increased, their quality has changed, in addition, it is quite difficult to detect them.

It is important to add that on the eve of the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Sberbank Stanislav Kuznetsov said that in January the bank underwent the most powerful DDoS attack in its history.

"On January 2, 2020, Sberbank faced an unprecedented DDoS attack that was 30 times more powerful than the most powerful attack in the history of Sberbank. The attack was carried out using IoT devices (Internet of Things)," said Kuznetsov, noting that the state Bank successfully repelled the cyberattack.

According to Kuznetsov, not every company in Russia or even in the world could reflect such attacks.
"This could become a trend in 2020 [increasing cyber attacks]," he added.

According to Kuznetsov, in 2019, the number of hacker attacks on Sberbank increased by 15-20%, and the Bank records 280-300 attempts to attack its systems per day.

"We identify all of them and block them. In addition, it is worth noting that mass malicious mailings are still popular — about 50% of the emails that our employees receive are spam, including phishing attempts," said the Deputy Chairman of Sberbank.

Amazon Chief’s Phone Hacked by the Saudi Arab Crown Prince



Referring to anonymous sources, a British daily newspaper came up with reports on details regarding Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos' cell phone being hacked in the wake of accepting a message from the Saudi Arabian crown.

Theft of information from Bezo's cell phone, however, is said to have been started in 2018 with a contaminated video file sent by means of WhatsApp from the personal account of Mohammed bin Salman, according to the previously mentioned British daily.

The report apparently comes about a year after the unexpected announcement that Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, would separate following 25 years of marriage. The National Enquirer along these lines uncovered an extramarital affair between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former TV anchor, in a progression of reports that depended, to some degree, on some intimate text messages sent by Bezos.

Bezos in this way distributed an extraordinary blog entry blaming the newspaper for taking steps to distribute all the more humiliating text messages and photographs except if he freely attested that there was no political motivation or outside force behind the newspaper's coverage.

Gavin de Becker, a security consultant for Bezos, later said he believed the Saudi Arabian government had gained access to Bezos' phone before the Enquirer uncovered the whole affair. He didn't give any immediate evidence to back up his claims, which he said originated from "our investigators and a few experts." De Becker referred to the Enquirer's business association with the Saudis, just as the intense coverage of the homicide of a critic of the Saudi regime by the Bezos-owned Washington Post, as reasons why bin Salman may look to harm the Amazon founder.

The newspaper reported a year ago that the Central Intelligence Agency connected the crown prince to the 2018 murder of Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi. De Becker declined to remark past the rather lengthy statement a year ago, which was posted on the news site The Daily Beast.

The Saudi embassy didn't quickly react to a message looking for more inputs. In spite of the fact, it's still extremely unclear whether the supposed hack of Bezos' phone got to any sensitive Amazon corporate information.

While the company is yet to remark on the issue in the nine months since de Becker's allegation, the company representatives haven’t yet returned the messages seeking comment on the 21st of January.

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.

Canadian Teenager Charged and Arrested for $50 Million Cryptocurrency Theft


Samy Bensaci, an 18-year-old teenager from Montreal, Canada has been indicted for 4 criminal charges in relation to a theft of cryptocurrency worth $50 million in a SIM-swapping scam that targeted cryptocurrency holders, as per the reportings by Infosecurity Magazine, dated 17th of January.

The Canadian authorities have accused the teen hacker of being a part of a hacking group that was involved in the theft of millions of dollars from Canadians and Americans. The scam, of which Bensaci was allegedly a part of, stole, "$50 million from our neighbors to the south and $300,000 in Canada" told Lieutenant Hugo Fournier, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec.

Bensaci was charged and consequently arrested in November and was later released on CA $200,000 bail, on orders of living with his parents in Northeast Montreal, as per the local media reports. As a result of the incident, prosecutors prohibited Bensaci's access to any device that can be connected to the internet including computers, mobile phones, tablets, games, and consoles. Specifically from accessing, “any computer, tablet, mobile phone, game console, including PS3, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or any other device capable of accessing the Internet”. He has also been ordered to hand over his passport to local police to assure he does not flee away from the country.

One of the purported victims Don Tapscott confirmed, “We can confirm that last year a hacker attempted to steal crypto assets from our company and its employees. That attempt was unsuccessful. We cooperated with the police [and] have been impressed with their determination to bring those responsible to justice.”

SIM swapping attack, also known as SIM jacking or SIM splitting is a form of identity theft where an attacker targets a weakness in two-factor authentication to take over an account. The attacker exploits a cell phone carrier's ability to port a phone number to a new device with a new SIM to acquire access to the victim's credit card numbers, bank accounts, and other financial information. The feature is normally used when someone loses access to his phone (or gets it stolen) or is switching service to a new device. As the reliability of customers on mobile-based authentication is growing, SIM swap attacks have also been on a rise in recent times.

Cyber Attack Alert! A Fake Factory Network Attacked With RAT, Ransomware, Malware and So On!



Researchers simulated a real-looking “Industrial prototyping” organization with fake employees, PLCs, and websites to study the types of cyber-attacks that commonly on such networks.

The elaborately fake organization’s website and the network worked on a highly advanced interactive “honeypot” network that worked extensively on attracting the attention of potential hackers.

The plan was to create such a legitimate-looking network that no one could even doubt it's being phony and to accumulate serious information related to cyber-threats and attacks to study and analyze them.

Behind researching these threats and attack mechanisms the motive was to dig out the threats that the “Industrial control system” (ICS) sector faces today.

Per sources, the sham company specifically let some ports of its network be susceptible to attack and Voila! It got hit with the most cliché of attacks that any IT network faces, including, Ransomware, Malware, Remote Access Trojans (RAT), Crypto-jacking, Online fraud and the “botnet-style” malware which hit the network’s robotic workstation.

A couple of the attackers went as far as shutting the factory via the HMI, locking the screen and opening the “log view of the robot’s optical eye”.
While one of the few attackers of the more mischievous inclinations worked on tactics like circumventing the robotics system to shut the HMI application and ultimately powering down the entire system, the others started the company network back and shut the bogus conveyor belt and then shut the network back again.

Per sources, the fake factory network was constructed of real ICS hardware and an amalgamation of physical hosts and virtual devices, mainly a Siemens S7-1200 PLC, an Omron CP1L PLC and two Allen-Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLCs.

The researchers as bait also used the common exposed passwords on the internet for the network’s administrative security, which happens to be a very basic mistake in the ICS sector.

The PLCs were used to imitate real processes like controlling the burner, the conveyor belt and palletizer for piling pallets using robotic arms. The plant network had three VMs including an engineering workstation for programming, a robotics workstation and HMI for controlling the factory.

Allegedly, per reports, later on, the fake network also opened up Remote Desktop Protocol, EtherNet/IP, and Virtual Network Connection ports to lure in more attackers.

Another attack that the researchers found out which deeply exhausted the server’s capacity, was for crypto-currency mining unlike what they thought it to be.

Per reports, the network was also attacked with ransomware called “Crysis”, which kept the network down for around four days while negotiating which led to HMI being locked down and loss of visibility into the plant operations.

If only the network were real, this ransomware would have wreaked major havoc owing it to 4 entire days of no production. This clearly reflects the kind of jeopardy the ICS sector could face.

One of the researchers pretending to be a worker at the fake company emailed the attackers to return their files and also mentioned that how they were working for a very important client and wanted to immediately run the production back.

The ransom stopped at $6,000 in email-exchange which didn’t need to be paid given that they already had backups and therefore were able to re-construct their systems. Following this little incident, another ransomware which goes by the name of “Phobos” tried to binge on the network.

And then came the attacker with quite a sense of humor. With a data destruction attack disguised as ransomware, the attacker renamed the network’s ABB Robotics folder. And when they didn’t agree to pay the ransom the attacker wrote a script that made browsers to porn sites appear whenever the network was started.

Hence, pretty evidently, in addition to never letting VNCs open without passcodes and reusing passwords across different systems, the researchers say, that this fake “Network” had everything that must NOT be done to keep the ICS sector safe and secure.

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.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) bust a multi-crore ticket fraud



Bengaluru: The Railway Protection Force busted a multi crore ticket booking fraud and apprehended two miscreants who hacked the railway booking website and used the ANMS Tatkal software to book tickets.



The ticketing racket seems to have been working all around the nation and the police as well as RPF are making all efforts to snub the fraud and catch all the agents involved in the fraudulent scheme.

The accused arrested by the police are Gulam Mustafa (26),  from Jharkhand, and Hanumantharaju M (37), from Peenya.

Akhilesh Kumar Tiwari, post commander RPF, South Western Railway told that Hanumantharaju was arrested last year and Mustafa on Jan 8th.

Upon questioning, Mustafa said to deccanherald that, "in 2017, he had created an Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) agent ID to book an e-ticket. He later joined hands with the other accused and hacked the booking portal through ANMS software and created 563 fake IDs and started booking e-tickets illegally."

He even rented out the hacked ANMS software, which led to the department incurring losses up to crores of rupees. He also had in his possession a Pakistan-based DARKNET software and Linux software to hack central government websites, bank accounts etc. He had gained access to government websites and banned websites.( by deccanherald) 


Hanumantharaju worked for Mustafa in selling the e-tickets illegally. The RPF couldn't file the report under IT act, so instead they filed the complaint with the city Police under IPC Section 419 (cheating by personation) and 420 (cheating).

The accused are still under RPF custody but will soon be moved to the city Police station,  Rajagopala Nagar Police Station.
The IRCTC mobile app can be download by anyone and used to book tickets online within two minutes, five tickets per month for personal usage. The accused made hundreds of IRCTC accounts to book several tickets.

Google Maps…Creepy or Useful?



Whether Android or iPhone there is no denying that Google is there for all of us, keeping a track log of our data in a "Timeline" that unequivocally shows wherever we've been, which while in some cases is amazingly valuable and helpful yet for the rest it’s downright creepy.

The creepy degree of details range from like precisely the time at which the user left for home, arrival at home, the exact route taken along the way, pictures taken in specific locations and then some.

It'll show them if they were driving, strolling or on a train, and any pit stops they may have made during their journey. Like here is an example including a user's stop for lunch, and a meeting they took with Snapchat on the Upper West side earlier in the day.



Zoomed in, one can see the exact course taken to arrive and where the car was parked.


And hence there's no reason as to why Google has to know this much information about any user, except if they truly care about things like Google's recommendations based on where they've been.

So there are a couple of ways the user can recover their privacy. First, here’s how the user can delete everything Google Maps currently knows about them:

  • Open Google Maps on your iPhone or Android phone.
  • Tap your profile picture on the top-right. 
  • Choose “Your data in Maps.” 
  • Choose “See & Delete activity.” 
  • Hit the menu button on the top-right of the page and select “Settings.” 
  • Choose “Delete all location history.” 


 And here’s how the user can set it up so Google automatically deletes all this location data every three months:

  • Open Google Maps on iPhone or Android. 
  • Tap the menu bar on the top-left of the app. 
  • Choose “Your Timeline.” 
  • Tap the three dots on the top-right of the screen. 
  • Choose “Settings and privacy.” 
  • Select “Automatically delete location history.” 
  • Change the setting from “Keep until I delete manually” to “Keep for 18 months” or “Keep for 3 months.” 


 Or, if the user doesn’t mind Google tracking them day to day but just want to stop it for a little while, they can simply turn on Incognito mode in Maps by doing this:


  • Open Maps on your iPhone or Android phone. 
  • Tap your profile picture on the top-right. 
  • Choose “Turn on Incognito mode.”



Bot List Containing Telnet Credentials for More than 500,000 Servers, Routers and IoT Devices Leaked Online


This week, a hacker published a list on a popular hacking forum containing Telnet credentials for over 515,000 servers, home routers and IoT (Internet of Things) "smart" devices. The massive list which reportedly was concluded by browsing the whole internet in search of devices that left their Telnet port exposed, included IP addresses of all the devices, username and password for the Telnet service and a remote access protocol that can be employed to control devices over the internet.

After scanning the Internet in search of devices exposing their Telnet port, the hacker attempts to use either factory-set default usernames and passwords or custom but guessable combinations, as per the statements by the leaker himself.

These lists, generally kept private – are known as 'bot lists' that are built after hackers scan the Internet and then employed them to connect to the devices and install malware. Sources say that although there have been some leaks in the past, this one is recorded as the biggest leak of Telnet passwords till date.

As per the reports of ZDNet, the list was made available online by one of a DDoS-for-hire (DDoS booter) service's maintainer. There's a probability that some of these devices might now run on a different IP address or use other login credentials as all the leaked lists are dated around October-November 2019. Given that using any of the listed username and password to access any of the devices would be illegal, ZDNet did not use it. Therefore, they were not able to comment on the validity of these credentials.

A security expert in the field of IoT, requesting for anonymity, tells that even if some of the listed credentials are invalid by the time for devices now have a new IP address or password. However, the listings still hold a lot of value for a skillful and talented attacker who can possibly use the present information in the list to identify the service provider and hence update the list with the current IP addresses.

Certain authentic and verified security researchers are given access to the list of credentials as they volunteered for it.

Website Puts 12 Billion User Records Up For Sale and Gets Seized By US Authorities


Are you fond of buying stolen'/leaked data? Because, one such domain, named ‘WeLeakInfo.com’ recently got seized by the US authorities.

WeLeakInfo, with its absolutely convenient name, had been selling stolen data from other hacked websites, online for the past three years.

The website provided an online service where hacked data was made available to people willing to pay for it.

Per sources, hackers were made available people’s “cleartext passwords” which aided them to purchase a subscription on the site in order to attain access to tons of user credentials.

Apparently, this illegal website was doing so well that it had gotten quite a popular fan-base for itself in the hacking “underworld”.

Reportedly, people were even providing them with consignments to execute recon on targeted individuals and organizations alike.

The modus operandi was in the way, that hackers would buy access to the site. They’d then search for names, emails and usernames of people they want to hack. The site would come up with results in the affirmative as to in which data breaches exactly were the required user’s data available.

The hackers would then have complete access to people’s passwords which they could easily run against that person’s other online profiles as well.

The cost of the website was incredibly low making it easily accessible to all sorts of hackers of all sorts of abilities and financial attributes.

Reportedly, for a lowly amount of $2/day hackers could fully wring the website for unlimited searches for any user’s data which was ever in a data breach.

During the silence before the storm period, WeLeakInfo was proudly flaunting on its website its expanded network of over 12 billion user records owing it to more than 10,000 data breaches, reports mentioned.

The storm hit and WeLeakInfo got taken down together by FBI, authorities from the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, the UK, and Germany.
Also, per sources, two arrests were made in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland each. Reportedly, the arrested suspects are allegedly staff members of the site.

After the US authorities took down “LeakedSource” in February 2017, “WeLeakInfo happens to be the second most major website to go down the same drain.

There still exist several websites that are providing people access to stolen data especially cleartext password, as you read this.

Per sources, similar websites, allegedly by the name of “Detached”, “Leak-Lookup” and “Sunbase” have been created on the model of a website “Have I Been Pwned” which is a website created by Australian researchers, per reports.

The model of the three websites and “Have I Been Pwned” may be the same but the latter never permits access to cleartext passwords.

Ukrainian government job site posted passport scans of thousands of civil service candidates


Government job site https://career.gov.ua/ published scans of passports and other documents of citizens who registered on the portal to search for work in the government sector. This was announced on January 16 by the Office of the Ombudsman of Ukraine on Facebook.

“A possible leak of personal data of citizens who registered on the site https://career.gov.ua/ with the aim of passing a competition for government service was identified. A copy of the passport and other scanned documents that users uploaded to the Unified Vacancy Portal for public service are in free access," the message said.

It is noted that data leakage became known from posts on Facebook by job seekers in the public sector. So, on January 15 at night in the social network, there were messages from candidates for government posts about publishing scans of their passports, diplomas and other documents. A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian cyber activist community, Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, known as Sean Townsend, filed a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office.

The press service of the Ombudsman's Office noted that the circumstances of this incident are being established and monitoring is being carried out. However, Ukrainians are afraid that their documents will be used by fraudsters.

"Don't be surprised if a loan is accidentally taken in your name," users write in the comments.
The cybersecurity expert Andrei Pereveziy wrote the following: "Minister Dmitry Dubilet, what about digitalization? Probably, this vulnerability in the framework of #FRD should be demonstrated to the European Ombudsman, so that Europe understands what it supports."

The National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine held an extraordinary meeting of the working group on responding to cyber incidents and countering cyber attacks on state information resources in connection with the leak of data from the Unified Vacancy Portal.
During the meeting, experts noted the need for state authorities to ensure proper cyber protection of their own information systems.