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Ransomware is the biggest story in Computer Hacking today

Ransomware is the biggest story in Computer Hacking today

Ransomware is the biggest story in Computer Hacking today. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is an end in sight. As matter of fact, the hacks seem to be getting more and more sophisticated as the days go by. As long as the reasons for the hacking continues to exist there is no reason to believe that it will end.

The reasons for hacking vary depending on who or what group are doing the hack and for the goal, they are doing it for. By far the biggest reason that these people hack is to make money. This would definitely go long ways in explaining the explosive growth in the use of a very targeted hack and specialized software called ransomware. This malware is extremely dangerous and can literally hold a business or individual’s computer data hostage.

What is ransomware?

All malicious software falls under a category of software called malware and when this malware is introduced into a computer it buries itself into the computer’s registry or file system and waits to be activated. Once it becomes active it locks the user out of their data files by encrypting the data and requiring a specific key that only the hacker knows.

This type of malware gets its name from the fact that the hackers are demanding a ransom be paid or else they will never give up the key and the data will permanently be locked. This has caused a number of businesses to make a difficult decision between paying the money and hope that they will be given the actual unlock key in exchange for a certain amount of money.

Do you have to pay to get your data back?

This particular hack is incredibly sophisticated and it involves the exploiting of the ransomware that was delivered worldwide and infected computers globally in more than 150 countries worldwide. Then all a hacker had to do was identify targets by using a phishing technique and gained access to the target computer or network. Once inside they were able to encrypt the specific data files and locked the user out of the data.

The next step was to contact the user or business and demand payment or risk permanently losing access to the data by refusing to pay the money. However, there truly is no guaranty that even if you pay the money that you will get the key that will unlock your files.

There is something that you can do to mitigate the damage caused to the ransomware before the attack even occurs. If you are currently using a robust backup solution, you would not be in danger of totally losing access to your data. Depending on your backup solution you would be able to restore any of the files that were encrypted from your backup.

Once you have ascertained that you have all of your files intact, you can use one of many tools that are available online for removing the ransomware from any and all computers on your company network or your own home PC. With all that done, it would be wise to re-evaluate your company’s policies regarding computer security and safety to ensure that you have a way to prevent the malware from even getting onto your computer.


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UK Fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica Scandal


UK Fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The UK has hit Facebook a fine of $645,000 for the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. It was revealed earlier this year that they had harvested the personal data of millions of profiles without the user’s consent and used it for political purposes. It is estimated that 87 million users were affected.


The fine has been enforced by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and was calculated using a pre-GDPR formula for data breach fines. Using the UK’s old Data Protection Act to fine Facebook, rather than GDPR they can only give a maximum penalty of £500,000, which is equal to what the social media giant earns every 18 minutes.


GDPR rules dictate a maximum fine of 4% of annual global turnover, which would be $1.6 billion. Unfortunately the the GDPR regulation wasn’t in place when the Cambridge Analytica story broke, coming into force in May 2018.


The UK investigation concluded that Facebook’s APIs had been allowing developers access to users information without them providing proper consent, for a long period of time between 2007 and 2014. Once they realized this loophole existed and patched it up, they did nothing to investigate the data compromised or ensure it was deleted.


[FACEBOOK] should have known better and it should have done better… We considered these contraventions to be so serious we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation. The fine would inevitably have been significantly higher under the GDPR

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement


Facebook has said they are reviewing the ICO’s findings and stated they “respectfully disagree” with some of the report, but admit they should have done more to protect users data. They also added that they found no evidence that British users profile information was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

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Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking

Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking

Libssh Security Flaw leaves thousands of servers vulnerable to hijacking. A security flaw in libssh leaves thousands, and potentially more, servers vulnerable to an attack. Libssh is a multiplatform C library which allows users to remotely execute programs, transfer files, manage public keys and use a secure and transparent tunnel.


The security flaw, discovered by Peter Winter-Smith from NCC Group, allows a hacker to bypass the authentication process on the servers and gain access to the system without having to enter a password.


An attacker can do this by sending the SSH server “SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_SUCCESS” message instead of the “SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_REQUEST” message that a server usually expects and which libssh uses as a sign that an authentication procedure needs to initiate.


The libssh system will treat this message to mean the authentication has already taken place and allow the attacker access to the server. The flaw (CVE-2018-10933) was released in January 2014 in release 0.6.0.


It’s estimated that the vulnerability currently affects at least 3000 servers, however this is based on a small search and the scale of the problem is not yet known. There were concerns that the popular version control site for developers to work collaboratively on projects, GitHub, was affected but they have released a statement denying this. Github claims the way they use libssh means they are not vulnerable to this exploit.


“We use a custom version of libssh; SSH2_MSG_USERAUTH_SUCCESS with the libssh server is not relied upon for pubkey-based auth, which is what we use the library for,”

a GitHub security official said on twitter


The security flaw is only on the server side, meaning users who have a libssh based SSH client installed on their computer will be safe from potential attackers looking to exploit this vulnerability.


While there are currently no public exploits available for the vulnerability, they are easy to put together so these are likely to pop up online in the coming days and weeks.

The team at libssh released versions 0.8.4 and 0.7.6 yesterday to handle this bug.


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Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store.

Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store

Ad Clicker Disguised as a Google Photos App has been Hosted on Microsoft Store.


A malicious app called “Album by Google Photos” was found to be hosted on the Microsoft store. The app was pretending to be part of Google Photos, but was in fact an ad clicker that generates hidden adverts within the Windows 10 Operating System.


The ad clicker app seemed credible to users because of its name, and also the fact it claimed to be created by Google LLC, Google’s actual Microsoft store account is Google Inc, but it looks unsuspecting to users. Microsoft came under some criticism for not realising the app was actually malicious software since the user reviews did highlight that the app was fake, with plenty of 1* reviews. One review states “ My paid Anti-malware solution detected several attempts to download malware by this app. Watch out”. The App was first released on the Microsoft store in May.


What did the application do?


The “Album by Google Photos” app is a Progressive Web Application (PWA), which acts as the front end for Google Photos and includes a legitimate login screen. Hidden in the app bundle is also an ad clicker which runs in the background and generates income for the app developers.


The app connects to ad URLS, and the ads were very similar to what users would see from typical adware, including tech support scams, random chrome extensions, fake flash and java installs and general low-quality sites.


Microsoft haven’t commented how this app managed to pass the Microsoft review process before ending up on the store.  This is somewhat concerning since it could mean other malicious apps of a similar nature have flown under the radar and are still infecting user’s computers. We are waiting for Microsoft to comment on the issue.

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