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Trade war, the pretext for cyber war?

Trade war, the pretext for cyber war

Trade war, the pretext for cyber war? With trade war’s rhetorics dominate the news headlines recently, many people wonder if the world is heading toward a tit-for-tat tariffs war where nobody win.

At the advent of the trade war, probably a war has already been fought and gaining intensity as trade tension worsen between the US and China.


China and its army of hackers

The People Liberation Army of the China boosted the world largest land forces with over 2.1 million military personnel. However, during in peacetime, these forces often act as a deterrent and let their shadowy army of hackers do the attacking for them.

As such, China’s PLA Unit 61398 led the frontline of the cyber war and “blitzed” the cyberspace with many hackings on other countries’ governments, military and commercial information. The size of this army is huge and estimated around 50,000 – 100,000 individuals, and the US allegedly claimed that they are responsible for cyberattacks such as Operation Aurora and Operation Shady RAT.


US Navy’s data breached

In June 2018, US claimed that China’s state sponsored hackers were behind the data breach of a computer contractor working for the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre in Rhode Island. Apparently, a massive 614 gigabytes of sensitive naval and missiles data were stolen by China-linked cyber espionage group known as @Thrip.

The Chinese hackers allegedly skipped the tough cyber-defense of the US Navy and chose an easy, weaker target of a computer contractor employed by US Navy to steal the data. According to US official, the hacking pattern of @Thrip often involved a combination of custom malware as well as legitimate tools, which allowed the hackers to evade detection as they moved through the networks.


Cyber-espionage for all

China is not the only nation on earth that engaged in cyber espionage, in fact most of the countries do it and the US has its own share of “dirty linen” that need to be washed.

Just ask Edward Snowden, the former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee that leaked a series of spying done by US on its own citizens as well as aboard.

Other IT-savvy countries too engaged in cyber espionage on daily basis even though they were at peace with other nations. Thus, it becomes almost a foremost priority for country to set up its cyber-security to protect its cyber-space infrastructure and intellectual properties.

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Ransom attacks on high profile Instagram accounts

Ransom attacks on high profile Instagram accounts

Ransom attacks on high profile Instagram accounts. There has been wave of attacks in which hackers demand bitcoin in order for the Instagram user to get their account back, they threaten to delete the account if the ransom isn’t paid.


There have been several victims of this attack, and they all claim to have received the same message from an attacker named “Pumpam”. The message lets the victim know that the hackers have possession of the account, and to email a particular address in order to start the recovery. It also mentions that the account will be deleted within 3 hours if there is no response.


Victims of the attack found that they could not recover the account through Instagram, as the account’s email address had been changed. This frustration and desperation to get possession of their accounts lead some users to pay the ransom. However, this wasn’t always successful, with some victims claiming that their account was still deleted.


Many of the victims feel let down by Instagram after they didn’t play an active role in helping them gain control of their accounts. Victims felt frustrated dealing with Instagram’s customer support when they only received generic responses to the issue, however this changed when vice’s tech arm Motherboard contacted Instagram about the issue and helped the users get possession back.


At present few details are known about the hacking campaign, including the hacker’s identities and where they are from. We urge Instagram users to be vigilant about their account security, make sure you have a secure password, that you back up your content in the event it is deleted, and don’t click on any nefarious looking links.

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash

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50 Million accounts exposed after Facebook security breach

50 Million accounts exposed after Facebook security breach
50 Million accounts exposed after Facebook security breach. Facebook has revealed that almost 50 million of its users accounts were left exposed due to a security flaw. Facebook has more than two billion active monthly users, making security a high priority concern. The security breach has caused Facebook’s shares to drop by 3% on Friday, 28 September.


The breach was discovered this week, and is the latest controversy surrounding Facebook after British company Cambridge Analytica gained access to information of 87 million users, and the controversy surrounding disinformation in elections. However, this breach has been the largest in the company’s 14-year history.


Facebook has said the attackers exploited two bugs in the site’s “View as” feature. The feature, which was designed to give users a clearer view of their presence and more control over their privacy, allows users to check what information other people can see about them. The flaw allowed users to gain “access tokens” which allow access to accounts, through Facebook’s video-uploading program for birthday celebrations. Although it’s not yet known when the attack happened, it seems to occurred after the video-uploading program was introduced. Attacked attempted to harvest user’s personal identifiable information (PII). After the attack was discovered, Facebook forced 90 million users to log out. Facebook has not announced where in the world the 50 million users are.


There have been some major changes in Facebook’s security teams after its Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos left in August this year for a teaching position at Stanford University. Facebook decided to split the team members so that security employees work within different teams across the company, in order to make security an innate part of Facebook.


Facebook’s data breach was a trending topic on Friday with users posting the breaking story as news outlets released it. User’s found that some of their posts were removed because Facebook’s algorithm saw them as suspicious activity or spam.

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US Online Retail Company suffered a data breach affecting 6.5 million customers

US Online Retail Company suffered a data breach affecting 6.5 million customers. SHEIN debuted in 2008, and steadily grew to become one of the most acclaimed online women’s fashion stores. Their aim is to provide cutting edge fashion with an affordable price tag. The website primarily caters to women age 16-35, and is US based but ships to over 80 countries.

They recently discovered that their servers had been compromised by hackers in an attack that spanned from June 2018 until 22 August 2018 when the threat was recognised. Once SHEIN were away of the threat, they acted immediately, scanning the servers for weaknesses that were exploited and removed all possible back door entry points to the servers.

SHEIN have been selective with what information they have shared with the public; however we do know that email addresses and encrypted password information was obtained from the attack. We recommend that if you have an account with SHEIN, that you change your password as soon as possible, it is also good practise to use different passwords as often as you can, and make them complex, a password manager can help you keep track of your passwords.

The only promising news about this incident is that SHEIN don’t believe any payment card details were obtained by the hackers. However, SHEIN have enlisted an international forensic cyber security team to conduct a thorough investigation into the breach, and as a result will update users on their data if new information comes to light over the coming months.

If you do believe your payment card information has been compromised, the best thing to do is to contact your bank immediately, they will be able to issue a new card and enact any necessary security measures.

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