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Layoffs Planned at NortonLifeLock

Layoffs Planned at NortonLifeLock

American software company NortonLifeLock is planning to axe over 140 jobs in two states to cut costs.

According to a report published on December 30 in newspaper Community Impact, the security business plans to lay off 42 employees at their Granite Parkway site in Plano, Texas, in the coming months. 

A total of 34 Plano positions are expected to be terminated by mid-January, with an additional eight roles expected to be scrapped by mid-February.

Texas isn't the only state in which NortonLifeLock plans to cut jobs in 2020. The San Francisco Business Times reported on December 31 that roughly 100 NortonLifeLock employees based in California will lose their jobs over the next few months. 

Vincent Pilette, CEO of NortonLifeLock, told the newspaper that the company is not only axing jobs but also selling off real estate in a major effort to reduce costs and help drive earnings growth. 

Arizona-based NortonLifeLock was previously known as Symantec. The company underwent a rebranding after its enterprise cybersecurity business was acquired by San Jose chipmaker Broadcom for around $11bn in the summer of 2019.

In recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal has reported that NortonLifeLock's cybersecurity rival McAfee may put in a bid to buy the company's consumer business, challenging existing private equity bidders Permira and Advent International.

On August 8, the same day that Broadcom's acquisition of Symantec was publicized, Symantec announced plans to lay off roughly 7 percent of its employees during fiscal year 2020.  

At its Mountain View headquarters, 152 jobs were expected to be terminated, along with a further 18 positions in San Francisco and 36 roles in Culver City, Los Angeles County. 

The layoffs were expected to have been completed by the end of March 2020, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

NortonLifeLock has more than 11,000 employees worldwide and serves more than 50 million people with Norton antivirus software and LifeLock identity theft protection.

The Chronicle reported in September that the newly acquired Symantec would be closing or downsizing various facilities and data centers at an estimated cost of approximately $100m.

Source: Information Security Magazine

US Soldiers Banned from Using TikTok

US Soldiers Banned from Using TikTok

Chinese-owned video sharing app TikTok has been banned for use by US soldiers due to growing security concerns, according to reports.

Although military recruiters are using the app to encourage more young people to sign-up for service, owner ByteDance has come under increasing scrutiny in the US over its links to Beijing.

The new Defence Department guidance, seen by, points to “TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use.

“Be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information,” it continued.

TikTok first came under fire for appearing to censor content related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and has since been the subject of an investigation by a powerful US committee.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has launched an inquiry into whether the sensitive personal user data TikTok collects represents a national security risk. If it decides to turn this into a full investigation, it could spell bad news for the future of the app inside the US.

CFIUS reviews whether foreign acquisitions of US companies could harm the country’s interests. ByteDance didn’t seek the committee’s clearance when it bought US app (now TikTok), in 2017, so the new inquiry is apparently seen as fair game.

The US Army ban follows similar guidance from the US Navy. However, although these new rules apply to government-issued devices, soldiers could still technically use the app on their personal smartphones.

TikTok also released its first ever transparency report at the end of December. But far from alleviating concerns around its links to Beijing, the document raised more suspicions.

According to the document, it didn’t receive a single take down request from the Chinese government in the first half of 2019.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Microsoft Seizes Domains to Disrupt North Korean Hackers

Microsoft Seizes Domains to Disrupt North Korean Hackers

Microsoft has seized scores of domains thought to have been used by a North Korean threat group to support a spear-phishing and information-stealing campaign.

The tech giant secured a court order after filing against the “Thallium” group (aka APT37), enabling it to take control of 50 domains it said were being used to execute attacks against mainly US, but also Japanese and South Korean entities.

“This network was used to target victims and then compromise their online accounts, infect their computers, compromise the security of their networks and steal sensitive information,” explained Microsoft VP of customer security and trust, Tom Burt.

“Based on victim information, the targets included government employees, think tanks, university staff members, members of organizations focused on world peace and human rights, and individuals that work on nuclear proliferation issues.”

Victims are typically hit by spear-phishing attacks using info gathered from public sources to add legitimacy.

Clicking through on these will take the victim to a spoofed website requesting account log-ins. This strategy is designed to give Thallium attackers access to their emails, contact lists, calendar appointments and anything else of interest.

The group has also been observed setting up a mail forwarding facility so that it can continue to monitor a victim’s communications even after they have updated their account password, Burt explained.

“In addition to targeting user credentials, Thallium also utilizes malware to compromise systems and steal data,” he added.

“Once installed on a victim’s computer, this malware exfiltrates information from it, maintains a persistent presence and waits for further instructions. The Thallium threat actors have utilized known malware named ‘BabyShark’ and ‘KimJongRAT’.”

The takedown follows similar operations carried out by Microsoft against groups operating from China, Russia and Iran.

Back in July last year, the firm claimed it had warned 10,000 customers that they’d been targeted by nation state attacks over the previous 12 months, including hundreds of US political organizations.

Source: Information Security Magazine

US Coast Guard Sounds Alarm After Ransomware Attack

US Coast Guard Sounds Alarm After Ransomware Attack

US maritime facilities have been on high alert over the Christmas break after the Coast Guard revealed details of a ransomware-related outage in late December.

The bulletin described a recent attack causing widespread operational disruption at a “Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) regulated facility.

“Forensic analysis is currently ongoing but the virus, identified as ‘Ryuk’ ransomware, may have entered the network of the MTSA facility via an email phishing campaign. Once the embedded malicious link in the email was clicked by an employee, the ransomware allowed for a threat actor to access significant enterprise Information Technology (IT) network files, and encrypt them, preventing the facility’s access to critical files,” it explained.

“The virus further burrowed into the industrial control systems that monitor and control cargo transfer and encrypted files critical to process operations. The impacts to the facility included a disruption of the entire corporate IT network (beyond the footprint of the facility), disruption of camera and physical access control systems, and loss of critical process control monitoring systems.”

The port facility’s operations were apparently disrupted for over 30 hours as a result of the attack.

The Coast Guard urged maritime authorities to implement risk management programs according to best practices outlined in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and NIST Special Publication 800-82.

Specific controls it recommended include intrusion prevention/detection systems, modern virus detection, host and server monitoring, network segmentation, up-to-date IT/OT network diagrams and regular back-ups.

Experts have been warning about a major cyber-attack on port facilities for some time. Late last year, a report from the Singapore-based Cyber Risk Management (CyRiM) project warned that a ransomware campaign targeting Asia’s ports could cost the global economy as much as $110bn.

In July last year the US Coast Guard issued a marine safety alert urging vessel and facility owners and operators to improve baseline cybersecurity, following an attack on a “deep draft vessel” bound for the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Cyber-Attack Grounds Flights in Alaska

Cyber-Attack Grounds Flights in Alaska

RavnAir Group was forced to ground flights on Saturday following a cyber-attack on the Alaskan company's computer network.

In a statement released on Saturday morning, RavnAir wrote: "On Friday, December 20th, RavnAir Group experienced a malicious cyber-attack on our company’s IT network."

The nature of the attack was not disclosed; however, the company did reveal that threat actors specifically targeted the small airline's turboprop-powered regional airliner the De Havilland Canada DHC-8 aircraft, commonly known as the Dash 8.

As a result of the incident, the airline had to disconnect its entire Dash 8 maintenance system and the back-up system.

All RavnAir Alaska Dash 8 flights that were scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 21, a crucial day of travel in the busy holiday season, were affected. 

PenAir flights and RavnAir Connect flights were unaffected by the incident, as they were able to run on back-up systems.

RavnAir wrote: "While we continue to work with the FBI, other authorities, and a cybersecurity company to restore affected systems, we are proactively cancelling all RavnAir Alaska Dash 8 flights until 12 noon today, and we expect to experience other schedule cancellations and delays within the RavnAir Alaska (Dash 8 Aircraft) network throughout the rest of the day because the cyber-attack forced us to disconnect our Dash 8 maintenance system and its back-up."

According to news site WKRN, RavnAir spokesperson Debbie Reinwand said that 260 passengers were affected by the malicious cyber-attack. Six flights were cancelled, including the 1:30 p.m. flight from Unalaska to Anchorage.  

Disappointed customer Dennis Ede, who was due to take that 1:30 p.m. flight, told KUCB radio: "I'm not happy about it. If I can't get out today, I'll try to get out tomorrow. I'm trying to get home to Seattle to see my family for Christmas."

Two further flights were cancelled on Saturday due to adverse weather conditions.

"We will be trying to add flights where we can over the next two days," wrote RavnAir in a statement released at 1 p.m. Sunday, December 22.

"We have, where possible, re-booked passengers on other flights."

RavnAir Group serves 100 different communities in Alaska from its headquarters in Anchorage. Many of the communities who fly with RavnAir are inaccessible by road.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Citrix Vulnerability Puts 80K Companies at Risk

Citrix Vulnerability Puts 80K Companies at Risk

A critical flaw has been discovered in two Citrix products, placing 80,000 companies in 158 countries at risk. 

The easily exploitable vulnerability could allow attackers to obtain direct access to a company's local network and to access a company’s credentials. 

It could also be used to launch denial of service and phishing attacks and to implant malware that could lead to cryptocurrency mining. 

Positive Technologies expert Mikhail Klyuchnikov found the vulnerability in Citrix Application Delivery Controller (formerly known as NetScaler ADC) and in Citrix Gateway (formerly known as NetScaler Gateway).

This vulnerability affects all supported versions of the products, and all supported platforms, including Citrix ADC and Citrix Gateway 13.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.1, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 12.0, Citrix ADC and NetScaler Gateway 11.1, and also Citrix NetScaler ADC and NetScaler Gateway 10.5.

What makes the weakness especially dangerous is that it can be used to launch an attack that does not require access to any accounts, meaning it can be mounted by any external attacker.

Depending on the specific configuration, Citrix applications can be used for connecting to workstations and critical business systems (including ERP). In almost every case, Citrix applications are accessible on the company network perimeter, and are therefore the first to be attacked. 

This newly unearthed vulnerability allows any unauthorized attacker to not only access published applications, but also attack other resources of the company's internal network from the Citrix server. 

Citrix is notifying customers and channel partners about this potential security issue, for which a fix is still forthcoming. 

The company has urged customers to upgrade all of their vulnerable appliances to a fixed version of the appliance firmware as soon as it is released. It has also set up an alert system, which customers can subscribe to so that they will learn as quickly as possible when a fix has been found.

Dmitry Serebryannikov, director of the security audit department at Positive Technologies, said: "Citrix applications are widely used in corporate networks. This includes their use for providing terminal access of employees to internal company applications from any device via the Internet. 

"Considering the high risk brought by the discovered vulnerability, and how widespread Citrix software is in the business community, we recommend information security professionals take immediate steps to mitigate the threat."

Source: Information Security Magazine

Canadian Banks Spoofed in 2-Year Phishing Attack

Canadian Banks Spoofed in 2-Year Phishing Attack

Researchers have unearthed a two-year phishing campaign targeting bank customers in Canada. 

Fourteen banks, including CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) were spoofed in a large-scale operation that involved multiple look-alike domains. 

The attack starts by sending legitimate-looking emails containing a PDF attachment. The attachment uses what appears to be an official bank logo, as well as an authorization code.

Victims are told that they need to renew their digital certificate so that they can continue to access online banking. When the victim clicks on any of the URLs that appear in the attached document, they are led to a phishing page asking them to enter their banking credentials.

The intricate scam was uncovered by researchers at Check Point Research, who wrote: "Looking into the detected artifacts revealed an ongoing phishing attack that has been going after customers of Canadian banks for at least two years. 

"By sending highly convincing emails to their targets, constantly registering look-alike domains for popular banking services in Canada and crafting tailor-made documents, the attackers behind this were able to run a large-scale operation and remain under the radar for a long time."

In the case of RBC, although the phishing website looks identical to the bank's genuine RBC express login page, the attackers actually invested little time in constructing the deceptive replica. 

"They simply took a screenshot of the official website and added invisible text boxes on top of the input fields to harvest the victim’s credentials," wrote researchers.

Linguistic clues led the researchers to discover the longevity of the scammers' cruel charade.

Researchers wrote: "There were multiple variants of the PDF attachments, with slight differences between them. However, some of the textual instructions they contained were repetitive, used unique phrasing and appeared in more than one document. 

"This allowed us to hunt for more samples and find related PDFs dating back to 2017."

The phishing website that appeared in the PDF attachments resolved to a Ukrainian IP address, which researchers found was hosting more domains impersonating RBC in addition to other banks.

Commenting on the scam, senior security strategist at Synopsys Jonathan Knudesn said he felt it was time users wised up.

"Users should understand the capabilities of phishers; they should know that anyone can construct a web site that looks just like the real thing, and anyone can get a legitimate certificate for a fake web site."

Source: Information Security Magazine

Twitter Bins Thousands of State-Backed Saudi Accounts

Twitter Bins Thousands of State-Backed Saudi Accounts

Twitter has been forced to suspend thousands of accounts linked to state-backed campaigns driven by Saudi Arabia and designed to influence public opinion, it has revealed.

The social networking site claimed in a new blog post on Friday that 5929 accounts had been removed for “violating our platform manipulation policies.”

“These accounts represent the core portion of a larger network of more than 88,000 accounts engaged in spammy behavior across a wide range of topics. We have permanently suspended all of these accounts from the service,” Twitter said.

“In order to protect the privacy of potentially compromised accounts repurposed to engage in platform manipulation, and in response to researcher feedback requesting that we pre-filter unrelated spam, we have not disclosed data for all 88,000 accounts.”

By liking, retweeting and replying to posts, these inauthentic and hijacked accounts apparently amplified messages favorable to the Saudis.

Twitter claimed the coordinated activity could be traced back to a Saudi social media marketing company known as Smaat.

“Our in-house technical indicators show that Smaat appears to have created, purchased, and/or managed these accounts on behalf of — but not necessarily with the knowledge of — their clients,” it explained. “We have permanently suspended Smaat’s access to our service as a result, as well as the Twitter accounts of Smaat’s senior executives. Smaat managed a range of Twitter accounts for high-profile individuals, as well as many government departments in Saudi Arabia.”

Those Smaat employees appear to have used automated third-party tools to amplify non-political content in large volumes; a tactic apparently designed to disguise the more important political content from moderators.

Twitter has been busy this year removing state-backed attempts to manipulate public opinion for geopolitical advantage. It June it shut down 5000 Iranian and Russian accounts accused of doing so, and in August it was the turn of China, which had 1000 accounts suspended for spreading propaganda about Hong Kong.

Source: Information Security Magazine

Londoner Escapes Jail Time After Blackmailing Apple

Londoner Escapes Jail Time After Blackmailing Apple

A Londoner who blackmailed Apple threatening to factory reset hundreds of millions of iCloud accounts has been sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.

Kerem Albayrak, 22, from North London, demanded that the tech giant give him $75,000 in crypto-currency or a thousand $100 iTunes gift cards in return for deleting what turned out to be a non-existent database of 319 million ‘accounts.’

In March 2017, he emailed Apple Security with the threat, subsequently sending the team a link to a video of himself accessing two seemingly random iCloud accounts.

It turned out that those accounts and others he had access to were from previously compromised third-party services that were mainly inactive, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Apple contacted the NCA following its receipt of the blackmail demand and officers swooped on Albayrak’s house on March 28, seizing his smartphone, computer and hard drive. After examining his phone records they linked him to a hacker group known as “Turkish Crime Family.”

He pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorized acts with intent to impair the operation of or prevent/hinder access to a computer, and one count of blackmail.

However, Albayrak escaped jail time, after the court handed down a two-year suspended sentence, 300 hours of unpaid work and a six-month electronic curfew.

“Albayrak wrongly believed he could escape justice after hacking in to two accounts and attempting to blackmail a large multi-national corporation. During the investigation, it became clear that he was seeking fame and fortune. But cyber-crime doesn’t pay,” argued NCA senior investigating officer, Anna Smith.

“The NCA is committed to bringing cyber-criminals to justice. It is imperative victims report such compromises as soon as possible and retain all evidence.”

Source: Information Security Magazine

Zynga Breach Hit 173 Million Accounts

Zynga Breach Hit 173 Million Accounts

Nearly 173 million usernames and passwords were compromised when a leading gaming developer was breached in September, it has emerged.

Zynga burst on the gaming scene when its Farmville title became a hit a decade ago. It followed this success with Words with Friends, a hugely popular Scrabble-like word game it acquired.

Although Zynga acknowledged the breach at the end of September, several weeks after hackers struck, notification site HaveIBeenPwned now has the official figure on how many accounts were affected.

It claimed in an update late last week that a total of 172.9 million unique email addresses, along with usernames and passwords, were compromised in the attack. On the plus side, passwords were stored as salted SHA-1 hashes, which makes them much harder to monetize.

News of the breach went public at the end of September when notorious cyber-criminal “Gnosticplayers” claimed to have obtained data on over 218 million users.

At the time, Zynga responded by urging users not to share passwords across multiple accounts, and to ensure they create “a unique and strong” credential for all of their online accounts.

“Cyber-attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. We recently discovered that certain player account information may have been illegally accessed by outside hackers,” it said at the time.

“We understand that account information for certain players of certain Zynga games may have been accessed. As a precaution, we have taken steps to protect certain players’ accounts from invalid logins, including but not limited to where we believe that passwords may have been accessed.”

Tim Dunton, MD of Nimbus Hosting, argued that social gaming customers are prime targets for data theft.

“All online game organizations need to ensure cybersecurity measures are a top priority in their company culture, to avoid this kind of attack happening in the future,” he added.

“They need to focus on adopting safe, modern and frequently updated IT servers, which are immune to leaking information, even to the most advanced of criminal cyber-specialists.”

Source: Information Security Magazine