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March 24, 2017
UNM4SK3D: CIA, Apple, and TSA
March 24, 2017
#wikileaks (again).Dark Matter may sound like a new sci-fi movie, but it's actually the latest of the WikiLeaks Vault 7 classified documents shared with the public.These new documents, which build off of this month's previous leak, describe specifically how the CIA monitors Apple devices. Developed by a special division of the CIA called Embedded Development Branch (EDB), the agency uncovers attack vectors specific to Apple MacOS and iOS devices, some of which have been used since 2008. The CIA has created a malware that is specially designed to infect Apple firmware in a way that the infection remains active even if the operating system has been re-installed. These hacking programs also come with bizarre code names, like NightSkies 1.2 and Sonic Screwdriver (which could also be a clever drink name) but are anything but comical. Perhaps most terrifying is NightSkies 1.2, which is physically installed by a CIA operative on "factory fresh iPhones," to spy on the owner. WikiLeaks believes it's possible the CIA has redirected iPhone shipments to install the tool.Sonic Screwdriver, mentioned in a 2012 document, is a "mechanism for executing code on peripheral devices while a Mac laptop or desktop is booting." It allows hackers to deliver malware from a peripheral device, such as a USB stick, even when a firmware password is enabled on the device. Other tools, including one that lives inside the computer's software that allows the exploit to function, were also documented by Wikileaks. All of this information, including detailed manuals, are available online for anyone to access.Android users may be rejoicing for the moment, but there's not telling what information will be released next, or when. Thus far, the only comment from Apple was that nearly 80% of the flaws addressed in the leaks have already been fixed with security patches and added that it "will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities." But perhaps the most pressing question is how the rest of the web can use this information maliciously.
The Dark Matter release is "a small example" of similar material this organization plans to release in the coming days and weeks -WikiLeaks founder Julian AssangeIf you missed the initial Wikileaks Vault 7 documents report, catch up by reading 'UNM4SK3D: CIA, Headphones, and Consumer Reports.'
#ransomwareIt's a tough week for iPhone users. Aside from the possibility of having your device tampered with by the CIA, now there's the possibility of having your device's data erased. A new hacking group who calls themselves 'Turkish Crime Family,' claim to have access to over 300 million iCloud accounts. Talk about bad apples.Demanding a ransom of $75,000 in crypto-currency or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards, the attackers threaten that if Apple does not pay by April 7th, it will delete the data from those devices. The problem is, Apple says it's systems haven't been breached. Apple's security team attempted to verify the claim by asking for a sample list of hacked accounts, but the group only provided a YouTube video demonstrating access to one of the allegedly hacked accounts and remotely wiping all content from the device.The story in its' entirety seems inconsistent. One tweet says they have 200 million accounts, one email says 300 million, and another 500 million. On Twitter, the group has also voiced the ransom amount is much higher than the $75,000 shared by media but does not specify. NakedSecurity also speculates "why would you not ask for something with a less clean audit trail?" since iTunes vouchers are extremely traceable. Many are wondering if the threat is actually real. Questions yet to be answered include "Do they really have access?" "If so, how did they get access?" among others. Apple has warned the group that it does not reward cyber criminals for breaking the law and asking them to remove the video as it was 'seeking unwanted attention.' Whether the company gives in, or toughs things out, take the necessary precautions by changing your iCloud password and monitor the account.
I just want my money and thought this would be an interesting report that a lot of Apple customers would be interested in reading and hearing -Turkish Crime Family hackerDo Apple users face more risk? Read this report from July 2016.
#electronicsbanIt may be time to renew your subscription to the Book of the Month Club. That is if you're traveling to the US or UK from any of the Middle Eastern countries recently included in a new travel rule which bans laptops or tablets in carry-on luggage.This new ban means that any electronic device with the exception of any cell phone or medical device must be stowed in checked baggage for the duration of your flight. UK and US authorities have commented that the ban was the result of a credible security threat, without providing specific details. While each country's ban differs slightly, the US restrictions apply to direct flights between the US and airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa: Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates."Screening facilities at US airports should be able to catch explosives hidden in electronic devices, but this ban applies to US-bound flights originating abroad," says Kip Hawley, former TSA employee. He suggests that this measure could be temporary until the necessary procedures and equipment are put in place. Many are doubtful they'll get an explanation as to what the threat is, and how long the ban will last, but it seems countries are operating on the side of caution. While the debate over the ban and many objections to it play out, take the right measures by getting to the airport early and planning if affected by ban guidelines.
It is hard to know until they make some sort of announcement in terms of why they are doing this — why they picked those countries and those flights. My guess is, just like with the liquid ban, that they came across a potential threat. -James Norton, Department of Homeland SecurityDevices are prone to electronic static discharge (ESD). Protect your safety by reading 'Implementing Proper Safety Procedures.'