Hope you guys are keeping safe as always.
Ok let’s jump into the news…
City of Baltimore’s Bill for Damage From a Ransomware Attack: $18 million and Counting
An incredible article to read, if you want to have an idea of how devastating a ransomware attack can be on a business network. It essentially forced the City of Baltimore to revert their daily operations back to a time in the 1950s when everything was done manually by hand. Most of their computers and servers were forced to shut down, and not to be trusted at all.
All 10000 employees had to have their accounts manually reset, and most City functions had to be managed through a physical paper trail. The cost will invariably end up being much more than $18 million for the City, which is why security awareness training is such a small price to pay, but one that has an incredibly huge ROI for your business in the long run.
Apple’s Upcoming “Sign In With Apple” is a Great Privacy Play
Facebook and Google allow you to sign into 3rd party apps and websites eight their credentials. Which is convenient, yet fraught with security and privacy issues (we discuss why this is such a bad idea in Module 22 Internet Data Privacy).
Now Apple is offering a similar login service, but with some VERY important features: one can sign in using their biometrics Face ID or Touch ID, which makes it both secure, and easy to use. And another very cool touch is that Apple will hide you Apple email address, and generate a random one that they will manage on your behalf. “Apple will create what is essentially a burner email address to sign up, hiding it from the third party. Whenever the website or app you sign up for tries to contact you, it will email the burner address, and Apple will forward the memo to your real email address. So if a business starts sending spam to the burner email address, you can delete your account, and the business won’t have your real email address.” Good job Apple!
LinkedIn Profile Used an Artificial Intelligence-Created Profile Picture for Spying on D.C. Experts
OK, here’s a crazy story: “Deepfakes”, which are AI-generated personas that looks exactly like real live humans is something you will continue to hear MUCH MORE about, especially as we move closer to the 2020 election. The AP has a story that will blow your mind: someone somewhere created a LinkedIn profile of a supposed Russia/Eurasia expert called “Katie Jones”, and her profile picture appears to have been created using a computer program called “generative adversarial networks” (GAN), that can create very realistic-looking faces of entirely imaginary people.
Basically the picture was generated using Artificial Intelligence. And Katie Jones does not exist, yet the picture/profile was used to make LinkedIn connections with some high profile American experts, most likely as part of an international espionage campaign.
And if you want to see what these AI-generated faces look like, check out these 2 websites:
Here is the article:
US and Russia Are Escalating Their Intrusions Into Each Others National Power Grids:
There are several reports coming out that both the US and Russia are aggressively attempting to intrude into each others critical power grids, and that the US has moved to implant malware into Russia’s power grid (that can be used to sabotage the grid in the event of a war). The US Cyber Command has been given much more autonomy by the White House to conduct such activities now, and to let its adversaries know that there will be a very high cost to pay if they were to execute such an attack in cyber space.
This is, of course, an activity that has been ongoing between various nation states for a number of years now, but has recently escalated rapidly between Russia and the US. It is a troubling sign of our times, and a glimpse of what the future might hold for us with respect to cyber warfare.
6 Privacy-Focused Browsers You Must Check Out
A valuable article that showcases 6 different Internet browsers you can use on your computer, iOS and/or Android phone, that are doing various things to block you from being tracked on the web. These are Brave, Firefox, DuckDuckGo, Tor, Ghostery and Safari;. They all do a good job (some much better than others), and all of them are focused on the privacy of your web activity. I highly recommend installing one of them on your computer and mobile phone.
Stop Annoying & Malicious RoboCalls Using These Tips
The United States FCC is now thankfully allowing mobile carriers to legally block spam calls coming into your phone. But it is still highly recommended to go the extra step and use either a mobile carrier spam blocking app, 3rd party spam blocking app, sign up for the Do Not Call Registry list also, and/or blocking yourself. This article breaks down the various options you have in a nice way. Enjoy 🙂
A Russian Blogger Shows Us a Peek Inside a Russian Troll Farm
A Russian blogger called Lyudmila Savchuk intentionally started working at a now infamous Russian Troll Farm called the Internet Research Agency, for the core purpose of documenting what was going on inside. She eventually exposed them for what they were doing, and has dealt with many adverse repercussions as a result.
“Once on the inside, Savchuk was stunned to see hundreds of mostly younger Russians working as paid trolls in rotating shifts. Each worker has a quota to fill every day and every night. Because the factory works around the clock. It never stops. Not for a second. Savchuk discovered the IRA was full of different “departments.” There was the “news division,” the “social media seeders”, and a group dedicated to producing visual memes known as “demotivators.”
The article goes on to say “Despite the division of labor, the content was remarkably uniform. The US, the EU, Ukraine’s pro-European government, and Russia’s opposition were regular targets for scorn. And then there was Russian President Vladimir Putin — seemingly no Russian triumph under his rule was too small to warrant a celebratory tweet, meme or post. “
Please be safe out there everyone.