KW 31: French authority confirms use of Pegasus spy software, Crypto theft headed for record levels, REvil encryption Trojan was disguised as a security update


French authority confirms use of Pegasus spy software: French intelligence investigators have confirmed that Pegasus spyware has been found on the phones of three journalists, including a senior member of staff at the country’s international television station France 24. It is the first time an independent and official authority has corroborated the findings of an international investigation by the Pegasus project – a consortium of 17 media outlets, including the Guardian. Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit media organization, and Amnesty International initially had access to a leaked list of 50,000 numbers that, it is believed, have been identified as those of people of interest by clients of Israeli firm NSO Group since 2016, and shared access with their media partners. French politicians expressed shock after the mobile numbers of the president, Emmanuel Macron, former prime minister Édouard Philippe and 14 serving ministers, including those for justice and foreign affairs, appeared in the leaked data.

Crypto theft headed for record levels: Since 2012, hackers have captured a total of $1.2 trillion through blockchain hacks. The overall number of thefts has risen sharply. In 2020, 122 thefts were counted throughout the year; this year, the number has already risen to 109. Attacks on apps based on the Ethereum blockchain have become particularly significant. While these accounted for 5% in 2018, it was already 39% in 2020 and more than 60% this year. Hacking of wallets, where cryptocurrencies are stored, has also increased. They now affect one in four cases.

REvil encryption Trojan was disguised as a security update: At the beginning of July, the REvil hacker group infiltrated around 50 servers from which software and updates were distributed to thousands of company computers. In doing so, they placed their malware as far up the software supply chain as possible in a supposed update. The PCs were thus helplessly exposed to the attack, as such updates are not usually checked for manipulation. The „security update“ then paralyzed the built-in virus scanner and encrypted all accessible data. To infiltrate the servers, the hacker group used several security vulnerabilities of the Kaseya company, at least one of which had been known to the company since April.

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Universities use proctoring programs to spy on students: During exams, an artificial intelligence scans the movements of exam takers on camera to detect any attempts at cheating. At the same time, Trojans check that students do not call up search engines on their home computers. While such scenes seemed impossible only a few years ago, they have become normal at many universities since the start of the pandemic. Now, however, data protectionists are sounding the alarm. So-called proctoring programs, which are supposed to prevent deception, massively encroach on the privacy of the test takers through monitoring.

Vultur malware records screens of Android devices: Security researchers have discovered a novel piece of Android malware that uses the VNC technology to record and broadcast a victim’s smartphone activity, allowing threat actors to collect keyboard presses and app passwords. Vultur opens a VNC server on the infected phone, and broadcasts screen captures to an attacker command and control server, where the Vultur operator extracts passwords for desired apps. Per the malware’s configuration, it currently targets mobile banking apps for banks in Italy, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, and the UK.

IT experts fear hacker arms race: Experts are concerned that a race with hackers in artificial intelligence is looming in the fight against cyberattacks. Mikko Hyppönen, head of research at the IT security firm F-Secure, believes that attackers will soon start using algorithms to automatically modify their malware so that it is not detected by antivirus programs. Hyppönen also warns that self-learning systems based on machine learning are now so complex and opaque that their workings are almost incomprehensible to humans.

Security researchers: Criminals use Discord to spread malware
Digital Covid vaccine certificates: Pharmacies slow to start issuing after emergency halt
Ethereum mining: Hackers leverage Nvidia’s hashrate throttle of version 1.8y3
Copyright reform: Upload filter and block button law takes effect in the EU
Supply chain attacks: European cybersecurity agency Enisa recommends code checks for dependencies

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The number of cyber crimes has increased by 37% since 2016. Last year, 15,400 cyber crimes were registered in Saxony-Anhalt, according to the German state’s criminal police bureau.


Cybersecurity of great importance at the Tokyo Olympics: Cybersecurity has been an increasingly important issue since the 2004 Olympics – both for host countries and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Many Games, especially this year, rely on a variety of cutting-edge digital infrastructures. For example: AI-powered live translation devices, facial recognition technology and ZMP’s Robot Taxi, a driverless car. The reliance on technology highlights the potential risks should IT systems be infiltrated. The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang saw the most attacks to date. Here, Russian hackers carried out attacks on the venue’s networks before the opening ceremony, slowing spectator entry and taking Wi-Fi networks offline. With this year’s all-virtual audience and increasingly connected world, there now needs to be an increased focus on cybersecurity rather than the physical security of the event.

Cybersecurity is a key driver of the German smart city market: Demand for cybersecurity solutions in Germany continues to grow significantly due to changes in the regulatory framework within Europe, increasing awareness of online threats, and the rise of digital business models. As such, it is also becoming a key driver of the smart city market in Germany, according to the study „The Smart City Market in Germany, 2021-2026.“ In 2020 alone, cybersecurity solutions accounted for around half of the 13.7 billion euros generated in the so-called Layer 2 model of the internet industry „Internet Services & Applications“ in Germany.


„I think it’s more than likely we’re going to end up, if we end up in a war – a real shooting war with a major power – it’s going to be as a consequence of a cyber breach of great consequence and it’s increasing exponentially, the capabilities.“
US President Joe Biden has warned that if the United States ended up in a „real shooting war“ with a „major power“ it could be the result of a significant cyber attack on the country, highlighting what Washington sees as growing threats posed by Russia and China.


Crypto toilet: South Korean toilet turns feces into electricity: A South Korean university buys its students‘ and employees‘ excrement. A specially built toilet is used to transport the feces to a tank containing microorganisms, which then convert it into methane. The associated energy is used to power a building. A separate digital currency is used to remunerate toilet use.

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