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Going green in IT: How and why

Going green in IT: How and why

Digital is usually perceived as nonphysical, ephemeral. However, digital services run on physical servers that require energy, and most energy is still produced by burning fossil fuels. That means digital services have a very real impact on carbon emissions and climate change. That impact, and how to minimize it, was the main topic of the talk Chris Adams of the Green Web Foundation gave at 36c3.

Big IT companies are already measuring their carbon footprints. Do you?

First let’s talk numbers, looking at the biggest IT companies’ impact. Amazon recently started sharing carbon emissions data. In the year 2018, Amazon was accountable for 44.4 megatons of...

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Uncle Sam compensates you for data leaks (yeah, right)

Uncle Sam compensates you for data leaks (yeah, right)

Data leaks of all sorts regularly crop up in the news, and recently so have fines, some potentially reaching into the billions, slapped on the companies responsible. If companies have to pay for data leaks, surely some of that money goes to the victims, right?

Surprise from the US Trading Commission

Recently, a curious site caught our eye. Seemingly owned by a certain Personal Data Protection Fund, the website’s main page states that the fund was created by the “US Trading Commission.”

At first glance, the site looks reasonably sound, with a restrained design showing a hefty sum on the right. A large banner at the top of the page...

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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 125

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 125

Welcome to the 125th edition of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast.

Dave and I open the episode deep in the heart of Texas. In this story, a school system lost millions of dollars by transferring funds to cybercriminals after falling victim to a phishing campaign.

From there, we head further west, to Las Vegas, and its recent cyberincident. The third story takes us back to the topic of Facebook. Instead of our common discussion points, this story looks at encryption and where it stands with the Messenger platform. Spoiler: It’s not coming as fast as many would like.

To close out the podcast, we discuss two Windows-based stories. The first...

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Can you trust digital signatures in PDF files?

Can you trust digital signatures in PDF files?

Hardly a company or government agency exists that does not use PDF files. And they often use digital signatures to ensure the authenticity of such documents. When you open a signed file in any PDF viewer, the program displays a flag indicating that the document is signed, and by whom, and gives you access to the signature validation menu.

So, a team of researchers from several German universities set out to test the robustness of PDF signatures. Vladislav Mladenov from Ruhr-Universität Bochum shared the team’s findings at the Chaos Communication Congress (36С3).

The researchers’ task was simple: Modify the contents of a signed PDF document...

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The Faketoken Trojan sends out offensive texts

The Faketoken Trojan sends out offensive texts

The inventiveness of virus makers knows no bounds. Some ransomware apps now have mining capabilities, and some banking trojans extort their victims. Faketoken may have a goofy name, but this banking Trojan for Android devices is serious business.

Faketoken: From SMS thief to full-fledged banker

The banking Trojan Faketoken has been around for quite a while — back in 2014, it made our top 20 list of the most widespread mobile threats. Back then, the malware operated in concert with desktop banking Trojans. The desktop app hacked victims’ accounts and withdrew money, and Faketoken intercepted text messages with one-time passwords to confirm...

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Four theories for better learning

Four theories for better learning

If you have ever handled the task of teaching staff information security basics, you know how tricky it can be. Those out of touch with IT tend to have trouble registering new information on the subject, and they’re also quick to forget it. They also don’t always see the point of drills. All in all, training isn’t always effective.

Effective training and retention are critical links in the corporate cybersecurity chain. As in other fields of education, the psychology of memory — known patterns of memorization and information reproduction — becomes useful in cybersecurity training. Here are four useful tricks that can enhance the retention of learned...

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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 124

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 124

After a few weeks’ hiatus, Dave and I return for the 124th edition of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast. We hope you had great holidays.

To kick off the episode, we circle back to one of the topics that we closed out 2019 with: Amazon’s Ring. Earlier this week, the company announced a new and improved privacy dashboard. It has some critics.

From Amazon, we move to Arkansas, where ransomware played Grinch for a few hundred call center workers. The company was hit with ransomware, but even though it paid the ransom, it could not restore the data, which shuttered the company. We stay on the topic of ransomware for our next story. Travelex, a...

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Open source is not a cure-all

Open source is not a cure-all

With many believing open-source software is more secure than proprietary software, we are now also seeing attempts to apply a similar theory to hardware development. At the 36th Chaos Communication Congress (36C3) hackers’ conference last month, however, experts Andrew “bunnie” Huang, Sean “xobs” Cross, and Tom Marble raised doubts about whether employing open-source development is enough to solve trust problems in hardware. Huang spoke at length on the topic.

Differences between hardware and software in terms of trust

Open-source software’s safety lies not only in its openness, but also in widely used tools that help ensure the program you run at the...

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The connected product life cycle dilemma

The connected product life cycle dilemma

How long should a product’s life cycle be? Of course, that depends a lot on the product: People keep their cars for years or even decades, whereas a toothbrush usually lasts only a couple of months.

Now let’s add another dimension: How long should a connected product’s life cycle be? With more and more products being connected nowadays, getting to that answer is significantly less obvious and more complicated. Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University touched on the topic in his talk at 36C3 (the 36th Chaos Communication Congress), and we wanted to consider it in a little more detail.

The life cycle of a connected product

Products without...

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The aftermath of the Twitter epilepsy attack

The aftermath of the Twitter epilepsy attack

November was National Epilepsy Awareness Month in the United States. Last November indeed saw a greater awareness of epilepsy, but most likely because of a scandalous attack: Internet trolls on Twitter used flashing animated images, and tagged the Epilepsy Foundation, to harm people by causing epileptic seizures.

How the attack worked

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder, is characterized by recurrent epileptic seizures. Every year more than 100,000 people die because of epilepsy. One of its common variants is photosensitive epilepsy, in which seizures can be triggered by flickering lights, and the attack targeted people with this form of...

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Snow White, the Seven Cryptominers, and the targeted attacks

Snow White, the Seven Cryptominers, and the targeted attacks

Children know how to ask uncomfortable questions. Does Santa Claus exist? Where does the tooth fairy take the teeth it collects? Is it even possible to track any person you want to? Is it true that governments are often behind targeted attacks?

Fortunately, answers to the last two questions can be found in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which describes a number of interesting technologies (in allegorical form, of course). Once you know where to look, everything falls into place. Let’s investigate the subtext of the famous Grimm Brothers fairy tale.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

The tale begins with a king who is widowed at the...

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GUSD smart contract allows for theft of antispam payments

GUSD smart contract allows for theft of antispam payments

The Winklevoss twins are best known as the alleged founding fathers of Facebook — and even received $65 million in compensation from Mark Zuckerberg in 2008. In 2013 they invested heavily in Bitcoin, buying about 1% of all existing coins at $120 apiece.

Soon after, the brothers opened the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange, and in 2018 they launched the stablecoin Gemini dollar (GUSD). A stablecoin is a fixed-rate cryptocurrency — 1 GUSD token always costs 1 US dollar. Stablecoins are handy for “digitizing” real dollars. They make moving blockchain dollars between exchanges quick and easy. The guarantor of the reverse conversion to...

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The cybersecurity of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The cybersecurity of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The long-awaited Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has finally hit the big screen. Not everyone has seen it yet, so we will not give away any spoilers or discuss the Death Star–size holes in the plot, or even the film’s artistic merits and demerits. We are interested in Episode IX solely from the standpoint of information security. So this post will cover cybersecurity-related moments in the movie, and see how well (or otherwise) the characters acted.

Data transfer from ship to ship

In the Star Wars universe, data transfer is a bit of a muddle. Some information can be transmitted quickly across vast distances, other types only on...

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How to keep spies off your phone — in real life, not the movies

How to keep spies off your phone — in real life, not the movies

In the new Terminator movie, Sarah Connor puts her phone inside an empty bag of chips to hide her movements from the bad guys. Our recent experiment showed that this method is actually workable (with some provisos): A couple of foil bags do indeed jam radio signals from cell towers, satellites (such as GPS), and wireless networks (such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). But do people actually spy on other people through these networks? Let’s investigate.

Spying over radio: GPS, cellular, and Wi-Fi

Sarah Connor was concerned primarily about GPS signals. At first glance, that’s logical; we use satellites to determine the exact location...

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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 123

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 123

Welcome to the final edition of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast for 2019. Dave and I kick off episode 123 with a story in the city of New Orleans.

Last week, the home of the famous Mardi Gras festivities was hit with a series of cyberattacks including phishing and ransomware. To avoid the spread of the attack, the city pulled their computers offline and asked their employees to resort to using old-school tools like radios and pens and paper.

Following that story, we move on to the latest issue pertaining to Facebook and data privacy. However, the twist here is that unlike the usual stories of user data compromise, this story involves...

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Are scammers tired of bitcoin?

Are scammers tired of bitcoin?

Scammers pretending to have hacked and shot video of people watching porn is not exactly news. However, from time to time the scheme gets a new twist. Last time, it was alleged CIA involvement to heighten the threat — the supposedly watched adult video was of an illegal sort. The purpose of these tales is to panic the user so they’ll send money without thinking too hard about the false claims.

Most often, cybercriminals demand a ransom in cryptocurrency; such transactions are anonymous and extremely hard to trace. The wallet address for transferring the money is usually specified in the text of the e-mail. Lately, however, we’ve been seeing sextortion...

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Dangerous letters for small online retailers

Dangerous letters for small online retailers

Cybercriminals often choose very small companies as their targets. Small businesses rarely spend significant money on security systems, often do not even have an IT specialist, and most important, are more likely to operate from just one or two computers, which makes it easier to choose a target that holds the kind of information cybercriminals are usually hunting for. Recently, our technologies detected yet another attack aimed at small online stores. Attackers, using social engineering methods, tried to force the owners of such businesses to run malicious scripts on their computers.

Social engineering

The most interesting aspect of this...

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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 122

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 122

Welcome to the 122nd edition of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast. This week, Dave and I take a look at what’s doing the rounds this week in the infosec world.

To start, Evil Corp, a loose coalition of hackers, has managed to steal more than $100 million — but now the FBI is offering a $5 million reward.

We then chat about the Which? consumer group, which is warning parents about a “hackable” Bluetooth walkie-talkie. And scammers are looking to profit from the game The Elder Scrolls Online by sending out phishing e-mails and messages (if an e-mail ever asks for your password, delete the e-mail.)

Finally, Tinder users are sharing more than...

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4 types of cryptohacks, explained

4 types of cryptohacks, explained

Cryptocurrencies have been around for more than a decade now. During this period, we have observed more than a hundred major hacks of cryptoexchanges and other cryptocurrency-related services.

Very often, the details of the hack remain unclear. It’s easy to learn who was hacked, when it happened, and how much was stolen, but the “how” remains elusive. Journalists are more interested in the sums involved, and victimized organizations are in no hurry to disclose the details of their shame.

Let’s fill in the gaps and talk a bit about how those hacks work — not to preach but in the hopes of preventing a recurrence.

Phishing and malware: The standard...
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How advertisers learn which Android apps you use

How advertisers learn which Android apps you use

We have already covered the mechanisms of Internet advertising and tricks advertising networks use to learn about the websites you visit. But your virtual life hardly consists of websites alone. It is very likely that you spend a good portion of your time in mobile applications — and they, too, make money on ads: Just like websites, they cooperate with advertising networks.

To enable advertisers to collect a detailed dossier on you so they can deliver personalized ads, mobile apps feed them information about your device — even information Google doesn’t permit them to use for advertising.

What info can help track your Android device?

What...

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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 121

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 121

Welcome to the 121st edition of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast. This week, Dave and I hit on some topics that were missed in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hoopla.

We start off the podcast with government entities in both the US and Russia having made some moves that are worth keeping an eye on. In the US, it was the FBI talking about tape over cameras in smart TVs; and in Russia, it was about adding software to devices before purchase.

From there, staying on the topic of smart devices, we talk about Amazon’s Ring. There has been a lot of chatter on this topic from a privacy and policy standpoint in regard to their new “watch list.”...

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A stranger wants to give me money. What could possibly go wrong?

A stranger wants to give me money. What could possibly go wrong?

There are various signs by which to spot an online scam. The strongest one is a request (or even demand) to transfer money to someone under a murky pretext. But what if instead of giving your money away, you get a hefty amount transferred to you? Sounds pretty great. What’s the catch?

The catch is, you’re not getting the money. Here we discuss two types of scam based on incoming money transfers.

“Hey there, I need you to make me a logo”

Ever since starting out as a freelance designer, Andy had a personal website. It didn’t see much activity, but he was reluctant to close it; a personal domain name has its advantages.

The...

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Sense and sensibility: Do we want AI to master emotions?

Sense and sensibility: Do we want AI to master emotions?

Imagine you come home one day in a bad mood, shout at the door for not opening fast enough and at the light bulb because it burned out — and the smart speaker immediately starts playing chill music, and the coffee machine pours you a mocha. Or, as you walk into a store, the robot assistant that was about to approach sees your unhappy face, backs off, and helps another customer instead. Sound like science fiction?

In fact, emotion recognition technologies are already being introduced into many areas of life, and in the near future our mood could well be under the watchful eye of gadgets, household appliances, cars, you name it. In...

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Kaspersky named a Customers’ Choice, third year in a row

Kaspersky named a Customers’ Choice, third year in a row

I’m a racing guy. In the world of cars, where teams of engineers and pilots relentlessly compete with one another, winning once doesn’t prove anything. Winning twice is often explained by sheer luck and coincidence. But winning three times in a row means that your team has mastered the art and is in its rightful place  among champions.

Thus, I’m rightfully proud to say that Kaspersky’s team has been named a 2019 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Endpoint Protection Platforms, for a third consecutive year.

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This recognition is based on reviews from our customers. This is what they say:

  • “We use Kaspersky since 2015. It is...
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Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 120

Transatlantic Cable podcast, episode 120

Where did the year go? One minute, we were talking about predictions for the coming 2019 and now… well, we have entered the most wonderful time of the year. You know, the time with a certain portly gentleman in a red suit, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So for this week’s episode of the Kaspersky Transatlantic Cable podcast, we head to the blog of AV Test, however, we will not be talking about the ratings of AV products. Instead, we take a look at their IoT research into the insecurity of a smartwatch made for children.

The second topic moves to New York, where the NYPD suffered a minor incident with ransomware from a third-party contractor. From...

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