Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, is urging the U.S. government to step up innovation and more actively police cyberthreats. In a year beset with security breaches attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers, Pichai says it’s time to draft a Geneva Convention for technology, outlining international legal standards, safeguards and behavioral norms for the connected age. Pichai also made an appeal for state-sponsored innovation in the face of competition from China, where the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to advance artificial intelligence and develop a proprietary semiconductor sector. Continue reading Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

SEC Probe of SolarWinds Attack Concerns Corporate Execs

A Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the 2020 Russian cyberattack of SolarWinds has corporate executives concerned over the possibility that information unearthed in the probe will expose them to liability. Companies suspected of or known to have been downloading compromised software updates from SolarWinds have received letters requesting records of all breaches since October 2019, raising fears that sensitive cyber incidents previously unreported and unrelated to SolarWinds may be revealed, providing the SEC with details that many companies may never have wanted to disclose. Continue reading SEC Probe of SolarWinds Attack Concerns Corporate Execs

Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

In the security world, “bug bounty” programs are becoming more common, from Facebook to the Department of Defense. Hackers who can reveal the hidden vulnerabilities of a device, system or corporation can reap significant financial rewards. Apple launched its program in 2016 and offers payouts of up to $1 million for the most elusive flaws. The tech giant reportedly spent $3.7 million on such exercises in the 12-month period ending in July 2021, during which time Google shelled out $6.7 million and Microsoft spent $13.6 million. Such programs have become a valuable tool in security maintenance, putting hackers’ inquisitive natures to productive use.  Continue reading Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

All politics may be local, but you can expect less of it to be social. As of August 31, Facebook began reducing political content that appears in its News Feed. The move comes as the social media giant attempts to beat back a barrage of criticism for spreading misinformation through the use of algorithms that appear to reward click-generating controversies over level-headed dialogue. The new content modification is “in response to common feedback from our community,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Continue reading Facebook Decides to Curtail Political Content in News Feed

Strider Shield Technology Aims to Protect Intellectual Property

Strider Technologies has debuted its Strider Shield platform that helps businesses better understand potential threats to intellectual property — including nation-state directed IP theft and supply chain threats — by combining online tracking tools often used by advertising agencies with data ingestion tools, natural language processing and various algorithms. Strider co-founder and chief strategy officer Eric Levesque said that Strider Shield allows an enterprise to collect thousands of data points such as email addresses, domain names and keywords to correlate against systems where the IP resides, in order to surface potential risks. Continue reading Strider Shield Technology Aims to Protect Intellectual Property

FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

The FBI is investigating 100 ransomware variants, stated director Christopher Wray, who revealed that many of them trace back to Russian hackers. He noted that the cyberattacks share “a lot of parallels … a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention” with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most recently, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline cost its operators $4.4 million to regain control and restore services (however, federal authorities recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency yesterday). Another attack targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company.  Continue reading FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Microsoft just slashed the revenue cut it takes from PC games on Windows from 30 percent to 12 percent, effective August 1, in a move to lure more game developers to its platform. Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said that, “a clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.” The change will not affect Xbox console games. Microsoft’s new revenue split is the same that Epic Games offers to PC game developers. Continue reading Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

President Joe Biden is working on a draft executive order to require companies doing business with the federal government to report hacks within a few days. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated the order would also require the companies to use data encryption and two-factor authentication and would combat ransomware and improve protection for industrial control systems, transportation and election security. The SolarWinds hack has prompted the government to pay closer attention to cybersecurity. Continue reading Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Facebook’s Red Team is tasked with spotting vulnerabilities on the platform before hackers do. Many tech companies have similar red teams but, at Facebook, Red Team manage Nat Hirsch and his colleague Vlad Ionescu saw an opportunity to do more after COVID-19 hit. Established last spring and headed by Ionescu, Facebook’s Red Team X both works independently with its internal, original Red Team and looks into weaknesses of third-party products that represent a potential threat to its own platform. Continue reading Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Russia and China recently ran sophisticated hacks from servers inside the United States, going undetected by the National Security Agency, which is prohibited from conducting surveillance in the U.S., as well as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Private computer security firms were the first to raise the alarm on these foreign attacks, and Microsoft reported that its patches are being reverse-engineered by criminal groups to launch ransomware attacks on corporations. The White House is paying attention. Continue reading Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Apple Reveals Platform Security Guide with Info on M1 Chip

Apple unveiled its annual Platform Security Guide, now 200 pages, which provides the first-ever detailed documentation of its new M1 chips. The company is known for being reticent to release much in-depth technical information as part of its “security through obscurity” strategy to fend off hackers. However, this latest edition of the guide offers “significantly expanded information,” including details about the secure enclave and other software features and is designed to enable customers use the technology’s defense attributes. Continue reading Apple Reveals Platform Security Guide with Info on M1 Chip

White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

In December, suspected Russian hackers compromised SolarWinds Corp., a small software vendor, leveraging it to infiltrate the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Treasury, as well as numerous private companies. An in-depth investigation revealed that the hack’s scope was larger than first known, with about one-third of those hacked having no direct connection with SolarWinds. Now, the Biden administration has selected White House National Security Council senior official Anne Neuberger to lead the response. Continue reading White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Facebook shut down malware out of China that stole user credentials to serve ads for diet pills, sexual health products and counterfeit goods including designer handbags, shoes and sunglasses. The hackers used the consumer’s associated payment method to purchase the ads, at the cost to victims of $4 million. The social media company first exposed these attacks in 2018 and traced them to ILikeAd Media International, filing a civil suit against the firm and the two Chinese nationals who allegedly developed the malware. Continue reading Facebook Detects Malware That Was Being Used for Ad Fraud

Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic

Cyberattacks against gamers have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according a report from cloud services company Akamai, which detailed that hackers attempted almost 10 billion credential-stuffing attacks to take over accounts. Akamai security researcher Steve Ragan, who wrote the report, noted that, “as games move online and leverage cloud infrastructure and cross-platform and cross-generation play, that’s an attack surface.” “The bigger the attack surface, the more room [hackers] have to play,” he added. Continue reading Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic