since Elon Musk spent $44 billion on Twitter and fired most of the company’s workforce, amid ongoing fears of a data breach. It now appears that the security incident that preceded Musk’s takeover was a headache. This week, hackers disclosed 200 million email addresses and their links to Twitter handles, likely collected between June 2021 and January 2022. Selling the data could put anonymous Twitter accounts at risk and draw further regulatory scrutiny.
WhatsApp has launched a new anti-censorship tool that it hopes will help Iranians avoid government-mandated blocking of the messaging platform. The company enables people to use a proxy to access WhatsApp and avoid government filtering. The tool is available worldwide. We also explain what pig killing scams are and how to avoid falling into their trap.
Also this week, cybersecurity firm Mandiant revealed that it had seen Russian cyberespionage group Turla use innovative new hacking tactics in Ukraine. The group, believed to be linked to the FSB intelligence agency, was found to be using dormant USB infections from other hacking groups. Turla registered expired domains with years-old malware and managed to take over its command and control servers.
We also reported on the ongoing fallout from the EncroChat hack. In June 2020, police across Europe revealed they had hacked into the encrypted EncroChat phone network and collected more than 100 million messages from its users, many of whom were likely serious criminals. Thousands have now been jailed, based on intelligence gathered, but the bankruptcy raises broader questions about law enforcement hacking and the future of encrypted phone networks.
But that’s not all. Each week, we round up security stories that we haven’t discussed in depth ourselves. Click on a title to read the full story. And stay safe there.
On Dec. 31, as millions of people are preparing for the start of 2023, Slack posted a new security update on its blog. In the post, the company said it detected “a security issue involving unauthorized access to a subset of Slack’s code repository.” Starting on December 27, it discovered that an unknown threat actor had stolen Slack employee tokens and used them to access its external GitHub repository and download some of the company’s code.
“After being notified of the incident, we immediately invalidated the stolen tokens and began investigating the potential impact to our customers,” Slack’s disclosure read, adding that the attackers did not have access to customer data and that Slack users did not need to do anything.
As noted by cybersecurity journalist Catalin Cimpanu, the incident is similar to a security incident disclosed by certification firm Okta on Dec. 21. Just before Christmas, Okta revealed that its code repository had been accessed and copied.
Slack quickly discovered the incident and reported it. However, as Bleeping Computer discovered, Slack’s security disclosures did not appear on its usual news blog. In some parts of the world, the company includes code to prevent search engines from including it in results. In August 2022, Slack enforced password resets five years after the breach exposed hashed passwords.
A black Georgia man has spent nearly a week in jail after police reportedly relied on false facial recognition matches. Louisiana State Police used the technology to obtain a warrant for Randal Reid in a burglary they were investigating. “I’ve never been to Louisiana in my life. Then they told me it was for theft. So not only have I never been to Louisiana, but I don’t steal,” Reed told local news site Nola.
A detective “took the algorithm at face value to obtain the warrant,” the publication said, adding that little is known about the use of facial recognition technology by Louisiana police. The names of any systems used were not disclosed. However, this is just the latest case of facial recognition technology being used for illegal arrests. While police use of facial recognition technology is rapidly spreading across U.S. states, studies have repeatedly shown that it is more likely to misidentify people of color and women than white men.
On the first day of the year, Ukraine launched its deadliest missile attack to date against invading Russian forces. Eighty-nine soldiers were killed in an attack on a makeshift Russian military camp in Makiivka in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Ukrainian officials said about 400 Russian soldiers were killed. Afterwards, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the location of the troops had been determined because they were using mobile phones without permission.
During the war, both sides said they were able to intercept and locate calls. While Russia’s latest statement should be viewed with caution, the conflict highlights how open-source data can be used to attack the military. Drones, satellite imagery and social media posts have been used to monitor frontliners.
A new Louisiana law requires porn sites to verify the age of visitors from the state to prove they’re over 18. Age verification is required by law when a website contains 33.3% or more pornographic content.In response to the law, PornHub, the world’s largest porn site, now offers people Option to link their driver’s license or government ID Use a third-party service to prove they are a legal adult. PornHub says it does not collect user data, but the move has raised concerns about surveillance.
Countries around the world are introducing laws requiring visitors to pornographic websites to prove they are of age to view explicit content. Lawmakers in Germany and France have threatened to block pornographic websites if they do not do something about it. Meanwhile, in February 2022, Twitter began blocking adult content creators in Germany because an age verification system was not yet in place. The UK attempted to introduce similar age checks between 2017 and 2019; however, the plan failed due to confusion among porn site administrators, design flaws and fears of data breaches.
The world of espionage, by its very nature, is cloaked in secrecy. Nations deploy agents to nations to gather intelligence, recruit other assets, and influence events. But occasionally these spies are caught. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more Russian spies across Europe have been identified and deported. A new database by open source researcher @inteltakes compiles cases of Russian espionage in Europe since 2018. The database lists 41 exposed espionage entries and, where possible, details each asset’s nationality, occupation, and the services they were recruited for.