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01/23/2020
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A researcher at the ICS security conference in Miami probes the market for unpatched vulnerabilities in industrial networks. U.S. police arrested a California man for allegedly helping scammers subvert security software. And DHS is advising extra caution around the Emotet malware. This is CyberScoop for Thursday, January 23.

About that Jeff Bezos hack...

A cybersecurity forensics team has concluded with “medium to high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked Jeff Bezos’ iPhone X in 2018, but the analysis has not impressed the information security community. The firm, FTI Consulting, may have good reasons to conclude there was unauthorized exfiltration of data from Bezos’ phone after bin Salman sent him a WhatsApp message containing a suspicious video file. But questions linger. For example: Why couldn't FTI decrypt the downloader? Is the report's data accurate? And, was there actually any malware? Shannon Vavra is wondering.


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Peeling back the curtain on the ICS zero-day market

The market for for zero-day software exploits has come out of the shadows in recent years, but a segment of it remains nebulous: just how many exploits with implications for industrial control systems are changing hands? Sarah Freeman took a stab at that questions and presented her findings this week at the S4 conference in Miami. The ICS exploit market, Freeman argued, is “a jumping-off point for people to go from having no capabilities to having a working, functional, weaponized capability very quickly.” She found that a growing prevalence for exploits against mobile platforms and routers are something that ICS professionals can’t afford to ignore. Sean Lyngaas has more context.


U.S. police arrest another in connection with Methbot fraud spree

Police in New York City this month arrested Sergey Denisoff on charges that he allegedly helped members of the Methbot ad fraud crew by setting up dummy web pages where other conspirators could direct illegitimate traffic. Members then charged U.S. advertising companies for access to visitors who didn’t actually exist. Denisoff supplied fake domains, helped Methbot members circumvent cybersecurity software meant to stop this kind of fraud and was in regular communication with alleged ringleader Aleksandr Zhukov, an NYPD detective said in an affidavit. The arrest and ensuing court filings are the latest evidence that U.S. authorities are continuing their investigation into the Methbot crew, also known as 3ve, since announcing charges against eight suspects in November 2018. Jeff Stone has the court documents.


Mobile voting is here, security concerns and all

The King Conservation District, which covers Seattle and about 30 suburbs — accounting for 1.2 million registered voters — will use an app built by Democracy Live, in the Feb. 10 race for one of its board seats. Democracy Live, founded in 2007, specializes in balloting technology that serves deployed military and other overseas voters, as well as voters with disabilities. But security concerns are lurking."Online voting—whether though a smartphone app or a website—is just not ready for primetime,” said Chris Deluzio, the policy director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law. “[W]ithout a paper trail of individual ballots, election officials would have no way to meaningfully audit or confirm vote tallies if there’s a hack or some other error." Benjamin Freed is following the story.


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Survey finds federal agencies are embracing zero-trust to strengthen security

Nearly half of federal government IT executives in a new survey said their agencies are moving away from traditional network perimeter defense tactics and taking steps to adopt identity-centered security strategies. Additionally, agencies which have developed strategies to meet FICAM policy requirements are also better positioned to improve their risk management and security posture, among other capabilities. FedScoop has the complete findings.


DHS updates its warning about a hacking tool that just won't die

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Wednesday warned it's detected an uptick in hacks that rely on the Emotet malware. Emotet started as a banking trojan, but has since evolved to include additional functionality that attackers can use to install additional malware, like ransomware, on hacked machines while also collecting personal information. "Emotet primarily spreads via malicious email attachments and attempts to proliferate within a network by brute-forcing user credentials and writing to shared drives," the alert says. CISA's advisory appears to be tied to a similar warning from Cisco's Talos Intelligence team, which uncovered spam emails impersonating U.S. military and government domains. Here's how to play defense.


Pwn2Own's Day One results

The annual hacking competition Pwn2Own, which challenges participants to disrupt otherwise trustworthy systems, gave out $110,000 in rewards to researchers who found eight bugs on the first day of the contest. Researchers Steven Seeley and Chris Anastasio used a remote code execution attack against a Rockwell Automation system, while Yehuda Anikster of Claroty Research threw a denial-of-service attack against an industrial control system called the Iconics Genesis64. Both won $5,000. Another team, from Horst Goertz Institute, won $25,000 by accessing factory software in a Rockwell Automation system. Stay tuned to see if anything like last year's big attack on Tesla's onboard browser is revealed. Find the full scoreboard so far.


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