Computer News & Safety – Harry Waldron Rotating Header Image

July 6th, 2018:

Mobile Security – Application spying research report JULY 2018

Users must carefully ascertain security & privacy risks when using 3rd party apps on their smartphones.   An informative study by Northeastern University assessed 17,000 popular Android apps to determine whether they stealthy access your phone’s microphone to record audio.  They found more risk associated with access to screen areas and camera — than to listening to personal conversations.

Convinced that apps on your phone are secretly eavesdropping on your conversations and to target you with advertisements? As Gizmodo reported, researchers from Northeastern University conducted a yearlong study to find out if this conspiracy theory is true. The researchers – Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes – studied the behavior of more than 17,000 popular Android apps to determine whether they stealthy access your phone’s microphone to record audio.

There’s good news and bad news. On the bright side, the researchers “found no evidence” that apps are sneakily snooping in on your conversations. Now, the bad news: They’re doing something equally, if not more, creepy: recording your screen.

“We find that several apps leak content recorded from the camera and the screen over the internet, and in ways that are either undisclosed or unexpected given the purpose of the app,” the researchers concluded. “Importantly, we find that third-party libraries record a video of a user’s interaction with an app, including at times sensitive input fields, without any permissions or notification to the user. Further, several apps share users’ photos and other media over the internet without explicitly indicating this to the user.”

Data Breach – TYPEFORM form and survey web hosting services

Typeform is an advanced form and survey online service used by many websites, and they have promptly contacted users & are working to mitigate impacts.

June 2018 Data Breach

Typeform is an online service that makes it easy for anyone to add attractive cutesy online surveys to their websites. It’s certainly a neat online app, making it simple to build an attractive survey or form and embed it on your site.  Typeform customers are believed to include Adobe, Airbnb, Apple, BBC, Facebook, Forbes, Freshdesk, HubSpot, Indiegogo, Trello, and Uber amongst many others.

Unfortunately, at the end of last week, Typeform admitted that it had suffered a data breach. The results accessed were from a partial backup dated May 3rd, 2018. As a result, all data collected since May 3rd 2018 are not compromised. The data stolen includes names, email addresses, and other pieces of information entered by users via Typeform forms.

They are sharing awareness to impacted users as follows:

On June 27, 2018, our engineering team became aware that an unknown third party gained access to our server and downloaded certain information. As a result of this breach, some data was compromised. We responded immediately and fixed the source of the breach to prevent any further intrusion.

FBI – Creator of Remote Access Trojan arrested and sentenced

The FBI documents the arrest and sentencing for a prominent malware author who created the NanoCore Remote Access Trojan (RAT).  This stealth remote control agent infected over 100,000 computers.  This shares an awareness that “cybercrime does not pay”

A 27-year-old from Hot Springs, Arkansas, was for a time very popular among the world’s cyber criminals, thanks to a malicious piece of software he created called NanoCore Remote Access Trojan (RAT). That malware allowed hackers to steal sensitive information from victims’ computers, including account numbers and passwords, and even allowed them to secretly activate the webcams of infected computers to spy on unsuspecting victims.

The NanoCore RAT has the ability to control a victim’s computer.  This type of malware—a Remote Access Trojan (RAT)—is all the more insidious because in most cases victims have no idea their computers have been compromised. According to court documents, NanoCore RAT was used to infect and attempt to infect more than 100,000 computers.

He didn’t stop with NanoCore RAT. He also developed and profited from Net Seal, a fee-based licensing software that he and his customers used to distribute NanoCore RAT and other malware.  He was arrested in February 2017 and charged with aiding and abetting computer intrusions. He pleaded guilty, admitting that he intended his products to be used maliciously. In February 2018, a federal judge sentenced him to 33 months in prison.