Cybersecurity news headlines for 1-15 June, 2019
Cybersecurity news headlines for 1-15 June, 2019
In this edition of cybersecurity news headlines, we have three stories to report on. Privacy enthusiasts rejoice as Apple introduces its new “Sign in with Apple” feature; dating app Tinder may be forced to share user data with Russian law enforcement and intelligence agencies; the notorious GandCrab ransomware stops operations.
Apple introduces “Sign in with Apple” to protect privacy
During this year’s Apple Worldwide developers conference, the company introduced “Sign in with Apple”, a new third-party login system that aims to protect users’ privacy. The new login system, which has received praise from privacy enthusiasts, will work similarly to the systems offered by Facebook and Google. However, unlike Facebook and Google, Apple not only aims to make logging in easier, but also more private.
Usually, when creating an account on a platform, users have the option of signing in using their Facebook or Google accounts. While this is very convenient as you don’t have to create many accounts, it’s also rather intrusive. By signing in via those platforms, users are giving Facebook and Google private information about themselves, and both companies do not have the best track record when it comes to protecting users’ privacy.
The new system will allow Apple users to keep their privacy when creating accounts for apps that allow “Sign in with Apple” as they will have the option of not sharing their email address. When users sign in with Apple on an app, they will have two options, share their real email address or hide it. If they choose to hide their email, a random email address will be generated by Apple, and all emails and notifications from the app will go to that email. Everything will then be forwarded to their real email, meaning they still receive all communications but their privacy is protected.
By not having their email addresses associated with apps, users will also be able to avoid credential stuffing attacks, and lessen spam email. The main reason we receive so much spam in our inboxes is because shady apps/websites sell our data to other questionable parties. “Sign in with Apple” will be a great way to avoid that as apps will not be able to sell information they do not have. Furthermore, if an app suffers from a data breach (as they often do), a user’s actual email address and their identity will be safe. Terminating the random email addresses will also be made easy for when users want to stop receiving emails from apps, or if spammers get a hold of it.
The new system will have to be implemented into all apps that have third-party login options. Beta testing is expected to start later this year.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that while Apple’s new login system is a step in the right direction, many privacy enthusiasts will still advise against using third-party services to log in.
Tinder will have to share user data with Russian authorities
Russia’s telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has added Tinder to the Register of Information Dissemination Organizations, which essentially forces the dating app to share its user data with the government. Tinder is by far not the first app to be added to the database, and it had contained 175 companies prior to this announcement.
According to the law, any company in the list has to provide local users’ data if it is requested by Russian law enforcement or intelligence agencies. What’s more, the data of all 50 million Tinder users, non-Russia citizens included, is subject to the requests. If they refuse, they risk getting banned in Russia. Russia has already blocked apps that refused to give up their user data, private messaging service Telegram and social networking site LinkedIn among them.
The government claims that accessing users’ private information and messages could help prevent cyber and terror attacks, but critics are not convinced. Because of the nature of the dating app, Tinder holds very private information about users, and if it were to be handed to intelligent agencies, it may be used for extortion and blackmail.
GandCrab ransomware to close shop after allegedly making $2 billion
The authors of GandCrab have announced that they are stopping their Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) operations after allegedly generating more than $2 billion. The ransomware has been active since January 2018, and had been offered as RaaS. In the short time it was active, it managed to become one of the most notorious ransomware in the business.
Cyber criminals who wanted in on the easy profits were able to sign up for the GandCrab RaaS, and in exchange for money, had access to the ransomware and could distribute it. When a victim chooses to pay the ransom to recover files, the original GandCrab developer would get some share of the payment, while the rest would go to the person who infected the victim.
On June 1, the GandCrab RaaS operator announced on a hacking forum that they are stopping operations and shutting GandCrab down within the month. According to the post, GandCrab has generated more than $2 billion in profit since its release, with people generating as a much as $2,500,000 a week. The original developers claim to have personally made more then $150 million per year. There is no way to confirm whether the claims are true, but it does seem unlikely that they actually earned as much as they claim.
The original operators are supposedly “leaving for a well-deserved retirement”, and have already cached out their $150 million. They warn that if victims want to buy the decryption tool, now is the time as keys will be deleted.
Instead of deleting the keys, some are expecting the operators to release them for free, which has happened in the past with other ransomware. Additionally, cyber-security firm Bitdefender has released numerous free GandCrab decryption tools in the past, allowing victims to recover files free of charge.
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