More than 2 million users of anti-malware tool CCleaner installed a version of the software that had been hacked to include malware. Piriform, the developer of CCleaner now owned by security firm Avast, says its download servers were compromised at some point between 15th August, when it released version v5.33.6162 of the software, and the 12th of September, when it updated the servers with a new version.
In that period, a Trojan was loaded into the download package which sent ‘non-sensitive data’ from infected users’ computers back to a server located in America. The data, according to Piriform, included ‘computer name’, IP address, list of installed software, list of active software, list of network adapters.
As well as the data leak, however, the infection also resulted in a ‘second stage payload’ being installed on to the infected computer – another piece of malware, which Piriform says was never executed.
The company says 2.27m users were infected, but added that ‘we believe that these users are safe now as our investigation indicates we were able to disarm the threat before it was able to do any harm.’
Compromising downloads to trusted software is an increasingly common route by which malware authors infect devices. The method is known as a ‘supply chain’ attack. It works because the attackers are relying on the trust relationship between a manufacturer or supplier and a customer.
www.theguardian.com/uk/technology (19th September)
Microsoft has confirmed that some users of Outlook are unable to send emails or access their accounts.
Hundreds of users from around Europe have commented on the website Downdetector that they have been affected by the problem.
A common issue seems to be that emails remain in the draft folder and are not being delivered to recipients.
‘Intermittent connectivity is affecting customers in some European countries, which we are working to resolve as soon as possible,’ said a Microsoft representative. They are monitoring the environment while connectivity recovers.
www.bbc.technews (19th September)
A Russian-funded campaign to promote divisive social and political messages on its network has been discovered by Facebook. Approximately, £77,000 has been spent on over 3000 ads over a two year period.
The adverts did not back any political figures specifically, but instead posted on topics such as immigration, race and equal rights. Facebook has said it is co-operating with a US investigation into the matter. The advertisements were in breach of Facebook’s terms and conditions and spread false information to around 470 accounts
“The ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum,” the company said in a blog post published on Wednesday.
The company said it believed, but could not independently confirm, that the accounts were created by the so-called Internet Research Agency, a St Petersburg-based group known for posting pro-Kremlin messages on social media.
The accounts in question have now been shut down.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (7th September 17)
Research from Google suggests that cyber thieves have made in the region of £19m over the past two years.
‘It has become a very, very profitable market and is here to stay,’ said Elie Bursztein from Google who, along with colleagues Kylie McRoberts and Luca Invernizzi carried out the research.
Ransomware is a malicious software that infects a machine and then encrypts or scrambles files so they no longer can be used or read. The files are only decrypted when a ransom is paid.
The data gathered showed that there were 34 variants of ransomware, the most popular being Locky and Cerber.
Mr Bursztein said that the gangs behind the ransomware explosion were not likely to stop soon, even though there is competition from newer variants such as SamSam and SPora.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (27the July 2017)
Google has been fined 2.42bn euros (£2.1bn) by the European Commission after it ruled the company had abused its power by promoting its own shopping comparison service at the top of search results. The ruling also orders Google to end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face a further penalty of payments of 5% of its parent company Alphabet’s average daily worldwide earnings. Based on the company’s most recent financial report, this amounts to about $14m a day.
The European Union’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said ‘Google has denied other companies the chance to compete on their merits and to innovate, and most importantly it has denied European consumers the benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.’
A spokesperson for Google said, ‘We respectfully disagree with the conclusions. We will review the Commissioner’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case.’
Google shopping displays relevant products’ images and prices alongside the names of shops they are available from and review scores, if available.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (27th June 2017)
Apple Mac users are being warned about new variants of malware that have been created specifically to target Apple computers. One is ransomware that encrypts data and demands payment before files are released. The other is spyware that watches what users do and scoops up valuable information. Experts have said that the threat is real due to the creators letting anyone use the two programs for free.
The two programs were uncovered by the security firms Fotinet and AlienVault which found a portal on the Tor ‘dark web’ network that acted as a shopfront for both. The creators behind the malware are thought to have extensive experience of creating working code.
Those wishing to use either of the programs had been urged to get in touch and provide details of how they wanted the malware to be set up. The malware’s creators had said that payments made by ransomware victims would be split between themselves and their customers.
Researchers at Fortinet contacted the ransomware writers pretending they were interested in using the product and, soon afterwards, were sent a sample of the malware. Analysis revealed that it used much less sophisticated encryption than the many variants seen targeting Windows machines, said the firm. They also said that any files scrambled with the ransomware would be completely lost because it did a very poor job of handling the decryption keys needed to restore data.
Aamir Lakhani from Fortinet said Mac users should make sure their machines were kept up to date with the latest software patches and be wary of messages they receive via email.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (13th June 2017)