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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Your New Car Is a Privacy Nightmare

Last week, WIRED published a deep-dive investigation into Trickbot, the prolific Russian ransomware gang. This week, US and UK authorities sanctioned 11 alleged members of Trickbot and its related group, Conti, including Maksim Galochkin, aka Bentley, one of the alleged members whose real-world identity we confirmed through our investigation. Coincidence? Maybe. Either way, it's a big deal.

In addition to the US and UK sanctions, the US Justice Department also unsealed indictments filed in three US federal courts against Galochkin and eight other alleged Trickbot members for ransomware attacks against entities in Ohio, Tennessee, and California. Because everyone charged is a Russian national, however, it is unlikely they will ever be arrested or face trial.

While Russian cybercriminals typically enjoy immunity, the same may not remain true for the country’s military hackers. The lead prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) says the ICC will begin pursuing charges for cyber war crimes. The prosecutor, Karim Khan, did not name Russia, but the move follows a formal petition from the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley’s School of Law asking the ICC to prosecute Russia’s Sandworm hackers for war crimes. Part of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, Sandworm is responsible for causing blackouts in Ukraine, the only known instances of cyberattacks shutting down an electrical grid. Sandworm also released the NotPetya malware against Ukraine, which ultimately spread globally and caused an unprecedented $10 billion in damages worldwide.

Russia is far from the only country that engages in offensive cyberwar tactics. China-backed hackers have repeatedly targeted the US and other countries, and they may be getting some help finding unpatched vulnerabilities. A Chinese law passed in 2022 demands that any network technology company operating in the country share details about vulnerabilities in its products with the Chinese government within two days of their discovery. Information about these vulnerabilities may then be shared with China’s hackers. It’s unclear how many Western companies comply with the law or provide enough information to allow Chinese hackers to exploit the products’ flaws.

Speaking of Chinese hackers, Microsoft this week finally explained how China’s state-sponsored hackers managed to steal a cryptographic key that allowed the attackers to successfully access the Outlook email accounts of at least 25 organizations, including US government agencies. According to Microsoft, the hackers broke into the account of a company engineer using token-stealing malware. They then used that account to access a cache of crash data that accidentally contained the signing key they then stole and used to go on an Outlook hacking spree. None of this was supposed to be possible, and Microsoft says it has corrected several flaws in its systems that allowed the attack to happen.

Before he died in a mysterious plane crash last month following an attempted coup against Russian president Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin wasn’t just the leader of the Wagner Group mercenaries. He was also the head of the notorious Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian outfit responsible for widespread disinformation campaigns. While the IRA was reportedly shut down, new research shows that pro-Prigozhin trolls continue to push his agenda. Many of the accounts spreading disinformation on X (formerly Twitter) have been banned. But since when has that stopped them?

Elsewhere, we explained how prompt injection attacks against generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT take advantage of a flaw that’s difficult to fix. We detailed how hard it is to opt out of allowing Facebook to use your data to train its AI. We have a rundown on Proton Sentinel, a suite of tools that are similar to Google’s offerings but with a strong emphasis on privacy and security. We also co-published a story with The Markup into Axon’s quest to build Taser-armed drones. And we got the inside scoop on a meeting between top US spies and civil liberties groups over Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

But that’s not all. Each week, we round up the security and privacy news we didn’t cover in depth ourselves. Click the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

Your New Car Is a Privacy Nightmare

Car companies are collecting and selling extremely detailed personal data from drivers who have no real way to opt out, a new report from the Mozilla Foundation found. Researchers spent hundreds of hours studying 25 privacy policies for major car brands and found that none of them met the foundation’s minimum standards around privacy and security.

According to the report, modern cars, stuffed to the roof with sensors, collect more information about you than just about any other product in your life. They know where you go, what you say, and how you move your body. Nissan’s privacy policy, for example, allows the company to collect and share drivers’ sexual activity, health diagnosis data, and genetic information, according to the report.

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Eighty-four percent of the brands that researchers studied share or sell this kind of personal data, and only two of them allow drivers to have their data deleted. While it is unclear exactly who these companies share or sell data to, the report points out that there is a huge market for driver data. An automotive data broker called High Mobility cited in the report has a partnership with nine of the car brands Mozilla studied. On its website, it advertises a wide range of data products—including precise location data.

This isn’t just a privacy nightmare but a security one. Volkswagen, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz have all recently suffered data leaks or breaches that affected millions of customers. According to Mozilla, cars are the worst category of products for privacy that they have ever reviewed.

Update Your iPhone: Apple Fixes No-Click Zero-Days

Apple has just released a security update to iOS after researchers at Citizen Lab discovered a zero-click vulnerability being used to deliver Pegasus spyware. Citizen Lab, which is part of the University of Toronto, is calling the newly discovered exploit chain Blastpass. Researchers say it is capable of compromising iPhones running the latest version of iOS (16.6) without the target even touching their device. According to researchers, Blastpass is delivered to a victim’s phone through an iMessage with an Apple Wallet attachment containing a malicious image.

The Pegasus spyware, developed by NSO Group, enables an attacker to read a target’s text messages, view their photos, and listen to calls. It has been used to track journalists, political dissidents, and human rights activists around the world.

Apple says customers should update their phones to the newly released iOS 16.6.1. The exploit can also attack certain models of iPads. You can see details of the affected models here. Citizen Lab urges at-risk users to enable Lockdown Mode.

North Korean Hackers Target Security Researchers Again

North Korea-backed hackers are targeting cybersecurity researchers in a new campaign that is exploiting at least one zero-day vulnerability, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) warned in a report released Thursday. The group did not provide details about the vulnerability since it is currently unpatched. However, the company says it is part of a popular software package used by security researchers.

According to TAG, the current attack mirrors a January 2021 campaign that similarly targeted security researchers working on vulnerability research and development. Like the previous campaign, North Korean threat actors send researchers malicious files after first spending weeks establishing a relationship with their target. According to the report, the malicious file will execute “a series of anti-virtual machine checks” and send collected information—along with a screenshot—back to the attacker.

Georgia DA in Trump RICO Case Gets Doxxed

In order to shield prospective jurors from harassment, District Attorney Fani Willis asked the judge in Donald Trump’s racketeering trial to prevent people from capturing or distributing any sort of image or identifying information about them. The motion, filed in Fulton County Superior Court on Wednesday, revealed that immediately after the indictment was filed, anonymous individuals on “conspiracy theory websites" had shared the full names, ages, and addresses of 23 grand jurors with “the intent to harass and intimidate them.”

Willis also revealed that she had been the victim of doxxing when the personal information of her and her family—including their physical addresses and “GPS coordinates”—was posted on an unnamed website hosted by a Russian company. Willis, who is Black, had previously disclosed that she faced racist and violent threats after the announcement of her investigation into the former president.

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