This Week In Security - 06/29/2020
Twitter Apologises for Data Breach
Business users on the social media platform, Twitter, have been warned of “a data security incident” that may have compromised their personal information.
While personal account holders were not affected by the breach, businesses making use of Twitter’s advertising and analytics platforms could have been put at risk. According to Twitter’s message, “if you viewed your billing information on ads.twitter or analytics.twitter the billing information may have been stored in the browser’s cache”.
The data affected could include personally identifiable information, including “email address, phone number, last four digits of your credit card number”.
The social media platform discovered the breach at the end of May and patched the vulnerability immediately “but felt it necessary to alert and apologize to business users”.
It’s not clear how many accounts were affected nor whether it was due to a cyber-attack or just “bad programming”.
Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate at Comparitech, said the breach was “relatively minor in both scope and severity”, but advised users to “be on the lookout for targeting phishing emails”.
Other security experts condemned Twitter for storing “personal and financial information in the browser”, saying this “is a long known bad practice that should never have occurred”.
UK Dumps £11 Million Track-and-Trace App
The UK government is abandoning its beleaguered NHSX coronavirus tracking app in favor of the Apple and Google alternative.
After three months’ of work and the investment of some £11.8 million (over $13m), UK health minister, Matt Hancock, announced that it would be ditching the NHSX app and instead of creating a “hybrid”.
The hybrid app will, according to Hancock, “bring the best bits of both systems together”. Apple denied any knowledge of such a collaborative effort, however, saying, “We don’t know what they mean by this hybrid model. They haven’t spoken to us about it”.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said “NHSX has been working with Google and Apple extensively … to improve the distance measurement technology”.
On Sunday, Hancock blamed Apple for the failure of the NHSX app, saying, “our app won’t work because Apple won’t change their system”. He accused Apple of being “intransigent in the face of perfectly reasonable requests from democratically elected governments”.
Hancock said he remained “highly confident” that the track-and-trace app would “eventually be rolled out” but refused to say when: “Given my experience over the last three or four months … I’m not going to put a date on it”.
Israeli Troops Honored for Covert Cyber Attack
Members of the Israel Defense Forces’ 8200 Intelligence Unit were awarded certificates of appreciation for their part in “a unique and impressive operational achievement”.
The awards were given to acknowledge “the unique capabilities, collaboration and achievements” exhibited in their actions, although failed to specify exactly which operation it was referring to.
It’s widely believed that Israel was behind a major cyberattack against Iran’s Shahid Rajaee Port last month. Designed to disrupt shipping operations, the attack was believed to be conducted in retaliation for a “synchronized and organized attack” that threatened to bring Israel’s water distribution system to its knees back in April.
While the Israeli troops were praised for demonstrating “creativity and a strong desire to succeed”, others fear both Israel and Iran have crossed “an established line in the unspoken global cyberwar regulations”.
According to some, what started out as “cyber mischief” could escalate into full-blown cyberwar, especially given the lack of international treaties governing such conflicts.
Iran is one of the most active nations when it comes to “maintaining state-backed advanced persistent threat (APT) groups that engage in cyberwar activities”, while Israel’s Unit 8200 is one of the world’s “most formidable” high-tech spy agencies and “the nation’s equivalent of Harvard”.
China Denies Cyber Attacks On Australia
China dismissed allegations that it was responsible for the flurry of recent cyberattacks targeting government services and other critical infrastructure.
Since Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced that “Australian organizations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor”, China has been the number-one suspect.
According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the sustained attacks are “95 percent or more” likely to have originated in China due to their “scale and intensity”.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Lijian, rejected the claims, calling them “totally baseless nonsense”. Morrison, on the other hand, pointed out that “there aren’t too many state-based actors who have those capabilities”.
While some, like Labor frontbencher, Amanda Rishworth, feel “singling out an individual actor doesn’t actually achieve anything”, others feel “there may be greater scope for naming and shaming state-backed actors including China during COVID-19, precisely because the development of medical research, vaccines, and associated intellectual property are things that are almost universally considered off-limits for geopolitical rivalry”.
The Australian government is expected to announce its long-awaited new cybersecurity strategy in the coming months and has turned to former US secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, to help create a robust policy.