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Cyber Security

US Government Website Hacked with Pro-Iran Messages and Bloodied Trump’s Image

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Hackers are at it again, this time supposedly from Iran which hacked a US government website and posted a picture of bloodied Donald Trump being punched along with pro-Iran messages.

On Saturday, US Federal Depository Library Program homepage got changed, as has been reported by CBS news. There was a message that said that it was hacked by Iran Cuber Security Group Hackers and this was only a small part of Iran’s cyber ability as they are always ready. The website became inaccessible as soon as the image of Trump was displayed and was down till early Sunday morning.

Sara Sendek who is the spokesperson for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under the Department of Homeland Security said that the source of the hack is yet to be confirmed. She also said that the website was taken off.

In CNN reports, Gary Somerset who is the Chief Public Relations Officer for the US Government Publishing Office who also runs this Federal Depository Library Programmes also confirmed that the website was taken off.

According to the Associated Press article, this hack came in after Iran had promised severe revenge for the killing of Soleimani who was blamed for the attacks on US troops and American allies. Trump also tweeted in response that if there is a retaliation towards the USA then there will be an attack on 52 civilian targets in Iran.

Oh the other hand, there was a bulletin from the National Terrorism Advisory System posted on Twitter by the Acting Secretary Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, warning Americans of a threat from Iran that may come with little or no warning. The bulletin also specifies that there could be a cyber attack against the USA as Iran maintains a robust cyber programme.

So far there have been no further comments from the Department of Homeland Security, Government Publishing Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Americas

Microsoft takes control American, Japanese, South Korean Domains after attack from North Korean Hackers

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On Monday, a North Korean Hacker group called Thallium hacked into web domains with the target of launching a cyberattack on human rights activism. The targetted activists, researchers, government employees, think tanks, university staff etc., leading Microsoft to take control of the hacked domains. Most of the above-mentioned targets were based in the United States of America, Japan and South Korea.

According to Microsoft’s statement, the US federal court allowed the company to take control of over 50 domains that fell into the attack by Thallium. It was further found out that Thallium used the hacking technique known as “spear phishing,” where they used credible-looking emails that can fool you to believe that they are legitimate.

They illegally used Microsoft brands and trademarks to make the mails look credible. As soon as they got the target victim’s credentials, they can hack into anything and access their emails, phone calls, contacts, calendar appointments, forward new mails and utilise any other relevant data.

According to Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice-president for customer security and trust, this network was used to target and compromise victim’s security and online accounts while infecting their computers to steal sensitive information by using Malware.

The company said this was the fourth nation-state group against whom Microsoft took legal action. Before that, there were similar operations done by nation-state groups from China, Russia and Iran that were dubbed as Barium, Strontium and Phosphorus.

Cybercrimes are a constant problem with smaller-scale crimes and attacks happening in different places. By hacking into one car, one can hack all vehicles in the city. Building and trading cyberweapons like malware are commonly making it easy to access if you know where to find.

There are several countermeasures being taken by governments and companies but some might lack basic stuff. Yet, there is a hack every 39 seconds making cybercrime more profitable than the illegal drug trade. Traditional firewall and antivirus are of no use as the hackers grow so do technology need to grow.

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Applications

FaceApp: Everything you need to know about the viral app

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Faceapp is an image editing mobile application for iOS and Android developed by Wireless Lab, a Russian company which uses AI and neural network technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs. The app can transform a face to make it smile, look younger, look older, or change gender as desired by the user. FaceApp was launched on iOS in January 2017 and on Android in February 2017 and has recently gained wide attention of people and is one of the viral applications.

This week, FaceApp made headlines as popular celebrities, including the Jonas Brothers, Drake, and Dwayne Wade appeared to use the app to show what they might look like when they get much older and posted their photos on social media. Many people rushed to download the app and see their own selfies turn gray and surprisingly FaceApp is currently the top free app in Apple’s App Store.

FaceApp Pro

FaceApp has faced criticism in both the press and on social media over the privacy of user data. In response to these questions, the company’s founder, Yaroslav Goncharov, stated that their user data and their uploaded images were not being transferred to Russia but instead were processed on servers running in the Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services. The US senator Chuck Schumer expressed that there are serious concerns regarding both the protection of the user data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to their data and calls for an FBI investigation into the app.

What remains concerning for the users, however, is the language in the app’s terms of service. In one densely-worded section in the , the company informs users that they are granting FaceApp with a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display the user content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with the user content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation or knowledge of the user

This makes it very hard for the users to understand the conditions and this makes them provide the grants access to certain rights to the app. There are also concerns regarding the data that you modify on the app, basically the photos, that FaceApp not only uploads the photo on which you are applying age filter into its servers but also all other photos from your phone without taking the user permission. However, this is just a rumor because security researchers have not found any evidence of it.

FaceApp once again faced criticism when it featured “ethnicity filters” depicting different filters named “White”, “Black”, “Asian”, and “Indian”. Yaroslav Goncharov immediately removed these filters from the app to stop the criticism.

Wrapping up, I would like to suggest all the users try these new technologies and apps for their personal entertainment, but along with these things people should also take their privacy and their data. Risking data by granting unreasonable permissions can be risky even if the application is trustworthy and reliable.
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