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June 16, 2019
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Myneral.me wins the TechCrunch Hackathon at VivaTech

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It’s been a long night at VivaTech. The building hosted a very special competition — the TechCrunch Hackathon in Paris.

Hundreds of engineers and designers got together to come up with something cool, something neat, something awesome. The only condition was that they only had 36 hours to work on their projects. Some of them were participating in our event for the first time, while others were regulars. Some of them slept on the floor in a corner, while others drank too much Red Bull.

We could all feel the excitement in the air when the 64 teams took the stage to present a one-minute demo to impress fellow coders and our judges. But only one team could take home the grand prize and €5,000. So, without further ado, meet the TechCrunch Hackathon winner.

Winner: Myneral.me

Current mining operations lack transparency and clarity in the way they are monitored. In order to understand how a material went from initial discovery in the mine to end product, a new tool is necessary to monitor operations. Myneral.me offers an all-encompassing platform for the metal and mining sector that showcases CSR to both industry partners and end users. Find out more on Myneral.me.

Runner-Up #1: Vyta

Vyta takes patient information and helps doctors understand which patient needs to be treated first. A simple tool like this could make things smoother for everyone at the emergency room and improve treatments.

Runner-Up #2: Scrub

SCRUB = SCRUM + BUGS. Easily track your errors across applications and fix them using our algorithmic suggestions and code samples. Our open-source bug tracker automagically collects all errors for you. Find out more on GitHub.

Runner-Up #3: Chiche

Finding the future upcoming brand depends on the set of data you are using to detect it. First, they do a simple quantification of the most famous brands on social medias to identify three newcomers. Second, they use Galerie Lafayette’s website as a personal shopping tool to propose customers the most adequate product within the three newcomers.


Judges

Dr. Aurélie Jean has been working for more than 10 years as a research scientist and an entrepreneur in computational sciences, applied to engineering, medicine, education, economy, finance and journalism. In the past, Aurélie worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Bloomberg. Today, Aurélie works and lives between USA and France to run In Silico Veritas, a consulting agency in analytics and computer simulations. Aurélie is an advisor at the Boston Consulting Group and an external collaborator for The Ministry of Education of France. Aurélie is also a science editorial contributor for Le Point, teaches algorithms in universities and conducts research.

Julien Meraud has a solid track record in e-commerce after serving international companies for several years, including eBay, PriceMinister and Rakuten. Before joining Doctolib, Julien was CMO of Rakuten Spain, where he improved brand online acquisition, retention, promotions and campaigns. Julien joined Doctolib at the very beginning (2014), becoming the company’s first CMO and quickly holding CPO functions additionally. At Doctolib, Julien also leads Strategy teams that are responsible for identifying and sizing Doctolib’s potential new markets. Julien has a Master’s degree in Marketing, Statistics and Economics from ENSAI and a specialized Master in Marketing Management from ESSEC Business School.

Laurent Perrin is the co-founder and CTO of Front, which is reinventing email for teams. Front serves more than 5,000 companies and has raised $79 million in venture funding from investors such as Sequoia Capital, DFJ and Uncork Capital. Prior to Front, Laurent was a senior engineer at various startups and helped design scalable real-time systems. He holds a Master’s in Computer Science from École Polytechnique and Télécom ParisTech.

Neesha Tambe is the head of Startup Battlefield, TechCrunch’s global startup launch competition. In this role she sources, recruits and vets thousands of early-stage startups per year while training and coaching top-tier startups to launch in the infamous Startup Battlefield competition. Additionally, she pioneered the concept and launched CrunchMatch, the networking program at TechCrunch events that has facilitated thousands of connections between founders, investors and the startup community at-large. Prior to her work with TechCrunch, Neesha ran the Sustainable Brands’ Innovation Open — a startup competition for shared value and sustainability-focused startups with judges from Fortune 50 companies.

Renaud Visage is the technical co-founder of San Francisco-based Eventbrite (NYSE: EB), the globally leading event technology platform that went public in September 2018. Renaud is also an angel investor, guiding founders that are solving challenging technical problems in realizing their global ambitions, and he works closely with seed VC firm Point Nine Capital as a board partner, representing the fund on the board of several of their portfolio companies. Renaud also serves on the board of ShareIT, the Paris-based tech for good acceleration program launched in collaboration with Ashoka, and is an advisor to the French impact investing fund, Ring for Good. In 2014, Renaud was included in Wired UK’s Top 100 digital influencers in Europe.

In addition to our judges, here’s the hackmaster who was the MC for the event:

Romain Dillet is a senior writer at TechCrunch. Originally from France, Romain attended EMLYON Business School, a leading French business school specialized in entrepreneurship. He covers many things, from mobile apps with great design to privacy, security, fintech, Apple, AI and complex tech achievements. He also speaks at major tech conferences. He likes pop culture more than anything in the world. He now lives in Paris when he’s not on the road. He used to live in New York and loved it.

Europol, DOJ announce the takedown of the GozNym banking malware

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Europol and the U.S. Justice Department, with help from six other countries, have disrupted and dismantled the GozNym malware, which they say stole more than $100 million from bank accounts since it first emerged.

In a press conference in The Hague, prosecutors said 10 defendants in five countries are accused of using the malware to steal money from more than 41,000 victims, mostly businesses and financial institutions.

Five defendants were arrested in Moldova, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Russia. The leader of the criminal network and his technical assistant are being prosecuted in Georgia.

The remaining five defendants, all Russian nationals, remain on the run and are wanted by the FBI, said prosecutors.

All were charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. An eleventh member of the conspiracy, Krasimir Nikolov, was previously charged and extradited to the U.S. in 2016 and pleaded guilty in April in his role in the GozNym malware network.

The names, roles and locations of the indicted suspects. (Image: Justice Department/supplied)

The takedown was described as an “unprecedented international effort” by Scott Brady, U.S. attorney for Western Philadelphia — where a grand jury indicted the defendants — at the press conference announcing the charges.

GozNym is a powerful banking malware that spread across the U.S., Canada, Germany and Poland. The malware was developed from two existing malware families, both of which had their source code leaked years earlier: Nymaim, a two-stage malware dropper that infects computers through exploit kits from malicious links or emails; and Gozi, a web injection module used to hook into the web browser, allowing the attacker to steal login credentials and passwords.

The banking malware hit dozens of banks and credit unions since it first emerged in 2016.

Described as malware “as a service,” the leader of the network allegedly obtained the code for the two malware families and built GozNym, then recruited accomplices and advertised the new malware on Russian speaking forums. The malware used encryption and other obfuscation techniques to avoid detection by antivirus tools. Then, spammers are said to have sent hundreds of thousands of phishing emails to infect staff at businesses and banks. After the malware infected its victim computers, the malware would steal the passwords control of bank accounts, which the criminals would later log in and cash out.

Prosecutors said the malware network was hosted and operated through a bulletproof service, a domain and web hosting known for lax attitudes towards cybercrime and favored by criminals. Europol said the 2016 takedown of Avalanche, an infrastructure platform used by hundreds of criminals to host and run their malware campaigns.

Although the victims were not named, the Justice Department said at least 11 U.S. businesses — including a church, two law firms, and a casino — fell victim to the GozNym criminals.

Read more:
The hacker group behind the Triton malware strikes again
A new cryptocurrency mining malware uses leaked NSA exploits to spread across enterprise networks
Researchers find a new malware-friendly hosting site after a spike in attacks
Shellbot malware evolves to spread and shuts down other cryptominers
TrickBot malware attacks are ramping up ahead of Tax Day
New malware pulls its instructions from code hidden in memes posted to Twitter

Two years after WannaCry, a million computers remain at risk

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Two years ago today, a powerful ransomware began spreading across the world.

WannaCry spread like wildfire, encrypting hundreds of thousands of computers in over 150 countries in a matter of hours. It was the first time that ransomware, a malware that encrypts a user’s files and demands cryptocurrency in ransom to unlock them, had spread across the world in what looked like a coordinated cyberattack.

Hospitals across the U.K. declared a “major incident” after they were knocked offline by the malware. Government systems, railway networks and private companies were also hit.

Security researchers quickly realized the malware was spreading like a computer worm, across computers and over the network, using the Windows SMB protocol. Suspicion soon fell on a batch of highly classified hacking tools developed by the National Security Agency, which weeks earlier had been been stolen and published online for anyone to use.

“It’s real,” said Kevin Beaumont, a U.K.-based security researcher at the time. “The shit is going to hit the fan big style.”

WannaCry relied on stolen NSA-developed exploits, DoublePulsar and EternalBlue, to hack into Windows PCs and spread through the network. (Image: file photo)

An unknown hacker group — later believed to be working for North Korea — had taken those published NSA cyberweapons and launched their attack — likely not realizing how far the spread would go. The hackers used the NSA’s backdoor, DoublePulsar, to create a persistent backdoor that was used to deliver the WannaCry ransomware. Using the EternalBlue exploit, the ransomware spread to every other unpatched computer on the network.

A single vulnerable and internet-exposed system was enough to wreak havoc.

Microsoft, already aware of the theft of hacking tools targeting its operating systems, had released patches. But consumers and companies alike moved slowly to patch their systems.

In just a few hours, the ransomware had caused billions of dollars in damages. Bitcoin wallets associated with the ransomware were filling up by victims to get their files back — more often than not in vain

Marcus Hutchins, a malware reverse engineer and security researcher, was on vacation when the attack hit. “I picked a hell of a fucking week to take off work,” he tweeted. Cutting his vacation short, he got to work. Using data from his malware tracking system had found what became WannaCry’s kill switch — a domain name embedded in the code, which he registered and immediately saw the number of infections grind to a halt. Hutchins, who pleaded guilty to unrelated computer crimes last month, was hailed a hero for stemming the spread of the attack. Many have called for leniency if not a full presidential pardon for his efforts.

Trust in the intelligence services collapsed overnight. Lawmakers demanded to know how the NSA planned to mop up the hurricane of damage it had caused. It also kicked off a heated debate about how the government hoards vulnerabilities to use as offensive weapons to conduct surveillance or espionage — or when it should disclose bugs to vendors in order to get them fixed.

A month later, the world braced itself for a second round of cyberattacks in what felt like what would soon become the norm.

NotPetya, another ransomware which researchers also found a kill switch for, used the same DoublePulsar and EternalBlue exploits to ravish shipping giants, supermarkets and advertising agencies, which were left reeling from the attacks.

Two years on, the threat posed by the leaked NSA tools remains a concern.

As many as 1.7 million internet-connected endpoints are still vulnerable to the exploits, according to the latest data. Data generated by Shodan, a search engine for exposed databases and devices, puts the figure at the million mark — with most of the vulnerable devices in the U.S. But that only accounts for devices directly connected to the internet and not the potentially millions more devices connected to those infected servers. The number of vulnerable devices is likely significantly higher.

More than 400,000 exposed systems in the U.S. alone can be exploited using NSA’s stolen hacking tools. (Image: Shodan)

WannaCry continues to spread and occasionally still infects its targets. Beaumont said in a tweet Sunday that the ransomware remains largely neutered, unable to unpack and begin encrypting data, for reasons that remain a mystery.

But the exposed NSA tools, which remain at large and able to infect vulnerable computers, continue to be used to deliver all sorts of malware — and new victims continue to appear.

Just weeks before city of Atlanta was hit by ransomware, cybersecurity expert Jake Williams found its networks had been infected by the NSA tools. More recently, the NSA tools have been repurposed to infect networks with cryptocurrency mining code to generate money from the vast pools of processing power. Others have used the exploits to covertly ensnare thousands of computers to harness their bandwidth to launch distributed denial-of-service attacks by pummeling other systems with massive amounts of internet traffic.

WannaCry caused panic. Systems were down, data was lost, and money had to be spent. It was a wakeup call that society needed to do better at basic cybersecurity.

But with a million-plus unpatched devices still at risk, there remains ample opportunity for further abuse. What we may not have forgotten two years on, clearly more can be done to learn from the failings of the past.

Read more:

‘Unhackable’ encrypted flash drive eyeDisk is, as it happens, hackable

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In security, nothing is “unhackable.” When it’s claimed, security researchers see nothing more than a challenge.

Enter the latest findings from Pen Test Partners, a U.K.-based cybersecurity firm. Their latest project was ripping apart the “unhackable” eyeDisk, an allegedly secure USB flash drive that uses iris recognition to unlock and decrypt the device.

In its Kickstarter campaign last year, eyeDisk raised more than $21,000; it began shipping devices in March.

There’s just one problem: it’s anything but “unhackable.”

Pen Test Partners researcher David Lodge found the device’s backup password — to access data in the event of device failure or a sudden eye-gouging accident — could be easily obtained using a software tool able to sniff USB device traffic.

The secret password — “SecretPass” — can be seen in plaintext (Image: Pen Test Partners)

“That string in red, that’s the password I set on the device. In the clear. Across an easy to sniff bus,” he said in a blog post detailing his findings.

Worse, he said, the device’s real password can be picked up even when the wrong password has been entered. Lodge explained this as the device revealing its password first, then validating it against whatever password the user submitted before the unlock password is sent.

Lodge said anyone using one of these devices should use additional encryption on the device.

The researcher disclosed the flaw to eyeDisk, which promised a fix, but has yet to release it; eyeDisk did not return a request for comment.

Hacker dumps thousands of sensitive Mexican embassy documents online

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A hacker stole thousands of documents from Mexico’s embassy in Guatemala and posted them online.

The hacker, who goes by the online handle @0x55Taylor, tweeted a link to the data earlier this week. The data is no longer available for download after the cloud host pulled the data offline, but the hacker shared the document dump with TechCrunch to verify its contents.

The hacker told TechCrunch in a message: “A vulnerable server in Guatemala related to the Mexican embassy was compromised and I downloaded all the documents and databases.” He said he contacted Mexican officials but he was ignored.

In previous correspondence with the hacker, he said he tries to report problems and has received bounty payouts for his discoveries. “But when I don’t get a reply, then it’s going public,” he said.

More than 4,800 documents were stolen, most of which related to the inner workings of the Mexican embassy in the Guatemalan capital, including its consular activities, such as recognizing births and deaths, dealing with Mexican citizens who have been incarcerated or jailed and the issuing of travel documents.

More than a thousand passports — including identification issued to diplomats — were stolen. (Image: supplied)

We found more than a thousand highly sensitive identity documents of primarily Mexican citizens and diplomats — including scans of passports, visas, birth certificates and more — but also some Guatemalan citizens.

Several documents contained scans of the front and back of payment cards.

One of the diplomatic visas issued to a Mexican diplomat stolen in the files. (Image: supplied)

The stolen data also included dozens of letters granting diplomatic rights, privileges and immunities to embassy staff. Diplomatic rights grant employees of the foreign embassy certain protections from their host country’s government and law enforcement. Diplomatic immunity, for example, allows staff to be granted safe passage in and out of the country and are generally safe from prosecution. Other documents seen by TechCrunch were signed off personally by Mexico’s ambassador to Guatemala, Luis Manuel López Moreno, and were instructed to be transported by diplomatic bag, which foreign missions use to transport official correspondence between countries that cannot be searched by police or customs.

Many of the files were marked “confidential,” though it’s not known if the hacked data included anything considered by the Mexican government to be classified or secret. Other files were internal administrative documents relating to staff medical expenses, vacation and time off and vehicle certifications.

When reached Friday, Gerardo Izzo, a spokesperson for the consul general in New York, said it is taking the matter “very seriously” but did not immediately have comment.

Friday is a national holiday in Mexico.

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