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Cybersecurity News Bytes for the Week Ending 30 March 2018

Dutch Report Cites Increase in Cyber Espionage

AIVD, the main Dutch intelligence agency, released its annual report on 6 March. According to the report, attempts at digital espionage and online political manipulation in Europe are on the rise both in number and in complexity. Focusing on Russia as the major perpetrator, the report also discusses Chinese cyber espionage. The main cyber targets of both countries included multinational companies, research institutes, and the energy, chemicals, and financials sectors. Source: Fifth Domain

Arab Countries Slammed by Cyber Attacks

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, and Algeria rank among the most-attacked Arab countries according to recent data from Kaspersky as reported by Forbes magazine. Saudi Arabia was the highest, ranking 17th globally in cyber threat alerts. Government entities were most often targeted in Saudi Arabia followed by energy and telecommunications organizations. The UAE foiled over 615 attacks in the first 10 months of 2017, but Symantec reports that the UAE rose from 10th to 9th place in the company’s regional rankings this year. Forbes Middle East, 28 March 2018

U.S. Indicts Iranian Hackers

On 23 March 2018, the Department of Justice unsealed a federal indictment charging nine named Iranians with conducting massive cyber intrusions against the U.S. Government, universities in the U.S. and other countries, and many companies. In announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said: “These nine Iranian nationals allegedly stole more than 31 terabytes of documents and data from more than 140 American universities, 30 American companies, five American government agencies, and also more than 176 universities in 21 foreign countries. For many of these intrusions, the defendants acted at the behest of the Iranian government and, specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.” Those charged all worked at the Mabna Institute, an organization founded by two of the defendants in 2013 to provide non-Iranian scientific information to Iranian universities and research institutes. U.S. Department of Justice press release

DHS Offers Help to Prevent Election Hacking

The Department of Homeland Security told a congressional committee on 21 March that it offered help to all 50 states to ensure the cybersecurity of the election process coming up in November. Nineteen states have responded positively, requesting DHS to perform risk and vulnerability assessments of their electoral processes. Thirty-two other states requested remote cyber hygiene scans, a less intensive form of DHS support. Some members of Congress expressed concern that all 50 states were not asking for DHS support. Source: Cnet.com

Google Infested with Fake Ads

In mid-March, Google announced that it had removed 3.2 billion bad ads from its site in 2017. That’s an increase of almost 100% over 2016. In addition, Google terminated relations with 320,000 on-line publishers for inappropriate use of the Google ads, such as showing them alongside inappropriate content. A recent example was a fake Amazon link that was the first offering in response to searching “Amazon” on Google. Users who thought the first link must be the right one were instead taken to a scam site for IT support. A pop-up appeared with an offer to rid the user’s computer of “pornographic spyware.” Far from rare, this was the second time in 13 months that the same trick had been used to fake out people who browsed Google for Amazon’s site. Naked Security, 20 March 2018

IoT Security Lags Deployment of IoT Devices

A new report documents a disturbing trend for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While 97% of 600 respondents to a survey about IoT believe that an IoT attack could cripple their business and over 80% believe a data breach is likely due to IoT vulnerabilities, less than 30% actively monitor their IoT risks, most of which come from third party connections. 38% of the respondents revealed that their organizations have no effective program to monitor third-party vendor connections. IoT devices are projected to increase from 24,762 devices in the workplace today to over 34,000 in the near future. ZDNet, 26 March 2018

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