CIA Reveals It Was Hacked by an Insider Network of Snack Thieves

The Central Intelligence Agency admitted this week that it had been compromised for months in 2013 by a network of high-tech snack thieves.

A report released this week shows the premier US intelligence body discovered that insider hackers had stolen more than $3,300 worth of potato chips, chocolate bars and other snacks from its vending machines.

The culprits weren’t undercover agents or veteran Al-Qaeda chasers, but instead “contractors” – of which the CIA has thousands, doing everything from terror analysis to servicing the machines that answer American spies’ junk food needs.

A CIA Inspector General’s report on the candy cabal was released following a Freedom of Information Act request by BuzzFeed journalist Jason Leopold.

Unsurprisingly for the CIA, the report is heavily redacted – no names, or sources and methods behind the investigation. But it shows that an unidentified contractor figured out how to get snacks without paying.

CIA Reveals It Was Hacked by an Insider Network of Snack ThievesThe machines took stored value payment cards from the FreedomPay company.

The contractor figured out that if you disconnect the cable that connects the machines with FreedomPay’s cloud-based payment systems, they would accept a card that has no more funds.

The culprit told friends who also disconnected the machines’ cords to download snacks for free.

But, of course, the agency finally caught up. After suspicions were raised, CIA officials put surveillance cameras on the machines, and figured out the scam.

The main perpetrator “admitted to originating the idea of how to effect the thefts based on his knowledge of computer networks,” according to the report.

Members of the cabal were rounded up, interrogated and then escorted from the building and fired by their employers.

US Government Websites Hacked With Pro-Islamic State Rant Attacking Trump

Government websites, many of them in Ohio, were hacked Sunday with a message that purports to be supportive of the Islamic State terrorist group.

A message posted on the website of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich said, “You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.”

The message, left by “Team System Dz,” also ended, “I love the Islamic state.”

The same message also infiltrated government websites in the town of Brookhaven, New York, according to news reports in that state, as well as the website for Howard County, Maryland. In the past, the group also claimed responsibility for similar hacks in the past in Richland County, Wisconsin, and in places such as Aberdeen, Scotland, and Sweden.

Several other government websites were hacked in Ohio, including that of first lady Karen Kasich, Medicaid, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Casino Control Commission.

Tom Hoyt, chief communications officer for Ohio’s Department of Administrative Services, was among Ohio officials who confirmed the hack.

“All affected servers have been taken offline and we are investigating how these hackers were able to deface these websites,” he said. “We also are working with law enforcement to better understand what happened.”

US Government Websites Hacked With Pro-Islamic State Rant Attacking TrumpHe said the hacking in Ohio happened at about 11am EDT (8:30pm IST). He hoped the websites would be up and running sometime Monday.

The websites in Brookhaven and Howard County also remained down on Sunday. When asked about the outage on the Brookhaven site, a spokeswoman who answered the phone at the New York town’s police department simply offered a “no comment.”

The hack is part of ongoing cyber-terrorism that has impacted governments and corporations across the globe.

Some see these types of hacks – sometimes called “defacement” – as simply a nuisance, though in some instances, they have been disruptive to work and government life.

But others see cause for alarm. “Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland,” Josh Mandel, the Ohio treasurer and a Republican candidate for US Senate, said in a tweet Sunday.

Authors of the website Cryptosphere, which tracks hackers worldwide, have detailed dozens, if not hundreds, of similar hacks in recent years by the so-called Team System DZ, which they called a “pro-ISIS hacker crew” and claim are based in Algeria.

Impacted websites, they said, have included those for a synagogue in Florida, the student union at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, for UK Rugby and a number of websites on WordPress.

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules

The EU hit Google with a record EUR 2.4 billion ($2.72 billion or roughly Rs. 17,541 crores) anti-trust fine Tuesday for favouring its own shopping service, in a fresh assault on a US tech giant that risks the wrath of President Donald Trump.

Hard-charging European Commission competition chief Margrethe Vestager said Google had “abused its market dominance” as the world’s most popular search engine to give illegal advantage to its Google Shopping service.

“What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate,” Denmark’s Vestager told a news conference.

“And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Google now has 90 days to “end this conduct” or face further penalty payments, Vestager said.

The fine broke the previous EU record for a monopoly case against US chipmaker Intel of EUR 1.06 billion in 2009.

Google said that it “respectfully” disagreed with the EU decision, which followed a seven-year investigation, and was considering an appeal.

“We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to continuing to make our case,” Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Google insisted that it “shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both.”

Google Hit by Record EUR 2.42-Billion Fine for Breaching EU Antitrust Rules‘Market dominance’
The decision comes less than a year after Vestager shocked Washington and the world with an order that iPhone manufacturer Apple repay EUR 13 billion in back taxes in Ireland.

Crucially for Google, Brussels has demanded that the US tech giant change the business model for Google Shopping to meet the EU’s concerns.

While an EU record, the amount is below the maximum possible of more than EUR 8 billion or 10 percent of Google’s total revenue of 90 billion dollars last year.

Brussels accuses Google of giving its own online service, Google Shopping, too much priority in search results to the detriment of other price comparison services, such as TripAdvisor and Expedia.

“Google’s market dominance has given the company power to decide the fate of all but the biggest online service providers – in other words nearly every company,” said Fairsearch, a lobby of complainants, in a statement.

The case, launched in 2010, is one of three against Google and of several against blockbuster US companies including Starbucks, Apple, Amazon and McDonalds.

In the other Google cases, the EU is examining Google’s AdSense advertising service and its Android mobile phone software.

The cases have stoked tensions with Washington and could now face the wrath of Trump, the real estate tycoon who won office on his “America First” slogan.

The decision come after a long negotiation period with many twists and turns in which the two sides tried to settle the case amicably.

Vestager’s predecessor, the Spaniard Joaquin Almunia, made three attempts to resolve the dispute but in each case intense pressure by national governments, rivals and privacy advocates scuppered the effort.

China Rolls Out National Cyber-Attack Response Plan

China’s top cyber authority formalised a new nationwide cyber-attack response plan on Tuesday, as the country seeks to ramp up protection in the face of increasingly sophisticated global threats.

The plan requires provinces to upgrade networks and construct expert response teams as part of the centralised reporting system, said the Cyberspace Administration of China in a notice posted on its website.

The regulations also criminalise any failure by government departments to carry out the plan.

China has increasingly sought to fortify its cyberspace from both internal and external attacks, citing threats to its national infrastructure and political stability.

Last month, dozens of local authorities, including police and industry regulators, were hobbled by the WannaCry ransomware attack that infected more than 30,000 Chinese organisations and 300,000 worldwide in a matter of days.

China Rolls Out National Cyber-Attack Response PlanThe national response plan includes a four-tier colour-coded warning system that ranks cyber-attacks as either red, orange, yellow or blue depending on severity, with red signalling the highest level of alert.

It also requires relevant departments to open international channels of communication during the sudden onset of international security threats.

Cyber-attacks in China spiked by over 950 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to a PwC survey, with “Internet of Things” (IoT) connected devices identified as a particular vulnerability.

Last October, vulnerabilities in Chinese manufactured devices were partially blamed for a large-scale attack which temporarily crippled Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and other major websites.

Petya Ransomware: Firms Scramble to Recover From Wave of Cyber-Attacks

Thousands of computer users across the globe scrambled to reboot on Wednesday after a wave of ransomware cyber-attacks spread from Ukraine and Russia through Europe to the United States.

The virus, which demanded a payment worth $300 (roughly Rs. 20,000) as it locked up files at companies and government agencies including the Chernobyl nuclear site, appeared similar to the WannaCry ransomware that swept the world last month, hitting more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries.

But the new attack appeared much smaller in scale, with global cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labestimating the number of victims at 2,000. There was no immediate indication of who was responsible.

Some IT specialists identified the newcomer as “Petrwrap”, a modified version of ransomware called Petya which circulated last year. But Kaspersky described it as a new form of ransomware.

The government of Ukraine, where the attacks were first reported and appeared most severe, said the attack had been halted, but key organisations were still reporting problems.

“The large-scale cyber-attack on corporate and government networks that happened yesterday on June 27 has been stopped,” the government said in a statement.

“The situation is under the complete control of cyber-security experts and they are now working on recovering lost data,” it said, adding that all “strategic enterprises” were functioning as normal.

Despite the assurances, employees at the Chernobyl nuclear site were continuing to use hand-held Geiger counters to measure radiation levels after the monitoring system was shut down by the hack.

Online arrivals and departures information for Kiev’s main Boryspil airport also remained down, but its director said the hub was otherwise fully operational.

Meanwhile, systems at the major lender Oschadbank still appeared crippled, while a delivery service and energy supplier said they were also facing some difficulties.

Petya Ransomware: Firms Scramble to Recover From Wave of Cyber-AttacksGlobal spread
The attacks started Tuesday at around 2:00pm in Kiev (1100 GMT) and quickly spread to about 80 companies in Ukraine and Russia, said cyber-security company Group IB.

In Russia, major companies including the oil giant Rosneft said they had suffered cyberattacks at roughly the same time.

Later, multinationals in Western Europe and the United States reported that they too had been hit by the virus.

Among the companies reporting problems were global shipping firm Maersk, British advertising giant WPP, French industrial group Saint-Gobain and US pharmaceutical group Merck.

India’s government on Wednesday said operations at a terminal at the country’s largest container port in Mumbai, run by Maersk, were disrupted.

Windows vulnerability
Security specialists said the cyber-attacks on Tuesday exploited an already patched vulnerability in Windows software and appeared to have focused on Ukraine as a primary target.

The malware that, once in a computer, locked away data from users who were then told to pay, bore resemblances to the recent WannaCry attack. US software titan Microsoft also called the latest virus ransomware.

“Our initial analysis found that the ransomware uses multiple techniques to spread, including one which was addressed by a security update previously provided for all platforms from Windows XP to Windows 10 (MS17-010),” a Microsoft spokesperson told AFP.

After the WannaCry scourge in May, Microsoft urged users to protect machines with the MS17-010 patch.

The flaw – and the means to exploit it – had previously been disclosed in pirated documents about cyberweapons at the US National Security Agency.

So far there was no clear indication of who was behind the attack.

Some experts said it looked likely to be a criminal scam, while Ukraine suggested that its archrival Russia could have been behind the attack.

Google News Redesigned, Gets Material Design Cards to Improve Readability and Navigation

Google has unveiled a new look for the desktop version of its news reader platform, Google News, in an effort to improve readability, navigation, and include different perspectives. The update has also brought it in line with Google’s Material Design visual aesthetic, which relies heavily on cards. Unlike before, every story gets its own rectangle that helps de-clutter the interface, with a slightly bigger square picture to go with it.

The new homepage has three sections at the top: world headlines, local news, and a “For You” tab that only shows the stuff you care about. The latter two can be personalised once you log in with your Google account; local can be focused on any part of the world, while “For You” is like a social news feed of sorts. Google will also help include more perspectives once you click on a story card, bringing in other pieces that might carry labels such as “Most Referenced”, “Opinion”, “Live Updating”, or “Fact Check”.

06.19.17 before after katrinat.width 1000 Google News

The last of those labels was introduced just last year, and it’s now getting its own box on the new Google News homepage. Available to the right-hand side of the headlines, it’ll show the top fact checked articles that were published recently. Unfortunately for now, the feature is limited to the US edition.

There’s also a new “Full Coverage” page – accessible from the story card – which sorts different types of articles into sections, and includes videos and related topics on the right. The new design is being rolled out over the coming days, so don’t fret if you don’t see it just yet.

Petya Ransomware: Fresh Cyber-Attack Likely 'More Sophisticated' Than WannaCry, Says Europol

The wave of cyber-attacks hitting Europe and North America is similar to last month’s WannaCry ransomware havoc, but appears potentially “more sophisticated,” the European police agency said Wednesday.

Describing it as “another serious ransomware attack,” Europol said “critical infrastructure and business systems” were being targeted “with a new wave of ransomware, which is an updated version of Petya.”

“The attack has caused infections worldwide and has not yet been stopped,” the agency based in The Hague warned Wednesday.

Although director Rob Wainwright said the number of victims was not yet known, Europol has already set up a coordination cell and is “actively monitoring” the spread of the attacks.

“There are clear similarities with the WannaCry attack, but also indications of a more sophisticated attack capability, intended to exploit a range of vulnerabilities,” Wainwright said in a statement.

Petya Ransomware: Fresh Cyber-Attack Likely 'More Sophisticated' Than WannaCry, Says EuropolPetya has been around since 2016, but it does not just encrypt files on infected devices it also overwrites the master boot record.

This has the effect of rendering the computer useless and prevents users from recovering any information, Europol said.

It warned that unlike WannaCry “this attack does not include any type of ‘kill switch’.”

“It is a demonstration of how cybercrime evolves at scale and, once again, a reminder to business of the importance of taking responsible cyber-security measures,” added Wainwright.

The malware, which first surfaced on Tuesday in Ukraine, locks away a computer’s data and tells users they must pay to get is all back.

The European police agency urged anyone falling victim to the latest attacks not to pay up, but to report the incident to the police and to isolate and disconnect infected computers from the internet.

Petya Ransomware: FedEx Says TNT Unit 'Significantly Affected' by Cyber-Attack

Shipping giant FedEx said Wednesday that deliveries were slowed at its Dutch unit TNT Express after the firm was hit by the latest major computer virus attack.

Trading in FedEx shares was halted for nearly an hour Wednesday ahead of the announcement, although operations of the parent company and other units were not impacted.

FedEx said TNT’s operations were “significantly affected” by the information system virus, which was causing delays at TNT Express’ domestic, regional and inter-continental services.

“While TNT Express operations and communications systems have been disrupted, no data breach is known to have occurred,” FedEx said in a statement.

“Remediation steps and contingency plans are being implemented as quickly as possible.”

Petya Ransomware: FedEx Says TNT Unit 'Significantly Affected' by Cyber-AttackThe hacking did not affect FedEx operations, and the company said it could not yet estimate the financial impact of the disruption, but said “it could be material.”

Shares of FedEx rose 1.1 percent at $216.61 at midday.

Thousands of computer users across the globe scrambled to reboot on Wednesday after a fresh wave of ransomware cyber-attacks spread from Ukraine and Russia worldwide on Tuesday.

Besides TNT, others hit included Russian oil giant Rosneft, global shipping firm Maersk, British advertising giant WPP, and US drug giant Merck.

Petya Ransomware: Focus on Defences as Users Scramble After Global Cyber-Attack

Thousands of computer users across the globe scrambled to reboot on Wednesday as calls grew to step up defences after a fresh wave of ransomware cyber-attacks spread from Ukraine and Russia worldwide.

The virus, which demanded a payment worth $300 (roughly Rs. 20,000) as it locked up files at companies and government agencies including the Chernobyl nuclear site, was reminiscent of the WannaCry ransomware that swept the world last month, hitting more than 200,000 users in more than 150 countries.

But the new attack appeared much smaller in scale, with global cyber-security firm Kaspersky Labestimating the number of victims at 2,000. There was no immediate indication of who was responsible.

The director of European police agency Europol, Rob Wainwright, said there were “clear similarities” with the WannaCry incident but warned that there were also “indications of a more sophisticated attack capability intended to exploit a range of vulnerabilities”.

Some IT specialists identified the newcomer as “Petrwrap”, a modified version of ransomware called Petya which circulated last year. But Kaspersky described it as a new form of ransomware.

And after a fresh cyber-attack challenged security worldwide for the second time in just a few months there were international demands for greater focus on battling the issue.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the situation “underlines the importance of strengthening our cyber defences” as he warned hacking attacks could potentially trigger the US-led bloc’s mutual defence commitment.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the incident proves Russian demands for “cooperation” were justified as “no country can now effectively deal with the cyber-threat alone”.

In Ukraine, where the attacks were first reported and appeared most severe, the government said the attack had been halted by Wednesday morning, but key organisations were still reporting problems.

“The large-scale cyberattack on corporate and government networks that happened yesterday on June 27 has been stopped,” the government said in a statement.

“The situation is under the complete control of cybersecurity experts and they are now working on recovering lost data,” it said, adding that all “strategic enterprises” were functioning as normal.

Despite the assurances, employees at the Chernobyl nuclear site were continuing to use hand-held Geiger counters to measure radiation levels after the monitoring system was shut down by the hack.

Online arrivals and departures information for Kiev’s main Boryspil airport also remained down, but its director said the hub was otherwise fully operational.

Meanwhile, systems at the major lender Oschadbank still appeared crippled, while a delivery service and energy supplier said they were also facing some difficulties.

Petya Ransomware: Focus on Defences as Users Scramble After Global Cyber-AttackGlobal spread
The attacks started Tuesday at around 2:00 pm in Kiev (1100 GMT) and quickly spread to about 80 companies in Ukraine and Russia, said cyber-security company Group IB.

In Russia, major companies including the oil giant Rosneft said they had suffered cyber-attacks at roughly the same time.

Later, multinationals in Western Europe and the United States reported that they too had been hit by the virus.

Among the companies reporting problems were global shipping firm Maersk, British advertising giant WPP, French industrial group Saint-Gobain and US pharmaceutical group Merck.

India’s government said operations at a terminal at the country’s largest container port in Mumbai, run by Maersk, were disrupted.

In the Netherlands one of Europe’s largest container terminals at Rotterdam was forced to switch to manual operations Wednesday due to the attack.

Windows vulnerability
Security specialists said the cyber-attacks on Tuesday exploited an already patched vulnerability in Windows software and appeared to have focused on Ukraine as a primary target.

The malware that, once in a computer, locked away data from users who were then told to pay, bore resemblances to the recent WannaCry attack. US software titan Microsoft also called the latest virus ransomware.

“Our initial analysis found that the ransomware uses multiple techniques to spread, including one which was addressed by a security update previously provided for all platforms from Windows XP to Windows 10 (MS17-010),” a Microsoft spokesperson told AFP.

After the WannaCry scourge in May, Microsoft urged users to protect machines with the MS17-010 patch.

The flaw – and the means to exploit it – had previously been disclosed in pirated documents about cyberweapons at the US National Security Agency.

Petya Ransomware: India Globally Seventh Worst-Affected by Cyber-Attacks, Says Symantec

India has become the worst-hit country in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region and the seventh most affected nation globally as a new ransomware ‘Petya’ hit on June 27, global cyber-security firm Symantec said on Thursday.

Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the country’s largest container port and some local manufacturing units of global companies were hit, the government confirmed on Wednesday.

However, according to Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, India has largely remained insulated so far from the massive ransomware attack that started in Ukraine and Russia.

“The Petya ransomware attack was clearly inspired by the WannaCry attack, which received so much attention last month. The motives behind WannaCry are still unclear, however, it was not an effective approach to making money for its authors,” said Gavin O’Gorman, an investigator in Symantec Security Response, in a post on Thursday.

Petya Ransomware: India Globally Seventh Worst-Affected by Cyber-Attacks, Says SymantecThe Petya ransomware was spread, at least in part, through updates to a Ukrainian tax accounting software. Symantec has confirmed that MEDoc, a tax and accounting software package, is used for the initial insertion of Petya into corporate networks.

MEDoc is widely used in Ukraine, indicating that organisations in that country were the primary target.

Once on a computer, the malware attempts to spread to all machines on the network, using a combination of stolen credentials and the “Eternal Blue” exploit.

“It also attempts to connect to any computers that the infected computer has recently interacted with. However, unlike WannaCry, it does not attempt to connect to random IP addresses across the internet,” O’Gorman added.

Cyber-security experts believe that the new attack was caused by a variant of the Petya ransomware which was unleashed in 2016.

It differs from typical ransomware as it doesn’t just encrypt files, it also overwrites and encrypts the master boot record (MBR), demanding that $300 (roughly Rs. 20,000) in Bitcoins be paid to recover files.