Security News This Week: Former US Intelligence Operatives Admit They Hacked for UAE

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this week started With Apple, Microsoft, and Google all patching a bunch of zero-day vulnerabilities, expect to set aside a little time Tuesday to update all of your devices. if not? Go ahead and do it now. well wait!

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OK, welcome back. At the end of the week, both Apple and Google removed an opposition voting app from their App Store in Russia at the request of the Kremlin. As far as precedents go, this doesn’t bode well, as authoritarian regimes are raising tech giants, who are ready to abandon their markets in protest. Russia in particular is testing borders, but India and China are not far behind.

A new app available in Iran helps fight against that kind of censorship by allowing people to encrypt messages even during internet blackouts. Called Nahoft, the app can convert messages into random rumbles of Persian, or even embed them in an image, to avoid detection by the Iranian regime.

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Now you can remove the password from your Microsoft account. Zero trust is the most important cyber security concept in years, other than that no one has agreed on what it means. Think you might have hidden files on your phone or computer? Here’s how to find them. And Anonymous leaked a huge trove of data from domain registrar Epic, which has attracted many far-flung customers.

There is so much more! Each week we round up all the security news Nerdshala didn’t cover in depth. Click on the headlines to read the full news and stay safe.

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Three former US intelligence officials admitted they hacked US computer networks on behalf of the United Arab Emirates this week to evade prosecution. Instead they will have to pay a cumulative fine of $1.69 million, and be barred from seeking future US security clearances, which should severely limit their job prospects. Or maybe not that seriously; One of the three currently works as the Chief Information Officer of ExpressVPN, which has stood by them during an ongoing backlash. For the full story of the US citizens who helped hack the UAE, be sure to read Reuters story Which exposed “Project Raven” for the first time in 2019.

A busy week for the Justice Department! A Pakistani man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for an elaborate, lengthy scheme that resulted in nearly 2 million phones being unlocked. First he bribed AT&T employees to unlock the phone, which he would then resell. AT&T kicked off that plan by changing its unlocking procedures, bribing an employee to install malware inside a call center.

Based in Austin, Texas, Exodus Intelligence is a so-called zero day broker, a firm that sells information about vulnerabilities in software that developers are not aware of – and therefore can’t fix – and are willing to compromise. Necessary feats. Usually it only sells exploits to government agencies, but it also maintains a list of vulnerabilities that anyone can subscribe to. As Forbes Reported exclusively this week, it appears that the Indian government used its access to that feed to find soft spots in networks in Pakistan and China and attempted to compromise them. Since then migration has cut off access to India, but the damage has been done.

Using public records requests, nonprofit education news site 74 delved deeper into one Minneapolis school district’s use of remote monitoring software on its students. What it found wasn’t pretty: an aggressive program that notifies school officials about content in student personal files, online conversations, and browsing activity. And while distance learning has ended at this point in the pandemic, the use of surveillance software has not.


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