Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, August 28, 2021

Subject: How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare
Source: TIME via beSpacific

TIME: “Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has evolved into the world’s largest online book community. The social networking site now has millions of users who rate and review books, find recommendations for new ones and track their reading. But over time, Goodreads has also become a hunting ground for scammers and trolls looking to con smaller authors, take down books with spammed ratings, cyberstalk users or worse. With over 120 million members worldwide, …

Subject: Facial Recognition Technology: Current and Planned Uses by Federal Agencies
Source: U.S. GAO

Recent advancements in facial recognition technology have increased its accuracy and its usage. Our earlier work has included examinations of its use by federal law enforcement, at ports of entry, and in commercial settings.

For this report, we surveyed 24 federal agencies about their use of this technology.

  • 16 reported using it for digital access or cybersecurity, such as allowing employees to unlock agency smartphones with it
  • 6 reported using it to generate leads in criminal investigations
  • 5 reported using it for physical security, such as controlling access to a building or facility
  • 10 said they planned to expand its use

Subject: Parents asked to be mindful when posting first day photos
Source: WTAJ

(WTAJ) – Parents are being advised to watch what they post on social media regarding their children’s first day of school.While the famous first day of school poster may seem nice to friends on social media, it might also be a setup for people with bad intentions. The poster carries a load of information about your child that may be lead to bad things occurring.

When posting the board, it’s recommended to remove your child’s full name, school, teacher, grade, and even interest. However, the first day of the school board doesn’t need to be ignored entirely.

Subject: FBI sends its first-ever alert about a ‘ransomware affiliate’
Source: The Record via beSpacific

The Record: “The US Federal Bureau of Investigations has published today its first-ever public advisory detailing the modus operandi of a “ransomware affiliate.” A relatively new term, a ransomware affiliate refers to a person or group who rents access to Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) platforms, orchestrates intrusions into corporate networks, encrypt files with the “rented ransomware,” and then earn a commission from successful extortions. Going by the name of OnePercent Group, the FBI said today this threat actor has been active since at least November 2020. Per the FBI report [PDF], historically, the group has primarily relied on the following tactics for its attacks:…


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Subject: COVID-19: Impact on Financial Fraud
Source: Domestic Preparedness

The past 16 months have been challenging. COVID-19 left a trail of destruction and a tremendous loss of life. It has had an impact on almost every aspect of daily life. The economy, supply chains, social norms, schools, and places of worship were all affected. The pandemic also led to increased risk of financial fraud and cybercrime. The nation seems to be turning the corner on the pandemic, and people are gradually setting their sights on returning to a new normal way of life.The digital systems people utilize to socially interact, conduct their business, purchase goods, and in some cases seek medical help, all face increased risk of falling victim to a COVID-19 motivated criminal scheme of attack. With government agencies and the private sector gradually shifting from maximum telework mandates, people are still spending increased time at home working from remote devices.

Bad actors continue to exploit people’s uneasiness and anxiety by sending fictitious emails requesting charitable donations, peddling counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE), or touting a COVID-19 vaccine.

There has been an onslaught of phishing attempts and emails directing unsuspecting people to malicious websites with suspicious attachments. These attempts could lead to loss of personal information, unauthorized access to company networks, and financial fraud. There is no central repository for COVID-19 related fraud. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a great mechanism for the public to report internet-related crime.

COVID-19 Related Fraud:

  • Unemployment insurance scams
  • Small Business Loan scams
  • Identity fraud (synthetic, individuals, businesses, email accounts) in submitting applications
  • Loan fraud associated with the CARES Act
  • Fraudulent loans obtained by new businesses or existing business accounts taken over by fraudsters
  • Fraudulent use of the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Mortgage scams to include fraudulent refinancing, Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOCs), short sale fraud, and loan modification scams
  • Treatment scams
  • Supply scams
  • Healthcare provider fraud related to in-person and telemedicine healthcare services
  • Charity scams
  • Phishing scams
  • App scams
  • Investment scams
  • Price-gouging scams

The 2020 Internet Crime Report indicated the FBI received a staggering 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime, representing ~300,000 more complaints than 2019.


Subject: White House Tasks NIST with Producing Another Cybersecurity Framework
Source: Nextgov

The administration touted private-sector commitments to improve cybersecurity through training and design. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will work with major tech and insurance companies to create a new framework to help companies build more secure software, according to a White House release.

“The approach will serve as a guideline to public and private entities on how to build secure technology and assess the security of technology, including open source software,” reads a fact sheet the administration issued following a meeting with industry leaders at the White House Wednesday. “Microsoft, Google, Travelers, and Coalition committed to participating in this NIST-led initiative.” Voluntary NIST frameworks have been the basis of U.S. cybersecurity policy going back to 2014, and the Biden administration is committed to maintaining as much of that approach as it can amid pressure to impose cybersecurity requirements due to the increasing scale and severity of recent attacks.


Subject: Hackers could change medication doses by exploiting infusion pump security flaws
Source: Becker’s Health IT

Cybersecurity researchers recently tested a popular infusion pump and dock and found that the device has certain vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to exploit its medication dosing functions, Wired reported Aug. 24. Researchers from the McAfee Enterprise security firm discovered that a hacker could potentially manipulate the B. Braun Infusomat Space Large Volume Pump and B. Braun Space Station infusion pump and dock to administer a double dose of medication to victims.

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Subject: U.S. Government Is Using an Algorithm to Flag American Citizens for Denaturalization: Report
Source: Gizmodo

According to newly uncovered documents, U.S. citizens can be kicked out of the country based on the findings of a secret DHS algorithm.U.S. citizens can be kicked out of the country based on the findings of a secret algorithm. The Department of Homeland Security is using an Amazon-hosted system called ATLAS that analyzes millions of records and can be used to automatically flag naturalized Americans for the revocation of their citizenship, the Intercept reported this week.

According to The Intercept, documents show ATLAS analyzes information including biometrics like fingerprints, as well as draws information from databases including the FBI’s terrorism watchlist and the National Crime Information Center, which have often “been criticized as being poorly managed.” In what a 2020 privacy document describes as “exceptional instances,” the system may also take race and ethnicity into account when making determinations. Another 2016 privacy assessment of FDNS-DS showed ATLAS can also flag individuals based on their known associates, stating it has the capability to identify “linkages or relationships among individuals to assist in identifying non-obvious relationships… with a potential nexus to criminal or terrorist activities.” Some of the information is classified.

The Open Society Justice Initiative has filed another FOIA with DHS and USCIS seeking to force them to disclose the algorithm that powers ATLAS. Joe Biden’s administration began a review of the denaturalization program in February 2021, but hasn’t so much as publicly acknowledged it since blowing past a May deadline without publishing any findings.


Subject: Who Will The Cybersecurity Bells Toll For?
Source: Forbes

Here is the simple reality: 30,000 websites and applications actually are hacked every day with an attempted attack happening every 39 seconds. This industry is filled with conversations and false narratives of the latest security product lineups, cyber capabilities and reports of how attacks were averted. Through it all, there is a build-up of a concept of security standards that seemingly give organizations a false sense of security. The reality is that security standards are obsolete the moment they are released. The security landscape is evolving daily, and very few static standards are going to guard against zero-day, novel threats.

Posted in: AI, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Food & Drug Law, Health, Healthcare, Legal Research, Medical Research, Privacy