Archive for July 31, 2020

Telegram Takes Down Islamist Propaganda on its Platform, Extremist Groups Struggle


The social networks and US military have imposed high regulations to control Islamist propaganda on social media and have been able to take down Islamic State terrorist groups. After this move, experts say these groups are now struggling to recover their control on the mainstream social media apps and networks. As most of the major social networking sites have choked the group, the Islamist group has tried to build its propaganda on small sites. But even there, it has met by strong regulations by the authorities. According to Europol, an EU (European Union) law agency, the social networking companies have tried to bring down these Islamist propaganda content growing on their websites, in an attempt to take down the extremist group activities on social media.


Europol, in its report, said, "While Google and Instagram deployed resilience mechanisms across their services, Telegram was the online service provider receiving most of the referral requests during this Action Day. As a result, a significant portion of key actors within the IS network on Telegram were pushed away." These extremist groups used Telegram as their primary platform of propaganda until 2019.

According to Europol, Telegram had removed up to 5000 terrorist profiles and bots in two days, in an effort against shutting down the Islamist propaganda. Earlier, it was only able to take down 200-300 accounts on average. After that incident, the extremist groups moved towards more covert apps like the Russian "TamTam" and "Hoop Messenger." Canada hosts these websites. The IS, in apparent desperation, has also started using chat services designed for blockchain developers to spread their messages. In 2016-17, the US cyber command took action against these extremist groups. It shut down recruitment groups and suppressed their further attempts to spread the messages.

Currently, the US cyber command has presidential approval to combat IS propaganda with cyberattacks. They have also widened their jurisdiction area since then. "In the past year and a half, Telegram has also put forth a considerable effort to root out the abusers of the platform by bolstering its technical capacity in countering malicious content and establishing a close partnership with Europol," says Europol.

Telegram Takes Down Islamist Propaganda on its Platform, Extremist Groups Struggle


The social networks and US military have imposed high regulations to control Islamist propaganda on social media and have been able to take down Islamic State terrorist groups. After this move, experts say these groups are now struggling to recover their control on the mainstream social media apps and networks. As most of the major social networking sites have choked the group, the Islamist group has tried to build its propaganda on small sites. But even there, it has met by strong regulations by the authorities. According to Europol, an EU (European Union) law agency, the social networking companies have tried to bring down these Islamist propaganda content growing on their websites, in an attempt to take down the extremist group activities on social media.


Europol, in its report, said, "While Google and Instagram deployed resilience mechanisms across their services, Telegram was the online service provider receiving most of the referral requests during this Action Day. As a result, a significant portion of key actors within the IS network on Telegram were pushed away." These extremist groups used Telegram as their primary platform of propaganda until 2019.

According to Europol, Telegram had removed up to 5000 terrorist profiles and bots in two days, in an effort against shutting down the Islamist propaganda. Earlier, it was only able to take down 200-300 accounts on average. After that incident, the extremist groups moved towards more covert apps like the Russian "TamTam" and "Hoop Messenger." Canada hosts these websites. The IS, in apparent desperation, has also started using chat services designed for blockchain developers to spread their messages. In 2016-17, the US cyber command took action against these extremist groups. It shut down recruitment groups and suppressed their further attempts to spread the messages.

Currently, the US cyber command has presidential approval to combat IS propaganda with cyberattacks. They have also widened their jurisdiction area since then. "In the past year and a half, Telegram has also put forth a considerable effort to root out the abusers of the platform by bolstering its technical capacity in countering malicious content and establishing a close partnership with Europol," says Europol.

Online Michigan Bar Exam Hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attack



The recently conducted online Michigan bar exam was briefly taken down as it was hit by a rather "sophisticated" cyberattack. 

The test had been hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which includes a hacker or group endeavoring to bring down a server by overpowering it with traffic according to ExamSoft, one of the three vendors offering the exam that certifies potential attorneys. 

The incident marked the first DDoS attack the organization had encountered at a network level, ExamSoft said, and it worked with the Michigan Board of Law Examiners to give test-takers more time to take the test after it was ready for action once more. 

The company noted that "at no time" was any information compromised, and that it had the option to “thwart the attack, albeit with a minor delay” for test-takers. 

The Michigan Supreme Court tweeted preceding the organization's statement that a "technical glitch" had made the test go down, and those test takers were “emailed passwords and the test day will be extended to allow for the delay for some test takers to access the second module.” 

As per the court, those taking the test with provisions from the Americans with Disabilities Act were not affected by the episode.

 “All exam takers were successfully able to start and complete all modules of the Michigan Bar exam,” the organization wrote. 

“This was a sophisticated attack specifically aimed at the login process for the ExamSoft portal which corresponded with an exam session for the Michigan Bar,” ExamSoft said in a statement on Tuesday. 

United for Diploma Privilege, a national gathering of law students, graduates, professors, and lawyers pushing for the bar exam to be postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, raised worries about data privacy issues associated with the cyberattack.  

Numerous states have opted to offer the bar exam in-person this month, while others will offer the test online in early October. 

A spokesperson for the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which drafts a segment of the test, told 'The Hill' just earlier this month that states and jurisdiction could decide to offer the test through vendors such as ExamSoft, Extegrity and ILG Technologies.


COVID-19 used as a lure for Cyber Attacks: Report suggest massive increase in Phishing Trends


Since the starting of the year, 2020 has been a bearer of bad news and Covid seems like a bad punch line. With 14 Million cases, the pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on human life but other sectors of business and economy as well; especially impacting cybersecurity, giving a sweet opportunity for hackers and scammers to con people.


According to recent research by Positive Technologies, there has been a 25% increase in phishing attacks in quarter one (Q1)of this year as compared to Q4 of 2019 and 13% of these phishing attacks were related to COVID-19. One of the analysts at Position Technologies said, “Hackers were quick to use common concerns about coronavirus as lures in phishing emails. One out of every five emails was sent to government agencies.”

The researchers also noted that 23 of the tenacious and active APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) groups targeted financial and medical institutions, government agencies, and industries. Around 34% of the attacks on organizations were ransomware ( malware attackers demanding money ransom in order to decrypt files and to not reveal stolen data). One out of every 10 ransomware was targeted at an organization.

This year has seen ransomware evolving into much-feared threat with Maze ransomware collaborating with other ransomware groups and publishing the stolen data on their website. Another ransomware Snake released in the beginning of this year, even deletes backups and snapshots.

Many security analysts discourse that the report from the research isn't all that surprising as COVID-19 has been used as a lure and click-bait to trap users desperate for info on the pandemic.

Jamie Akhtar, CEO of CyberSmart says, “enormous spike in phishing campaigns, fake websites and social profiles that were deliberately impersonating COVID-19 and healthcare-related authorities as hackers exploited the unprepared public.”

 Adding, “Many of these phishing emails can be extremely convincing and are not likely to end soon.

“Businesses and their employees can protect themselves against these attacks in the future by using email filtering that will detect and flag suspicious email addresses and malicious links or attachments, but these often don't catch everything. Training employees on how to spot suspicious and phishing emails is the best way to prevent these kinds of attacks.”

Google Banned 29 Android Apps Containing Adware


A research discovered that almost all the malware are designed to target android users and in order to prevent users from installing adware filled apps built to stealthily access their banking and social media credentials; Google has made a continuous effort including the introduction of ‘Google Play Protect’. The main idea behind Play protect is to keep your device, apps, and data secure by automatically scanning the apps in real-time and identifying any potentially malicious apps. Despite the strength of Google’s machine learning algorithms and constantly improving real-time technology, the operations of Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs) do not seem to halt any time soon as cybercriminals are devising new methods to evade detection by Play Protect also.

Recently, Google pulled off 29 apps from the Play Store as they were found to be infected with adware, most of these apps were present in the facade of photo editing apps having a feature of ‘blur’, which was also the codename of the investigation called as “CHARTREUSEBLUR”- that unveiled the malicious operations. The apps were discovered as a part of the White Ope’ Satori threat intelligence team. In total, these Android apps had more than 3.5 million downloads.

As per the observations, these malicious apps were promoting irrelevant advertisements which are said to be used to keep away from detection. After the victim installs any of these apps, the icon to launch the app would immediately disappear from the home screen and won’t be found anywhere, making it highly inconvenient for the users to remove the adware laden apps from their devices. Moreover, there was no open function to be found on the Play Store either.

In order to stay on a safer side, the investigation team advised Android users to stay wary of adware filled apps by examining reviews properly before downloading and not to fall for fake 5-star reviews. Apps that seem new and have received a whopping number of downloads in a short period of time should be strictly avoided.

Recently banned 29 Android applications included Color Call Flash, Photo Blur, Photo Blur Master, Super Call Screen, Square Blur Master, Blur Photo Editor, Super Call Flash, Auto Picture Cut, Square Blur Photo, Magic Call Flash amid a few others.