Three Arrested in Connection with WireLurker Malware

Three people in China have been arrested on suspicion of spreading malware that infects the Apple operating system. Chinese law enforcement officials say the three suspects were charged with spreading the WireLurker malware, which primarily targeted devices in China. The suspects were arrested in the Beijing area, and Chinese authorities shut down the site distributing the malware. The malware was installed via software downloaded to Mac desktops from the Maiyadi app store, and could then attack iOS devices connected to an infected Mac. Infected Mac apps had already been downloaded more than 300,000 times before WireLurker was discovered, and a Windows version of the malware was found. Apple blocked the infected apps and warned users to install software only from trusted sources. (BBC)(The Verge)(Beijing Bureau of Public Security)

Security Researchers: Don’t Compare Every Vulnerability to Heartbleed, Shellshock

Some security researchers are berating the media and others in the security field for using Heartbleed or Shellshock as a source of comparison when a new software flaw is discovered. In early November, Microsoft patched a serious bug in SChannel (Secure Channel) that was found in each version of the Windows operating system since Windows 95. An IBM researcher reported the bug to Microsoft in May, and it was recently fixed. According to a recent article on securitywatch.pcmag.com, a security researcher from Tripwire referenced Heartbleed and Shellshock when discussing the Microsoft patch. The article states that the need for sensationalism to gain attention for information security to be taken seriously indicates “a problem, and it’s not the bug itself.” Each vulnerability issue should be taken on its own. Josh Feinblum, vice president of information security at Rapid7, noted that the SChannel vulnerability wasn’t like Heartbleed. “This vulnerability poses serious theoretical risk to organizations and should be patched as soon as possible, but it does not have the same release-time impact as many of the other recently highly-publicized vulnerabilities,” he wrote. “Microsoft customers can take a deep breath before they dive head first into patching, but should make sure patching is treated at the highest priority given the potential risk if/when an exploit is successfully developed.” (PC Mag)(Rapid7 Blog)

Facebook Goes to Work

Facebook is developing a specialized social network for employees to communicate with one another in the workplace. Facebook at Work would allow users to maintain a personal profile and a work profile. Facebook has not commented on the project, which would compete with other established business-messaging products including Salesforce Chatter, Google Docs, Box, and Dropbox as well as LinkedIn, which is the largest professional social media network with roughly 332 million users worldwide. Facebook has about 1.35 billion monthly active users. Observers say it may be helpful, but its use may cause issues such as the unintended release of sensitive corporate information. (CNN Money)(WIRED)(BBC)

Russia Creating Wikipedia Alternative

The Russian Federation is preparing its own version of Wikipedia to provide detailed information to users about the nation. Wikipedia “does not have enough detailed and reliable information about Russian regions and the life of the country,” according to the Russian Presidential Library, which is working on the project with organizations including the Russian Library Association. The site will also serve as a virtual museum of regional development and host other resources. This comes as the Russian government has made various moves to control Internet access, including forced registration of bloggers with 3,000 or more readers per day. (BBC)(The Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library)

 

UK Government Tasks ISPs with Terrorism Reporting

The UK government is asking the nation’s major ISPs to help “tackle online extremism.” Although no specific agreements have yet been made, the ISPs will provide stronger filtering and a “public reporting button” for reporting terrorism materials, according to the BBC. The filtering would reportedly be similar to that which is currently used to filter pornography or gambling websites at a network level. Officials say this could be a problem as some extremist groups use popular social networks such as YouTube or Twitter. The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has been charged with removing terrorism-related material from various websites, including 34,000 pieces of content in the past year. It is now taking down one terrorist-related posting every 10 minutes, or about 5,000 per week. Downing Street is continuing negotiations on the matter with ISPs including Virgin, Sky, BT, and Talk Talk. (BBC)(The Telegraph)

Hachette and Amazon Strike Multi-Year e-Book Deal

After months of intense and bitter negotiations, Hachette Book Group and Amazon reached a multi-year agreement regarding US-based e-book and print sales. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, much of the contention revolved around the setting of prices. Hachette’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Pietsch stated that the deal “gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of (their) most important bookselling partners.” When negotiations originally stalled, Amazon removed pre-orders for Hachette books and delayed delivery of Hachette titles, which prompted affected writers to form Authors United. Forrester Research principal analyst James McQuivey told Reuters that neither side won. “They both lost precious months in participating in important book promotions. In the end, they agreed to terms they probably would have earlier.” Hachette is the fourth-largest book publisher in the US. The terms of the contract will be effective in early 2015. (Geek Wire)(Reuters)

Google Mystery Barges Scuppered After Coast Guard Calls Them Fire Traps

Google was found to be creating two four-story floating structures in San Francisco and Portland, Maine that were scrapped before they could be used as a showcase for the company’s products. The reason behind the end of the project has been as mysterious as the barges’ origins. Now, it’s been disclosed that the US Coast Guard deemed the barges fire hazards, according to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that one e-mail stated: “These vessels will have over 5,000 gallons of fuel on the main deck and a substantial amount of combustible material on board.” Google had not been able to adequately address the safety issues based on the expected number of visitors per day Construction was halted in October 2013. (Mashable)(The Wall Street Journal)

Five-Year-Old UK Boy Passes Microsoft IT Certification

A five-year-old boy from Coventry became the youngest computer specialist in the world after passing the Microsoft Certified Professional exam. Ayan Qureshi, now six, was introduced to computers at a young age by his father Asim Quereshi, an IT consultant.  He says Ayan has been eager to learn and has a good memory. The young tech pro constructed his own computer lab, including a network. He was originally deemed too young to take the exam, but Microsoft relented following a call. Ayan reportedly completed the test before the allotted two hours elapsed. Now the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional, Ayan says he wants to eventually create a UK technology hub. (BBC)(Gizmodo)(Coventry Telegraph)

Raytheon Expands Cybersecurity, Surveillance with $420 Million Acquisition

Raytheon has acquired Blackbird Technologies, a provider of cybersecurity and surveillance services, for $420 million. Blackbird serves global-intelligence organizations, including those that work with the US Department of Defense. This now strengthens Raytheon as a defense contractor, particular for the US Special Operations Command. “The cyber business is heading for a shakeup, and Raytheon is determined to be one of the survivors that controls substantial market share,” stated defense-industry analyst Loren Thompson. (Reuters)(The Wall Street Journal)

Sensors Help Hydroelectric Facilities Protect Fish

Hydroelectric generation facilities throughout the US Pacific Northwest potentially threaten young migrating fish, such as salmon. For example, they subject the fish passing turbines to the physical stress of powerful water-pressure changes. To help avoid problems like this, the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) created a new version of the Sensor Fish. This device is packed with sensors able to analyze the physical stresses that hydroelectric facilities create for fish. Originally developed in the 1990s, Sensor Fish was created for use in the Columbia River Basin. The newest design is more accurate and gathers more information, roughly 2,048 different measurements, such as per second. It contains sensors, a radio transmitter, and technology that lets users retrieve the device after a specific amount of time in the field. Researchers will use the information to help engineers evaluate facilities, and redesign and retrofit dam turbines. Sensor Fish will be used in 2015 to evaluate projects in the US, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The PNNL researchers say the new device now costs $1,200, but they hope to transfer the technology to a manufacturer, which could reduce the price via mass production. The researchers published the work in the American Institute of Physics' Review of Scientific Instruments. (Newswise)(Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)(Review of Scientific Instruments)

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