TechSec’s Bi-Weekly Tech News Digest: Mar 25, 2022
By Daniel Haltmeier
Welcome to the second bi-weekly Tech News Digest, provided by the GISA Technology and Security Initiative (TechSec). Our goal here is to give you an easy to read update of what has been happening lately in the world of technology and security. To do so, we pick the top news stories from the last two weeks and present a short summary. Should you be interested in knowing more, just follow the links below the respective paragraphs.
Taking out satellite internet connections
You know that they are there, yet you rarely see them or even think about them: satellites. One of these satellites is VIASAT’s KA-SAT, located 22’000 miles above earth and beaming high-speed internet to European countries, including Ukraine. And with the current state of affairs, whenever Ukraine is mentioned, the very next sentence will mention Russia and so voila: Russia is suspected of hacking the ground infrastructure of VIASAT on 24th February when Russian troops moved into Ukraine in order to disrupt KA-SAT’s internet provision to Ukrainian users. While thousands of people across many European countries lost their internet connection, the most critical users were Ukraine’s defense agencies. They lost a major channel of communication, right at the beginning of war. Now, almost a month after the attack, the disruptions continue and users across Europe are scrambling to replace modems and fix connections.
The ”mysterious” cyberattack has not yet officially been attributed to Russia by any national government. However, this attack would fit Russia’s playbook and several national security agencies around the globe are investigating the incident.
An Asteroid hit earth and you didn’t even notice
We have all seen enough Hollywood movies to have some idea about the catastrophic consequences of an asteroid hitting our earth at full speed. This month, this horror scenario became reality, although at a (very) small scale. And this is actually a good thing.
The asteroid that entered earth’s atmosphere on March 11 was only six feet long and it was discovered about two hours before it exploded midair over Greenland. This is only the fifth time an asteroid has been detected before entering earth’s atmosphere. Hence the positive aspect of this incident: It proved the reliability of NASA’s tools to predict when and where asteroids could hit the earth. Although the size of the asteroid might seem small, it doesn’t have to be much bigger to be dangerous. Remember the asteroid that exploded over a Russian city in 2013, causing major damage? That one was only 55 feet long and you guessed it: it wasn’t detected. The fact that NASA’s instruments were able to catch such a small asteroid this time is a positive step towards a system that allows us to avoid Hollywood-style doomsday scenarios.
Read more about this on THE NEW YORK TIMES.
A rare look into cybercrime
It doesn’t happen often that you get a direct look at the daily dealings and future business plans of cybercrime groups. This makes the recently leaked chat messages of the Russia-linked Conti cybercrime group even more valuable. During the last few months, the group has developed its own criminal social media, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency platform and was even planning on opening an online casino. The online gang that originally focused on corporate extortion through ransomware has therefore moved beyond that narrow “business model”; diversification of business activities at its finest. Creating their own economic system would give them full control over all their economic activities, therefore protecting them better from law enforcement around the world.
From Conti’s perspective it might therefore be unlucky that their public support of Russia’s war in Ukraine displeased a Ukrainian security researcher who swiftly leaked 60’000 files and messages of the group, detailing much of their daily business dealings and future diversification and expansion plans.
Read more about this on WIRED.
Dangerous Antivirus Software?
You might have already seen this news if you follow the GISA TechSec Initative on our social media channels because this was our bi-weekly tech news top story last Friday: The German Federal office for Information Security (BSI) issued a warning against Kaspersky’s antivirus software because they are headquartered in Russia. The argument was that Kaspersky could be coerced by the Russian government to use its antivirus software to facilitate Russian cyberattacks against Western countries. Kaspersky argues that the warning had been issued “on political grounds”, advancing the fact that their main data processing infrastructure and other company assets are located in “neutral” Switzerland.
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