Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cyber security: inside the hack of a journalist; extent of US Government penetration not known

From The Guardian: inside the hack of a journalist
"A series of abusive text messages sent to an Al Jazeera investigative programme were the first crumbs that eventually led to the discovery of an unprecedented hacking operation against dozens of staff from the Qatar-based media network, according to one of the journalists who was targeted.

Researchers at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto claimed on Sunday that the UAE and Saudi Arabia used spyware sold by an Israeli private intelligence company to access the phones of at least 36 journalists, producers and executives from Al Jazeera, as well as that of a London-based reporter with the Al Araby network.

Traces of the cyber-attack were unearthed in July when a phone used by an Al Jazeera programme, The Tip of the Iceberg, exhibited suspicious network activity that was undetectable to its users."
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From the New York Times: extent of US Government penetration not known
"The Russian hackers who penetrated United States government agencies broke into the email system used by the Treasury Department’s most senior leadership, a Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee said on Monday, the first detail of how deeply Moscow burrowed into the Trump administration’s networks.

In a statement after a briefing for committee staff members, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who has often been among the sharpest critics of the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies, said that the Treasury Department had acknowledged that “the agency suffered a serious breach, beginning in July, the full depth of which isn’t known.”
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From the New York Times:
"President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. accused President Trump on Tuesday of “irrational downplaying” of the widespread hack of the federal government and American industries, saying that the current administration was denying him intelligence and warning Russia that he would not allow the intrusion to “go unanswered” after he takes office.

“This assault happened on Donald Trump’s watch when he wasn’t watching,” Mr. Biden said at a news conference in Delaware. “It is still his responsibility as president to defend American interests for the next four weeks, but rest assured that even if he does not take it seriously, I will.”

The direct critique was a remarkable departure from tradition, in which incoming presidents are careful about not second-guessing the actions of the incumbent. But Mr. Trump’s refusal to recognize Mr. Biden’s election victory, and his effort to subvert the results, has clearly poisoned elements of the transition process."
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These articles add to the listing of "what we know and don't know" about the cyber attack

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