May 24 2024

How the FBI built its own smartphone company to hack the criminal underworld

Category: Cyber Spy,Smart Phone,Spywaredisc7 @ 9:07 am

Cybersecurity journalist Joseph Cox, author of the new book Dark Wire, tells us the wild, true story behind secure phone startup Anom.

On today’s episode of Decoder, I sat down with Joseph Cox, one of the best cybersecurity reporters around. Joseph spent a long time working at Vice’s tech vertical Motherboard, but last year, after Vice imploded, he and three other journalists co-founded a new site, called 404 Media, where they’re doing some really great work.

Somehow, on top of all that, Joseph also found time to write a new book coming out in June called Dark Wire: The Incredible True Story of the Largest Sting Operation Ever, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s basically a caper, but with the FBI running a phone network. For real.

Criminals like drug traffickers represent a market for encrypted, secure communications away from the eyes of law enforcement. In the early mobile era, that gave rise to a niche industry of specialized, secured phones criminals used to conduct their business.

Joseph’s done a ton of reporting on this over the years, and the book ends up telling a truly extraordinary story: After breaking into a few of these encrypted smartphone companies, the FBI ended up running one of these secure phone services itself so it could spy on criminals around the world. And that means the FBI had to actually run a company, with all the problems of any other tech startup: cloud services, manufacturing and shipping issues, customer service, expansion, and scale. 

The company was called Anom, and for about three years, it gave law enforcement agencies around the world a crystal-clear window into the criminal underworld. In the end, the feds shut it down in large part because it was too successful — again, a truly wild story. Now, with the rise of apps like Signal, most criminals no longer need specialized hardware, but that, of course, raises a whole new set of issues. 

The book is a great read, but it also touches on a lot of things we talk about a lot here on Decoder. There really are bad people out there using tech to help them do bad things, but the same tools that keep their communications private help give everyone else their privacy, too — whistleblowers, dissenters, ordinary people like you and me.

There’s a deep tension between privacy and security that constantly runs through tech, and you’ll hear us really dig into the way tech companies and governments are forever going back and forth on it. There’s a lot here, and it’s a fun one.

Spy in our Pocket

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Tags: criminal underworld

Dec 20 2023

How to Take Your Phone Off the Grid

Category: Information Security,Smart Phonedisc7 @ 9:00 am

Without a Trace: How to Take Your Phone Off the Grid

A guide on anonymizing your phone, so you can use it without it using youBy Monique O. Madan and Wesley Callow

Hi, I’m Monique, an investigative reporter here at The Markup. There are a few key moments in my 15-year career that have led me on a quest to phone anonymity: 

When a dark-tinted sedan followed me home after I published a controversial story, which led to the resignation of someone in power.

When a reader published my personal address in a virtual chatroom filled with thousands of people—the reader used my phone number to do a reverse look-up search, and found my address. 

The last straw? 

When the federal government traced my phone number back to me and blocked me from communicating with incarcerated people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When I joined the team in August, my first order of business was making sure I had a secure way to connect with the people trusting me with their lives, while simultaneously keeping myself safe. I needed an off-the-grid phone. 

Enter Wesley Callow, our IT support specialist. 

What happens next is straight out of a scene of your favorite detective movie as he went about procuring the gear to build a phone that would protect my privacy. Just picture him in a cloak. 

If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that cash is king. And, I need a trench coat.

Step 1: Cash, Cards, and a SIM 

Just think of me, Wesley, as a London Fog trench coat, collar-popped-to-perfection kind of guy. When Monique reached out, I embarked on a trip into the world of phone anonymity—a meticulous descent into the “no half measures” underworld, to borrow from the series Breaking Bad, a place where digits and data are in disguise.

First thing: In order to make an anonymous purchase, I needed cash—bank and credit cards leave too much of a trace. I drove to our local grocery store and bought some groceries for my teenage boys. This is an almost daily trip, so definitely no suspicious behavior to be spotted. I chatted up the self-checkout assistant about the boys and got an extra $60 in cash back.  

When it comes to service providers, Mint Mobile emerged as a top contender, providing relative ease in activation without demanding personal details. They’re like that low-profile café where the barista doesn’t ask for your life story.

I then ventured off to two local Targets where, to my dismay, there were no Mint Mobile prepaid SIM cards. For my third attempt, I tried Best Buy.

I walked in, head down, headed to the cellphone section. Then, the prepaid carrier section. I perused the spinning display, and then, at the very bottom, there was ONE prepaid Mint Mobile SIM left! It was meant to be. For $45, I got three months of service.

I then headed to my next destination: a nearby drug store. I purchased an Apple Store gift card for $10, again using cash. (You could take an Android phone off the grid too, though, but we’re a Mac newsroom).

It was perfect. Zero people were in the store and the clerk was not chatty. I dropped the cash down, exact change—and bounced from the scene. Now I was ready. 

Step 2: Wipe the Phone 

I had a phone plan. Now, I needed a phone. To begin, Apple/Mac experts suggest purchasing a used, budget-friendly iPhone exclusively with cash. This method, they insist, guarantees no direct ties to one’s identity. Monique had an old phone hiding in her drawer. But first, I needed to make sure it had amnesia.

I had Monique send me her old iPhone via a box I shipped to her with a return label inside of it. Once I received it, I wiped the phone back to its factory settings and made sure there was no preexisting SIM card inside. 

Then I put the phone into recovery mode, connected it to an old Mac with no Apple ID, and reformatted it again. Now, it’s double wiped for safety.

Everyone loves a fresh start, right?

Step 3: Identity

For my public Wi-Fi, I infiltrated my local Starbucks. The scent of caramel frappuccinos and whispered secrets filled the air. Here, amidst the caffeine loyal, I set up accounts with Mint, Proton Mail, and Apple. The creation of a disposable email account is essential (Proton Mail is the favored platform), followed by setting up an Apple ID (You’ll need it to download apps on your phone) with your Apple gift card. And if you’re prompted to provide a billing address? Input a random, unrelated location. You won’t ever be connecting a credit card with a real billing address anyway.

Opt for a six-digit security code—not 123456.

Using this now-naked phone, my fresh Mint Mobile SIM card, and an Apple gift card, I sought out a public space with no association to me, such as a library or café—anywhere that has communal computers and Wi-Fi, so we can activate the phone’s service. But wait, Wesley, I thought public Wi-Fi was insecure! Like all things, you have to weigh the pros and cons. The odds of being compromised on a public Wi-Fi network are low in the time it would take to set up the accounts we need, and in return, we don’t have personal location data or a personal IP address attached to those accounts. 

Once your accounts are set up, turn off Wi-Fi.

For security purposes, Face ID and Touch ID are a no-go. The unanimous advice: opt for a six-digit security code. And don’t make it 123456.

Step 4: Customizing An Anonymous Device

Post-setup, disable Bluetooth. This is important because Bluetooth signals can be intercepted by third-party devices within range, and that allows hackers to access sensitive information, such as your phone’s contacts and messages. The throwaway Proton Mail email address plays another vital role, acting as the gateway to access Proton, a virtual private network (VPN) that masks all phone application traffic. 

It’s like giving your phone a discreet disguise—instead of my trench coat, think Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. 

Always keep your VPN on, and routinely check that it’s working. Subsequently, any required apps should only be downloaded with the VPN engaged.

The Hard Part: Staying Anonymous

Maintaining this cloak of invisibility comes with challenges. If you find this overwhelming, we totally get it. But doing at least some of these steps will protect you—just find the balance and tradeoffs that work for you. For day-to-day usage, some golden rules emerge:

This phone should strictly be used for its principal purpose. Do not use it for casual online strolls, superfluous apps, or note storage.

  • Cash is essential, but getting your hands on it requires a bit of effort in this cashless society. To keep your phone off the grid, you have to repeat the same routine: take out cash and buy gift cards. You can’t use a credit or bank card.
  • Add more data to your SIM card and pay your phone bill with a gift card. Don’t opt into auto-renewal, since that requires that you use a credit card.
  • After using public Wi-Fi, go into Network Settings, and “forget” the network, so you leave no digital trail.
  • Never connect to your personal home Wi-Fi. Companies can match home addresses with IP addresses. If you have to use it in a pinch, afterward, go into Network Settings, and “forget” the network.
  • Instead of home Wi-Fi, use your phone’s data plan and Proton VPN to go online. Proton VPN will make sure your IP address is obscured.
  • If you’re traveling with your off-the-grid phone and a personal phone, turn Wi-Fi off on one phone, if you’re using it on the other. Or, turn off your off-the-grid phone entirely, and only turn it back on when you’re at your destination. The goal here is to prevent any overlap between which networks your phones connect to.
  • The final and perhaps the most vital rule: This phone should strictly be used for its principal purpose. Do not use it for casual online strolls, superfluous apps, or note storage, though I know that last one will be hard for journalists. If you must keep notes, disable any notes apps from creating a file in the cloud: Settings → Apple ID → iCloud → Apps Using iCloud → Show All.

The Takeaway 

Monique here. Do you feel like you just ran a marathon after reading that? Do you need a moment to process? I sure did. 

As a gritty street reporter at heart, I’ve learned true and complete anonymity isn’t easy. But in this line of work, it’s worth it. That means constantly backing up my documents and keeping a duplicate contact list elsewhere, in case my line is compromised and I need a new burner. 

Wait, did I just use the word “burner”? Feels like I’m living in an episode of How to Get Away with Murder. (Hi, Viola Davis!)

Covering criminal justice, immigration, social justice, and government accountability means my cellphone is my best friend. It’s not only the first line of communication with my sources, but it’s my first line of trust. My phone hosts applications to make contact with people behind bars—oftentimes the only line the incarcerated has to the outside world. It’s the device that rings in the middle of the night from inconsolable parents who have been separated from their children at the border. 

Additionally, it confidentially stores my emails and documents people send to me, and it lets me access encrypted chatrooms that help me better understand and network with the communities I cover. 

In today’s hyper-connected era, the lengths some are going to preserve their phone anonymity are undeniably intricate. While not a path for everyone, this approach paints a vivid picture of the extreme measures individuals are willing to take in the name of privacy.

As for me, I keep a copy of Wesley’s guide tucked away, so I don’t forget the many, many rules of how to master this cash-gift-card-SIM-phone-wipedown operation. I want my sources—and people on the fence on whether or not to trust me—to know that I am committed to protecting their identity, privacy, and stories.

Living Off the Grid: A Teen’s Guide On How to Navigate Life Without a Cellphone 

The Invisible Web: How to Stay Anonymous Online

When spyware turns phones into weapons

How a Spy in your pocket threatens the end of privacy, dignity and democracy

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Tags: Living Off the Grid, Pegasus spyware, Spyware, Stay anonymous, Take Your Phone Off the Grid

Sep 29 2023


Category: Security vulnerabilities,Smart Phone,Zero daydisc7 @ 9:22 am

Google has designated a brand new CVE number for a major security vulnerability that has been discovered in the libwebp image library, which is used for displaying pictures in the WebP format. This flaw has been found to be exploited in the wild by malicious users. A major vulnerability that existed in Google Chrome for Windows, macOS, and Linux was addressed by a security update that was provided by Google. A CVE ID of CVE-2023-4863 has been assigned to the security flaw, and the vulnerability has been rated as having a severity of 8.8 (High).

As a result of the analysis of the vulnerability, it was found that the libwebp library included a heap buffer overflow vulnerability. This vulnerability allows a threat actor to conduct an out-of-bounds memory write by using a crafted HTML page to trigger the issue.

However, Google has once again reported this vulnerability, which is now known as CVE-2023-5129 and is being monitored. After further investigation, it was discovered that the vulnerability known as CVE-2023-41064 and this one also impacted the same libwebp library. The development comes after Apple, Google, and Mozilla provided remedies to address a flaw that may enable arbitrary code execution when processing a carefully designed picture. The bug is tracked separately as CVE-2023-41064 and CVE-2023-4863. The execution of arbitrary code might lead to a security breach. It is likely that both problems are solutions to the same fundamental issue that exists in the library. CVE-2023-41064 is claimed to have been linked with CVE-2023-41061 as part of a zero-click iMessage attack chain termed BLASTPASS to deliver a mercenary malware known as Pegasus, as stated by the Citizen Lab. At this time, we do not have access to any other technical specifics.

But the choice to “wrongly scope” CVE-2023-4863 as a vulnerability in Google Chrome belied the reality that it also affects practically every other program that depends on the libwebp library to handle WebP pictures, showing that it had a wider effect than was originally supposed. CVE-2023-4863 was discovered by Google security researchers and is tracked by the CVE identifier.

An investigation carried out by Rezillion over the last week has uncovered a comprehensive list of frequently used software programs, code libraries, frameworks, and operating systems that are susceptible to the CVE-2023-4863 vulnerability.

Additionally, the security researcher who found the vulnerabilities CVE-2023-41064 and CVE-2023-4863 reported both of them. This indicates that the researcher brought this issue to the attention of both firms, which led to the creation of two distinct CVEs in the past.

ZIYUETEK USB Data Blocker, Charge-Only Adapter USB Blocker(2PCS), Provide Safe and high-Speed Charging, Protect Against Juice Jacking, Hacking

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Aug 18 2023


Category: Smart Phonedisc7 @ 9:37 am

This summer, hundreds of thousands of people will be preparing to take off while sitting back, relaxing, and using the airplane mode setting on their iPhones. When this setting is activated, the device’s radio frequency (RF) transmission technology is turned off, which severes the user’s connection to their mobile network for the duration of the flight.This function, which was first implemented many years ago as a precautionary safety measure to shield aircraft from what was believed to be tampering with their communications or navigation systems, is also known as flight mode or fly safe mode. In point of fact, many people have exaggerated the severity of this perceived risk to aircraft safety. As a result, the regulations are not as stringent as they once were, and the quality of in-flight Wi-Fi services has increased to the point where they are now usable. Despite this, activating airplane mode continues to be an essential part of the pre-flight procedure.

Nevertheless, researchers at Jamf Threat Labs have recently uncovered and successfully demonstrated an exploit approach that allows an attacker to retain persistence on their victim’s device even when the user thinks they are offline. This technique was developed in response to a vulnerability that was revealed in a previous exploit. The approach, which has not been seen being used in the wild, relies on the successful development of a fake airplane mode “experience” by a hypothetical threat actor. This “experience” causes the device to give the appearance of being offline while in reality it is still functioning normally.

The exploit chain that was put together by Jamf ultimately results in a scenario in which processes that are controlled by an attacker are able to operate in the background undetected and unseen, while the owner of the device is blissfully oblivious that anything is wrong.

SpringBoard, which handles visible changes to the user interface (UI), and CommCentre, which controls the underlying network interface and maintains a feature that enables users to limit mobile data access for certain applications, are the two daemons that are assigned with the process of converting iOS devices to airplane mode. SpringBoard handles visible changes to the UI, while CommCentre manages the functionality. When airplane mode is activated under typical circumstances, the mobile data interface will no longer show IPv4 or 6 IP addresses. Additionally, the mobile network will become disconnected and inaccessible to the user at the level of the user space.

The Jamf team, on the other hand, was able to pinpoint the pertinent area of the target device’s console log and, from that point on, utilize a certain string—”#N User airplane mode preference changing from kFalse to KTrue”—to locate the code that was referencing it. From there, they were able to successfully access the code of the device, at which point they hooked into the function and replaced it with an empty or inactive function. They were able to do this in order to construct a bogus airplane mode, in which the device does not truly get disconnected from the internet and they still have access to it.

After that, they went after the user interface by hooking two unique Objective-C methods to inject a tiny bit of code that changed the mobile connection indicator to make it seem dark, leading the user to believe that it is switched off, and highlighting the airplane mode icon, which is represented by a picture of an airplane.If the hypothetical victim were to open Safari at this point, they would have a good reason to believe that they would be prompted to disable airplane mode or connect to a Wi-Fi network in order to access data. This would be a reasonable assumption given that it seems that aircraft mode is enabled on their device.

They would receive a separate message asking them to authorize Safari to utilize wireless data through WLAN or mobile, or WLAN alone, which would be a hint that something was wrong. However, since they are really still connected to the internet, they would see this prompt.The Jamf team was aware that this problem needed to be fixed in order for the exploit chain to be successful. As a result, they devised a strategy that enabled them to give the impression to the user that they had been disconnected from mobile data services. This was accomplished by exploiting the CommCenter feature, which blocks mobile data access for specific applications, and then disguising this action as airplane mode by hooking yet another function.

They accomplished this by creating an environment in which the user was presented a prompt to switch off airplane mode, rather than the prompt that they should have seen.The team made use of a feature of SpringBoard that prompts the “turn off airplane mode” notification after being notified to do so by CommCenter. CommCenter, in turn, receives this notification from the device kernel via a registered observer/callback function. This allowed the team to disable Safari’s internet connection without actually turning on airplane mode.

The group then discovered that CommCenter also handles a SQL database file that records the mobile data access status of each program. If an application is prevented from accessing mobile data, that application is marked with a particular flag. They would then be able to selectively prohibit or enable an application’s access to mobile data or Wi-Fi by reading a list of application bundle IDs and obtaining their default settings from this information.

Chain of exploitation

 After putting all of this information together, the team had basically developed an attack chain in which their fake airplane mode seems to the victim to be running exactly as the genuine one does, with the exception that non-application programs are allowed to access mobile data.”This hack of the user interface disguises the attacker’s movement by placing the device into a state that is counterintuitive to what the user expects,” he added. “The user expects one thing, but the device behaves in a way that betrays their expectations.” “An adversary could use this to surveil the user and their surroundings at a time when no one would suspect video recording or a live microphone capturing audio,” says one researcher. “This could give an adversary an advantage in a fight.” This is feasible because to the fact that the mobile device in question is still connected to the internet, regardless of what the user interface is trying to convey to them.

According to Covington, the discovery does not fall under the normal responsible disclosure process because the exploit chain does not constitute a vulnerability in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a technique that enables an attacker to maintain connectivity once they have control of the device through another series of exploits. Researchers Did Notify Apple of the Research but no one has responded to request for comment.”

The new attack approach poses a danger, but if it were to be used in anger, it would more likely be used in a targeted attack scenario by a threat actor with very particular aims in mind than in a mass-exploitation event targeting the general public. If it were to be used in anger, however, it would be more likely to be used in anger by a threat actor with very specific goals in mind. As an example, exploitation for the purposes of espionage or surveillance by adversarial actors supported by the government against persons of interest is a scenario that is more likely than exploitation by financially driven cyber thieves.

Despite the fact that the technique is most likely to be used in a targeted attack, it is still important to raise awareness on how device user interfaces, particularly those built by trusted suppliers such as Apple, can be turned against their users. This is because of the inherent trust that people place in their mobile devices. The most crucial thing, according to him, is for consumers and security teams to better understand contemporary attack methods like those shown by the fake airplane mode study. In a sense, this is the next generation of social engineering, and it’s not too unlike to how artificial intelligence is being used to produce bogus testimonials that look to be from well-known celebrities.

The iPhone Manual – Tips and Hacks: A complete user guide to getting the best out of your iPhone

CISSP training course

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Jul 25 2023


Category: Smart Phone,Zero daydisc7 @ 9:38 am

Recent news reports have brought attention to two serious zero-day vulnerabilities that pose a risk to the digital security of Apple products sold in every region of the world. Both of these vulnerabilities, which have been given the CVE identifiers CVE-2023-37450 and CVE-2023-38606, were found to be present in Apple’s WebKit browser engine and kernel component for several platforms. Both vulnerabilities have been actively exploited, which makes it imperative that quick attention be paid to these security flaws. WebKit has a security vulnerability that has been identified as CVE-2023-37450. If exploited, this vulnerability might enable malicious actors to execute arbitrary code on susceptible devices, giving them control of such devices. The attack begins when a victim visits a malicious website without their knowledge while using a device that has already been infected. The iPhone 8 and subsequent models, as well as all versions of the iPad Pro, iPad Air (3rd generation and later), iPad 5th generation and later, and iPad mini 5th generation and later, are included in the list of impacted devices. MacOS Ventura is also involved. A researcher who wishes to remain nameless discovered and reported this problem.

As a direct reaction to this vulnerability, Apple has strengthened its security mechanism against it by including more checks with iOS 16.6, iPadOS 16.6, and macOS Ventura 13.5. In spite of this, the corporation continues to exercise extreme caution, admitting in its security warnings that there is evidence suggesting that this vulnerability may have been actively exploited. The business disclosed this information in security warnings that described the vulnerability. “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited,” the company said.


Experts from Kaspersky discovered the second vulnerability, which was given the identifier CVE-2023-38606. If this kernel issue were exploited, it would allow attackers to “modify sensitive kernel state” on iPhones and Macs, which would give them the ability to possibly take control of these devices. The technology giant disclosed this information in security advisories explaining the vulnerability. “Apple is aware of a report that this issue may have been actively exploited against versions of iOS released before iOS 15.7.1,” the firm said.

The danger affects a broad variety of Apple products, such as the macOS Big Sur, Monterey, and Ventura operating systems, as well as all iPhone models beginning with the iPhone 6s and moving forward. All versions of the iPad Pro, iPad Air starting with the 3rd generation, iPad starting with the 5th generation, iPad mini starting with the 5th generation, and the iPod touch starting with the 7th generation are all susceptible.

Apple has strengthened its state management in response to this vulnerability, which the company discovered very quickly. On the other hand, the tech giant has issued a warning that versions of iOS that were launched prior to iOS 15.7.1 may have been vulnerable to this bug.

In order for users to defend themselves against these attacks, it is strongly recommended that they upgrade their devices to the most recent versions of iOS, iPadOS, and macOS as quickly as they can.

iOS Hacker’s Handbook

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Tags: HACKING IPHONE, iOS Hacker's Handbook, IPAD AND MAC

Apr 12 2023


Category: Hacking,Smart Phone,SpywareDISC @ 8:58 am

Security researchers have uncovered fresh malware with hacking capabilities comparable to those of Pegasus, which was developed by NSO Group. The software, which is sold by an Israeli firm named QuaDream, has previously been used by customers to target journalists, political opposition leaders, and an employee of an NGO. The company that makes and sells the spyware is called QuaDream.

The malware was spread to the victims’ phones when the operators of the spyware, who are thought to be government customers, sent them an invitation to an iCloud calendar. The cyberattacks took place between the years 2019 and 2021, and the term “Reign” is given to the hacking program that was used.

A phone that has been infected with Reign can, similar to a phone that has been infected with Pegasus, record conversations that are taking place near the phone, read messages that are stored on encrypted apps, listen to phone conversations, track the location of a user, and generate two-factor authentication codes on an iPhone in order to break into a user’s iCloud account.

Apple, which has been marketing its security measures as being among the finest in the world, has taken yet another hit as a result of the recent disclosures. It would seem that Reign poses an unprecedented and significant danger to the security of the company’s mobile phones.

The spyware that was built by QuaDream attacks iPhones by having the operators of the malware, who are believed to be government customers, issue an invitation to an iCloud calendar to the mobile users of the iPhones. Since the calendar invites were issued for events that had been recorded in the past, the targets of the hacking were not made aware of them because they were sent for activities that had already occurred.

Since users of the mobile phone are not required to click on any malicious link or do any action in order to get infected, these kind of attacks are referred to as “zero-click” attacks.

When a device is infected with spyware, it is able to record conversations that are taking place nearby by taking control of the recorder on the device, reading messages sent via encrypted applications, listening in on phone calls, and monitoring the position of the user.

The malware may also produce two-factor authentication tokens on an iPhone in order to enter a user’s iCloud account. This enables the spyware operator to exfiltrate data straight from the user’s iCloud, which is a significant advantage. In contrast to NSO Group, QuaDream maintains a modest profile among the general population. The firm does not have a website and does not provide any additional contact information on its page. The email address of Israeli attorney Vibeke Dank was included on the QuaDream business registration form; however, she did not respond to a letter asking for her opinion.

Citizen Lab did not name the individuals who were discovered to have been targeted by clients while they were using Reign. However, the organization did say that more than five victims were located in North America, Central Asia, south-east Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. These victims were described as journalists, political opposition figures, and an employee of an NGO. In addition, Citizen Lab said that it was able to identify operator sites for the malware in the countries of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ghana, Israel, Mexico, Romania, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.

In a security report that was published in December 2022 by Meta, the corporation that owns Facebook, the name of the firm was mentioned briefly. The report defined QuaDream as being an Israeli-based startup that was created by former NSO personnel.

At the time, Meta stated that it had removed 250 accounts on Facebook and Instagram that were linked to QuaDream. The company believed that the accounts were being used to test the capabilities of the spyware maker using fake accounts. These capabilities included exfiltrating data such as text messages, images, video files, and audio files.

The discovery of Reign underscores the continuous spread of very powerful hacking tools, even as NSO Group, the developer of one of the world’s most sophisticated cyberweapons, has received intensive investigation and been banned by the Biden administration, likely limiting its access to new clients. NSO Group is the maker of one of the most advanced cyberweapons in the world.

Global Spyware Scandal: Exposing Pegasus, Season 1

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Tags: Pegasus spyware, Quadream

Mar 28 2023


Category: Cyber Attack,Smart PhoneDISC @ 8:25 am

The Near-Ultrasound Invisible Trojan, or NUIT, was developed by a team of researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs as a technique to secretly convey harmful orders to voice assistants on smartphones and smart speakers.

If you watch videos on YouTube on your smart TV, then that television must have a speaker, right? According to Guinevere Chen, associate professor and co-author of the NUIT article, “the sound of NUIT harmful orders will [be] inaudible, and it may attack your mobile phone as well as connect with your Google Assistant or Alexa devices.” “That may also happen in Zooms during meetings. During the meeting, if someone were to unmute themselves, they would be able to implant the attack signal that would allow them to hack your phone, which was placed next to your computer.

The attack works by playing sounds close to but not exactly at ultrasonic frequencies, so they may still be replayed by off-the-shelf hardware, using a speaker, either the one already built into the target device or anything nearby. If the first malicious instruction is to mute the device’s answers, then subsequent actions, such as opening a door or disabling an alarm system, may be initiated without warning if the first command was to silence the device in the first place.

“This is not only a problem with software or malicious software. It is an attack against hardware that makes use of the internet. According to Chen, the non-linearity of the microphone design is the flaw that has to be fixed by the manufacturer in order to eliminate the vulnerability. “Among the 17 smart gadgets we evaluated, [only] Apple Siri devices need the user’s voice to be hijacked, while other voice assistant devices may be triggered by using any voice or a robot voice,” the study’s authors write.

Using headphones is Chen’s recommendation for anybody worried about the NUIT attack, despite the fact that a genuine defense against NUIT would involve the usage of customized hardware. She indicates that the risk of being attacked by NUIT is reduced if you do not utilize the speaker to emit sound. “When using earphones, there is a limit to the amount of sound that can be sent to the microphone since the volume of the sound coming from the earphones is too low. In the event that the microphone is unable to pick up the subversive inaudible order, the underlying voice assistant won’t be able to be maliciously triggered by NUIT.

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Dec 30 2022

EarSpy – A New Attack on Android Devices Use Motion Sensors to Steal Sensitive Data

Category: Cyber Attack,Smart PhoneDISC @ 10:17 am

There has been a new eavesdropping attack developed by a team of security experts for Android devices which has been dubbed “EarSpy.” With the help of this attack, attackers can detect the following things:-

  • Caller’s gender
  • Caller’s identity to various degrees
  • Speech content

As part of its exploratory purpose, EarSpy aims to capture motion sensor data readings generated by the reverberations from the ear speaker in mobile devices in order to create new methods of eavesdropping.

Universities Involved in this Project

Cybersecurity researchers from five American universities have undertaken this academic project called EarSpy. These are all the names of the universities that are affiliated with this project:-

  • Texas A&M University 
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Temple University
  • University of Dayton
  • Rutgers University

Evolution of Smartphone Tech

Smartphone loudspeakers have been explored as a potential target for such attacks. As a result of this, the ear speakers are incapable of generating enough vibration to allow eavesdropping to be executed properly for the side-channel attack.

While the audio quality and vibrations of modern smartphones have improved greatly as a result of more powerful stereo speakers.

Even the tiniest resonance from a speaker can be measured by a modern device because it has more sensitive motion sensors and gyroscopes.

It is remarkable how little data is recorded on the spectrogram from the earphones of a 2016 OnePlus 3T, while a stereo ear speaker on the 2019 OnePlus 7T produces a significant amount of information.

As part of their experiments, the researchers used a OnePlus 7T device as well as a OnePlus 9 device. Both of these devices were used by the researchers to play pre-recorded audio through their ear speakers only using a variety of pre-recorded audio sets.

Although the results of the tests varied according to the dataset and device, they indicated that eavesdropping via ear speakers can be accomplished successfully.

To Check more on Detection Performance & Recommendation:

Based on the features in the time/frequency domain of the ML algorithm, the detection performance for the OnePlus 7T device has been tested, and here below we have mentioned the output chart:- 

EarSpy Android

Infosec books | InfoSec tools | InfoSec services

Tags: Android, Steal Sensitive Data

Sep 26 2022

Hacking a powered-off iPhone: vulnerabilities never sleep

Can a device be hacked when switched off? Recent studies suggest so. Let’s see how this is even possible.

Researchers from the Secure Mobile Networking Lab at the University of Darmstadt, Germany, have published a paper describing a theoretical method for hacking an iPhone — even if the device is off. The study examined the operation of the wireless modules, found ways to analyze the Bluetooth firmware and, consequently, to introduce malware capable of running completely independently of iOS, the device’s operating system.

With a little imagination, it’s not hard to conceive of a scenario in which an attacker holds an infected phone close to the victim’s device and transfers malware, which then steals payment card information or even a virtual car key.

The reason it requires any imagination at all is because the authors of the paper didn’t actually demonstrate this, stopping one step short of a practical attack implementation in which something really useful nasty is loaded into the smartphone. All the same, even without this, the researchers did a lot to analyze the undocumented functionality of the phone, reverse-engineer its Bluetooth firmware, and model various scenarios for using wireless modules.

So, if the attack didn’t play out, what’s this post about? We’ll explain, don’t worry, but first an important statement: if a device is powered off, but interaction with it (hacking, for example) is somehow still possible, then guess what â€” it’s not completely off!

How did we get to the point where switching something off doesn’t necessarily mean it’s actually off? Let’s start from the beginning…

Apple’s Low Power Mode

In 2021, Apple announced that the Find My service, which is used for locating a lost device, will now work even if the device is switched off. This improvement is available in all Apple smartphones since the iPhone 11.

If, for example, you lose your phone somewhere and its battery runs out after a while, it doesn’t turn off completely, but switches to Low Power Mode, in which only a very limited set of modules are kept alive. These are primarily the Bluetooth and Ultra WideBand (UWB) wireless modules, as well as NFC. There’s also the so-called Secure Element â€” a secure chip that stores your most precious secrets like credit card details for contactless payments or car keys — the latest feature available since 2020 for a limited number of vehicles.

Bluetooth in Low Power Mode is used for data transfer, while UWB — for determining the smartphone’s location. In Low Power Mode, the smartphone sends out information about itself, which the iPhones of passers-by can pick up. If the owner of a lost phone logs in to their Apple account online and marks the phone as lost, information from surrounding smartphones is then used to determine the whereabouts of the device. For details of how this works, see our recent post about AirTag stalking.

The announcement quickly prompted a heated discussion among information security experts about the maze of potential security risks. The research team from Germany decided to test out possible attack scenarios in practice.

When powering off the phone, the user now sees the “iPhone Remains Findable After Power Off” message. Source

Find My after power off

First of all, the researchers carried out a detailed analysis of the Find My service in Low Power Mode, and discovered some previously unknown traits. After power off, most of the work is handled by the Bluetooth module, which is reloaded and configured by a set of iOS commands. It then periodically sends data packets over the air, allowing other devices to detect the not-really-off iPhone.

It turned out that the duration of this mode is limited: in version iOS 15.3 only 96 broadcast sessions are set with an interval of 15 minutes. That is, a lost and powered-off iPhone will be findable for just 24 hours. If the phone powered off due to a low battery, the window is even shorter â€” about five hours. This can be considered a quirk of the feature, but a real bug was also found: sometimes when the phone is off, the “beacon” mode is not activated at all, although it should be.

Of most interest here is that the Bluetooth module is reprogrammed before power off; that is, its functionality is fundamentally altered. But what if it can be reprogrammed to the detriment of the owner?

Attack on a powered-off phone

In fact, the team’s main discovery was that the firmware of the Bluetooth module is not encrypted and not protected by Secure Boot technology. Secure Boot involves multistage verification of the program code at start-up, so that only firmware authorized by the device manufacturer can be run.

The lack of encryption permits analysis of the firmware and a search for vulnerabilities, which can later be used in attacks. But the absence of Secure Boot allows an attacker to go further and completely replace the manufacturer’s code with their own, which the Bluetooth module then executes. For comparison, analysis of the iPhone’s UWB module firmware revealed that it’s protected by Secure Boot, although the firmware isn’t encrypted either.

Of course, that’s not enough for a serious, practical attack. For that, an attacker needs to analyze the firmware, try to replace it with something of their own making, and look for ways to break in. The authors of the paper describe in detail the theoretical model of the attack, but don’t show practically that the iPhone is hackable through Bluetooth, NFC or UWB. What’s clear from their findings is that if these modules are always on, the vulnerabilities likewise will always work.

Apple was unimpressed by the study, and declined to respond. This in itself, however, says little: the company is careful to keep a poker face even in cases when a threat is serious and demonstrated to be so in practice.

Bear in mind that Apple goes to great lengths to keep its secrets under wraps: researchers have to deal with closed software code, often encrypted, on Apple’s own hardware, with made-to-order third-party modules. A smartphone is a large, complex system that’s hard to figure out, especially if the manufacturer hinders rather than helps.

No one would describe the team’s findings as breathtaking, but they are the result of lots of painstaking work. The paper has merit for questioning the security policy of powering off the phone, but keeping some modules alive. The doubts were shown to be justified.

A half powered-off device

The paper concludes that the Bluetooth firmware is not sufficiently protected. It’s theoretically possible either to modify it in iOS or to reprogram the same Low Power Mode by expanding or changing its functionality. The UWB firmware can also be examined for vulnerabilities. The main problem, however, is that these wireless modules (as well as NFC) communicate directly with the protected enclave that is Secure Element. Which brings us to some of the paper’s most exciting conclusions:

Theoretically, it’s possible to steal a virtual car key from an iPhone — even if the device is powered off! Clearly, if the iPhone is the car key, losing the device could mean losing the car. However, in this case the actual phone remains in your possession while the key is stolen. Imagine it like this: an intruder approaches you at the mall, brushes their phone against your bag, and steals your virtual key.

It is theoretically possible to modify the data sent by the Bluetooth module, for example, in order to use a smartphone to spy on a victim — again, even if the phone is powered off.

Having payment card information stolen from your phone is another theoretical possibility.

But all this of course still remains to be proven. The work of the team from Germany shows once more that adding new functionality carries certain security risks that must be taken into account. Especially when the reality is so different from the perception: you think your phone is fully off, when in fact it isn’t.

This is not a completely new problem, mind. The Intel Management Engine and AMD Secure Technology, which also handle system protection and secure remote management, are active whenever the motherboard of a laptop or desktop computer is connected to a power source. As in the case of the Bluetooth/UWB/NFC/Secure Element bundle in iPhones, these systems have extensive rights inside the computer, and vulnerabilities in them can be very dangerous.

On the bright side, the paper has no immediate impact on ordinary users: the data obtained in the study is insufficient for a practical attack. As a surefire solution, the authors suggest that Apple should implement a hardware switch that kills the power to the phone completely. But given Apple’s physical-button phobia, you can be sure that won’t happen.

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Tags: powered-off iPhone

Jul 13 2022

The weaponizing of smartphone location data on the battlefield

Category: Smart PhoneDISC @ 8:40 am

How smartphone location data is obtained

For a country at war, monitoring the cellular networks in the conflict zone provides the most comprehensive view of mobile device activity. But before the conflict even begins, the nation can identify phones of interest, including the devices belonging to soldiers.

Because mobile app location data is often sold to commercial data brokers and then repackaged and sold to individual customers, a country can access such a database and then pick out the phones likely belonging to soldiers. Such devices will ping regularly in the locations of known bases or other military facilities. It’s even possible to identify the owner of a device by tracking the phone to its home address and then referencing publicly available information.

A country can also use information obtained from one or more data breaches to inform their devices of interest. The T-Mobile breach in 2021 demonstrated how much customer data is in the hands of a mobile operator, including a phone’s unique identifier (IMEI) and its SIM card’s identifier (IMSI).

Spies can also physically monitor known military sites and use devices known as IMSI catchers – essentially fake cell towers – to collect phone data from the phones in the vicinity. The Kremlin reportedly did this in the UK, with GRU officers gathering near some of the UK’s most sensitive military sites.

When a phone of interest appears on the monitored mobile network, the country can keep a close eye on the device’s location and other cellular data. The presence of two or more such devices in close proximity indicates that a mission may be taking place.

In addition to monitoring cell networks, a nation at war can utilize IMSI catchers on the battlefield to gather phone data for the purposes of locating and identifying devices. Location can be determined by triangulating signal strengths from nearby cell towers or by pinging a targeted device’s GPS system. Russia’s Leer-3 electronic warfare system, which consists of two drones containing IMSI catchers along with a command truck, can locate up to 2,000 phones within a 3.7-mile range.

To counter these location-finding drones, an opposing nation may jam a drone’s GPS signal, using a radio emitter to block the drone from receiving GPS signals. The country can also try GPS spoofing, employing a radio transmitter to corrupt the accuracy of the drone’s reported location. To counter such spoofing, systems for validating GPS signals have been deployed on the battlefield. In the larger picture, the corruptibility of GPS data has forced some nations to build their own geopositioning systems. For the US, M-Code serves as a military-only GPS signal that is both more accurate and provides anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capabilities.

Spyware is a more targeted approach to obtaining location data. It can be delivered over the cell network (via a malicious carrier update) or through an IMSI catcher. It’s also not uncommon for operators to pose as single women on social media sites to lure soldiers into downloading a malicious app. Hamas has reportedly used this tactic many times against Israeli soldiers. Such spyware can capture a device’s real-time location, among other capabilities.

The risks of captured smartphone location data

location services

Cell Phone Location Evidence for Legal Professionals: Understanding Cell Phone Location Evidence from the Warrant to the Courtroom

Are Smartphones a Threat to Privacy?

Location, health, and other sensitive information: FTC committed to fully enforcing the law against illegal use and sharing of highly sensitive data

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Ask DISC an InfoSec & compliance related question

Tags: FTC, location data, smartphone location data

Jun 22 2022

Interpol busts 2000 suspects in phone scamming takedown

Category: Mobile Security,Smart PhoneDISC @ 8:51 am

Sick of the unending stream of email and phone calls you receive from scammers claiming to represent your bank? Amazon? Microsoft? The tax office? The police?

We sympathise – we’re sick of them too, especially landline calls that could be a loved one calling for help or advice, and thus need to be answered…

…but that rarely, if ever, turn out to have a familiar voice at the other end.

Perhaps you’re one of the 40,000,000 or so viewers of famous science-and-engineering YouTuber Mark Rober’s video entitled Pranks Destroy Scam Callers – GlitterBomb Payback?

Rober makes some alarming but entirely believable claims of just how much money [a] a top call-centre scammer can make if they hit their on-target earnings and [b] just how much a typical call centre of this sort turns over each day.

If you haven’t seen it, the video starts with the words, â€śI have 100 cockroaches here, and I placed them in this James Bond-style contraption,” so you can probably imagine how things end.

Despite the not-very-threatening outcome when Rober later releases the insects inside a scam call centre where he has access to footage from the CCTV feed, the video gives a good visual indication of just how industriously and unrelentingly these scammers operate. (When not driven from their work pods by roaches, that is.)

Fake refund scams

The scammers in Rober’s video seem to go in mainly for what are known as “fake refund” tricks, which go something like this:

  • Scammers “refund” you an impressive but believable amount, say $2000, for an “over-billing” for a product or service you actually use.
  • They then “help” you login to your bank account to ensure that the transaction went through.
  • They sneakily edit the HTML in your browser so the page shows a transaction for ten times the amount originally mentioned.
  • They cry out in alarm, claiming they themselves must have typed in an extra zero and that they’ve accidentally refunded too much.
  • Then they burst into tears, or turn on the emotional blackmail, claiming they (or you!) will be liable for the massive difference, so please, oh! please! won’t you help?

Their goal is to lure, browbeat, wheedle, threaten, cajole, beg and convince you to refund the “extra” money out of your own account.

After all, you can see the giant refund is there… except that it isn’t, because the item on the page is fake, with the HTML modified in memory to show a huge deposit and a vastly increased balance.

You’re scammed into thinking that they’ve made a mistake that will definitely get them in trouble, and could get you into trouble, too.

The crooks therefore hope to persuade you to help them “cover up” their mistake by withdrawing the “excess” from your own account and paying the non-existent “difference” back to them via some other channel.

While you might be sure that no criminal would ever catch you out with an apparently obvious trick like this, you’ll probably admit that, like most things, this sort of scam is only truly obvious the second time you see it or hear about it.

Scams 2022: An Exposition to Scams and How Not to be the Next Victim: Protecting Yourself From Every Type of Fraud

Tags: phone scamming

Nov 27 2021

How to find hidden spy cameras with a smartphone

Category: Smart PhoneDISC @ 4:59 pm

Researchers from the National University of Singapore and Yonsei University in South Korea have devised a mobile application that uses smartphones’ time-of-flight (ToF) sensor to find tiny spy cameras hidden in everyday objects.

The app is more successful at detecting hidden cams than existing state-of-the-art commercial hidden camera detectors (CC308+, K18) and much more successful than the human eye/brain.

find hidden cameras smartphone

How to find hidden spy cameras with a smartphone – How the app works

Hidden Camera Detector – Anti Spy Finder Large Infrared Viewer and 12 Super Bright Red LEDs. Travel Size Pro Security and Privacy for AirBnB, Hotels, Bathrooms. Search quickly & easily with both eyes.

Tags: spy cameras

Oct 18 2021

Experts hacked a fully patched iOS 15 running on iPhone 13 at China’s Tianfu Cup hacking contest

Category: Hacking,Smart PhoneDISC @ 9:21 am

White hat hackers earned $1.88 million at the Tianfu Cup hacking contest by finding vulnerabilities in popular software.

The Tianfu Cup is the most important hacking contest held in China, this year white hat hackers earned $1.88 Million demonstrating vulnerabilities in popular software.

The edition of this year took place on October 16 and 17 in the city of Chengdu, participants had three attempts of 5 minutes to demonstrate their exploits.

The winner is the security firm Kunlun Lab who earned $654,500, below the tweet of the amazing expert @mj0011 CEO of Cyber-Kunlun & Kunlun Lab and former CTO of Qihoo 360 and founder of team 360Vulcan.

Tags: China’s Tianfu, ios 15, iPhone 13

Oct 05 2021

Cheating on Tests

Interesting story of test-takers in India using Bluetooth-connected flip-flops to communicate with accomplices while taking a test.

What’s interesting is how this cheating was discovered. It’s not that someone noticed the communication devices. It’s that the proctors noticed that cheating test takers were acting hinky.

How to Prevent Cheating on Workplace Exams - HR Daily Advisor

Cheating on Tests: How To Do It, Detect It, and Prevent It

Tags: Bluetooth, cheating, Cheating on Tests, India, schools

Sep 29 2021

Expert discloses new iPhone lock screen vulnerability in iOS 15

Category: Security vulnerabilities,Smart PhoneDISC @ 2:12 pm

The security researcher Jose Rodriguez discovered a new lock screen vulnerability for iOS 15 (& iOS 14.8) that has yet to be fixed.

The security researcher Jose Rodriguez (@VBarraquito) discovered a new lock screen vulnerability for iOS 15 (& iOS 14.8) that has yet to be addressed by Apple. A threat actor with physical access to a vulnerable device can access Notes via Siri/Voice Over.

Rodriguez explained that in real incidents, unattended or stolen devices with a lock screen bypass vulnerability are exposed to attacks that could leverage a lock screen vulnerability to access sensitive information.

This specific type of vulnerability represents a serious threat to individuals and organizations, for this reason, the expert suggests including their research when conducting a mobile pen-testing assessment.

The expert disclosed details about the lock screen bypass vulnerability after Apple downplayed similar flaws, tracked as CVE-2021-1835 and CVE-2021-30699, reported by the researcher earlier this year.

The flaws allowed an attacker to access instant messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram even while the mobile device was locked.

Rodriguez explained that Apple partially fixed the issue and did not involve him in the test of the released patch.

Then the expert proposed a variant of the same bypass issue that leverages Apple Siri and VoiceOver services to access the Notes app.

The expert also published a video PoC for the latest screen bypass vulnerability:

Let me suggest reading a post published by the expert that includes a long list of similar vulnerabilities:

The iPhone Manual – Tips and Hacks

Tags: ios 15, iPhone Hacks, iPhone lock screen vulnerability, iPhone manual, iPhone tips

Sep 02 2021

Zero-Click iPhone Exploits

Category: Smart PhoneDISC @ 2:31 pm

IT’S A SHOCKING revelation: The Bahraini government allegedly purchased and deployed sophisticated malware against human rights activists, including spyware that required no interaction from the victim—no clicked links, no permissions granted—to take hold on their iPhones. But as disturbing as this week’s report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab may be, it’s also increasingly familiar.

These “zero-click” attacks can happen on any platform, but a string of high-profile hacks show that attackers have homed in on weaknesses in Apple’s iMessage service to execute them. Security researchers say the company’s efforts to resolve the issue haven’t been working—and that there are other steps the company could take to protect its most at-risk users.

Interactionless attacks against current versions of iOS are still extremely rare, and almost exclusively used against a small population of high-profile targets around the world. In other words, the average iPhone owner is very unlikely to encounter them. But the Bahrain incident shows that Apple’s efforts to defuse iMessage risks for its most vulnerable users have not fully succeeded. The question now is how far the company is willing to go to make its messaging platform less of a liability.

“It’s frustrating to think that there is still this un-deletable app on iOS that can accept data and messages from anyone,” says longtime macOS and iOS security researcher Patrick Wardle. “If somebody has a zero-click iMessage exploit, they can just send it from anywhere in the world at any time and hit you.”

The Stealthy iPhone Hacks That Apple Still Can’t Stop

After another “zero-click” attack, security experts say it’s time for more extreme measures to keep iMessage users safe.

Tags: exploits, iPhone, NSO Group, zero click

Aug 26 2021

T-Mobile Hacker Who Stole Data on 50 Million Customers

Category: Information Security,Mobile Security,Smart PhoneDISC @ 9:49 pm

Their Security Is Awful’

A 21-year-old American said he used an unprotected router to access millions of customer records in the mobile carrier’s latest breach

The hacker who is taking responsibility for breaking into T-Mobile US Inc.’s TMUS -1.63% systems said the wireless company’s lax security eased his path into a cache of records with personal details on more than 50 million people and counting.

John Binns, a 21-year-old American who moved to Turkey a few years ago, told The Wall Street Journal he was behind the security breach. Mr. Binns, who since 2017 has used several online aliases, communicated with the Journal in Telegram messages from an account that discussed details of the hack before they were widely known.

The August intrusion was the latest in a string of high-profile breaches at U.S. companies that have allowed thieves to walk away with troves of personal details on consumers. A booming industry of cybersecurity consultants, software suppliers and incident-response teams have so far failed to turn the tide against hackers and identity thieves who fuel their businesses by tapping these deep reservoirs of stolen corporate data.

A 21-year-old American said he used an unprotected router to access millions of customer records in the mobile carrier’s latest breach

Tags: T-Mobile Hack

Aug 20 2021

Apple’s iPhone Backdoor

Category: Backdoor,Information Security,Smart PhoneDISC @ 11:43 am

More on Apple’s iPhone Backdoor

In this post, I’ll collect links on Apple’s iPhone backdoor for scanning CSAM images. Previous links are here and here.

Apple says that hash collisions in its CSAM detection system were expected, and not a concern. I’m not convinced that this secondary system was originally part of the design, since it wasn’t discussed in the original specification.

Good op-ed from a group of Princeton researchers who developed a similar system:

Our system could be easily repurposed for surveillance and censorship. The design wasn’t restricted to a specific category of content; a service could simply swap in any content-matching database, and the person using that service would be none the wiser.

Practical Mobile Forensics: Forensically investigate and analyze iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices

Tags: iPhone Backdoor, Mobile Forensics

Aug 16 2021

Copyright scammers turn to phone numbers instead of web links

Category: Smart Phone,Social networkDISC @ 9:41 am

Copyright scams aren’t new – we’ve written about them many times in recent years.

These scammers often target your Facebook or Instagram account, fraudulently claiming that someone has registered a complaint about content that you’ve posted, such as a photo, and telling you that you need to resolve the issue in order to avoid getting locked out of your account.

The problem with copyright infringement notices is that if they’re genuine, they can’t just be ignored, because social media sites are obliged to try to resolve meaningful copyright complaints when they’re received.

To discourage bogus complaints and reduce harrassment – and if you are a content producer or influencer yourself, with an active blog, video or social media account, you will probably have had many well-meaning but ill-informed complaints in your time – sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like don’t put the complainant directly in touch with you.

The process usually goes something like this:

  • The complainant makes their claim to the service provider concerned. The service provider expects them to give full contact details, in order to discourage anonymous harasssment.
  • If the claim seems to hold water, the service alerts you, without giving your details to the complainant, and invites you to defend or to accept the complaint. (Obviously bogus claims, such as complaints about an images or video content in an article that is all text, shouldn’t go any further.)
  • If the claim is incorrect, you can repudiate it, for example by stating that you took a photo yourself or by showing a licence you acquired for a music clip.
  • If you don’t wish to contest the claim, you are usually expected to remove the allegedly infringing material promptly, and report that you have done so.

In either case, assuming that the service provider considers the case resolved, it’s then closed without the complainant getting to contact you directly, and without you needing to deal directly with the complainant in return.

Scam Me If You Can: Simple Strategies to Outsmart Today’s Rip-off Artists

Tags: Copyright scammers, Phone scams, Scam Me If You Can

Jul 20 2021

NSO Group Hacked

There’s a lot to read out there. Amnesty International has a report. Citizen Lab conducted an independent analysis. The Guardian has extensive coverage. More coverage.

Worldwide probe finds tech by Israel's NSO Group targeted media,  politicians | The Times of Israel

Most interesting is a list of over 50,000 phone numbers that were being spied on by NSO Group’s software. Why does NSO Group have that list? The obvious answer is that NSO Group provides spyware-as-a-service, and centralizes operations somehow. Nicholas Weaver postulates that “part of the reason that NSO keeps a master list of targeting…is they hand it off to Israeli intelligence.”

This isn’t the first time NSO Group has been in the news. Citizen Lab has been researching and reporting on its actions since 2016. It’s been linked to the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is extensively used by Mexico to spy on — among others — supporters of that country’s soda tax.

 here’s a tool that you can use to test if your iPhone or Android is infected with Pegasus. (Note: it’s not easy to use.)

7 Steps to Removing Spyware

7 Steps to Removing Spyware by Nick Laughter

Spyware and Adware

Spyware and Adware

Tags: Amnesty International, mobile spyware, NSO Group Hacked, rouge anti-spyware, Spyware, Spyware and Adware

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