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US cybersecurity agency alleges Russian hacking campaign

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US cybersecurity agency alleges Russian hacking campaign | The Thaiger
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A cyberattack, which was first identified when US government agencies were targeted, has also been aimed at cyber targets worldwide, raising fears about global computer security.

Microsoft has already announced that it’s notified more than 40 large customers hit by the malware which allegedly originated from hackers linked to the Russian government. The malware has been allowing attackers unfettered access to a range of government and private networks.

As of yesterday, 80% of the attacks were in the US although Microsoft has already identified attacks in 7 other countries, including Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, Britain, Israel and the UAE. But the list continues to grow. The White House has made no comment about the current situation.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s chief legal counsel, said the company had uncovered 40 customers, including government agencies, thinktanks, NGOs and IT companies, who were “targeted more precisely and compromised” after the hackers had gained initial access earlier this year.

“It’s certain that the number and location of victims will keep growing. This is not espionage as usual, even in the digital age. Instead, it represents an act of recklessness that created a serious technological vulnerability for the US and the world.”

The attack appears to have started when an updated popular IT network management tool named as ‘Orion’, made by SolarWinds, was compromised from March this year. Around 18,000 customers installed the compromised update, many of who were working for US government agencies.

Hackers reportedly installed malware on software used by the US Treasury Department and the Commerce Department, allowing them to view internal email traffic.

Of these, at least 40 were then selected by the attackers for further exploitation, including the US Treasury and Department of Commerce, where emails are thought to have been read, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Microsoft announced that it had been able to trace some of the impact of the SolarWinds attack because it has been brought in by clients to assist using its in-house antivirus software. MicroSoft has admitted it had fallen victim to the attack, although “it no evidence of access to production services or customer data”.

The US National Security Agency has called for increased vigilance to prevent unauthorised access to key military and civilian networks.

In a statement from the NSA… “The recent SolarWinds Orion code compromise is one serious example of how on-premises systems can be compromised, leading to abuse of federated authentication and malicious cloud access.”

Analysts have said the attacks pose threats to national security by infiltrating key government systems, while also creating risks for key infrastructure controls for systems such as electric power grids and other utilities.

The Department of Homeland Security’s cyber security admits that the full scope of the attack “is not yet known”, with most local government and private sector systems “at grave risk.”

Although federal authorities have so far traced the attack’s launch back to March, it remains unclear just how long alleged operatives could have been tinkering inside some of the US government’s most critical agencies, including the departments of State, Homeland Security, Treasury and Commerce.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency say it hasn’t identified who was behind the malware attack but private security companies pointed a finger at hackers linked to the Russian government.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also suggested involvement by Moscow on Monday, saying the Russian government had made repeated attempts to breach US government networks.

Meanwhile President-elect Joe Biden said he had “great concern” over the computer breach while Utah Senator Mitt Romney slammed what he called “inexcusable silence” from the White House.

Shares of Microsoft were down 0.36% at $218.63 in trading yesterday. Shares of SolarWinds were down 0.45% at $17.52.

Microsoft has also released a statement HERE.

SOURCES: The Guardian | The Verge | Microsoft

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Geoff

    Saturday, December 19, 2020 at 9:37 am

    This article shows how the US has a stranglehold on the world’s media. The US has the most technologically advanced listening and hacking systems in existence but we never hear about that do we? They can name names and listen to every phone call.
    You can’t blame other countries for fighting back any way they can.

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Thailand

Thailand’s broadband internet speed ranks #1

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Thailand’s broadband internet speed ranks #1 | The Thaiger

Thailand’s broadband internet speed is ranking number 1 after a speed test was conducted in December of last year. It’s ranking climbed 2 spots from the previous speed test out of 176 countries by the Speedtest Global Index, beating out the stiff competition.

Singapore and Hong Kong are now at 2nd and 3rd place according to the test, which is measured monthly. The test uses millions of data from real people who use Speedtest tools. The test was developed by Ookla, which is a Seattle, Washington headquartered company that has pioneered fixed broadband and mobile network testing apps, analysis and data. Despite the tests being originated by a US company, the US ranks 10th on the list.

Thailand clocked an average fixed broadband speed of 308.35 megabits per second for downloads last month, beating out Singapore for the top spot. It ranked 3rd in November 2020. The global average fixed broadband speed was 96.43 megabits per second for downloads and 52.31 megabits per second for uploads in December.

On his Facebook page, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta attributed the top ranking to the country’s fast development of telecom infrastructure and competition by local operators.

After AIS Fibre entered the market in 2015, it sparked more rivals to join in the race to install fibre optics for internet services, a move that replaced the older technology of ADSL network. AIS Fibre is a home broadband unit of mobile operator Advanced Info Service.

Pisut Ngamvijitvong, senior director of the analysis department at Kasikorn Securities says some operators still provide fixed broadband services through the old ADSL technology, but that every year the internet is getting faster and cheaper.

“Triple T Broadband provides around 30-40% of its service on ADSL and True Internet has around 20%.”

Thailand’s fixed broadband service sector has been increasing every year. In 2019, there were 10.1 million household subscribers to fixed broadband services. And, in 2020, the number was estimated at 11 million.

The Speedtest Global Index also ranks the mobile internet speed of 139 countries in which Thailand currently ranks 33rd as of December 2020. It moved up 11 spots in 1 month from November 2020 testing at 51.75 megabits per second for downloads. The UAE and South Korea followed in the rankings with 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The global average for mobile internet speed was 47.2 megabits per second for downloads and 12.67 megabits per second for uploads.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Technology

Mor Chana app – what you need to know

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Mor Chana app – what you need to know | The Thaiger

So what’s going on with the new Mor Chana app?

As far as the Thai Government is concerned, it’s part of their fight to track and trace the Covid-19 virus during this current outbreak. More Chana is a contact tracing tool.

In essence, the app will allow you to check in when you go to different locations around Thailand, enter shops and buildings. As guests in the country, expats and travellers here should acknowledge that we have a role and responsibility to play in getting this current situation under control, as well as the Thais.

Of course you are well entitled to decide NOT to download and activate the app but the narrative from the government is that they see More Chana as an important part of their strategy. The app will also alert you when you are entering areas or provinces of potentially high risk. Being alert to these situations is like being alert to any other type of news.

So far, the application has been downloaded more than 3 million times

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Welcome to 2021 – Digital Covid Passports | VIDEO

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Welcome to 2021 – Digital Covid Passports | VIDEO | The Thaiger

Documentation, including your current Covid status and vaccination details, will become 2021’s biggest challenge as governments, businesses, and the travel industry try and re-establish some sort of workable way forward.

Several companies and technology groups are developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their Covid-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter public building, sports stadiums, movie theatres, or even other countries.

One is the Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based non-profit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum.

The new app will allow users to upload medical data and generate a QR code ‘health certificate’ without revealing sensitive information.

For travel, the app can lists health pass requirements relating to the countries you intend to visit.

The next challenge facing the world after populations become more widely inoculated will be privacy issues and representing the effectiveness of the different vaccines.

Are you worried about privacy? Do you think all countries will require such documentation for travel? How about entering public buildings or shops? Let’s hear your comments below…

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