In this week’s edition, a popular hacker group, Fancy Bear, targeted New Zealand’s stock exchange website, Garmin users were frustrated when their servers stopped working—again, and a Chinese researcher is likely going to prison for sharing state information.
Fancy Bear forcing the Kiwis to step up their IT game
Hackers are ruthless and smart, and they are now targeting the most laid-back nations in the world that don’t involve their officials in any dispute. According to speculations, Fancy Bear is a Russian group full of seasoned hackers (which might even be an inside Russian agency or is composed of former KGB agents) who have targeted the New Zealand stock exchange website with a DDoS attack.
— Chris Keall (@ChrisKeall) August 30, 2020
This means hackers are stronger than your security infrastructure
Even if it was a DDoS attack with no direct harm to the economy, the government has now asked their cybersecurity agencies to make everything airtight to avoid any embarrassment like this again. There was no sign of trading after the attack as the websites, Markets Announcements Platform, and NZX were down for many hours.
These types of attacks have become increasingly more common because employees are now working from home and using malware-prone devices. In simpler words, no one follows or has security protocols in place that can stop DDoS attacks like this one, and our home networks simply are not the same bank-grade protected networks that we’re used to in the office. But fortunately, the clearance and core trading systems are safe after the attack on Tuesday, August 20.
This attack did not go unnoticed. The New Zealand government is now creating detailed policies to deal with such matters. All in all, we think cyberattacks like this are going to continue. It is just a matter of when and where. This recent attack on NZX was not done by a group with a shoestring budget or newbie hackers.
We know such DDoS attacks are carried out by smart hackers to get ransom from large corporations and even government organizations via untraceable cryptocurrency. Someone who can access the dark web can easily initiate a DDoS attack.
Latest news: The trading is up on NZX even if the main site is down for security maintenance.
Garmin down again? Let’s blame the hackers!
Garmin servers and connections started fidgeting and then completely stopped working on Sunday morning. Several users complained about the issue but apparently, the server was down for maintenance.
Could it be another attack from hackers?
Or is Garmin just being stupid and not managing their servers properly?
Garmin is down again.
Is it actually “server maintenance” this time? pic.twitter.com/XIzc51LlOe
— Rob Scammell (@RobertScammell) August 30, 2020
Servers were not working on Sunday…
Just a few weeks ago, we discussed that a group of hackers had targeted Garmin in a malware attack, and we suspect they received $10 million as ransom money.
Paying ransom usually means they’re going to be victimized again. When the servers stopped working on Sunday morning, there were multiple complaints from Garmin users on Twitter, with several thinking that maybe a ransomware attack happened again.
We might say this is a red flag for a giant wearable tech company like Garmin, but users simply don’t care as long as they can get their data eventually. Although a Garmin spokesperson said the servers were shut down for security maintenance, we are unsure whether or not hackers tried to demand money from them again.
There has been a spike in ransomware attacks especially when most employees are unable to keep up with the latest security protocols at home. This problem encouraged hackers to trigger a range of different attacks that target private data and servers.
This is the reason why we, the PureVengers, suggest that companies and individuals consider using a Virtual Private Network to keep themselves hidden from greedy hackers and malware attacks by making their IP invisible to external services. These types of ransomware and malware attacks are occurring at a high speed now. This calls for a reason to invest in cybersecurity and use some tools to protect data. For a few bucks a month, a little extra security can be guaranteed.
The USA vs. China: The battles continue…
The FBI caught a Chinese-born researcher, Guan Lei, at UCLA and charged him with stealing technical information and feeding information to his home country. Is the United States now framing Chinese internationals at research institutes? Maybe.
Guan Lei has been researching for the past 2 years at the University. And the US government was tracking the lives of several Chinese nationals as well as detained a few of them on data theft allegations.
The FBI pinned Guan Lei as a suspect when he was involved in visa fraud back in July 2020. However, the US government agency is not charging him for falsifying information and interrogated Lei on destroying a hard drive.
After his interview with the FBI officials on dumping a hard drive into a nearby trash can, Lei tried to fly back to China but received an order from the court. Now he can’t move out of the country as long as he is under the FBI spotlight.
Are some Chinese really transferring information to China’s NUDT?
The media may quickly paint Lei with the same brush when they heard the news about a Chinese researcher giving information about the US to the United States’ current arch-rivals: China. This may not be an espionage case; we’re not sure. Yet the US has reason to be paranoid about the fact that another first world country is intruding into their private data, and that too uninvited.
1/2: 2 Chinese researchers were charged ytd for (potential) illegal tech transfer from the US. The frequency of these reports shows how widespread the problem is. Hu from UVA was caught w/ stolen software code at an airport while boarding a flight to China:https://t.co/tV9opPhoJV
— Hong Kong Global Connect (@HKGlobalConnect) August 29, 2020
The United States is not risking anything in 2020 and keeping a closer eye to Chinese nationals working in their country and the mobile apps the citizens are using.
You might be wondering, “Hey, can’t a Chinese researcher just wipe out all the information from a hard drive?” Sure he can, but you have to physically destroy the hard drive as well. And if Guan Lei has tried to destroy a hard drive, which is evidence, and it is proven in court, then he may go to prison for twenty years .
There is no secret that countries try to spy on each other and use people to disguise themselves as harmless citizens. This is the oldest technique to weaken your enemy (cue to the KGB, mentioned above. We urge you to watch The Americans too). China and the USA may further try to launch malware attacks on each other using their spy agencies— but they may just end up completely banning others’ mobile apps.
Besides these issues, we are yet to see if TikTok remains in the USA or takes a punch in the stomach and is shut down in the country. But we’re totally aware that the US and China are not playing well together, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry is already not happy with the USA trying to detain their nationals and interrogating them as criminals.
That’s why every country is reinforcing cybersecurity infrastructure and trying to replicate China: create an Internet firewall…