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Netherlands can respond to ransomware attacks with the army

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Usually the Netherlands uses diplomacy, but in the event of a serious threat, they can resort to tough retaliation.

In the fight against cyber attacks that threaten national security (including ransomware attacks), the Dutch government will use its intelligence services and army.

The Dutch parliament is currently looking for ways to respond to ransomware attacks. Foreign Minister Ben Knapen said diplomatic means are used under normal circumstances, but in more serious incidents, the state may resort to harsh retaliation.

“If financial or other ransomware attacks cross the line of a (clear) threat to national security, for example due to the failure of critical sectors, the government has other means at its disposal.” reported Knapen in a letter addressed to the Dutch parliament.

The response process includes several stages: investigation of the attack, identification of the attackers behind it, and retaliatory actions against the aggressor.

“In addition to the activities of the intelligence services, the Netherlands can also involve the Armed Forces. For example, the Cyber ​​Defense Command can carry out counterattacks in order to prevent enemy actions and protect the interests of the state, ”the letter says.

As Knapen explained, the Netherlands does not always turn to radical methods of responding to cyberattacks and prefers to act in the diplomatic and legal field. However, there are cases when the Dutch government responded with hacking to hacking. For example, following a series of cyberattacks by the state-funded cybercriminal group APT29 in 2014, the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD responded by hacking, through which it was able to alert the US State Department of an impending cyber operation.

However, according to Knapen, the Netherlands has not yet faced a ransomware attack powerful or large-scale enough to have recourse to intelligence or the Armed Forces.

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Vodafone is suing the UK over a contract to develop a hacker-proof communication line

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The company considers it unfair that the contract was awarded to Fujitsu, although both bidders did not meet the requirements.

Mobile operator Vodafone filed in court against the UK government after losing a tender to develop a hacker-proof communications system, in which the Japanese company Fujitsu also took part.

Although both bidders were found to have failed to meet the government’s minimum requirements, Vodafone believes Fujitsu was unfairly awarded a £ 184m ($ 254m) contract to improve the communications system used by 532 British embassies and other agencies.

The Echo 2 project aims to provide secure communications for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, employees and agents in over 170 countries.

According to the government, the current communications system operated by Vodafone is “outdated” and poses a risk to national security.

Vodafone went to court after Cable & Wireless, acquired by the operator in 2012, lost its long-term contract for the Echo 1.

“We do not believe that the procurement process was carried out correctly. The contracting authority itself admitted that the Fujitsu Solution was ‘not fit for purpose,’ said a Vodafone spokesman.

According to foreign ministry lawyers, Fujitsu’s proposal had problems with two requirements, but generally met the terms of the tender. Fujitsu representatives did not comment on the situation.

The trial in this case is scheduled for January 2022. The court allowed the UK government to enter into a “conditional contract” with Fujitsu. The details of the contract were not disclosed due to security concerns.

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FIN7 recruits specialists to carry out ransomware attacks

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FIN7 created a fictitious information security company with the aim of hiring experts, ostensibly to conduct penetration tests.

It appears that cybercriminal group FIN7 is trying to find a new source of income by joining the ranks of ransomware hackers. In particular, FIN7 created a fictitious information security company with the aim of hiring cybersecurity experts, ostensibly to conduct penetration testing, but in fact – to carry out ransomware attacks.

According to investigation specialists Gemini Advisory (a division of the information security company Recorded Future), the group posted hiring advertisements on the website of a company called Bastion Secure, allegedly specializing in providing penetration testing services to companies and organizations around the world. The “company” was interested in specialists in the field of reverse engineering, system administrators, programmers with knowledge of C ++, Python and PHP. The proposed salary ranged from $ 800 to $ 1200 per month.

Gemini Advisory managed to get an insight into Bastion Secure’s work with the help of an “insider”. As it turned out, job seekers were asked to complete a three-stage interview, which, however, did not include any explanation or legal documents authorizing penetration tests.

In practical terms, applicants were only allowed to use certain tools that were not detectable by security solutions, and to search for backups and file storage systems on the company’s network. At the same time, the tasks set “coincided with the steps taken in the preparation of ransomware attacks.” During the attacks, the ransomware Ryuk or REvil was installed, experts say.

Proposed testing tools included Carbanak and Lizar / Tirion malware, which security experts have linked to FIN7 attacks.

This is not the first time the group has used fictitious companies to attract specialists. For example, a few years ago FIN7 set up a company called Combi Security that looked for pentesters to hack companies’ networks and install malware on PoS terminals.

Although creating and running fictitious companies is a laborious process, hiring an information security expert will cost FIN7 much less than partnering with hackers or hacker groups recruited through cybercriminal forums, which are likely to demand a share of the proceeds from ransomware attacks, the researchers explained.

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US authorities demanded data on patent systems from tech giants

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The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a series of information collection orders for payment systems.

The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued a series of collection orders for major payment systems including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal and Square. Chinese payment systems WeChat and AliPay will also be studied, but the CFBP orders will not apply to them.

The directives do not indicate a specific violation, but indicate the intention of the CFPB to become more involved in the regulation of consumer products of technology companies. In particular, the directives are designed to eradicate any data collection or anti-competitive behavior that may not have been detected yet.

According to Reuters, CFPB chief Rohit Chopra called the orders an attempt to prevent technology companies from using payment processing to influence users or gain a competitive advantage over smaller companies.

At present, little is known about how the tech giant will use its payment platforms, Chopra said.

“For example, will payment operators engage in invasive financial research and combine collected customer data with location and browsing data? … Will payment platforms really be neutral, or will they use their scale to generate rents from market participants?” Chopra said.

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