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Pakistani hackers set up Android app store to target Afghan politicians

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The hacking operation was carried out from April to August 2021 by the SideCopy group.

A Pakistani hacker group set up and operated a fake Android app store with the intention of infecting the device of individuals associated with the former Afghan government before and during its overthrow by the Taliban.

According to the new report specialists of Facebook, the hacking operation was carried out from April to August of this year by the SideCopy group. The attackers registered fake profiles on Facebook and, posing as young girls, contacted the targeted victims in order to convince them to click on the malicious link.

By clicking on the link, the victim was taken to a phishing site that steals credentials and, in some cases, to fake Android app stores that were infected with malware. As a rule, attackers passed off these applications as well-known (Viber, Signal, etc.) or new messengers (HappyChat, HangOn, ChatOut, TrendBanter, SmartSnap and TeleChat).

The infected applications contained the PJobRAT Remote Access Trojan (RAT) or a previously unknown Android malware that Facebook called Mayhem. Both malware provided SideCopy with complete control over the infected devices.

According to the report, in addition to SideCopy in October of this year, Facebook experts disrupted the operations of three more hacker groups associated with the Syrian government and attacked mainly individuals and activists opposed to the Assad regime:

Syrian Electronic Army – attacked human rights defenders, journalists and other opponents of the ruling regime;

APT-C-37 – attacked individuals associated with the Free Syrian Army and former military who joined the opposition forces;

Unnamed group – Attacked minority groups, activists, Kurdish journalists, opposition figures, members of the People’s Self-Defense Forces (YPG) and White Helmets.

Facebook experts have officially linked the first two groups to two separate units of the Syrian Air Intelligence Force, one of the country’s main intelligence services.

With the aim of disrupting the operations of Pakistani and Syrian hackers, Facebook blocked their accounts and disabled the ability to publish links to their domains on its platform, as well as notified the victims and passed all the information received about the attacks to law enforcement agencies and security researchers.

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Instagram said it is strengthening the protection of its underage users

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The head of Instagram is due to speak at a hearing in the US Congress on December 7 and talk about the measures taken by his service to protect children.

Tuesday, December 7th, Instagram administration stated the intention to carefully select the content recommended for teens and to nudge them to other areas if they get hung up on one thing. On its blog, the service announced a few more changes that will affect teenagers.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri is due to speak at a hearing in the US Congress on Wednesday, December 7, and talk about the measures taken by his service to protect children online.

Recently, Instagram and parent company Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) have come under fire for the potential harm to the mental health and safety of children online.

According to Mosseri, Instagram will disable the ability for users to tag or mention teenagers who are not their followers. Starting in January 2022, teenagers will have the opportunity to massively delete their content, previously set “likes” and written comments.

The service looked at control tools to limit potentially harmful or sensitive content to teens through search, hashtags, short videos (Reels) and featured pages, Mosseri said.

Instagram is also launching a Take a Break feature for users in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, which will remind users to distract themselves if the user is stuck in the app for a long time.

In March 2022, Instagram will launch its first parental control tool that will allow parents and guardians to see how much time a teen is spending on the app.

In September of this year, the Instagram administration decided to postpone the launch of the version of the application for children for now, and now the press service of the service has confirmed that the Instagram management does not intend to return to this project yet.

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Israeli authorities strengthen oversight of cyber technology exports

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The move follows a series of scandals involving Israeli spyware developer NSO Group.

Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency has decided to tighten oversight over the export of offensive cyber products. Companies buying Israeli cyber technologies will have to sign a declaration to use the products “only for the investigation and prevention of terrorist attacks and serious crimes.” Countries that violate the terms of use may be subject to sanctions, “including restricting and / or shutting down the cyber system.”

As the Associated Press reported, the decision was made just days after another NSO Group spyware scandal. US diplomats in Uganda have been targeted by a software tool developed by the NSO Group. Spyware, developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, has been used to hack iPhone smartphones by at least nine US foreign policy officials.

The NSO Group has faced a flood of international criticism over accusations that it helps governments spy on political opponents and human rights defenders. However, according to the company itself, its product is intended solely to help countries in the fight against crime and terrorism. Israel’s Defense Ministry has also drastically reduced the list of countries to which Israeli companies are allowed to sell their cyber technology. If earlier the list included 102 countries, now it has been reduced to 37. In particular, Israel’s new allies Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, in which cases of human rights violations are known, were excluded from it.

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Life360 service is suspected of selling geodata of children to third parties

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The company is one of the largest providers of confidential information on the personal data market.

Specialists of the non-profit organization The Markup spent investigation into the service Life360, which allows tracking the geolocation of children. As it turned out, the company is one of the largest providers of confidential information in the personal data market.

The Markup contacted two former employees of the so-called “data brokers” Cuebiq and X-Mode. Life360 made about $ 16 million in 2020 from selling user data to dozens of different companies, according to whistleblowers. In addition, two former Life360 employees also told the organization about the company’s additional source of income.

According to a former X-Mode employee, the raw location data from Life360 was one of the most valuable offerings on the market due to the sheer volume and accuracy of the data. A former Cuebiq employee joked that the company would not be able to carry out its marketing campaigns without the constant stream of location data from Life360.

The privacy policy of the application specifies the transfer of personal data, but the wording of the document actually allows the company to “transfer information to third parties in a form that allows you to identify the user.”

The functionality of the service allows you to prohibit the transfer of data, but this is not directly communicated to the user. This function is hidden in several sub-items of the settings, and consent to the use of information for commercial purposes is activated by default.

Whistleblowers said the company did not maintain adequate user anonymity and only removed names or home addresses prior to the sale. The rest of the information made it possible to easily identify the identity of the user. Any organization could become a buyer of data from Life360; the company did not enter into transactions only with government agencies.

The founder of the company, Chris Hulls (Chris Hulls) was unable to confirm or deny the results of the investigation.

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