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Report States Many Phones To Soon Get Satellite Connectivity


A new partnership between satellite phone company Iridium and chip giant Qualcomm will bring satellite connectivity to premium Android smartphones later this year. It implies that handsets can communicate with passing satellites to send and receive messages even in areas with no mobile coverage.

Qualcomm chips are found in many Android-powered smartphones. Apple announced a satellite feature for the iPhone 14 in September 2022. The service is currently only available for sending and receiving basic text messages in an emergency.

Bullitt, a British smartphone maker, was the first to launch its own satellite service, beating Apple to the punch. It is also intended for emergency use and will initially be available in select areas.

Iridium was the first satellite phone system, launching its first satellite into orbit in 1997. In 2019, it completed a refresh of its 75-spacecraft network.

The satellites cover the entire globe and fly in low orbit, approximately 485 miles (780 kilometres) above the Earth, and groups of them can communicate with one another, passing data between them.

Qualcomm stated that the new feature, dubbed Snapdragon Satellite, will initially be included only in its premium chips and is unlikely to appear in low-cost devices.

However, it will ultimately be rolled out to tablets, laptops, and even vehicles, and will also become a service that is not limited to emergency communication - though there will most probably be a fee for this.

Satellite connectivity is widely regarded as the next frontier for mobile phones because it addresses the issue of "not-spots," or areas with no existing coverage. These are more common in rural or remote areas.

It has already been used to provide broadband coverage by services like Elon Musk's Starlink. Satellite broadband is faster and more reliable than cable or fiber connections but is more expensive.

But since countries such as India and China prohibit the use of satellite phones, the use of the feature will be subject to local government regulations.

Amazon Patches Ring Android App Flaw Exposing Camera Recordings


Amazon has patched a critical vulnerability in the Amazon Ring app for Android that could have enabled hackers to download saved camera recordings from customers. The flaw was discovered and disclosed to Amazon on May 1st, 2022 by security researchers at application security testing company Checkmarx, and it was fixed on May 27th. 

Because the Ring Android app has over 10 million downloads and is used by people all over the world, access to a customer's saved camera recordings could have enabled a wide range of malicious behaviour, from extortion to data theft. 

Checkmarx discovered an 'activity' that could be launched by any other app installed on the Android device while analysing the Ring Android app. An 'activity' on Android is a programme 0component that displays a screen that users can interact with to perform a specific action. When developing an Android app, you can expose that activity to other installed apps by including it in the app's manifest file.

Checkmarx discovered that the 'com.ringapp/com.ring.nh.deeplink.DeepLinkActivity' activity was exposed in the app's manifest, enabling any other install app to launch it.

"This activity would accept, load, and execute web content from any server, as long as the Intent's destination URI contained the string “/better-neighborhoods/”," explained a report by Checkmarx shared with BleepingComputer before publishing.

This meant they could start the activity and send it to an attacker-controlled web server to interact with it. However, only pages hosted on the or domains were able to interact with the activity.

The Checkmarx researchers got around this restriction by discovering an XSS vulnerability on the URL, which allowed them to compromise the system.

"With this cookie, it was then possible to use Ring’s APIs to extract the customer’s personal data, including full name, email, and phone number, and their Ring device’s data, including geolocation, address, and recordings." - Checkmarx.

With a working attack chain in place, the researchers could have exploited the vulnerability by developing and publishing a malicious app on Google Play or another site. Once a user was duped into installing the app, it would launch the attack and send the Ring customer's authentication cookies to the attackers.

Analyzing videos with machine learning

However, as a threat actor, what would you do with the massive amount of videos that you could gain access to by exploiting this vulnerability?

Checkmarx discovered that they could sift through the videos using the Amazon Rekognition service, an image and video analysis service. The service could use machine learning to find videos of celebrities, documents containing specific words, or even a password scribbled carelessly on a post-it note stuck to a monitor.

This information could then be relayed back to the threat actor, who could use it for extortion, network intrusion, or simply to be a voyeuristic observer. The good news is that Amazon quickly responded to Checkmarx's bug report and released a fix.

"It was a pleasure to collaborate so effectively with the Amazon team, who took ownership and were professional through the disclosure and remediation process," concluded the Checkmarx report.

"We take the security of our devices and services seriously and appreciate the work of independent researchers. We issued a fix for supported Android customers back in May, soon after the researchers' submission was processed. Based on our review, no customer information was exposed," Ring told BleepingComputer.

Homeland Security Warns Log4j’s 'Endemic' Threats for Years to Come


The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the Cyber Safety Review Board's (CSRB) first report into the December 2021 Log4j incident, when a variety of vulnerabilities with this Java-based logging framework were revealed, this week. 

The report's methodology comprised 90 days of interviews and information requests with around 80 organisations and individuals, including software developers, end users, security specialists, and businesses. 

This was done to ensure that the board met with a wide range of representatives and understand the complexities of how different attack surfaces are constructed and defended. According to the report, although standardised and reusable "building blocks" are essential for developing and expanding software, they also allow any possible vulnerability to be mistakenly included in multiple software packages, putting any organization that uses those programs at risk. 

According to the report, while Log4j remains dangerous, the government-wide approach helped tone down the vulnerability. The board also noted the need for extra financing to help the open-source software security community, which is primarily comprised of volunteers. 

Industry experts, such as Michael Skelton, senior director of security operations at Bugcrowd, said of Log4J: “Dealing with it is a marathon, one that will take years to resolve. Java and Log4j are prevalent everywhere, not only in core projects but in dependencies that other projects rely on, making detection and mitigation not as simple an exercise as it may be with other vulnerabilities.” 

John Bambenek, the principal threat hunter at Netenrich, was more critical of the report’s timing, believing that “anyone still vulnerable is highly unlikely to read this report or in much of a position to do anything about it if they did. Most of the American economy is small to medium businesses that almost always never have a CISO and likely not even a CIO. Until we find ways to make the public without security budgets safe, no high-level list of best practices will move the ball significantly.” 

The CSRB report went on to state that, thankfully, it is unaware of any large Log4j-based attacks on critical infrastructure assets or systems, and that efforts to hack Log4j happened at a lesser level than many experts expected. 

The paper, however, emphasises that the Log4j incident is "not over" and will continue to be an "endemic vulnerability" for many years, with considerable risk persisting. The research concluded with 19 actionable recommendations for government and business, which were divided into four divisions. They were as follows:
  • Address Continued Risks of Log4j
  • Drive Existing Best Practices for Security Hygiene
  • Build a Better Software Ecosystem
  • Investments in the Future

Survey: 89% Firms Experienced One or More Successful Email Breach


During the past 12 months, 89 percent of firms had one or more successful email intrusions, resulting in significant expenses. 

The vast majority of security teams believe that their email protection measures are useless against the most significant inbound threats, such as ransomware. This is according to a survey of business customers using Microsoft 365 for email commissioned by Cyren and conducted by Osterman Research. The survey examined issues with phishing, business email compromise (BEC), and ransomware threats, attacks that became costly incidents, and readiness to cope with attacks and incidents. 

“Security team managers are most concerned that current email security solutions do not block serious inbound threats (particularly ransomware), which requires time for response and remediation by the security team before dangerous threats are triggered by users,” according to the report.

Less than half of those surveyed felt their companies can prevent email threats from being delivered. Whereas, less than half of firms consider their current email security solutions to be efficient. Techniques to detect and stop mass-mailed phishing emails are seen as the least effective, followed by safeguards against impersonation attacks. 

As a result, it's perhaps unsurprising that nearly every company polled has experienced one or more sorts of email breaches. Overall, successful ransomware attacks have climbed by 71% in the last three years, Microsoft 365 credential compromise has increased by 49%, and successful phishing assaults have increased by 44%, according to the report. 

Email Defences 

When the firms looked into where email defence falls short, they discovered that, surprisingly, the use of email client plug-ins for users to flag questionable communications is on the upswing. According to a 2019 survey, half of the firms now employ an automatic email client plug-in for users to flag questionable email messages for review by skilled security personnel, up from 37% in 2019. The most common recipients of these reports are security operations centre analysts, email administrators, and an email security vendor or service provider, however, 78 percent of firms alert two or more groups. 

In addition, most firms now provide user training on email dangers, according to the survey: More than 99% of companies provide training at least once a year, and one out of every seven companies provides email security training monthly or more regularly. 

“Training more frequently reduces a range of threat markers Among organizations offering training every 90 days or more frequently, the likelihood of employees falling for a phishing, BEC or ransomware threat is less than organizations only training once or twice a year,” as per the report.

Furthermore, the survey discovered that more regular training leads to a higher number of suspicious messages being reported, as well as a higher percentage of these messages being reported as such. The survey also revealed that firms are utilising at least one additional security product to supplement Microsoft 365's basic email protections. However, the survey discovered that their implementation efficacy differs. 

The report explained, “Additive tools include Microsoft 365 Defender, security awareness training technology, a third-party secure email gateway or a third-party specialized anti-phishing add-on. There is a wide range of deployment patterns with the use of these tools.”

The firms came to the conclusion that these kinds of flaws, as well as weak defences in general, result in significant expenses for businesses.

“Costs include post-incident remediation, manual removal of malicious messages from inboxes, and time wasted on triaging messages reported as suspicious that prove to be benign. Organizations face a range of other costs too, including alert fatigue, cybersecurity analyst turnover, and regulatory fines” the report further read.

Security Professionals View Ransomware and Terrorism as Equal Threats


Venafi published the results of a global poll of over 1,500 IT security decision-makers, which showed that 60% of security professionals believe ransomware threats should be treated on par with terrorism. 

Following the attack on the Colonial Pipeline earlier this year, the US Department of Justice upgraded the threat level of ransomware. According to the report, just about a third of respondents have put in place basic security protections to break the ransomware kill chain. 

Other significant findings:
  • Over the last 12 months, 67 per cent of respondents from companies with more than 500 employees have suffered a ransomware assault, rising to 80 per cent for companies with 3,000-4,999 employees. 
  • Although 37% of respondents said they would pay the ransom, 57% said they would reconsider if they had to publicly publish the payment, as required by the Ransomware Disclosure Act, a bill introduced in the US Senate that would require corporations to reveal ransomware payments within 48 hours.
  • Despite the increased frequency of ransomware assaults, 77 percent of respondents are optimistic that the mechanisms they have in place would keep them safe from ransomware. IT decision makers in Australia have the most faith in their tools (88 percent), compared to 71 percent in the United States and 70 percent in Germany.
  • Paying a ransom is considered "morally wrong" by 22% of respondents. 
  • Seventeen per cent of those hacked admitted to paying the ransom, with Americans paying the highest (25 per cent) and Australian businesses paying the least (9 per cent). 

Many depend on traditional security controls to tackle ransomware threats 

Kevin Bocek, VP ecosystem and threat intelligence at Venafi stated, “The fact that most IT security professionals consider terrorism and ransomware to be comparable threats tells you everything you need to know; these attacks are indiscriminate, debilitating, and embarrassing.” 

“Unfortunately, our research shows that while most organizations are extremely concerned about ransomware, they also have a false sense of security about their ability to prevent these devastating attacks. Too many organizations say they rely on traditional security controls like VPNs and vulnerability scanning instead of modern security controls, like code signing, that are built-in to security and development processes.” 

According to the survey, most businesses do not employ security controls that disrupt the ransomware kill chain early in the attack cycle. Many ransomware attacks begin with phishing emails including a malicious attachment, yet only 21% of ransomware assaults restrict all macros in Microsoft Office documents. 

Only 28% of firms require all software to be digitally signed by their organization before employees are permitted to execute it, and only 18% utilize group policy to limit the usage of PowerShell.