US DoD staffer with top-secret clearance stole identities from work systems to apply for loans

Plus: Apple patches exploited-in-the-wild bug, White House zero-trust order, and more


In brief A US Department of Defense staffer with top-secret clearance stole the identities of dozens of people from a work SharePoint system to apply for loans totaling nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Kevin Lee, 41, of Chula Vista, southern California, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to wire fraud.

Lee, who worked for Uncle Sam's Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) as an analyst, raided the organization's Microsoft SharePoint system for people's private data to pull off his nefarious scheme. It's said that he applied for and was able to get as much as $244,500 in loans under other people's names to cover his own debts, personal expenses, and bills.

The IT system was home to files on DCMA staff and those in contact with the agency – including DoD employees and contractors.

Over a two-year period, starting in September 2018, Lee harvested personal information – including social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and government employment forms – on at least 37 people, according to prosecutors. Lee used these details to create fake IDs, which were in turn used with fabricated pay stubs, bank statements, and tax documents to apply for loans. Lee also created Google email and voice accounts in his victims' names to prop up his scam.

For example, according to prosecutors, Lee created a Gmail account to masquerade as one of his colleagues and, using data pulled from the DCMA 360 SharePoint site, in March 2020 applied for at least eight bank accounts and loans as his victim. Three loans were approved. Lee even crafted a fake Arizona driver's license to support his ruse.

"The identity theft and fraud in this case is particularly egregious because Mr Lee violated that public trust for his own selfish ends," said US Attorney Randy Grossman. "Those who engage in fraud and identity theft will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Lee, who held a Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (TS-SCI) clearance, will be sentenced in April. He faces up to 20 years behind bars.

iOS, macOS security hole reportedly exploited, now patched

Apple this week patched a large number of security vulnerabilities, at least one of which is being exploited in the wild. Here's a summary of what's been fixed:

  • Safari 15.3 – The IndexedDB privacy bug (CVE-2022-22594) that can spill details of sites you've visited to malicious web pages has been fixed, as well as three other holes in the browser's WebKit engine.
  • macOS Big Sur 11.6.3 – Seven flaws, one of which (CVE-2022-22587 in IOMobileFrameBuffer) is reportedly being exploited by malicious applications on some Apple devices to gain kernel-level control.
  • macOS Monterey 12.2 – Thirteen bugs, including CVE-2022-22587 that's been reportedly exploited in the wild, a hole in Crash Reporter that can give apps root-level access (CVE-2022-22578), flaws in Intel and AMD drivers that bad applications can use to get kernel-level control, and the IndexedDB vuln.
  • Security Update 2022-001 Catalina – Five vulnerabilities, including one (CVE-2022-22593) that can be exploited by bad apps to gain kernel-level access to the system.
  • tvOS 15.3 – Nine flaws including the IndexedDB and Crash Reporter vulns.
  • iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 – Ten flaws, including CVE-2022-22587 and the IndexedDB hole.
  • watchOS 8.4 – Eight bugs, including the IndexedDB hole and CVE-2022-22593.

These updates ought to be installed as soon as possible. In addition, Apple says it has fixed its CloudKit backend that was, as 9to5Mac reported, breaking iCloud syncing.

Also, iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 betas released this week include a Universal Control feature that allows you to control multiple Macs and iPads from a single mouse and keyboard. And Face ID in the iOS 15.4 beta will try to work even when you're wearing a mask.

Biden administration moves to beef up government IT security

The US government is on a bit of a cybersecurity spree at the moment. The White House has told federal organizations [PDF] to adopt a zero-trust strategy, in which computer systems should not assume a user or device can be trusted just because it's within a network (see Mr Kevin Lee, above). And stuff outside the network can't be automatically trusted, either. This strategy should be adopted by the end of 2024.

This means US federal government IT departments need to have the necessary authentication mechanisms in place to validate and track everything and everyone using Uncle Sam's computing resources. The Biden administration also said it will extend its Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative to the water sector, to give that industry a boost in digital defenses.

Also, NIST has updated its document titled Assessing Security and Privacy Controls in Information Systems and Organizations. As the name suggests, it's useful guidance for anyone auditing the security defenses of IT systems and deploying countermeasures to thwart miscreants.

And finally …

Trend Micro has analyzed the Linux and VMware ESXi variant of the LockBit ransomware that emerged toward the end of last year.

Crowdstrike has taken a look at StellarParticle, an espionage campaign linked to Cozy Bear and the SolarWinds intrusion.

And Microsoft has warned of a device registration trick used by miscreants to infiltrate Azure Active Directory deployments. Basically, intruders break into one account that doesn't have multi-factor authentication enabled – typically by using a stolen password – and then join a device to the Azure AD to drill further into the network. ®


Other stories you might like

  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022