Security

Insult to injury: Malware menace soaks water-logged utility ravaged by Hurricane Florence

Storm-savaged waterworks having to rebuild from scratch


A water company in the US state of North Carolina already dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence will now have to juggle a complete database rebuild – thanks to a nasty ransomware infection.

The Onslow Water and Sewer Authority (aka ONWASA) says it will have to completely restore a number of its internal systems thanks to an outbreak of Emotet, a strain of ransomware that has been menacing a number of school and government networks in recent months.

In this case, ONWASA CEO Jeffrey Hudson said on Monday the infection had spread through much of its network and would require several of its main databases to be completely rebuilt. No customer information was compromised, however, and the utility says regular water service is not going to be impacted.

ONWASA said that the attack began on October 4 when Emotet was first spotted on the utility's network. IT staff had thought to have contained the initial infection, only to see a second attack kick off in the wee hours of Saturday, October 13.

"An ONWASA IT staff member was working was working at 3am and saw the attack," ONWASA said.

"IT staff took immediate action to protect system resources by disconecting ONWASA from the internet, but the crypto-virus spread quickly along the network encrypting databases and files."

Sunny Cali goes ballistic, this ransomware is atrocious. Even our IT bill will be something quite ferocious

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Rather than pay the malware's ransom fee, the utility said it will be simply wiping and rebuilding databases on the scrambled systems.

"Ransom monies would be used to fund criminal, and perhaps terrorist activities in other countries," ONWASA reasoned. "Furthermore, there is no expectation that payment of a ransom would forestall repeat attacks."

Indeed, there is not even a guarantee paying will stop the current attack and experts recommend companies opt to restore from backups rather than cave in to ransomware demands.

The infection will, however, be an exhausting new task for the utility company operating in one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Florence last month.

In Onslow county, schools have yet to open and local governments are still working with FEMA to clean up debris from the massive storm with costs expected to hit $125m.

ONWASA estimates that, for the next several weeks as it restores all of the damaged systems and conducts day-to-day operations by hand in person, customers will see slower service and will have to make their bill payments by phone rather than online. ®

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AWS DocumentDB not MongoDB-compatible, says MongoDB Inc

MongoDB CTO Mark Porter: 'It is 34 per cent compatible, through our tests'

Interview Amazon's DocumentDB database service is described by the cloud corp as "MongoDB compatible", but MongoDB CTO Mark Porter has told The Register this is not entirely the case.

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Miscreants make off with $150m of digital assets in BitMart security breach

Or it might be nearer $200m. Even the amounts stolen seem to be volatile in the crypto world

Cryptocurrency exchange BitMart has coughed to a large-scale security breach relating to ETH and BSC hot wallets. The company reckons that hackers made off with approximately $150m in assets.

Security and analytics outfit PeckShield put the figure at closer to $200m.

"We have identified a large-scale security breach related to one of our ETH hot wallets and one of our BSC hot wallets today. At this moment we are still concluding the possible methods used. Hackers were able to withdraw assets of the value of approximately 150 million USD," BitMart said.

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MySQL a 'pretty poor database' says departing Oracle engineer

PostgreSQL a better option for open source RDBMS, he claims

You've collected your leaving card, novelty presents, and perhaps a bottle of wine – what's next on the list for the departing developer? For one, it's a blog rubbishing the technology he's been working on for five years.

That was the choice of Steinar Gunderson, a former principal software engineer at Oracle and member of the MySQL optimiser team.

In an online missive, the engineer, who has now taken up a role in Google's Chrome team, left no reader in doubt of his views on MySQL.

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Uber's gig economy business model takes a blow from London legal double-whammy

Free Now taxi app unlawfully registered by regulator – and Ts&Cs didn't comply with the law

London taxi-hailing apps cannot dump their legal obligations on gig economy drivers, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales has ruled in a blow to Uber.

The court said this morning [PDF] that Germany-based taxi app Free Now could not operate in the English capital without taking on legal liability for delivering the taxi journey, giving a rolled-up judgment on two separate but closely linked cases.

In the first, Free Now's UK arm – aka Transopco UK Ltd – argued that as a middleman it was not contractually obliged to deliver taxi journeys, saying this was the legal responsibility of its drivers. Judges ruled there was "no material difference" between Free Now's business model and Uber's.

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Helios-NG: An open-source cluster OS that links the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga

Does anyone have the stones to revive this long-forgotten software?

What is old is new again: linking open source Unix-alikes, native cluster OSes for massively parallel computers, and 1980s platform rivalries. You get all this in a somewhat dusty project hoping to "breathe new life" into Helios, a manycore OS from the '90s.

Parallel computing is back in fashion. Just last week, The Reg covered an inexpensive Arm cluster in a box; and support in the next Linux kernel for 24-core Atom chips and 64-core ARM ones.

Back in the 1980s, Intel couldn't build you a box with that many cores – but a small British outfit called Inmos could. While a remote descendant of Inmos provides one of the processors in relatively recent Amiga hardware, there's a much older connection.

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Cuba ransomware gang scores almost $44m in ransom payments across 49 orgs, say Feds

Hancitor is at play

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says 49 organisations, including some in government, were hit by Cuba ransomware as of early November this year.

The attacks were spread across five "critical infrastructure", which, besides government, included the financial, healthcare, manufacturing, and – as you'd expect – IT sectors. The Feds said late last week the threat actors are demanding $76m in ransoms and have already received at least $43.9m in payments.

The ransomware gang's loader of choice, Hancitor, was the culprit, distributed via phishing emails, or via exploit of Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities, compromised credentials, or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) tools. Hancitor – also known as Chanitor or Tordal –  enables a CobaltStrike beacon as a service on the victim's network using a legitimate Windows service like PowerShell.

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Graviton 3: AWS attempts to gain silicon advantage with latest custom hardware

Key to faster, more predictable cloud

RE:INVENT AWS had a conviction that "modern processors were not well optimized for modern workloads," the cloud corp's senior veep of Infrastructure, Peter DeSantis, claimed at its latest annual Re:invent gathering in Las Vegas.

DeSantis was speaking last week about AWS's Graviton 3 Arm-based processor, providing a bit more meat around the bones, so to speak – and in his comment the word "modern" is doing a lot of work.

The computing landscape looks different from the perspective of a hyperscale cloud provider; what counts is not flexibility but intensive optimization and predictable performance.

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The Omicron dilemma: Google goes first on delaying office work

Hurrah, employees can continue to work from home and take calls in pyjamas

Googlers can continue working from home and will no longer be required to return to campuses on 10 January 2022 as previously expected.

The decision marks another delay in getting more employees back to their desks. For Big Tech companies, setting a firm return date during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmare. All attempts were pushed back so far due to rising numbers of cases or new variants of the respiratory disease spreading around the world, such as the new Omicron strain.

Google's VP of global security, Chris Rackow, broke the news to staff in a company-wide email, first reported by CNBC. He said Google would wait until the New Year to figure out when campuses in the US can safely reopen for a mandatory return.

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This House believes: A unified, agnostic software environment can be achieved

How long will we keep reinventing software wheels?

Register Debate Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you the reader choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your vote on which side you support using the poll embedded below, choosing whether you're in favour or against the motion. The final score will be announced on Friday, revealing whether the for or against argument was most popular.

This week's motion is: A unified, agnostic software environment can be achieved. We debate the question: can the industry ever have a truly open, unified, agnostic software environment in HPC and AI that can span multiple kinds of compute engines?

Our first contributor arguing FOR the motion is Nicole Hemsoth, co-editor of The Next Platform.

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Sun sets: Oracle to close Scotland's Linlithgow datacentre

Questions for tenants as Ellison's gang executes its OCI strategy

Oracle's datacentre in Linlithgow, Scotland is set to close over the next few months, leaving clients faced with a cloud migration or a move to an alternative hosted datacentre.

According to multiple insiders speaking to The Register, Oracle has been trying to move its datacentre clients to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – with mixed results.

The Linlithgow facility dates back to the days of Sun Microsystems, which opened a manufacturing plant there in 1990.

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The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day

Put crypto back in the crypt

Opinion In 1960, Theodore H Maiman made the first laser.

Famously described at birth as a solution in search of a problem, it delivered a Nobel prize four years later, was in barcode scanners in shops 10 years after that, and in 1979 gave birth to the compact disc.

Not content with enabling digital audio, revolutionising many sciences and much else besides, it has since become the glowing heart of the global internet. Yay lasers.

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