Security

Malware monsters target Apple’s M1 silicon with ‘Silver Sparrow’

Behaves like a legit software installer and phones home for instructions, but lacks a payload


US security consultancy Red Canary says it’s found MacOS malware written specifically for the shiny new M1 silicon that Apple created to power its post-Intel Macs.

Red Canary has named the malware “Silver Sparrow” and says it had found its way onto almost 30,000 MacOS devices as of February 17th.

Red Canary’s post says it has analysed two samples of the malware, one targeting x86 and the other targeting X86 and Apple’s own M1 silicon. The form says both samples “leverage the macOS Installer JavaScript API to execute suspicious commands.” That’s not unusual behaviour for a legitimate software installer package, but Red Canary says it’s not spotted it in malware before.

Once the scripts run, a Mac will have two new and nasty files one of which phones home to the malware’s authors to report it was installed.

LibreOffice 7.1 Community released with support for M1 Arm Mac and 'user interface variants'

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The other script is driven by a persistent LaunchAgent that runs it hourly to connect with a server and request more information from whoever controls the malware.

Red Canary says that hourly request “tells launchd to execute a shell script that downloads a JSON file to disk, converts it into a plist, and uses its properties to determine further actions.”

The firm’s researchers ran the malware for a week and never saw that request result in a download, leading them to suggest the malware currently lacks a payload.

How the malware is distributed remains a mystery, but Red Canary’s researchers have divined that it uses resources in AWS and Akamai’s content distribution network. The firms suggests Silver Sparrow’s authors therefore appear to have a decent understanding of how working in a public cloud and CDN makes it harder to defend against malware because organisations often have very good reasons to welcome traffic from large public clouds. ®

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Codecov dev tool warns of stolen credentials from compromised script, undiscovered for two months

Environment variables full of secrets uploaded to attacker server

Codecov, makers of a code coverage tool used by over 29,000 customers, has warned that a compromised script may have stolen credentials over a period of two months, before it was discovered a few weeks ago.

Code coverage measures how much of an application’s code is the subject of unit tests, the idea being that the higher the percentage, the more reliable the application is likely to be. It is a useful but imperfect metric, since it does not take into account the quality of the tests.

Codecov is a cloud-based tool which integrates with GitHub, GitLab, Atlassian Bitbucket, or any Git-based repository. Developers run tests using their own CI (Continuous Integration) tool and then upload the results to Codecov using a tool called Bash Uploader. Codecov then generates a report which is accessed on its site. Source code itself is not stored on Codecov’s site, but the tool does require read access to a repository in order to display code alongside reports on demand.

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More Linux love for Windows Insiders with a kernel update

Rounded corners are nice, but what you really want is Linux 5.10, right?

Windows Insiders have been given a bit of Linux love with the arrival of a freshly updated kernel and an all-important clock fix.

Having yanked the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2 out of the usual Windows servicing cadence, Microsoft's engineers have been able to update WSL 2 without requiring a full-on OS patch.

The original 4.19 branch was updated to 5.4.72 in February. The kernel has now been brought considerably more up to date with the 5.10.16.3 version.

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Sysadmin for FIN7 criminal cracking group gets 10 years in US prison for managing card slurping malware scam

Plus Pwn2Own faces fire and update Chrome immediately

In Brief The former systems administrator for the FIN7 card-slurping gang has been sentenced to 10 years in a US prison.

Fedir Hladyr, 35, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking last year, and on Friday was sentenced for his role in the theft and resale of over than 20 million customer card records from over 6,500 point-of-sale terminals across the US using the malware dubbed Carbanak.

Hladyr set up a front company, Combi Security, to cover his actions as he funneled the purloined data around the criminal underworld. He managed the encrypted comms network the gang used, ran the server farms used to spread and exploit malware, and coordinated individual attacks.

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Japanese auto chipmaker Renesas expects to resume full production next month following fab blaze

Glimmer of hope on the semiconductor front – for the car industry anyway

Japanese chipmaker Renesas has said it will restore full production capacity at its N3 Naka plant by the middle of next month following a blaze in March that destroyed equipment and contaminated the clean room.

Renesas, which accounts for a third of all automotive semiconductor sales globally, said it expects to be at half-capacity by the end of April. CEO Hidetoshi Shibata confirmed in a press conference the company plans to install new fire suppression equipment to prevent any future fires.

Operations at the Naka N3 clean room resumed on 9 April. According to a notice from Renesas, the company had to rely on over 1,600 workers each day (both internal and from third parties) to rebuild and decontaminate the clean room, illustrating both the scale of destruction and difficulty in restoration.

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Huawei could have snooped on the Dutch prime minister's phone calls thanks to KPN network core access

Nobody caught – er, held us responsible, says Chinese firm

Huawei was able to snoop on the Dutch prime minister's phone calls and track down Chinese dissidents because it was included in the core of the Netherlands' mobile networks, an explosive news report has claimed.

Dutch national daily Volkskrant (behind a pay wall) reported over the weekend that mobile operator KPN, which used Huawei-supplied equipment in the core of its network, discovered the full extent of the Chinese company's doings in 2010 after it commissioned Capgemini to write an outsourcing risk analysis report .

Not only could the prime minister be eavesdropped on by Huawei, along with millions of other customers, said KPN as it quoted the report, but it could also identify people being snooped on by the Dutch state as well.

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On a dusty red planet almost 290 million km away... NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flies

NASA’s JPL lab speaks to The Reg

The first human-made helicopter to take flight on another planet, Ingenuity, has hovered in Martian skies after NASA at last launched the device into the air.

Amid cheers, engineers confirmed the diminutive helicopter had spun up its rotors, taken off, landed and spun everything down, leaving the stage set for further tests. An image from the helicopter's onboard navigation camera showing its shadow on the surface of Mars was swiftly followed by another sequence from the Perseverance rover showing the helicopter hovering.

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Oracle cuts support for South African energy biz Eskom in long-running licensing dispute

'Eskom should pay the pending dues for the Oracle software that they use'

Oracle has pulled the plug on support for software described as "quite essential" to "crucial operations" at South African energy firm Eskom as part of an ongoing licensing dispute.

Eskom spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said Big Red had withdrawn support for multiple software systems after the electricity provider failed to have the courts compel Oracle to continue while the dispute was settled. Eskom had also offered to pay what it thought it owed upfront until the figure was agreed in court.

Mantshantsha confirmed that Oracle had withdrawn some of its technical support services. "Eskom has contingency plans in place to reduce the risk of disruption resulting from the dispute with Oracle," he said.

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Plot twist! South Korean telco uses 5G to fight coronavirus via hospital-patrolling robot

Modified Keemi disinfects, takes temperatures, tells you off for not socially distancing

South Korea Telecom (SKT) has linked up with Yongin Severance Hospital to commercialise and deploy facility-roaming robots that minimise the need for face-to-face contact, thus supporting reduced COVID transmission.

"The plan is to ensure that citizens can safely use the hospital through a 24-hour constant quarantine system, and to further strengthen the infection control system in the hospital so that patients in the Corona 19 environment can receive treatment at the National Safety Hospital without anxiety of infection," said SKT in a canned statement.

The robots take temperatures via facial measurements. Mask checks are done through facial recognition, AI technology, and voice guidance warnings. Social distancing is analysed via AI technology and 3D cameras that can calculate distance. During the day, the robot offers hand-sanitising services. At night, it sterilises the environment via UV rays. Operation and other real-time data is communicated to operators over 5G.

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UK Home Office tenders £5m for a supplier to help it greenlight IT projects. Yes, you read that correctly

Procurement raises questions over supplier creating its own sales pipeline within govt

The UK's Home Office is tendering to recruit a supplier to help manage the selection of its IT projects, leading to concerns over conflict of interest.

The notice published in the public sector Digital Marketplace is seeking a company to help deliver and operate the "discovery-as-a-service" capability for the "Innovation - Law Enforcement" (I-LE) function within the Police and Public Protection Technology Portfolio (PPPT), with a £5m contract on the table.

The snappy moniker – DaaS – alludes to the discovery phase in the UK government's IT project service manual. Discovery, it says, means learning about users and what they're trying to achieve; constraints the project faces in making changes to how the service is run because, for example, of technology or legislation; and the underlying policy intent the project is set to address and so on.

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Brit authorities could legally do an FBI and scrub malware from compromised boxen without your knowledge

Would move for The Greater Good™ actually be good, though?

Comment UK authorities could lawfully copy the FBI and forcibly remove web shells from compromised Microsoft Exchange server deployments – but some members of the British infosec industry are remarkably quiet about whether this would be a good thing.

In the middle of last week the American authorities made waves after deleting web shells from Exchange Server deployments compromised in the Hafnium attacks. The agency had gone to the US federal courts for permission, which it received.

The entire infosec world had been bellowing at IT admins to update and mitigate the vulns, which were being exploited by skilled and malicious people who found the remote-code-execution bug. Nonetheless, some laggards still hadn't bothered – and with compromised boxen providing a useful base for criminals to launch further attacks from, evidently the FBI felt the wider risk was too great not to step in.

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Truth and consequences for enterprise AI as EU know who goes legal: GDPR of everything from chatbots to machine learning

Regulations On A European Approach For Artificial Intelligence

One of the Brexit bonuses we’ve been enjoying since January 1st is that we have abandoned our influence within the world’s regulatory superpower.

America and China may have industrial and military dominance, but by placing a decent proportion of global economic activity under the world’s strongest regulatory regime, the EU forces the pace for everyone else. GDPR commands respect around the world.

So when the draft "Regulation On A European Approach For Artificial Intelligence" leaked earlier this week, it made quite the splash - and not just because it’s the size of a novella. It goes to town on AI just as fiercely as GDPR did on data, proposing chains of responsibility, defining "high risk AI" that gets the full force of the regs, proposing multi-million euro fines for non-compliance, and defining a whole set of harmful behaviours and limits to what AI can do with individuals and in general.

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