New information from an internal audit reveals that US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) personnel have repeatedly conducted illegal searches of data gathered under the imperiled surveillance authority, which is set to expire at the end of the year and is the subject of a congressional showdown over whether or not to renew it. A political party, a US lawmaker, and journalists had information sought of them due to what the US Department of Justice described as “misunderstandings.”

The inventor of, a cryptocurrency privacy service that is popular among North Korean hackers and other cybercriminals and has facilitated the money laundering of tens of millions of dollars, was reached by a source this week. Additionally, representatives from the US and the UK announced sanctions against seven alleged members of the Trickbot and Conti ransomware gangs while releasing their true identities, birthdates, email addresses, and pictures. The two governments also took the uncommon step of being upfront about their perception of connections between cybercrime organizations operating out of Russia and the Kremlin’s intelligence services.

In his State of the Union address this week, US President Joe Biden argued that the country needs a bipartisan initiative to “impose stronger controls on the personal data that firms collect on all of us.” The speech elicited positive responses in Washington, but others were also realistic about how difficult it would be to navigate the political minefield necessary to pass a national privacy law anytime soon. Legal authorities also stated this week that the US Fair Credit Report Act should already place restrictions on the data that data brokers can gather and sell about Americans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was urged to start enforcing infractions in a recent letter.

We looked at how, in the midst of Vladimir Putin’s conflict in Ukraine, Moscow’s enormous smart city initiative—launched with the promise of lower crime rates—is increasingly being utilized for draconian AI-assisted monitoring throughout the city. Additionally, the corporation doesn’t appear to have any plans to abide by GDPR demands for erasure if you were hoping to have your Twitter DMs removed.

There’s also more. We compile the stories we didn’t have time to fully cover each week. To read the complete stories, click on the headlines. And be careful out there.

Attacks by North Korean Hackers on US Hospitals

The most ruthless hackers in the world, North Korea’s top state-sponsored hackers steal millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies every year to get around sanctions and pay for the isolated country’s nuclear projects. This week, the US and South Korea issued a fresh security warning, showing just how merciless the nation’s threat actors can be. According to the US National Security Agency (NSA), FBI, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, state-backed hackers attacked hospitals and healthcare systems in South Korea and the US using about a dozen different forms of malware and ransomware (CISA).

The attacks are related to the Andariel organization, according to John Hultquist, who oversees intelligence research at the security company Mandiant, and numerous hospitals “have had to weather substantial disruptions” as a result of the attacks. According to the official advice, the attackers would attempt to “obfuscate” their involvement in some of their operations, use VPNs or virtual private servers to conceal their location, and exploit well-known security flaws to obtain access to networks. The attackers combined ransomware strains made by other organizations, like LockBit, with their own custom malware.

Deepfake Disinformation Has Arrived

On Twitter and Facebook, pro-Chinese bot accounts have circulated news videos with commentators criticizing the US’s lack of action against gun violence and endorsing Chinese foreign policy. Although the propaganda’s message isn’t very novel, there is a twist: the videos’ two news anchors—a male and a woman—are fake. They are artificial intelligence-generated characters, or deepfakes. The videos were found by the misinformation research company Graphika last year, and according to them, this is the “first time we’ve seen this in the wild.” The company claims that the videos were often of low quality and were produced utilizing a for-profit AI video software provider. No video received more than 300 views.

How Android Phones Spy on People in China

Leading Android phones in China are collecting user data, according to researchers from universities in the UK and Ireland. A study from scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Trinity College Dublin found that the pre-installed operating systems on Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Oppo Realme devices are gathering users’ whereabouts, call logs, and personal information before transmitting it to outside parties.

The researchers assessed the amount of network traffic generated by phones they purchased in China for the study. They claim that in many cases, users aren’t informed about the data collection or offered any options to opt out. The report highlights the numerous ways that people can be tracked and how China’s privacy laws differ from those in many other countries. The researchers draw the conclusion that “the data shared by the global version of the firmware is primarily limited to device-specific information.”

Reddit Phishing Attack Reveals Source Code and Some Employee Data

As a result of a successful phishing assault that exposed an employee’s system credentials, Reddit revealed on Thursday that hackers had gained access to its source code. The breach also made hundreds of current and past Reddit contacts and employees’ contract information public. Users are advised to change their passwords and check that two-factor authentication is enabled for their accounts even though the event had no effect on user passwords or production systems. The business added that the lessons it had learnt from coping with a data breach five years earlier had been protective and beneficial in handling the current situation.


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