By continuing to use the site or forum, you agree to the use of cookies, find out more by reading our GDPR policy.

A new sample of the Shamoon data-wiping malware has been discovered in the wild, after a period of silence that lasted for about two years. Shamoon was first seen in attacks against Saudi Aramco oil provider in 2012 when it erased data on more than 35,000 computer systems belonging to the company. Four years later, it was spotted in attacks against private organizations in the same region that perpetuated until January 2017. In a report sent to BleepingComputer, the research team from Chronicle (cybersecurity subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc.) says that the new strain was uploaded to VirusTotal on December 10, from Italy. It consisted in the dropper and two modules, Wiper and Network, Brandon Levene, head of applied intelligence at Chronicle told us. They handle the disk wiping activity and the communication with the command and control (C2) server. Levene says that the author(s) of the new Shamoon dropped some resources that were removed some resources that were used to replace the destroyed files, a capability that still exists, though. The alternative to this is to overwrite to data and the hard disk MBR with random data. The variant analyzed by Chronicle has the trigger date and local time set to December 7, 2017, 23:51. The researchers note that this is about one year before it was uploaded to the VirusTotal platform. Further details posted on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft released Windows 10 Preview Build 18298 to Fast ring members of the Windows Insider Program this week. Rather than introducing one standout feature, this update makes a bunch of small improvements to various aspects of the operating system, from sign-in options to accessibility tools. The company's also released updates to Feedback Hub, Snip & Sketch and the Game bar via the Microsoft Store to upgrade those utilities. Preview Build 18298 is the first notable release to Windows Insider Program members in a while. That's probably because Microsoft suffered a series of failures involving Windows 10 updates over the last few months. The company infamously delayed the Windows 10 October 2018 Update to mid-November at least for people who aren't using certain hardware or software--and pulled a cumulative update because it was too unstable. It's hard to hype people up about upcoming versions of Windows 10 if the most recent versions are still unavailable on many systems. The show must go on, however, and that's where Preview Build 18298 comes in. The update introduced the ability to create a security key via the Settings app to quickly "unpin" folders and groups from the Start menu and to create bigger and brighter cursors that should be a little easier to see. For more turn to OUR FORUM.

A Chinese court ordered a ban in the country on iPhone sales in a patent dispute between US chipmaker Qualcomm and Apple, according to a Qualcomm statement Monday. The statement said the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court had granted Qualcomm's request for two preliminary injunctions against four subsidiaries of Apple, ordering them to immediately to stop selling the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The move marked the latest in a long-running dispute over patents and royalties between the two California tech giants playing out in courts and administrative bodies worldwide. "We deeply value our relationships with customers, rarely resorting to the courts for assistance, but we also have an abiding belief in the need to protect intellectual property rights," said Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm executive vice president, and general counsel. "Apple continues to benefit from our intellectual property while refusing to compensate us. These court orders are further confirmation of the strength of Qualcomm's vast patent portfolio." The China case is based on patents which enable consumers to adjust and reformat the size and appearance of photographs, and to manage applications using a touchscreen, Qualcomm said. An Apple statement to AFP called Qualcomm's effort a "desperate move by a company whose illegal practices are under investigation by regulators around the world." Apple added that Qualcomm "is asserting three patents they had never raised before, including one which has already been invalidated." Apple said that "all iPhone models remain available for our customers in China," adding that "we will pursue all our legal options through the courts." Follow this on OUR FORUM.

Sextortion email scams have been a very successful way of generating money for criminals. A new Sextortion campaign is now taking it to the next level by tricking recipients into installing the Azorult information-stealing Trojan, which then downloads and installs the GandCrab ransomware. A sextortion scam is when you receive an email that states someone hacked your computer and has been creating videos of you while you are using adult websites. These emails may also contain passwords of yours that were leaked during data breaches in order to make the scams look more legitimate. The emails then tell you to send them bitcoins or they will share the videos they made with all of your contacts. It should be clear that these are scams; your computer was not hacked and there are no videos of you. A new campaign has been spotted by researchers at ProofPoint that instead of containing a bitcoin address to send a blackmail payment to, they instead prompt you to download a video they made of you doing certain "activities". The downloaded zip file, though, contains an executable that will install malware onto the computer. "However, this week Proofpoint researchers observed a sextortion campaign that also included URLs linking to AZORult stealer that ultimately led to infection with GandCrab ransomware," stated ProofPoint's research. More on this dirty deed can be found on OUR FORUM.

You might well expect that if you perform a Google search while signed into your Google account that the results will be tailored according to what that company has learned about you over the years. But what about when you're not signed into your account? A study carried out by the privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo yielded some slightly surprising results. In tests earlier in the year, it was found that even when people searched without logging into a Google account -- or when they used private browsing mode --  "most participants saw results unique to them", suggesting there was still personalization of results. While this was a small study with just 87 results involved, the findings are interesting, nonetheless. Conducted back in June -- during the US midterms -- DuckDuckGo wanted to use its study to test the influence of Google's "filter bubble". This "bubble" is the activity you would expect from Google -- the personalization of search results based on what it has been able to learn about you. When you're logged into your Google account, it's easy to understand how the company gathers information about you. But when you're using private browsing mode -- or just logged out of your account -- and you see similar personalization, it is a little worrying. More content posted on OUR FORUM.

Today at Snapdragon Summit, the chipmaker Qualcomm announced Snapdragon 8cx for Always Connected, Always On Windows 10 devices. This new high-end Snapdragon 8cx chipset will power 2-in-1s instead of smartphones and tablets. At its event, Qualcomm shared more details about the chip that will rival Intel that powers the high-end PCs. Qualcomm also detailed how its Snapdragon processors can contribute to the PC industry and address the battery backup and internet connectivity problems. Earlier this year, Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon 850 platform which is made specifically for Windows laptops. The new Snapdragon processor takes the Windows on ARM project to the next level. Qualcomm is calling the 8cx its “most extreme” package yet. This new platform promises a major boost to Windows performance. The key changes include enhanced AI and machine learning capabilities, improved performance and up to 24 hours of battery backup from traditional 2-in-1s. The Snapdragon 8cx is more powerful than the Snapdragon 850 and it is set to come out next year. The Snapdragon 8cx, a 7nm chip that’s currently in testing and it’s going to power the future Always Connected PCs from Microsoft partners. This is the most powerful and fastest Snapdragon chipset ever made. The new system-on-chip (SoC) features the highly-anticipated eight-core design. The platform also contains support for faster LPDDR4X memory which ensures faster performance. The Qualcomm’s “Extreme” chipset for Windows 10 ARM devices promises better performance, more power, improved connectivity, and up to 25 hours battery backup. More details are posted on OUR FORUM.