Apple’s Latest Move: Targeting Your Password Manager

Written by Andrew Couts

The largest data breach ever may be unfolding before our very eyes. What started as incidents impacting Ticketmaster and financial services firm Santander has snowballed into a multi-pronged attack potentially impacting hundreds of companies—and hundreds of millions of people. The source of the allegedly stolen data is Snowflake, a cloud storage firm, whose customers appear to have been targeted with infostealer malware that seemingly allowed hackers to access their Snowflake accounts.

Microsoft has also (and once again) had a bad week. After the tech giant recently announced its new Recall tool—which takes screenshots of everything a person does on their PC every five seconds and makes it all searchable—security researchers set off the red alert that this, frankly, sounds like a terrible idea. Indeed, one researcher used a preview version of Recall to create a tool that extracts all the data stored by the feature in just seconds. Another found that the tool was vulnerable to “privilege escalation” attacks, making it possible for a hacker to access a Recall database even if they don’t have administrative powers. Microsoft apparently took the criticism to heart, however, and will now turn off Recall by default and add additional security measures.

Embattled social media behemoth TikTok had a security scare this week after an attacker targeted high-profile TikTok users via direct messages in the app. TikTok says that only two accounts were successfully hijacked by the attack, while a third, belonging to celebrity Paris Hilton, was targeted but not taken over. Details about the incident remain sparse, but the company said Friday it has fixed the flaw that enabled the malware used to snatch accounts.

The city of Chula Trieoray in California has introduced an innovative approach to policing by deploying drones in response to 911 calls. Known as the “drone as first responder” initiative, this program is a pioneer in the United States and has managed over 20,000 drone flights since its inception in late 2018. A recent investigation by WIRED, which utilized an analysis of over 22 million flight coordinates along with public records and interviews with many residents, disclosed this week the realities of life under a drone-policed society.

WIRED also reported this week about how a U.S.-based entity allegedly aided North Korean operatives in a scheme that siphons funds to North Korea’s military efforts. This involved establishing shell companies to facilitate North Koreans in obtaining freelance IT work with U.S. companies, subsequently directing their earnings to Kim Jong Un’s government. The Wyoming-based company responsible for registering these entities has declared it has ceased its affiliations with the said shell firms.

Furthermore, we have examined the privacy and security challenges associated with the utilization of AI in workplaces, looked at how a potential second Trump term could exploit surveillance tools against U.S. citizens, and discussed YouTube’s role in breaching Russia’s propaganda controls. We also highlighted a venture funded by Silicon Valley claiming to develop a “handheld iron dome” for shooting drones out of the sky using conventional firearms.

By Matt Burgess

By Andy Greenberg

By Andy Greenberg

By Matthew Gault

That’s not all. Each week, we round up the security and privacy news we didn’t cover in depth ourselves. Click the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference next week, the company will reportedly announce its own stand-alone password manager that will compete with apps like 1Password and LastPass. Dubbed simply Passwords, according to Bloomberg News, the app will reportedly have features that go well beyond the iCloud or Mac Keychain tools Apple already offers, allowing users to save passwords for Wi-Fi networks, store passkeys, and organize login credentials into categories. Passwords will also reportedly work on Windows machines, but it’s unclear whether people who use Android devices can get in on the security tool.

US prosecutors on Monday charged an executive at The Epoch Times newspaper with carrying out a massive money-laundering scheme. According to the US Department of Justice, Epoch Times chief financial officer Weidong “Bill” Guan engaged in “a transnational scheme to launder at least approximately $67 million of illegally obtained funds to benefit himself and the media company.”

The scheme, according to the indictment against Guan, largely involved using cryptocurrency to purchase prepaid debit cards “loaded with US dollars that had been obtained through various frauds”—including funds obtained through unemployment benefits fraud—for less than the funds on the prepaid debit cards. The purchase of the cards was carried out by members of The Epoch Times’ “Make Money Online” team, which Guan managed, according to the DOJ. The so-called MMO team would allegedly then use “stolen personal identification information” to open various accounts, which were used to transfer money from the prepaid debit cards to bank accounts associated with The Epoch Times and its employees. Guan faces one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, two counts of bank fraud, and could face decades in prison if convicted.

Google’s former CEO, billionaire Eric Schmidt, is quietly building a military drone company, reports Forbes. The company, called White Stork, has been testing devices at both its Hillspire office complex in Menlo Park, California, and in Ukraine. Relatively little has been publicly revealed about the company or the specifics of its technology. According to Forbes, however, “individuals flying small drones” have been spotted near the Hillspire property, and Schmidt has reportedly hired alumni from Google, SpaceX, and Apple to carry out his secretive project, providing some clues about its ambitions.

A cyberattack on Synnovis, an entity integral to orchestrating blood transfusions and other critical medical services, severely impacted health facilities throughout London this week. The incident affected both Synnovis, which collaborates with King’s College Hospitals trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital trust, and Synlab, a prominent medical diagnostics company in Europe. Synnovis disclosed in a statement on Tuesday that the breach had compromised their entire IT network, causing significant disruptions to numerous pathology services. The fallout prompted the cancellation of various surgeries that require blood transfusions and other related medical procedures. Ciaran Martin, a former leading cybersecurity official in the UK, attributed the attack to Qilin, a cybercriminal group suspected of Russian associations.

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