This Week in Tech 677: To Serve Cat

This Week in Tech

Facebook’s stock crash, Tesla surfboards, Russia hacks utilities, and more.

— Jason Calacanis tells us what’s going on with his buddy Elon Musk.
— Apple fixes the MacBook Pro’s throttling issue.
— Facebook and Twitter stock takes a dive over poor growth numbers, but Google is doing just fine.
— Russian hackers in MY energy grid? It’s more likely than you think.
— Slack eats HipChat. • Spectrum Internet gets kicked out of New York.
— Get a Tesla surfboard to go with your Boring flamethrower.


Russia, China reportedly crack Snowden’s files, identify US, UK spies

Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies have reportedly decrypted files of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor and leaker Edward Snowden, and have identified British and U.S. secret agents.

MI6, the U.K.’s secret intelligence service, has withdrawn agents from overseas operations in hostile countries, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London, citing U.K. government officials and Western intelligence agencies.

The report contains some apparently contradictory information. Although The Sunday Times quoted a U.K. Home Office official saying that Snowden has “blood on his hands,” it also quoted a government source saying that there was no sign that agents have been hurt.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aides, however, confirmed that Snowden’s files are in the hands of Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies, according to the report.

“It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information,” according to one top U.K. government source cited by the report. “It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information. There is no evidence of anyone being harmed.”

The report quotes David Omand, the former director of the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence agency, saying that access by Russia and China to Snowden’s material is a “huge strategic setback” that was “harming” to the U.K., the U.S. America and their allies.

The NSA and U.S. Central Intelligence Agency did not reply to requests for comment about the report.

The first leaks about U.S. surveillance operations from Snowden came out two years ago. Snowden fled the U.S. to go first to Hong Kong before seeking refuge in Russia.

Snowden has said in the past that he was capable of preventing files that he obtained from being decrypted by foreign intelligence agencies. The information he leaked has led to ongoing debate in the U.S. about the scope of government spying. Just last week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to curb the NSA’s bulk collection of domestic telephone records, sending the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature.

via Russia, China reportedly crack Snowden’s files, identify US, UK spies | PCWorld.

Security firm discovers Windows zero-day, claims Russian hackers used it to target NATO, Ukraine

A Russian hacking group has been exploiting a security flaw in Microsoft Windows to spy on NATO, the Ukrainian government, the European Union, an American academic organization, and companies in telecommunications and energy sectors, according to cyber intelligence firm iSight Partners.

The group, which has been active since at least 2009, prefers the use of spear-phishing with malicious document attachments to target victims. The firm has internally dubbed the hacking group “Sandworm Team” after it found references to the science-fiction series “Dune” in their software code.

Citing the choice of targets as well as language clues embedded in the code, the company says it believes the hackers are Russians and are probably working for the government. They also note that there is no indication this is the same group that launched a massive cyberattack on at least five US banks, including JP Morgan Chase, in August this year.

iSight, which has been monitoring the Sandworm Team’s activities from late 2013, said it has evidence that some Ukrainian government computer systems were infected, but the company doesn’t have details on what data was exfiltrated in this campaign.

As for the Windows vulnerability, the security firm says it impacts all supported versions of Microsoft Windows (except Windows XP) and Windows Server 2008 and 2012. This is quite ironic, considering Microsoft said last year that “Windows XP is 21 times more likely to be infected than Windows 8”.

iSight discovered the bug last month, and has already shared it with Microsoft, which plans to release a patch for the vulnerability today as part of its Patch Tuesday release. The security firm also plans to release a detailed report on the hacking incident to its clients today.

via Security firm discovers Windows zero-day, claims Russian hackers used it to target NATO, Ukraine – TechSpot.