Fake Hitman Dark Web Site Rakes in the Bitcoin

November 16, 2017

No one can accuse these scammers of not going all in. Motherboard reports, “This Fake Hitman Site Is the Most Elaborate, Twisted Dark Web Scam Yet.” Reporter Joseph Cox describes the almost-certainly fake hitman-services website Besa Mafia. He writes:

Although many already suspected the site was a sham, Risk Based Security reported last week that supposedly hacked data shining more light on its behind-the-scenes dealings had been posted online. Included in that dump were alleged lists of ‘hitmen,’ photos of targets customers had uploaded, orders made on the site, and a large cache of messages purportedly between users and site admins.

Although the site is almost definitely a scam—and a seemingly profitable one at that—the sheer effort its creators have gone to puts Besa Mafia head and shoulders above just about anything else on the dark web.”

Yes, to protect its stream of bitcoin profit (apparently about $23,000 by the time of the data dump), the site admins literally threaten to burn the cars of those who give them negative reviews. Less dramatically, they also seem to be seeding the Dark Web with positive reviews of their own non-existent services

Another interesting point from the data dump—in a hedge, the website has been supplying information on would-be clients and contractors to law enforcement. The article reports:

In one message from the dump, the admin writes that the site not only cheats people out of their bitcoin; it also provides information to law enforcement about ordered hits. ‘This website is to scam criminals of their money. We report them for 2 reasons: to stop murder, this is moral and right; to avoid being charged with conspiracy to murder or association to murder, if we get caught,’ the admin writes.

They certainly thought this through. See the article for more details on this fake purveyor of violent services.

Cynthia Murrell, November 16, 2017

Ichidan Simplifies Dark Web Searches

November 10, 2017

Now there is an easier way to search the Dark Web, we learn from a write-up at Cylance, “Ichidan, a Search Engine for the Dark Web.” Cybersecurity pro and writer Kim Crawley informs us:

Ichidan is a search engine for looking up websites that are hosted through the Tor network, which may be the first time that’s been done at this scale. Websites on Tor usually have the .onion top level domain and you typically need a web browser with the Tor plugin or Tor’s own configured web browser in order to access them. … The search engine is less like Google and more like Shodan, in that it allows users to see technical information about .onion websites, including their connected network interfaces, such as TCP/IP ports.

Researchers at BleepingComputer explored the possibilities of this search engine. They were able to reproduce OnionScan’s findingss on the shrinkage of the Dark Web—the number of Dark Web services decreased from about 30,000 in April 2016 to about 4,400 not quite a year later (so by about 85%). Researchers found this alarming capability, too:

BleepingComputer was also able to use Ichidan to find a website which a lot of exposed ports, including OpenSSH, an email server,  a Telnet implementation, vsftpd, and an exposed Fritzbox router. That sort of information is very attractive to cyber attackers. Using Ichidan is a lot easier than command line pentesting tools, which require more specific technical know-how.

Uh-oh. Crawley predicts that use of Icihan will grow as folks on both sides of the law discover its possibilities. She advises anyone administering a .onion site to strengthen their cyber defenses posthaste, “if they want to survive.”

Cynthia Murrell, November 10, 2017

A Flashing Way to Find Business Risks

November 8, 2017

Business intelligence involves many factors that range from enterprise systems to big data business analytics.  Another aspect is determining the risk of business decisions.  While a piece of software does not exist that can accurately predict the future, technology companies have come close.  Programmable Web published the article, “Flashpoint Launches V4 Of Its Business Risk Intelligence API” that describes one company’s newest endeavors in business risk intelligence.

Flashpoint’s business risk intelligence API is officially on its fourth version.  Dubbed Flashpoint API 4, the software provides a set of cybersecurity tools and the newest version includes a dataset for Risk Intelligence Observables (RIOs).  RIOs dig deeper than past indicators in specified activities to deliver secure insights.

The Flashpoint API aims to deliver near to real-time access to its security services. Because of RESTful API access, Flashpoint technology is available to entry-level users and enterprises alike. Through the API, users can search across Finished Intelligence, Deep & Dark Web data, and RIOs. A key component of Flashpoint’s strategy is context surrounding threats, and the API’s customization options allow users to define and address context to suit specific needs. Contact the Flashpoint team for more information.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about version four’s release is the partner community.  These include ThreatConnect, ThreatQuotient, Silobreaker, and Anomali.  These four companies are part of Flashpoint’s Strategic Partner Network and all have the goal to help companies detect cybercrime and other threats.

Whitney Grace, November 8, 2017

HP Showed Russia Pentagons Cyberdefense Software

November 7, 2017

This is a short honk to point out a startling discovery—EtherealMind.com declares, “Reuters: HP Enterprise Let Russia Scrutinize Cyberdefense System Used by Pentagon.” Citing a recent report from Reuters, writer Greg Ferro pinpoints the problem with companies that make nothing but deals:

A sales company is one that sells products: any product, to anyone, anywhere for the right price. The technology giants have been buying products from various OEMs, bundling them up and reselling to customers for the last 20 years. HPE wanted to sell a security product, Arcsight, to a big customer who wanted to review the source code. Thats normal. But sales doesn’t care about company wide issues so they let the Russian government review the source of a product that US government uses to protect its network: ‘Hewlett Packard Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to review the inner workings of cyber defense software used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, according to Russian regulatory records and interviews with people with direct knowledge of the issue.’

Yikes. Ferro wonders whether evolutions in technology and business practices will soon render sales companies like HP, Cisco, and Dell obsolete. Perhaps.

Cynthia Murrell, November 7, 2017

Short Honk: Cyber Weapon Market

October 2, 2017

In November 2017, the focus of Beyond Search and HonkinNews will change. The free information services will increase their coverage of weaponized online. A preview of the type of information we will highlight appears in “Cyber Weapon Market to Reach US$521.87 Billion by the End of 2021.” A summary of the report appears in the article in OpenPR. The news item asserts:

According to TMR, the global cyber weapon market stood at US$390 bn in 2014. Rising at a CAGR of 4.4% CAGR, the market is expected to reach US$521.87 bn by the end of 2021. With a share of 73.8%, the defensive cyber weapon segment dominated the market by type in 2014. Regionally, North America accounted for the leading share of 36% in the global market in 2014.

If the estimate is accurate, there is money in things cyber. Watch for our new report E Discovery for Cyber Intelligence. Previews of the report will appear in our twice a month video program “HonkinNews” starting in six weeks.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2017

Decoding IBM Watson

August 14, 2017

IBM Watson is one of the leading programs in natural language processing. However, apart from understanding human interactions, Watson can do much more.

TechRepublic in an article titled IBM Watson: The Smart Person’s Guide says:

IBM Watson’s cognitive and analytical capabilities enable it to respond to human speech, process vast stores of data, and return answers to questions that companies could never solve before.

Named after founding father of IBM, Thomas Watson, the program is already part of several organizations. Multi-million dollar setup fee, however, is a stumbling block for most companies who want to utilize the potential of Watson.

Watson though operates in seven different verticals, it also been customized for specialties like cyber security. After impacting IT and related industries, Watson slowly is making inroads into industries like legal, customer service and human resources, which comfortably can be said are on the verge of disruption.

Vishal Ingole, August 14, 2017

China Further Alienates Citizens by Banning VPNs

August 1, 2017

China is notorious for its police-state policies, particularly as it applies to any Western news or communication. For years clever Chinese citizens and international businesses located in China have relied on VPNs to evade Chinese firewalls. All that is changing now as China has announced all internet carriers must block VPNs in the next six months.

Bloomberg’s musing on the topic are accurate in their concern for the future of Chinese based companies:

It’s unclear how the new directive may affect multinationals operating within the country, which already have to contend with a Cybersecurity Law that imposes stringent requirements on the transfer of data and may give Beijing unprecedented access to their technology. Companies operating on Chinese soil will be able to employ leased lines to access the international web but must register their usage of such services for the record…

Whether a multinational corporation, a small mom-and-pop venture just getting off the ground, or an individual, the lack of VPNs will disrupt everyday life. Will this power move by the Chinese government usher in a new era of Dark Web usage or will a new lifeline to the world beyond the Great Wall emerge?

Catherine Lamsfuss, August 1, 2017

Darktrace Attracts Lucrative Clients, Releases New Product

July 7, 2017

We are happy to see innovative cyber-security firm Darktrace meet with success. Access AI informs us that “Darktrace Reports $125 Million in New Contracts.” The post lists some of the company’s diverse customers, including the Blackhawk Network, Rakuten Securities, the Church of England, and Birmingham International Airport. We also learn:

A well-performing final financial quarter has left the company with a revenue increasing 600 percent year on year. 60 countries worldwide are currently using the company’s Enterprise Immune System technology. Darktrace reports that customer renewals are at 90% and that with over 360 employees, the company has doubled inside over the past year.

What makes Darktrace so special? The company is bringing machine learning and other AI tech into the cybersecurity field, where they are sorely needed. Leveraging the mathematics chops of certain Cambridge University specialists, their unique model takes inspiration from biological immune systems. The press release,“Darktrace Cyber ‘Immune System’ Fights Back” at PR Newswire, heralds the arrival of their product Antigena, which offers a sort of self-defense system for networks. The write-up tells us:

Darktrace is the first company in the world to arm the defenders with proven machine learning and mathematics that work without any prior knowledge of attacks, rules or signatures. With Antigena, Darktrace now spots and inoculates against unknown threats, as they germinate within organizations in real time.

 

‘The battlefield is the corporate network – we cannot fight the battle on the border anymore. We are living through a new era of threat which is relentless and pernicious – and it’s inside our networks now. Today, we have arrived at new detection that reacts faster than any security team can,’ said Nicole Eagan, CEO, Darktrace. …

 

Darktrace Antigena is a new product innovation, which replicates the function of antibodies in the human immune system. As the Enterprise Immune System detects a threat in its tracks, Antigena modules act as an additional defense capability that automatically neutralize live threats, without requiring human intervention.

Besides automatically fending off potential threats, there’s another big, but perhaps underappreciated advantage to Antigena—no time-wasting false alerts. To learn about the rest of Darktrace’s products, navigate here. The company was founded in Cambridge in 2013, and now keeps a second headquarters in San Francisco and offices around the world. Darktrace puts the utmost confidence in their team’s considerable expertise not only in mathematics and software development but also in intelligence gathering and cyber operations.

Cynthia Murrell, July 7, 2017

Ubers Kalanick Knew About Google IP Theft

July 6, 2017

Travis Kalanick’s troubles seem to be far from over. A new report suggests that Uber was in the know-how of Anthony Levandowski misdeeds at Google in IP theft.

TechCrunch in an article titled Waymo Filing Says Ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Knew Engineer Had Google Info says:

In the ongoing legal case between Uber and Waymo, a new filing suggests Uber knew that Anthony Levandowski possessed Google information as of last March, before Otto’s acquisition.

Levandowski who headed the AI based self-driving car division Waymo at Google left the company and started Otto. The newly founded venture was soon usurped by Uber in 2016 to propel self-driving car division. Waymo claims that this is a breach of trust and despite Uber knowing the wrongdoings of Otto’s founder, still proceeded with the acquisition.

IP thefts are not uncommon in the corporate world. Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, IBM every blue-chip tech firm has been accused of IP theft at one point in their lifetime. However, what needs to see is how Google that also has equity in Uber proceeds with the case.

Vishal Ingole, July 6, 2017

Booz Allen Hamilton Under Scrutiny

July 5, 2017

Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton is facing an inquiry by the U.S Department of Justice for irregularities in billing inappropriately its clientele mostly comprising of government agencies.

As reported by Washington Times in a news piece titled Booz Allen Hamilton Under Federal Investigation over Billing Irregularities, Contractor Says, the reporter says:

Booz Allen was notified of the probe earlier this month and is working to resolve the matter with federal investigators, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday afternoon.

This is not the first time that the consulting firm dubbed as world’s most profitable spy organization has come under fire. In October 2016, an employee of the company was apprehended by federal authorities in possession of classified information. This was the second time an employee of the largest intelligence and defense contractor was arrested on charges of spying and selling classified information.

The investigation pertaining to irregularities in billing in ongoing.

Vishal Ingole, July 5, 2017

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