Episode 535 – Aussie Tech Heads Shownotes

posted in: Show Notes

Australian businesses lose $1.7 million to hacking scams

A report published by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) showed that 21 businesses lost a total of $1.7 million related to computer hacking scams in 2016.


Businesses submitted 5953 reports to ACCC revealing losses of $3.8 million to scams. Micro and small business reported the majority of attacks accounting for $2 million of the total $3.8 million loss from businesses.


Of all the scams complaints received by both businesses and individuals, the top three categories reported to the ACCC were phishing, advance fee frauds and false billing scams, accounting for 36 percent of all scams recorded in 2016.





Please DDoS us, asks Melbourne data centre provider Micron21

A Melbourne data centre provider is so confident in its ability to mitigate against a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that it is calling on the IT community to try to breach its defences during a live demonstration.


Would-be attackers at AusCERT can hit either a Micron21 protected or unprotected network, where the company predicts they will see the “mayhem” created, “along with seamless mitigation”.

Participants can choose the duration, size and other attack configurations before launching their attacks, and will see Micron 21’s systems identify, monitor and mitigate each attack.


Micron21’s DDoS protection is made up of multiple layers of physical hardware to inspect, scan and filter traffic at the packet layer: Brocade edge routers identify and sustain legitimate traffic; DDoS mitigation from Silicon Valley-headquartered vendor NSFOCUS inspects the metadata of packets for known attack patterns against a zero-day database; A10 load balancers distribute clean traffic; and Juniper firewalls provide a final layer of defence.



WannaCry workaround: French researchers find way to unlock without ransom

The researchers cautioned that their solution only works in certain conditions, namely if computers had not been rebooted since becoming infected and if victims applied the fix before WannaCry carried out its threat to lock their files permanently.

Europol said on Twitter that its European Cybercrime Centre had tested the team’s new tool and said it was “found to recover data in some circumstances”.


internationally known hacker, and Benjamin Delpy calls his free tool for decrypting infected computers without paying ransom “wanakiwi”







‘Fuelling a mental health crisis’: Instagram worst social network for young people’s mental health

Instagram has been ranked as the worst social networking app when it comes to its impact on young people’s mental health, according to a new survey published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK.


The #StatusofMind survey asked 1479 young people, aged 14 to 24, to score popular social media platforms on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image.



Young people who spend more than two hours per day connecting on social networking sites are more likely to suffer from increased levels of psychological distress, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, according to the report.


“Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life”, it notes.

“These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude in young people.

“Individuals may view heavily photo-shopped, edited or staged photographs and videos and compare them to their seemingly mundane lives”.

YouTube was the only social media platform found to have an overall positive impact on young people’s mental health.


#StatusofMind rankings

The impact of five social media sites were evaluated in the following order:

  1. YouTube (the only platform with a positive net impact)
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Snapchat
  5. Instagram (most negative)



Bitcoin hits $2,000 trading high point


The steady rise in value is believed to be linked to policy changes in Japan and China that have made it easier for speculators to trade in bitcoins.

Many other virtual currencies have also enjoyed a sustained rise in value over the last few weeks.

Bitcoin first broke the $1,000 (£768) barrier in November 2013 but its value has fluctuated wildly since then. For instance, in early 2014 one bitcoin was worth only $280 (£215).

And at the end of 2016, each one was changing hands for about $900 (£690).


Rivals such as Ethereum and Ripple have been gaining value far faster than bitcoin over the last few months.

The surging valuations has led some commentators to suggest that an unsustainable crypto-currency bubble is developing.




Australia gets national guidelines for driverless car trials


The National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads in November sought input on the guidelines for on-road tests involving automated vehicles in response to a request issued by Australian transport and infrastructure ministers.


The guidelines note that in Australia, vehicles cannot legally operate in highly or fully automated driving mode on public roads, with organisations seeking to stage trials requiring authorisation from state or territory road transport agencies.


“We have worked closely with vehicle manufacturers, technology developers and federal, state and territory governments to ensure our approach to trials is nationally consistent and reflects best practice,” NTC CEO Paul Retter said.





Facebook signs BuzzFeed, Vox, others for original video shows

Facebook has signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to make shows for its upcoming video service, which will feature long and short-form content with ad breaks, according to several sources familiar with the situation.

Facebook is planning two tiers of video entertainment: scripted shows with episodes lasting 20 to 30 minutes, which it will own; and shorter scripted and unscripted shows with episodes lasting about 5 to 10 minutes, which Facebook will not own, according to the sources.

Facebook’s move to acquire and license original content is the latest in its push to attract more advertising dollars, putting the company in head-to-head competition with Alphabet’s YouTube Red, Snapchat’s Discover feature, and traditional television networks.


Movie and TV pirates targeted in malware attack using ‘completely overlooked technique’

CRAFTY hackers have been deploying harmful malware in subtitle files of pirated movies and TV shows, leaving the devices of an estimated 200 million people vulnerable to infection.

The newly discovered malware affects video players like VLC, Kodi and popular illegal streaming program Popcorn Time.

The malicious files are downloaded by the victim’s media player allowing the attacker to take control of the target’s computer, smartphone or smart TV, according to security firm Checkpoint which discovered the attack.

The delivery technique used to deploy the malware is cunning. For hackers to get access to your device they either need to trick you into visiting a malicious website or trick you into downloading a malicious file.

In this particular case the malware is embedded in the subtitle files in what Checkpoint described as “a completely overlooked technique”.

The malware is effectively dumped onto the victim’s desktop when the movie subtitles are loaded by the user’s media player. The reason it has a good chance of success, according to Checkpoint, is because the subtitles repositories are, in practice, treated as a trusted source by the media player.

Most video players don’t have robust security defences and the subtitle files can even sneak by without proper vetting from antivirus software.


Number of homes in NBN limbo balloons

NBN Co has added more than 19,000 premises to its footprint over the past fortnight that are unable to connect to internet services, underlining its new strategy to skip homes that are too hard to connect until later in the rollout.

The network builder has more than doubled the number of so-called “service class zero” or equivalent premises in its footprint in just six months.

Premises in ready-for-service areas that are unable to connect are categorised as SC0 for FTTP, SC10 for FTTN/B, and SC20 for HFC.

In the week ending November 17 last year, there were 61,852 SC0 premises; as of this week that figure had climbed to 145,658.

Although raw complaint numbers continue to rise, “the rate of increase in these complaints is slower than the rate of new premises connected to the national broadband network”, NBN Co has repeatedly claimed.

The same cannot be said for SC0 premises.

The past fortnight has been particularly troublesome, with 16.5 percent of the 115,393 properties added to the rollout placed into the too-hard basket.

An NBN Co spokesperson said some premises took “a bit longer to connect … than we would like to be the case”.



New malware worm spreads using leaked NSA exploits

Researchers have discovered a new worm that utilises exploits leaked from the US National Security Agency (NSA), following the destructive WannaCry ransomware outbreak.

Dubbed EternalRocks, like WannaCry the worm targets vulnerable implementations of Microsoft’s Server Message Block (SMB) file sharing protocol.

Penetration tester Miroslav Stampar, also a member of the Croatian government computer emergency response team, captured a sample of the worm and posted an analysis on Github.

EternalRocks is also known as MicroBotMassiveNet and BlueDoom. It utilises seven SMB exploits: ETERNALBLUE, ETERNALCHAMPION, ETERNALROMANCE and ETERNALSYNERGY, along with DOUBLEPULSAR, ARCHITOUCH and SMBTOUCH.

EternalRocks uses a two-stage attack on target systems, starting with infecting unpatched Windows systems and downloading further malware components and a TOR browser for obfuscated communications with a command and control server.

The second stage of the attack sees EternalRocks activate after 24 hours, with the above SMB exploits downloaded and the worm scanning the internet for systems that listen on TCP port 445.