Security & Privacy


Exposed Chinese database shows depth of surveillance state

The Japan Times

BEIJING - The Chinese database Victor Gevers found online was not just a collection of old personal details. It was a compilation of real-time data on more than 2.5 million people in western China, updated constantly with GPS coordinates of their precise whereabouts. Alongside their names, birth dates and places of employment, there were notes on the places that they had most recently visited -- mosque, hotel, restaurant. The discovery by Gevers, a Dutch cybersecurity researcher who revealed it on Twitter last week, has given a rare glimpse into China's extensive surveillance of Xinjiang, a remote region home to an ethnic minority population that is largely Muslim. The area has been blanketed with police checkpoints and security cameras that apparently are doing more than just recording what happens.


Security Architecture for Smart Factories

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Building smart factories is a substantial endeavor for organizations. The initial steps involve understanding what makes them unique and what new advantages they offer. However, a realistic view of smart factories also involves acknowledging the risks and threats that may arise in its converged virtual and physical environment. As with many systems that integrate with the industrial internet of things (IIoT), the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in smart factories allows for capabilities such as real-time monitoring, interoperability, and virtualization. But this also means an expanded attack surface.


How AI cybersecurity thwarts attacks -- and how hackers fight back

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What makes AI cybersecurity different is its adaptability: It does not need to follow specific rules; rather, it can watch patterns and learn. "Unlike a signature-based approach that delivers a 1-for-1 mapping of threats to countermeasures, data science uses the collective learning of all threats observed in the past to proactively identify new ones that haven't been seen before," said Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra, an AI threat detection vendor. After downloading ransomware, the malware would scan your files, single out what it finds important, make an encrypted copy of those files, delete the original ones and send the encryption keys to the ransomware operators so they have a unique key for every victim. "That sequence of events is pretty unique; you're not going to see a lot of credible software doing that," said Doug Shepherd, chief security officer at Nisos. This limits the usefulness of traditional antivirus software, which looks for signatures detected in known ransomware in order to block a new attack.


China surveillance firm tracking millions of Muslims leaves database exposed, researcher says

FOX News

A screen shows visitors being filmed by AI (Artificial Intelligence) security cameras with facial recognition technology at the 14th China International Exhibition on Public Safety and Security in Beijing. A Chinese surveillance firm using facial recognition technology left one of its databases exposed online for months, according to a prominent security researcher. A massive database for 2,565,724 people -- with names, ID card number, expiration date, home address, date of birth, nationality, gender, photograph, employer and GPS coordinates of locations -- was left online without authentication, according to a report from ZDNet. Security researcher Victor Gevers, who founded the database, told ZDNet that over a 24-hour period, a steady stream of nearly 6.7 million GPS coordinates was recorded, which means the database was actively tracking Uyghur Muslims as they moved around Xinjiang province in China. HOW AMAZON'S JEFF BEZOS AND THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER WENT TO WAR Human rights groups have said that China is keeping hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims in internment camps, where they are indoctrinated, forced to perform labor and detained.


Chinese Surveillance, Facebook Tracking, and More Security News This Week

WIRED

The US government averted another shutdown when Donald Trump instead opted to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall dreams--a wall which raises huge privacy and security concerns and will cause more problems than it solves. As the country digested the national emergency, cybersecurity workers were still scrambling to clean up the security nightmare wrought by the longest shutdown in history. Amid all the border wall news this week, you'd be forgiven for missing that the president also signed an executive order creating the American AI Initiative. In an op-ed for WIRED, White House deputy assistant to the president for technology policy Michale Kratsios explained why AI strategy is a security issue. Speaking of AI, to combat the growing threat of deep fakes, a new tool uses the blockchain to monitor video for tampering and manipulation.


How AI and machine learning can help you defend the enterprise from cyberattacks ZDNet

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This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature, offers a detailed look at how to build risk management policies to protect your critical digital assets. Security measures have increased significantly in the last several years, and malicious actors have similarly advanced their techniques to keep pace, particularly with advances in attack methods such as fileless malware. Likewise, the security model of'serverless' computing platforms like AWS Lambda are completely different from traditional computers. These itinerant computing concepts are not effectively secured by the traditional model of checking file hashes against known malware samples. For a robust, modern defense, an adaptive monitoring solution that leverages machine learning to identify anomalous patterns indicative of an attack in its infancy is necessary to defend enterprise systems from cyberattacks.


Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online

ZDNet

One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch security researcher told ZDNet. The database belongs to a Chinese company named SenseNets, which according to its website provides video-based crowd analysis and facial recognition technology. Yesterday, Victor Gevers, a well-known security researcher that made a name for himself in the past few years by finding leaky MongoDB databases did what he does best and found one of SenseNets' MongoDB databases that had been left exposed online without authentication. Gevers told ZDNet that the database contained information on 2,565724 users, along with a stream of GPS coordinates that came in at a rapid pace. The user data wasn't just benign usernames, but highly detailed and highly sensitive information that someone would usually find on an ID card, Gevers said.


Android dating app flaw could have opened the door to phishing attacks

ZDNet

Security vulnerabilities discovered in the Android version of a popular online dating application could have allow hackers to access usernames, passwords and personal information according to security researchers. The flaws in the Android version of the OKCupid dating app - which the Google Play Store lists as having over 10 million downloads - were been discovered by researchers at cyber security firm Checkmarx. The researchers have previously disclosed exploits which could be abused by hackers in another dating app. The researchers found that the WebView built in browser contained vulnerabilities which could be exploited by attackers. While most links in the app will open in the user's browser of choice, researchers found it was possible to mimic certain links which open within the application.


What are the pros and cons of machine learning in network security?

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One advantage of machine learning in network security is that it can identify a zero-day attack. It takes time to identify and analyze a new signature-based attack, but machine learning can apply rules that differentiate legitimate operations from attacks. A new form of malware can be detected based on its actions, so previous observation and analysis are unnecessary. Organizations can prepare machine learning software for operation in several ways. The software can be presented with a set of inputs labeled as attacks and other inputs labeled as legitimate.


Rebuilding a Smarter City: Lessons from Houston

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Smart Cities are the future. So when Houston, Texas faced rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, it seized the opportunity to transform itself as a tech-centric, smart city by incorporating emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Machine Learning and data analytics. Houston is being extremely planful in building multiple innovative solutions across departments at the same time that communicate with one another which is significantly increasing the positive impact it's bringing to its citizens. As a result, Houston has come to serve as a model for Smart City initiatives. We will hear from those responsible for Houston's transformation and examine what others - from policymakers to city officials to business leaders - can learn from their experience.