Byte Sized News has gone to video! Check out the newest episode in video form below. Don’t worry though, you can still read the transcript below if you prefer to get your news in text-form.
As always, this series isn’t intended to provide readers with details on every story and topic but rather to fill busy professionals in on the most compelling developments in the field.
Our first story from the week is a shocking one about the Department of Homeland Security which comes from Cyberscoop.
Bryan Ware, who had recently taken the reins as the senior most member of the Department of Homeland Security in cybersecurity is stepping down from his post and is headed to the private sector. Ware was a former entrepreneur in the technology space, but recently led the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency’s efforts to protect health care and pharmaceutical industry from criminal and state-sponsored hacking.
Ware’s last day on the job is today, Friday the 13th. Ware also told Cyberscoop that the reason for his departure is that he is looking to start a new technology company. Additionally, Ware declined to comment if he was asked to leave his position by the Trump administration.
Our second story from the week also comes from Cyberscoop, and details cybersecurity efforts by the incoming Biden administration, and the issues he will have transitioning from the Trump administration.
Former Department of Homeland Security chiefs cautioned earlier this week that Trump’s administration is endangering national security by blocking the transition to Biden’s presidency. The two administrations appear to be in a standoff that has stretched on for several days after news organizations like the Associated Press named Biden the victor.
Despite the standoff, Biden has plowed forward with his plans for the Executive branch, including the hiring of a team sprinkled with several former cybersecurity officials. However, the current Trump administration has made the transition difficult. For example, The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that it would not work with the Biden team unitl the GSA ascertains a winner, which may take a while.
The next story from the week comes from Threatpost, and related to this week’s launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
While it is a big week for gamers across the globe, an army of retail bots threaten to drive prices up as much as three times retail price for the next generation of consoles. Retailers were quickly cleared out of Xbox inventory on its Tuesday release day. The big names like Best Buy, Target, and Amazon were all cleared out in a hurry. However, eBay had plenty in stock for consumers, but only if they wanted to shell out over $1,000.
Additionally, while the PlayStation 5 did not release until yesterday morning, several eBay listings popped up earlier this week selling pre-order consoles for around $900. However, despite these practices being deemed as an ethical violation to many, nothing illegal is happening here. Creating these high-tech hoarders is similar in many ways to the DDos attacks many retailers deal with constantly, and the bots can easily be thwarted by AI and machine learning.
Our fourth story from the week is an uplifting one about comic books from InfoSecurity Magazine.
A Texas security professional’s dream of creating a comic book publishing company dedicated to titles about hacking is edging closer to reality. Robert Willis started a Kickstarter campaign to self-finance and create a publishing company called Paraneon. The comics have an interesting spin too, as they’ll be written by hackers and for hackers.
Additionally, one of the main goals of the company is to inspire young people to pursue careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math field. With a less than two days left in the campaign and only a modest $2,000 goal, it seems Willis is well on his way to making his dream a reality. The campaign currently has raised over $6,000.
For those who are curious, the setting for the books — deemed the Paraneon universe — comprises technocentric cities, underground worker colonies, apocalyptic drylands, and much more. All backers of the campaign will get the first titles published under Paraneon in a graphic novel titled “Initiating … Paraneon.”
Our last article from the week, which is from Krebs on Security, details another evil but sneaky plot by a hacker group.
Ragnar Locker Team, a notorious ransomware group, has turned to Facebook using hacked accounts to run ads that pressure ransomware victims into paying up. Earlier this week, one of these ransomware ads appeared on Facebook, aiming to “turn the screws” on Italian beverage vendor Campari Group. Campari Group had previously announced on November 3rd that its computer systems had been breached by a malware attack.
The Facebook ad directly contradicts a previously statement put out by Campari, and states that they have offloaded 2 terabytes of data from Campari’s network. The ad threatens that if they dont’t receive a ransom payment, the data would be published online.
There is a lot still unknown with this story. It is unknown if the group is bluffing, or if it has the data. It is also unknown if the company will pay up to get the data back. Lastly, it’s unknown whether this is an isolated incident or if the group is running additional ads through other hacked Facebook accounts.