Security News


Company Launches Lockdown-Friendly Hacking Competition

Company Launches Lockdown-Friendly Hacking Competition

Company Launches Lockdown-Friendly Hacking Competition 1

A cybersecurity company has launched a lockdown-friendly hacking competition that doesn’t require any travel or socializing. 

Participants of Cyber 2.0’s new Home Hackers Challenge can compete for a cash prize without having to leave their houses. 

The competition is open to every hacker in the world, and the premise is simple—the first competitor to break into a computer-simulated organization scoops the glory and 10,000 NIS, equivalent to 2,850 USD. 

Protecting the fake organization is the company’s own patented cybersecurity solution, the Cyber 2.0 program.

Cyber 2.0’s Sneer Rozenfeld has no qualms about laying the reputation of the company and its cybersecurity products on the line. He said previous attempts to break through their protective layer by private hackers, companies, and specialized military units had all failed. 

“We did two hacking challenges already—this is our third one. We ran the first one in 2018 in Israel; no-one succeeded. Then in 2019, we ran a second competition in Atlanta, Georgia, with a $100,000 prize, and no-one succeeded. So, we do believe our system will not be hacked.”

The competition will take place on April 6 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (GMT+3). Hackers can enter through the company’s website,

Rozenfeld said: “The prize will go to the first hacker who breaks in with no prize for second place.”

In previous years, when no hacker was able to defeat the company’s cybersecurity program, Cyber 2.0 kept the prize money. However, this year, if no hacker manages to successfully break into the faux organization, the prize money will be donated to an Israeli charity that supports families in need. 

Rozenfeld said: “Everyone is affected by the coronavirus, so we want to be humble and this time not keep the money but give it away.”

The ongoing health crisis has meant that Cyber 2.0 can only give hackers a short window in which to complete the challenge.

Rozenfeld said: “Holding this sort of challenge takes a lot of resources of the company so we decided to do it for 4 hours. Due to coronavirus regulations in Israel, we can’t have more than 2 people on the premises, and we need more than 2 for supporting the challenge.”


Affordacare Patient Data Allegedly Published Online

Affordacare Patient Data Allegedly Published Online

Affordacare Patient Data Allegedly Published Online 2

An American healthcare provider whose patients’ records were allegedly published online in a ransomware attack has told patients their data is secure.

Affordacare runs an urgent care walk-in clinic network out of five locations in Texas. The organization was hit by a ransomware attack in February.

In a breach notification published on the organization’s website, Affordacare wrote: “Hackers attacked Affordacare’s servers and were able to compromise some limited, confidential information on or around Feb. 1, 2020. The hackers also installed ransomware on the servers.”

The healthcare provider said that data exposed in the incident included names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, ages, dates and locations of visits, reasons for visits, insurance plan providers, insurance plan policy numbers, insurance group numbers, treatment codes and descriptions, and comments from health care providers.

Despite refusing to pay the ransom, Affordacare told patients that “this incident did not affect your electronic health records, labs, Social Security number or any personal payment information.”

The healthcare provider said that the majority of health care records were stored in a cloud-based electronic health records system that was not affected by the incident.

Ransomware group MAZE has claimed responsibility for the February attack on Affordacare. The threat group claims to have exfiltrated more than 40 GB of data from the healthcare provider, including sensitive patient health data.  

MAZE published what it claims is Affordacare data in a data dump on February 1 at http(colon)//mazenews(dot)top/site after the healthcare provider allegedly refused to pay the ransom.  

After viewing the alleged Affordacare data, Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow told Infosecurity Magazine: “The dump includes information relating to numerous patients, including reports that were presumably requested by Affordacare from other medical practices, as well as details relating to Affordacare’s own payroll and the resumes of people who had applied for employment.” 

What appear to be Affordacare patient records published online by MAZE and viewed by Infosecurity Magazine included names, Social Security numbers, and details of a testicular sonogram. 

After notifying patients about the breach by letter on March 30, Affordacare stated on its website: “At this time, we do not know if your information was actually taken or misused.”


Ransomware Payments on the Rise

Ransomware Payments on the Rise

Ransomware Payments on the Rise 3

More ransomware victims than ever before are complying with the demands of their cyber-attackers by handing over cash to retrieve encrypted files. 

New research published March 31 by CyberEdge shows that both the number of ransomware attacks and the percentage of attacks that result in payment have increased every year since 2017.

The CyberEdge 2020 Cyberthreat Defense Report states 62% of organizations were victimized by ransomware in 2019, up from 56% in 2018 and 55% in 2017. 

“Ransomware is trending in the wrong direction . . . again,” states the report’s authors. 

“This rise is arguably fueled by the dramatic increase in ransomware payments.”

In 2017, just 39% of organizations hit by ransomware paid to retrieve their encrypted data. That figure rose to 45% in 2018, then shot up to 58% in 2019. 

To create the annual report, CyberEdge surveyed 1,200 qualified IT security decision makers and practitioners from organizations with over 500 employees in 19 different industries. The organizations were located in 17 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

Another key finding of the report was that last year, for the first time ever, more than a third (35.7%) of organizations experienced six or more successful attacks.

When questioned over the future cybersecurity of their organization, respondents revealed that they were picking up bad vibes. 

“The number of respondents saying that a successful attack on their organization is very likely in the coming 12 months reached a record level,” states the report. 

Of those IT security professionals surveyed, 69% believe a successful attack to be in the cards in 2020. This doom-laden percentage was up from 65% in 2019 and 62% in 2018. 

As for which cyber-threats caused the greatest amount of concern, survey respondents said malware was the biggest problem, closely followed by phishing and ransomware, which tied in second place.

This year was the first time that the CyberEdge survey respondents were asked if they were concerned about attacks on brand and reputation in social media and on the web. This new threat tied in tenth place with watering-hole attacks, but the report’s authors predict it will place higher next year.

They wrote: “We think this category (which includes hijacking social media accounts, using typo squatting website for fraud, and selling counterfeit goods online) will become more of a concern in the cybersecurity community.”


Lack of Understanding of US Legislation Putting UK Business Data at Risk

Lack of Understanding of US Legislation Putting UK Business Data at Risk

Lack of Understanding of US Legislation Putting UK Business Data at Risk 4

UK businesses could be putting customer data at risk by having a low understanding of important data protection legislation. Research from IONOS has shown that 44% of IT decision makers in the UK do not have a comprehensive understanding of the US CLOUD Act. In contrast, 92% had a comprehensive understanding of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The survey included 500 UK-based IT decision makers, analyzing their knowledge of key data legislation, attitudes towards data storage and cloud services usage. In particular, it highlighted a significant lack of understanding of the US CLOUD Act, passed into law in 2018. Among the provisions of the Act, it gives US law enforcement agencies the power to request data stored by most major cloud providers. Around six months ago, the UK and US signed the CLOUD Act agreement, making it applicable to UK businesses.

The study revealed that 47% of the IT decision makers were unaware that, under the legislation, US cloud hosting providers may be required to disclose customers’ data to US officials. This applies regardless of whether the information was stored inside or outside of the US, and is irrespective of GDPR regulations.

“GDPR compliance has been a key focus for many European and global businesses since it was introduced, but IT professionals are under pressure to keep up with the constantly evolving data security landscape,” explained Achim Weiss, CEO at IONOS. “The US CLOUD Act adds another layer of potential misunderstanding for those hosting with US cloud providers.”

Surprisingly, a high proportion of those polled were willing to store sensitive information in the cloud, including personal customer and employee details (54%) and accounting data (50%).

Weiss added that much more education around the US CLOUD Act as well as storage best-practice is required for UK businesses to ensure their data is safe and secure.


Chinese #COVID19 Conspiracy Theories Date Back to January

Chinese #COVID19 Conspiracy Theories Date Back to January

Chinese #COVID19 Conspiracy Theories Date Back to January 5

Chinese conspiracy theories that COVID-19 was some kind of US military bioweapon date back to January, months before a foreign ministry official in Beijing began to spread the same fake news, according to a new study.

An analysis from the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center has revealed how fringe conspiracy theories can eventually become weaponized by governments to further their geopolitical ends.

Zhao Lijian, a deputy director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Information Department, took to Twitter on March 12 to suggest “the US army brought the epidemic to Wuhan.” He included a clip from the chief of the US Center for Disease Control who merely said that some patients who died from COVID-19 might not have been tested.

This was followed a few hours later by another tweet of Zhao’s which shared an article from a conspiracy theory site that “the virus originated in the US.”

After Washington complained at the unfounded allegations, Chinese ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, distanced Beijing from the rumors.

Stanford’s analysis revealed that these could be found online as far back as January 2, when a Chinese language YouTube video dismissed the idea of COVID-19 as a US bioweapon. Chinese Twitter users at the end of the month took the opposite line, claiming the coronavirus was a US creation. These posts remain online, despite the social media site’s crackdown on COVID-19 misinformation.

By February 1, speculation began to spread that the virus was linked to US attendance at the Military World Games, which took place in Wuhan in October 2019.

The Stanford report authors urged online users to exercise skepticism at what they read online, even when posted by government officials.

“In times of uncertainty, speculation and political blame games, continued vigilance is key when it comes to assessing and sharing information — even, or sometimes especially, when it comes from state channels,” they said.

“Social media companies need to maintain their efforts to proactively remove unfounded speculation and disinformation on their own platforms, regardless of who posts it. Citizens and journalists should question the intentions an actor promoting online content may have before possibly amplifying misleading voices.”.

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