Archive for September 12, 2022

Google Closes Its Acquisition Of Mandiant

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

Google LLC today announced the completion of its acquisition of Mandiant, Inc., a recognized leader in dynamic cyber defense, threat intelligence and incident response services. Mandiant will join Google Cloud and retain the Mandiant brand.

Google and Mandiant share a long commitment to industry-leading security. Over the past two decades, Google has innovated to build some of the most secure computing systems in the world. Google Cloud customers and partners benefit from these pioneering security capabilities including world-class threat intelligence, zero trust architecture, and planet-scale analytics for security operations. Mandiant, which is known for delivering unparalleled frontline expertise and industry-leading threat intelligence, is a proven first responder to the world’s largest cybersecurity incidents. Mandiant’s services, delivered by their team of security and intelligence individuals spread across 22 countries, are widely recognized for helping top enterprises and organizations prepare for and react to cybersecurity incidents.

With this acquisition, Google Cloud and Mandiant will deliver an end-to-end security operations suite with even greater capabilities to support customers across their cloud and on-premise environments.

Organizations today are facing cybersecurity challenges that have accelerated in frequency, severity and diversity, creating a global security imperative. Enterprises need to be able to detect and respond to malicious actors quickly, with actionable threat intelligence to continually protect their organizations against new attacks.

For more information, see the Google Cloud blog and Mandiant blog.

Canadian Traffic Went Up 235% The Week Schools Went Back

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

If it feels like the roads get busier the week schools return after the summer, it might be because there does seem to be an actual spike in traffic.

Data from Waze, the community-based navigation app, shows a 235% increase in traffic in Canada the week of September 5, 2022 compared to the week of August 29, 2022. 

Traffic during the back to school week was also higher this year than last year. Waze found that traffic was 23 per cent higher the week of September 5 last week than the equivalent period last year, the week of September 6, 2021. 

This held true in major population centres, with the exception of Vancouver:

  • Toronto traffic was 27 per cent higher week of 9/5/22 than week of 9/5/21
  • Ottawa traffic was 33 per cent higher week of 9/5/22 than week of 9/5/21
  • Calgary traffic was 25 per cent higher week of 9/5/22 than week of 9/5/22 
  • Vancouver traffic was 12 per cent lower week of 9/5/22 than week of 9/5/21

As kids return to the classroom and parents re-establish drop off and pick up routines, drivers can use Waze to avoid traffic, see their ETAs and be notified of hazards (e.g. construction, potholes, broken traffic lights or weather-related issues). 

TELUS Offers Up Smart Security That Helps Keep Canadians’ Safe And Everyday Life Simple

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

As we settle into the busy fall season with many returning to the office and students heading back to school, more Canadians are looking for simple ways to help keep their home safe when away and added security when on the go. TELUS wants to help with that with the following offers:

  • TELUS SmartHome Security is an all in-one system so you can get all your home security devices, automation, and monitoring under one plan. With plans including TELUS Online Security, TELUS SHS is recognized by the 2022 BrandSpark Survey as Canada’s most trusted alarm service offering a range of features including but not limited to:
    • Smart Cameras & 24/7 monitoring: Keep an eye on what’s happening inside and outside your home with the peace of mind round the clock with professional monitoring
    • Control your home all from a touch of a button: With a click of a single button from your phone, you can lock and unlock your doors, turn your lights on and off and turn your thermostat up or down with one easy click.
    • Automation lights, heating and appliances: Set and forget devices to do basic tasks, so you can focus on what matters most.
    • Notifications & Alerts: Set up personalized notifications to prompt for unexpected activities, like floods, fires, break ins, doors/windows opening, etc. 
    • The full range of plans and devices can be found here. For some guidance on what set-up would best fit your home and lifestyle, here is a short quiz to help find what’s right for you.
  •  TELUS SmartWear Security, the latest in the TELUS Security product suite, is a line of discreet personal safety devices that are disguised as necklaces, bracelets and keychains – each one equipped with a hidden button that can instantly text the GPS location of the registered user to select contacts and/or emergency services. These devices offer more than just peace of mind – they are game-changing smart technology, empowering Canadians to take control of their personal safety. 

Both offerings can help you and your family to feel secure. Check them out today.

watchOS 9 And HomePod OS 16 Are Being Released Today…. Here’s How You Can Safely Upgrade To Them

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

Besides iOS 16 hitting the streets today, Apple is releasing watchOS 9 to the public today. It is a major release that includes new watch faces, more workout functionality, medication logging, and better sleep tracking among other features. You can get a full list of features here.

watchOS 9 will run on the following devices:

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7

So what do you need to do to prepare for watchOS 9? Well, there’s not a whole lot that you need to do. For example when it comes to backing up which is what I normally suggest that you do before doing an operating system upgrade, this is largely taken care of for you according to this Apple Support article which states that every time your iPhone is backed up to iCloud or iTunes, the Apple Watch data gets backed up too. So since I recommended in my previous article that you back up your iPhone before iOS 16, and you absolutely need iOS 16 to be installed before watchOS 9 shows up in the Apple Watch app, then you are covered for the most part. The only other thing I would suggest is that you should ensure that the apps on the iOS 16 iDevice are up to date as that will update the associated Apple Watch app. That way you can ensure that everything works fine post upgrade. Finally, as for the upgrade itself, it is important that you closely follow these directions from Apple as updating an Apple Watch is currently not a trivial process which if done wrong has the potential of bricking your Apple Watch.

Now over to HomePod OS 16. Again there’s really not much to do here. From previous experience, the HomePod will update independently of what version of iOS is on your iPhone. Thus I would follow these instructions to update your HomePod (or in my case, four HomePod Minis). There’s no backup required but I will note that this may take up to 10 minutes to finish. So pack your patience accordingly and just let the HomePod do its thing.

iOS 16 Releases Today…. Here’s How You Can Safely Upgrade To It

Posted in Tips with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

At 1PM EST today, Apple will release iOS 16. As long as you have a supported device, it will bring you new features and improvements to your iDevice experience. If you want to see a full feature set, click here.

Speaking of supported devices, here’s what iOS 16 will run on:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 
  • iPhone 12 mini 
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max 
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone SE (3rd Generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd Generation)

If your phone isn’t on this list, then it’s not supported.

If you are wondering why there are no iPads on the list, that’s because Apple has spun off the iPads into a separate OS called iPadOS which is due out in October along with macOS Ventura.

Now, since this is a major upgrade there is always a chance, no matter how remote that something can go sideways. To make sure that you’re not caught out by something unexpected, here’s what you can do:

1. Update your Apps: Make sure that all your apps are up to date before upgrading by opening the App Store app and seeing if any updates are required. This is important because it is possible that the changes that Apple has made on areas like privacy and performance could break an app that you rely on. Thus I find that it is always a good idea to check for updates and install them before a new version of iOS hits the streets.

2. Dump any uneeded photos, videos or apps: iOS updates tend to need a fair amount of free space to allow for a successful installation. Thus if you have anything less than 10GB of free space, consider deleting unused apps or photos/videos. In terms of the photos and videos you want to keep, you can move them to the cloud or a computer so that they’re safely stored without taking up space on your iPhone. I personally use iCloud myself, but Google Photos is another option.

3. Backup your iDevice: If you value the data on your iDevice, backing it up is a must. You have two options for backing up your iDevice: iCloud or iTunes. Follow this guide to backing up your iPhone.

At this point you should be good to go to upgrade to iOS 16. Key word being SHOULD. Upgrading an operating system isn’t a trivial process. But if you take these steps beforehand, you should reduce the risk of any issues that you might encounter.

Sigh…. Another Extortion Phishing #Scam Hits My Inbox

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

I Guess that the scumbags behind extortion phishing emails must really be bored as they are all coming out of the woodwork with new scams to separate you from your money. I have now come across a third variant of this scam thanks to a reader of this blog that I would like to share with you and then tell you why it is a scam:

Greetings!

I have to share bad news with you.
Approximately few months ago I have gained access to your devices, which you use for internet browsing.
After that, I have started tracking your internet activities.

Here is the sequence of events: 
Some time ago I have purchased access to email accounts from hackers (nowadays, it is quite simple to purchase such thing online).
Obviously, I have easily managed to log in to your email account (EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED).

One week later, I have already installed Trojan virus to Operating Systems of all the devices that you use to access your email.
In fact, it was not really hard at all (since you were following the links from your inbox emails).
All ingenious is simple. 😉

This software provides me with access to all the controllers of your devices (e.g., your microphone, video camera and keyboard).
I have downloaded all your information, data, photos, web browsing history to my servers.
I have access to all your messengers, social networks, emails, chat history and contacts list.
My virus continuously refreshes the signatures (it is driver-based), and hence remains invisible for antivirus software.

Likewise, I guess by now you understand why I have stayed undetected until this letter…

While gathering information about you, I have discovered that you are a big fan of adult websites.
You really love visiting porn websites and watching exciting videos, while enduring an enormous amount of pleasure.
Well, I have managed to record a number of your dirty scenes and montaged a few videos, which show the way you masturbate and reach orgasms.

If you have doubts, I can make a few clicks of my mouse and all your videos will be shared to your friends, colleagues and relatives.
I have also no issue at all to make them available for public access.
I guess, you really don’t want that to happen, considering the specificity of the videos you like to watch, (you perfectly know what I mean) it will cause a true catastrophe for you.

Let’s settle it this way:
You transfer $1650 USD to me (in bitcoin equivalent according to the exchange rate at the moment of funds transfer), and once the transfer is received, I will delete all this dirty stuff right away.
After that we will forget about each other. I also promise to deactivate and delete all the harmful software from your devices. Trust me, I keep my word.

This is a fair deal and the price is quite low, considering that I have been checking out your profile and traffic for some time by now.
In case, if you don’t know how to purchase and transfer the bitcoins – you can use any modern search engine.

Here is my bitcoin wallet: [BITCOIN WALLET ADDRESS REDACTED]

You have less than 48 hours from the moment you opened this email (precisely 2 days).

Things you need to avoid from doing:
*Do not reply me (I have created this email inside your inbox and generated the return address).
*Do not try to contact police and other security services. In addition, forget about telling this to you friends. If I discover that (as you can see, it is really not so hard, considering that I control all your systems) – your video will be shared to public right away. 
*Don’t try to find me – it is absolutely pointless. All the cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous.
*Don’t try to reinstall the OS on your devices or throw them away. It is pointless as well, since all the videos have already been saved at remote servers.

Things you don’t need to worry about:
*That I won’t be able to receive your funds transfer.
– Don’t worry, I will see it right away, once you complete the transfer, since I continuously track all your activities (my trojan virus has got a remote-control feature, something like TeamViewer).
*That I will share your videos anyway after you complete the funds transfer.
– Trust me, I have no point to continue creating troubles in your life. If I really wanted that, I would do it long time ago! 

Everything will be done in a fair manner!

One more thing… Don’t get caught in similar kind of situations anymore in future!
My advice – keep changing all your passwords on a frequent basis

So let’s unpack this. This guy seems to be less able to execute this scam well as unlike previous variants that I have seen, he has not spoofed your email address to get your attention. He simply pastes it in. Which implies that this is a form letter of some sort with a list of email addresses that just get fed into it hoping that someone who isn’t technically savvy will fall for it.

What a loser.

And judging from the fact that when I checked his Bitcoin wallet, there were no deposits in it, it either means that nobody has fallen for this scam. Or nobody has fallen for it yet. Seeing as you’re reading this, you won’t be falling for this scam.

Other things that I would like to point are the usual items that are part and parcel of these scams:

  • This email also says that the so called hacker installed the “trojan virus” on your computer which is a piece of software that can download your data, log your keystrokes and control your webcam and microphone. Now this software does exist. But if you have up to date and functional anti-virus software, it should be able to deal with it. And if you want a bit of extra security, cover up your webcam with a piece of tape. The scammer’s talk about changing signatures of his software to evade detection is BS by the way. If he could do that, he’d be working for some nation state launching targeted spyware and ransomware attacks rather than doing scams on individuals.
  • The scammer wants you to pay him via Bitcoin and he even says that “All the cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous. Which means that there’s no way for the scammer to know that you’ve paid him which means that there’s no way for him to delete the data that they allegedly have on you.
  • The English used in this phishing email is not that good.
  • It tries to play on your fears of being outed for watching porn and “pleasuring” yourself. In fact, this one really plays heavily on that. Even going as far as not to tell your friends or law enforcement.

The bottom line is that this guy has created a scam that isn’t all that good and is likely to convince few people to hand over their cash. But since the number of people who could fall for this is not zero, I’m putting this out there so that the number gets closer to zero.

Stay safe out there.

Ex-Deloitte CIO joins Silverfort as Strategic Advisor

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 12, 2022 by itnerd

Silverfort today announced the appointment of ex-Deloitte Australia and APAC CIO and Partner, Tim Fleming, as Strategic Advisor.

Responsible for all commercial and operational technology strategy at Deloitte for over 20 years, as CIO of Australia and APAC, Tim oversaw a team of more than 1300 with direct accountability for countries including India, China, Taiwan and Japan. During his tenure, the company embarked on a period of rapid technical change which contributed to a five-fold growth in revenues.   

Previously Head of Global Transformation and Innovation – as well as a member of the Global Cyber Committee – Tim also has significant experience helping organizations embrace emerging technologies to mitigate business risks and meet regulatory and certification requirements.     

Tim will be with the Silverfort APAC team located on stand 417 at the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo. More information can be found at silverfort.com