Weekly Tech Roundup — April 10
This week was full of milestones, breakthroughs, and innovations. New malware was uncovered, old records were broken, and new threats emerged. Now more than ever, it’s important that to keep an eye on the technical horizon, because you never know what new ways your data could become vulnerable. What headlines did you miss?
Android beats Microsoft as most used operating system
The time has come—Microsoft has lost its spot as the most used operating system.
The new frontrunner is Android, according to an analysis done by StatCounter. The firm found Android’s OS to be the most used across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices, CNET reports. In March, Android held a worldwide market share of 37.9 percent, 0.02 percent ahead of Microsoft.
The reasons for this shift towards Android OS include the steady growth of smartphones and the decline of PC sales.
Microsoft didn’t comment on this specific news, but released a more general statement:
"We are pleased that there are more than 400 million monthly active devices running Windows 10, and most importantly, that Windows 10 has the highest levels of product satisfaction over any previous version of Windows."
This is just the beginning of what seems to be a trend upward for Android, and a trend downward for Microsoft. In 2012, Microsoft held a market share of 82 percent, and Android only held a share of 2.2 percent.
But both Microsoft OS users and Android OS users can rejoice, as Acronis is compatible with both operating systems. Whether using a Windows PC or an Android Galaxy s7, you can rest assured your data backup will be safe and secure.
Self-deleting malware used in sophisticated ATM heist
ATM hacks are on the rise, and the malware being used is only getting more sophisticated.
Very little is known about the fileless malware that makes ATMs dole out cash, before self-deleting—but researchers have been able to determine that this malware has been used to hack into government agencies and banks in at least 40 countries, according to Bleeping Computer.
This is not the first malware to force ATMs to dispense cash, but it is the first to self-delete, essentially erasing any evidence that it was once there.
Researchers have no way to know how many ATMs were attacked using this malware. In almost all instances, the malware self-deletes, clearing all traces of itself from the system. There was only one case in which the malware left behind a “tv.dll” file that researchers were able to track back to a malware instance that has been used to hit many other banks and institutions.
These hackers gained access to ATMs by using remote-management exploits to break into banking networks. They then used Windows tools and PowerShell malware to access systems close by. Once the person picking up the cash was in place, hackers would upload instructions to the ATM via a command.txt file, and the accomplice would get away with the money.
Going forward, institutions will need to implement stronger data protection techniques to ensure hackers can’t take advantage of remote-management exploits in their systems.
Pegasus malware moves from iOS to Android
Infamous Pegasus malware is broadening its horizons.
Known for its attacks against iOS, Pegasus is now setting its sights on Android devices—and it’s got some new tricks up its sleeve, according to TechTarget. Researchers at Lookout have seen the malware move from iOS to Android, and believe it will wreak even worse havoc on Android users.
The cybercriminals behind this Pegasus variant—the Android version being called Chrysaor by Google—are the same hackers that went after journalists, rights activist, and political dissidents. These victims are the same ones being targeted by the Pegasus malware for iOS.
"[Cyberarms dealer] NSO Group has sophisticated mobile spyware capabilities across a number of operating systems that are actively being used to target individuals. After looking into these signals, we determined that an Android version of Pegasus was running on phones in Israel, Georgia, Mexico, Turkey, the UAE and others,” said Lookout Security Intelligence VP Mike Murray.
The Android variant is being deemed the “most advanced” malware for Android ever detected. It can steal messages, record phone calls, take screenshots, control cameras and microphones, and more. It is also much easier to deploy on Android than it was on iOS.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however: this malware variant is not very widespread, with less than 3 dozen documented cases.
To protect yourself in the event of mobile malware, make sure you back up your data, and include your mobile devices in your data protection plans.
Ransomware attacks pediatric practice
Ransomware doesn’t care who you are or what you do. If it wants to hold your data hostage, it will do everything it can to encrypt it. And that’s what happened to a Texas pediatric practice.
ABCD Pediatrics released a statement informing the public it had been victimized by a ransomware attack. The ransomware hit the practice on the morning of February 6th and affected the personal data of its patients.
The firm realized they were being hacked, their anti-virus slowing down the encryption but not stopping it completely. Analysis identified the virus as “Dharma Ransomware.” Luckily, ABCD Pediatrics was able to remove the virus and the corrupted data. A previous backup was used to restore their data and get the organization back up and running again.
According to the statement, no confidential information was lost or stolen, but they couldn’t rule out all threats to patient data as the hackers had access to their servers for an undisclosed amount of time.
“ABCD cannot confirm with a high degree of likelihood that confidential information remained secure throughout this incident. Generally, affected information may have included one’s name, address, telephone, date of birth, other demographic information, Social Security Number, insurance billing information, current procedural technology codes, medical records, and laboratory reports.”
While ABCD Pediatrics was able to stop this infection with relative ease, it is still likely that personal information was exposed. To stop threats like this from doing lasting damage to you and your business, it’s important to implement a fully integrated data protection and disaster recovery plan.
Blockchain is branching out into the music business
Three of the world’s biggest music-licensing-fee collection societies are joining forces and experimenting with blockchain to create a new system for managing the data codes used to identify music and other recorded compositions, Billboard reports.
The collection societies include ASCAP, SACEM, and PRS for Music. They hope to use IBM’s hyperledger blockchain technology to manage the links between Standard Recording Codes and International Standard Work Codes. This is in response to the increasing disorganization of songs and recordings that are assigned multiple different codes. As a result, ownership is sometimes difficult to determine.
The goal of this experiment is to increase efficiency, quicken the licensing process, eliminate errors, and reduce costs.
"We believe the benefits may be really significant, if not crucial. One of the key issues for rights owners is to improve the accuracy in matching data to distribute the right amount of revenue to the right owners. By leveraging what we can do to tighten the links between ISRCs and ISWCs, we believe there is huge potential for improving the processes of royalty matching,” said Jean-Noel Tronc, SACEM’s chief executive officer. The test run will begin using 25,000 music works. If successful, the test group is likely to grow.