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ATM JACKPOTTING FOR DUMMIES: KASPERSKY LAB IDENTIFIED CUTLET MAKER, THE NEW ATM-HACKING MALWARE-KIT DESIGNED FOR NON-PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS

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ATM JACKPOTTING FOR DUMMIES: KASPERSKY LAB IDENTIFIED CUTLET MAKER, THE NEW ATM-HACKING MALWARE-KIT DESIGNED FOR NON-PROFESSIONAL CRIMINALS

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered a malware targeting ATMs, which was being openly sold on the DarkNet market. Cutlet Maker consists of three components and enables ATM jackpotting if the attacker is able to gain physical access to the machine. A toolset potentially allowing criminals to steal millions was on sale for just £3,788 and came equipped with a step-by-step user guide.

ATMs continue to be lucrative targets for fraudsters, who use various methods to extract maximum profit. While some rely on physically destructive methods through the use of metal cutting tools, others choose malware infection, enabling them to manipulate cash dispensers from the inside. Although malicious tools for hacking ATMs have been known for many years, the latest discovery shows that malware creators are investing more and more resources into making their “products” available for criminals who are not very familiar with computer science.

Earlier this year, a Kaspersky Lab partner provided one of our researchers with a previously unknown malicious sample presumably made to infect PCs running inside ATMs. Researchers were curious to see if this malware or something related to it was available to purchase on underground forums. A subsequent search for the unique artifacts of the malware was successful: an advertising offer describing a strain of ATM malware on a popular DarkNet spot – AlphaBay – matched the search query and revealed that the initial sample belonged to a whole commercial malware-kit created to jackpot ATMs. A public post by the malware seller, found by researchers, contained not only the description of the malware and instructions on how to get it, but also provided a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use the malware-kit in attacks, with instructions and video tutorials.

According to the research, the malware toolkit consists of three elements:

  • Cutlet Maker software, which serves as the main module responsible for communicating with the ATM’s dispenser.
  • c0decalcprogram, designed to generate a password in order to run the Cutlet Maker application and protect it from unauthorised use.
  • Stimulator application, which saves time for criminals by identifying the current status of ATM cash cassettes. By installing this app, an intruder receives exact information on the currency, value and number of notes in each cassette, so can then choose the one containing the largest amount, instead of blindly withdrawing cash one by one.

To begin the theft, criminals need to gain direct access to an ATM’s insides in order to access the USB port, which is used to upload the malware. If successful, they plug in a USB device which stores the software toolkit. As a first step criminals install Cutlet Maker. Since it is password protected they use a c0decalc program, installed on another device such as a laptop or tablet – this is a kind of “copyright” protection installed by authors of Cutlet Maker in order to prevent other criminals from using it for free. After the code is generated, criminals enter it into Cutler Maker’s interface to start the money removal process.

Cutlet Maker had been on sale since 27 March 2017, however as researchers discovered, the earliest known sample came on the radars of the security community in June 2016. At that time it was submitted to a public multi-scanner service from Ukraine, but later submissions from other countries were also made. It is not clear if the malware was used in actual in the wild attacks, however the guidelines that came with the malware kit contained videos which were presented by their authors as real life proof of the malware’s efficiency.

It is unknown who is behind this malware. Regarding potential sellers of the toolkit, language, grammar and stylistic mistakes point to the fact they are non-native English speakers.

“Cutlet Maker requires almost no advanced knowledge or professional computer skills from the criminal, transforming ATM hacking from a sophisticated offensive cyber operation into yet another illegal way to earn money that is available to practically anyone who has several thousand dollars to purchase the malware. This may potentially become a dangerous threat to financial organisations. But what is more important is that while operating, Cutlet Maker interacts with the ATMs software and hardware, encountering almost no security obstacles at all. This should be changed in order to harden ATM machines,” says Konstantin Zykov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

In order to protect ATMs from attacks with the help of malicious tools like Cutlet Maker and in addition to providing reliable physical security to ATMs, Kaspersky Lab specialists advise financial organisations security teams to do the following:

  • Implement strict default-deny policies preventing any unauthorised software from running on the ATM.
  • Enable device control mechanisms to restrict the connection of any unauthorised devices to the ATM.
  • Use a tailored security solution to protect your ATMs from attacks from the likes of the Cutlet Maker malware.

For better ATM protection Kaspersky Lab also recommends to use a proper security solution, such as Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security.

Kaspersky Lab products successfully detect and block the Cutlet Maker malware.

To read more about how Cutlet Maker works, read the recent blogpost on Securelist.com.

This analysis continues Kaspersky lab’s ongoing research into financial malware targeting ATMs. You can learn more about the evolution of ATM attacks in Kaspersky Lab’s report on Future attack scenarios against ATM authentication systems.

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‘Spooky’ AI tool brings dead relatives’ photos to life

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'Spooky' AI tool brings dead relatives' photos to life 1

By Umberto Bacchi

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like the animated paintings that adorn the walls of Harry Potter’s school, a new online tool promises to bring portraits of dead relatives to life, stirring debate about the use of technology to impersonate people.

Genealogy company MyHeritage launched its “Deep Nostalgia” feature earlier this week, allowing users to turn stills into short videos showing the person in the photograph smiling, winking and nodding.

“Seeing our beloved ancestors’ faces come to life … lets us imagine how they might have been in reality, and provides a profound new way of connecting to our family history,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said in a statement.

Developed with Israeli computer vision firm D-ID, Deep Nostalgia uses deep learning algorithms to animate images with facial expressions that were based on those of MyHeritage employees.

Some of the company’s users took to Twitter on Friday to share the animated images of their deceased relatives, as well as moving depictions of historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Ancient Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti.

“Takes my breath away. This is my grandfather who died when I was eight. @MyHeritage brought him back to life. Absolutely crazy,” wrote Twitter user Jenny Hawran.

While most expressed amazement, others described the feature as “spooky” and said it raised ethical questions. “The photos are enough. The dead have no say in this,” tweeted user Erica Cervini.

From chatbots to virtual reality, the tool is the latest innovation seeking to bring the dead to life through technology.

Last year U.S. rapper Kanye West famously gifted his wife Kim Kardashian a hologram of her late father congratulating her on her birthday and on marrying “the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world”.

‘ANIMATING THE PAST’

The trend has opened up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, particularly around consent and the opportunity to blur reality by recreating a virtual doppelganger of the living.

Elaine Kasket a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain who authored a book on the “digital afterlife”, said that while Deep Nostalgia was not necessarily “problematic”, it sat “at the top of a slippery slope”.

“When people start overwriting history or sort of animating the past … You wonder where that ends up,” she said.

MyHeritage acknowledges on its website that the technology can be “a bit uncanny” and its use “controversial”, but said steps have been taken to prevent abuses.

“The Deep Nostalgia feature includes hard-coded animations that are intentionally without any speech and therefore cannot be used to fake any content or deliver any message,” MyHeritage public relations director Rafi Mendelsohn said in a statement.

Yet, images alone can convey meaning, said Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

“Imagine somebody took a picture of the Last Supper and Judas is now winking at Mary Magdalene – what kind of implications that can have,” Hussain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) animations could be use to make someone appear as though they were doing things they might not be happy about, such as rolling their eyes or smiling at a funeral, he added.

Mendelsohn of MyHeritage said using photos of a living person without their consent was a breach of the company’s terms and conditions, adding that videos were clearly marked with AI symbols to differentiate them from authentic recordings.

“It is our ethical responsibility to mark such synthetic videos clearly and differentiate them from real videos,” he said.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi in Milan; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

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Does your institution have operational resilience? Testing cyber resilience may be a good way to find out

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REMOTE WORKING STRATEGY REQUIRED TO STRENGTHEN CYBER RESILIENCE

By Callum Roxan, Head of Threat Intelligence, F-Secure

If ever 2020 had a lesson, it was that no organization can possibly prepare for every conceivable outcome. Yet building one particular skill will make any crisis easier to handle: operational resilience.

Many financial institutions have already devoted resources to building operational resilience. Unfortunately, this often takes what Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, calls a “near death” experience for this conversion to occur. “Recent years have seen a number of cases of loss of reputation, reduced enterprise value and senior executive casualties from operational incidents that have been badly handled,” he wrote.

But it need not take a disaster to learn this vital lesson.

“Operational resilience means not only planning around specific, identified risks,” Charlotte Gerken, the executive director of the Bank of England, said in a 2017 speech on operational resilience. “We want firms to plan on the assumption that any part of their infrastructure could be impacted, whatever the reason.” Gerken noted that firms that had successfully achieved a level of resilience that survives a crisis had established the necessary mechanisms to bring the business together to respond where and when risks materialised, no matter why or how.

We’ll talk about the bit we know best here; by testing for cyber resilience, a company can do more than prepare for the worst sort of attacks it may face. This process can help any business get a clearer view of how it operates, and how well it is prepared for all kinds of surprises.

Assumptions and the mechanisms they should produce are the best way to prepare for the unknown. But, as the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The aim of cyber resilience is to build an effective security posture that survives that first punch, and the several that are likely to follow. So how can an institution be confident that they’ve achieved genuine operational resilience?

This requires an organization to honestly assess itself through the motto inscribed at the front of the Temple of Delphi: “Know thyself.” And when it comes to cyber security, there is a way for an organization to test just how thoroughly it comprehends its own strengths and weaknesses.

Callum Roxan

Callum Roxan

The Bank of England was the first central bank to help develop the framework for institutions to test the integrity of their systems. CBEST is made up of controlled, bespoke, intelligence-led cyber security tests that replicate behaviours of those threat actors, and often have unforeseen or secondary benefits. Gerken notes that the “firms that did best in the testing tended to be those that really understood their organisations. They understood their own needs, strengths and weaknesses, and reflected this in the way they built resilience.”

In short, testing cyber resilience can provide clear insight into an institution’s operational resilience in general.

Gaining that specific knowledge without a “near-death” experience is obviously a significant win for any establishment. And testing for operational resilience throughout the industry can provide some reminders of the steps every organization should take so that testing provides unique insists about their institution, and not just a checklist of cyber defence basics.

The IIF/McKinsey Cyber Resilience Survey of the financial services industry released in March lasy year provided six sets of immediate actions that institutions could take to improve their cyber security posture. The toplines of these recommendations were:

  1. Do the basics, patch your vulnerabilities.
  2. Review your cloud architecture and security capabilities.
  3. Reduce your supply chain risk.
  4. Practice your incident response and recovery capabilities.
  5. Set aside a specific cyber security budget and prioritise it
  6. Build a skilled talent pool and optimize resources through automation.

But let’s be honest: If simply reading a solid list of recommendations created cyber resilience, cyber criminals would be out of business. Unfortunately, cyber crime as a business is booming and threat actors targeting essential financial institutions through cyber attacks are likely earning billions in the trillion dollar industry of financial crime.A list can’t reveal an institution’s unique weaknesses, those security failings and chokepoints that could shudder operations, not just during a successful cyber attack but during various other crises that challenge their operations. And the failings that lead to flaws in an institution’s cyber defence likely reverberate throughout the organization as liabilities that other crises would likely expose.

The best way to get a sense of operational resilience will always be to simulate the worst that attackers can summon. That’s why the time to test yourself is now, before someone else does.

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Thomson Reuters to stress AI, machine learning in a post-pandemic world

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gbaf1news

By Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp will streamline technology, close offices and rely more on machines to prepare for a post-pandemic world, the news and information group said on Tuesday, as it reported higher sales and operating profit.

The Toronto-headquartered company will spend $500 million to $600 million over two years to burnish its technology credentials, investing in AI and machine learning to get data faster to professional customers increasingly working from home during the coronavirus crisis.

It will transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company, and from a holding company to an operational structure.

Thomson Reuters’ New York- and Toronto-listed shares each gained more than 8%.

It aims to cut annual operating expenses by $600 million through eliminating duplicate functions, modernizing and consolidating technology, as well as through attrition and shrinking its real estate footprint. Layoffs are not a focus of the cost cuts and there are no current plans to divest assets as part of this plan, the company said.

“We look at the changing behaviors as a result of COVID … on professionals working from home working remotely being much more reliant on 24-7, digital always-on, sort of real-time always available information, served through software and powered by AI and ML (machine learning),” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in an interview.

Sales growth is forecast to accelerate in each of the next three years compared with 1.3% reported sales growth for 2020, the company said in its earnings release.

Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment and other items.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals, and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit. As part of the two-year change program, the corporate, legal and tax side will operate more as one customer-facing entity.

Adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were ahead of the 46 cents expected, based on data from Refinitiv.

The company raised its annual dividend by 10 cents to $1.62 per share.

The Reuters News business showed lower revenue in the fourth quarter. In January, Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief for the past decade, said he would retire in April from the world’s largest international news provider.

Thomson Reuters also said its stake in The London Stock Exchange is now worth about $11.2 billion.

The LSE last month completed its $27-billion takeover of data and analytics business Refinitiv, 45%-owned by Thomson Reuters.

(Reporting by Ken Li, writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

 

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