Contrary to public claims, Apple can read your iMessages

Contrary to public claims, Apple employees can read communications sent with its iMessage service, according to researchers who have reverse engineered it.

The finding, delivered Thursday at a Hack in the Box presentation titled How Apple Can Read Your iMessages and How You Can Prevent It, largely echoes the conclusion Ars reached in June. It contrasts sharply with assurances that Apple gave following revelations of an expansive surveillance program by the National Security Agency. iMessage conversations, Apple said at the time, "are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them." It added: "Apple cannot decrypt that data."

Researchers from QuarksLab who delivered Thursday's talk, begged to differ.

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You’re infected—if you want to see your data again, pay us $300 in Bitcoins

Malware that takes computers hostage until users pay a ransom is getting meaner, and thanks to the growing prevalence of Bitcoin and other digital payment systems, it's easier than ever for online crooks to capitalize on these "ransomware" schemes. If this wasn't already abundantly clear, consider the experience of Nic, an Ars reader who fixes PCs for a living and recently helped a client repair the damage inflicted by a particularly nasty title known as CryptoLocker.

It started when an end user in the client's accounting department received an e-mail purporting to come from Intuit. Yes, the attached archived zip file with an executable inside should have been a dead giveaway that this message was malicious and was in no way affiliated with Intuit. But accounting employees are used to receiving e-mails from financial companies. When the receiver clicked on it, he saw a white box flash briefly on his screen but didn't notice anything else out of the ordinary. He then locked his computer and attended several meetings.

Within a few hours, the company's IT department received word of a corrupt file stored on a network drive that was available to multiple employees, including the one who received the malicious e-mail. A quick investigation soon uncovered other corrupted files, most or all of which had been accessed by the accounting employee. By the time CryptoLocker had run its course, hundreds of gigabytes worth of company data was no longer available.

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Spammers Offer Loans to US Government Shutdown Victims

Contributor: Binny Kuriakose

The funding gap in US, which resulted in a shutdown of a large portion of the United States federal government, has  started affecting economic growth in the country. Large portions of the federal workforce were required to work without immediate pay, while some were indefinitely furloughed.

Symantec recently uncovered spam campaigns, which started promptly following the shutdown announcement, targeting the affected victims. In the past,  spammers tried to take advantage of the general gloom, but now they are directly targeting the raw financial state the sudden shutdown has left people in. This could probably be a last ditch effort to haul in more spoils before the US shutdown is lifted, especially in light of the senate’s deal, which is currently being made to end the shutdown.

This new wave of spam is designed  to manipulate  victims into applying for loans and inevitably disclose their personal details to the spammers. The email appeals  to victims by  offering  quick loan processing and delivery within a time span as short as 90 seconds. The email’s subject line  also makes it look as though the names were suggested by someone close to the victims. The following is a sample email header used in this campaign:

From: "[NAME]" <[email protected][DOMAIN]>
Subject: Your name was mentioned

Figure1_3.png
Figure 1. Spam email promising US shutdown victims a loan

The email content is tweaked strategically at  the right places to make the victims feel comfortable. For example, offering financial help as the US shutdown continues. The link in the email body takes the victim to a  page asking for the amount they wish to be advanced for the promised loan, and subsequently to another page asking for the user’s personal details.
 
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Figure 2. Website promoting loans
 

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Figure 3. Website asking for user details

This spam is designed to hit the victims’ when they are most vulnerable. The promise of quick cash is too tempting to ignore, and ultimately, ill-informed victims are bound to fall for this scam. Symantec is on the lookout for new tricks, which spammers are pulling out of their sleeve and keeping the public armed with information to see these for what they are – scams.Spammers Offer Loans to US Government Shutdown Victims.

Google Releases Google Chrome 30.0.1599.101

Original release date: October 17, 2013

Google has released Google Chrome 30.0.1599.101 for Windows, Mac, Linux and Chrome Frame operating systems to address multiple vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to cause a denial-of-service condition or trigger multiple conflicting uses of the same object.

US-CERT encourages users and administrators to review the Google Chrome Release blog entry and update to Chrome 30.0.1599.101.

 


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