April’s IT Monthly News Digest (IT Toolbox Blogs)

Mystery Botnet Hajime Has Overtaken 300,000 Devices

In recent weeks, a botnet that was discovered last year has increased the number of internet devices it has infected to 300,000. The malware, dubbed Hajime, has infected routers, webcams and digital video recorders, however, it has been careful not to target specific networks like the U.S. Department of Defense, unlike the infamous Mirai botnet used in a cyberattack last year by overloading vast numbers of U.S. servers with traffic. Hajime, like Mirai, targets devices with weak or default usernames and passwords. What it does differently, though, is to remove certain firewall ports and open up several other ports to construct a peer-to-peer command and control structure. What is striking about Hajime is that no one know what the botnet is for or who is behind it. (ZDNet)


Twitter Reports First-Ever Decline, But Still Beat Analyst Expectations

Twitter reported its first ever year-over-year decline in revenue for its first quarter earnings, but the company beat analysts’ expectations. The social media company also exceeded user growth estimates of 2.3 million by adding nine million more monthly active users. Revenue was $548 million versus an expected $512 million, a decline of $959 million in the same period a year ago.  In a letter to shareholders, Twitter attributed its higher-than-expected user growth to recent activity including simplifying its product with features including its new Explorer tab and adding new moderation and reporting tools to curb abusive behavior. However, because it has not disclosed actual daily user figures like Snapchat and Facebook, the growth may not yet satisfy investors. (Business Insider)


Ransomware Payments on the Rise as Victims Grow Desperate for Data Return

Ransomware payments demanded by hackers are on the rise, tripling last year to $1,077 from $294, and the price continues to go up, according to cyber security firm Symantec. The hackers paralyze computers with viruses and then seek payment from victims to regain access to their data. The firm said 69% of ransomware infections hit consumer computers in 2016, with the rest targeting businesses and other organizations. More than one-third of consumer ransomware victims globally pay cyber criminals to get their data back, according to Symantec. Sale of ransomware kits, which sell for $10 to $1,800 on underground markets, are spawning the surge in cyber extortion, the firm said. The cyberattacks have hit providers of critical services in the U.S. and Europe, including hospitals and police departments. “The bad guys haven’t found the top end of what people will pay,” Symantec’s Director of Security Response Kevin Haley, told Reuters. (Reuters)


Intel Ends its Longstanding PC Developer Event

In a sign of the times, Intel has put the kibosh on its annual Developer Forum in San Francisco. The purpose of the forum was to give developers the latest information on Intel’s chipsets and be a launch pad for the company’s new products. A note on its website said, “Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum!” Observers say Intel made the decision to shift away from its reliance on PCs, which have seen significant decline in market share, and focus on data with AI, IoT, wireless communications and automotive systems.  (The Verge)


Apple Joins Field Seeking to Test Self-Driving Cars in California

Apple has been granted a permit to conduct test drives on autonomous vehicles in California in three vehicles with six drivers. The vehicles are all 2015 Lexus RX-450h, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. While the company hasn’t publicly acknowledged it is interested in building an electric car, in the past few years Apple has recruited dozens of auto experts. While the permit indicates interest in the idea, it is not confirmation that Apple is definitely building a self-driving car. CEO Time Cook has suggested the company wants to move beyond integrating Apple smartphones into car infotainment systems. Other companies that have been issued permits include Alphabet’s Google unit, Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Tesla Motors and General Motors Co. Many of the companies have said the first commercial autonomous cars will debut in 2020, but regulatory challenges may push out that timeframe. (Reuters)


AOL, Yahoo to be Renamed “Oath” After Verizon Takeover

When Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo is concluded at the end of the year, the search engine company will be merged with AOL and become a new brand called Oath. Rebranding will take place this summer. AOL’s chief executive Tim Armstrong told Business Insider that Oath will have more than one billion consumers across more than 20 brands. Verizon purchased Yahoo for $4.8 billion in July. Its assets include mail, finance and search. After revelations about state-sponsored hacking came to light, Verizon received a $350 million discount for Yahoo. A source told VentureBeat the Yahoo brand will continue after the merger is completed. (VentureBeat)


About the Author

EstherEsther Shein is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in several online and print publications. Previously she was the editor-in-chief of the online technology magazine Datamation. She was also a senior writer at eWeek (formerly PC Week) magazine for several years. She is a member of the Internet Press Guild (IPG). She can be found on Twitter @eshein.

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ May 2, 2017 at 04:09PM