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Banking Trojan targets Android 6

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Kaspersky Lab has discovered a modification of the Gugi banking trojan that can bypass new Android 6 security features designed to block phishing and ransomware attacks.

The modified trojan forces users into giving it the right to overlay genuine apps, send and view SMS, make calls, and more. It is spread through social engineering and its use by cybercriminals is growing rapidly: between April and early August, 2016, there was a ten-fold increase in its number of victims.

The Gugi Trojan’s aim is to steal users’ mobile banking credentials by overlaying their genuine banking apps with phishing apps, and to seize credit card details by overlaying the Google Play Store app. In late 2015, Android OS version 6 was launched, with new security features designed specifically to block such attacks. Among other things, apps now need the user’s permission to overlay other apps, and to request approval for actions such as sending an SMS and making calls the first time they want to access them.

Kaspersky Lab anti-malware experts have uncovered a modification of the Gugi Trojan that can successfully bypass these two new features.

Initial infection with the modified trojan takes place through social engineering, usually with a spam SMS that encourages users to click on a malicious link. Once installed on the device, the trojan sets about getting the access rights it needs. When ready, the malware displays the following sign on the user’s screen: “additional rights needed to work with graphics and windows”. There is only one button: “provide.”

When the user clicks on this, they are presented with a screen asking them to authorise app overlay. After receiving permission, the trojan will block the device screen with a message asking for ‘Trojan Device Administrator’ rights, and then asks for permission to send and view SMS and to make calls. If the trojan does not receive all the permissions it needs, it will completely block the infected device. If this happens, the user’s only option is to reboot the device in safe mode and try to uninstall the trojan, an activity that is made harder if the trojan has already gained ‘Trojan Device Administrator’ rights.

Aside from these security workarounds and a few other features, Gugi is a typical banking trojan: stealing financial credentials, SMS and contacts, making USSD requests and sending SMS as directed by the command server. To date, 93% of users attacked by the Gugi Trojan are based in Russia, but its number of victims is on the rise. In the first half of August 2016 there were ten times as many victims as in April 2016.

“Cybersecurity is a never-ending race. OS systems such as Android are continuously updating their security features to make life harder for cybercriminals and safer for customers; cybercriminals are relentless in their attempts to find ways around this; and the security industry is equally busy making sure they don’t succeed. The discovery of the modified Gugi Trojan is a good example of this. In exposing the threat, we can neutralise it, and help to keep people, their devices and their data safe,” said Roman Unucheck, Senior Malware Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab advises Android users to take the following steps to protect themselves against the Gugi Trojan and other malware threats:

·         Don’t automatically agree to hand over rights and permissions when an app asks you to do so – think about what is being asked for, and why you are being asked for it.

·         Install an antimalware solution on all devices and keep OS software up-to-date.

·         Avoid clicking on links in messages from people you don’t know, or in unexpected messages from people you do.

·         Exercise caution at all times when visiting websites: if something looks even slightly suspicious, it probably is.

The Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi family has been known about since December 2015, with the modification Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi.c first discovered in June 2016. Kaspersky Lab products detect all modifications of the Gugi Trojan malware family.

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Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards

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The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.

The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”

Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever AwardShe has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).

The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:

SPORT

The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognitionAge cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.

Click here to see who won the awards for data journalism , CSI/sustainability and photography.

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Cons exploit Telegram ICO

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.

In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.

Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.

The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.

Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.

“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.

Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:

  • Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
  • Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
  • Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.

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