The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



The Justice Department has charged three dozen individuals from multiple countries for their alleged roles in one of the largest-ever cyber fraud schemes. For seven years the so-called Infraud Organization trafficked in stolen identities and personal financial information, bilking victims out of more than a half billion dollars, according to prosecutors. The group was reportedly created in 2010 by Svyatoslav Bondarenko, a 34-year-old Ukrainian, and operated under the slogan “In Fraud We Trust.”

Of the 36 indicted, U.S. officials said that 13 have been arrested in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo, and Serbia. They face charges including identity theft, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. The other defendants remain at large, and the investigation is still ongoing. (DOJ, Reuters, Wired, CBS)


Apple Code: An unidentified individual posted a core component of the iPhone’s operating system on GitHub, in what some experts are describing as the “biggest leak in history.” The disclosure could open the door for hackers and security researchers to find vulnerabilities in iOS. (Motherboard)


Pyeongchang Olympics: Winter Olympics organizers confirmed last weekend that the Games had fallen victim to a cyberattack during the opening ceremony, but they refused to reveal the source. No critical systems were compromised, authorities said. (Reuters)

Crypto Fever: Amid the virtual currency boom, elite U.S. universities like Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Duke, and Princeton are rushing to add classes about Bitcoin and blockchain. (NYT)


Uber-Waymo: The ride-hailing company Uber agreed to settle a year-long lawsuit with Waymo over claims that it stole and used trade secrets for self-driving vehicles. As part of the deal, Uber promised not to use Waymo’s technology and agreed to give Waymo equity equal to about $245 million. (WSJ)

Scareware Scheme: Peteris Sahurovs, a Latvian national, pleaded guilty in a Minneapolis federal court to supporting a scareware scheme targeting users of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's website. Victims would receive a fake security alert advising them that their machines were infected and instructing them to purchase an antivirus program for $49.95. (SC Magazine)

  ON THE HILL                                    

Chinese Tech: Republican U.S. senators introduced legislation to block the government from buying or leasing telecom equipment from Huawei Technologies or ZTE Corp, citing concern the Chinese companies would spy on U.S. officials. (Reuters)

Autonomous Vehicles: The U.S. Transportation Department has invited automakers, tech companies, road safety advocates, and lawmakers to attend a March 1 conference over potential government actions that could speed the rollout of self-driving cars. (Reuters)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Barclays: The UK bank is likely to follow other major lenders in the United States in prohibiting customers from buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with its credit cards. (Reuters)


Automakers: The auto industry is increasingly moving to employ electrical systems built to a 48-volt standard, rather than the 12-volt systems that have dominated since the 1950s. The new architecture allows the use of lower-cost hybrid drive systems and meets the power demands of in-vehicle gadgets. (NYT)

Market Volatility: Analysts say that passive investment strategies, which follow a simple set of rules and are carried out by sophisticated computer programs, are among the factors fueling the stock market’s recent plunge. (NYT)

  THE WORLD                                     

Japan: In the wake of the $530 million Coincheck heist, interviews with government officials, lawmakers, and cryptocurrency industry leaders depict a Japanese government that opted for relatively loose rules to help nurture an industry largely populated by startups. (Reuters)

Cambodia: Former Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy filed a lawsuit in the United States to get Facebook to release information on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s use of the social media platform. Rainsy wants information on allegations of “false likes” on Hun Sen’s Facebook account. (Reuters)


Inside North Korea’s Hacker Army: “Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, who might seek to expose security vulnerabilities, steal corporate and state secrets, or simply sow chaos, North Korean hackers have a singular purpose: to earn money for the country, currently squeezed by harsh international sanctions for its rogue nuclear program,” writes Sam Kim in Bloomberg Businessweek.


Every Company Needs a “Cyber No-Fly List”: “Because all companies have unique characteristics and threat landscapes, there is no definitive or “master” cyber no-fly list. Every company should develop its own threat list using the research that is most relevant to its industry, geography, business, and other factors. Fortunately, there is an entire industry of cyber intelligence research providers to draw on,” writes Hugh Njemanze in the Harvard Business Review.

China Is Winning the Battery Race: “There is a world-wide race to lock up the supply chain for cobalt, which will likely be in even greater demand as electric-car production rises. So far, China is way ahead. Chinese imports of cobalt from Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, totaled $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared with just $3.2 million by India, the second-largest importer,” write Scott Patterson and Russell Gold in the Wall Street Journal.


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