Election influence goals. A look at Smaug ransomware. TikTok as acquisition target (and plaintiff). – Digitalmunition

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Published on August 11th, 2020 📆 | 1825 Views ⚑


Election influence goals. A look at Smaug ransomware. TikTok as acquisition target (and plaintiff).

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday released a statement on election interference. NCSC Director William Evanina says that China, Russia, and Iran are all interested in various forms of interference. Briefly, China dislikes President Trump, whom it regards as unpredictable, and wants him out. Iran also dislikes the incumbent and sees his reelection as likely to mean increased pressure on the Islamic Republic. Russia is denigrating former Vice President Biden, whom Moscow sees as dangerously connected with Ukraine and as part of an anti-Russian establishment.

Anomali this morning published its analysis of Smaug ransomware, recently hawked in criminal-to-criminal markets as a ransomware-as-a-service offering. Simple and lacking some of its competitors’ functionality, Smaug offers a clean user interface, tech support, and a respectable range of ransomware services, from encryption to payment to decryption. Customers are forbidden from infecting targets in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, the former USSR), but that can be accounted for by its hosting on a forum that prohibits operations against the CIS; the exclusion isn’t decisive evidence of CIS origin. Smaug seems to be a market failure: it’s been discounted, and in mid-May was frozen on its forum for evidently failing to deposit $8000 in escrow.

Microsoft’s possible TikTok acquisition would be technically challenging, Reuters reports. CNBC thinks Netflix should look at TikTok, and the Wall Street Journal says that Twitter has been in talks with the ByteDance-owned social platform. According to NPR, TikTok is pursuing litigation against the US Government.

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