About Anton Ferreira

Anton Ferreira is a copy editor and writer who has covered wars, economies, crime and politics around the world. He worked for Reuters for nearly 25 years in Hong Kong, the Middle East, South Africa, Latin America and the US, including long-term assignments in Washington, D.C. and New York City. He now focuses on cyber-security issues.

Posts by Anton Ferreira

Sophisticated Attackers Combine E-mails With Phone Calls

Security vendor Symantec has given fresh details of a series of sophisticated cyber attacks targeting mainly French companies in which the criminals combine e-mail with voice calls to steal money. “These tactics, using an email followed up by a phone call using perfect French, are highly unusual and are a sign of aggressive social...

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Chrome Has a Better Bug Catcher Than Mozilla

A study comparing two leading vulnerability rewards programs (VRPs) has found that the one offered by Google Chrome is working better than that run by Mozilla. The study, by Matthew Finifter, Devdatta Akhawe and David Wagner of the University of California, Berkeley, was presented this month at the USENIX Security Symposium in Washington,...

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“Jekyll App” Beats IOS Security Measures

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology say they have developed what they call a “Jekyll app” for iOS devices that bypasses Apple’s security measures and can be used for a range of malicious purposes from sending tweets and dialing numbers to operating the camera. In a paper presented this month at the USENIX...

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Google Encrypts All Data In Cloud Storage

Google Cloud Platform announced this week that it is now automatically encrypting all data before it is written to disk – but many users were skeptical about the security advantages. Dave Barth, Google Cloud product manager, said in a blog post the goal was to make it as painless as possible for users to secure their...

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Dalai Lama’s Website Hacked

The Chinese-language website of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, has been compromised in a “precisely targeted” watering-hole attack, a Kaspersky Labs researcher reported. Senior security researcher Kurt Baumgartner described the attack in his blog. “A snippet of code on the Central Tibetan Administration...

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Gartner Sees Security Opportunity in Expanding Mobile Market

The proliferation of mobile devices is opening new opportunities for security vendors, but innovative approaches to the market are needed, Gartner Inc says in a new report. Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner, says one of the challenges facing vendors is that consumer adoption and willingness to pay for antivirus software on mobile...

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Lavabit, Silent Mail Close Down

Two secure e-mail services, Lavabit and Silent Mail, were closed down this week in what many observers called fall-out from the Edward Snowden leaks about NSA spying on communications. “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard...

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Windows 8.1 Upgrades Security Measures

Software giant Microsoft has unveiled the new security measures in Windows 8.1, including fingerprint biometrics, multifactor authentication for BYODs and enhanced malware resistance. Dustin Ingalls, Group Program Manager for Windows Security & Identity, in a blog this week, listed the major features as trusted hardware, modern access...

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Industrial Plants Can Be Disrupted With a Remote

The wireless control systems used at many major infrastructure facilities have vulnerabilities which could allow a hacker with a radio frequency (RF) transceiver to close down a plant from up to 40 miles away; two security researchers told the Black Hat convention in Las Vegas. Lucas Apa and Carlos Mario Penagos Hollman of IOActive said in a...

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Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Lies, damned lies, and statistics – it’s a phrase that has been attributed to Mark Twain and former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, among others. Whoever it was that said it first, he could have been talking about vulnerability statistics. This is the view of two researches who presented their case this week at the Black...

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Android Master Key Malware Surfaces in China

The first known malware to exploit the Android master key vulnerability described by BlueBox Security has been found in an application market based in China, a McAfee researcher reported this week. Mobile malware researcher Daisuke Nakajima said the app used the vulnerability to hide the malicious classes.dex from Android’s package...

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Stock Exchanges Fear Cyber Threat is Growing

Researchers working in the securities sector have warned that stock exchanges around the world have become the targets of cyber-criminals and that the potential exists for attacks that would close down financial markets. The warning was made in a report issued this month (July 2013) by the International Organization of Securities Commissions...

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FBI Ransomware Could Be Generating Big Income

A new type of ransomeware that tries to fool victims using Macs or Windows into paying fines of $300 could be making its authors hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, according to a senior security researcher at Malwarebytes. Jerome Segura wrote in a blog that the scam displays a message purportedly from the FBI telling the user that his or...

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Study Finds “Surprises” in Browser Warning Effectiveness

Computer users generally take note of browser warnings about unsafe websites, but up to 70 percent of Google Chrome’s SSL (secure socket layer) warnings fail to dissuade users from visiting a site, according to a recent study. The research on Chrome and Mozilla Firefox was conducted in May and June this year by Devdatta Akhawe of the...

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EDA Overreacts to Malware Scare

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) in Washington, D.C. physically destroyed computers and other IT equipment worth $170,000 in a comedy of errors sparked by a relatively harmless malware incident, according to an audit report. The report by the inspector general’s office in the Department of Commerce, released late last month,...

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Def Con Asks Feds to Stay Away

In further fall-out from the Edward Snowden spying revelations, the organizers of the hacker's convention Def Con this week asked officials of the federal government to stay away from the event. In a post on the Def Con website, the founder of the event Jeff Moss said: “When it comes to sharing and socializing with feds, recent...

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McAfee Says South Korea Is Cyber Espionage Target

The cyber attack on South Korean banks and media outlets in March was part of a wider four-year military espionage operation against the Seoul government, McAfee Labs said this week. In an analysis of a series of hacking attacks on South Korea since 2009, the security software company said the attackers used a remote-access Trojan to compromise...

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Researcher Says Vulnerability Affects Nearly Every Android Phone

Bluebox Security reported this week it had discovered a vulnerability affecting 99 percent of Android cell phones that allows a hacker to do anything from steal data to create a mobile botnet. “The implications are huge,” Bluebox chief technical officer Jeff Forristal said in a blog post “This vulnerability, around at...

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Video Games Maker Says Website Hacked

Ubisoft, the video game developer and distributor, warned clients this week that its website had been hacked and urged all users to change their passwords. In a post on its website, the company said hackers had recently gained access to some of its online systems and stolen user names, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords. "No...

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Malware Pair Work in Tandem to Evade Removal

Microsoft has identified two separate forms of malware that work together on an infected computer to make it far more difficult to remove them. In a Malware Protection Center blog, Redmond anti-virus researcher Hyun Choi named the malware as Vobfus and Beebone. What makes them particularly troublesome is that they download updated versions...

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Mobile Malware Follows the Money

Mobile malware mushroomed more than six-fold in the year ending in March, and the people behind it are increasingly behaving like calculating business professionals, a study from Juniper Networks says. “Similar to legitimate developers focused on the rise of mobile, cyber criminals are looking to maximize their return on investment with...

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Phishing Increased Nearly 90% Last Year, Kaspersky Says

The number of internet users worldwide reporting phishing attacks increased an astonishing 87 percent in the year ending April 30,  Kaspersky Lab said in a survey report.  It said 37.3 users reported phishing in the period, compared with 19.9 million in the previous 12 months. “For some time, phishing remained relatively...

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Microsoft Launches Bounty Program To Fix Security Flaws

Microsoft this week announced that it would for the first time pay cash rewards directly to hackers who can demonstrate vulnerabilities in Windows and Internet Explorer – with “truly novel” techniques earning a possible $150,000. Katie Moussouris, a senior security strategist at the software giant, said the bounties were a...

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US And Russia Launch Cyber Threat ‘Hotline’

The Cold War 24-hour hotline established to prevent accidental nuclear war between the US and the then Soviet Union has been updated to deal with a modern risk – accidental cyber war. The White House, in a release this week, said the new use for the hot line was among the results of two years of talks between Washington and Moscow on...

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NSA Director Defends Surveillance Of Phones, Internet

The director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith Alexander, today (Tuesday June 18) defended US spying on phone calls and internet traffic, saying it had prevented some 50 terror attacks around the world In remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, Alexander said: “In recent years, these programs, together with other...

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Wall Street To Stage Cyber War Game

As concern mounts over cyber warfare between nations, major Wall Street firms will take part later this month in a simulated network disruption exercise aimed at testing their ability to respond to a widespread attack. The exercise, Quantum Dawn 2, has been organized by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) as a...

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The Dark Side Of Covert Clouds

We know it happens all the time – employees want to get something done quickly, so they bypass the bureaucracy of their company’s IT department and with a couple of clicks go straight to the cloud. But by doing so, they greatly increase the risk of exposing the company’s network to malware. A recent survey of IT professionals...

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Google Reports ‘Political’ Phishing Attacks In Iran

Phishing attacks in Iran have spiked dramatically in recent weeks and appear to be related to presidential elections in the country tomorrow (Friday June 14), Google said this week. Eric Grosse, vice president of security engineering, said in a blog post that over the last three weeks the company had detected and disrupted “multiple email-based...

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PRISM Leaker Stirs US-China Cyber Feud

Edward Snowden, the source of the leaks about the US government’s PRISM cyber spying program,  claimed this week that the US has been hacking computers in China for at least four years. Snowden, who is now in hiding in Hong Kong – a Chinese-controlled territory – made the claims in an interview with the Hong Kong...

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Global Security Technology Market Seen Booming

Gartner analysts this week forecast that the worldwide security technology and services market would grow 8.7 percent this year to $67.2 billion as cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous. The analysts, attending a Gartner summit on security and risk management at National Harbour, MD, said the market could grow to more...

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Storm Over PRISM Leaks Widens

The saga of one of the most significant leaks of government information in recent US history has taken a new twist with the decision by the whistleblower – former CIA technical staffer  Edward Snowden – to go public. In an interview carried out in Hong Kong with the UK newspaper The Guardian, Snowden said that after leaving the...

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US Government Angry Over Internet Spying Leaks

Director of National Intelligence  James Clapper has denounced leaks to The Washington Post and Guardian newspapers this week which revealed that his agency is spying on e-mails and other internet traffic obtained from nine major companies. In a statement on Thursday, Clapper confirmed the surveillance was taking place but accused the...

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Microsoft, FBI Claim Success Against Citadel Botnets

Microsoft and the FBI have carried out a major operation against cybercriminals using Citadel malware, saying they disrupted more than 1,000 botnets responsible for about $500 million in financial fraud globally. In separate releases issued on Wednesday (June 5), the software giant and the FBI said they had worked with leaders of the financial...

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McAfee Report Cites Citadel Threat

Cyberspace grew both more dangerous and irritating in the first quarter of the year, according to McAfee Labs’ threat report for the period. In a report issued this week, the tech security company sounded a special warning about the Citadel Trojan, which has been updated to extract personal information from victims. “In the first...

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Apple Users Warned of Charger Security Threat

If you thought your iPhone or iPad was relatively safe from being hacked, think again – researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology say they have found a way to infect them with malware using a simple-to-make USB charger. The researchers – Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song – are due to discuss their...

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Global Security Software Revenue Up 7.9 Percent in 2012

New cyber threats helped to boost global revenue from security software to $19.13 billion last year, a 7.9 percent increase from 2011 revenue of $17.73 billion, according to the IT research company Gartner, Inc. In a release issued this week, Gartner research director Ruggero Contu said the security market experienced increased demand for...

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How Secure Are We At Home?

More and more Americans are installing home automation systems which, among other things, control physical access and security. If the list of topics at next month’s Black Hat conference is anything to go by, we should be getting nervous. Very nervous. At least three presentations at the security conference in Las Vegas will deal...

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Hagel Accuses China of Cyber Attacks

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel publicly accused the Chinese government and military at the weekend of carrying out cyber attacks and expressed Washington’s determination to work “vigorously” to keep cyberspace safe. The accusation was made in an address on Saturday to the Shangri-La security conference in Singapore, which...

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Music, Light Used to Trigger Malware on Mobiles

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say they have developed and tested malware that can be triggered on a smartphone using light, sound, magnetic fields or vibration – posing a critical new cyber-security threat. In a paper released this month at a cyber-security symposium in Hangzhou, China, the researchers said...

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Syrian Hackers Attack Media, Israeli Infrastructure

Anonymous backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have reportedly hacked the Twitter account of British broadcaster ITV and made a failed attempt to sabotage the water supply of Haifa in Israel. The attack on ITV last Friday took place just days after Twitter introduced its new “two-factor” authentication system in an attempt to...

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Small Is Beautiful for Cyber Criminals

Hackers are increasingly targeting small companies for cyber-attack and the amount of malware directed at mobile operating systems is rapidly escalating, according to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report for 2012. The report, issued last month, said half of all targeted attacks last year were aimed at businesses with fewer than...

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Commission Calls For ‘Aggressive’ Anti-Hack Laws

A high-level commission into the theft of US intellectual property (IP) has made wide-reaching recommendations on tightening cybersecurity, including “aggressive” changes to the law to bring it  up to date with rapidly evolving computer crime. The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, chaired by former...

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Cyber Attacks on Critical Infrastructure Could Cause Disaster

Critical infrastructure in the US –  including the energy sector with its nuclear power facilities – is increasingly coming under cyber attack from hostile nations and a range of other hackers, with potentially disastrous consequences. The warning was issued earlier this month by Charles Edwards, deputy inspector general of the...

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Stuxnet May Have Been a Flop, Report Says

A new report published by a respected British think tank has challenged the conventional wisdom that the Stuxnet worm was a major setback to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Ivanka Barzashka, a researcher in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, said in the  report  – based largely on data from the...

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Possible Stuxnet Defense Developed

Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have developed an innovative way of protecting networked control systems from cyber attack – raising the possibility of a defense against Stuxnet-type sabotage. A release from NCSU (http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/wms-chow-dncs/) said Dr. Mo-Yuen Chow and PhD student Wente Zeng had...

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Yahoo to Buy Tumblr, Vows Not to Screw It Up

Internet pioneer Yahoo! Inc. announced today (Monday) it was buying Tumblr for $1.1-billion in an acquisition that some analysts were quick to criticize as holding little value for Yahoo shareholders. Tumblr founder David Karp, a 26-year-old high-school dropout, will make about $250-million from the deal, according to the New York Times. A...

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