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Trump reportedly uses unsecured phone lines. Cybersecurity experts explain why those are ‘so easy to hack it’s scary.’

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President Donald Trump reportedly uses unsecured phones for White House business, rather than encrypted phone services intended for top government officials, according to a recent Washington Post report .

Trump on phone
Trump on phone
  • Business Insider spoke to cybersecurity experts about how hackers can gain access to phone conversations on unsecured devices.
  • Unsecured phones are an easy target for hackers, according to the experts, who said they are “so easy to hack it’s scary.”

President Donald Trump made Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers a hallmark of his campaign, but the president himself regularly conducts phone calls using unsecured devices, according to a new report from The Washington Post .

Call records released as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump show that he and his top advisors routinely used unsecured phones for White House business, a fact that several unnamed administration officials confirmed to the Post. Top government officials typically use encrypted phone services to protect calls or texts from being intercepted by hackers.

To put that revelation in context, Business Insider spoke to cybersecurity experts about the risks associated with unsecured phones.

Alex Heid, chief technology officer of Security Scorecard, said that unencrypted phone services are exceptionally easy to hack.

“In some cases, it’s as simple as walking into a cell phone tower, plugging in a laptop, and downloading everything,” Alex Heid said. “It’s generally so easy to hack its scary.”

Kiersten Todt, managing director of the Cyber Readiness Institute and a former cybersecurity advisor to the Obama Administration, said that gaining access to unsecured phone activity is well within the capabilities of sophisticated hackers.

“With enough time and focus, which we know that many malicious actors have, it’s certainly doable,” Todt said.

Here’s a breakdown of how hackers can gain access to unsecured phone activity and how encryption can protect against hacks, according to experts.

Encrypted phones have been the standard for top-ranking government officials dating back to World War II, when extensive technology was employed to protect against wiretapping.


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National Security Agency

Phone encryption became much less expensive with the advent of the internet. Most encrypted phone lines now use software called “voice over internet protocol” to shield against spying.


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Nam Y. Huh/AP

However, most standard phone services, including calls and texts, are “basically wide open,” according to Heid: “It’s unencrypted data stream that’s broadcast over the airways.”


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Scott Morgan/Reuters

“Hackers are constantly hacking telecom carriers,” according to Heid. “In some cases, it’s as simple as walking into a cell phone tower, plugging in a laptop, and downloading everything.”


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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There are now a range of smartphone apps that provide encrypted calls and messaging services, including Signal, Wickr, and WhatsApp. The latter is used intermittently by White House officials, according to The Washington Post.


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The primary reason that people opt to use unsecured rather than encrypted phone services is because of convenience. “There’s always that trade-off between encryption and ease of use,” Heid said.


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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

There have been several instances of targeted phone hacking in the past year alone. One tactic, known as SIM swapping, involves fraudulently convincing a mobile carrier to transfer control of a phone number to a hacker’s device.


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Steve Kovach, Business Insider

“Mobile security is something that the government is still struggling to prioritize,” Todt said. “Given the use of smartphones across business and government use, we’ve got to figure it out.”


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AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Source:
https://www.pulse.ng/bi/tech/trump-reportedly-uses-unsecured-phone-lines-cybersecurity-experts-explain-why-those/rv5hkry

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Security

Firm introduces new cyberthreat detection service

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Sophos, a global leader in network and endpoint security, has announced the availability of a fully managed threat hunting, detection and response service, called Sophos Managed Threat Response.

The firm said the re-sellable service would provide organisations with a dedicated 24/7 security team to neutralise the most sophisticated and complex threats.

According to a statement, these threats include active attackers leveraging fileless attacks and administrator tools such as PowerShell to escalate privileges, exfiltrate data and spread laterally.

“Attacks like these are difficult to detect since they involve an active adversary using legitimate tools for nefarious purposes, and Sophos MTR helps eliminate this threat,” it said.

The Chief Technology Officer at Sophos, Joe Levy, said cybercriminals were adapting their methods and increasingly launching hybrid attacks that combined automation with interactive human ingenuity to more effectively evade detection.

He said, “Once they gain a foothold, they’ll employ ‘living off the land’ techniques and other deceptive methods requiring human interaction to discover and disrupt their attacks.

“For the most part, other managed detection and response services simply notify customers of potential threats and then leave it up to them to manage things from there.

“Sophos MTR not only augments internal teams with additional threat intelligence, unparalleled product expertise, and round-the-clock coverage, but also gives customers the option of having a highly trained team of response experts take targeted actions on their behalf to neutralise even the most sophisticated threats.”

Source:
https://punchng.com/firm-introduces-new-cyberthreat-detection-service/

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Security

Google now treats iPhones as physical security keys

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The latest update to Google’s Smart Lock app on iOS means you can now use your iPhone as a physical 2FA security key for logging into Google’s first-party services in Chrome. Once it’s set up, attempting to log in to a Google service on, say, a laptop, will generate a push notification on your nearby iPhone. You’ll then need to unlock your Bluetooth-enabled iPhone and tap a button in Google’s app to authenticate before the login process on your laptop completes. The news was first reported by 9to5Google.

Two-factor authentication is one of the most important steps you can take to secure your online accounts, and provides an additional layer of security beyond a standard username and password. Physical security keys are much more secure than the six digit codes that are in common use today, since these codes can be intercepted almost as easily as passwords themselves. Google already lets you use your Android phone as a physical security key, and now that the functionality is available on iOS it means that anyone with a smartphone now owns a security key without having to buy a dedicated device.

Attempting to log in to a Google service will send a push notification to your phone over Bluetooth.

The new process is similar to the existing Google Prompt functionality, but the key difference is that Smart Lock app works over Bluetooth, rather than connecting via the internet. That means your phone will have to be in relatively close proximity to your laptop for the authentication to work, which provides another layer of security. However, the app itself doesn’t ask for any biometric authentication — if your phone is already unlocked then a nearby attacker could theoretically open the app and authenticate the login attempt.

According to one cryptogopher working at Google, the new functionality makes use of the iPhone processor’s Secure Enclave, which is used to securely store the device’s private keys. The feature was first introduced with the iPhone 5S, and Google’s app says that it requires iOS 10 or later to function.

The new iPhone support appears to be limited to authenticating Google logins from the Chrome browser. When we attempted to use an iPhone to authenticate a login of the same service (we tested with Gmail) using Safari on a MacBook, we were prompted to insert our key fob (which we don’t have), meaning it created an extra step in our login process where we had to pick an alternative 2FA option.

Source:
https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/15/21066768/google-iphone-ios-security-key-2-factor-authentication

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Security

Samsung made a fingerprint-secured portable SSD

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Portable SSDs have become quite popular lately but only a handful of them offer proper security so Samsung is taking matters into its own hands by introducing the T7 Touch with fingerprint reader identification. This way you can rest assured that your sensitive data is safe even if you misplace the actual drive.

Samsung made a fingerprint-secured portable SSD

The T7 Touch succeeds the T5 from last year by offering a capacitive fingerprint scanner and AES 256-bit hardware encryption and password for added security. Moreover, the T7 Touch boasts about 1 GB/s read and 1 GB/s read speeds, which is almost twice as fast as its predecessor.

Connectivity options include USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A while the connector of the device supports 10Gbps speeds over USB 3.2 (Gen 2).

The T7 Touch comes in three flavors – 500GB for $129, 1TB for $229 and 2TB for $399 with planned availability this month. The available paint jobs of the titanium case are black and silver and the whole thing weighs just 58 grams.

Source:
https://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_made_a_fingerprintsecured_portable_ssd-news-40949.php

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