Following reports about the European Union preparing to file formal charges against Google in its ongoing antitrust investigation, Google General Counsel Kent Walker has issued an internal memo to all employees. TechCrunch obtained the memo and it is reproduced in its entirety below.
In the letter, the counsel also notes that the EU is likely to open an investigation into its mobile operating system, Android, as well.
In the document, Google presents the case that there is a robust amount of competition in the areas that the commission is concerned with. It includes a variety of charts and graphs to support its rebuttals.
“An [Statement of Objections] is not a final finding. It’s a document in which the Commission staff sets out its preliminary arguments so that the company in question can respond,” says Walker. “Expect some of the criticism to be tough. But remember, it’s also an opportunity for Google to tell our side of the story.
“We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition,” Walker continues. And he says that Google has a ‘very strong case’ on Android, as well.
News Corp., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, filed a formal complaint with the EU Commission in regards to Google’s business practices this week. After a WSJ piece painted a picture of Google as wielding “undue political influence,” Google responded with a GIF-laden blog post detailing the interactions of its staff with Washington.
The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times were among the first to report this week that the EU would bring antitrust charges against Google. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a decision on filing charges on Tuesday, according to a WSJ source.
Google has faced antitrust investigation from the US Federal Trade Commission in the past, which found that Google did not violate American antitrust law. A european investigation into the competitive nature of its search services began in 2010, and it settled a case with European competition regulators in early 2014.
Last month, the WSJ published every other page of a 2012 FTC report that was sent to the publication accidentally, detailing its antitrust investigations. The report noted that the FTC found that it was a ‘close call’ whether Google violated antitrust regulations with its search product — but that it decided it had not. The document indicated that at least some inside the FTC felt that Google had acted in an anticompetitive manner.
Google declined to comment on the contents of the memo.
In the memo, Google argues that its search products have strong traditional competition, as well as new forms of competition. Google name-checks the usual search suspects including Bing and Yahoo, but also cites new services like Siri and Cortana that contain search-like capabilities.
Google also cites online shopping services as a form of competition. The point has merit — many now use Amazon as a product search engine in place of Google for searches that they might have sent before.
However, the strength of that argument is at least tempered in part because Google retain tectonic market share in extant search markets where it could exert undue influence. Merely indicating that mobile matters, and that some search categories are siloed inside of the products of other competitors doesn’t lessen the fact that Google has the capability to act in an anticompetitve manner in other areas.
Certainly that is a less charitable explanation, but it’s worth wearing a mantle of neutraliy until we read the EU’s notes.
Google is correct to point out that its products are no longer such the primal portal for all searches. This becomes even more true as Bing worms its way into the platforms other corporations and as the micro silos of apps subsume the mobile web. But there are points on the scale that still carry weight — and it’s likely that they’ll need to make convincing arguments there in order to parry the objections.
As the Financial Times has just reported, the European Commission will tomorrow issue a Statement of Objections (SO) regarding the display and ranking of certain search results, in particular shopping. This is obviously very disappointing news, especially for the search team that has worked so hard to create a great experience for our users over the last 16 years.
First, a few facts about the SO process. An SO is not a final finding. It’s a document in which the Commission staff sets out its preliminary arguments so that the company in question can respond. Expect some of the criticism to be tough. But remember, it’s also an opportunity for Google to tell our side of the story. The back-and-forth over an SO can take some time (even a year or two), and in a number of cases has resulted in the Commission modifying their claims or settling the case. If the two sides cannot settle their differences, the Commission issues an infringement decision, which can be appealed in court.
We have a very strong case, with especially good arguments when it comes to better services for users and increased competition:
- Better services for users: Google Search has improved tremendously since the days of ten blue links. We can now answer many queries directly, saving users huge amounts of time and effort–whether it’s the weather, directions to the local pharmacy, flights, or where to get the cheapest camera.
- Increased competition:
- The competition is just one click away — and it’s growing. People can use Bing, Yahoo, Quora, DuckDuckGo, and a new wave of search assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as more specialized services like Amazon, Idealo, Le Guide, Expedia, or eBay. In addition, users increasingly turn to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to find news and suggestions — where to eat or which movies to watch.
- Mobile is changing everything — with the explosion of apps taking people directly to the information they want. Today 7 out of every 8 minutes on mobile devices is spent within apps. Yelp, for example, has said that over 40% of its traffic comes direct from its mobile app.
- Competition online is thriving — despite what many of the complainants in this case allege. Indeed if you look at shopping, it’s clear that there’s a ton of competition (including from Amazon and eBay) that has not been harmed by Google’s own shopping service. Just look at the following graphs compiled using comScore data:
Shopping Sites in Germany (unique visitors, ‘000s)
Shopping Sites in France (unique visitors, ‘000s)
Shopping Sites in the UK (unique visitors, ‘000s)
It is the same story with travel–another very competitive vertical:
Travel sites in Germany
Source: ComScore MMX and Google data (for Google), desktop traffic, unique visitors (‘000s)
We believe that the Commission will also open a formal investigation into Androidtomorrow. This is just the start of a process and does not mean the EC will necessarily take action (for example they opened and closed an inquiry into iTunes a few years ago). We have a very strong case on Android as well:
- Android has lowered prices and increased choice for consumers (there are over 18,000different devices available today);
- It’s an open-source operating system that can be used free-of-charge by anyone;
- We paid out over $7 billion in revenue over the past year to developers and content publishers;
- Consumers decide which apps they use and download on Android devices. Apps that compete directly with Google such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft Office, and Expedia are easily available to Android users; and
- Many of these apps come pre-loaded onto Android devices. Google apps, like Search, Maps, Gmail, and Google Play, are also available out of the box on many handsets. The recent Samsung S6 is a great example of this — there are pre-installed Facebook, Microsoft, and Google apps.
All told, consumers have a lot of choice — and they are exercising it. And many, many other companies have very successful mobile businesses — including Apple, the most valuable (mobile) company in the world.
Finally, we know the upcoming announcements will be distracting. But you can help in two ways. First, by not commenting on pending legal issues, internally or externally. And second, by focusing on what you all do best … building great products that serve our users and customers.source:http://techcrunch.com/2015/04/14/internal-google-memo-responds-to-eu-antitrust-objections/
‘Infamous’ GravityRAT spyware now hits Macs as well as Windows
The notorious GravityRAT spyware, which initially targeted Windows PCs, now also enable attacks against Macs and Android devices.
Remote Access Trojans (RATs) are so-called because they masquerade as legitimate apps (the Trojan part) and then permit the compromised machine to be accessed remotely …
Bleeping Computer reports on the capabilities of the spyware.
– get information about the system
– search for files on the computer and removable disks with the extensions .doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, .xls, .xlsx, .pdf, .odt, .odp, and .ods, and upload them to the server
– get a list of running processes
– intercept keystrokes
– take screenshots
– execute arbitrary shell commands
– record audio (not implemented in this version)
– scan ports
Kaspersky has long suspected that the tool has been used against other platforms too, and has now found proof of this.
The identified module is further proof of this change, and there are a number of reasons why it doesn’t look like a typical piece of Android spyware. For one, a specific application has to be selected to carry out malicious purposes, and the malicious code – as is often the case – is not based on the code of previously known spyware applications. This motivated Kaspersky researchers to compare the module with already known APT families.
Analysis of the command and control (C&C) addresses module used revealed several additional malicious modules, also related to the actor behind GravityRAT. Overall, more than 10 versions of GravityRAT were found, being distributed under the guise of legitimate applications, such as secure file sharing applications that would help protect users’ devices from encrypting Trojans, or media players. Used together, these modules enabled the group to tap into Windows OS, MacOS, and Android.
Macs are relatively well protected against trojans because Apple vets apps allowed into the Mac App Store, and by default won’t allow software from other sources to be installed. If a user overrides the default protection, macOS still checks to see whether the app is signed by a legitimate developer.
However, BleepingComputer reports that the group behind GravityRAT uses stolen developer signatures to make the apps appear legitimate.
It isn’t possible to list the infected apps, as GravityRAT mimics a variety of legitimate apps. The best protection is to ensure you only install apps from the Mac App Store or directly from developers you trust. Similarly, don’t plug in cables or devices to your Mac unless you know their provenance.
Philips consulting’s strategy to cyber security
Many years ago, the firewall was everything. Defense-in depth was a concept defined as layered defense with multiple firewalls on the path. Behind the firewall was a fortress. Organizations designed networks with strong perimeters and demilitarised zones to ensure the crown jewels were well-protected. Attackers had a difficult time trying to break into the firewalls. On the physical layer, Network Admission Control (NAC) technologies were implemented to prevent intruders from having direct access into the network by preventing them from plugging unauthorized devices into the network. Before a device was admitted, it had to meet a minimum requirement defined by the organization.
Those years are gone and maybe gone forever. Cloud computing, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), VPNs, and Remote Working Capabilities have dramatically changed the way businesses run. These technologies have introduced a level of innovation and disruption that were unimaginable only a few years ago. They have resulted in the collapse of the traditional network perimeter, thereby increasing the attack surface for cyber-attacks. Enterprise networks coverage is today being extended beyond our imagination – outside the traditional datacentres to smartphones, cloud platforms, mobile computers, and IoT interfaces without geographical boundaries. The bad guys now have a plethora of interfaces to launch their attacks on; they do not have to breach the network using traditional social engineering tactics physically. The recent changes in the work environment occasioned by the COVID-19 have further amplified the extension of network boundaries beyond the traditional datacentres. Employees work from home with devices and connections into the enterprise networks that were not originally designed for such. Improvised connections were made to allow functionality because the pandemic came without an announcement.
The danger this poses is that some of these end devices were not originally designed with security in mind. Even if security was a consideration, not so much for enterprise data protection. These devices are most of the time not hardened, and their owners may not understand the effects on the overall organizational security posture. A handful of these devices are installed with default passwords, and most times, these passwords are not changed during or after installation. So it is easy to guess the password by manual methods or using advanced dictionary or brute force attack methods. Another risk posed by these endpoints is the lack of security updates and patches. Because they are sometimes not seen to be part of the enterprise network, they are not included in the patch management program, and their presence introduces high-level vulnerabilities within the enterprise network. It then becomes easier to utilize malware that could tunnel through the firewall to breach the enterprise network, instead of spending months and years trying to break into the firewall or layers of firewalls. In recent years, large-scale attacks have been launched using malware by exploiting known vulnerabilities and security gaps on endpoints. For example, the WannaCry, Petya, and another variant of Petya, the NotPetya were employed to launch attacks on enterprise networks through vulnerable endpoints. Another danger with this trend is potential data leakage because these devices are used to either temporarily or permanently store organizational data.
There is also concern about device loss. If these devices are lost, there is a risk of exposing the organization’s data to unauthorized entities, and that could both result in financial and reputational damage. These dangers are also expanded by the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic, where organizations made ad hoc improvisions to support businesses while employees work from home. As commerce resumes, organizations are beginning to discover some capabilities to support their businesses remotely, and they are also rethinking their business continuity strategies. For some businesses, this is not just a temporal shift, but a change which has permanently altered the operational procedures of the organization.
Legacy cybersecurity strategies, techniques, and investments will not be enough to mitigate the rising cybersecurity concerns introduced by this new way of working. Protection has gone beyond throwing in uncoordinated technical solutions and efforts. Organizations need to rethink a new approach for the protection of their assets within the ever-growing complexity both to remain afloat and also to derive commensurate Returns On Security Investments (ROSI). A well-crafted strategy will ensure that cybersecurity efforts are coordinated within the enterprise, without duplication of efforts and resources, which will, in turn, drive down the cost of implementing cybersecurity initiatives.
To improve the security posture, organisations must do the following:
- Continuously monitor the devices, applications, and processes running on the network.
- Automate security monitoring and mitigation.
- Implement systems that are capable of automatic detection, isolation, and containment of threats within the network.
- Ensure that monitoring covers event data, session data, and historical data on endpoint usages, such as past processes, network connections, and other information.
Another measure organizations should take is reducing complexities. The extension of the network boundaries has not stopped organizations from using existing network solutions to protect the enterprise network. However, in a bid to ensure the protection of the on-premise infrastructure and the ones beyond the organizational traditional network boundaries, organizations combine existing technologies with new solutions and the resultant effect is an increase in complexity. To effectively manage security, organizations should put measures in place to ensure a reduction in complexity and enhancing visibility. This can be achieved by unifying all efforts and technologies for managing both on-premise and off-premise infrastructure in a single platform. Beyond technical controls, organizations should develop procedures, standards, and policies for acceptable use of organizational resources.
Over the years, PCL. has supported organizations in developing tested cybersecurity and business continuity strategies to ensure that organizations can protect their assets. We provide managed security and assurance functions to ensure that operationally, organizations are well protected against destructive cybersecurity incidents. Contact us today, send an email to [email protected] to start the engagement.
The 20 Most Hacked Passwords in the World: Is Yours Here?
Which password gets hacked more than any other password in the US?
What about in Germany?
This report summarizes the findings of the SafetyDetectives research team who collected over 18 million passwords to find the 20 most used, most predictable, and ultimately most hacked passwords all over the world.
The data used in this report was gathered from several years’ worth of leaks found on hacking forums, marketplaces, and dark web sites — usually sold as treasure troves of sensitive information for criminals. (Note: We only analyzed the data — no identifying information like usernames or banking details were compromised while conducting this research.)
Our goal was not to simply put together another “most used/hacked passwords” list. Instead, we wanted to see if there were any obvious patterns occurring around the world which would cause hackers easier access to user information, regardless of language or location.
Non-English speaking countries are often underrepresented in cybersecurity research, but non-English speakers are still vulnerable to cyber crime. It’s important to stay protected on the internet no matter where you live or what language you speak. And it all starts with a password manager such as Dashlane and an antivirus – Norton, Malwarebytes & Bitdefender are some of our top recommendations.
Over 18 Million Passwords Analyzed
We collected and analyzed a total of 18,419,945 passwords.
Around 9 million passwords were from the general population:
- From various worldwide databases, we collected 9,056,593 passwords
- Note that there’s some overlap with other populations.
- From hacked .edu users, we collected 328,000 passwords.
The remaining 9 million passwords were country-specific:
- Germany — 783,756
- France — 446,613
- Russia — 5,614,947
- Italy — 49,622
- Spain — 459,665
- USA — 1,680,749
We looked at this from a lot of different angles to identify the weakest and most insecure passwords in the world.
For each population, we identified:
- The top 20 most used passwords (and the top 30 overall).
- The most popular password patterns.
- Specific cultural references to that population.
We also looked at:
- How names found in email addresses are used in passwords. We specifically looked at the use of first names in “[first_name].[last_name]@[email_provider].com” and address names in “[address_name]@[email_provider].com”.
- How these common passwords compare to the “Hacker’s List” – the list of passwords that are most often used by security researchers for dictionary attacks. (“Dictionary attacks” refers to trying many different common passwords until the right one is guessed.)
Note: Many of the passwords analyzed in this report would not be allowed to be used by sites that have password strength checks in place.
Top 30 Most Used Passwords in the World
General Password Trends in the World
- The word “password” and its slight variations (e.g. “password1”) are very popular.
- Common words and phrases (“letmein”, “iloveyou”, “princess”, “superman”, etc.) are also widely used.
- Keyboard patterns remain popular — 25% of the top 30 most common passwords are keyboard patterns. “qwerty” is the most used one by far, but diagonal keyboard pattern variations like “1q2w3e4r” and “zaq12wsx” are also well represented.
Numbers are the Most Common Password Pattern
Numeric patterns are worldwide favorites when it comes to creating a weak, easy-to-guess password. Increasing (e.g. 123456) or repetitive (e.g. 111111) numeric patterns could be observed in 8 out of the top 10 and 13 out of the top 30 most used passwords.
Analyzing passwords by country, we notice a few more things:
- The word “hello” is a popular password choice everywhere (in their respective languages), present in the top 20 password lists of nearly all countries we analyzed.
- The soccer-loving nations of Italy and Spain both have names of prominent soccer teams in the top 10 of their most common passwords.
- German and Spanish users favor numeric patterns.
- Russian users more often choose keyboard patterns for passwords than other countries.
Germany – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: German users show a preference for simple, easy-to-guess increasing numeric passwords, starting with “123” and going all the way to “1234567890”. Such passwords constitute nearly 50% of the German top 20 list.
Other password trends: The word “passwort” (“password”) and “hallo” (“hello”) are popular choices, and so are keyboard patterns using the German keyboard layout (e.g. “qwertz”).
France – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: While the French version of “qwerty” – “azerty” – is number one, common French words and phrases requiring little to no translation – like “marseille”, “bonjour”, “jetaime”, “soleil”, or “chocolat” – are also very popular.
Other password trends: Increasing numeric patterns are notably less popular with French users than with the worldwide population. Only 3 out of the top 20 French passwords are numeric. This can likely be explained due to French keyboards requiring users to press “Shift + number” instead of only the number.
Russia – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: All of the top 20 Russian passwords are numbers and patterns, and many of them are different from worldwide trends. Russian users often choose diagonal keyboard patterns involving numbers and alphanumeric characters – for example, “1qaz2wsx” or “1q2w3e4r”.
Other password trends: Russian users are the least likely of the populations we analyzed to use meaningful words – in Russian or English – as passwords.
Italy – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: The first names like “francesco”, “alessandro”, or “guiseppe” are the most popular password choices for Italian users. Such passwords are particularly insecure and easy to guess when used in combination with an email mentioning the same first name – for example, [first_name]@[email_provider].com. Unfortunately, this practice is still very common.
Other password trends: This soccer-crazy nation has “juventus” as the #3 top password choice.
US – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: US users are equally likely to use an increasing numeric pattern, keyboard pattern, or a common word or phrase as a password.
Other password trends: 25% of the US’s top 20 passwords contain “qwerty” as an exact or partial match.
Spain – Top 20 Most Used Passwords
The most common password pattern: Spanish users show a preference for numeric patterns like German users do.
Other password trends: Out of the 5 common words in the top 20 list, 2 are the names of famous Spanish soccer teams (“barcelona” and “realmadrid”).
Top 20 Most Used Passwords for .edu Users
Students and faculty at university don’t typically regard their .edu email addresses as important, so they tend to create easy-to-guess passwords.
The 20 most common .edu passwords are:
The most common password pattern: Educational domain users are likely to choose common passwords – these passwords constitute 60% of the overall top 30 list.
Other password trends: .edu users often pick names of sports for their insecure passwords, and they are more likely to do so than any other category of users analyzed in this report. The increasing numeric passwords they use tend to be short – 6 out of the 8 numeric patterns on the list are under 8 characters long.
Analysis: The Most Used Word Patterns in Passwords
This section summarizes our analysis of commonly used word patterns within passwords. Numeric sequences (such as “123456” etc.) are excluded from this section’s analysis. (Note: We include numeric patterns in our analysis later on.)
- The word “password” was the most popular choice with worldwide users, as well as with .edu users and the US population. Its variations in other languages, such as “passwort” (German) or “motdepasse” (French), were also found in the top 20 for their respective country.
- Also popular worldwide and across many countries are words like “angel”, “dragon”, and “superman” which are culturally relevant to a broad category of users.
- Most European users (particularly Italian and Spanish) prefer using first names as passwords.
- Russian users differ from the other populations in our study. They prefer keyboard patterns over meaningful words, even when using alphanumeric characters as passwords.
First Names in Passwords
The use of first names inside passwords is very common, especially first names that are included in email addresses — 4.19% of worldwide users do this. Italians (4.13%), Russians (3.79%), and Germans (2.51%) are the global populations most likely to use these extremely easy-to-hack passwords.
First Names + 123 Patterns in Passwords
A “123” pattern added either before or after the email address’s first name was observed in about 0.03% of the worldwide population’s passwords. While adding random numeric patterns to passwords is a great strategy, this simple pattern is far too common, making these kinds of passwords very easy for hackers to guess.
Famous People, Brands & Pop Culture Figures in Passwords
In our analysis of 9.3 million users worldwide, we frequently found pop culture and historic figures used either as part of a password or an exact match.
Not surprisingly, we found that cultural references influenced password choices quite heavily.
“Christ” and “Jesus” led the way with 7,432 and 7,414 respective mentions in passwords.
Three brands – “Google” (7,057 mentions), “Apple” (6,240), and “Samsung” (2,866) – also made it to the top 10.
The popular TV series “Friends” was another top choice with 4,289 mentions, while “Starwars” was used 2,237 times.
The popular sports figure “Ronaldo” was at the 10th spot with 1,265 mentions.
Hacker’s Top 10 Most Used Passwords List Explained
To put the findings of our report into perspective, we compared them with the top 10 list of the most used passwords that hackers and security researchers use when testing login security.
We used the following resources to create the Hacker’s Top 10 most used passwords list:
- John The Ripper (password cracking program)
- NMAP (network discovery tool)
- Security researchers’ most used passwords lists (sourced from Github)
- Honeypot credentials from real world attacks (sourced from Github)
Hacker’s Top 10 List of Most Used Passwords
This comparison shows that, overall, the most insecure passwords to use across all countries and populations are “123456” and “12345678” – two of the most obvious, easiest-to-guess numeric patterns which meet the minimum 6 to 8 character password length requirement that most web sites have.
“123456” is #1 on the Hacker’s List for a reason – this password is THE most popular one worldwide (0.62% of 9.3M passwords analyzed). It also holds the:
- #1 spot for .edu, Germany, Italy, and Spain users.
- #2 spot for USA and Russia users.
- #4 spot for France users.
Match Between Countries’ Top 10 and Hacker’s Top 10
Here’s how the 10 most common passwords in various populations matched the Hacker’s Top 10 list:
- Worldwide – 80% match
- USA, Spain – 50%
- Italy, Russia – 33%
- Germany – 25%
- France – 10%
The overall password trends analyzed from worldwide users match up pretty well with this list, making the most used passwords in the world extremely prone to dictionary attacks. Those users in the US and Spain with these passwords are also extremely susceptible to hacks.
Additional Insights on Worldwide Password Trends
- The Italian and US populations are the ones most likely to use first names and/or other words that are part of their email credentials in their passwords. Overall, up to 4% of users worldwide do this.
- The Russian population uses keyboard patterns and numbers for their passwords more often than other populations we analyzed.
- The phrase “iloveyou” in local languages is a popular choice for passwords.
- Passwords like “111111”, “000000”, or “27653” (possibly spelling “broke” on the phone dialing pad) are more likely to be chosen when the user accesses a mobile site or an app from their phone.
How to Improve Password Strength
With hacking rates on the rise in 2020, most people become victims because they don’t create passwords that are unique, hard to guess, and secure. And that makes sense. Without a password manager, it’s impossible to remember hundreds of unique, challenging passwords for every single login.
5 tips for improving password strength:
- Don’t reuse passwords on any account.
- Use a password that is longer than 8 characters.
- Don’t include any words in your email address as part of your password.
- Always include numbers, capital letters, and special characters in passwords. But many passwords start with a capital letter and end with a number (often the current year). Don’t follow that pattern.
- Don’t include common names, common cities, or common cultural references.
Bonus tip: You can check your password strength using SafetyDetectives’s password strength analyzer.
The best and easiest way to achieve all of these things is by using a password management system. A good password manager will create secure passwords for all of your accounts, autofill them when logging in, and have high levels of encryption so no one can steal your information. We recommend a low-cost premium password manager like Dashlane, but any of the best password managers on the market will guarantee your passwords are strong, secure, and protected.
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