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Pulse Wave Techniques Allow Cybercriminals to Quickly Ramp Up DDoS Attacks

By Shane Schick

Bigstock What used to be a gradual buildup of botnet traffic in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks has morphed into a series of pulses that spray at different targets like a water cannon, security experts have learned.
A blog post from security firm Imperva Incapsula looked at attacks that have taken place so far this year. Whereas cybercriminals traditionally use an army of bots to force a website offline, the researchers discovered pulses of activity that seemingly come out of nowhere with peak impact. In other words, rather than switching on the bots and creating a slow but steady wave, threat actors are now keeping them on at all times but distributing them differently. An Instant Crescendo of Malicious Traffic Companies have tried to mitigate the effects of the attacks by shifting traffic from an on-premises environment to a cloud-based failover area, according to Naked Security. But the near instant crescendo of traffic during these attacks means that t…
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Researchers Show Danger of DNA Data Paired With Malware-Infected Strand

By Shane Schick Bigstock Security flaws in bioinformatics software have allowed researchers to demonstrate how DNA data could be injected with malicious code to disrupt police forensic investigations or steal intellectual property. Lab Analysis Tools at Risk A group of academics from the University of Washington used the 2017 USENIX Security Symposium to present their findings, which exposed vulnerabilities in the applications that are often used to analyze DNA data after it has been sequenced. In a paper, titled, “Computer Security, Privacy and DNA Sequencing: Compromising Computers With Synthesized DNA, Privacy Leaks and More,” the researchers discussed how they not only made use of a bug in a processing program, but also injected malware directly into a strand of DNA. As Infosecurity Magazine explained, the executable file was launched as the DNA data was being sequenced by the bioinformatics tool, allowing the researchers complete access to the systems running it. The technique is…

Industrial Cobots, Researchers Warn

Bigstock A string of security weaknesses in areas such as default configurations, authentication mechanisms and open source components could enable cybercriminals to easily take over robots used in industrial settings, researchers warned. An analysis of major industrial and collaborative robots, or cobots, by IOActive revealed close to 50 vulnerabilities that, if exploited, could harm the people who work with them. The firm created a series of videos to demonstrate what tampering with cobots could look like, including swinging robotic arms that have had safety features and emergency settings disabled. Industrial Cobots Put Workers at Risk The general public might not be familiar with cobots, but they are far more advanced than you might expect. Companies such as Rethink Robotics, Baxter/Sawyer and Universal Robots have designed cobots to assist human employees with various tasks, using microphones and cameras to see and hear, SecurityWeekreported. That potentially makes them even mor…

Scientists Show How Speech Recognition Software Can Be Compromised via Ultrasounds

By Shane Schick Bigstock Consumers love the convenience of virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana, but a group of researchers has discovered an easy way to compromise the software behind them by using ultrasounds that are inaudible to the human ear. DolphinAttack Experiment Breaches Speech Recognition Software Six scientists from Zhejiang University in China posted a video that showed how these inaudible voice commands can occur. The researchers dubbed their experiment the “DolphinAttack” because of the way dolphins seem to communicate without making noises. By using simple off-the-shelf hardware that costs only $3, they were able to breach speech recognition software from Apple, Google, Amazon and others. Turning voice commands into ultrasound frequencies allowed them to take over smartphones, speakers and even a smart car model from Audi. Although most of what the researchers did was fairly innocuous, such as launching music or video calling applications, malicious actor…

Display Widgets Plug-In Conducted Malware Attack Across 200,000 WordPress Sites

By Shane Schick
Bigstock Approximately 200,000 websites running WordPress have been affected by a malware attack from a plug-in that installed a backdoor, allowing a malicious actor to publish spam, collect IP addresses and more. Wordfence, a security firm that focuses on the popular content management system, said in a blog post that the malware attack has been traced to a plug-in called Display Widgets, which was purportedly designed to manage the way other plug-ins are displayed on WordPress sites. Though it has recently been removed, the threat actor behind the malicious activity did not give up easily. According to SecurityWeek, the original creator of Display Widgets sold it in late June, after which it was almost immediately updated with a backdoor. David Law, a freelance SEO consultant, noticed the initial malware attack and informed Wordfence, which removed it from the WordPress plug-in repository. Just a few days later, however, Display Widgets emerged again, this time with a…

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