NEWS 07.March.2016

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Apple users have fallen prey to ransomware for the first time ever. The ‘KeRanger’ malware appeared hidden in the popular BitTorrent application, Transmission. Users’ Macs were infected upon downloading the latest copy.

A ransomware is malicious code, like any other type of malware. The way it works is usually by hiding inside a program one may hastily download, irrespective of the risks. A message then appears, telling the user all or part of their files have been encrypted, and the only way to decrypt them is by paying a ransom – usually in digital currency, which is difficult to trace. 

An attack of this sort struck computers in a US hospital in Hollywood recently, forcing it to pay a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its systems. The hackers had originally demanded $3.7 million.

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(…)Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the first scalable quantum computer that could make current data encryption methods obsolete with its ability to factor very large numbers. The new device uses only five atoms.

In a paper published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from MIT and Austria’s University of Innsbruck said that they devised a working quantum computer that runs on just five atoms in an ion trap.(…)

(…) The computer design is the first of its kind that can be scaled up to factor much more complicated numbers by using many more qubits. Since present-day encryption methods – which critical institutions such as banks and national security organizations use to stay secure – rely on the difficulty of factoring very large numbers, a scaled-up version of the MIT computer could render encryption as we know it obsolete.(…)

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Guccifer, the infamous Romanian hacker who accessed emails of celebrities and top US officials, will be extradited to the United States, after losing a case in his home country’s top court.

Reuters reports that Lehel will come to the US under an 18-month extradition order, following a request made by the US authorities. Details of the extradition have not been made public, however.

Marcel Lehel, a 42-year-old hacker better known by his pseudonym “Guccifer,” achieved notoriety when he released an email with images of paintings by former President George W. Bush, including a self-portrait in a bathtub. He also hacked and published emails from celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin and Mariel Hemingway.

Also released were emails between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Corina Cretu, a Romanian member of European Parliament, prompting Powell to deny that the two had had an affair.

Perhaps most notably, Lehel was also the first source to uncover Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email account while she was Secretary of State, which the FBI is investigating as a potential danger to national security.

In March 2013, the hacker released to RT and several other news outlets the four memos that had been sent to Clinton from her former political adviser Sidney Blumenthal. The memos contain information regarding the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the January 2013 hostage crisis in In Amenas, Algeria.

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Despite being handed hundreds of millions in taxpayers’ cash, British spooks are losing the cyberwar, a top GCHQ director has acknowledged.

Alex Dewdney, who is head of the Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG) branch of GCHQ, told an audience in the US that UK intelligence is lagging behind.

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