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Global awards for enterprise IT startups announce shortlist: Voting is now open
London, UK – 19th January 2017 – The Tech Trailblazers Awards, the first independent and dedicated awards program for enterprise information technology startups, has revealed its shortlist of the most innovative entrants and concepts in enterprise technology areas such as cloud, security, IoT, mobile and many more.
The shortlists have been selected by a panel of leading IT industry experts and are now open to public vote.
Tech Trailblazers Awards logo
In its fifth year, the scheme continues to focus around the ethos of finding innovation from anywhere in the world, from the smallest startups to more established players.
This aim to highlight both up-and-coming and established talent from all regions is reflected in the Firestarter Award for non-VC funded early stage startups. New this year are the Female and Male Tech Trailblazers of the Year awards, celebrating individual success and contribution of men and women in the enterprise tech space.
These categories run alongside the main technology categories of Big Data, Cloud, FinTech, IoT, Mobile, Security, Storage and Virtualization.
In addition to the expert judging panel, the voting public can now help determine who will win in all categories by voting online by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Friday 17th February 2017.
To view the shortlist and vote for your favourites, please visit http://www.techtrailblazers.com/shortlist.
Rose Ross, founder of the Tech Trailblazers Awards, said “Year on year, the judges’ task to shortlist becomes more and more difficult. We have again seen exceptional enterprise tech startups enter the awards. Huge thanks to our judges who once again have had this difficult mission.
The team wishes the very best of luck to our amazing finalists.”
Tech Trailblazers Awards Fifth Edition Finalists
Tunbridge Wells, UK @adavow www.adavow.com
CoHo Data Palo Alto, CA, USA @cohodata www.cohodata.com
Crate.io San Francisco, CA, USA @CrateIO www.crate.io
DriveScale Sunnyvale, CA, USA @DriveScale_Inc www.drivescale.com
Illumr London, UK @illumr www.illumr.com
NGDATA Gent, Belgium @NGDATA_com www.ngdata.com
Tunbridge Wells, UK @adavow www.adavow.com
Bioz, Inc. Palo Alto, CA, USA @biozPage www.bioz.com
Cato Networks Tel Aviv, Israel @CatoNetworks www.catonetworks.com
Fedr8 Farnborough, UK @fedr8 www.fedr8.com
GreatHorn Belmont, MA, USA @greathorn www.greathorn.com
Teridion San Francisco, CA, USA @teridionnet www.teridion.com
YellowDog Bristol, UK @yellowdogltd www.yellowdog.co
Cashpundit Pune, India @cashpundit www.cashpundit.com
Divido London, UK @DividoUK www.divido.com
Solfyre Limited Worcester Park, UK @solfyreID www.solfyre.com
Solgari Dublin, Ireland @Solgaritweets www.solgari.com
TransferGuru London, UK @_TransferGuru www.transferguru.com
TruValue Labs San Francisco, CA, USA @truvaluelabs www.Insight360.io
CopSonic Montauban, France @copsonic www.copsonic.com
Crate.io San Francisco, CA, USA @CrateIO www.crate.io
Dashboard Exeter, UK @dashboard_ltd www.dashboard.net
MammothDB Sofia, Bulgaria @mammothdb www.mammothdb.com
Relayr Berlin, Germany @relayr_cloud www.relayr.io
Jumio Palo Alto, CA, USA @jumio www.jumio.com
Leanplum San Francisco, CA, USA @leanplum www.leanplum.com
Pyze, Inc. Redwood City, CA, USA @PyzeInc www.pyze.com
SHYN.one Sofia, Bulgaria www.gain.im
Solfyre Limited Worcester Park, UK @solfyreID www.solfyre.com
Attivo Networks Fremont, CA, USA @attivonetworks www.attivonetworks.com
CLT.Re Oslo, Norway @getcltre https://get.clt.re/
Cognetyx Houston, TX, USA @cognetyx www.cognetyx.com
Dispel New York, USA @dispelhq www.dispel.io
Hexadite Boston, MA, USA @Hexadite www.hexadite.com
InvizBox Dublin, Ireland @invizbox www.invizbox.com
Veriflo San Jose, CA, USA @VeriflowSystems www.veriflow.net
Catalogic Woodcliff Lake, NJ, USA @CatalogicSW www.catalogicsoftware.com
Cohesity Santa Clara, CA, USA @cohesity www.cohesity.com
Hedvig Santa Clara, CA, USA @HedvigInc www.hedviginc.com
Igneous Seattle, WA, USA @IgneousIO www.igneous.io
Rubrik Palo Alto, CA, USA @rubrikInc www.rubrik.com
128 Technology Burlington, MA, USA @128technology www.128technology.com
Cloudhouse Technologies London, UK @cloudhousetech www.cloudhouse.com
Teridion San Francisco, CA, USA @teridionnet www.teridion.com
Versa Networks Santa Clara, CA, USA @versanetworks www.versa-networks.com
Adavow Ltd Tunbridge Wells, UK @adavow www.adavow.com
CLT.Re Oslo, Norway @getcltre https://get.clt.re/
CyberSparta Reading, UK @CyberSparta www.cybersparta.com
Fuzz Stati0n Santa Cruz, CA, USA @fuzz_stati0n www.fuzzstati0n.com
Illumr London, UK @illumr www.illumr.com
Lucy Phishing Thalwil, Switzerland @lucysecurity www.phishing-server.com
SHYN.one Sofia, Bulgaria www.gain.im
Solfyre Ltd Worcester Park, UK @solfyreID www.solfyre.com
StorageOS London, UK @Storage_OS www.storageos.com
TransferGuru London, UK @_TransferGuru www.Transferguru.com
YellowDog Bristol, UK @yellowdogltd www.yellowdog.co
Female Tech Trailblazer of the Year Award
Dr. Karin Lachmi, Bioz, Inc. Palo Alto, CA, USA @biozPage www.bioz.com
Joanne Smith, RecordSure London, UK @recordsure www.recordsure.com
Leanne Harvey, Staff Spotlight Hampshire, UK @staffspotlight www.staffspotlight.com
Shreya Hewett, TransferGuru London, UK @transferguru_ www.transferguru.com
Faith Tulloch, TruValue Labs San Francisco, CA, USA @truvaluelabs www.Insight360.io
Male Tech Trailblazer of the Year Award
David Brown, Adavow Tunbridge Wells, UK @adavow www.adavow.com
Gur Shatz, Cato Networks Tel Aviv, Israel @CatoNetworks www.catonetworks.com
Gene Banman, DriveScale Sunnyvale, CA, USA @DriveScale_Inc www.drivescale.com
Tom Lyon, DriveScale Sunnyvale, CA, USA @DriveScale_Inc www.drivescale.com
Rhys Sharp, Fedr8 Farnborough, UK @fedr8 www.fedr8.com
Dickey Singh, Pyze, Inc. Redwood City, CA, USA @PyzeInc www.pyze.com
Kumar Mehta, Versa Networks Santa Clara, CA, USA @versanetworks www.versa-networks.com
For Tech Trailblazers
UK: +44 (0)20 8255 5225
Follow the awards buzz at www.twitter.com/techtrailblaze
About the Tech Trailblazers Awards
Tech Trailblazers is a new concept in awards, designed explicitly for smaller businesses and startups that are five years old or less and at C-series funding or below.
The awards have low barriers to entry and not only recognize startup innovation but proactively help startups grow their business.
The awards include the following categories:
- Big Data Trailblazers
- Cloud Trailblazers
- FinTech Trailblazers
- Firestarter Trailblazers
- IoT Trailblazers
- Mobile Trailblazers
- Security Trailblazers
- Storage Trailblazers
- Virtualization Trailblazers
Early stage startups (2 years and younger without VC funding) are able to apply for a chosen tech category free of charge via the new Firestarter bursary and are automatically submitted for the new Firestarter award.
In 2016, the Tech Trailblazers introduced the Female and Male Tech Trailblazers of the Year categories to celebrate individual success within senior members of enterprise tech startups.
The Tech Trailblazers Awards is supported by sponsors and industry partners including AfriLabs, Amoo Venture Capital Advisory, beSUCCESS, bnetTV, BigDataStartups, China AXLR8R, the Cloud Security Alliance, Computing, ExecEvent, GFT, GoMoNews, The Green Grid, GSMA, The Icehouse, Innovation Warehouse, Internet of Things Events, IP EXPO Europe, Launchpad Europe, L’Informaticien, Lissted, MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, The Next Silicon Valley, Outsource, Prezi, The Register, Silicon Cape Initiative, Skolkovo, StarTau, Startup America, Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA), Tech in Asia, TechNode, TiE Silicon Valley, Wazoku, Ventureburn and VMware.
A VPN is typically a paid service that keeps your web browsing secure and private over public Wi-Fi hotspots.
VPNs can also get past regional restrictions for video- and music-streaming sites and help you evade government censorship restrictions—though that last one is especially tricky. The best way to think of a VPN is as a secure tunnel between your PC and destinations you visit on the internet. Your PC connects to a VPN server, which can be located in the United States or a foreign country like the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, or Thailand. Your web traffic then passes back and forth through that server.
The end result: As far as most websites are concerned, you’re browsing from that server’s geographical location, not your computer’s location. We’ll get to the implications of a VPN’s location in a moment, but first, let’s get back to our secure tunnel example. Once you’re connected to the VPN and are “inside the tunnel,” it becomes very difficult for anyone else to spy on your web-browsing activity.
The only people who will know what you’re up to are you, the VPN provider (usually an HTTPS connection can mitigate this), and the website you’re visiting. A VPN is like a secure tunnel for a web traffic. When you’re on public Wi-Fi at an airport or café, that means hackers will have a harder time stealing your login credentials or redirecting your PC to a phony banking site. Your Internet service provider (ISP), or anyone else trying to spy on you, will also have a near impossible time figuring out which websites you’re visiting. On top of all that, you get the benefits of spoofing your location.
If you’re in Los Angeles, for example, and the VPN server is in the U.K., it will look to most websites that you’re browsing from there, not southern California. This is why many regionally restricted websites and online services such as BBC’s iPlayer or Sling TV can be fooled by a VPN.
I say “most” services because some, most notably Netflix, are fighting against VPN (ab)use to prevent people from getting access to, say, the American version of Netflix when they’re really in Australia. For the most part, however, if you’re visiting Belgium and connect to a U.S.
VPN server, you should get access to most American sites and services just as if you were sitting at a Starbucks in Chicago. What a VPN can’t do While VPNs are an important tool, they are far from foolproof. Let’s say you live in an oppressive country and want to evade censorship in order to access the unrestricted web.
A VPN would have limited use.
If you’re trying to evade government restrictions and access sites like Facebook and Twitter, a VPN might be useful.
Even then, you’d have to be somewhat dependent on the government’s willingness to look the other way. Anything more serious than that, such as mission-critical anonymity, is far more difficult to achieve—even with a VPN. Privacy against passive surveillance? No problem. Protection against an active and hostile government? Probably not. HideMyAss A VPN service provider such as HideMyAss can protect your privacy by ensuring your internet connection is encrypted. The problem with anonymity is there are so many issues to consider—most of which are beyond the scope of this article. Has the government surreptitiously installed malware on your PC in order to monitor your activity, for example? Does the VPN you want to use have any issues with data leakage or weak encryption that could expose your web browsing? How much information does your VPN provider log about your activity, and would that information be accessible to the government? Are you using an anonymous identity online on a PC that you never use in conjunction with your actual identity? Anonymity online is a very difficult goal to achieve.
If, however, you are trying to remain private from prying eyes or evade NSA-style bulk data collection as a matter of principle, a reputable VPN will probably be good enough. Beyond surveillance, a VPN also won’t do much to keep advertisers from tracking you online. Remember that the website you visit is aware of what you do on its site and that applies equally to advertisers serving ads on that site. To prevent online tracking by advertisers and websites you’ll still need browser add-ons like Ghostery, Privacy Badger, and HTTPS Everywhere. How to choose a VPN provider There was a time when using a VPN required users to know about the built-in VPN client for Windows or universal open-source solutions such as OpenVPN. Nowadays, however, nearly every VPN provider has their own one-click client that gets you up and running in seconds.
There are usually mobile apps as well to keep your Android or iOS device secure over public Wi-Fi. Of course that brings up another problem.
Since there are so many services to choose from, how can you tell which ones are worth using, and what are the criteria to judge them by? First, let’s get the big question out of the way.
The bad news for anyone used to free services is that it pays to pay when it comes to a VPN.
There are tons of free options from reputable companies, but these are usually a poor substitute for the paid options.
Free services usually allow a limited amount of bandwidth usage per month or offer a slower service.
Some companies disallow torrents completely, some are totally fine with them, while others won’t stop torrents but officially disallow them. We aren’t here to advise pirates, but anyone looking to use a VPN should understand what is and is not okay to do on their provider’s network. Finally, does the VPN provider offer their own application that you can download and install? Unless you’re a power user who wants to mess with OpenVPN, a customized VPN program is really the way to go.
It’s simple to use and doesn’t require any great technical knowledge or the need to adjust any significant settings. Using a VPN You’ve done your due diligence, checked out your VPN’s logging policies, and found a service with a great price and a customized application. Now, for the easy part: connecting to the VPN. Here’s a look at a few examples of VPN desktop applications. TunnelBear, which is currently my VPN of choice, has a very simple interface—if a little skeuomorphic. With Tunnel Bear, all you need to do is select the country you want to be virtually present in, click the dial to the “on” position, and wait for a connection-confirmation message. SaferVPN works similarly.
From the left-hand side you select the country you’d like to use—the more common choices such as the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. are at the top. Once that’s done, hit the big Connect button and wait once again for the confirmation message. SaferVPN With SaferVPN, all you need to do is choose the country you wish to have a virtual presence in. HMA Pro is a VPN I’ll be reviewing in the next few days.
This interface is slightly more complicated, but it’s far from difficult to understand.
If you want to select your desired virtual location click the Location mode tab, click on the location name, and then choose your preferred location from the list. Once that’s done click the slider button that says Disconnected. Once it flips to Connected,you’re ready to roll. There are numerous VPN services out there, and they all have different interfaces; but they are all similar enough that if you can successfully use one, you’ll be able to use the others. That’s all there is to using a VPN.
The hard part is figuring out which service to use. Once that’s done, connecting to a VPN for added privacy or to stream your favorite TV shows while abroad is just a click away. This story, "How—and why—you should use a VPN any time you hop on the internet" was originally published by TechHive.
This is the good outcome.
The three tons of steel traveling 55 miles an hour could have flipped and rolled in a second, killing everyone inside.
But after disentangling my heart from my esophagus, we determine that everyone's fine.
Dad pulls himself out of the car to catch his breath on the side of the road, and he looks to his smartphone GPS to figure out how far we are from West Yellowstone, Montana.
It’s below freezing, and my phone doesn’t have anything remotely resembling service.
This is the second time he’s glanced at his phone for the GPS; the first is what landed us here. How’d this happen? My guess is it has something to do with the dopamine.
I’m going to play fast and loose and speculate that a major component of cellphone interaction comes from “wanting” that dopamine response.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that gives us little jolts of pleasure to motivate us to go and seek out more pleasurable experiences.
It would seem to me that smartphones facilitate this process—every time you punch a button, you get a little jolt of dopamine, as that button push has the potential to take you somewhere pleasurable.
Thanks to the device’s ability to easily access the Internet, we have at our fingertips an unlimited amount of available seeking.
The satisfaction of clicking on a new thing keeps dopamine flowing along at a healthy thrum.
Today, we also have all sorts of connectivity to apps that offer validation—a double-tap on Instagram gives us the jolt that we love. This is one of the core principles of design—draw the gaze without making it seem like you're trying.
It can be a really lovely thing depending on your perspective, and we see all different manifestations of it on our smartphones. When we’re talking about driving though, ultimately design has little to do with why we crash into snowbanks while driving our vehicles.
Driving is boring, or at least we’ve been acculturated to believe so—the lone reward for most is getting where we need to go.
So as we travel along this dull journey from point A to point B, many instead pepper themselves with mini dopamine hits—snacks, music, or by mainlining digital dopamine like text messages, Snapchats, Vines (RIP), or whatever.
If we can get these mini seeking hits from dopamine while driving, the experience is far more pleasurable. In the case of my accident, my dad distracted himself from act of driving by engaging with something that helped us anticipate getting there—his GPS.
It’s a strange sort of paradox, and the more you think about it, the weirder it gets. In 2014, distracted driving was responsible for 3,179 deaths and 431,000 motor vehicle injuries according to the federal government.
That’s the latest data, but more is likely forthcoming as we become more and more attached to smartphones.
It's been pretty well established that using a smartphone or any other distracting device while on the road has at the very least a detrimental effect on one's ability to drive, and at the worst it’s incredibly dangerous.
The CDC classifies three main types of distraction: Visual (looking at the road), Manual (removing your hands from the wheel), and Cognitive (not thinking about driving).
Interacting with a cell phone engages all three of these.
To be fair though, chowing down on a double cheeseburger would hit me on all three fronts as well. But if we hold for a moment that it's bad to be twiddling a cell phone while you're behind the wheel of a two-ton death machine, what is the US doing about it on a federal and state level? President Obama has been a supporter of anti-texting and driving measures. Pictured: In 2010, he invited students to a White House science fair and honored the kids behind a device that sends out an alarm when you take a hand off the steering wheel for more then three seconds. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images) The state of texting and driving Turns out, the response to the issue isn’t that mixed.
In 2009, President Obama issued an order that prohibits federal employees from texting while driving on government business. Railway operators and commercial vehicle drivers have rules governing their use as well. State response has been more sporadic.
As of this summer, 14 states (including DC) prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones while driving a car.
Those laws are what are referred to as primary enforcement laws—i.e. an officer can pull you over and cite you if he/she sees you using a phone. No states have bans on using hands-free devices totally, but 38 prohibit novice drivers from using cell phones in any capacity. Now, what I’ve been rambling about: 46 states and DC have bans on texting while driving.
Four states do not—Missouri, Arizona, Montana, and Texas—though a few of these have bans on novice drivers utilizing devices to text.
I don’t want to ride the personal fallacy all the way to the bank, but my 60-year-old pop’s little smasheroo with a snowbank makes me suspicious of the assumption that errors only happen to novices. Seeing this landscape and its sporadic enforcement, I was confused.
Even with this many legal measures in place, there's still more than a few distracted driving deaths and injuries every year.
I wanted to know how effective these state measures are at preventing accidents.
Are these laws enforced? How effective are they? How many of these distracted driving deaths are caused by interactions with smartphones? Turns out, these are not really easy questions to answer. Enlarge / The wide-open roads of Montana aren't immune to the dangers of texting and drive.
This is in Pondera County near Highway 89. Education Images/UIG via Getty Images) Crashes in Big Sky Country and beyond I decided to follow a trail in Montana, where, coincidentally, my accident took place.
There were 192 crash fatalities in Montana in 2015. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any data on distracted driving, though impaired driving (alcohol/drugs) accounted for 10 of those fatalities.
It’s dangerous to generalize with data, so we’ll just leave those numbers there. With stats not helping much, I chatted with Audrey Allums, a Grants Bureau Chief for the Montana Department of Transportation.
She's responsible for approving grant funding for tons of different safety projects throughout the state.
For example, if a police department wants overtime pay to run a DUI training workshop, they send those requests to Allums.
Any sort of political action is not really within her purview, but she did tell me that many different cities in Montana have their own laws prohibiting the use of a cell phone while driving within city limits.
Allums noted the state has national data on distracted driving, and it's a terrible thing that continues to cause loss of life. However, she wasn't sure why Montana doesn't have a primary enforcement law.
All Allums could add was that it's really difficult to track if someone was using a phone or not when a crash took place. This, of course, totally makes sense. When someone's involved in an accident, first responders aren’t prioritizing the discovery out what caused the crash—their primary concern is saving lives. People involved in such accidents aren't necessarily going to fess up either. Who's going to admit to liking dog posts on Facebook when they crashed and killed someone? Allums pointed me toward a recently proposed bill in the Montana state legislature: HB 297.
It was a primary enforcement law similar to what exists in many others states, and it passed in the House before ultimately failing to get a second reading in the Senate before the legislature adjourned.
The state’s website lists the bill as "probably dead." Other states are trying to minimize potential injuries due to texting in other ways.
At Utah Valley University, administrators have divided staircases into three lanes, one for walking, one for running, and one for texting.
Antwerp, Belgium has similar lanes for walking texters, but as a whole, this sort of solution doesn’t seem particularly widespread or effective. Police have tried unconventional methods, like going undercover to catch and cite distracted drivers. New York might be working towards allowing police officers to use a device called a Textalyzer, which functions like a breathalyzer, except that it detects whether or not a touch screen has been used and text has been typed. Laws that enable strong penalization for distracted driving are becoming more common as well (for example, the recently passed Daniel’s Law in PA). And, of course, all aspects of the auto industry are simultaneously pushing steadily towards autonomous driving mechanisms.
Tesla's efforts may be the most high-profile, but tech companies like Google, traditional auto-powers like Ford, and new transportation companies like Uber are all scrambling towards similar goals.
In theory, removing the traditional role of a driver from all vehicles would free up individuals to toy with their phones as desired, but theory and practice are not one in the same.
A piece of technology can fail, and results could be tragic.
This reality is a long ways away anyway, as both the tech needs to improve and the regulations have to catch up. Currently, these measures are by no means common and standard across all states, nor is there likely to be pressure federally for everyone to adopt unusual measures.
The sad reality, for now, is that we may just resign ourselves to more auto deaths until self-driving cars come to fruition and save the day (if ever). Among other alternative anti-texting and driving initiatives: Simulations have been created to dramatize the experience for drivers.
This is one from AT&T's 2014 "It Can Wait" campaign in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images) In Maine, New Gloucester High School goes beyond the standard scared-straight, crashed car display.
The school held an entire live mock crash demonstration instead. John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images No sign of stopping Will these laws and measures make a difference? There’s been research into that question.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has looked into it and found that texting and driving roughly doubles the reaction time of a driver when doing several different roadway activities.
They also found that voice-to-text services don’t do much in the way of alleviating the danger.
According to a CBS news report on a separate study done in 2015, researchers found that there was a seven percent reduction in car crash hospitalizations in states that issued bans between 2003 and 2010.
Though the researchers attempted to account for other laws that might have influenced that reduction, the researchers stand by their data. Much of this research suggests creating stricter enforcement laws surrounding the use of devices on the road is a net good.
But let’s engage in a bit of wild speculation here: I’m not sure we can totally believe that people are going to use cell phones less in their vehicles.
Sure, many of the measures police are employing or mining data from cell phones post-crash might significantly improve our abilities to identify what caused those crashes, but so far, people seem to be using their phones in their cars more than ever before. Personally, I use my phone all the time as a navigational device, propped up right on my dashboard to give me directions wherever I’m headed. This is the difficulty that safety officials face.
As cars become better designed, the fact that you’re driving a physics nightmare waiting to happen becomes more and more unreal.
Think about it. When was the last time you became fully aware of the fact that you were driving your metal bullet to the grocery store? That experience has an impossibly difficult time competing with our slick smartphones. After the crash, my dad used his phone to locate an affordably-priced tow truck company with his data connection.
A few minutes later, the truck was there to pull the car from the bank.
Dad nestles the phone back into the front pocket of his vest, ready for its next use. For more info on texting bans: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html Thomas Wells is a writer and a teacher who lives in Bozeman, Montana. You can read the occasional tweet at @thomastalketh or check out his website at therealthomaswells.com.
The suspect, Sean Sharma, was arrested on Dec. 9 for purchasing a DDoS tool used to mount the attack, the FBI stated in a release.Since last week, the FBI’s International Cyber Crime Coordination Cell, or IC4, and other law enforcement agencies—including Europol and the U.K.’s National Crime Agency—have arrested 34 suspects and conducted interviews with 101 individuals.“DDoS tools are among the many specialized cyber-crime services available for hire that may be used by professional criminals and novices alike,” Steve Kelly, FBI unit chief of IC4, said in the agency’s statement. “While the FBI is working with our international partners to apprehend and prosecute sophisticated cyber-criminals, we also want to deter the young from starting down this path.” DDoS-for-hire services have increased in use to account for 93 percent of all distributed denial-of-service attacks, according to Incapsula, a DoS mitigation service owned by Imperva. Neustar, a real-time cloud-based information and analysis provider, confirmed that booters and stressors have grown significantly over the past four years. "A pretty large portion of the DDoSes we have seen are the fault of the stressors and booters,” Rodney Joffe, senior vice president and fellow at Neustar, told eWEEK. “And it has been a problem for 4 years.”The worldwide law enforcement action aims to carry a message to young offenders that what may seem to them as innocuous cyber-pranks are actually serious crimes that carry hefty legal penalties, the law enforcement groups said.The people arrested are suspected of paying for DDoS services to launch floods of data against websites and online services—often gaming platforms.“Today’s generation is closer to technology than ever before, with the potential of exacerbating the threat of cyber-crime,” Steve Wilson, head of the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3), said in a statement. “Many IT enthusiasts get involved in seemingly low-level fringe cyber-crime activities from a young age, unaware of the consequences that such crimes carry.”Yet, Neustar’s Joffe doubted that the arrests will make much of an impact.“There are millions of kids who play games, and they don’t think this is illegal,” he said. “Or they understand that this is illegal, but they don’t think they are going to get caught.”Law enforcement agencies carried out actions in Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
The law enforcement organizations underscored that fighting the cyber-crimes require a collaborative effort.“No law enforcement agency or country can defeat cyber-crime alone,” the FBI said in its statement. “This demands a collective global approach.”
Skype provided the court with metadata, but explained that it was impossible in 2012 to provide access to users' conversations because of the architecture it used. Additionally, the Microsoft-owned company argued that it actually didn't fall under Belgian jurisdiction. Microsoft has no infrastructure in Belgium, nor any Skype employees.
The corporation argued that if law enforcement needed data it should have engaged in the regular Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process with Luxembourg. Het Belang van Limburg quoted prosecutor Tim Hoogenbemt as saying: "Skype offers services in our country, so it needs to know the laws.
And therefore know that the court may ask interception measures." Skype refuted this claim, however, arguing that the legislation cited did not apply to it as it was a software provider, rather than a service provider. A spokesperson for Skype told The Register: "Law enforcement plays an important role in keeping communities safe, but legal process must also protect personal privacy and respect international borders. We are reviewing the decision and are considering our legal options." Skype has up to three years to appeal the decision, at which point the case may escalate up the proverbial municipal ladder. ®
The group has quietly deployed zero-day in the past, effectively spearphished targets, and maintains a modular toolset. What is most interesting about this group’s more recent activity however, is their focus on users of encryption tools, peaking this summer.
In particular, the focus was on Italian and Belgian users, but the StrongPity watering holes affected systems in far more locations than just those two.
Adding in their creative waterholing and poisoned installer tactics, we describe the StrongPity APT as not only determined and well-resourced, but fairly reckless and innovative as well. Clearly this APT is interested in encrypted data and communications.
The tools targeted by this group enable practices for securing secrecy and integrity of data.
For example, WinRAR packs and encrypts files with strong suites like AES-256, and TrueCrypt encrypts full hard drives all in one swoop.
Both WinRAR and TrueCrypt help provide strong and reliable encryption. WinRAR enables a person to encrypt a file with AES-256 in CBC mode with a strong PBKDF2 HMAC-SHA256 based key.
And, TrueCrypt provides an effective open-source full disk encryption solution for Windows, Apple, Linux, and Android systems. Using both of these tools together, a sort of one off, poor man’s end-to-end encryption can be maintained for free by putting these two solutions together with free file sharing services. Other software applications help to support encrypted sessions and communications. Well known applications supporting end-to-end encryption are used by hundreds of millions of folks, sometimes unknowingly, every day.
IM clients like Microsoft’s Skype implement 256-bit AES encrypted communications, while Putty, Winscp and Windows Remote Desktop help provide private communications and sessions with fully encrypted communications as well. Most of these communications across the wire are currently unbreakable when intercepted, at least, when the applications are configured properly. This actor set up a particularly clever site to deliver trojanized WinRAR installers in the summer of 2016, appears to have compromised another, and this activity reminds us somewhat of the early 2014 Crouching Yeti activity. Much of the Crouching Yeti intrusions were enabled by trojanizing legitimate ICS-related IT software installers like SCADA environment vpn client installers and industrial camera software driver installers.
Then, they would compromise the legitimate company software distribution sites and replace the legitimate installers with the Crouching Yeti trojanized versions.
The tactics effectively compromised ICS and SCADA related facilities and networks around the world.
Simply put, even when visiting a legitimate company distribution site, IT staff was downloading and installing ICS-focused malware.
StrongPity’s efforts did much the same. In the case of StrongPity, the attackers were not focused on ICS or SCADA.
They set up a domain name (ralrab[.]com) mimicking the legitimate WinRAR distribution site (rarlab[.]com), and then placed links on a legitimate “certified distributor” site in Europe to redirect to their poisoned installers hosted on ralrab[.]com.
In Belgium, the attackers placed a “recommended” link to their ralrab[.]com site in the middle of the localized WinRAR distribution page on winrar[.]be.
The big blue recommended button (here in French) linked to the malicious installer, while all the other links on the page directed to legitimate software: Winrar[.]be site with “recommended link” leading to malicious ralrab[.]com The winrar[.]be site evaluated what “recommended” package a visitor may need based on browser localization and processor capability, and accordingly offered up appropriate trojanized versions.
Installer resources named for french and dutch versions, along with 32-bit versus 64-bit compiled executables were provided over the summer: hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/winrar-x64-531.exe hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/winrar-x64-531fr.exe hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/winrar-x64-531nl.exe hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar531.exe hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar531fr.exe hxxp://www.ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar531nl.exe hxxp://ralrab[.]com/rar/winrar-x64-531.exe hxxp://ralrab[.]com/rar/winrar-x64-531nl.exe hxxp://ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar531fr.exe hxxp://ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar531nl.exe hxxp://ralrab[.]com/rar/wrar53b5.exe Directory listing, poisoned StrongPity installers, at rarlrab[.]com The first available visitor redirects from winrar[.]be to ralrab[.]com first appeared on May 28th, 2016, from the dutch speaking version of the winrar.be site.
And around the same time, another “certified distributor” winrar[.]it served trojanized installers as well.
The major difference here is that we didn’t record redirections to ralrab[.]com, but it appears the site directly served StrongPity trojanized installers: hxxps://www.winrar[.]it/prelievo/WinRAR-x64-531it.exe hxxps://www.winrar[.]it/prelievo/WRar531it.exe The site started serving these executables a couple of days earlier on 5/24, where a large majority of Italian visitors where affected. Download page, winrar[.]it Quite simply, the download links on this site directed visitors to trojanized WinRAR installers hosted from the winrar.it site itself.
It’s interesting to note that both of the sites are “distributors”, where the sites are owned and managed not by rarlabs, but by local owners in individual countries. StrongPity also directed specific visitors from popular, localized software sharing sites directly to their trojanized installers.
This activity continued into late September 2016.
In particular, the group redirected visitors from software aggregation and sharing site tamindir[.]com to their attacker-controlled site at true-crypt[.]com.
The StrongPity controlled Truecrypt site is a complete rip of the legitimate site, now hosted by Sourceforge. Here is the Tamindir truecrypt page, looks harmless enough. TrueCrypt page, tamindir software sharing site Unlike the newer poisoned WinRAR installers, StrongPity hosted several Much like the poisoned WinRAR installers, multiple filenames have been used to keep up with visitor interests.
Visitors may have been directed to the site by other means and downloaded directly from the ripped and persuasive site. true-crypt[.]com malicious StrongPity distribution site At the very bottom of the page, there are a couple of links to the poisoned installers: hxxp://www.true-crypt[.]com/download/TrueCrypt-Setup-7.1a.exe hxxp://true-crypt[.]com/files/TrueCrypt-7.2.exe Referrers include these localized software aggregates and sharers: gezginler[.]net/indir/truecrypt.html tamindir[.]com/truecrypt/indir It’s interesting that Ksn recorded appearance of the the file on two unique systems in December 2015, a third in January 2016, all in Turkey, and then nothing until May 2016.
Then, deployment of the installers continued mostly within Turkey in July and September 2016. Over the course of a little over a week, malware delivered from winrar.it appeared on over 600 systems throughout Europe and Northern Africa/Middle East. Likely, many more infections actually occurred.
Accordingly, the country with the overwhelming number of detections was in Italy followed by Belgium and Algeria.
The top countries with StrongPity malware from the winrar.it site from May 25th through the first few days of June are Italy, Belgium, Algeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Morroco, France, and Tunisia. winrar[.]it StrongPity component geolocation distribution In a similar time-span, the over sixty visitors redirected from winrar.be to ralrab.com for malicious file download were overwhelmingly located in one country. The top countries directed to StrongPity malware from the winrar.be site from May 25th through the first few days of June are Belgium, Algeria, Morroco, Netherlands, Canada, Cote D’Ivoire, and Tunisia. winrar[.]be StrongPity component geolocation distribution StrongPity previously set up TrueCrypt themed watering holes in late 2015.
But their offensive activity surged in late summer 2016.
The group set up a site directly pulled from the contents of the legitimate TrueCrypt website.
From mid July to early September, dozens of visitors were redirected from tamindir[.]com to true-crypt[.]com with unsurprisingly almost all of the focus on systems in Turkey, with victims in the Netherlands as well. tamindir[.]com to true-crypt[.]com poisoned TrueCrypt installer redirects The StrongPity droppers were often signed with unusual digital certificates, dropping multiple components that not only provide complete control of the victim system, but effectively steal disk contents, and can download components for further collection of various communications and contacts.
Because we are talking about StrongPity watering holes, let’s take a quick look at what is being delivered by the group from these sites. When we count all systems from 2016 infected with any one of the StrongPity components or a dropper, we see a more expansive picture.
This data includes over 1,000 systems infected with a StrongPity component.
The top five countries include Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Algeria, and France. In the case of the winrar[.]be/ralrab[.]com watering hole malware, each one of the six droppers that we observed created a similar set of dropped components on disk.
And, in these cases, the attackers did not re-use their fake digital certificates.
In addition to installing the legitimate version of WinRAR, the dropper installed the following StrongPity components: %temp%\procexp.exe %temp%\sega\ nvvscv.exe prst.cab prst.dll wndplyr.exe wrlck.cab wrlck.dll Of these files, two are configurable and encrypted with the same keyless cipher, “wrlck.cab” and “prst.cab”. While one maintains several callback c2 for the backdoor to fetch more instructions and upload installed software and file paths, the other maintains something a bit more unusual. “prst.cab” maintains an encrypted list of programs that maintain encrypted connections.
This simple encoding takes the most significant nibble for each character, swaps the nibbles of that byte, and xors the result against the original value.
Its code looks something like this: x = s[i]; j = ((x & 0xF0)>>4); y = x ^ j; Using that cipher in the ralrab[.]com malware, the package is configured to seek out several crypto-enabled software applications, highlighting the group’s interest in users of more encryption-supported software suites. putty.exe (a windows SSH client) filezilla.exe (supports ftps uploads) winscp.exe (a windows secure copy application, providing encrypted and secure file transfer) mstsc.exe (Windows Remote Desktop client, providing an encrypted connection to remote systems) mRemoteNG.exe (a remote connections manager supporting SSH, RDP, and other encrypted protocols) Also included in StrongPity components are keyloggers and additional data stealers. Widely available, strong cryptography software tools help provide secure and private communications that are now easily obtained and usable.
In the summer of 2016, multiple encryption-enabled software applications were targeted with watering hole, social engineering tactics, and spyware by the StrongPity APT. While watering holes and poisoned installers are tactics that have been effectively used by other APT, we have never seen the same focus on cryptographic-enabled software. When visiting sites and downloading encryption-enabled software, it has become necessary to verify the validity of the distribution site and the integrity of the downloaded file itself.
Download sites not using PGP or strong digital code signing certificates need to re-examine the necessity of doing so for their own customers. We have seen other APT such as Crouching Yeti and Darkhotel distribute poisoned installers and poisoned executable code, then redistribute them through similar tactics and over p2p networks. Hopefully, simpler verification systems than the current batch of PGP and SSL applications will arise to be adopted in larger numbers. Until then, strong anti-malware and dynamic whitelisting solutions will be more necessary than ever. For more details on APT tactics like StrongPity watering holes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.