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US, Europe partner to counter ‘fake news’ and cyberattacks

The center will be headquartered in Finland next to neighboring Russia, which stands accused of launching so-called "hybrid" attacks, such as the spreading of fake news.

Researchers find China tried infiltrating companies lobbying Trump on trade

"ScanBox" Web malware used compromised National Foreign Trade Council website.

‘We’re opening up our data’: This power firm is letting anyone...

Offering open-use terms, near real-time access, and APIs, Finland's electricity grid operator says it's the first European country to open up national electricity data.

Data Protection Certification: Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers operating in Europe declare...

New compliance mark establishes data protection standards and practices to protect customer data and comply with European lawBrussels, 14th February 2017.

The Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), a coalition of cloud computing lea...

Ooooh, that’s NASty. Security-watchers warn over man-in-the-middle risk

Small flaws, but they add up Vulnerabilities in a network attached storage (NAS) devices made by QNAP Systems create a potential means for hackers to steal data and passwords, execute commands or drop malware on vulnerable kit, say security researchers. Researchers at F-Secure claim they have found a series of weaknesses in the firmware update process of QNAP’s TVS-663 NAS device, such as not encrypting the update requests.

These security shortcomings create a means for hackers to seize administrative control of vulnerable devices, they claim. Harry Sintonen, senior security consultant at F-Secure, developed a proof-of-concept exploit to confirm the vulnerabilities. “Many of these types of vulnerabilities are not severe on their own.

But attackers able to put them together can cause a massive compromise,” according to Sintonen. Sintonen’s PoC begins when the device sends unencrypted requests for firmware updates back to the company.

This lack of encryption allows hackers to run man-in-the-middle attacks.
Sintonen says he took advantage of this weakness by serving the device with an exploit disguised as a firmware update. While the fake update is never actually installed, an exploit uses a flaw in the process to yield a full system compromise, he claims.

The one major limitation is that hackers would need to be in the position to intercept the update process before they can manipulate it, he added. That would be enough to frustrate remote hackers – though not miscreants already logged onto the same network as their intended target, he explained. F-Secure estimates that over 1.4 million devices running vulnerable firmware could be vulnerable.

The research was presented at the Disobey conference in Helsinki, Finland last week. El Reg invited QNAP Systems to comment on the research on Tuesday but we’ve yet to hear back from the storage tech supplier. We'll update if we hear more.

F-Secure said it notified QNAP last February. ® Sponsored: Next gen cybersecurity.
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IT Policies New U.S. Administration Should Consider in 2017

There are still plenty of opportunities for the U.S. to remain an innovation leader, but the government and private sector have to see eye-to-eye on more things. A new U.S. president will be taking office on Jan. 20 with an agenda a few virtual miles long. One of the most pressing problems he will face is the growing cyber-security threat from nation-states and private entities that neither the government or the private sector has been able to mitigate for more than a decade.The IT business continues to present large growth opportunities in the U.S., but these internet-borne threats to consumers and businesses that involve both internal/external hacking and system outages can and will destroy companies, data and reputations.

Destruction can happen quickly; look at what happened to Sony Pictures, Yahoo and dozens of other high-profile companies during the last few years.While we face technology job shortages and talent gaps, there are still plenty of opportunities for the U.S. to remain an innovation leader.
Silicon Valley certainly isn't going to shrink from these responsibilities, but it is also incumbent upon the federal and state governments to offer full-fledged support for these purposes whenever it is necessary.

This is all about protecting the public.To this end, eWEEK consulted with Lev Lesokhin, Executive Vice President for CAST.

CAST, based in New York and Paris, is a well-established independent software developer and an international market leader in enterprise software analysis, measurement and risk prevention. Here are Lesokhin's 10 policy suggestions for the new administration to improve the outlook for the U.S. tech sector in 2017 and beyond: Give the Federal Government's CTO More ResponsibilityWe need to more closely align the national chief technology officer with the U.S.

Cyber Security officer to increase visibility and transparency across the top leaders at the White House.

This will give the CTO a more visionary role and will ensure government technology adoption and advocacy is more secure and aligned with cyber policy.Appoint a Cyber Security Official Who Will Institute Effective PoliciesThese new policies should should always be based on industry best practices, such as CISQ (Consortium for IT Software Quality) standards.
It's clear that our administration needs to better understand cyber risks that lurk at home and abroad while developing effective strategies and practices for combating them.Create and Enforce Policy for Anyone Selling Software CommerciallyThis is needed so that commercial software no longer remains a black box full of potential threats but also that we know that the components inside are not dangerous.

This will become increasingly important as the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine communication grows. More connected devices mean more opportunity for disaster. We label our food to describe "what's inside"; why not do this with software? Bad software causes the U.S. government alone millions on reworking.   Lead by ExampleDepending on the sector and the budget, a significant portion of government programs still run on legacy systems, holding the sector down in slow and outdated services. Why should public sector lag behind the technology industry it regulates? Our government must conduct system-level analysis and modernize its core systems to provide better services to tax payers and stay current on the biggest technology risks and challenges. Tax ReformThis is to encourage the technology companies with significant offshore income--including companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google--to bring money back into the U.S., so they can carry out activities such as M&A to advance the state of tech in our country. Without reducing the negative financial consequences of repatriating money to the U.S., offshore cash levels will continue to rise and investment declines. Open Up More Visas for Top Technology Developer TalentWe also need to invest in more STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and training to get young people interested in technology careers and comfortable with the complexity of the systems and tools.

The talent shortage is hurting America productivity, and visas are needed to keep the U.S. moving forward. With the shortage of tech workers, the need for foreign skilled workers will increase. Collaborate with Other Countries Leading in InnovationThese include countries such as Sweden, Germany, Finland and others.

The U.S. also needs to work closer with the world's biggest and fastest growing economies, such as China, India and the EU to establish effective learning opportunities and create coalitions that support talent sharing and the acceptance of global quality standards.

This will bring best practices to the home front while leaving the door open for IT sourcing agreements where it makes sense. Offer New Tax Incentives for Tight SecurityThese would be identified as those who institute a two-pronged technology security program: both perimeter and application security.

This will require companies to invest more in application security (to combat risks from cyber-attacks driven by digital business and IoT) while effectively maintaining their external defenses. Reform Regulation and Reporting RequirementsThis is necessary for enterprises to keep up with today's technology issues, putting a greater focus on cyber risk--both security and reliability.

The latter of which is estimated to cost the U.S. economy nearly $100 billion per year.
It's widely considered that the banking industry's position on security is still too reactive. Listed companies should be required to show that their most mission-sensitive IT systems are engineered according to the best-known standards of software practice in order to prevent security-related risks. Improve Software Engineering Education, CertificationSoftware engineering is the civil engineering of the 21st century.
It's one thing to train computer scientists, but the best engineering talent continues to be snapped up elsewhere, leaving the majority of the U.S. industry with moderately skilled workers. Much like civil engineers need to have P.E. (professional engineer) certification to design and supervise construction, software engineers who work on mission-critical systems should also be certified as competent on the latest standards of software engineering.

Clever Facebook Hack Reveals Private Email Address of Any User

Christmas came early for Facebook bug bounty hunter Tommy DeVoss who was paid $5,000 this week for discovering a security vulnerability that allowed him to view the private email addresses of any Facebook user. “The hack allowed me to harvest as many email addresses as I wanted from anybody on Facebook,” DeVoss said. “It didn’t matter how private you thought your email address was – I could of grabbed it.” DeVoss said on Thanksgiving Day he discovered the vulnerability and reported it to Facebook via its bug bounty program.

After weeks of going back and forth verifying what the exact bug was and how it was exploited, Facebook said it would award him $5,000 for the discovery.

And on Tuesday it did. The bug was tied to the user-generated Facebook Groups feature that allows any member to create an affinity group on the social network’s platform.

DeVoss discovered as an administrator of a Facebook Group he could invite any Facebook member to have Admin Roles via Facebook’s system to do things such as edit post or add new members. Those invitations were handled by Facebook and sent to the invited recipient’s Facebook Messages inbox, but also to the Facebook user’s email address associated with their account.
In many cases users choose to keep their email addresses private.

DeVoss discovered, despite privacy settings set by Facebook members, he was able to gain access to any Facebook user’s email address whether he was Friends with them or not. DeVoss found when he cancelled pending invitations to those invited to be Facebook Group Administrators there was a glitch. “While Facebook waits for the confirmation, the user is forwarded to a Page Roles tab that includes a button to cancel the request,” he said. Next, he switched to Facebook’s mobile view of the Page Roles tab. Here DeVoss was able to view the full email addresses of anyone he wanted to cancel from becoming a Facebook Group Administrator. “I noticed that when you clicked to cancel the administrator invitation on the mobile page, you were redirected to a page with the email address in the URL,” he said. “Now all you have to do is pluck the plaintext version of the confidential email address straight from the URL.” The impact of this vulnerability could be diverse, he wrote in a blog post outlining his discovery. “Harvesting email addresses this way contradicts Facebook’s privacy policy and could lead to targeted phishing attempts or other malicious purposes.” Facebook confirmed the hack and said it has no evidence the vulnerability was ever misused.

Facebook said it has implemented a fix to prevent the issue from being exploited. DeVoss, a software developer in Virginia, said this is the largest bug bounty payment he has ever earned. He told Threatpost he participates in a number of bug bounty programs including Yahoo’s and the Hack the Pentagon program. For its part, in October Facebook announced it has paid out more than $5 million to 900 researchers in the five years since it implemented its bug bounty program.

The company said it paid out $611,741 to 149 researchers in the first half of 2016 alone. Facebook was one of the first websites to launch a bug program when it followed in the footsteps of both Mozilla and Google in August 2011. In February, the company paid $10,000 to a 10-year-old boy from Finland after he discovered an API bug in the image sharing app Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1B in 2012. The company awarded $15,000 to Anand Prakash in March for a bug allowed him to crack open any of Facebook’s 1.1 billion accounts using a rudimentary brute force password attack.

SSH Provides 'Under The Radar' Revenue Plays For Security Solution Providers

SSH keys, the means of securing identification on a server through public-key cryptography, has remained largely "under the radar for many years," according to SSH Communications Security CEO Tatu Ylonen, but he said increased awareness in compliance and security across various verticals present opportunities for security solution providers.

SSH Communications Security, which has global corporate headquarters in Helsinki, Finland, but operates in the U.S. through its Massachusetts-based offices, is "present in over 90 percent of all data centers," and SSH is used "extremely widely," according to Ylonen.

“It’s pretty much everywhere -- half of the world's web services are using SSH,” he said.

In this age of seemingly endless data breaches, leaders in compliance and regulation in every industry from finance to health care have begun cracking down on boundary control and firewalls.

Solution providers can gain additional revenue implementing SSH on top of firewall integration, and deployment is simple.

"Just for controlling external access with SSH by vendors outsourcing partners – manufacturing vendors, IoT vendors – that can give 30 [percent] to 50 percent revenue for a firewall integrator on top of what they get from the firewall itself," Ylonen said.

"They can get that revenue from the existing customer base, giving them more value, giving more benefit to the customers," he added. "And, there’s also very interesting services opportunities around SSH key management."

Hackers Sure to Shift to IoT-Based DDoS Attacks, Experts Say

The insecurity and accessibility of a multitude internet of things devices will make them favorite tools of cyber-attackers. After massive denial-of-service attacks in October, security experts are warning that the relative lack of security of the Internet of Things will continue to make connected devices  favored targets of attackers looking to create botnets from which to launch denial-of-service attacks.On Nov 16 security experts plan to testify in front of two subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives, warning Congress that a lack of focus on security has made the Internet of Things a playground for hackers.The hearing follows the October attacks against Internet-infrastructure provider Dyn, which struggled for more than 11 hours to mitigate a flood of data that caused its domain services to become unreachable and resulted in intermittent service outages for its clients, including Twitter, Netflix, Etsy, Paypal and Spotify."These new attacks are alarming for their scope, impact and the ease with which attackers employed them," Dale Drew, chief security officer of Internet provider Level 3 Communications, stated in prepared comments to be delivered at the hearing. "Also worrisome is that these attackers relied on just a fraction of the total available compromised IoT nodes in order to attack their victims, demonstrating the potential for significantly greater havoc from these new threats." The attacks are just the start of what could be a new trend in denial-of-service techniques. For the past five years, amplification attacks have ruled the denial-of-service world. Attackers used asymmetry in the amount of data produced by certain requests—a single packet producing a much more massive reply—to commit modest bandwidth but produce massive attacks. The Network Time Protocol (NTP), Domain Name Service (DNS) and the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) were all used to amplify attacks. With the Internet of Things, there are so many devices that amplification is not necessary. Instead, in a nod to attacks of the previous decade, attackers create massive botnets and use them to produce a deluge of data. The Internet of Things makes the attacks difficult to stop because they are coming from so many different corners of the Internet and not from known bad Internet addresses."Looking at previous cycles, and assuming this follows that trend, we are probably looking at a two- to three-year period [when] IoT botnets will be the hot thing," Terrence Gareau, chief scientist for DoS mitigation firm Nexusguard, told eWEEK.The malicious software behind the attack—as well as a record-setting attack against security blogger and journalist Brian Krebs—is known as Mirai. Level 3 has estimated that Mirai, along with its predecessor BashLite, has infected more than 2 million IoT devices—more than 80 percent of which are digital video recorders, but which also includes routers and other devices.  The attack on Dyn used a mere 8 percent of those compromised nodes to send 500 gigabytes per second of traffic to the infrastructure provider.Mirai is fairly well written, which experts know because the source code of the program was released online. However, the criminals behind the attacks are more of a mixed bag, because the denial-of-service attacks is actually sold as a service, according to Drew."We believe that in the case of Dyn, the relatively unsophisticated attacker sought to take offline a gaming site with which it had a personal grudge and rented time on the IoT botnet to accomplish this," he said at a joint hearing of the Subcommittees on Communications and Technology and on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.Because the Internet of Things controls consumer and industrial systems, the actual impact of a denial of service can be significant.Last week, a distributed denial-of-service attack reportedly disrupted the controlling server for the heating system in two blocks of apartments in Finland, causing the heating systems to fail. The management firm solved the problem by limiting network traffic.

IT threat evolution Q3 2016. Statistics

 Download the full report (PDF) Statistics All the statistics used in this report were obtained using Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), a distributed antivirus network that works with various anti-malware protection components. The data was collected from KSN users who agreed to provide it. Millions of Kaspersky Lab product users from 213 countries and territories worldwide participate in this global exchange of information about malicious activity. Q3 figures According to KSN data, Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 171,802,109 malicious attacks from online resources located in 190 countries all over the world. 45,169,524 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus components. Kaspersky Lab’s web antivirus detected 12,657,673 unique malicious objects: scripts, exploits, executable files, etc. Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 1,198,264 user computers. Crypto ransomware attacks were blocked on 821,865 computers of unique users. Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 116,469,744 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects. Kaspersky Lab mobile security products detected: 1,520,931 malicious installation packages; 30,167 mobile banker Trojans (installation packages); 37,150 mobile ransomware Trojans (installation packages). Mobile threats Q3 events Pokémon GO: popular with users and hackers One of the most significant events of the third quarter was the release of Pokémon GO. Of course, cybercriminals could not ignore such a popular new product and tried to exploit the game for their own purposes. This was primarily done by adding malicious code to the original app and spreading malicious versions via third-party stores. This method was used, for example, to spread Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Tordow, which exploits vulnerabilities in the system to obtain root access to a device. With root access, this Trojan protects itself from being deleted, and it can also steal saved passwords from browsers. But perhaps the most notable case of Pokémon GO’s popularity being used to infect mobile devices involved fraudsters publishing a guide for the game in the official Google Play store. The app turned out to be an advertising Trojan capable of gaining root access to a device by exploiting vulnerabilities in the system. We later came across two more modifications of this Trojan, which were added to Google Play under the guise of different apps. According to Google Play data, one of them, imitating an equalizer, was installed between 100,000 and 500,000 times. Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.ad in the official Google Play store Interestingly, one of the methods used by the cybercriminals to promote the Trojan was a company that pays users for the installation of advertising apps. Screenshot of the app that prompts the user to install the Trojan for 5 cents According to this company’s rules, it doesn’t work with users whose devices have root access. The users may be looking to earn some money, but they end up with an infected device and don’t actually receive any money, because after infection the device gains root access. Ad with a Trojan The most popular mobile Trojan in the third quarter of 2016 was Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q. During the quarter, the number of users attacked by it grew almost eightfold. Over 97% of users attacked by Svpeng were located in Russia. The attackers managed to make the Trojan so popular by advertising it via Google AdSense – one of the most popular advertising networks on the Russian Internet. Many popular sites use it to display targeted advertising. Anyone can pay to register their ad on the network, and that was exactly what the attackers did. Along with the advert, however, they added the AdSense Trojan. When a user visited the page with the advert, Svpeng was downloaded to their device. Bypassing protection mechanisms in Android 6 In our report for the second quarter of 2016 we mentioned the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub family that can bypass several system controls. Of special note this quarter is the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi family that has learned to bypass the security mechanisms introduced in Android 6 by tricking the user. The Trojan first requests rights to overlay other applications, and then uses those rights to trick the user into giving it privileges to work with text messages and to make calls. Trojan ransomware in the Google Play store In the third quarter, we registered the propagation of Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Pletor.d, a mobile ransomware program, via Google Play. The Trojan imitated an app for servicing devices, including deleting unnecessary data, speeding up device performance and even antivirus protection. Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Pletor.d in Google Play The Trojan checks which country the device is located in, and if it is not Russia or Ukraine, it requests administrator rights and calls the command server. Earlier versions of this Trojan encrypted user data, but this modification doesn’t possess such functionality. Instead, the Trojan blocks operation of the device by opening a window that covers all other open windows and demanding a ransom to unblock it. Mobile threat statistics In Q3 2016, Kaspersky Lab detected 1,520,931 malicious installation packages, which is 2.3 times fewer than in the previous quarter. Number of detected malicious installation packages (Q4 2015 – Q1 2016) Distribution of mobile malware by type Distribution of new mobile malware by type (Q2 2016 and Q3 2016) In Q3 2016, RiskTool software, or legitimate applications that are potentially dangerous to users, topped the rating of malicious objects detected for mobile devices. Their share continued to grow from 45.1% in Q2 to 55.8% this quarter. Due to the large number of RiskTool programs and the considerable increase in their overall share of the total flow of detected objects, the proportion of almost all other types of malicious programs decreased, even where the actual number of detected programs increased compared to the previous quarter. The most affected was Trojan-Ransom – its share decreased from 5.72% to 2.37%. This was caused by a decline in activity by the Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob family (covered in more detail below). At the same time, we registered a slight growth in the share of Trojan-Bankers – from 1.88% to 1.98%. TOP 20 mobile malware programs Please note that this rating of malicious programs does not include potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware. Name % of attacked users* 1 DangerousObject.Multi.Generic 78,46 2 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q 11,45 3 Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.t 8,03 4 Backdoor.AndroidOS.Ztorg.c 7,24 5 Backdoor.AndroidOS.Ztorg.a 6,55 6 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Agent.dm 4,91 7 Trojan.AndroidOS.Hiddad.v 4,55 8 Trojan.AndroidOS.Agent.gm 4,25 9 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Agent.cv 3,67 10 Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.aa 3,61 11 Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.r 3,44 12 Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.pac 3,31 13 Trojan.AndroidOS.Iop.c 3,27 14 Trojan.AndroidOS.Muetan.b 3,17 15 Trojan.AndroidOS.Vdloader.a 3,14 16 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Triada.s 2,80 17 Trojan.AndroidOS.Muetan.a 2,77 18 Trojan.AndroidOS.Triada.pac 2,75 19 Trojan-Dropper.AndroidOS.Triada.d 2,73 20 Trojan.AndroidOS.Agent.eb 2,63 * Percentage of unique users attacked by the malware in question, relative to all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product that were attacked. First place is occupied by DangerousObject.Multi.Generic (78.46%), the verdict used for malicious programs detected using cloud technologies. Cloud technologies work when the antivirus database contains neither the signatures nor heuristics to detect a malicious program, but the cloud of the antivirus company already contains information about the object. This is basically how the very latest malware is detected. In Q3 2016, 17 Trojans that use advertising as their main means of monetization (highlighted in blue in the table) made it into the TOP 20. Their goal is to deliver as many adverts as possible to the user, employing various methods, including the installation of new adware. These Trojans may use superuser privileges to conceal themselves in the system application folder, from which it will be very difficult to delete them. In Q3 2016, attempted infections by financial #malware were registered at 1.2m users’ computers #KLreport #banking Tweet With root access on the device, Trojans can do many different things without the user being aware, such as installing apps from Google Play, including paid apps. It’s worth noting that the Trojans from the Ztorg family, which occupied four places in the TOP 20, are often distributed via the official Google Play store. Since the end of 2015, we have registered more than 10 such cases (including a fake guide for Pokemon GO). Several times the Trojan notched up over 100,000 installations, and on one occasion it was installed more than 500,000 times. Trojan.AndroidOS.Ztorg.ad masquerading as a guide for Pokemon GO in Google Play The ranking also included two representatives of the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng mobile banker family. As we mentioned above, Svpeng.q became the most popular malware in the third quarter of 2016. This was down to the Trojan being distributed via the AdSense advertising network, which is used by a large number of sites on the Russian segment of the Internet. The geography of mobile threats The geography of attempted mobile malware infections in Q3 2016 (percentage of all users attacked) TOP 10 countries attacked by mobile malware (ranked by percentage of users attacked) Country* % of users attacked ** 1 Bangladesh 35,57 2 Nepal 31.54 3 Iran 31.38 4 China 26.95 5 Pakistan 26.83 6 Indonesia 26.33 7 India 24,35 8 Nigeria 22.88 9 Algeria 21,82 10 The Philippines 21.67 * We eliminated countries from this rating where the number of users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product is relatively low (under 10,000).** Percentage of unique users attacked in each country relative to all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product in the country. Bangladesh topped the rating, with almost 36% of users there encountering a mobile threat at least once during the quarter. China, which came first in this rating two quarters in a row, dropped to fourth place. The most popular mobile malware in all the countries of this rating (except China) was the same – advertising Trojans that mostly belonged to the Ztorg, Iop, Hiddad and Triada families. A significant proportion of attacks in China also involved advertising Trojans, but the majority of users there encountered Trojans from the Backdoor.AndroidOS.GinMaster and Backdoor.AndroidOS.Fakengry families. Russia (12.1%) came 24th in this rating, France (6.7%) 52nd, the US (5.3%) 63rd, Italy (5.1%) 65th, Germany (4.9%) 68th, and the United Kingdom (4.7%) 71st. The situation in Germany and Italy has improved significantly: in the previous quarter, 8.5% and 6.2% of users in those countries respectively were attacked. This was due to a decline in activity by the Fusob family of mobile ransomware. The safest countries were Austria (3.3%), Croatia (3.1%) and Japan (1.7%). Mobile banking Trojans Over the reporting period, we detected 30,167 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans, which is 1.1 times as many as in Q2. Number of installation packages for mobile banking Trojans detected by Kaspersky Lab solutions(Q4 2015 – Q3 2016) Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng became the most popular mobile banking Trojan in Q3 due to its active distribution via the advertising network AdSense. More than half the users that encountered mobile banking Trojans in the third quarter faced Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q. It was constantly increasing the rate at which it spread – in September the number of users attacked by the Trojan was almost eight times greater than in June. The number of unique users attacked by the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng banking Trojan family(June-September 2016) Over 97% of attacked users were in Russia. This family of mobile banking Trojans uses phishing windows to steal credit card data and logins and passwords from online banking accounts. In addition, fraudsters steal money via SMS services, including mobile banking. Geography of mobile banking threats in Q3 2016 (percentage of all users attacked) TOP 10 countries attacked by mobile banker Trojans (ranked by percentage of users attacked) Country* % of users attacked** 1 Russia 3.12 2 Australia 1.42 3 Ukraine 0.95 4 Uzbekistan 0.60 5 Tajikistan 0.56 6 Kazakhstan 0.51 7 China 0.49 8 Latvia 0.47 9 Russia 0.41 10 Belarus 0.37 * We eliminated countries from this rating where the number of users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product is relatively low (under 10,000).** Percentage of unique users in each country attacked by mobile banker Trojans, relative to all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product in the country. In Q3 2016, first place was occupied by Russia (3.12%) where the proportion of users that encountered mobile banker Trojans almost doubled from the previous quarter. In second place again was Australia (1.42%), where the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Acecard and Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Marcher families were the most popular threats. The most widely distributed mobile banking Trojans in Q3 were representatives of the Svpeng, Faketoken, Regon, Asacub, Gugi and Grapereh families. In particular, the third quarter saw the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Gugi family learn how to bypass protection mechanisms in Android by tricking users. Mobile Ransomware In Q3 2016, we detected 37,150 mobile Trojan-Ransomware installation packages. Number of mobile Trojan-Ransomware installation packages detected by Kaspersky Lab(Q4 2015 – Q3 2016) The sharp rise in the number of mobile Trojan-Ransomware installation packages in Q1 and Q2 of 2016 was caused by the active proliferation of the Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob family of Trojans. In the first quarter of 2016, this family accounted for 96% of users attacked by mobile ransomware; in Q2 it accounted for 85%. Its share in Q3 was 73%. Number of users attacked by the Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob family, January-September 2016 The highest number of users attacked by the mobile Trojan-Ransomware family was registered in March 2016. Since then the amount of attacked users has been decreasing, especially in Germany. Despite this, Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Fusob.h remained the most popular mobile Trojan-Ransomware in the third quarter, accounting for nearly 53% of users attacked by mobile ransomware. Once run, the Trojan requests administrator privileges, collects information about the device, including GPS coordinates and call history, and downloads the data to a malicious server. After that, it may receive a command to block the device. Geography of mobile Trojan-Ransomware in Q3 2016 (percentage of all users attacked) TOP 10 countries attacked by mobile Trojan-Ransomware (ranked by percentage of users attacked) Country* % of users attacked ** 1 Canada 0.95 2 USA 0.94 3 Kazakhstan 0.71 4 Germany 0.63 5 UK 0.61 6 Mexico 0.58 7 Australia 0.57 8 Spain 0,54 9 Italy 0.53 10 Switzerland 0.51 * We eliminated countries from this ranking where the number of users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product is relatively low (under 10,000).** Percentage of unique users in each country attacked by mobile Trojan-Ransomware, relative to all users of Kaspersky Lab’s mobile security product in the country. In all the TOP 10 countries apart from Kazakhstan, the most popular Trojan-Ransom family was Fusob. In the US, the Trojan-Ransom.AndroidOS.Svpeng family was also popular. This Trojan family emerged in 2014 as a modification of the Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng family. These Trojans demand a ransom of $100-$500 from victims to unblock their devices. In Q3 2016, #crypto #ransomware attacks were blocked on 821,865 unique computers #KLreport Tweet In Kazakhstan, the main threat to users originated from representatives of the Small mobile Trojan-Ransom family. This is a fairly simple ransomware program that blocks the operation of a device by overlaying all the windows with its own and demanding $10 to remove it. Vulnerable apps exploited by cybercriminals In Q3 2016, the Neutrino exploit kit departed the cybercriminal market, following in the wake of Angler and Nuclear which also left the market in the previous quarter. RIG and Magnitude remain active. RIG was especially prominent – it has quickly filled the vacant niche on the exploit kit market. This is the overall picture for the use of exploits this quarter: Distribution of exploits used in attacks by the type of application attacked, Q3 2016 Exploits for different browsers and their components (45%) once again topped the rating, although their share decreased by 3 percentage points. They are followed by exploits for Android OS vulnerabilities (19%), whose share fell 5 p.p. in the third quarter. Exploits kits for Microsoft Office rounded off the top three. Their contribution actually saw an increase from 14% to 16% in Q3. Exploits for Adobe Flash Player remained popular. In fact, their share more than doubled from 6% to 13%. This was caused by the aforementioned RIG exploit kit: its use in several campaigns saw the share of SWF exploits increase dramatically. Online threats (Web-based attacks) The statistics in this section were derived from web antivirus components that protect users from attempts to download malicious objects from a malicious/infected website. Malicious websites are created deliberately by malicious users; infected sites include those with user-contributed content (such as forums), as well as compromised legitimate resources. In the third quarter of 2016, Kaspersky Lab’s web antivirus detected 12,657,673 unique malicious objects (scripts, exploits, executable files, etc.) and 45,169,524 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus components. Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 171,802,109 malicious attacks from online resources located in 190 countries all over the world. Online threats in the banking sector These statistics are based on detection verdicts of Kaspersky Lab products, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data. Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked attempts to launch malware capable of stealing money via online banking on 1,198,264 computers in Q3 2016. The number of users attacked by financial malware increased by 5.8% from the previous quarter (1,132,031). The third quarter is traditionally holiday season for many users of online banking services in Europe, which means the number of online payments made by these users increases during this period. This inevitably sees an increase in financial risks. Number of users attacked by financial malware, Q3 2016 In Q3, the activity of financial threats grew month on month. Geography of attacks To evaluate and compare the risk of being infected by banking Trojans worldwide, we calculate the percentage of Kaspersky Lab product users in the country who encountered this type of threat during the reporting period, relative to all users of our products in that country. Geography of banking malware attacks in Q3 2016 (percentage of attacked users) TOP 10 countries by percentage of attacked users Country* % of attacked users** 1 Russia 4.20 2 Sri Lanka 3.48 3 Brazil 2.86 4 Turkey 2.77 5 Cambodia 2.59 6 Ukraine 1.90 7 Venezuela 1.90 8 Vietnam 1.86 9 Argentina 1.86 10 Uzbekistan 1.77 These statistics are based on detection verdicts returned by the antivirus module, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data.* We excluded those countries in which the number of Kaspersky Lab product users is relatively small (under 10,000).** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by banking Trojan attacks as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country. In the third quarter of 2016, Russia had the highest proportion of users attacked by banking Trojans. Representatives of the Trojan-Banker ZeuS (Zbot) family, which leads the way in terms of the number of attacked users worldwide, were especially active in Russia. This is unsurprising since Russian cybercriminals are allegedly behind the development of this malware. They know the specifics of Russia’s online banking systems as well as the mentality of Russian users and take them into consideration when developing their malware. In Russia, the Gozi banking Trojan continues to proliferate. It displayed a burst of activity in the previous quarter after its developers joined forces with the creators of the Nymaim Trojan. Russia also topped the TOP 10 countries with the highest proportion of users attacked by mobile bankers. Sri Lanka, a favorite destination with tourists, was a newcomer to the rating, going straight in at second. Financial threats were encountered by 3.48% of users in the country. Among them are likely to be foreigners who arrived in the country on holiday and used online banking services to make payments. The most active representatives of banking malware in the region were those from the Fsysna banker family. This family has previously been noted for attacks targeting customers of Latin American banks. In Q3 2016, @kaspersky #mobile security products detected 1.5m malicious installation packages #KLreport Tweet Brazil rounds off the top three for the second quarter in a row. In Q2, we forecast a surge of financial threat activity in Latin America and specifically in Brazil because of this summer’s Olympic Games. However, the increase in the proportion of users attacked in Brazil was negligible: in the third quarter, 2.86% of users in Brazil encountered financial threats compared to 2.63% in Q2. At the same time, users in Argentina were subjected to a surge in malicious attacks, and as a result, the country ranked ninth. The holiday season affected almost all countries in the TOP 10. In Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, people traditionally have vacations at this time of the year, while other countries (Sri Lanka, Brazil, Turkey, Cambodia, etc.) are considered popular tourist destinations. Tourists tend to be active users of online banking systems, which in turn attracts cybercriminals and their banking malware. The share of banking Trojan victims in Italy was 0.60%, in Spain it was 0.61%, while in Germany and the UAE the figures were 1.21% and 1.14% respectively. The TOP 10 banking malware families The table below shows the TOP 10 malware families used in Q3 2016 to attack online banking users (as a percentage of users attacked): Name* % of attacked users** 1 Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot 34.58 2 Trojan.Win32.Qhost/Trojan.BAT.Qhost 9.48 3 Trojan.Win32.Fsysna 9.467 4 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Gozi 8.98 5 Trojan.Win32.Nymaim 8.32 6 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Shiotob 5.29 7 Trojan-Banker.Win32.ChePro 3.77 8 Trojan-Banker.Win32.BestaFera 3.31 9 Trojan-Banker.Win32.Banbra 2.79 10 Trojan.Win32.Neurevt 1.79 * The detection verdicts of Kaspersky Lab products, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data.** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by the malware in question as a percentage of all users attacked by financial malware. The undisputed leader of the rating is Trojan-Spy.Win32.Zbot. Its source codes have been publicly available since a leak and are now widely exploited as an easy-to-use tool for stealing user payment data. Unsurprisingly, this malware consistently tops this rating – cybercriminals regularly enhance the family with new modifications compiled on the basis of the source code and containing minor differences from the original. The family of Qhost Trojans (verdicts Trojan.Win32.Qhost and Trojan.BAT.Qhost) came second. The functionality of this family’s malicious programs is relatively simple: the Trojan modifies the content of the Host file (a special text file that contains a database of domain names that are used when transmitting to the network addresses of nodes) and as soon as specific resources are visited, the Trojan’s malicious components are loaded to an infected workstation and used to steal payment information. The Trojan adds a number of records to the Host file preventing the user’s browser from connecting to web-based apps and resources of popular antivirus vendors. The Q3 rating also includes a new malware representative that has already demonstrated its capabilities in Sri Lanka – the Trojan.Win32.Fsysna family of banking Trojans. Members of this family, in addition to stealing payment data from infected workstations, are also used by cybercriminals to distribute spam. The Trojan uses an infected machine to redirect spam messages from the command center to a mail server. Some representatives of this family also possess Trojan cryptor functionality. Fsysna is kind of a ‘Swiss army knife’ used by cybercriminals to steal money. Q3 2016 saw a decline in the activity of the notorious financial threat Trojan-Spy.Win32.Lurk: the number of users attacked by this malware fell by 7.1%. Lurk was not included in the TOP 10 banking malware families, but it still poses a threat to users of online banking systems. The cybercriminal group behind this financial threat has been arrested (something we wrote about in a separate article), so we expect to see a further decrease in activity by this banking Trojan next quarter. Ransomware Trojans Cryptors are currently one of the biggest threats to users and companies. These malicious programs are becoming more and more popular in the cybercriminal world because they are capable of generating large profits for their owners. A total of 21 new cryptor families and 32,091 new modifications were detected in Q3. We also added several existing cryptor families to our virus collection. The number of new cryptor families added to our virus collection is slightly less than in the second quarter (25), but the number of newly created modifications increased 3.5 times compared to the previous quarter. The number of newly created cryptor modifications, Q1 – Q3 2016 Malware writers are constantly trying to improve their creations. New ways to infect computers are always being sought, especially for attacks on companies, which cybercriminals see as far more profitable than attacks on standard users. Remote launching of cryptors by cybercriminals We are increasingly seeing incidents where cybercriminals crack passwords to gain remote access to a victim’s system (usually an organization) and infect a compromised machine with Trojan ransomware. Examples of this in Q3 were Dcryptor and Xpan. Dcryptor/Mamba Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Dcryptor is known on the Internet under the pseudonym ‘Mamba’. Infection is carried out manually. The fraudsters brute-force the passwords for remote access to the victim machine and run the Trojan, passing on the password for encryption as a command line argument. During infection, the Trojan uses the legitimate DiskCryptor utility. As a result, it’s not just individual files on network drives that are infected but entire hard drive sectors on the local machine. System boot is blocked: once the computer is started, a message appears on the screen demanding a ransom and displaying an email address for communicating with the attackers. This Trojan reminds us of the notorious Petya/Mischa Trojan and continues the growing trend of cybercriminals looking for new ways to block access to data. Xpan/TeamXRat ransomware Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Xpan is yet another example of ransomware that is launched after attackers remotely penetrate a system. This Trojan is distributed by Brazilian cybercriminals. They brute-force the RDP password (the standard protocol for remote access to Windows computers) and infect the compromised system using the Xpan Trojan that encrypts files and displays a ransom demand. Ransomware in scripting languages Another trend that has attracted our attention is the growing number of cryptors written in scripting languages. In the third quarter of 2016, we came across several new families written in Python: HolyCrypt (Trojan-Ransom.Python.Holy) CryPy (Trojan-Ransom.Python.Kpyna) Trojan-Ransom.Python.Agent Another example that emerged in June was Stampado (Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Stampa) written in AutoIt, the automation language. The number of users attacked by ransomware In Q3 2016, 821,865 unique KSN users were attacked by cryptors – that is 2.6 times more than the previous quarter. Number of unique users attacked by Trojan-Ransom cryptor malware (Q3 2016) The largest contribution was made by representatives of the Trojan-Downloader.JS.Cryptoload family. These Trojan downloaders, written in JavaScript, were designed to download and install representatives of different cryptor families in the system. Geography of Trojan-Ransomattacks in Q3 2016 (percentage of attacked users) Top 10 countries attacked by cryptors Country* % of users attacked by cryptors** 1 Japan 4.83 2 Croatia 3.71 3 Korea 3.36 4 Tunisia 3.22 5 Bulgaria 3.20 6 Hong Kong 3.14 7 Taiwan 3.03 8 Argentina 2.65 9 Maldives 2.63 10 Australia 2.56 * We excluded those countries where the number of Kaspersky Lab product users is relatively small (under 10,000).** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by ransomware as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country. As in the previous quarter, Japan topped this rating. Newcomers to this Top 10 were Tunisia, Hong Kong, Argentina, and Australia, with Italy, Djibouti, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands all making way. Top 10 most widespread cryptor families Name Verdict* % of attacked users** 1 CTB-Locker Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Onion/ Trojan-Ransom.NSIS.Onion 28.34 2 Locky Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Locky 9.60 3 CryptXXX Trojan-Ransom.Win32.CryptXXX 8.95 4 TeslaCrypt Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Bitman 1.44 5 Shade Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Shade 1.10 6 Cryakl Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryakl 0.82 7 Cryrar/ACCDFISA Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryrar 0.73 8 Cerber Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Zerber 0.59 9 CryptoWall Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryptodef 0.58 10 Crysis Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis 0.51 * These statistics are based on detection verdicts received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data.** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by a specific Trojan-Ransom family as a percentage of all users of Kaspersky Lab products attacked by Trojan-Ransom malware. CTB-Locker once again occupied first place in the Q3. The top three also included the now infamous Locky and CryptXXX. Despite the fact that the owners of TeslaCrypt disabled their servers and posted a master key to decrypt files back in May 2016, it continues to make it into our rating (although its contribution dropped by 5.8 times in Q3) Crysis Crysis (verdict Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crusis) was a newcomer to the TOP 10 in Q3. This Trojan was first detected in February 2016 and since then has undergone several code modifications. Interestingly, the list of email addresses used for ransom demands by the distributors of Crysis partly matches the list associated with the Cryakl and Aura Trojans. Analysis of the executable files from these families, however, shows that they do not share the same code. It appears that these malicious programs are spread via a partner scheme, and because some distributors are distributing several different Trojans simultaneously they are using the same email address to communicate their ransom demands to the victims. Polyglot/MarsJoke This Trojan appeared in August 2016 (we recently published a detailed analysis of Polyglot/ MarsJoke). It is not included in the TOP 10, but it does have one interesting feature: the authors have tried to imitate the well-known CTB-Locker, which tops the rating for the second quarter in a row. Both the external and internal design of this piece of malware is very similar to the “original”, but the cybercriminals made a mistake that allows files to be decrypted without paying a ransom. Top 10 countries where online resources are seeded with malware The following statistics are based on the physical location of the online resources used in attacks and blocked by our antivirus components (web pages containing redirects to exploits, sites containing exploits and other malware, botnet command centers, etc.). Any unique host could be the source of one or more web attacks. In order to determine the geographical source of web-based attacks, domain names are matched against their actual domain IP addresses, and then the geographical location of a specific IP address (GEOIP) is established. In Q3 2016, Kaspersky Lab solutions blocked 171,802,109 attacks launched from web resources located in 190 countries around the world. 45,169,524 unique URLs were recognized as malicious by web antivirus components. 83% of notifications about blocked web attacks were triggered by attacks coming from web resources located in 10 countries. Distribution of web attack sources by country, Q3 2016 The US (33.51%) remained top of this rating in Q3. Russia (9%) dropped from second to fourth, while Germany came second with a share of 10.5%. Canada left the Top 10, with Cyprus a newcomer in ninth place (1.24%). Countries where users faced the greatest risk of online infection In order to assess the risk of online infection faced by users in different countries, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab users in each country who encountered detection verdicts on their machines during the quarter. The resulting data provides an indication of the aggressiveness of the environment in which computers work in different countries. In Q3 2016, 30,167 #mobile #banking Trojans were detected by @kaspersky mobile security products #KLreport Tweet Please note that starting this quarter, this rating only includes attacks by malicious programs that fall under the Malware class. The rating does not include web antivirus module detections of potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware. Country* % of users attacked ** 1 Slovenia 30.02 2 Bulgaria 29.49 3 Armenia 29.30 4 Italy 29.21 5 Ukraine 28.18 6 Spain 28.15 7 Brazil 27.83 8 Belarus 27.06 9 Algeria 26.95 10 Qatar 26.42 11 Greece 26.10 12 Portugal 26.08 13 Russia 25.87 14 France 25.44 15 Kazakhstan 25.26 16 Azerbaijan 25.05 17 United Arab Emirates 24.97 18 Vietnam 24.73 19 China 24.19 20 Albania 23.23 These statistics are based on detection verdicts returned by the web antivirus module, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data. * These calculations excluded countries where the number of Kaspersky Lab users is relatively small (under 10,000 users).** Unique users whose computers have been targeted by Malware-class attacks as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products in the country. On average, 20.2% of computers connected to the Internet globally were subjected to at least one Malware-class web attack during the quarter. Geography of malicious web attacks in Q3 2016 (ranked by percentage of users attacked) The countries with the safest online surfing environments included Croatia (14.21%), the UK (14.19%), Singapore (13.78%), the US (13.45%), Norway (13.07%), Czech Republic (12.80%), South Africa (11.98%), Sweden (10.96%), Korea (10.61%), the Netherlands (9.95%), Japan (9.78%). Local threats Local infection statistics for user computers are a very important indicator: they reflect threats that have penetrated computer systems by infecting files or removable media, or initially got on the computer in an encrypted format (for example, programs integrated in complex installers, encrypted files, etc.). Data in this section is based on analyzing statistics produced by antivirus scans of files on the hard drive at the moment they were created or accessed, and the results of scanning removable storage media. In Q3 2016, Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected 116,469,744 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects. Countries where users faced the highest risk of local infection For each country, we calculated the percentage of Kaspersky Lab product users on whose computers the file antivirus was triggered during the quarter. These statistics reflect the level of personal computer infection in different countries. In Q3 2016, @kaspersky #mobile security products detected 37,150 mobile #ransomware Trojans #KLreport Tweet Please note that starting this quarter, the rating of malicious programs only includes Malware-class attacks. The rating does not include web antivirus module detections of potentially dangerous or unwanted programs such as RiskTool or adware. Country* % of users attacked** 1 Vietnam 52.07 2 Afghanistan 52.00 3 Yemen 51.32 4 Somalia 50.78 5 Ethiopia 50.50 6 Uzbekistan 50.15 7 Rwanda 50,14 8 Laos 49.27 9 Venezuela 49.27 10 Philippines 47.69 11 Nepal 47.01 12 Djibouti 46.49 13 Burundi 46,17 14 Syria 45.97 15 Bangladesh 45.48 16 Cambodia 44.51 17 Indonesia 43.31 18 Tajikistan 43,01 19 Mozambique 42.98 20 Myanmar 42.85 These statistics are based on detection verdicts returned by on-access and on-demand antivirus modules, received from users of Kaspersky Lab products who have consented to provide their statistical data. The data include detections of malicious programs located on users’ computers or on removable media connected to the computers, such as flash drives, camera and phone memory cards, or external hard drives. * These calculations exclude countries where the number of Kaspersky Lab users is relatively small (under 10,000 users).** The percentage of unique users in the country with computers that blocked Malware-class local threats as a percentage of all unique users of Kaspersky Lab products. An average of 22.9% of computers globally faced at least one Malware-class local threat during the third quarter. The safest countries in terms of local infection risks were: Spain (14.68%), Singapore (13.86%), Italy (13.30%), Finland (10.94%), Norway (10.86%), France (10.81%), Australia ( 10.77%), Czech Republic (9.89%), Croatia (9.70%), Ireland (9.62%), Germany (9.16%), the UK (9.09%), Canada (8.92%), Sweden (8.32%), the USA (8.08%), Denmark (6.53%), and Japan (6.53%).

Trump's 'extreme' anti-terrorism vetting may be H-1B nightmare

Donald Trump’s call for "extreme vetting" of visa applications, as well as the temporary suspension of immigration from certain countries, would raise fees and add delays for anyone seeking a visa, including H-1B visas, immigration experts said. In particular, a plan by Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, to stop issuing visas -- at least temporarily -- "from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world" may make it difficult for a significant number of people to get visas. Data assembled by Computerworld through a Freedom of Information Act request shows foreign workers come from all corners of the world, including "dangerous and volatile regions." Trump outlined his immigration enforcement plan in a speech Monday. In 2014, the U.S. approved more than 370,000 H-1B applications.
Some were new entries, and others were for previously approved workers who were either renewing or updating their status. Of that number, 2,234 of the H-1B visa holders were from Pakistan, a country that might appear on a Trump list.

Another 1,102 approved visa holders were from Iran.

VINCENT-GRENADINES 1 STATELESS 1 TONGA 1 TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS 1 VANUATU 1 Source: USCIS data for approved applications in fiscal year 2014 Trump's plan to admit only people "who share our values and respect our people" didn't indicate how it would be applied.
It also didn't say whether all visa holders -- visitor, H-1B and green card -- would be subject to an ideological litmus test. And what is the correct answer to such a question about American values? "If you ask people born in this country what is an American ideology, I'm not quite sure that we would come out with one answer," said Jessica Lavariega-Monforti, a professor and chair of the political science department at Pace University in New York. "The immigration system, as it currently stands, could not process additional vetting without creating backlogs and increasing wait times for applicants.

At the same time, it is unclear how these policy changes would increase safety against a terrorist attack," said Lavariega-Monforti. John Lawit, an immigration attorney in Irving, Texas, said the U.S. already has a vetting process that begins as soon as someone applies for a tourist visa.

There are different levels of threat, such as being a citizen of Syria, that trigger a much higher level of vetting, he said. "There is a huge financial commitment that must be made in terms of human resources in order to carry on such a vetting program, and a huge, huge increase in fees,” Lawit said. Requiring oaths of some kind is "a lot of posturing with very little substance," he added, and are ineffective in improving security. Lawit said he once assisted H-1B workers who were employed in non-classified jobs at the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

The processing time for security checks could run months.

That's an example of extreme vetting, while "extraordinary detailed security investigations are conducted," he said. This story, "Trump's 'extreme' anti-terrorism vetting may be H-1B nightmare" was originally published by Computerworld.

To mitigate poverty, Y Combinator set to launch minimum income plan

Jaegar MooreOAKLAND, Calif.—Earlier this month, Y Combinator, the famed Silicon Valley incubator dropped a bombshell: it had selected this city to be the home of its new "Basic Income" pilot project, to start later this year. The idea is pretty simple.

Give some people a small amount of money per month, no strings attached, for a year, and see what happens. With any luck, people will use it to lift themselves out of poverty. In this case, as Matt Krisiloff of Y Combinator Research (YCR) told Ars, that means spending about $1.5 million over the course of a year to study the distribution of "$1,500 or $2,000" per month to "30 to 50" people.

There will also be a similar-sized control group that gets nothing.

The project is set to start before the end of 2016. The notion of guaranteed minimum income has been kicking around globally for centuries, especially among 20th century thinkers (Martin Luther King, Jr. famously advocated for it).

But it’s only recently that extensive trials have begun in various places, including Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, and now in Oakland. (Another organization, called Give Directly, operates a similar program in Kenya.) Tapped to run the project is Elizabeth Rhodes, an academic who recently arrived in Oakland.
She says the project’s goal is "to empower people and give people the freedom to be able to meet their basic needs." But the details have yet to be fully worked out, and a lot of questions remain. How exactly will people be chosen? Will they come from a truly random sample of Oakland’s population? Will high-income people be automatically excluded? By what mechanism will people be notified? How will the money actually be transferred? Most of all, will it actually work? If Y Combinator's Basic Income project is successful, it would expand over the next five years to hundreds of citizens and perhaps include people beyond Oakland.

And it would make the Bay Area’s venture capitalist class feel good about helping the poor. "Overall the idea is to take money we make from YC [and], rather than all of the partners cashing out... putting it into research," Krisiloff told Ars. "I think that there’s a culture at YC that just making money isn’t that interesting. [YC president Sam Altman] really likes to talk about how the overarching mission of YC is to create the most innovative thing. Money is a vector for change, but money in and of itself isn’t that interesting." Wait and see? It’s obviously difficult to lift people out of poverty.

According to the White House, as of 2012 (decades after President Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty"), approximately 15 percent of Americans (or 49.7 million people, including 13.4 million children) live below the poverty line. Worse still, "only about half of low-income Americans make it out of the lowest income distribution quintile over a 20-year period." (As the old saying goes: "It’s expensive to be poor.") Here in Oakland, for all of its gentrification and new shiny downtown restaurants and cocktail bars, just under 20 percent of the population (specifically, 18.7 percent, or 71,599 people, as of 2010) live in poverty.

And yet, it has also become the fourth-most expensive rental market in the country, thanks to spillover from nearby San Francisco. Like many American cities, Oakland is divided along economic and racial lines, which also manifest themselves as large differences in access to quality education, public health, fresh produce, and more.

As Mayor Libby Schaaf herself put it in her October 2015 State of the City address: "It’s hard for us to celebrate the overall health of Oakland knowing that two people can live just one mile apart and be nearly twice as likely to be unemployed—and live 15 years less." As soon as YC announced its Basic Income plan, it got lots of support from the municipal government. Mayor Libby Schaaf instantly said on Twitter that she was "excited" that Oakland had been chosen. Public records show that Rep.

Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), loves it, too. However, some groups, including Causa Justa :: Just Cause, are skeptical that Y Combinator—an institution worlds away from the needs of working-class Oaklanders—is capable of managing such a project. Still, YC's Oakland project is in its very early and experimental stages. "Because the main goal of this pilot is to gather data, it’s a useful to run it in a socio-economically diverse city like Oakland," Matt Zwolinksi, a philosophy professor at the University of San Diego, told Ars. "That way we can see what differences there are in the responses of the wealthy and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, skilled and unskilled laborers, and so on.

And we can tweak future studies or the final public policy in light of that information."