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China ‘hacked’ South Korea to wreck Star Wars missile shield

FireEye fingers Middle Kingdom infiltration teams Well-connected security biz FireEye is claiming Chinese hackers are trying to break into South Korea's military to halt the deployment of an anti-ballistic weapons system in the country.…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer is basically an explosion of...

Also, Luke delivers a major truth bomb.

“All eras” of Star Wars come together in revealing Battlefront II...

Darth Maul vs. Yoda. X-Wing vs.

TIE Fighter.

A running tauntaun vs. a stormtrooper's face.

Carrie Fisher will be in Star Wars: Episode 9 without CGI

Brother confirms existing footage, not CGI, will be used to complete Episode IX.

50% off Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition For Xbox One –...

The Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition has everything fans need to live out their Star Wars battle fantasies, including Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars Battlefront Season Pass. Rebels and Imperials alike will be able to expand their galaxy, with 4 epic expansion packs, including Star Wars Rogue One: Scarif.
In addition, players can enjoy 30+ maps, 14 heroes and 14 game modes.

The list price on the game has just dropped sharply down to just $19.99 on Amazon.  See the discounted Star Wars Battlefront Ultimate Edition for Xbox One now on Amazon.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Star Wars: The Last Jedi—it’s definitely plural!

Foreign titles give the game away: Episode VIII will feature multiple Jedi.

Assault of the Giants: A great D&D game with 5“ mega-miniatures

Set your inner giant free... on your tabletop.

Star Wars: Destiny is a fantastic game you may not want...

FFG's latest card-and-dice game is great—but it'll cost you.

Star Wars: Red Cup is the working title for the Han...

Chris Miller and Phil Lord are directing, so we think it's in good hands.

Threatpost News Wrap, January 27, 2017

The Star Wars Twitter botnet, the return of Lavabit, a critical Cisco Webex flaw, and the St. Louis Library ransomware story are discussed.

Massive Twitter Botnet Dormant Since 2013

A sizable and dormant Twitter botnet has been uncovered by two researchers from the University College London, who expressed concern about the possible risks should the botmaster decide to waken the accounts under his control. Research student Juan Echeverria Guzman and his supervisor and senior lecturer at the college Shi Zhou told Threatpost that the 350,000 bots in the Star Wars botnet could be used to spread spam or malicious links, and also, more in line with today’s social media climate, start phony trending topics, attempt to influence public opinion, or start campaigns that purport a false sense of agreement among Twitter users. Compounding the issue is a larger botnet of more than a half-million bots that the researchers have uncovered since their initial research.

That research, the two academics said, will be shared in a future paper.
In the meantime, the Star Wars botnet dataset is available for study; the researchers said the data is tens of times larger than any public collection on Twitter bots. The researchers also said they have not shared their data with Twitter yet because they are waiting for their current research to be approved in a scientific journal. “We would also like to give researchers a chance to get the dataset by themselves before they are gone, this is why we have not reported to Twitter directly, but we will as soon as the paper gets accepted,” Echeverria Guzman said. A request to Twitter for comment was not returned in time for publication. The researchers said the botnet was created in 2013 and has remained hidden since then with relatively little activity.

The mundane pace at which the bots tweeted seemed automated and intentional, the researchers said. Most of the content are benign quotes from Star Wars novels and do not include URLs, giving the tweets the appearance of real human language as a means of side-stepping bot detection services.

The user profiles behind the bots also used tactics that would not trigger alerts, such as having real profile pictures. “All the accounts were created in a short window of time, less than two months.

They all behave in exactly the same way, quoting Star Wars novels including the same hashtags (and adding random hashtags to the quote),” Echeverria Guzman said. “All of their tweets are marked as coming from ‘Windows Phone,’ which means that they are likely to be controlled by the API instead of the Twitter site.

For reference, that source accounts for less than 0.1% of tweets normally.” The clincher, however, connecting the hundreds of thousands of bots to the same network comes in the geographic distribution of the host accounts.

Tweets were tagged with geographic locations which, when mapped, fall within neat rectangles plotted over North America and Europe.

The tweets are distributed within the rectangles, even in uninhabited areas.

The researchers describe the plotting in the paper: “These rectangles have sharp corners and straight borders that are parallel to the latitude and longitude lines. We conjectured that the figure shows two overlapping distributions. One is the distribution of tweets by real users, which is coincident with population distribution.

The other is the distribution of tweets with faked locations by Twitter bots, where the fake locations are randomly chosen in the two rectangles – perhaps as an effort to pretend that the tweets are created in the two continents where Twitter is most popular.” Echeverria Guzman said the split between the two rectangles is exactly 50 percent and the tweets are uniform throughout the rectangle. “All of this is almost impossible to have originated from normal users,” he said. The researchers point out previous work demonstrating how Twitter bots have been able to abuse Twitter’s streaming API.

Bots, the researchers said in their paper, are programmed to time tweets so that they are included in the streaming API as much as 82 percent of the time versus the expected 1 percent. “If and when these bots are activated, they can do all of the threats as listed above—but on a large scale with a sudden effect,” Zhou said. “For example it is known that the Streaming API is susceptible to tampering by bots.

The size of the Star Wars botnet is clearly enough to contaminate the Twitter API and the Twitter environment itself, particularly if focused on a single topic. “In other words, it is scary to know there are bad guys and see the terrible things that they have been doing; yet it is much more scary to know there are a lot of bad guys around, but we have no idea what they are up to.” The researchers said they hope others download and analyze the available data.

They’ve also created a Twitter account, @thatisabot, and website, where bots can be reported.

350,000 Twitter bot sleeper cell betrayed by love of Star Wars...

Computer researchers uncover yuuuge dormant army Computer boffins Juan Echeverria and Shi Zhou at University College London have chanced across a dormant Twitter botnet made up of more than 350,000 accounts with a fondness for quoting Star Wars novels. Twitter bots have been accused of warping the tone of the 2016 election. They also can be used for entertainment, marketing, spamming, manipulating Twitter's trending topics list and public opinion, trolling, fake followers, malware distribution, and data set pollution, among other things. In a recently published research paper, the two computer scientists recount how a random sampling of 1 per cent of English-speaking Twitter accounts – about 6 million accounts – led to their discovery. Pursuing an unrelated inquiry, the researchers were examining the geographic distribution of 20 million tweets with location tags in the dataset of 843 million tweets from the account sample, and they noticed an unusual distribution pattern. Some accounts followed the expected distribution pattern, which coincides with population centers in America and Europe. But another set of accounts showed random distribution within those areas, often resulting in tweets from unlikely places such as seas, deserts, and the Arctic. Blue dots at edge of box over Europe, barely visible after image compression, show Star Wars bots When the researchers manually examined the text of these tweets, they found the majority of them consisted of random excerpts from Star Wars novels, and that many of them started or ended with an incomplete word or included a randomly placed hashtag. For example: Luke's answer was to put on an extra burst of speed. There were only ten meters #separating them now. If he could cover t "This quote was from the book Star Wars: Choices of One, where Luke Skywalker is an important character," the paper explains. "We have found quotations from at least 11 Star Wars novels." The manual examination of data associated with 4,942 accounts resulted in the identification of 3,244 bots with consistent characteristics: Tweets only random Star Wars quotes. Uses hashtags associated with follower acquisition or prepended to random words. Never retweets or mentions other Twitter users. Each bot has made only 11 or fewer tweets since its inception. Each bot has between 10 and 31 friends. The bots choose only "Twitter for Windows Phone" as their source application. The bots' user ID numbers fall into a narrow range between 1.5 × 10^9 and 1.6 × 10^9. Given that set of bots, the researchers created a machine learning classifier to hunt for other accounts with similar characteristics. The algorithm identified 356,957 Star Wars bots. The researchers say they were lucky to have spotted the bots, which appear to have been designed to thwart automated detection methods. They note that being human helped make the discovery possible. "The fact that the bots tagged their tweets with random locations in North America and Europe was a [deliberate] effort to make their tweets look more real," the paper explains. "But this camouflage trick backfired – the faked locations when plotted on a map seemed completely abnormal. It's important to note that this anomaly could only be noticed by a human looking at the map, whereas a computer algorithm would have a hard time to realize the anomaly." Curiously, the Star Wars bots have been silent since 2013. The researchers observe that pre-aged bots can be sold for more than newly created bots on the black market, presumably because bot detection methods consider older accounts more likely to be reputable. Twitter declined to comment on the findings, which may be because the company was unaware of them until now. "We have not reported the accounts directly to Twitter (yet)," said Echeverria in an email to The Register. "We are waiting for the paper to be approved by the scientific journal to which it was submitted. We would also like to give researchers a chance to get the dataset by themselves before they are gone, this is why we have not reported to Twitter directly, but we will as soon as the paper gets accepted." Inspired by their success identifying the Star Wars botnet, Echeverria, a research student, and his faculty advisor, senior lecturer Shi Zhou, claim to have identified an even larger botnet numbering half a million accounts. "The larger botnet is part of a subsequent research paper, which is also under review," Echeverria said. "As soon as it gets approved, I will be able to disclose more information about it." Echeverria added that there's now a Twitter account named "@thatisabot" to make it easier for people to report bots to researchers. "Think of it as @spam but for researchers instead of Twitter," he said. "Furthermore, we have a webpage, www.thatisabot.com, which will (soon) also allow people to report bots to researchers." "Commander, tear this ship apart until you've found those plans and bring me the Ambassador. I want her alive!" ® Sponsored: Want to know more about Privileged Access Management? Visit The Register's hub