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My Take: Russian hackers put the squeeze on U.S agencies, global corps in MOVEit-Zellis hack

By Byron V. Acohido

It was bound to happen. Clop, the Russia-based ransomware gang that executed the MOVEit-Zellis supply chain hack, has commenced making extortion demands of some big name U.S. federal agencies, in addition to global corporations.

Related: Supply-chain hack ultimatum

The nefarious Clop gang initially compromised MOVEit, which provided them a beachhead to gain access to Zellis, a UK-based supplier of payroll services. Breaching Zellis then gave them a path to Zellis’ customer base.

According to Lawrence Abrams, Editor in Chief of Bleeping Computer, the Clop ransomware gang began listing victims on its data leak site on June 14th, warning that they will begin leaking stolen data on June 21st if their extortion demands are not met.

Among the victims listed were Shell, UnitedHealthcare Student Resources, the University of Georgia, University System of Georgia, Heidelberger Druck, and Landal Greenparks.

As for federal agencies, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has confirmed breaches due to this vulnerability. “CISA is providing support to several federal agencies that have experienced intrusions affecting their MOVEit applications,” said Eric Goldstein,

News Alert: W3C advances technology to streamline payment authentication

Cambridge, Mass., June 15, 2023. The World Wide Web Consortium today announced a standardization milestone for a new browser capability that helps to streamline user authentication and enhance payment security during Web checkout. Secure Payment Confirmation (SPC) enables merchants, banks, payment service providers, card networks, and others to lower the friction of strong customer authentication (SCA), and produce cryptographic evidence of user consent, both important aspects of regulatory requirements such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) in Europe.

Publication of Secure Payment Confirmation as a Candidate Recommendation indicates that the feature set is stable and has received wide review. W3C will seek additional implementation experience prior to advancing this version of Secure Payment Confirmation to Recommendation.

Customer authentication

For the past 15 years, e-commerce has increased as a percentage of all retail sales. The COVID pandemic appears to have slightly accelerated this trend. Improvements to in-person payment security and other factors have led to ongoing increases in online payment fraud.

To combat online payment fraud growth, Europe and other jurisdictions have begun to mandate multifactor authentication for some types of payments. Though multifactor authentication reduces fraud, it also tends to increase checkout friction, which can lead to cart abandonment (cf. for example, Microsoft merchant experiences with SCA under PSD2).

In 2019 the Web Payments Working Group began work on Secure Payment Confirmation to help fulfill Strong Customer Authentication requirements with low checkout friction. Stripe conducted a pilot with an early implementation of SPC and, in March 2020 reported that, compared to one-time passcodes (OTP), SPC authentication led to an 8% increase in conversions at the same time checkout was 3 times faster.

W3C continues to receive feedback about Secure Payment Confirmation through pilot programs, including a second experiment by Stripe. The Web Payments Working Group anticipates more experimental data will be available by September 2023.

News alert: Cybersixgill introduces generative AI for Dark Web threat intelligence gathering

Tel Aviv, Israel – June 14, 2023 – Cybersixgill, the global cyber threat intelligence data provider, announced today Cybersixgill IQ, its new generative AI, representing a significant breakthrough in cyber threat intelligence (CTI). Drawing from the company’s unmatched, deep, dark web data and intelligence, as well as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and organizations’ unique attack surface context, the solution stands out from other generative AI cybersecurity offerings and builds on Cybersixgill’s origins firmly rooted in AI.

Cybersixgill IQ leverages state-of-the-art generative AI technologies to serve a broad range of user personas and address an extensive set of business use cases, such as closing the skills gap, improving efficiencies with limited resources, and democratizing CTI for organizations of all sizes and security-maturity levels.

Further, while other generative AI solutions in the market rely on simple integrations with ChatGPT, Cybersixgill IQ leverages AI across its capabilities, enhancing every step of the intelligence process. The solution simplifies access to CTI, making it easier to answer complex intelligence-related questions with readily available, actionable insights.

With its new generative AI, Cybersixgill is redefining the CTI landscape, providing unprecedented access and insights within the industry.

“Generative AI can be a force multiplier, helping organizations derive value from threat intelligence. With Cybersixgill IQ, threat analysts and security professionals can now ask critical questions and get immediate, detailed answers, which can accelerate the value of CTI toward proactive investigations and understanding CVEs, exploits, IOCs and TTPs,” said Jon Oltsik, Distinguished Analyst and Fellow with Enterprise Strategy Group and the founder of the firm’s cybersecurity service. “Failed threat intelligence programs are often the result of threat research outputs that are irrelevant to the organization. With generative AI capabilities such as Cybersixgill IQ, organizations can tailor threat intelligence and generate curated reports customized for the various constituents consuming them, including CISOs, SOC engineers, business managers, and everything in between.”

RSAC Fireside Chat: Counteracting Putin’s weaponizing of ransomware — with containment

By Byron V. Acohido

The ransomware plague endures — and has arisen as a potent weapon in geopolitical conflicts.

Related: The Golden Age of cyber espionage

Cyber extortion remains a material threat to organizations of all sizes across all industries. Ransomware purveyors have demonstrated their capability to endlessly take advantage of a vastly expanded network attack surface – one that will only continue to expand as the shift to massively interconnected digital services accelerates.

Meanwhile, Russia has turned to weaponing ransomware in its attempt to conquer Ukraine, redoubling this threat. Now that RSA Conference 2023 has wrapped, these things seem clear: ransomware is here to stay; it is not, at this moment, being adequately mitigated; and a new approach is needed to slow, and effectively put a stop to, ransomware.

I had the chance to visit with Steve Hahn, EVP Americas, at Bullwall, which is in the vanguard of security vendors advancing ways to instantly contain threat actors who manage to slip inside an organization’s network.

Guest expert: Steve Hahn, EVP Americas, Bullwall

Bullwall has a bird’s eye view of Russia’s ongoing deployment of ransomware attacks against Ukraine, and its allies, especially the U.S.

Weaponized ransomware doubly benefits Russia: it’s lucrative, generating  billions in revenue and thus adding to Putin’s war chest; and at the same time it also weakens a wide breadth of infrastructure of Putin’s adversaries across Europe and North America.

Containment is a logical tactic that could make a big difference in stopping ransomware and other types of attacks. For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a listen. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.


Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make the Internet as private and secure as it ought to be.

(LW provides consulting services to the vendors we cover.)



RSAC Fireside Chat: Deploying Hollywood-tested content protection to improve mobile app security

By Byron V. Acohido

Your go-to mobile apps aren’t nearly has hackproof as you might like to believe.

Related: Fallout of T-Mobile hack

Hackers of modest skill routinely bypass legacy security measures, even two-factor authentication, with techniques such as overlay attacks. And hard data shows instances of such breaches on the rise.

I had an evocative conversation about this at RSA Conference 2023 with Asaf Ashkenazi, CEO of Verimatrix, a cybersecurity company headquartered in southern France. We discussed how the Dark Web teems with hackers offering targeted mobile app attacks on major companies.

Many corporations outsource their mobile app development, and these apps often exhibit poor security practices, making them easy targets for cybercriminals, he says.

Verimatrix is coming at this problem with a fresh approach that has proven its efficacy in Hollywood where the company has long helped lock down content such as premium movies and live streamed sporting events.

Guest expert: Asaf Ashkenazi, CEO, Verimatrix

Its technology revolves around application-level protection and monitoring, which allows Verimatrix to collect data on app behavior without invading user privacy.

Coding embedded in the app provide a granular level of insight into what’s happening — when the app is actually running — and a degree of control that’s simply not doable with legacy mobile app security solutions, he told me.

For a full drill down, please give the accompanying podcast a close listen. Ashkenazi argues that we need better security solutions in general to mitigate the AI-generated threats running on our most cherished devices.

He observes that threat actors already use generative AI tools like  ChatGPT, Google Bard and Microsoft Edge to innovate malware; to keep pace, companies are going to have to get much better at not just identifying, but predicting attacks, especially on mobile apps. Agreed. I’ll keep watch and keep reporting.


Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist Byron V. Acohido is dedicated to fostering public awareness about how to make … more

SHARED INTEL: From airbags to malware: vehicle cyber safety arises in the age of connected cars

By Kolawole Samuel Adebayo

In an increasingly interconnected world, the evolution of the automotive industry presents an exciting yet daunting prospect.

Related: Privacy rules for vehicles

As vehicles continue to offer modern features such as app-to-car connectivity, remote control access, and driver assistance software, a huge risk lurks in the shadows.

The physical safety of things like airbags, rearview mirrors, and brakes is well accounted for; yet cybersecurity auto safety concerns are rising to the fore.

What used to be a focus on physical safety has now shifted to cybersecurity due to the widened attack surface that connected cars present. The rapid advancements in electric vehicles (EVs) has only served to heighten these concerns.

Funso Richard, Information Security Officer at Ensemble, highlighted the gravity of these threats. He told Last Watchdog that apart from conventional attacks, such as data theft and vehicle theft, much more worrisome types of attacks are emerging. These include ransomware targeting backend servers, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, destructive malware, and even weaponizing charging stations to deploy malware.

MY TAKE: A few reasons to believe RSAC 2023’s ‘stronger together’ theme is gaining traction

By Byron V. Acohido

The theme of RSA Conference 2023 — ‘stronger together’ — was certainly well chosen.

Related: Demystifying ‘DSPM’

This was my nineteenth RSAC. I attended my first one in 2004, while covering Microsoft for USA TODAY. It certainly was terrific to see the cybersecurity industry’s premier trade event fully restored to its pre-Covid grandeur at San Francisco’s Moscone Center last week.

Rising from the din of 625 vendors, 700 speakers and 26,000 attendees came the clarion call for a new tier of overlapping, interoperable, highly automated security platforms needed to carry us forward.

Defense-in-depth remains a mantra — but implemented much differently than the defense-in- depth strategies of the first decade and a half of this century. Machine learning, automation and interoperability must take over and several new security layers must coalesce and interweave to protect the edge.

Getting a grip on identities

To keep the momentum going, business rivals and regulators are going to have to find meaningful ways to co-ordinate and cooperate at an unprecedented level. Here are four evolving themes reverberating from RSAC 2023 that struck me:

Password enabled access will endure for the foreseeable future.