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A new Trojan dropper dubbed xHelper was observed while slowly but steadily spreading to more and more Android devices since May, with over 32,000 smartphones and tablets having been found infected in the last four months. Trojan droppers are tools used by threat actors to deliver other more dangerous malware strains to already compromised devices, including but not limited to clicker Trojans, banking Trojans, and ransomware. xHelper, dubbed Android/Trojan.Dropper.xHelper by Malwarebytes Labs' researchers who discovered it, was initially tagged as a generic Trojan dropper only to be upgraded to the rank of a fully-fledged menace after climbing into the security vendor's top 10 most detected mobile malware in just a few months. Besides a large number of devices, it was found on, xHelper also comes with a number of other peculiarities including the fact that it spreads using DEX (Dalvik Executable) files camouflaged as JAR archives, containing compiled Android application code. This method of infecting new Android devices is quite unique given that most mobile Trojan droppers would use an APK (Android Package) bundled with an infected app, APKs which get subsequently dropped within the Assets folder and then installed and executed on the compromised smartphone or tablet. The encrypted DEX files used by xHelper as part of its infection process are first decrypted and then compiled using the dex2oat compiler tool into an ELF (Executable and Linkable Format) binary which gets executed natively by the device's processor. There's lots more posted on OUR FORUM.

The Dutch data protection agency has asked Microsoft’s lead privacy regulator in Europe to investigate ongoing concerns it has attached to how Windows 10 gathers user data. Back in 2017, the privacy watchdog found Microsoft’s platform to be in breach of local privacy laws on account of how it collects telemetry metadata. After some back and forth with the regulator, Microsoft made changes to how the software operates in April last year — and it was in the course of testing those changes that the Dutch agency found fresh reasons for concern, discovering what it calls in a press release “new, potentially unlawful, instances of personal data processing”. Since the agency’s investigation of Windows 10 started a new privacy framework is being enforced in Europe — the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which means Microsoft’s lead EU privacy regulator is the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), where its regional HQ is based. This is why the Dutch agency has referred to its latest concerns to Ireland. It will now be up to the Irish DPC to investigate Windows 10, adding to its already hefty stack of open files on multiple tech giants’ cross-border data processing activities since the GDPR came into force last May. The regulation steps up the penalties that can be imposed for violations. A spokeswoman for the Irish DPC confirmed to TechCrunch that it received the Dutch agency’s concerns last month. “Since then the DPC has been liaising with the Dutch DPA to further this matter,” she added. “The DPC has had preliminary engagement with Microsoft and, with the assistance of the Dutch authority, we will shortly be engaging further with Microsoft to seek substantive responses on the concerns raised.” Continue reading at OUR FORUM.

Apple released iOS 12.4.1 today to fix a security flaw reintroduced with the release of iOS 12.4 and used by security researcher Pwn20wnd to develop and release a jailbreak tool for up-to-date iOS devices. The vulnerability patched today by Apple is a use after free tracked as CVE-2019-8605 targeted by the Sock Puppet exploit that was used to create jailbreak tools for iOS devices. The flaw was discovered by Google Project Zero's Ned Williamson, was previously patched by Apple with the iOS 12.3 release from May 13, and was now re-patched in iOS 12.4.1. As Apple's support document describing the security content of iOS 12.4.1 says, the flaw could have been abused by malicious applications which then could have been "able to execute arbitrary code with system privileges." The use after free security issue was addressed by Apple with the introduction of improved memory management thus blocking the access of maliciously crafter apps to pointers that have already been freed. Apple acknowledged Google Project Zero's Ned Williamson contribution in finding and fixing this security issue and provided additional recognition for Pwn20wnd's assistance. Besides allowing jailbreak developers to add support for Apple's latest iOS versions, the flaw fixed today by Apple is also a critical vulnerability that can open the doors to attackers targeting the company's large iOS user base. Follow this on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft introduced a new compatibility hold to block users of Zebra XSLATE B10 rugged tablets from installing or updating to Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1809. Redmond was prompted to add this new Windows 10 update block by multiple reports received from XSLATE B10 tablet users stating that the "touch may stop working on the devices after restarting the device." "To safeguard your update experience, we have applied a compatibility hold on these devices from installing or being offered Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1809," says Microsoft. "Upon rebooting the device (warm boot), the issue causes users to lose touch access," states Zebra on its support site. "This issue is currently under investigation by Microsoft. Additional information will be provided on this page as it is received." Redmond's developers are currently working on a resolution for this issue which will be provided to Zebra users with an upcoming release. Until a resolution for these compatibility issues will be offered in a future Windows 10 update, Microsoft advises all users to "not attempt to manually update using the Update now button or the Media Creation Tool until this issue has been resolved." Microsoft is still currently blocking some Windows devices with compatibility issues after receiving the May 2019 Feature Update, in an attempt to prevent users of incompatible computers from experiencing degraded performance after upgrading. Since May 29, Microsoft has resolved the issues behind seven Windows 10 v1903 update blocks 11, with three of them having been removed in a single day, on July 12. More complete details are posted on OUR FORUM.

Mastercard disclosed a data breach to the German and Belgian Data Protection Authorities (DPA) involving customer data from the company's Priceless Specials loyalty program. The data was made available on the Internet, with customers' names, payment card numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, gender, and dates of birth being included in the leaked info. Mastercard says that "the incident is limited to the Specials program" and that the only payment card information leaked were the numbers of payment cards. After the data leak was discovered, Mastercard suspended the German Priceless Specials and took down its website, leaving up only a message saying that "This issue has no connection to MasterCard's payment network." "We have received a lot of questions and complaints since the announcement of this incident, we want to reassure users: we have contacted MasterCard in order to get additional information, and are following this case closely together with the Hessian data protection authority and all the other possible concerned authorities," says David Stevens, Chairman of the Belgian Data Protection Authority. The breach was discovered after the loyalty program data was released on the Internet on August 19 says Mastercard. "Thereafter, we acted promptly to remove the published personal information and to protect the interests of the affected users," adds the company. "On August 21, 2019, we became aware that a second file of personal information was published on the Internet. We are working to remove them as well." Heise Media reported that it saw the Excel spreadsheets containing lists of roughly 90,000 and 84,000 rows that were distributed on the internet after Mastercard's Priceless Specials loyalty program was breached. Follow this thread on OUR FORUM.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued today a warning to alert taxpayers and tax professionals of an active IRS impersonation scam campaign sending spam emails to deliver malicious payloads. This warning was issued after the IRS received several reports from taxpayers during this week regarding unsolicited messages with "Automatic Income Tax Reminder" or "Electronic Tax Return Reminder" subjects, coming from scammers impersonating the U.S. revenue service with the help of spoofed email addresses. "The emails have links that show an IRS.gov-like website with details pretending to be about the taxpayer's refund, electronic return or tax account," says IRS' warning. "The emails contain a 'temporary password' or 'one-time password' to 'access' the files to submit the refund. But when taxpayers try to access these, it turns out to be a malicious file." More to the point, after entering the password issued in the spam message, the targets would unintentionally download malware that could allow the malicious actors to either harvest sensitive info or take control of their victims' compromised systems. "The IRS does not send emails about your tax refund or sensitive financial information," stated IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "This latest scheme is yet another reminder that tax scams are a year-round business for thieves. We urge you to be on guard at all times." The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) also urges users and administrators to review the CISA Tip on how to avoid phishing and social engineering attacks. This warning comes after the IRS issued a joint news release with the US tax industry and state tax agencies in late July to remind professional tax preparers that they are required by federal law to have a data security plan in place. Learn more on OUR FORUM.