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IT management biz Kaseya pwned by miscreants to infect businesses with ransomware • The Register

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In brief In what’s looking like a nasty supply-chain attack, IT systems management biz Kaseya was compromised by miscreants, which then used its VSA product to infect its own customers and then their customers with ransomware.

At least 200 businesses were hit, according to infosec biz Huntress. Kaseya meanwhile initially estimated 40 worldwide were infected. It also told its clients to switch off their VSA data management and remote monitoring services immediately.

“We are experiencing a potential attack against the VSA that has been limited to a small number of on-premise customers only as of 1400 EDT today,” it said in a Friday advisory.

“We are in the process of investigating the root cause of the incident with an abundance of caution but we recommend that you IMMEDIATELY shutdown your VSA server until you receive further notice from us. Its (sic) critical that you do this immediately, because one of the first things the attacker does is shut off administrative access to the VSA.”

It appears that attackers got onto Kaseya’s servers and included a copy of the REvil ransomware in a software update for customers that went out on Friday. It has also taken offline its software-as-a-service platform as a precaution.

“We have been advised by our outside experts that customers who experienced ransomware and receive a communication from the attackers should not click on any links – they may be weaponized,” Kaseya’s advisory added.

The Florida-based company told The Register it was working with the FBI. It’s reported that among the victims is Sweden’s grocery store chain Coop, a customer of one of Kaseya’s customers, causing 500 stores to remain closed.

The Linkedin breach that wasn’t

Earlier this week there were some reports that someone had put 700 million Linkedin records up for sale on the dark web. Rather than intrusion, LinkedIn said, someone who had scraped publicly available information, combined it with other available data, and was trying to make a buck or ten out of it.

“We want to be clear that this is not a data breach and no private LinkedIn member data was exposed,” Linkedin said. “Our initial investigation has found that this data was scraped from LinkedIn and other various websites and includes the same data reported earlier this year in our April 2021 scraping update.”

Scraping is a serious problem for Linkedin, one it has taken to the US Supreme Court over.

Western Digital devices caught in crossfire?

Last week, users of Western Digital’s My Book Live found they had lost a lot of data after devices were remotely wiped via a security vulnerability.

At the time, the manufacturer said this was due to a malware attack. Having looked at the IP addresses and network traffic involved, security shop Censys suggested it looked likely that one criminal infected My Book kit and then a separate individual initiated the factory reset command, suggesting someone could be trying to take out a rival.

Western Digital, however, disagrees. “Our investigation shows that in some cases, the same attacker exploited both vulnerabilities on the device, as evidenced by the source IP,” it said. “The first vulnerability was exploited to install a malicious binary on the device, and the second vulnerability was later exploited to reset the device.”

In the meantime the firm is offering data recovery services to affected folks and promising My Book Live customers a trade-in service for My Cloud accounts.

Google tidies up Nest security

Google has announced that it’s beefing up the security of devices in its smart home biz Nest, and made a five-year commitment to support existing products. This comes after it discontinued its Nest Secure home security system.

The Chocolate Factory said all devices sold since 2019 will adhere to the standards of the Internet of Secure Things Alliance (ioXt) on patching and security. In addition Google will publish the ioXt validation results for all of its kit so buyers can make an informed choice.

“A helpful home is a safe home, and Nest’s new safety center is part of making sure Nest products help take care of the people in your life and the world around you,” Google said in a blog post.

US police seize 3D printers over gun charges

An unusual case of physical security came up this week after the Pennsylvania police took custody of two 3D printers that allegedly were used to manufacture parts for so-called ghost guns – unregulated firearms American cops and prosecutors aren’t too keen on.

“Kenneth Wilson was caught manufacturing untrackable and untraceable firearms out of his home. Once assembled, these fully functional firearms often become a tool for senseless violence,” said the state’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

“Ghost guns are quickly becoming the weapon of choice for criminals that take the lives of too many Pennsylvanians. My office is working overtime to target these gun traffickers and get illegal guns off our streets.”

In addition to the 3D printers, police also said they seized three ghost gun frames, three firearms, a small amount of methamphetamine, $1,140 in cash, and drug packaging equipment from the suspect’s house. ®



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Facebook oversight board to review system that exempts elite users | Facebook

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Facebook’s semi-independent oversight board says it will review the company’s “XCheck” system, an internal program that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules.

The decision follows an investigation by the Wall Street Journal that revealed that reviews of posts by well-known users such as celebrities, politicians and journalists are steered into the separate system.

Under the program, some users are “whitelisted”, or not subject to enforcement action, while others are allowed to post material that violates Facebook rules pending content reviews that often do not take place. The Xcheck system, for example, allowed Brazilian footballer Neymar to post nude pictures of a woman who had accused him of rape, according to the report.

Users were identified for additional scrutiny based on criteria such as being “newsworthy”, “influential or popular” or “PR risky”, the Wall Street Journal found. By 2020 there were 5.8 million users on the XCheck list, according to the newspaper.

The oversight board said Tuesday that it expects to have a briefing with Facebook on the system and “will be reporting what we hear from this” as part of a report it will publish in October.

The board may also make other recommendations, although Facebook is not bound to follow these.

The Journal’s report, the board said, has drawn “renewed attention to the seemingly inconsistent way that the company makes decisions, and why greater transparency and independent oversight of Facebook matters so much for users”.

Facebook told the Journal in response to its investigation that the system “was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding”. The company added that criticism of it was “fair” and that it was working to fix it.

A representative for Facebook declined to comment to the Associated Press on the oversight board’s decision.

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Philippines imposes 12 per cent digital services tax • The Register

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The Philippines has become the latest nation to impose a digital services tax.

Such taxes require the likes of Netflix and Spotify to pay local sales taxes even though their services are delivered – legally, notionally, and physically – from beyond local jurisdiction.

The Philippines has chosen a rate of 12 per cent, mirroring local value added taxes.

“We have now clarified that digital services and the goods and services traded through digital service providers should generally be subject to VAT. This is just a matter of common tax sense,” said Joey Salceda, a member of the Philippines’ House of Representatives and a backer of the change to the nation’s tax code.

Salceda tied the change to post-pandemic economic recovery.

“If brick and mortar establishments, which are the hardest-hit by the pandemic, have to pay VAT, the giants of e-commerce shouldn’t be exempt,” he said.

However, local companies that are already exempt from VAT by virtue of low turnover won’t be caught by the extension of the tax into the virtual realm.

Salceda’s amendments are designed to catch content streamers, but also online software sales – including mobile apps – plus SaaS and hosted software. The Philippines’ News Agency’s report on the amendment’s passage into law even mentions firewalls as subject to VAT.

The Philippines is not alone in introducing a digital services tax to raise more revenue after the COVID-19 pandemic hurt government revenue – Indonesia used the same logic in 2020 .

But the taxes are controversial because they are seen as a unilateral response to the wider issue of multinational companies picking the jurisdictions in which they’ll pay tax – a practice that erodes national tax bases. The G7 group of nations, and the OECD, think that collaborations that shift tax liabilities to nations where goods and services are acquired and consumed are the most appropriate response, and that harmonising global tax laws to make big tech pay up wherever they do business is a better plan than digital services taxes.

The USA has backed that view of digital services taxes, by announcing it will impose tariffson nations that introduce them – but is yet to enact that plan.

Meanwhile, the process of creating a global approach to multinational tax shenanigans is taking years to agree and implement.

But The Philippines wants more cash in its coffers – and to demonstrate that local businesses aren’t being disadvantaged – ASAP. ®

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How to ask your boss for more flexible working

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While returning to the office is now possible for many, some workers might still want the option of flexible working some of the time. Here’s how to broach the subject.

This week marked the beginning of a phased and staggered return to workplaces for many employees in Ireland.

It essentially marked the first official green light for employers to ready their offices and start putting plans in place for their staff’s return.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

However, HR body CIPD Ireland urged employers to be mindful of anxious workers as they face “another round of upheaval” with the return to offices.

So, while employers are finalising plans about how, where and when their teams will work, some employees may be wondering how to go about expressing their preference, worried that it’s not in line with what the company wants.

While there have been plenty of discussions and remote work advocates calling for leaders to be more flexible and recognise that the future of work will be hybrid, the reality for individual employees can feel very different.

While big-picture debates around the right to request remote work are happening, how do you ask for what you want in the here and now, when your boss is determined to have a full return to the office?

Explain your reasons

If remote or flexible working isn’t something your boss is already willing to give you, then you must treat it like a pay rise request.

Explain clearly and concisely the reasons why you want more flexibility, how it will benefit you and make you a more engaged, happier worker.

While family commitments might be an important factor, so too is work-life balance and getting rid of long commutes. And, while there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Covid-19 is still a very real concern, so don’t be afraid to express your reservations about this too.

Make a business case

When you ask for a pay increase, you provide proof of the value you have added to the company. Take the same approach here and explain to your boss how flexible working will actually be beneficial to them.

Some managers who resist remote working might still have an office-based mentality where presenteeism is key. But there are numerous studies that show that knowledge workers are more productive when working remotely.

And, when done as a purposeful business strategy, remote working can help teams prioritise work more clearly as well as allowing for more downtime and work-life balance.

Be realistic

Depending on your manager, your team and the work you do, it may not be feasible to ask to work from home five days a week.

It’s important that you are realistic about asking for what you want and also realistic about what you can deliver in return. Remote workers can be more productive but they can also be in danger of burning out so be thoughtful about what strategy will work best for both you and your manager.

Listen to their perspective

While conversations around remote working appear to be mostly positive, it can be a different situation behind the office doors.

Many managers and leaders are still hesitant about moving to a fully flexible working strategy and this can lead to workers feeling like they are not being listened to.

However, one of the best ways to combat that hesitancy from managers is to listen to their concerns and address them in a problem-solving manner.

Being able to alleviate some of your manager’s worries might make them more amenable to allowing for more flexibility.

Make expectations clear

If you do convince your boss to allow for a more flexible working plan than what they had originally considered, it’s important that both sides understand what is expected.

Without clearly defining the outcomes of the new set-up, misunderstandings can lead to disappointments and feelings of mistrust in the idea of flexible working.

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