EU leaders agree to impose major new sanctions on cybercriminals

22 Oct 2018

From left: European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk. Image: Etienne Ansotte/EU

EU officials have agreed that the bloc needs to impose tough new punishments on cybercriminals.

Last week, new research from Eset outlined the apparent emergence of a formidable new cyberthreat group. Dubbed GreyEnergy, the researchers say the collective is honing in on critical infrastructural targets, such as power grids.

In positive data literacy news, the Irish Data Protection Commission announced it was piloting data privacy education models in Irish classrooms. While the programme is currently being tested in several schools in Meath and Dublin, feedback from it will inform the potential creation of a national lesson plan – a major asset for the young, digital generations.

Meanwhile, reporter Colm Gorey examined the burgeoning world of data journalism and the potential it holds for the security of the future’s media.

Read on for your round-up of all things security, data and internet-adjacent.

EU officials set sights on cybercriminals

The digital world is a fraught place, with breaches, espionage and security issues never far from the public eye. In response to growing concerns about cybersecurity at an EU summit, officials in Brussels agreed that a new regime to impose economic sanctions more quickly is required.

The officials called for “measures to combat cyber and cyber-enabled illegal and malicious activities”. They added: “Work on the capacity to respond to and deter cyberattacks through EU restrictive measures should be taken forward, further to the 19 June 2018 council conclusions.” Today (22 October), UK prime minister Theresa May urged the EU to impose costs on cybercriminals.

WhatsApp becomes the front line for Brazil’s election campaign

According to Bloomberg, Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has banned more than 100,000 accounts ahead of the upcoming Brazilian federal elections.

The far-right candidate, Jair Bolsonaro, is accused of getting illegal help from a group of Brazilian business figures, who are bankrolling a campaign to spread misinformation about his left-wing opponent, Fernando Haddad. Haddad described it as “an attempt at electoral fraud”.

What data does Apple have on you?

A new portal from Apple allows its customers to search and see what kind of data the company has been keeping on them. It was already tested in the EU last May, coinciding with the enforcement of GDPR.

Data collected could include website bookmarks, documents, calendar invites or device repair history, among other things. This is part of Apple’s continuing campaign to position itself as a company making a profit from hardware, as opposed to targeted ads based on customer information.

Microsoft incorporates Google patch to mitigate Spectre Variant 2

Microsoft is including the Retpoline patch from Google in an upcoming version of Windows 10 to prevent computer slowdown caused by Spectre Variant 2.

As per ZDNet, the patch constrains speculative execution behaviour enough to mitigate the potential side-channel attack Spectre Variant 2 can cause. According to Google, the fix had a negligible effect on machine performance once applied.

Azorult malware adds new tricks to arsenal

The Azorult malware has been operating since 2016 and allows criminals to steal credentials including passwords, credit card information and the contents of cryptocurrency wallets from victims.

Now, according to Check Point, a new version of the malware is being advertised in an underground forum. The new version includes the ability to steal more kinds of cryptocurrency, and a new command and control key.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects