by Constantine von Hoffman

Cybersecurity News Roundup: Emma Watson is the New Face of Cyber Evil

Sep 14, 20124 mins

This week's cybersecurity news roundup has stories on Microsoft's takedown of the Nitol botnet; a Hacktivist who was arrested for threatening to ruin an FBI agent's life; the Australian Attorney General who wants to punish Twitter "trolls;" and more.

: Microsoft has taken down a botnet known as Nitol, which utilized new PCs and laptops that were loaded with malware somewhere in the supply chain. This week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia gave permission to Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit to take over the domain and more than 70,000 sub-domains hosting the Nitol botnet. Microsoft started an investigation into supply-chain security in August and discovered the Nitol malware pre-loaded on computers built in China that were running counterfeit versions of the Windows operating system. It also found the domain and sub-domains to be hosting more than 500 different pieces of malware, included keystroke loggers, denial-of-service capabilities, rootkits, backdoors and more. This is the second botnet taken down by Microsoft this year; in March, Microsoft disrupted parts of the Zeus botnet, a global network responsible for billions of dollars in bank fraud and identity theft.

Not-So-Anonymous Activist Arrested During Online Chat Session: Barrett Brown, a spokesman for various Anonymous hacking operations, found out the hard way why you don’t pull on Superman’s cape: He was arrested in a raid Wednesday at his home while in the middle of an online chat. The arrest came shortly after the release of a YouTube video that featured Brown, entitled “Why I’m Going to Destroy FBI Agent Robert Smith Part Three: Revenge of the Lithe.” In it he speaks of ruining the agent’s life. Brown was taken into custody by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department shortly before 11 PM CT Wednesday. Thursday he was in the custody of the FBI. An attorney for Brown said he is being charged with threatening a federal agent.

Aussie Attorney General Wants to Ban Nasty Comments on Twitter: This just in from our Nailing-Jello-To-The-Wall Department: Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon wants to give police greater power to address anonymous online abuse in social media. The move comes in response to outrage over some truly vile things that were directed at Rugby-league star Robbie Farah on Twitter about his mother, who recently died of cancer. A spokeswoman for Ms. Roxon said this type of behavior is “reprehensible” and called on Twitter to identify users who break the law. “Twitter should reveal the identities of the anonymous trolls who are breaking the law by abusing others online and cooperate with any police investigation to help reveal who these trolls are,” the spokeswoman said. One question for Ms. Roxon: Which nation’s laws govern the Internet?

Cute Is the New Faces of Cyber Evil: One of the basic rules of black-hat hacking is that it never hurts to use a pretty face to lure victims–regardless of whether it’s real or not. This week brought news that Emma Watson–who has morphed from spunky Hermione Granger to gamine ingénue–and Anaru, a normal looking girl from Japanese anime, are both the preferred lures for tricking people into messing up their computers.

We know about Ms. Watson’s unpaid role as cyber siren thanks to The McAfee Most Dangerous Celebrities™ survey. (Isn’t September a little early for the “Year’s Most Blah Blah Blah” lists? Apparently not.) The McAfee ploy to get free publicity allegedly “determines which sites are risky to search for celebrity names on the Web and calculate an overall risk percentage.” Ah, yet another “reliable” report from a security company.

Meanwhile, Symantec says it found the Android.Maistealer malware, an app that steals contact details. The app promises to let users wiggle an Anime character’s breasts when they are clicked on the screen, according to researcher Joji Hamada. The character is Naruko “Anaru” Anj? from the show Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. In the show the cute, spunky Anaru remains clothed. In the app her head has been superimposed on a naked torso. Clever.