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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Global ransomware attack shows why Apple refused to hack terrorist's iPhone - LA Times

"Cybersecurity researchers said a malicious program that disabled computers at Britain's National Health Service, Russia's Interior Ministry and companies and homes across dozens of countries Friday originated with the National Security Agency.

Earlier this year, a hacking group calling itself Shadow Brokers published online what it described as stolen NSA documents. They were filled with information that hacking experts said could be used to secretly take over and pluck data from laptops, smartphones and even smart TVs.

Friday’s attack appeared to target computers running Microsoft Windows and took advantage of a flaw in the operating system. Microsoft released a patch for the bug in March, but users who didn’t update their systems remained susceptible to having their files locked up until they made a ransom payment to attackers.

To cybersecurity experts, Friday’s incident showed exactly why technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Apple are so defensive about the idea of backdoors into their services and devices.

Law enforcement agencies may want a way into highly secure gadgets and apps to further their investigations — such as when the FBI pressed Apple last year to hack into the iPhone used by a gunman in the San Bernardino terror attack. But the companies have repeatedly pointed out that there’s no safe way to build an entry point just for trusted government organizations.

Though the NSA hasn’t confirmed it was hacked, the purported leak of its tools shows that even supposedly secret vulnerabilities can get into the wrong hands.

“It goes back to the mafia expression,” said John Bambenek, threat research manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity. “The only way to keep a secret is for three people to know it and two of them to be dead.”

Global ransomware attack shows why Apple refused to hack terrorist's iPhone - LA Times

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