Security News This Week: A Botnet Takes Down Nearly a Million German Routers

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Remember Mirai, that botnet that took down swaths of the internet for millions of users one recent Friday afternoon? We were so innocent then! A variant returned this week, taking out over 900,000 routers belonging customers of German ISP Deutsche Telekom. Get used to this.

Elsewhere, Jill Stein’s recount parade continued, with filings in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Stein has cited potential hacking or interference as a motivation for quest, despite an absence of evidence. Speaking of evidence, lawyers for Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht say they’ve found indications that one of the law enforcement officials in the case may have tampered with evdience. The revelation, even if it proves true, is unlikely to affect Ulbricht’s appeal.

In other law enforcement news, a team that spanned 30 countries took down Avalanche, a gigantic malware infrastructure system, after a four-year investigation. Avalanche’s fall is a big deal; it involved 800,000 domains, and had impacted victims in 180 countries. Lastly, we took a look at “perfect forward secrecy,” a method of encryption that keeps all of your messages safe, be they past, present, or future.

And there’s more. Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth but that still deserve your attention. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted. And stay safe out there.

Botnet Knocks Out Nearly a Million Routers in Germany

A variant on the Mirai botnet, designed specifically to target routers with known vulnerabilities, knocked the equivalent of the entire city of Cologne offline this week. The botnet affected customers throughout Germany, specifically customers of ISP Deutsche Telekom. The good news is that all it took to get back online was to unplug the router and plug it back in, then download a firmware update that would secure the device. The bad news? This version of Mirai can compromise a device within 10 minutes or less of connecting to the internet.

Trump’s Win Has Led to an Encryption Boom

The propsect of Trump in the White House—with the full powers of the NSA at his command—appears to have made some people nervous. Or lots of people, really. To wit, end-to-end encrypted messaging app Signal has seen downloads pop 400 percent since the election, according to a recent Buzzfeed interview with Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Open Whisper Systems, which created the app.

Private Exploit Dealer Sold Tor Browser Zero-Day, Which Then Leaked

The Tor Project and Mozilla patched a JavaScript vulnerability in the Tor Browser and FireFox this week that gives hackers access to their victims’ computers, and seems to have been exploited to surveil visitors tp child pornography websites. The exploit dealer Exodus Intel, which peddles software bugs for anywhere from a few thousand to over a million dollars, says that it recognizes the bug as its own, but isn’t sure how it got out. The incident raises an ongoing debate about the zero-day market and whether it is safe for governments and other entities to hoard exploits for mainstream services. Mozilla security lead Daniel Veditz wrote in a blog post, “If this exploit was in fact developed and deployed by a government agency, the fact that it has been published and can now be used by anyone to attack Firefox users is a clear demonstration of how supposedly limited government hacking can become a threat to the broader web.”

The Feds Can Hack Pretty Much Anyone Now

Despite a concerted effort to stop it, proposed updates to Rule 41 went through this week. With these changes in effect, the FBI can now use malware to hack into computers belonging to ancillary parties, or even to victims, when investigating cybercrime. To put it in even more stark perspective, a single warrant could empower the feds to hack a million computers or more. The move saw strong opposition from security experts and lawmakers including Senator Rob Wyden (D-OR) and others, but they were unsuccessful in their bid.

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