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Top Stories for the Week of August 28, 2019

  • Episode 623
  • August 28, 2019

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday August 28, 2019


A ransomware strike took down 23 government agencies in Texas.

A ransomware strike took down 23 government agencies in Texas.

Early on August 16, a total of 23 local government organizations in Texas were hit by a coordinated ransomware attack. The type of ransomware has not been revealed, and Texas officials asserted that no state networks were compromised in the attack.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources (TDIR) said authorities are not ready to reveal the names of the entities affected, nor other details of the attack. State and federal agencies are in the midst of a response, and TDIR did not have information on whether any of the affected governmental organizations had chosen to pay the ransom.

But the TDIR did reveal that the ransomware came from a single source, saying "At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor. Investigations into the origin of this attack are ongoing; however, response and recovery are the priority at this time."

Response teams from TDIR, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Military Department, Department of Public Safety, and the Texas A&M University System's Security Operations Center/Critical Incident Response Team (SOC/CIRT) have all been involved in the effort to bring systems back online, as are federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, FEMA, and other agencies.

It's been a bad year for American cities facing ransomware attack. Baltimore is still in the process of recovering, just sending out its first water bills since May and facing $18 million in direct costs and lost revenue. Elsewhere, two Florida cities paid out a total amounting to about $1 million worth of cryptocurrency to regain their data.

The Texas attacks are the largest coordinated ransomware attacks seen against multiple local governments, but they're not necessarily the first coordinated attacks. Three school districts in northern Louisiana were hit by ransomware in a single incident in July. It's not clear if the districts shared any network infrastructure.

Source: arstechnica.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Walmart is suing Tesla's energy division, after solar panels on seven of its stores caught fire.

Walmart is suing Tesla's energy division, after solar panels on seven of its stores caught fire.

Walmart's legal team allege that the firm was negligent in how it installed the panels on the roofs of the stores.

Court documents describe a string of fires that occurred between 2012 and 2018 at Walmart locations in Ohio, Maryland and California. The first fire occurred at a Walmart store in Long Beach, California in 2012. Another in Beavercreek, Ohio, in March 2018 saw customers evacuated and the store closed for eight days.

The court documents say, "To state the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected and maintained solar systems do not spontaneously combust".

Walmart is asking Tesla to remove solar panels from all its stores and to pay damages.

Tesla's share price fell on news of the Walmart lawsuit, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court last Tuesday.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Researchers have found 85 Google Play apps with more than 8 million combined downloads that forced users to view fullscreen ads.

Researchers have found 85 Google Play apps with more than 8 million combined downloads that forced users to view fullscreen ads.

The apps, which posed as photography and gaming programs, contained a family of adware that was highly disruptive to end users. Once installed, the apps displayed ads in full screen—a setting that forced users to view the entire duration of an ad before being able to close the window or get back to the app. The apps showed an ad every five minutes, but the people operating the platform had the ability to remotely change the frequency.

The adware used several tricks to evade detection and removal. A half-hour after being installed, for instance, an app would hide its icon and create a shortcut on the device home screen.

Hiding the icon prevented the apps from being uninstalled by dragging and dropping the icon uninstall section of the device screen. Android 8 and later versions require user confirmation before an app can create a shortcut, but even if users of these versions didn't agree, the icon would nonetheless remain hidden.

Trend Micro, who made the discovery, privately reported the apps to Google. Google then removed the apps from Play.

Source: arstechnica.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Mario Kart Tour was supposed to be available in March 2019 until Nintendo delayed its release to give it a bit more polish. Now, the gaming giant is finally ready to roll it out and has announced an official launch date.

Mario Kart Tour was supposed to be available in March 2019 until Nintendo delayed its release to give it a bit more polish. Now, the gaming giant is finally ready to roll it out and has announced an official launch date.

The Mario Kart Tour website even shows that pre-registrations are now open for both Android and iOS users, so they can be notified as soon as the game is ready to download, but the official word is, Mario Kart Tour will be available on your smartphone September 25th.

The game is free-to-start, which means players will have to decide whether to spend money on microtransactions to unlock features and perhaps even characters.

Nintendo has promised to release more details about the game as its release date approaches.

Source: www.engadget.com

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


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