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  1. Security researchers discovered a new form of malware that specifically targeted users of a French telecom giant. One of the more disturbing features of this malware is its capability to identify when someone was likely viewing porn and record their screen. Researchers at IT security company ESET spotted the malware, which they coined Varenyky, in May of this year, and in July, operators of the malware launched their first sextortion scam. The malware targets customers of Orange S.A., a French internet service provider, and filters out non-French users based on the location of someone’s computer. According to the researchers, the malware is sent in the form of an email with a fake Microsoft Word attachment under the guise of a €491.27 bill. The document is actually malware, and opening it infects the user’s computer. The researchers pointed out that the hackers routinely tweaked and added commands to the malware, and that a recent version deployed a hidden desktop on someone’s computer that was able to navigate menus, read text, take screenshots, click on the screen, adjust windows, and even record the screen’s activity. One feature the researchers spotted in one version of the malware was that it would search for porn-related words in French in a user’s window and subsequently record the screen and upload it the command and control server, which is a computer that can send instructions to a device infected with malware. The researchers noted, though, that while the malware is capable of recording someone’s screen while they watch porn, they didn’t find any evidence indicating that the hackers exploited these recordings beyond collecting them. That being said, in July, the hackers did deploy a sextortion scam—in which someone was blackmailed through sexual material. The sextortion scam is also sent in the form of an email and informs the recipient that a virus-infected their computer when they were watching porn, and that the hackers have gained access to their computer. The scammer also claims that they have a video of both the porn the victim was watching as well as a recording from their webcam of “you having… fun.” The scammer says that if they don’t pay them €750 in bitcoin within 72 hours, they’ll send the video to family, coworkers, and post it on social media. “This offer is non-negotiable, do not waste my time and yours, think about the consequences of your actions,” it states in the email sign-off. The researchers said that one bot can send up to 1,500 emails in an hour, and as of August 8, the bitcoin address included in the sextortion email had received four payments. Sextortion campaigns and phishing attacks that can give a hacker access to your desktop are hardly unique forms of online exploitation, but this newly spotted malware indicates that they aren’t going anywhere and that people are still easily duped by inarguably unsettling threats. The researchers also note that the operators of this malware tweaked it a lot over the course of two months, indicating that they “are inclined to experiment with new features that could bring a better monetization of their work.” In this case, the best way to scare French internet users into paying a gross grifter in return for peace of mind. Source
  2. 24% of French Internet Users Stream Live TV Content Illegally A new study published by anti-piracy agency Hadopi has revealed that 24% of French Internet users stream live TV content illegally. The most popular source of video among respondents is live streaming sites, followed by social networks, dedicated IPTV services, and apps. Pirate IPTV is causing particularly concern due to its claimed cannibalizing effect on legal offers. Just over a decade ago this month, France adopted new legislation allowing the country to more easily crack down on Internet piracy. The so-called Hadopi law, which also spawned a government anti-piracy agency of the same name, was initially focused on the threat posed by peer-to-peer file-sharing systems, BitTorrent in particular. However, ten years is a long time and since then, live streaming has stormed onto the scene as a convenient way for the public to view both licensed and unlicensed content. As a result, Hadopi is now taking an increased interest in how the latter is consumed online. The findings of a new study carried out by Hadopi in conjunction with market research company IFOP, reveals that almost a quarter of French Internet users (24%) now access live TV programming illegally. Perhaps unsurprisingly, streaming sites are the most popular locations, with 17% of all respondents admitting to using them to access live TV. Social networks prove slightly less popular at 14%, with just 5% admitting to using a dedicated IPTV device or application. Platforms falling into the streaming site category are web-based affairs, often with embedded players, such as RojaDirecta, StreamonSports, and FootStream.tv etc. Of those using these services, 52% say they do so more than three times per week. How live streaming sites work, as per Hadopi The social network category is populated by services such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or Periscope, where Internet users share pirated streams of live content with each other. Six out of ten (61%) of these users admit to accessing streams more than three times per week. The third category, IPTV, is defined as a service that’s accessible via devices including smart TVs, dedicated boxes, smartphones, tablets, or software. These provide users with access to often premium channels that would usually be available as part of a legal package from an official provider. Almost three quarters (73%) of these users admit to using these services in excess of three times per week, something which is clearly bothering Hadopi, despite just 5% of respondents currently using them. How ‘Pirate’ IPTV services work, as per Hadopi The agency says this relatively small IPTV usage figure is increasing and has a more damaging effect on legal consumption due to “cannibalization”. ‘Pirate’ IPTV services are the closest one can get to an official streaming package so people are more likely to switch. “54% of illegal IPTV users have already unsubscribed from a legal offer,” the report notes. Additional uptake of pirate IPTV appears to have been driven by World Cup and Champions League fans after only some of these matches were delivered unencrypted to the public. While the study focuses on live TV, it acknowledges that IPTV services pose a broader threat, since many also offer a VOD (Video-On-Demand) service containing hundreds if not thousands of movies and TV shows to be consumed at a time and place of the user’s choosing. It’s clear from the study that many of those using pirate IPTV devices and apps do so because of the cost. Of those who admitted using them, 66% pay less than 100 euros per year for a package, including some (9%) who pay nothing at all. As a comparison, combined annual subscriptions to BEIN Sports, Canal+, SFR Sport and OCS amounts to more than 760 euros per year. However, even when a subscriber buys them all the offer can’t compete with the offerings of a regular IPTV provider. “After this first phase of the study of the uses [detailed above], the Hadopi agency will continue its analysis of the ecosystem of the illegal supply of live TV programs in order to detect, anticipate and warn, against emerging illicit practices,” the agency writes. “In connection with the rights holders, television channels, Hadopi brings its technical and legal expertise to promote the implementation of actions to ensure effective and efficient protection of sustainable creation on the Internet.” Source
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