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Technology Misuse of Alphabet’s Virus Scanner is Exposing Sensitive Files

08:15  21 october  2019
08:15  21 october  2019 Source:   bloomberg.com

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Companies are misusing Alphabet Inc.’ s virus scanner and similar products, and are We found files that gave us a blueprint of how to infiltrate the production floor,” said Otorio Chief Executive Officer Daniel Bren, a reserve brigadier general who established the Israeli army’ s cyber defense unit.

(Bloomberg) -- Companies are misusing Alphabet Inc.’ s virus scanner and similar products, and are unwittingly leaking data such as factory blueprints to intellectual property online, Israeli cybersecurity company Otorio Ltd. said.The firm said it discovered thousands of unprotected files from companies.

(Bloomberg) -- Companies are misusing Alphabet Inc.’s virus scanner and similar products, and are unwittingly leaking data such as factory blueprints to intellectual property online, Israeli cybersecurity company Otorio Ltd. said.

a screen shot of an open laptop computer sitting on top of a table: The Google Inc. logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. laptop computer in this arranged photograph taken in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S., on Saturday, July 20, 2019. Alphabet Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on July 25.© Bloomberg The Google Inc. logo is displayed on an Apple Inc. laptop computer in this arranged photograph taken in Little Falls, New Jersey, U.S., on Saturday, July 20, 2019. Alphabet Inc. is scheduled to release earnings figures on July 25.

The firm said it discovered thousands of unprotected files from companies in the pharmaceutical, industrial, automotive and food industries as part of a project to research the malware logged by VirusTotal, which is owned by Alphabet cyber security subsidiary Chronicle. Otorio didn’t find any documents uploaded to VirusTotal that had been used in a cyber attack.

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“From what we found, we could design a very constructive hack. We found files that gave us a blueprint of how to infiltrate the production floor,” said Otorio Chief Executive Officer Daniel Bren, a reserve brigadier general who established the Israeli army’s cyber defense unit. “The companies’ trademarked secrets are on those blueprints.”

VirusTotal makes scanned documents available to cybersecurity firms and researchers to help improve the detection of malware. Scanning incoming files for malicious attacks with online services is common practice, but some security teams are uploading files indiscriminately, without understanding the terms of use or the potential risk, Otorio said.

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Nevertheless, many of the stocks that delivered strong returns in the first half still sport strong fundamentals and their gains were more related to the general market sentiment rather than their individual performance and Misuse of Alphabet ’ s Virus Scanner is Exposing Sensitive Files .

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The Israeli firm, which specializes in cybersecurity for industrial control systems, contacted VirusTotal about its findings in July, and Otorio said the company agreed that there was a need to raise awareness about how the service works and how security applications should be configured. The idea, said Bren, was to make the industrial sector aware of the problem so “they improve the situation, and not to poke them in the eye.”

VirusTotal’s online terms of service states, in all caps, that users agree to only upload samples that they wish to publicly share and warns them not to submit anything that includes confidential, commercially sensitive or personal data without permission.

Researchers working for academic institutions and cybersecurity companies can get access to the uploaded data after some screening and meeting certain criteria, which includes promising not to make commercial use of the information, Bren said. Rogue researchers may easily misuse this important service and publish documents, he said.

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The theory behind our virus scanner is that it will hex dump the file and compare it to a known list of virus signatures. To detect more advanced viruses you will have to learn about polymorphic viruses , which is definitley outside the scope of this tutorial. Good luck. Learn all this so you’ll be ready for the

A representative for VirusTotal said that the company screens all customers before giving them access to the data. Researchers don’t have searchable access to the file base and customers that are found to abuse any data are cut off, the representative said. VirusTotal will also remove information that’s uploaded by mistake.

Google acquired VirusTotal in 2012 and the firm was later moved to parent company Alphabet’s Chronicle subsidiary.

The types of project files uploaded may contain anything from information about supply chains to building entry points. Exposing them could lead to incidents similar to the ransomware attack that hit aluminum producer Norsk Hydro ASA in March, Otorio said. That attack caused production outages as the rogue agents stopped computer systems from working while they demanded a ransom.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at [email protected], Amy Thomson, Nate Lanxon

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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