US launched cyber strikes on Iranian spy group after oil tanker attacks: Officials

Agencies
June 23, 2019

Washington, Jun 23: The United States Cyber Command (USCC) had last week launched cyber strikes against an Iranian intelligence group in the wake of recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf region, officials familiar with the matter said.

Quoting US officials, CNN reported on Saturday (local time) that the spy group had ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of Iran and the USCC believes the group helped plan the attacks against oil tankers.

The cyber attacks, coordinated with the US Central Command, disabled Iranian computer systems used to control rocket and missile launches, The Washington Post reported. It was not the conventional military attack that involves loss of life or civilian casualties, it said.

Iran had on Thursday shot down an unmanned US surveillance drone with a surface-to-air missile, prompting US President Donald Trump to order a retaliatory strike against Iran. However, the US president had later changed his decision since it could have civilian casualties.

The incident happened amid a volatile situation between Washington and Tehran as the Trump administration warned industry officials to be alert for cyber attacks originating from Iran.

Thomas Bosset, a former senior White House cybersecurity official in the Trump administration, was quoted as saying, "This operation imposes costs on the growing Iranian cyber threat, but also serves to defend the US Navy and shipping operations in the Strait of Hormuz."

The cyber attacks against the Iranian spy agency represented the first offensive show of force since the cyber command was elevated to a full combatant command in May.

In April this year, Washington designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organisation.

On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to American industries that Iran has stepped up its cyber-targeting of critical industries, including oil, gas and other energy sectors, and government agencies, and has the potential to disrupt or destroy systems.

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Agencies
January 9,2021

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Washington, Jan 9: Sidney Powell, the lawyer who spearheaded outgoing US President Donald Trump's failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election result, has been sued for $1.3 billion by the American corporation that makes voting machines.

In the defamation suit filed on Friday, the Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems chronicled some 40 of Powell's public statements that spread "wild" and "demonstrably false" allegations, reports Xinhua news agency.

The "viral disinformation campaign" that Powell mounted "to financially enrich herself, raise her public profile, and ingratiate herself to Donald Trump", deeply damaged the reputation and resale value of Dominion, the suit said.

There are "mountains of direct evidence" disproving Powell's election fraud claims about the company's machines, that have resulted in "Dominion's founder, Dominion's employees, Georgia's governor, and Georgia's secretary of state" being harassed and receiving death threats," the 124-page lawsuit further said.

Dominion CEO John Poulos also said in a statement that the lawsuit aimed to clear his company's name through a full airing of the facts about the 2020 election.

Powell is best known for her defence of Enron Corp. executives Ken Lay and Tom Skilling, who bilked thousands of investors and employees out of around $60 billion in 2001, the New York Times reported in 2005.

Lay left behind "a legacy of shame" characterized by "mismanagement and dishonesty", Bloomberg news said in a repor, and in 2009, Portfolio.com ranked Lay as the third-worst American CEO of all time.

Powell, 65, now will be forced to defend her central role in the fantasy story that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

Ironically, Dominion systems were also used in many counties that voted for Trump, and all of Powell's lawsuits involving the fraud claims have failed in court due to lack of evidence.

For weeks, Powell claimed that Dominion was established with communist money in Venezuela to enable ballot-stuffing and other vote manipulation, and that those abilities were harnessed to rig the election for Joe Biden.

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Agencies
January 5,2021

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London, Jan 5: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express his regret over not being able to visit India as planned for Republic Day on January 26 due to the growing crisis created by the new variant of coronavirus.

His call with Modi came a day after he addressed Britain in a televised address to plunge the country into a new stay-at-home lockdown as his medical chiefs warned that the National Health Service (NHS) was under threat of being overwhelmed by the rising infection rates.

Johnson has indicated that his India visit would take place during the first half of this year and before the G7 summit presided over by the UK, planned for later this year.

"The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” the spokesperson said.

The two leaders underlined their "shared commitment" to the bilateral relationship, and to continuing to build on the close collaboration between our countries – including in response to the pandemic.

“The Prime Minister said that he hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK's G7 Summit that Prime Minister Modi is due to attend as a guest,” the spokesperson said.

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Ahmed Ali Kulai
 - 
Wednesday, 6 Jan 2021

Wise man and good decision - Not like Trump

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Agencies
January 3,2021

Moscow, Jan 3: The suspected Russia-backed hackers have compromised at least 250 federal agencies and top enterprises in the US, by infiltrating into 'SolarWinds Orion' monitoring and management software.

According to a report in The New York Times, as businesses such as Amazon and Microsoft that provide cloud services dig deeper for evidence. "It now appears Russia exploited multiple layers of the supply chain to gain access to as many as 250 networks".

US Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) was quoted saying in the report on Saturday that the hack looked "much, much worse" than he first feared.

"The size of it keeps expanding. It's clear the United States government missed it," Warner said.

According to Microsoft, the hackers compromised 'SolarWinds' software allowing them to "impersonate any of the organisation's existing users and accounts, including highly privileged accounts."

Microsoft said last week it had discovered its systems were infiltrated "beyond just the presence of malicious 'SolarWinds' code."

The hackers were able to "view source code in a number of source code repositories", the tech giant added.

"We detected unusual activity with a small number of internal accounts and upon review, we discovered one account had been used to view source code in a number of source code repositories," said the company in the update late Thursday.

The account did not have permissions to modify any code or engineering systems and "our investigation further confirmed no changes were made. These accounts were investigated and remediated", Microsoft added.

The initial estimates were that Russian hackers compromised 18,000 government and private networks.

According to the report, some of the compromised 'SolarWinds' software were engineered in Eastern Europe, and "American investigators are now examining whether the incursion originated there where Russian intelligence operatives are deeply rooted".

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also warned that US federal agencies must update the hacked 'Solarwinds Orion' software or take all its apps offline.

The CISA said all US government agencies that still run 'SolarWinds Orion' platforms must update to the latest 2020.2.1HF2 version.

"Agencies that can't update till that deadline have to take all Orion systems offline," the guidance read.

At least 24 big companies, including tech giants like Intel, Cisco, VMware and Nvidia, have reportedly suffered the 'SolarWinds' hack.

The suspected Russian hackers installed a malware in the Orion software sold by the IT management company 'SolarWinds', and accessed sensitive data belonging to several US government agencies and businesses.

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