obfuscation

Hackers step up obfuscation attacks to break into IT networks

by | Jan 7, 2021 | IT Security

Cybercriminals are introducing obfuscation-as-a-service to enable novice hackers on the dark web to make hard-to-break infiltration into corporate networks.
Share to lead the transformation

In 2020, cyber-attacks reached a new scale, disrupting the business community and Information security professionals. Malware, phishing, denial of service attacks, DNS tunneling, SQL injection, and zero-day exploits have seen a massive explosion in every large organization. According to a report from antivirus, cloud, and endpoint security firm McAfee, since 2018, the cost of global cybercrime has reached over $1 trillion. If that wasn’t enough, the industry has noticed a new pattern of cybercriminals investing in plug-and-play obfuscation software-based toolkits to infect corporate networks for financial gains. (See: Top enterprise cybersecurity trends of 2020)

Obfuscation is a proven technology widely used by security professionals and coders to make the source code anonymous and incoherent. The technique helps businesses secure their critical data and prevent hackers from using reverse engineering techniques to discover an enterprise network’s vulnerability and launch attacks.

The recent cyber intrusion in the software  IT monitoring and management software company Solarwinds was executed by an obfuscated advanced persistent threat (APT) that mysteriously took nine months to discover. (See: SolarWinds hack: CISOs need to revisit cyber resilience?)

However, as usual, hackers appear to be a step ahead of network protectors. Call it money as a motive or an innovative mindset; cybercriminals always develop enterprising ways to infiltrate defenses. Obfuscation-as-a-service is one such recently exposed illegal business model developed by cybercriminals. Professional hackers try to make money from selling such techniques on subscription-based models to other hackers.

As-a-service model for orchestrating a hack

Those who trust that the as-a-service models are currently only transforming legitimate business models will probably live on a different planet. Over the past few years, cybercrime as a service model is swiftly making inroads into the dark-web. Professional fraudsters and cybercriminals use illegal platforms to sell cyberattack tools, procedures, services, and a host of software programs to evade detection and launch fully automated cyberattacks.

Obfuscation-as-a-service model is operating on similar lines. In 2020, many instances were discovered by cybersecurity monitoring agencies and solution providers where hackers provided automated obfuscation service and android pocket kits (APKs) on a subscription basis to fraudsters. In the wake of a growing remote workforce, most organizations are introducing workplace productivity apps that can be accessed quickly by employees through their mobile phones. As such cracking mobile applications, especially android, through obfuscation has become a prime focus area for cybercriminals.

The entire business of purchasing and selling obfuscation service happens through illegitimate darknet marketplaces, making it very challenging for governments and law-enforcement authorities to keep a consistent track. This new development of obfuscation-as-a-service is perturbing for enterprises with global footprints, which have a massive amount of data located on different clouds. This unlawful cybercrime service model can give a ready-to-launch platform to even newbie cybercriminals who regularly exploit weaker networks.

What’s the remedy?

To protect networks from obfuscation techniques or deobfuscate malicious codes launched by hackers, organizations need to ensure the uppermost security level that fills the unwanted gaps. Applying integrity controls, encrypting as much as possible, transforming program codes and making them unintelligible, inserting anti-debugging logic are some of the fields that should be strengthened.

While there is no perfect solution that can give full-proof code security, a host of commercial tools can be tested and implemented to make your security architectures robust.

Most importantly, in 2021, organizations and cybersecurity leaders should set-up quality budgets to train their in-house talents and develop innovative solutions to fortify their resilience levels and mitigate new-age obfuscation security threats.

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The retweet came after posted this message on his Twitter handle: “Tonight watch my journey with PM @narendramodi for Man Vs Wild on @DiscoveryIN – Together let’s do all we can to protect the planet, promote peace & encourage a Never Give Up spirit. Enjoy the show!”

NTPC’s push for GW-scale solar power continues

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The PSU has invited online technical and financial bids from eligible bidders for selection of solar power developers for setting up 1,200 MW ISTS-connected solar PV power projects anywhere in India through reverse auction.

Request for selection (RfS) documents will be made available at e-Tender Portal from 14 August 2019 and can be accessed up to 2 September for examination and downloading. The technical bids will be opened on 2 September itself. All interested parties are required to get registered with M/s ISN Electronic Tender Services website https://www.bharat-electronictender.com (if not registered already) in order to access the RfS documents.

The date and time of start of reverse auction shall be intimated separately by NTPC.

All bids are to be accompanied by earnest money deposit for an amount calculated at the rate of INR 400,000 per MW. For the 1,200 MW project, this works out to be INR 48 crore.

It seems that the appetite of solar power developers is yet to grow for multi-MW and GW-scale projects. That could be a reason why the responses to NTPC’s earlier projects of 1,000MW or above have been somewhat muted.

NTPC, on its part, has been proactive in either extending or refloating the project tenders. The following additional tenders from NTPC are still open:

  • Development of 20MW solar PV project at Rihand (closing date: 14 August 2019).
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DAE exhibits techs for clean water, environment

DAE exhibits techs for clean water, environment

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India, is organizing a two-day exhibition on DAE spin-off technologies for non-power applications at New Moti Bagh recreation club, New Delhi. The exhibition was inaugurated by the Chairman, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Rakesh Gupta here today. The exhibition is open to public for two days on Aug 11–12 2019.

The exhibition is covering technologies developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Raja Ramanna Centre for Advance Technology, Indore and other Units of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), which are useful for the common man in day-to-day life, e.g., in the field of health, agriculture, water, food security and environment, said a PIB release.

The details of the exhibits are as follows:

Water: DAE has developed technologies for clean water to fulfill departmental requirements and as spin-off developed many techniques which finds applications in ultra-filtration membrane, RO membrane, multistage flash evaporation and water hydrology based on radiotracers. Low cost water filters for removal of all contamination from drinking water have been displayed.

Environment: DAE technologies are finding a lot of applications for Swatch Bharat Mission where bio-methanization and urban sludge hygienization technologies are being deployed across the country. “Nisargruna” plant is a bio-methanization plant for digesting kitchen food waste and green vegetable wastes from agriculture markets to methane gas which can be used for cooking/generating electricity or even for running biogas vehicles. This plant can digest animal waste from slaughterhouse also.

Agriculture: DAE has developed 44 high yielding seed varieties by inducing mutation to suit local weather conditions across the country. DAE has also developed technologies of fertilizer production from bio-sludge and encourages organic farming. The disease resistant, low maturity period and high yielding crops have been well accepted by the farmers. Rural technologies are also being made available to rural youth through ‘AKRUTI’ program.

Health: In health sector there are three segments i) Development of Radio Pharmaceuticals ii) Production & Distribution iii) its implementation for diagnosis and therapeutic application. The treatment of cancer is managed by Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), a fully autonomous aided institution of DAE, provides comprehensive treatment to cancer patients. Medical devices for Tele-ECG, Bhabhatron–a radiation tele-therapy machine, screening of TB and cancer are on display.

While inaugurating the exhibition, Rakesh Gupta expressed his happiness that such exhibition is being organized in New Delhi. He said that these technologies are helpful in day to day life for common people. He added that Government officials act as opinion leaders, so they should visit the exhibition and understand these technologies. Gupta emphasized that these technologies should be adopted in the whole country at a large scale.

The Secretary, DAE, Dr. K.N. Vyas reviewed the preparations for exhibition yesterday. The former Secretaries of DAE, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Dr. M R Srinivasan were present. The former Secretary DST and member of Atomic Energy Commission, Dr B Rama Rao, also visited exhibits, along with CMD, NPCIL, S.K. Sharma.

News and all pix: PIB

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He was addressing the gathering after inaugurating the Mukhya Mantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojna of the Jharkhand Government, in Ranchi, Jharkhand today. Lauding the Jharkhand government for coming up with the scheme, he expressed hope that it would go a long way in addressing agricultural distress in the state, said a PIB release.

Under the scheme, all the small and marginal farmers of the state, who have arable land up to a maximum of 5 acres, will be given a grant-in-aid at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre per year, which will also reduce their dependence on loans. This amount would be given in two installments through Direct Benefit Transfer to the beneficiary’s bank account. This will be in addition to PM Kisan Nidhi Yojana under which each small & marginal farmer’s family having combined landholding/ ownership of up to two hectares is paid Rs 6,000 per year, said the Vice President.

Naidu opined that Direct Benefit Transfer would eliminate middlemen and ensure that every penny of the financial assistance given by the government reaches the beneficiaries.

The Vice President said that the Government of India had taken a firm resolve to double the income of farmers by 2022. He added that the government was continuously increasing the minimum support price of food grains to achieve this objective.

He asserted that development would be meaningless until the benefits of progress reached the rural areas and made the lives of our farmers better.

The Vice President also stressed the need for water conservation and said that “Conservation of natural resources like water is essential. For this, a massive campaign of rainwater conservation should be carried out, which will replenish our ground water.”

He cautioned that groundwater levels are continuously falling due to uncontrolled exploitation of groundwater. Due to which the cost of irrigation is increasing. The Vice President also urged the farmers to adopt traditional techniques to support groundwater conservation.

The Governor of Jharkhand, Draupadi Murmu, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Raghuvar Das, the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Harivansh Narayan Singh, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Co-operative Department, Government of Jharkhand, Randhir Kumar Singh, and others were present on the occasion.

News and pix source: PIB.

Pradhan releases EoIs for UCO biodiesel in 100 cities

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The Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan today released the Expression for Interest (EOI) by National Oil Marketing Companies (IOC, HPCL and BPCL) for procurement of biodiesel, made from Used Cooking Oil (UCO). On the Occasion of the World Biofuel Day today, Pradhan, along with the Chief Guest, Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan, launched a sticker on RUCO viz., Repurpose Used Cooking Oil and a mobile app to facilitate the collection of UCO. This year the theme of the World Biofuel Day is “Production of Biodiesel from Used Cooking Oil (UCO)”.

As reported earlier by Time Green earlier, the EoI was to be released on World Biofuel Day. (See: EoIs for biofuel coming on World Biofuel Day)

The EOI on biodiesel from UCO provides that the entrepreneurs setting up biodiesel plants get remunerative price and assurance of complete offtake of production by the Oil companies. To be launched in 100 cities, EOI will ensure that Rs 51 per liter is paid for biodiesel for the first year, Rs 52.7 for the second year and Rs 54.5 for the third year. The oil companies will also bear the cost of transportation and GST for the first year, said the PIB release for this news today.

Dharmendra Pradhan, along with Chief Guest Dr. Harsh Vardhan, launched a sticker on Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) and a mobile app to facilitate the collection of UCO. (pix source: PIB)

Describing biodiesel as low hanging fruit in the scheme of alternate source of energies, the minister said that abundant raw material is available for the purpose (pix source: PIB)

Speaking on the occasion, Pradhan said the Prime Minister has given a target to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to bring down import dependency of oil products by 2022, and this can be achieved by enhancing production, improving energy efficiency, promoting conservation and encouraging alternate fuels. He said that the government is promoting the alternate sources of energy in a big way. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas is working on a four-pronged strategy in this regard—promoting Ethanol, 2-G ethanol, compressed biogas and biodiesel. Pradhan said that the ethanol blending in petrol has gone up from 1% to about 8% and is likely to touch 10% soon. He said the Government is planning to allow production of ethanol from surplus food grains which now sometimes go waste and also entail expenditure on storage. On the issue of compressed biogas, the minister said that CGD network being set up in over 400 districts will give a big fillip to it, and already 300 letters of intent have been signed with entrepreneurs for setting up CBG plants. Describing biodiesel as low hanging fruit in the scheme of alternate source of energies, the minister said that abundant raw material is available for the purpose. It is a good waste to wealth concept. He said that the budget this year has underlined the transformation of Annadata to Urjadata.

Mentioning about the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Scheme, Pradhan said that the Scheme will achieve its target of 8 crore beneficiaries by October this year, well before the deadline. He said that the scheme has environmental, economic, social and health benefits. Similarly, the scheme of collecting the Used Cooking Oil and its conversion to biodiesel will have environmental, economic and health benefits, besides helping the country attain self-sufficiency. He called upon the OMCs to support the entrepreneurs in their endeavor, as the biodiesel production also promote Sswacchh Bharat mission.

The minister complimented the Ministry of Health in joining hands with the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, in taking up the projects concerning the health of the people.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan enumerated number of technologies developed within the country to convert the waste into useful products. He said that PMUY has helped millions of people in improving their health. The Health Minister emphasized on enforcement, educating and raising awareness about perils of repeatedly using cooking oil, besides offering incentives for disposing it in productive, useful and safe manner. There is need to develop societal movement around it, he added. He said that the Government has launched Eat Right India campaign, and there is need to extend it Eat Less also.

The RUCO sticker launched today will imply that the establishment having it conforms to the RUCO ecosystem and does not reuse the cooking oil. The RUCO App will enable stakeholders to track and trace all transactions.

Leather Mission launched on World Tribal Day

Leather Mission launched on World Tribal Day

leather mission

As part of the Leather Mission, KVIC is giving leather kits to the leather artisans across the nation.

Khadi and Village Industry Commission (KVIC) distributed as many as 50 leather kits and 350 bee-boxes with live bee colonies in tribal-dominated village in Sirohi district of Rajasthan, one of the aspirational districts in India identified by the NITI Aayog, on World Tribal Day today.

While addressing the villagers, KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said that programs like Leather Mission, Kumhar Sashaktikaran Mission, and Honey Mission are the reflection of KVIC’s commitment to uplift the lives of marginalized communities in society.

He said that KVIC is launching a new program ‘Leather Mission’ on World Tribal Day from the tribal-dominated village of Chandala. Under this new program, KVIC will give Leather Kits to the leather artisans across the nation. It will not only increase their incomes manifold but will also inspire the traditional leather artisans who had migrated to other jobs from their traditional skill to adopt this vocation again.”

350 bee-boxes were distributed at the function. Honey Mission has proved as a game-changer in the lives of tribals, farmers, SC/STs and unemployed youths. So far, KVIC has distributed over 1.15 lakh bee-boxes across the nation among the marginalized community, which has provided jobs to over 11,500 people. It has not only increased the income of the bee-keeping farmers but has also increased the yield of the crops by up to 30 percent due to cross-pollination of the honeybees.

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