Wednesday July 17, 2019
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Hackers Win Tesla Car For Exposing System Error

The EV-maker was fairly quick to fix vulnerabilities exposed by white hat hackers

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Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)

Electric Vehicle (EV)-maker Tesla had to give away one of their Model 3 cars and $35,000 prize money to a group of hackers after they managed to crack its system during a hacking event.

Amat Cama and Richard Zhu of team Fluoroacetate exposed a vulnerability in the vehicle system during the Pwn2Own 2019 hacking competition, organised by Trend Micro’s “Zero Day Initiative (ZDI)”, held here this week.

The hackers targeted the infotainment system on the Tesla Model 3 and used a “JIT bug in the renderer” to take control of the system, Electrek reported on Saturday.

Charging problems with electric car
Tesla cars recharge at a Tesla station at a shopping center in Charlotte, N.C., June 24, 2017. Buyers of Tesla’s luxury models have access to a company-funded Supercharger network. VOA

“Since launching our bug bounty programme in 2014, we have continuously increased our investments into partnerships with security researchers to ensure that all Tesla owners constantly benefit from the brightest minds in the community,” the report quoted David Lau, Vice President of Vehicle Software at Tesla as saying.

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As part of Tesla’s bug bounty programme, the company had given away hundreds of thousands of dollars in rewards to hackers who exposed vulnerabilities in its systems.

The EV-maker was fairly quick to fix vulnerabilities exposed by white hat hackers, the report said. (IANS)

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Researchers Reveal Vulnerabilities that Allowed Hackers to Manipulate Images on WhatsApp and Telegram

WhatsApp saves files to external storage automatically, while Telegram does so when the "Save to Gallery" feature is enabled

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Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
The security flaw, dubbed "Media File Jacking", affected WhatsApp for Android by default. Pixabay

If you thought instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption give you rock-solid security, think again. Researchers from cyber-security firm Symantec on Monday revealed vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to manipulate the images and audio files you receive on these platforms.

The security flaw, dubbed “Media File Jacking”, affected WhatsApp for Android by default, and Telegram for Android if certain features were enabled, Symantec researchers said in a blog post.

According to the researchers, WhatsApp saves files to external storage automatically, while Telegram does so when the “Save to Gallery” feature is enabled. However, neither apps have any system in place to protect users from a Media File Jacking attack, the researchers from Symantec’s Modern OS Security team explained.

Attackers could exploit this vulnerability to scam victims in various ways.

Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
If you thought instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption give you rock-solid security, think again. Pixabay

“If the security flaw is exploited, a malicious attacker could misuse and manipulate sensitive information such as personal photos and videos, corporate documents, invoices, and voice memos,” wrote Software Engineer Alon Gat and Yair Amit, Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, Modern OS Security, Symantec.

Giving example of image manipulation, the researchers said a seemingly innocent, but actually malicious, app downloaded by a user could manipulate personal photos in near-real time and without the victim knowing.

The app runs in the background and performs a “Media File Jacking attack” while the victim uses WhatsApp. It monitors for photos received through the app, identifies faces in photos, and replaces them with something else, such as other faces or objects.

“A WhatsApp user may send a family photo to one of their contacts, but what the recipient sees is actually a modified photo. While this attack may seem trivial and just a nuisance, it shows the feasibility of manipulating images on the fly,” said the blog post.

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Using the same vulnerability, the attackers could make payment manipulation, audio message spoofing or spread fake news.

“In one of the most damaging Media File Jacking attacks, a malicious actor can manipulate an invoice sent by a vendor to a customer, to trick the customer into making a payment to an illegitimate account,” Gat and Amit wrote.

“The Media File Jacking threat is especially concerning in light of the common perception that the new generation of IM (instant messaging) apps are immune to content manipulation and privacy risks, thanks to the utilisation of security mechanisms like end-to-end encryption,” they added.

Hackers, Images, Whatsapp
Researchers from cyber-security firm Symantec on Monday revealed vulnerabilities that allowed hackers to manipulate the images and audio files. Pixabay

Reports in May revealed that a bug in WhatsApp’s audio call feature allowed hackers to install spyware onto Android and iOS phones just by calling the target. The spyware was reportedly developed by the Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group.

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WhatsApp had said it identified and “promptly” fixed the vulnerability that could enable an attacker to insert and execute code on mobile devices. (IANS)