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North Korea threatens to attack US over military drill

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2015-08-16_2327Pyongang: North Korea has threatened to “retaliate against the US with tremendous muscle” if it did not cancel multinational military exercises scheduled to begin on Monday, the media reported.

South Korea conducts the yearly exercises, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, with the US and other allies “to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula”, according to a statement from the Korea-US Combined Forces Command, CNN reported.

“The further Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises are intensified, the strongest military counteraction the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will take to cope with them,” a spokesman for North Korea’s National Defence Commission (NDC) said on Saturday.

A State Department official said on Saturday it was aware of the threats. The exercises were transparent, defence-minded and are designed to increase the readiness of South Korea and the region, the State Department official said.
“These exercises are a clear demonstration of the US commitment to the alliance,” the official said.

While threatening military action was nothing new for the regime (Kim Jong Un told his troops they should be ready to fight a “sacred war” in the days leading up to the exercises in 2012, for example), the rhetoric coming out of Pyongang seems particularly ratcheted-up this time around.

“The army and people of the DPRK are no longer what they used to be in the past when they had to counter the US nukes with rifles,” the NDC spokesman continued, saying North Korea “is the invincible power equipped with both [the] latest offensive and defensive means unknown to the world…”

A state television report repeated the claim that this is not the same old, ill-equipped North Korea that never could stand up to the US in the past. In fact, this year, they are threatening to attack the US on its own soil.

“If (the) US wants their mainland to be safe,” said a newswoman for the state TV station, KCNA, “then the Ulchi Freedom Guardian should stop immediately.”

(IANS)

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North Korea Hackers Target Think Tanks, Activists; Reveals Microsoft

By using forwarding rules, Thallium can continue to see email received by the victim, even after the victim's account password is updated

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has revealed that a North Korea-linked hacker group has stolen the sensitive personal information of government employees, think tanks, university staff members, members of organizations focused on world peace and human rights, as well as individuals who work on nuclear proliferation-related issues.

Microsoft has now gained control of 50 domains that the group uses to conduct its operations, the company said on Monday.

With this action, the sites can no longer be used to execute attacks.

A court case against the hacker group, called Thallium, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, resulted in a court order enabling Microsoft to take control of the web domains, Microsoft Customer Security and Trust Vice President Tom Burt said in a blog post.

Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) has been tracking and gathering information on Thallium, monitoring the group’s activities to establish and operate a network of websites, domains and Internet-connected computers.

This network was used to target victims and then compromise their online accounts, infect their computers, compromise the security of their networks and steal sensitive information.

Most targets were based in the US, as well as Japan and South Korea, Burt said.

Like many cybercriminals and threat actors, Thallium typically attempts to trick victims through a technique known as spear phishing.

FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash.
FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is shown outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. VOA

By gathering information about the targeted individuals from social media, public personnel directories from organizations the individual is involved with and other public sources, Thallium is able to craft a personalized spear-phishing email in a way that gives the email credibility to the target.

The link in the email redirects the user to a website requesting the user’s account credentials.

By tricking victims into clicking on the fraudulent links and providing their credentials, Thallium is then able to log into the victim’s account.

Upon successful compromise of a victim account, Thallium can review emails, contact lists, calendar appointments and anything else of interest in the compromised account.

The hackers often also creates a new mail forwarding rule in the victim’s account settings. This mail forwarding rule will forward all new emails received by the victim to Thallium-controlled accounts.

Also Read: Actor Pankaj Tripathi Likes to Put Work Before Vacay Plans

By using forwarding rules, Thallium can continue to see email received by the victim, even after the victim’s account password is updated.

“You can protect yourself from these types of attacks in at least three ways. We recommend, first, that you enable two-factor authentication on all business and personal email accounts,” Burt said.

“Second, learn how to spot phishing schemes and protect yourself from them. Third, enable security alerts about links and files from suspicious websites and carefully check your email forwarding rules for any suspicious activity,” he added. (IANS)