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The report titled "IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020" highlights how cybercriminals' techniques have evolved after decades of access to tens of billions of corporate and personal records and hundreds of thousands of software flaws. Pixabay

More than 8.5 billion breached records were reported in 2019 with seven billion of them, or over 85 per cent, being due to misconfigured cloud servers and other improperly configured systems, according to a new report from IBM Security.

The report titled “IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020” highlights how cybercriminals’ techniques have evolved after decades of access to tens of billions of corporate and personal records and hundreds of thousands of software flaws.


According to the report, 60 per cent of initial entries into victims’ networks that were observed leveraged either previously stolen credentials or known software vulnerabilities, allowing attackers to rely less on deception to gain access.

“The cyber threat environment in India has evolved over the years. Cybercriminals continue to fall back on using their usual tricks like stolen credentials, weaponizing vulnerabilities, phishing attacks, ransomware etc in addition to discovering newer ways of hacking,” Vaidyanathan R Iyer, Security Software Leader, IBM India/South Asia, said in a statement.

“Threats to sectors like financial services, retail and government continue to be the key concerns. Organizations need to take stronger measures to improve their security posture while maintaining the user experience,” Iyer said.

Phishing was a successful initial infection vector in less than one-third of the incidents observed, compared to half in 2018, said the report.

Scanning and exploitation of vulnerabilities resulted in 30 per cent of observed incidents, compared to just 8 per in 2018.


More than 8.5 billion breached records were reported in 2019 with seven billion of them, or over 85 per cent, being due to misconfigured cloud servers and other improperly configured systems, according to a new report from IBM Security. Pixabay

In fact, older, known vulnerabilities in Microsoft Office and Windows Server Message Block were still finding high rates of exploitation in 2019, the report revealed.

The use of previously stolen credentials is also gaining ground as a preferred point-of-entry 29 per cent of the time in observed incidents, it added.

ALSO READ: Apple Unveils Swift Playgrounds App For Mac in Tune To Catalyst App Inititative

Nearly 60 per cent of the top 10 spoofed brands identified were Google and YouTube domains, while Apple (15 per cent) and Amazon (12 per cent) domains were also spoofed by attackers looking to steal users’ monetizable data, the IBM report said. (IANS)


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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)


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