The week in security: Innovation agenda bearing security fruit; Apple still in FBI jam

The Australian government's innovation agenda appears to have started paying off in the security space, with successful overseas Security Innovation Network (SINET) partnering with CSIRO arm Data61 to bring its incubator and commercialisation activities to Sydney later this year. This, as the industry pivots to become more proactive when it comes to taking the security bull by the horns.

Threat analytics is expanding at a “dizzying” pace and keeping up requires new architectural approaches, one executive has warned. Also requiring change is the approach to vetting emails purportedly from senior executives or legal staff, which are being exploited as compromises with increasing regularity. An attack campaign was even using a keylogger to hijack key business email accounts.

Symantec is refocusing its business after its separation from Veritas, with security-related moves including hosting partnerships that will see free TLS certificates given to Web site owners. Such certificates will require protections to avoid being abused by cyberespionage groups stealing legitimate certificates to sign their malware.

Software security flaws are up 49 percent since 2010, according to a new vulnerability assessment that came as malicious attackers exploited a weakness in Apple's digital rights management to infect even iOS devices that aren't jailbroken; Apple responded by yanking the software from its App Store.

As usual, there were new threats aplenty as the US FTC clamped down on 12 app developers that had embedded audio-monitoring software in their apps. Documents with malicious macros were being used in a spam campaign targeted at computers used for financial transactions. A number of high-profile Web sites were linked to ransomware and other malware after malicious advertisements were injected onto their sites; along similar lines, a surge in domain typosquatting was raising the threat of hitting malware-laden pages by accident.

As Locky ransomware targeted SMEs, one expert was warning that vulnerabilities are an issue of complex backup rather than detection alone. Ransomware researchers warned that previous weaknesses in TeslaCrypt ransomware, which allowed files to be recovered without paying the ransom, had been sewn up and that the code was now impossible to crack. And, even as a new Stagefright exploit put Android devices at risk, the FBI was warning of a campaign of malicious product recall alerts.

John Oliver was among those weighing in on the Apple-FBI debate, while a digital rights group was pushing hard for the claim to be rejected in the name of saving data security. Company CEO Tim Cook revealed that the Apple-FBI stoush is already taking its toll well before ending up in court. And, even as Apple claimed the FBI's latest move indicated weakness in its arguments, a growing number of Apple employees are saying they would rather quit the company than be involved in building a backdoor into the iPhone.

Safari, Chrome and Flash Player were exploited during the latest Pwn2Own to hack the latest versions of OS X and Windows – in an event that highlighted hackers' renewed focus on kernel issues – Google doubled its bounty for a Chromebook hack – to $US100,000 (A$136,000). The US Department of Defense was also calling for contributions, in its modelling of worst-case cybersecurity scenarios.

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