Tag Archives: services

Warning – 3 Popular VPN Services Are Leaking Your IP Address

Researchers found critical vulnerabilities in three popular VPN services that could leak users’ real IP addresses and other sensitive data.

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a great way to protect your daily online activities that work by encrypting your data and boosting security, as well as useful to obscure your actual IP address.

While some choose VPN services for online anonymity and

Mac Software Mines Cryptocurrency in Exchange for Free Access to Premium Account

Nothing comes for free, especially online.

Would you be okay with allowing a few paid services to mine cryptocurrencies using your system instead of paying the subscription fee?

Most free websites and services often rely on advertising revenue to survive, but now there is a new way to make money—using customers’ computer to generate virtual currencies.

It was found that a scheduling app,

Hundreds of GPS Location Tracking Services Leaving User Data Open to Hackers


Security researchers have unearthed multiple vulnerabilities in hundreds of GPS services that could enable attackers to expose a whole host of sensitive data on millions of online location tracking devices managed by vulnerable GPS services.

The series of vulnerabilities discovered by two security researchers, Vangelis Stykas and Michael Gruhn, who dubbed the bugs as ‘Trackmageddon‘ in a report, detailing the key security issues they have encountered in many GPS tracking services.

Trackmageddon affects several GPS services that harvest geolocation data of users from a range of smart GPS-enabled devices, including children trackers, car trackers, pet trackers among others, in an effort to enable their owners to keep track of where they are.

According to the researchers, the vulnerabilities include easy-to-guess passwords (such as 123456), exposed folders, insecure API endpoints, and insecure direct object reference (IDOR) issues.

By exploiting these flaws, an unauthorized third party or hacker can get access to personally identifiable information collected by all location tracking devices, including GPS coordinates, phone numbers, device model and type information, IMEI numbers, and custom assigned names.


What’s more? On some online services, an unauthorized third party can also access photos and audio recordings uploaded by location tracking devices.

The duo said they have been trying to reach out to potentially affected vendors behind the affected tracking services for warning them of the severity of these vulnerabilities.

According to the researchers, one of the largest global vendors for GPS tracking devices, ThinkRace, may have been the original developer of the flawed location tracking online service software and seller of licenses to the software.

Although four of the affected ThinkRace domains have now been fixed, the remaining domains still using the same flawed services continue to be vulnerable. Since many services could still be using old versions of ThinkRace, users are urged to stay up-to-date.

“We tried to give the vendors enough time to fix (also respond for that matter) while we weighted this against the current immediate risk of the users,” the researchers wrote in their report. 

“We understand that only a vendor fix can remove user’s location history (and any other stored user data for that matter) from the still affected services but we (and I personally because my data is also on one of those sites) judge the risk of these vulnerabilities being exploited against live location tracking devices much higher than the risk of historic data being exposed.”

In many cases, vendors attempted to patch the vulnerabilities, but the issues ended up re-appearing. Around 79 domains still remain vulnerable, and researchers said they did not know if these services would be fixed.

“There have been several online services that stopped being vulnerable to our automated proof of concept code, but because we never received a notification by a vendor that they fixed them, it could be that the services come back online again as vulnerable,” the duo said.

You can find the entire list of affected domains on the Trackmageddon report.

Stykas and Gruhn also recommended some suggestions for users to avoid these vulnerabilities, which includes removing as much data from the affected devices as possible, changing the password for the tracking services and keeping a strong one, or just stopping to use the affected devices until the issues are fixed.

Chinese Man Gets 5-Year Prison for Running ‘Unauthorized’ VPN Service


While continuing its crackdown on services that help Chinese citizens to bypass Great Firewall, Chinese authorities have sentenced a man to five-and-a-half years in prison for selling a VPN service without obtaining a proper license from the government.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government announced a ban on “unauthorized” VPN services, making it mandatory for companies to obtain an appropriate license from the government in order to operate in the country.

Citizens in China usually make use of VPN and Proxy services to bypass the country’s Great Firewall, also known as the Golden Shield project, which employs a variety of tricks to censor the Internet in the country.

The Great Firewall project already blocked access to more than 150 out of the world’s 1,000 top websites, which includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox, Tumblr, and The Pirate Bay in the country.

VPN helps Chinese citizens encrypt their Internet traffic and route it through a distant connection so that they can hide their identities and location data while accessing websites that are usually restricted or censored by the country.

So to tighten grip over the Internet, the Chinese government announced a 14-month “clean-up” campaign in January, which now resulted in the sentence of Wu Xiangyang, a Chinese citizen from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, for offering a non-licensed VPN service from 2013 until this June that helped thousands of users illegally bypass Great Firewall.

Xiangyang was also fined 500,000 yuan ($76,000) by the court in the southern region of Guangxi, according to an announcement from China’s Procuratorate Daily on Wednesday.

The report also said he was convicted of collecting “illegal revenue” of 792,638 yuan ($120,500) from his unlicensed business.

Xiangyang marketed the VPN service on its website, popular shopping site Taobao (owned by Alibaba) and on social media sites. In March last year, his company also claimed on Twitter to have 8,000 foreigners and 5,000 businesses using its VPN service to browse websites blocked in China.

This wasn’t the first sentencing made in China for selling a VPN service without holding a proper license. Another Chinese citizen, Deng Jiewei, was also sentenced to nine months in prison and fined 5,000 Chinese yuan this March for selling unauthorized VPNs on his website.

The Hacker News reported in July that Apple also removed some of the popular VPN apps, including ExpressVPN and Star VPN, from its official Chinese app store to comply with the government crackdown that will remain in place until March 31, 2018.

Gladius Shows Promise in Utilizing Blockchain Tech to Fight Hackers

Blockchain startups are cropping up left and right aiming to disrupt existing services and business models.

These range from the trivial to potentially game-changing solutions that can revolutionize the internet as we know it. Among those that promise to change the world, most are attempting to reconstruct the entire internet infrastructure into something that is decentralized, secure, scalable, and tokenized.

There are also those that aim to solve the most significant problems plaguing the digital world, particularly potentially costly and tedious security issues. We do not lack for dangers, ranging from data breaches to denial-of-service attacks, and other hacks.

For the most part, there are capable SaaS and software-defined services that are capable enough in addressing the threats that involve malware and DDoS.

However, blockchains offer much much more.

The plague of DDoS

Distributed denial-of-service or DDoS attacks involve a malicious hacker deploying a network of infected computers in sending traffic and making queries to the target host. By deploying a botnet with potentially thousands of unique devices, it is difficult to block on a per-IP basis.

Oftentimes, without adequate protection, a DDoS attack can slow down a website or service to a crawl until it is no longer accessible either by running out of bandwidth allocation or simply being overwhelmed with traffic.

According to this DDos Impact survey, almost half of respondents say they have encountered a DDoS attack, with more than 90 percent of these businesses being attacked a span of 12 months.

The average DDoS attack lasted between 6 to 24 hours, and at the cost of $40,000 per hour, these cost businesses about $500,000 per attack on average, with some even costing more for larger enterprises.

For small businesses, the cost can be more severe, especially for those that depend solely on their online operations and sales to thrive.

These are only the costs associated with IT activity. When a website goes down, all its business goes down with it – this can be particularly troublesome for a company running an e-commerce website or a consumer-facing application.

Blockchain-based solutions for DDoS

Sadly, a DDoS attack is something that cannot be prevented. You can only mitigate its effects, and your infrastructure can merely ward off the excessive traffic and bandwidth utilization through several means. For the most part, deploying DDoS protection entails deflecting any botnet traffic, so that your main server or cloud deployment is not overloaded.

As earlier mentioned, cloud-based DDoS protection acts as a barrier between the main server and the internet-at-large Whenever an attack occurs, the service efficiently “absorbs” the traffic to minimize the impact on the infrastructure itself.

This can only go so far, however. Even the most robust of cloud infrastructures can just handle so much traffic. Besides, for businesses, the costs involved could be overwhelming.

Here is where a blockchain and a highly distributed approach can offer more value.

Gladius, a blockchain service for DDoS prevention and website acceleration aims to leverage on its global network of individual and independent nodes in mitigating the effects of a DDoS attack and caching content all across the world to make the website load faster.

Being a decentralized network, users can rent out their spare bandwidth through a desktop client and earn money by sharing their bandwidth. Then, their excess bandwidth is distributed to nodes which in turn funnel the bandwidth to websites under DDoS attacks to make sure they stay up.

During “peace time” or periods without a DDoS, Gladius’ network also speeds up access to the internet by acting as a content delivery network, wherein web content is cached for faster delivery to the target client’s browser.

The perks of a peer-to-peer network

Image Credit: Gladius

A decentralized network has additional benefits beyond the simple cloud-based deployment.

While a cloud is, to some extent, distributed, it is still owned by whoever runs the platform. In contrast, a blockchain runs completely off of a decentralized network, wherein the nodes are independently owned.

Herein lies the additional benefit.
With most blockchains, nodes are rewarded through a tokenized incentive scheme – it is the same with Gladius. Individual computer owners can earn cryptocurrency tokens whenever their resources are shared with the network.

Toward a decentralized sharing economy

Blockchain startups are representative of where we are heading in the future: a truly decentralized sharing economy. We have had a glimpse of such sharing economies with platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and the like.

However, these foster a sharing economy without the decentralized aspect – the platform is still owned by a corporate entity, for instance.

With blockchain startups, the sharing economy is built entirely upon the independent and decentralized nodes that make up the network.

Bitcoin proved that we could have an exchange of value through a decentralized system. Ethereum proved we could establish self-executing smart contracts without third parties or mediums.

With solutions like Gladius, we are likewise hopeful that the internet’s infrastructure can be disrupted for the benefit of both users and business that build value.

Google Begins Removing Play Store Apps Misusing Android Accessibility Services


Due to rise in malware and adware abusing Android accessibility services, Google has finally decided to take strict steps against the apps on its app platform that misuse this feature.

Google has emailed Android app developers informing them that within 30 days, they must show how accessibility code used in their apps is helping disabled users or their apps will be removed from its Play Store entirely.

For those who are unaware, Android’s accessibility services are meant to help disabled people interact with their smartphone devices (such as automatically filling out forms, overlaying content or switching between apps) by allowing app-makers to integrate verbal feedback, voice commands and more in their apps.

Many popular Android apps use the accessibility API to legitimately provide users with benefits, but over the past few months, we have seen a series of malware, including DoubleLocker ransomware, Svpeng, and BankBot, misusing this feature to infect people.


Researchers have even discovered an attack, Cloak and Dagger, that could allow hackers to silently take full control of the infected devices and steal private data.

This feature that lets malicious apps hijack a device’s screen has become one of the most widely exploited methods used by cybercriminals and hackers to trick unwitting Android users into falling victims for malware and phishing scams.

Google planned to resolve this issue with the release of its Android Oreo, but the new Android OS launched without changes in policy related to Accessibility services.

However, Google now appears to be putting an end to apps that use the accessibility services outside of their intended purpose.

“If you aren’t already doing so, you must explain to users how your app is using the [accessibility feature] to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps,” part of the email sent out to developers reads. 

“Apps that fail to meet this requirement within 30 days may be removed from Google Play. Alternatively, you can remove any requests for accessibility services within your app. You can also choose to unpublish your app.”

An active thread on Reddit where developers and app users are complaining about this change suggests that this new move will also affect popular and legitimate apps like LastPass, Tasker, and Universal Copy that use accessibility feature for key features and not intended for disabled users.

Although 30 days is a short period of time for app developers to find workarounds, the developer of Tasker suggested an alternative way to replace the accessibility services with different code.

“I plan to replace app detection with usage stats API,” Tasker’s developers suggested their plans to proceed. “Unfortunately, this API started with API 21, so people using Tasker on a pre-Lollipop device won’t be able to use app contexts anymore.”

This new move will prevent abuse of the API that poses a potential security threat to Android users, but legitimate app developers have only 30 days to search for an alternative before their apps get kicked out of Play Store.

Russia Bans Proxy Services And VPNs To Purge Extremist Content


Earlier this year, China announced a crackdown on VPNs and proxy services in the country and made it mandatory for all VPN providers and leased cable lines operators to have a license from the government in order to use such services.

Now, Russia is also considering to follow a similar path.

The Russian Federation Council has just approved a bill that would outlaw the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), the Tor anonymity network, anonymous mobile messaging services and internet proxy services, citing concerns about the spread of extremist materials.

VPNs are third-party services that help users access block banned websites by encrypting users’ Internet traffic and routeing it through a distant connection, hiding their location data and access sites that are usually restricted or censored by a certain country.

The bill to ban VPNs and proxy services has been passed by the lower house of Russian parliament, the State Duma, on Friday, and only needs to be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

Once become law, the bill will force the country’s internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to any providers of proxy or VPN services.

“After identifying the illegal sites and domains, the watchdog will send a notice to the individual service providers….the service providers will get a 72-hour deadline in order to give up the details of the various operators,” VPN provider Le VPN explained

“The host service providers will get about three days time to stop the service providers from providing the illegal service to the banned domains…[if] providers fail to meet the specified demands within the period of a month, they will face stringent action. The government can put a ban or block them totally.”

Many Russian citizens use VPNs and other Internet proxy services to access blocked content by routeing their traffic through servers outside the country.

While many said that the bill is nothing but a move to enforce strict censorship and limit dissent and political opposition, Russian lawmakers behind the bill argued that this decision was prompted by concerns about the spread of terrorist-related materials hosted online.

Russian authorities have begun to crack down on Internet freedoms tighten controls on online services in recent years, citing security concerns.

Just last month, the Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor threatened to block Telegram messaging app after the FSB intelligence service said those behind April’s deadly Saint Petersburg metro bombing attacks had used the encrypted chat service.

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