US says North Korean malware lurking in computer networks

In this May 15, 2017 photo, employees watch electronic boards monitoring possible ransomware cyberattacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2017
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US says North Korean malware lurking in computer networks

WASHINGTON: US authorities said Tuesday malware developed in North Korea is still lurking in many computer networks, giving hackers backdoor access to government, financial, automotive and media organizations.
An alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security warned of surreptitious activity by the so-called “Hidden Cobra” hacker group, also known by the name “Lazarus.”
US officials earlier this year blamed the group for a series of cyberattacks dating back to 2009, saying it was linked to the Pyongyang government.
In Tuesday’s warning, the DHS Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said the hacker could still maintain a presence on victims’ networks with the aim of “further network exploitation.”
The report said some networks could be infected with the Volgmer “backdoor Trojan” or a remote administration tool known as Fallchill, which can give hackers complete control of a system.
It said FBI investigators suspect the Fallchill tool has been used since 2016 and Volgmer since 2013.
Private security analysts refer to Hidden Cobra as the “Lazarus” group of hackers linked to North Korea and likely behind a series of multimillion-dollar cyber thefts from banks around the world.
Some analysts say the Lazarus group may also have been behind the WannaCry ransomware outbreak earlier this year.
Hackers in the Hidden Cobra or Lazarus group have been active since 2009 and “have leveraged their capabilities to target and compromise a range of victims,” according to a DHS report in June.
“Some intrusions have resulted in the exfiltration of data while others have been disruptive in nature.”
DHS and FBI officials say the group “will continue to use cyber operations to advance their government’s military and strategic objectives,” according to the DHS report.
North Korea has denied orchestrating any cyberattacks, but the latest report comes amid rising tensions with the United States over the communist regime’s nuclear testing program.


Pope invites Mideast religious leaders to Italy for peace summit

Updated 41 min 14 sec ago
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Pope invites Mideast religious leaders to Italy for peace summit

VATICAN CIT: Pope Francis has invited leaders of all Christian denominations in the Middle East to join him in Italy in July to discuss how they can help bring peace to the region, the Vatican said on Wednesday.
The meeting will take place on July 7 in the southern Adriatic port city of Bari, chosen because it is home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a figure venerated in both the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.
Nicholas, who lived about 1,700 years ago in what is today Turkey, is particularly honored by Christian Orthodox Churches in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon in the Middle East.
Nicholas is also widely venerated among Orthodox Christians in Russia, which is Syria’s ally in the civil war.
The Vatican said the encounter would be an “ecumenical meeting for peace” where the religious leaders would discuss “the dramatic situation of the Middle East that afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith.”