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TikTok goes down in India, its biggest overseas market – TechCrunch

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A growing number of internet service providers in India have started to block their subscribers from accessing TikTok a day after New Delhi banned the popular short-video app and 58 other services in the world’s second largest internet market over security and privacy concerns.

Many users on Airtel, Vodafone and other service providers reported Tuesday afternoon (local time) that TikTok app on their phone was no longer accessible. Opening TikTok app, users said, showed they were no longer connected to the internet.

For many others, opening TikTok app promoted an error message that said the popular app was complying with the Indian government’s order and could no longer offer its service. Opening TikTok website in India prompts a similar message.

Earlier on Tuesday, TikTok app became unavailable for download on Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store in India. Two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch that ByteDance, the developer of TikTok, had voluntarily pulled the app from the app stores.

The vast majority of other apps including Alibaba Group’s UC Browser and UC News as well as e-commerce service Club Factory that India blocked on Monday evening remain available for download on the marquee app stores, suggesting that Google and Apple are yet to comply with New Delhi’s direction.

TikTok, which has amassed over 200 million users in India, identifies Asia’s third-largest economy as its biggest overseas market. Nikhil Gandhi, who oversees TikTok’s operations in India, said the firm was “in the process” of complying with India’s order and was looking forward to engage with lawmakers in the nation to assuage their concerns.

This is the first time that India, the world’s second largest internet market with nearly half of its 1.3 billion population online, has ordered to ban so many foreign apps. New Delhi said nation’s Computer Emergency Response Team had received many “representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues. […] The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India.”

The surprising announcement created confusion as to how the Indian government was planning to go about “blocking” these services in India. Things are becoming clearer now.

TikTok, which was blocked in India for a week last year but was accessible to users who had already installed the app on their smartphones, said last year in a court filing that it was losing more than $500,000 a day. Reuters reported on Tuesday that ByteDance had planned to invest $1 billion in India to expand the reach of TikTok, a plan that now appears derailed.

More to follow…

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Amazon Prime members get exclusive sneak peek of ‘Lord of the Rings’ series – TechCrunch

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As part of the promotion for Amazon’s annual Prime Day shopping event, Prime members were given an exclusive 60-second sneak peek at Amazon Prime Video’s upcoming series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The preview was released today, July 6, and will only be available to watch for 48 hours.

The only way to see the exclusive clip is to sign in with an active Prime account. The company hopes that fans will sign up in order to take advantage of the opportunity.

This week, Amazon is also surprising 20 Prime members from around the world with an invitation to attend the London global premiere happening in August.

While Amazon has offered Prime Day deals connected to entertainment before — such as discounted Prime channel subscriptions — this time around its helping push new Prime subscriptions and, of course, sell more goods.

“Being the first to watch a sneak peek of one of the most highly anticipated shows of 2022 or ordering your favorite takeout while watching a football game on a TV you snagged for a great price—that’s the promise of Prime,” said Jamil Ghani, VP of Amazon Prime, in a statement.

Other promotions tied to the Prime Day event include deals of up to 45% off on home entertainment devices such as Fire TVs, as well as 50% to 58% off on Fire TV streaming products to hype up Amazon Prime Video’s first exclusive “Thursday Night Football” game on September 15. There will be deals on licensed fan gear in its NFL fan shop as well.

The biggest deal unveiled today was arguably the free one-year subscription to GrubHub+ for Prime members, further demonstrating its strategy to tie offerings to its core retail business.

Prime members can also stream “Ultimate Crown” on Prime Video and Amazon-owned Twitch to watch MrBeast and Ninja go head-to-head in “League of Legends” on July 7. Members will get exclusive experiences for the event, such as a chance to attend the event in person or take part in live chats to win gifted subscriptions and giveaways.

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US government says North Korean hackers are targeting American healthcare organizations with ransomware – TechCrunch

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The FBI, CISA, and the U.S. Treasury Department are warning that North Korean state-sponsored hackers are using ransomware to target healthcare and public health sector organizations across the United States.

In a joint advisory published Wednesday, the U.S. government agencies said they had observed North Korean-backed hackers deploying Maui ransomware since at least May 2021 to encrypt servers responsible for healthcare services, including electronic health records, medical imaging, and entire intranets.

“The FBI assesses North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors have deployed Maui ransomware against Healthcare and Public Health Sector organizations,” the advisory reads. “The North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors likely assume healthcare organizations are willing to pay ransoms because these organizations provide services that are critical to human life and health. Because of this assumption, the FBI, CISA, and Treasury assess North Korean state-sponsored actors are likely to continue targeting [healthcare] organizations.”

The advisory notes that in many of the incidents observed and responded to by the FBI, the Maui ransomware caused disruption to healthcare services “for prolonged periods.”

Maui was first identified by Stairwell, a threat-hunting startup that aims to help organizations determine if they have been compromised, in early-April 2022. In an analysis of the ransomware, Stairwell principal reverse engineer Silas Cutler notes that Maui lacks many of the features commonly seen with tooling from ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) providers, such as an embedded ransom note or automated means of transmitting encryption keys to attackers. Rather, Stairwell concludes that Maui is likely manually deployed across victims’ networks, with remote operators targeting specific files they want to encrypt.

North Korea has long used cryptocurrency-stealing operations to fund its nuclear weapons program. In an email, John Hultquist, vice president of Mandiant Intelligence, said that as a result “ransomware is a no-brainer” for the North Korean regime.

“Ransomware attacks against healthcare are an interesting development, in light of the focus these actors have made on this sector since the emergence of COVID-19. It is not unusual for an actor to monetize access which may have been initially garnered as part of a cyber espionage campaign,” said Hultquist. “We have noted recently that North Korean actors have shifted focus away from healthcare targets to other traditional diplomatic and military organizations. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations are also extraordinarily vulnerable to extortion of this type because of the serious consequences of a disruption,” he added.

The advisory, which also includes indicators of compromise (IOCs) and information on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) employed in these attacks to help network defenders, urges organizations in the healthcare industries to strengthen their defenses by limiting access to data, turning off network device management interfaces, and by using monitoring tools to observe whether Internet of Things devices have become compromised.

“The FBI, along with our federal partners, remains vigilant in the fight against North Korea’s malicious cyber threats to our healthcare sector,” said FBI Cyber Division assistant director Bryan Vorndran. “We are committed to sharing information and mitigation tactics with our private sector partners to assist them in shoring up their defenses and protecting their systems.”

The U.S. government’s latest warning follows a spate of high-profile cyberattacks targeting healthcare organizations; University Medical Center Southern Nevada was hit by a ransomware attack in August 2021 that compromised files containing protected health information and personally identifiable information, and Eskenazi Health said in October that cybercriminals had access to their network for almost three months. Last month, Kaiser Permanente confirmed a breach of an employee’s email account led to the theft of 70,000 patient records.

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Hotel giant Marriott confirms yet another data breach – TechCrunch

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Hotel group Marriott International has confirmed another data breach, with hackers claiming to have stolen 20 gigabytes of sensitive data including guests’ credit card information.

The incident, first reported by Databreaches.net Tuesday, is said to have happened in June when an unnamed hacking group claimed they used social engineering to trick an employee at a Marriott hotel Maryland into giving them access to their computer.

“Marriott International is aware of a threat actor who used social engineering to trick one associate at a single Marriott hotel into providing access to the associate’s computer,” Marriott spokesperson Melissa Froehlich Flood told TechCrunch in a statement. “The threat actor did not gain access to Marriott’s core network.”

Marriott said the hotel chain identified, and was investigating, the incident before the threat actor contacted the company in an extortion attempt, which Marriott said it did not pay.

The group claiming responsibility for the attack say the stolen data includes guests’ credit card information and confidential information about both guests and employees. Samples of the data provided to Databreaches.net purport to show reservation logs for airline crew members from January 2022 and names and other details of guests, as well as credit card information used to make bookings.

However, Marriott told TechCrunch that its investigation determined that the data accessed “primarily contained non-sensitive internal business files regarding the operation of the property.”

The company said that it is preparing to notify 300-400 individuals regarding the incident, and has already notified relevant law enforcement agencies.

This isn’t the first time Marriott has suffered a significant data breach. Hackers breached the hotel chain in 2014 to access almost 340 million guest records worldwide – an incident that went undetected until September 2018 and led to a £14.4 million ($24M) fine from the U.K’s Information Commissioner’s Office. In January 2020, Marriott was hacked again in a separate incident that affected around 5.2 million guests.

TechCrunch asked Marriott what cybersecurity protections it has in place to prevent such incidents from happening, but the company declined to answer.

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