Dutch intelligence agency AVID claimed this week that “Viktor Muller Ferreira” is just a cover story and false identity for Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, an alleged Russian intelligence officer belonging to the GRU military unit. AVID said it caught Cherkasov applying to be an intern at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, which is investigating potential war crimes in Russia’s wars against Ukraine and Georgia.
As well as stopping Cherkasov from obtaining the position at the ICC and sending him back to Brazil, the Dutch intelligence agency also published his long and detailed cover story. The four-page story, often known as a covert intelligence officer’s “legend,” details the background of the “Ferreira” identity. “The threat posed by this intelligence officer is deemed potentially very high,” AVID said in a statement.
Since outing “Ferreira,” more clues about his undercover life have emerged. Social media profiles belonging to “Ferreira” have been discovered by the investigative unit Bellingcat, as well as a blog and online CV. He also studied at Trinity College Dublin and Johns Hopkins University. Eugene Finkel, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins, who says he taught “Ferreira,” tweeted: “I wrote him a letter. A strong one, in fact. Yes, me. I wrote a reference letter for a GRU officer. I will never get over this fact. I hate everything about GRU, him, this story. I am so glad he was exposed.”
For years it’s been impossible to move backups of WhatsApp chats between Android and iOS, and vice versa. In August last year, WhatsApp announced it was starting to roll out the ability for people to move their data between iPhones and Android devices. Now, this week, the Meta-owned company says backups will work in the other direction too—from Android to iOS.
Processors from Intel and AMD are vulnerable to a new side-channel attack called Hertzbleed. The attack could allow the theft of cryptographic keys and data, as reported by BleepingComputer and DarkReading. Hertzbleed works by exploiting a common power-saving feature in chips—called dynamic frequency scaling (DVFS)—that could allow an attacker to steal data. Frequency changes in DVFS may be correlated with information being processed by chips, Intel says in a blog post. Despite this, neither Intel nor AMD appear to have plans to address the issue. However, the risk to end users seems low at the moment. The team of researchers who found Hertzbleed say ordinary users probably shouldn’t be worried.
Ever since Covid-19 started spreading in early 2020, technological systems have been developed to try to control its spread. In China, a mandatory health code system was created to monitor people’s health status—people with a red code are required to self-isolate, those with a green code are allowed to move freely. These health codes are tied to people’s phones. Now, according to multiple reports, people in the Chinese province of Henan claim their plans to protest have been blocked as their health code has been turned red. Several people impacted claim they have not been around anyone positive with Covid-19 and the change is an abuse of power by officials.
Mozilla’s web browser may have been struggling in recent years, but it is still one of the most privacy-friendly browsers. This week the company said Firefox is turning on its Total Cookie Protection feature by default for everyone using the browser. Any cookies saved to your computer will be available only to the website that placed them there, Mozilla explains in a blog post. “Instead of allowing trackers to link up your behavior on multiple sites, they just get to see behavior on individual sites,” the company says, adding it is “Firefox’s strongest privacy protection to date.”
In November 2021, the US sanctioned notorious Israeli spyware firm NSO Group. The company’s Pegasus hacking tool has been used around the world to spy on journalists and activists. This week it emerged that US defense firm L3Harris is interested in purchasing the technology behind Pegasus, as the Financial Times reports. Any purchase of the technology by a US company would potentially put it at odds with the Biden administration, which blacklisted NSO. Talk of the potential deal, which was said to be in early stages, has prompted criticism from the White House. “We are deeply concerned,” a senior official told the Washington Post. They said the deal could cause security and counterintelligence issues for the US.
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