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Microsoft Blocks Lebanon-Based Hackers Targeting Israel

The hackers were abusing Microsoft’s file hosting service, OneDrive, to target private and government organizations in Israel.

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microsoft blocks lebanon-based hackers targeting israel

Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) has successfully identified and disabled an attack orchestrated by a Lebanon-based activity group called Polonium.

The group was abusing Microsoft’s file hosting service, OneDrive, to target private and government organizations in Israel. Based on its tools and techniques, it seems that Polonium is affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

“Polonium has targeted or compromised more than 20 organizations based in Israel and one intergovernmental organization with operations in Lebanon over the past three months,” explains MSTIC.

The good news is that all legitimate OneDrive accounts are completely safe because the attack didn’t involve any security issues or vulnerabilities. Instead, Polonium used the file hosting service for command and control to execute part of their attack operation.

Polonium’s targets include primarily organizations in critical manufacturing, IT, and defense industry. “In at least one case, Polonium’s compromise of an IT company was used to target a downstream aviation company and law firm in a supply chain attack that relied on service provider credentials to gain access to the targeted networks.”

MSTIC is still actively investigating how Polonium gained initial access to many of their victims, but it knows that most victims were running Fortinet appliances. Based on this fact, MSTIC suspects that the CVE-2018-13379 vulnerability was used to gain access inside the targeted organizations.

Also Read: Is Your Phone Hacked? How To Find Out & Protect Yourself

While the threat has been contained, there are certain actions MSTIC recommends all organizations to take to protect themselves, such as confirming that Microsoft Defender Antivirus is updated, enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA), and blocking in-bound traffic from specific IP addresses.

This isn’t the first instance of threat actors using OneDrive and other similar file hosting services to achieve their nefarious goals. Last year, for example, Microsoft discovered that OneDrive was used to host malware files commonly used to launch Conti ransomware attacks.

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Binance Receives Virtual Assets License To Operate In Dubai

As its user base nears 200 million, CEO Richard Teng believes crypto adoption will soar over the next half of the decade.

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binance receives virtual assets license to operate in dubai

Global crypto exchange Binance has been granted a full operational license in Dubai, in a move that’s expected to accelerate digital asset adoption and strengthen the UAE’s regulatory landscape.

The virtual asset service provider license (VASP) was granted by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) and will allow Binance to extend its current range of services to retail investors, the company announced yesterday.

The move by Dubai authorities will be critical to Binance’s strategy of growing its user base globally. The crypto exchange expects to pass the 200 million user mark “quite shortly”, according to Richard Teng, the company’s CEO.

Once that milestone is achieved, Binance will have around twice as many users as rival platform Coinbase. Meanwhile, Crypto.com, another popular exchange with 80 million users, received a Dubai VASP license last week.

“We’re seeing much greater institutional adoption and institutional money coming into this space [along with] much greater regulatory clarity and a lot more jurisdictions approving [digital asset] products that bring in new investor classes,” Binance’s Richard Tang explained, adding: “As of now, we stand at about 5% crypto adoption globally, but that will become much faster moving forward”.

Also Read: Microsoft Invests $1.5 Billion In Abu Dhabi AI Tech Firm G42

Dubai and the UAE are extremely supportive of technologies like digital assets, and have already launched initiatives to boost adoption. The UAE has ambitious plans to become a world leader in the crypto economy of the future, with Dubai in particular being noteworthy for passing a new law to regulate virtual assets to support investors and exchanges.

“Global crypto regulation is currently showing diverging signs. Some developed countries have long suffered from crypto-related frauds and illegal exchanges. On the other hand, emerging nations like the UAE and Singapore have enacted crypto laws at faced pace,” said Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer of Dubai-based Century Financial.

As the UAE gears up to become one of the fastest-growing crypto capitals worldwide, investors and talent are flocking to places like Dubai. During 2023, the Emirates as a whole realized $204 million in capital gains from cryptocurrency investments, according to blockchain data analysts Chainalysis.

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