Daily Digest (9/28)

Judge Delays WH Ban on TikTok’s US Operations; Google to Block Election Ads after Nov. 3; Texas Software Provider Confirms Ransomware Attack; Chinese Hackers Threaten Microsoft Cloud Services. Click “Continue reading” below.

Judge Delays WH Ban on TikTok’s US Operations

A federal judge on Sunday postponed a White House order that would have banned the popular video-sharing app TikTok from U.S. smartphone app stores at midnight.

A more comprehensive ban remained scheduled for November, about a week after the presidential election, The Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols in Washington, however, did not agree to postponing the later ban.

His ruling followed an emergency hearing Sunday morning in which lawyers for TikTok argued that the administration’s app-store ban would infringe on the company’s First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump declared that TikTok was a threat to national security and that it must sell its U.S. operations to American companies or be barred from the country.

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Google to Block Election Ads after Nov. 3

Google told advertisers Friday that it would block election-related ads on all the company’s platforms after U.S. polls close on Nov. 3.

“Advertisers will not be able to run ads referencing candidates, the election or its outcome — given that an unprecedented amount of votes will be counted after election day this year,” Google said in an email.

A company spokeswoman said the ban was expected to last for a week, but the decision on when to lift the restriction had yet to be decided.

The ban comes from Google’s “sensitive events” policy, which prohibits ads that seek to capitalize on health emergencies or natural disasters, Reuters reports.

Google added that it would consider the time it took to count votes and the amount of civil unrest after the election results in making its decision, according to Reuters.

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Texas Software Provider Confirms Ransomware Attack

Tyler Technologies Inc., the software provider in Plano, Texas, confirmed Friday that it was hit by a ransomware attack two days after telling clients the company’s phone and information data had been compromised.

Tyler said in a statement that the hacker used ransomware, though it did not mention if the company had paid to have its systems unlocked, The Associated Press reports.

Tyler provides services for local and state governments across the country, and the company also provides platforms for posting election data online.

Clients were told of the data breach Wednesday. Tyler officials said that the impact appeared limited and that customers were not affected.

Information technology experts and law enforcement were called in for an investigation, but the FBI declined to comment on the breach, AP reports.

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Chinese Hackers Threaten Microsoft Cloud Services

Microsoft suspended 18 Azure Active Directory applications on Friday because they had been leveraged by a Chinese hacking group for a command-and-control infrastructure.

Azure is a cloud-based identity and access-management service — and the company has seen an increase in attempts to download malware to gain control over its server, Threatpost reports.

The Chinese nation-state group Gadolinium has been compromising similar targets for decades, according to the report.

In the past, the threat group leveraged custom-crafted malware, but researchers had identified how to defend against such attacks.

Gadolinium has since experimented on cloud services to side-step detection to deliver their attacks.

“By establishing free or PayGo accounts, they can use cloud-based technology to create a malicious infrastructure that can be established quickly then taken down before detection or given up at little cost,” researchers told Threatpost. 

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— By DPN Staff