• Kevin Mitnick, Part 1

    For Kevin Mitnick - perhaps the greatest social engineer who ever lived - hacking was an obsession: even though it ruined his marriage, landed him in scary correction facilities and almost cost him his sanity in solitary confinement, Mitnick wasn't able to shake the disease that compelled him to keep breaking into more and more communication systems. 

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    37m | Feb 19, 2024
  • SIM Registration: Security, or Surveillance?

    Right now, hundreds of thousands of people in the southern African country of Namibia are faced with a choice. At the end of next month, their phone service is going to be shut off permanently: to prevent that from happening, they’ll have to give up their data privacy. As a result, nearly two million Namibian citizens are facing a data privacy problem which may haunt them for years to come - and hundreds of thousands more are set to join them, or else they’ll lose their phone service for good. All of which raises the question: was making everybody register their SIM cards a good idea in the first place?

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    31m | Feb 5, 2024
  • The Mariposa Botnet

    In 2008, The 12 million PCs strong Mariposa Botnet infected almost half of Furture 100 companey - but the three men who ran it were basiclly script kiddies who didn't even knew how to code.

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    44m | Jan 22, 2024
  • The Real Story of Citibank’s $10M Hack

    Valdimir Levin is often presented as "the first online bank robber," and appeares on many lists of the "Top 10 Greatest Hackers." But a few veteran Russian hackers cliam that Levin's infamous hack had been mangled by the journlists who wrote about it. What's the truth behind the 1994 $10.7 million Citibank hack?...

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    32m | Jan 9, 2024
  • How to Hack Into Satellites

    About a year ago, six academics from Ruhr University Bochum and the CISPA  Helmholtz Center for Information Security set out to survey engineers and developers on the subject of satellite cybersecurity. But most of these engineers were very reluctant to share any details about their satellites and their security aspects. Why were satellite engineers so reticent to talk about cybersecurity? What was so secretive, so wrong with it, that they didn’t feel they could answer even general questions, anonymously? Because let’s be clear: if there’s something wrong with the security of satellites, that’d be a serious problem.

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    30m | Dec 27, 2023
  • Moonlight Maze

    When investigators discovered in 1996 that US military networks were being extensively hacked, they didn't realize they were witnessing the birth of what would become Russia's formidable Turla APT espionage group. We uncover the 20-year metamorphosis of this original group of hackers into one of the most sophisticated and dangerous state-sponsored threats that's still active today.

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    35m | Dec 11, 2023
  • Volt Typhoon

    In August 2021, a port in Houston, Texas, was attacked. Over the following months, a series of attacks occurred in various locations, reminiscent of a serial killer's pattern. Targets included telecommunications companies, government agencies, power plants, and water treatment facilities. How did Volt Typhoon manage to evade authorities and analysts for such an extended period?

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    31m | Nov 28, 2023
  • Is NSO Evil? Part 2

    By the time Forbidden Stories published its “Pegasus Project” in 2021, NSO was already knee deep in what was probably the worst PR disaster ever suffered by a cybersecurity company - and then, in November 2021, came the fateful blow: the US Dept. of Commerce added NSO to its “Entity List.” Is NSO to blame for its troubles? Could the company have acted differently to prevent its downfall? 

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    40m | Nov 13, 2023
  • Is NSO Evil? Part 1

    NSO Group, creator of the infamous Pegasus spyware, is widely regarded as a vile, immoral company: a sort of 21st century soldier of fortune, a mercenary in the service of corrupt and evil regimes. Yet among its many clients are many liberal democracies, including the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, to name but a few. So, is NSO really as evil as many think it is?

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    32m | Oct 30, 2023
  • Should You Pay Ransomware Attackers? A Game Theory Approach

    The FBI explicitly advises companies against paying ransomware attackers - but itself payed 4.4 million dollars worth of Bitcoin after the Colonial Pipeline attack. So, should you listen to what the experts say, or follow what they occasionally do? It’s complicated, but we can model this problem.

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    32m | Oct 17, 2023
  • Silent Firewalls: The Underrepresentation of Women in Cyber

    In the vast landscape of STEM, women constitute a mere 28% of the workforce. Yet, when we zoom into the realm of cybersecurity, the number dwindles even further to a startling 20 to 24 percent. What are the underlying reasons behind this disparity?

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    29m | Oct 2, 2023
  • Operation Kudo

    In 1981, during the G7 Summit in Quebec, French president Francois Mitterand handen President Raegan a top secret collection of documents, called "Farewell Dossier." The information found in the dossier allowed the US to devise a cunning plan - the very first supply chain attack, if you will - to bring a firey end to one of largest industrial espionage campaigns in history. 

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    33m | Sep 20, 2023
  • Can We Stop the AI Cyber Threat?

    Much of the cybersecurity software in use today utilizes AI, especially things like spam filters and network traffic monitors. But will all those tools be enough to stop the proliferation of malware that will come from generative AI-driven cyber attacks? The potential of AI to disrupt cyberspace is far greater than any solutions we’ve come up with thus far, which is why some researchers are looking beyond the traditional answers, towards more aggressive measures.

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    27m | Sep 4, 2023
  • Is Generative AI Dangerous?

    Every so often, the entire landscape of cybersecurity shifts, all at once: The latest seismic shift in the field occurred just last year. So in this episode of Malicious Life we’re going to take a look into the future of cybersecurity: at how generative AI like ChatGPT will change cyberspace, through the eyes of five research teams breaking ground in the field. We’ll start off simple, and gradually build to increasingly more complex, more futuristic examples of how this technology might well turn against us, forcing us to solve problems we’d never considered before.

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    37m | Aug 22, 2023
  • Why aren't there more bug bounty programs?

    On the face of it, there's an obvious economic incentive for both vendors and security researchers to collaborate on disclosing vulnerabilities safely and privately. Yet bug bounty programs have gained prominence only in the past decade or so, and even today only a relatively small portion of vendors have such programs at place. Why is that? 

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    33m | Aug 8, 2023
  • The Voynich Manuscript

    The constant battle between those who wish to encrypt data and those who wish to break these ciphers has made modern encryption schemes extremely powerful. Subsequently, the tools and methods to break them became equivalently sophisticated. Yet, could it be that someone in the 15th century created a cipher that even today’s most brilliant codebreakers and most sophisticated and advanced tools - cannot break?...

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    29m | Jul 25, 2023
  • Roman Seleznev: Did the Punishment Fit the Crime?

    In 2019, Roman Seleznev, a 34 years-old Russian national, was sentenced to 27 years in prison: A sentence that’d make any criminal quiver. Seleznev's deeds had a horrendous effect on the 2.9 million individuals whose credit cards he stole and sold to cyber criminals for identity theft and financial crimes. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine any nonviolent computer crime worth 27 years in prison. But then what is an appropriate sentence for such a man as Seleznev?

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    38m | Jul 10, 2023
  • Sony BMG's Rootkit Fiasco

    "We made a mistake and Sony paid a terrible price.” A terrible price indeed: an arrogant and ill-advised decision to include a rootkit in its music CDs cost Sony BMG a lot of money - and painted it as a self-centered, self-serving company that cares more about its bottom line than its customers. Why did Sony BMG make such a poor decision?

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    41m | Jun 27, 2023
  • Ad Fraud, Part 2

    In the last episode of our show, we heard the story of Methbot: an army of hundreds of thousands of bots, programmatically viewing thousands of advertisements on thousands of made-up websites in order to siphon away millions of dollars worth of ad revenue. But even the giant Methbot scam was just a drop in the ocean that is ad fraud. Putting Zhukov in jail made hardly any difference at all, because of how many other people just like him are still out there today.

    What makes ad fraud so successful, and so prevalent, and why can’t we stop it? The answer isn’t technical at all. It’s not hard to understand. But it’s a harsh reality that many people are simply not willing to face.

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    28m | Jun 9, 2023
  • Ad Fraud, Part 1

    Right now, a man named Aleksandr Zhukov is sitting in jail for one of the most financially ruinous schemes ever invented for the internet. Zhukov is guilty. He was caught and convicted under a mountain of evidence against him.

    Except the deeper you look into it, the deeper the well goes. In this episode, we’ll learn how Aleksandr Zhukov defrauded some of the biggest American corporations for millions of dollars. And we’ll ask the question that hardly anyone else is willing to acknowledge: Was this clever, successful, guilty cybercriminal merely a fall guy for everybody else playing his twisted game?

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    23m | May 30, 2023
Malicious Life