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2 Polish Men Arrested for Radio Hack That Disrupted Trains Leave a comment

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A monthslong WIRED investigation published this week revealed the inner workings of the Trickbot ransomware gang, which has targeted hospitals, businesses, and government agencies around the world. 

The investigation stemmed from a mysterious leak publish on X (formerly Twitter) last year by an anonymous account called Trickleaks. The document trove contained dossiers on 35 alleged Trickbot members, including names, dates of birth, and much more. It also listed thousands of IP addresses, cryptocurrency wallets, email addresses, and Trickbot chat logs. Armed with this information, we enlisted the help of multiple cybersecurity and Russian cybercrime experts to paint a vivid picture of Trickbot’s organizational structure and corroborate the real-world identity of one of its key members. 

Last weekend, someone (more on that later) successfully disrupted more than 20 trains in Poland. The incidents were originally described as a “cyberattack,” but it was actually something much simpler: a radio hack. Using equipment that can cost as little as $30, the attack exploited the trains’ unencrypted radio system to cause them to perform an emergency stop. 

Over on the dark web, cybercriminals are making money in an unexpected way: writing contests. With total prizes reaching as high as $80,000, the competitions enlist hacking forum members to craft the best essays, many of which explain how to carry out cyberattacks and scams. 

Last December, Apple officially killed its controversial photo-scanning tool for detecting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on iCloud, a tool the company launched in August 2021 before un-launching it a month later after backlash from cybersecurity experts, civil liberties advocates, and others who argued that the tool would violate users’ security and privacy. But the issue is far from resolved. This week, a new child safety group called Heat Initiative demanded that Apple reinstate the tool. Apple responded with a letter, which it shared with WIRED, detailing for the first time its full reasoning behind terminating the tool. Heat Initiative’s push comes amid international pressure to weaken encryption for law enforcement purposes.

Elsewhere, we detailed the big security patches you need to install to keep your devices safe (looking at you, Google Chrome and Android users). And we dove into the supremely nerdy world of a code-cracking competition that had contestants racing to decode a German U-boat cipher from World War II. One team had a secret weapon.

But that’s not all. Each week, we round up the security and privacy news we didn’t cover in depth ourselves. Click the headlines to read the full stories. And stay safe out there.

When more than 20 trains in Poland were bought to a halt last weekend in what was described as a “cyberattack,” all eyes turned to Russia. After all, Poland’s rails serve as a key piece of infrastructure for supporting Ukraine’s war effort. But as we reported a day later, the disruption had been caused not through any sophisticated cyber intrusion but through a simple radio hack that sent a “radio stop” command to the Polish trains over an unencrypted and unauthenticated system. “The frequencies are known. The tones are known. The equipment is cheap,” Polish-speaking cybersecurity researcher Lukasz Olejnik told WIRED. “Everybody could do this. Even teenagers trolling.”

Well, not teenagers exactly, but twentysomethings. This week, Polish police arrested a 24-year-old man and a 29-year-old man, both Polish citizens, who allegedly carried out the radio train hack. One of the two men, based in the city of Bialystok near the border with Belarus, was a police officer. Amateur radio equipment was found in one of their apartments, according to Poland’s RMF Radio, where the younger man was found (reportedly in a drunken state).

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