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Holidays are the busiest days for hackers. If you use your phone to transfer money, or make purchases, hackers probably have your banking information.

If you text or email holiday greetings to family and friends, hackers likely have a copy of your contact list.

Hackers can use Bluetooth to hack into your smartphone and take it over to send emails and text messages containing phishing links to your contacts.

The Android platform is vulnerable to security flaws that are constantly in need of patching. Apple's iPhones are not much safer.

Phones owned by US State Department employees and other government officials were hacked with spyware called "Pegasus" that was developed by an Israeli technology firm.

Pegasus was on their phones for months or years before it was discovered. Apple now says it will notify users whose iPhones were hacked by spyware.
 

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5 Signs your cell phone is hacked

1. Apps on your phone that you don't remember downloading

If you notice strange apps on your phone that you don't remember downloading, delete them immediately.

2. Your phone runs slow or it feels hot in your hand

A slow phone may be a telltale sign that you've been hacked. If your phone runs hotter than it did before, it could mean apps are running in the background.

3. Your phone crashes often

This can happen if your phone is old or you haven't updated your operating system and apps. But if you have a new phone that crashes often, you're probably hacked.

4. Unusual data spikes or high bills

Someone is controlling your phone if your bill is high but your usage hasn't changed.

5. Pop-up ads

There are no pop-up ads on Sandrarose.com. If you notice a lot of pop-up ads, you're probably hacked.
 

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How to protect your phone from spyware, malware and hackers

1. If you suspect your phone is hacked, change all your passwords immediately and lock your phone screen with a password. Set the lock screen time to 1 minute.

2. Backup everything - including all images and contacts, then restore your phone to its factory settings to remove pop-up ads.

3. Turn off your Wi-Fi or tethering connection to prevent the hacker from using your data to send messages.

4. Instruct your family and friends to ignore suspicious texts or emails that contain links. Tell them you will always let them know before you send links.

5. Run anti-virus or anti-trojan software to remove the malware.

6. Never leave your phone unattended or let anyone use your phone.

7. Turn off Android's Nearby Share feature.

Nearby Share allows users to share files between Android phones that are nearby. Someone with the feature enabled can simply hold their phone close to yours to steal all your files without your knowledge. Nearby Share is disabled by default when you buy your phone.

8. Disable AirDrop on your Androids, iPhones, iPads and Macs.

9. Never open links in a text message or email on your phone or tablet. Even if you know the person who sent it.

10. Always delete apps you don't use. Hackers can purchase old apps and use them to take over your phone.

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Major websites such as the BBC, New York Times, Bloomberg News, The Guardian, Reddit, and the Disqus commenting platform were hit by a massive Internet outage ovrnight.

The Internet outage affected Amazon.com and Fastly.com, which provide updated news content to many websites.

The BBC and United Kingdom's government page, were temporarily down during a massive outage early Tuesday, NBC News reported.

Social media users took to Twitter.com early Tuesday to say most of the websites they normally visit were down.

Fastly.com, an American cloud services provider, issued an update on its status page at about 5:58 a.m. ET., saying the "issue has been identified and a fix is being implemented."

It isn't clear if the websites were hit by a Russian cyberattack.

The global outage comes a day after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had recovered most of the cryptocurrency ransom paid to a criminal hacker group that hit Atlanta-based Colonial pipeline, causing gas prices to surge nationwide in mid-May.

The DOJ used "sophisticated technology" to recover $2.3 million of the $4.4 million in Bitcoins paid to the Russian-based Darkside hacker group that compromised Colonial's IT system.

Colonial paid the ransom to the hacker group within 48 hours after the cyberhack in May.

JBS meat processing company was also hit by ransomware, resulting in the shutdown of all of its North American meat packing plants earlier this month.

"The sophisticated use of technology to hold businesses and even whole cities hostage for profit is decidedly a 21st century challenge," said U.S. attorney general Lisa Monaco, during a press conference on Monday afternoon. "Today we turned the tables on DarkSide."

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JBS USA, the world's largest beef supplier, shuttered all of its meat processing plants after a ransomware attack affects its IT systems around the world.

JBS USA announced the ransomware attack on Sunday evening. The company supplies 24% of the nation's meat. Tyson Foods is second at 22%.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the ransomware hacking that affected the company's facilities in the United States and Australia.

The USDA contacted several major meat processing plants in the United States to ensure the supply of meat will continue on pace. The government hopes to prevent a meat shortage that could lead to Americans hoarding meat.

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CBS Evening News

JBS closed meat processing facilities in Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, and Nebraska and the ransomware hack affected late shifts at Iowa and Colorado plants on Tuesday night.

The ransomware attack on JBS USA is similar to the cyberattack that shut down Georgia-based Colonial pipeline and sent gas prices soaring last month.

Colonial regained access to their IT systems by paying $5 million ransom in Bitcoins to the hackers.

Hackers, usually based in Russia and Ukraine, gain access to corporation's IT systems when an employee unwittingly clicks a phishing link in emails.

The phishing emails are designed to impersonate companies and individuals known to corporation employees.
 

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Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid $5 million ransom to a hacker group within hours after a cyber attack forced its pipeline to shut down.

Bloomberg reports Colonial paid hackers $5 million within hours after the pipeline was attacked by ransomware on Friday.

Colonial repeatedly denied paying any ransom to the Russian hacker collective Darkside. However, Bloomberg confirmed via inside sources that the ramson was paid "within hours" of the cyber attack.

Colonial pipeline resumed partial operations late Wednesday after paying the ransom to unlock its computerized pipeline system.

The pipeline has already delivered over 1 million gallons of gasoline to stations in southeastern states. However, officials warn that the pipeline won't be fully operational until early next week.

The Washington Post reports that Colonial was "extorted" by the hacker group which threatened to release the company's data unless a fee was paid. The fee was $5 million.

Once the ransom was paid, the hackers provided Colonial with a decryption tool to restore its computer system.

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Florida, Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina declared states of emergency as residents panic buy gasoline, leading to gas shortages.

Gas prices soared and fears of a nationwide shortage caused people to panic buy gas after a cyber attack shut down a major gas pipeline over the weekend.

The national average for retail gasoline was $2.985 on Tuesday -- the highest since November 2014.

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Panic buyers lined up outside gas stations in Atlanta on Tuesday, May 11. Some drivers walked up with gas cans after bypassing stations that were closed.

The FBI has confirmed that Russian hacking collective DarkSide is responsible for the ransomware cyber attack that crippled a Georgia-based fuel pipeline.

Colonial Pipeline, which is operated out of Alpharetta, near Atlanta, is the largest pipeline on the East Coast. It runs from Texas to New Jersey and transports 45% of the East Coast's fuel supply, including gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

Colonial officials announced it shut down the pipeline out of an abundance of caution after discovering the ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malware that locks a company's data and threatens to delete the data unless a ransom is paid, typically in Bitcoin.

The attack is unleashed after an employee unwittingly clicks a phishing link in an email that impersonates an individual or company known to the employee.

Hundreds of major corporations and even hospitals have been hit by ransomware cyber attacks over the years.

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Twitter

Atlanta gas stations reported dwindling gas supplies on Monday, 2 days after a cyber security breach shut down a major gas pipeline.

A Twitter user posted a photo of a safety conscious Atlanta resident pumping gas at one of the few stations that didn't run dry on Monday night.

Colonial Pipeline, an Alpharetta-based company, shut down its gas pipeline system after a ransomware attack crippled its IT systems.

The pipeline supplies less than half of the gas to the East Coast. Colonial Pipeline operates about 5,500 miles of pipeline from Texas to New York. The ransomware attack was announced on Saturday.

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Tensions escalated on Monday as many gas stations ran dry and long lines formed at gas stations in Atlanta.

The Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency urged motorists to take precautions to conserve gas so the pumps don't run dry.

The agency urged residents not to fill up their gas tanks unless they absolutely have to. Those who have multiple cars should consider driving the most gas efficient vehicle. Plan to run several errands in a single trip. Residents are also advised to take the bus or MARTA public transportation.

North Carolina declared a state of emergency as stations in Virginia, Atlanta and Florida began to run out of gas on Monday.

If the pipeline is not operational by Wednesday, a significant fuel disruption is expected on the East Coast.

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A former Covid-19 data manager was arrested Sunday for allegedly hacking into Florida's emergency alert system to collect Covid-19 data.

Rebekah Jones, the woman who created and ran Florida's online coronavirus data site, was arrested Sunday, Jan. 17, for illegally accessing the state's emergency alert system in December.

Jones accused Florida's governor and health officials of downplaying the severity of Covid-19 cases in the state.

Jones was fired from her job in May 2020 for resisting efforts by the state Department of Health to make the data harder to access for the public, researchers and the news media.

State police suspected Jones of setting up her own online dashboard of Covid-19 case data by illegally accessing the state's EAH system and downloading personal data on Florida residents, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Authorities conducted a raid at Jones' home and seized her computers, hard drives and 600 to 700 documents containing contact information for about 19,000 Floridians. The documents included phone numbers, email and home addresses, according to the arrest warrant.

Jones turned herself in on Sunday. A judge denied a prosecutor's request to ban Jones from the Internet or require her to wear a GPS monitor.

Florida, Georgia and Texas are among the states that resisted lockdowns and have fewer Covid-19 restrictions.

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AFP via Getty Images

Update: Every verified account with blue checkmarks have been locked by Twitter.

Update I: Apparently, the Twitter account of a high ranking Twitter staffer was sold on the black market. That account - which has user access to every Twitter account - was compromised by hackers on Wednesday.

Update II: A message on the dark web reads:

"Don't purchase any Twitters for the time being, the internal employee panel was hacked and someone has access to any Twitter they want. You will also see lots of scams, don't fall for them."

 

Original post:

Hackers targeted the Twitter accounts of high-profile politicians and tech billionaires in a coordinated bitcoin scam.

The hackers hit the Twitter accounts of former President Barack Obama and former VP Joe Biden on Wednesday. President Trump's Twitter account wasn't hacked.

Also targeted were tech billionaires including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The hackers somehow gained access to the high profile accounts and offered to send Twitter users $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to a bitcoin address.

The tweets read: "I am giving back to my community due to Covid-19! All Bitcoin sent to my address below will be sent back doubled. If you send $1,000 I will send back $2,000. Only doing this for the next 20 minutes. Enjoy!"

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AFP via Getty Images

The fake tweets were sent simultaneously on the hacked Twitter accounts of America's wealthiest men and high-profile politicians.

Biden's staff locked down his Twitter account almost immediately and the tweets were swiftly deleted, but not before hackers collected over $110,000 in bitcoin currency.

Twitter released a statement noting it was aware of the highly embarrassing security breaches on their platform and they are working to figure out how the hackers compromised the accounts.

Update: Kanye West's Twitter account was also hacked.

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Remember the hackers who attacked a New York City law firm that represents bold name celebrities and pro athletes?

The hacker group, which calls itself REvil, hacked into the computer network at the prestigious law firm owned by Allen Grubman earlier this year.

They threatened to leak dirt on celebrities and politicians, such as President Trump, if they didn't receive ransom money by a certain date.

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Well, the ransom wasn't paid, so the group posted a new message on the dark Web saying it will "auction" off the dirt it allegedly has on LeBron James, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey, and others starting at $600,000 per star.

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The group also threatened to auction off information on the Democratic Party, Sean Combs's Bad Boy Records and other companies for $1 million per company.

The group claims to have information pertaining to the Democrats bribing celebrities and sexual harassment by top politicians.

The group wrote: "Bribery celebrity's [sic] by the Democratical [sic] party, sexual harassment by top politicians, envy of celebrity’s for each other ... all of that is waiting for you in files of Grubman company."

It isn't clear which media outlet or blog has that kind of cash in today's economy to pay for dirt on washed up rappers (Nicki) and pro athletes who are nearing retirement (LeBron).

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Cyberhackers have doubled their ransom demand to $42 million to unlock celebrity files on a law firm's compromised servers.

The hackers also threatened to reveal "dirty laundry" on President Trump if their demands are not met by next week, Page Six reported.

Hackers illegally accessed the computer systems of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, a law firm based in New York City that represents a long list of high-powered VIPs, corporations, A- and B-list celebrities and pro athletes.

An unsuspecting employee may have clicked a phishing link, giving the hackers access to the company servers.

The hackers then downloaded over 756 GIGs of data including contracts and personal e-mails, according to Page Six.

The hackers demanded $21 million to unencrypt the data. That ransom has now doubled to $42 million.

When the law firm's founder, prestigious celebrity attorney Alan Grubman, refused to pay the ransom, the hackers claimed they would publish President Trump's dirty laundry.

"The ransom is now [doubled to] $42,000,000 … The next person we'll be publishing is Donald Trump. There's an election going on, and we found a ton of dirty laundry on time.

"Mr. Trump, if you want to stay president, poke a sharp stick at the guys, otherwise you may forget this ambition forever. And to you voters, we can let you know that after such a publication, you certainly don’t want to see him as president … The deadline is one week.

“Grubman, we will destroy your company down to the ground if we don't see the money."

The long list of clients include Drake, LeBron James, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Nicki Minaj, Mike Tyson, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Spike Lee, Lil Nas X, and many more.

The law firm also represents corporations, including MTV, HBO, EMI Music, Playboy Enterprises, Spotify, and more.

The police are powerless to help the law firm because the hackers are based in Russia or some other far flung communist country that doesn't cooperate with U.S. law enforcement.

The police usually advise hospitals, municipalities, and corporations that are hacked to pay the ransom or lose all their files.

Some companies back up their hard drives and databases on the Cloud or at offsite digital storage facilities that can't be accessed by hackers. But the hacking group deleted the law firm's backup files.