Court Orders Seizure of Ransomware Botnet Controls as U.S. Election Nears | Technology News

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Microsoft said Monday it had used a court order to take control of computers that were installing ransomware and other malicious software on local government networks and threatening to disrupt the November election.

The maker of the Windows operating system said it seized a series of internet protocol addresses hosted by U.S. companies that had been directing activity on computers infected with Trickbot, one of the most common pieces of malware in the world.

More than a million computers have been infected with Trickbot, and the operators use the software to install more pernicious programs, including ransomware, for both criminal groups and national governments that pay for the access, researchers said.

Trickbot has shown up in a number of public governments, which could be hurt worse if the operators encrypt files or install programs that interfere with voter registration records or the display and public reporting of election results, Microsoft said.

“Ransomware is one of the largest threats to the upcoming election,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Tom Burt. Among other programs, Trickbot has been used to deliver Ryuk ransomware, which has been blamed in attacks on the city of Durham, N.C., and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft worked with Broadcom’s Symantec, security firm ESET and other companies to dissect Trickbot installations and trace them to the command addresses, the companies said. Microsoft for the first time used strict provisions in copyright law to convince a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia that since Trickbot used Microsoft code, the company should be able to seize the operator’s infrastructure from their unknowing hosting providers.

The seizure follows mechanical attempts to disrupt Trickbot last week by sending the operators bad information, researchers said. The Washington Post reported that U.S. Cyber Command was behind that effort,

Qld scammers in court over software scheme

Four Gold Coast scammers ran a cold and heartless enterprise selling ineffective sports betting and investment software, fleecing victims of their savings and superannuation.

Aaron Colin East, his brother Daniel Alan East and Stiofan Ceitinn have admitted to two counts of fraud, while co-accused Theresa Faye Merlehan pleaded guilty to one fraud charge.

The four planned the cold-call scam in a systematic and thorough fashion, crown prosecutor Greg Cummings told a Brisbane District Court sentencing hearing on Monday.

It was a “cold and heartless enterprise” that took from vulnerable people with no prospect of them getting their money back, he said.

The court heard the three men each made up to $300,000 through the scheme.

The scammers compiled an 80-page “spiel book” for sales employees, anticipating questions about the software being sold.

Call centre staff used false names and at times pretended to be in an office in Adelaide that did not exist.

They said potential customers could make $60,000 to $80,000 a year by spending up to 15 minutes a week using software. But this was “complete fiction”, according to the prosecution.

Mr Cummings said there was no altruistic motivation for the fraud. Their desire to make money was at the heart of the scheme.

Some victims lost their superannuation, some their savings and “some if not all all lost their self-esteem”, he said.

The hearing continues.

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Supreme Court considers software copyrights

A historic, multibillion-dollar lawsuit between Oracle and Google may come down to the jumbled attempts on Wednesday by eight Supreme Court justices to find an appropriate analogy to describe common computer code.



a large building: The U.S. Supreme Court stands on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. This week Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, will begin meeting with Senators as she seeks to be confirmed before the presidential election. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)


© Al Drago/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court stands on September 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. This week Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, will begin meeting with Senators as she seeks to be confirmed before the presidential election. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

From grocery stores to restaurant menus to QWERTY keyboards, the nation’s most esteemed jurists applied metaphor after metaphor to try to understand whether Google’s decision a decade ago to re-use software initially created by Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems violated copyright law.

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The rapid-fire string of analogies, along with the wide range of justices’ questions, left the case’s fate in doubt. The outcome could determine the future of software development in the United States — and, by extension, the future of a world that’s increasingly dominated by digital services and technology.

The law treats computer programs as generally copyrightable. But the type of code at issue in this case is not, Google argued, because it involves little creative expression and is simply invoked by developers as a kind of shorthand in their code to refer to much longer snippets of other instructions.

These helper programs, known as software interfaces, application programming interfaces or APIs, are a ubiquitous feature of today’s networked digital economy, where different apps need to be able to work together and share information. Oracle asserts that this type of code, at least as created by Sun Microsystems, is nevertheless an expressive work that is eligible for copyright protections.

For an hour and a half, the justices asked why Google had

Oracle and Google’s Supreme Court showdown was a battle of metaphors

Google v. Oracle, a decade-long war over the future of software, neared its end in the Supreme Court this week as a battle of metaphors. Over the course of two hours, justices and attorneys compared Java — the coding language that Oracle acquired in 2010 — to a restaurant menu, a hit song, a football team, an accounting system, the instructions for finding a blend of spices in a grocery store, a safecracking manual, and the QWERTY keyboard layout.

“Prediction: The side that wins the metaphor battle will win the case,” tweeted University of Oklahoma College of Law professor Sarah Burstein.

The reliance on familiar analogies wasn’t necessarily surprising. Google v. Oracle covers a complex question: what elements of computer code can be copyrighted, and if that code is covered by copyright, when it’s still legal to use pieces of it under fair use. The argument dates back a decade to when Google reverse-engineered Java while building its Android platform. In the process, it copied the “structure, sequence, and organization” of some Java application programming interface (API) packages, which enable basic computing actions. Oracle sued, and after multiple trials and a coronavirus-related delay, the Supreme Court heard the argument this week.

After a morning of long-delayed oral arguments on Wednesday, both sides declared a win. Google head of global affairs Kent Walker said the court “confirmed the importance” of the legal rights protecting software interoperability, while Oracle general counsel Dorian Daley declared that the court would “agree with us that all software is covered by copyright.” Tiffany Li, a fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, cautioned against reading too much into the proceedings. “It’s difficult to guess how a case will turn out based on the arguments,”

U.S. Supreme Court divided over Google’s bid to end Oracle’s Android copyright lawsuit

(Reuters) — The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided on Wednesday as it considered whether to protect Alphabet Inc’s Google from a long-running lawsuit by Oracle accusing it of infringing Oracle copyrights to build the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones.

The shorthanded court, down one justice following last month’s death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, heard oral arguments in Google’s appeal of a lower court ruling reviving the lawsuit in which Oracle has sought at least $8 billion in damages.

Some of the eight justices expressed concern that Google simply copied Oracle’s software code instead of innovating and creating its own for mobile devices. Others emphasized that siding with Oracle could give software developers too much power with potentially harmful effects on the technology industry.

A jury cleared Google in 2016, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned that decision in 2018, finding that Google’s inclusion of Oracle’s software code in Android was not permissible under U.S. copyright law.

Oracle accused Google of copying thousands of lines of computer code from its popular Java programming language without a license in order to make Android, a competing platform that has harmed Oracle’s business.

Google lawyer Thomas Goldstein told the justices that the disputed Java code should not receive copyright protection because it was the “the only way” to create new programs using the programming language.

“The language only permits us to use those,” Goldstein said.

Chief Justice John Roberts suggested Google still should have paid Oracle for a license to Java.

“Cracking the safe may be the only way to get the money that you want, but that doesn’t mean you can do it,” Roberts said.

Justice Neil Gorsuch questioned Goldstein on whether Google had simply piggybacked on Oracle’s innovation.

Gorsuch asked,