Category Archives: Internet in Cuba

Thousands of computers possibly infected after visiting Cuban government website

cubavirus

Caribbean News

En español Martí Noticias

After several weeks of analysis, it has been determined that the Cuban government information website (acn.cu) is dispensing a dangerous clipboard virus that aims to steal information from the computers of unsuspecting visitors to that site.

The analysis of the infection was done by the Guyana-based cyber security firm and regional anti-virus producer Computer Care, with some assistance from the international cyber security community.

Their analysis revealed that the virus launches a permission pop up (on the ACN website) that seemingly gives users an option to either allow it to control their computer clipboard data or to refuse permission. However, it is hoped that most users would instinctively click the “Don’t allow” option button.

But the team of analysts that examined the infection told Caribbean News Now that the virus can still be passed on to a computer even in cases where a user clicks the “Don’t allow” option, since the virus developer seems to have placed a reversed coding action on that option that will provoke a force install via vulnerable browsers.

The virus, which is unique in its programming structure, is functionally similar to other previously deployed clipboard infections, except that it uses more tricky options to take unauthorized control of a computer clipboard. Thereafter, it quickly creates a backdoor on a computer so as to allow for captured information to be sent out to a remote server, in the same way that internet traffic flows in.

It basically copies entries made by the user, including passwords, typed messages, and other data, and then funnels this back to a server, where the information can be accessed and processed by the unknown third party.

And because the infection uses and exploits a few known vulnerabilities of certain JavaScript functions, it is generally difficult for most anti-virus programs to locate and remove it from a computer.

The research, which was headed by Guyana-born software security analyst, Dennis Adonis, who is also the lead anti-virus developer and owner of Computer Care – Guyana, found that the infection could have either been planted by another foreign government or rogue group as part of a cyber warfare strategy or by Cuban cyber intelligence experts themselves.

But whoever has infected the website seems to have the ability to turn the infection on and off at will, ironically to the ignorance of the site owner, which happens to be the government of Cuba.

Questioned on why the virus may be hard for most anti-virus software to pick up, Adonis said that it will be foolhardy for anyone to believe that an anti-virus can actually protect against every infection on a computer.

He stressed that it is practically impossible for every virus to be identified as such because all anti-virus software relies on virus signatures in order to isolate and eliminate an infection.

And since virus planters and hackers are now engaging stealth technology to deploy infections, quite a handful of them were able to make a mockery of most anti-virus software by encrypting their virus signatures.

As in the case of the infection on the Cuban government website, Adonis explained that the virus was very complex to contain, since his initial attempts has showed that the virus immediately tries to replicate itself once you attempt to break into its algorithms.

This, he said, has shown the degree of intelligence that has been deployed into its algorithms, and the level of challenges that the infection can actually create for the average antivirus software.

The website in question generally attracts thousands of visitors’ daily; a percentage of whose browsers may fall into the vulnerability category.

Nonetheless, there is uncertainty surrounding the number of computers that may actually be infected as a result of visiting the website.

Cuba uses Twitter to denounce a Miami conference on internet freedom as an act of ‘subversion’

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The Castro regime uses Twitter to denounce as “subversive” the right of the Cuban people to also have access to the Internet

The Miami Herald

Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry’s director general for the United States, said that an upcoming conference in Miami on internet use on the island seeks to promote internal subversion.

“The illegal use of radio and television against Cuba is not enough for them, they insist on the use of the internet as a weapon of subversion,” Vidal wrote in her Twitter account Thursday.

Her comment was in reaction to an article published by the government-run Cubadebate criticizing the Cuba Internet Freedom conference to be held in Miami Sept. 12-13, which is being organized by the U.S.-funded Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB).

Cubadebate characterized the event as “the first conference on internet use in Cuba, as part of subversion programs by the U.S. government against the island that have been maintained during the administration of Barack Obama.”

The article went on to say that,“since [former president] George W. Bush activated the Law for Democracy in Cuba, which empowers the U.S. Congress to allocate $20 million a year for programs to promote regime change in Cuba, has spent $284 million over the past two decades for this purpose.”

The Cuba Internet Freedom conference is part of Social Media Week taking place in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District.

Why even Google can’t connect Cuba

Finally, an article by someone who really knows what he is talking about! 

googlecuba

Computerworld, by Mike Elgan

Reports say Google intends to help wire Cuba and bring the island into the 21st century. But that’s not going to happen.
When President Obama said in Havana last month that Google would be working to improve Internet access in Cuba, I wondered what Google might do in Cuba that other companies could not.

Today, Cuba is an Internet desert where only 5% of trusted elites are allowed to have (slow dial-up) Internet connections at home, and a paltry 400,000 people access the Internet through sidewalk Wi-Fi hotspots. These hotspots have existed for only a year or so. Also, some 2.5 million Cubans have government-created email accounts, but no Web access.

I spent a month in Cuba until last week, and I was there when the president spoke. I’m here to report that those government Wi-Fi hotspots are rare, slow and expensive. While in Cuba, my wife, son and I spent about $300 on Wi-Fi. In a country where the average wage ranges from $15 to $30 per month, connecting is a massive financial burden available only to a lucky minority with private businesses or generous relatives in Miami.

And this is why I think the possibilities of what Google might accomplish in Cuba are misunderstood.

It’s not as if Cuba would have ubiquitous, affordable and fast Internet access if it just had the money or expertise to make it happen. The problem is that Cuba is a totalitarian Communist dictatorship.

The outrageous price charged for Wi-Fi in Cuba can’t possibly reflect the cost of providing the service. The price is really a way to restrict greater freedom of information to those who benefit from the Cuban system.

The strange Wi-Fi card system is also a tool of political control. In order to buy a card, you have to show your ID, and your information is entered into the system. Everything done online using a specific Wi-Fi card is associated with a specific person.

The Cuban government allows people to run privately owned small hotels, called casas particulares, and small home restaurants, called paladares. The owners of these small businesses would love to provide their guests with Wi-Fi, but the Cuban government doesn’t allow it. Nor does it allow state-owned restaurants, bars and cafes to provide Wi-Fi.

Google is connected to the global Internet through satellite networks. Cuba is connected to the Internet by an undersea fiber-optic cable that runs between the island and Venezuela. The cable was completed in 2011, and it existed as a “darknet” connection for two years before suddenly going online in 2013.

So here’s the problem with Google as the solution: The Cuban government uses high prices and draconian laws to prevent the majority of Cubans from having any access to the Internet at all. The government actively prevents access as a matter of policy. It’s not a technical problem. It’s a political one.

In other words, Cuba doesn’t need Google to provide hotspots. If the Cuban government allowed hotspots, Cubans would provide them.

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