A sophisticated group infected tens of thousands of ASUS brand computers with malware in a scheme to target a small handful of users, Kaspersky Lab reports. The attacks came through the official software update program ASUS Live Update Utility.

Why it matters: The operation, dubbed "Operation Shadowhammer," appears to come from a motivated, technologically adept threat — someone sophisticated enough to breach a major technology firm, patient enough to compile technical details about their intended victims to use during the attack and motivated enough to infected anyone updating their ASUS system to reach only a handful of victims.

Details:

  • Shadowhammer signed the malware it sent through the ASUS Live Update Utility using ASUS's security certificates, instructing computers to treat the malware as legitimate software updates. Companies treat certificate data as one of their most guarded secrets to prevent hackers from doing this.
  • Shadowhammer's malware checked if a system it infected was a pre-written list of around 600 computers it was specifically looking for, using unique identifiers in the networking hardware known as MAC addresses.
    • That means Shadowhammer had advance knowledge of the systems it most wanted performing follow up attacks against.

By the numbers: Kaspersky detected more than 57,000 different systems that tried to install the Shadowhammer malware. That number only includes the systems Kaspersky software protects.

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Updated 14 mins ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been arrested for "collusion with foreign powers," said Mark Simon, an executive at the tycoon's media firm Next Digital Monday morning local time.

Why it matters: He was arrested under the national security law imposed by China in late June that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony. Lai is the most prominent person arrested under the law, which prompted the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, over Beijing's efforts to strip the territory of its autonomy.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 19,769,560— Total deaths: 729,351 — Total recoveries — 12,030,061Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,041,573 — Total deaths: 162,913 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on.

New York reports new low positive coronavirus test rate

People physically distancing at tables in New York City's Times Square in June. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Sunday 515 people, or 0.78% of those tested, returned a positive reading for COVID-19 the previous day.

Why it matters: It's the lowest single-day positive rate since the start of the pandemic. It's another sign that the state that was once a global coronavirus epicenter is curbing the spread of the virus. "Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must not become complacent: Everyone should continue to wear their masks and socially distance."

Go deeper: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning