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Hackers targeting nongovernmental humanitarian groups, including UN groups like UNICEF, sought to steal login credentials using sophisticated phishing sites, according to a new report by mobile security firm Lookout.

Why it matters: Lookout doesn't attribute attacks to specific actors, but the lures used to draw targets to the phishing sites were links only of interest to workers following North Korea issues. That suggests North Korea is a likely suspect here.

What they found: The phishing sites used a number of clever tricks.

  • For one, if users reached the phishing sites through any path other than the phishing URL, it forwarded the user to a legitimate site. That limits the hackers' exposure.
  • While most people believe a site won't see the login data they type into a website unless they hit submit, the sites used key loggers to steal login data even if they didn't.
  • Like many modern phishing campaigns, the site used SSL certificates — the encryption measures that produce the lock icon in the URL bar, which less sophisticated users are sometimes told to look for to thwart phishing. Also, the sites used long URL names, making it harder for people on mobile phones to notice inconsistencies there.

The sites were hosted by the Malaysian firm Shinjiru, Lookout's Jeremy Richards told Axios.

  • Shinjiru is a so-called bulletproof hosting service offering technical and legal protections for hackers. Using providers like Shinjiru raises an automatic red flag in Lookout's machine learning system.

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
20 mins ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.