Today's other news in brief: Assange arrested; UK cyber-crime programme; CyptoPokemon decryptor

News by SC Staff

Jullian Assange has been arrested in London today; Every Police Force in England and Wales now has a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit; Free CryptoPokemon ransomware decryptor launched

Assange arrested after 7 years in Ecuadorian Embassy

After seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, avoiding extradition to the US and initially a court case in Sweden, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested today.

Villain and sleazeball to some, champion of transparency exposing corruption for others, Assange divides opinion. The Swedish case, which instigated the move into the embassy to avoid extradition, has now been dropped; it related to a sexual assault case in which Assange denied the allegations made. Assange had said that going to Sweden would have simply been a precursor to extradition to the US. The US extradition relates to Wikileaks doing what it was set up to do, obtaining and publishing confidential documents and images, and especially 700,000 confidential documents, videos and diplomatic cables posted by former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, which US officials said put lives at risk.

Sir Alan Duncan, UK foreign office minister commented in a press statement: "It is absolutely right that Assange will face justice in the proper way in the UK. It is for the courts to decide what happens next.

"We are very grateful to the Government of Ecuador under President Moreno for the action they have taken. Today’s events follow extensive dialogue between our two countries."

The BBC reports the Metropolitan Police saying Assange was arrested for failing to surrender to the court and following a US extradition request. The broadcaster adds that Ecuador's president said the country withdrew his asylum after repeated violations of international conventions, whereas Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange's political asylum "in violation of international law."

It is reported that Assange will remain in custody at a central London police station, before appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Wikileaks has tweeted that it has obtained the UK's agreed Assange press strategy which it says is as follows:
"1. UK lead
2. Ecuador will say Assange has broken many of its invented "asylum terms"
3. UK will say won't let US kill Assange, due process. Ecuador will pretend that this is a concession and that asylum was for death penalty."

CNN tweeted Julian Assange's lawyer saying: "This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States."

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UK police cyber-crime programme

Every Police Force in England and Wales now has a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit in place, thanks to a multi-million-pound investment from the government, the National Cyber Crime Programme announced today.

Jake Moore, cyber security specialist at ESET, emailed SC Media UK to comment: "Police forces around the UK have struggled when it comes to investigating the tidal wave of cyber-offences reported to Action Fraud since it formed. An injection of money couldn’t come at a better time, as cyber-offences become harder to detect and deter. I imagine much of this money will be put into offering prevention advice around the country to people most at risk, as to small and medium businesses with livelihoods on the line, prevention is better than cure. Although this money is predicted to detect more offences than present, it will remain difficult to retrieve much of any money stolen due to so much ending in crypto currencies which remains largely untraceable."
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Free CryptoPokemon ransomware decryptor launched

A flaw has been found in the code of CryptoPokemon, a new strain of ransomware that encrypts files and demands a payment of 0.02 Bitcoin (about US$104 (£77) at the time of writing) to decrypt them. This flaw has been used by Emsisoft to create a decryptor that allows victims to decrypt their files. It is available for free here.

First discovered by IntezerLabs, CryptoPokemon is ransomware that encrypts files using SHA256 + AES128. It comes with a ransom note asking victims to transfer 0.02 Bitcoin to a specified wallet. The note also contains an email address and a website where they can contact the attackers, who describe themselves as "valiant support [who] will help you solve this problem.

IEmsisoft's advice is, if attacked, don’t pay the ransom, get the decryptor.

Update. The creators have just released the source code via a Twitter account with the handle "PokemonGo Team":

https://twitter.com/PokemonGoICU/status/1116450904646004743

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