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InfoSec News Nuggets 3/18/2020

1 – List of Free Software and Services During Coronavirus Outbreak

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many organizations are asking their employees to work remotely. This, though, brings new challenges to the workplace as users adapt to video meetings, screen sharing, and the use of remote collaboration tools. To assist a new wave of remote works and get some publicity at the same time, many software developers and service providers have started to offer free licenses or enhanced versions of their software and services. Here is a roundup of all the free upgrades to services and software licenses being offered during the Coronavirus outbreak.


2 – Israel to use anti-terror tech to counter coronavirus ‘invisible enemy’

Israel plans to use anti-terrorism tracking technology and a partial shutdown of its economy to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday. Cyber tech monitoring would be deployed to locate people who have been in contact with those carrying the virus, subject to cabinet approval, Netanyahu told a news conference in Jerusalem. “We will very soon begin using technology … digital means that we have been using in order to fight terrorism,” Netanyahu said. He said he had requested Justice Ministry approval because such measures could infringe patients’ privacy.


3 – Ransomware Is a Large, Growing Problem in New Mexico

It was like a sudden punch in the gut, eliciting the feeling that things were about to get much worse before they would get better. “An employee opened an email and introduced a virus into the system, and from there it spread like wildfire and just took over,” Taos, N.M., Municipal Schools Superintendent Lillian Torrez said, referring to the ransomware attack that shut down the district’s computer system. The attack in February 2019 was costly in time and money. “It was a wakeup call,” Torrez said. “We don’t think this can happen to us. It’s just hard to believe, and when it does happen, you get this sinking feeling because you don’t want to believe it.”


4 – Coronavirus: Social giants police web with AI as staff sent home

Major websites are turning to automatic systems to moderate content as they tell their staff to work from home. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are all relying on artificial intelligence and automated tools to find problematic material on their platforms. The tech giants admit this may lead to some mistakes – but say they still need to remove harmful content. The coronavirus scare has led to a surge of medical misinformation across the web. Google, which owns YouTube, said appeals about content wrongfully removed could take longer under the new measures. Twitter, meanwhile, promised that no accounts suspended by automated software would be permanently banned without a human review.


5 – FBI Warns of Human Traffickers Luring Victims on Social Networks

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) today issued a public service announcement on human traffickers’ continued usage of online platforms like dating sites and social networks to lure victims. “The FBI warns the public to remain vigilant of the threat posed by criminals who seek to traffic individuals through force, fraud, or coercion through popular social media and dating platforms,” the PSA says. “Offenders often exploit dating apps and websites to recruit—and later advertise—sex trafficking victims. In addition, offenders are increasingly recruiting labor trafficking victims through what appears to be legitimate job offers.”


6 – No, 5G didn’t cause the coronavirus pandemic

As the coronavirus sweeps the globe, so to do rumors about what caused it or how it’s spread. One that has gained steam online is that new 5G networks caused the disease. That’s completely wrong. Radio waves don’t create viruses, which is what causes COVID-19. Keri Hilson, an American singer with 4.2 million followers on Twitter, on Sunday sent several tweets that attempted to link the coronavirus to 5G. She wrote: “People have been trying to warn us about 5G for YEARS. Petitions, organizations, studies…what we’re going thru is the affects [sic] of radiation. 5G launched in CHINA. Nov 1, 2019. People dropped dead.”


7 – DOD faces network attacks amid telework uptick

The Defense Department’s networks have seen an uptick in cyberattacks this past week, and officials want to restrict the use of commercial streaming services, such as YouTube, as much of its workforce goes remote in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic with many companies and government agencies calling for telework. But it’s a twofold challenge for DOD, which has 37 reported cases, as it tries to meet device demands and keep down network vulnerabilities. Essye Miller, the principal deputy CIO for DOD, said the organization’s networks experienced a surge in cyberattacks as more employees were pushed to work remotely if possible during a virtual town hall meeting March 16.


8 – U.S. Government Exploring Ways to Use Smartphone Location Data to Track Coronavirus Spread

Tech companies could aggregate anonymous location data that could be used to map the spread of the coronavirus and determine whether social distancing is an effective virus mitigation strategy. The discussions, and the project, are in the early stages. Facebook executives have said that the government is interested in understanding the patterns of people’s movements, which can be provided through Facebook data. Facebook has in the past offered this kind of information in the form of disease prevention maps for health researchers, and officials could use the data to predict hotspots and where to allocate health resources. “We’re encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregate, anonymized data to glean key insights for COVID-19 modeling efforts,” said an official with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke only on condition of anonymity.


9 – ‘Rare’ stalkerware emerges with targets around the world

An app that’s marketed as a solution to keep children safe online includes such aggressive functionality that cybersecurity researchers warn it’s possible for stalkers to monitor victims in a way that is “almost impossible to detect.” Researchers from Kaspersky Lab on Monday explained that the “MonitorMinor” app bypasses so many controls meant to protect user information that it qualifies as stalkerware. The term “Stalkerware” refers to a class of software that quietly runs in the background on users’ phones, transmitting their location, messaging, and other data to outsiders. MonitorMinor, for instance, makes it possible for abusers to access victims’ social media information, SMS messages, and location.


10 – Microsoft Stores to shut globally due to coronavirus concerns

Apple last week announced it was shutting all of its Apple Stores throughout the US in order to help curb the coronavirus’ spread. Now, Microsoft is following suite. The tech giant announced on Tuesday that it’s closing all Microsoft Stores around the globe.  “All Microsoft Store locations are currently closed until further notice due to COVID-19 health concerns,” read a statement, issued via Twitter. “We know families, remote workers and businesses are under unique pressure at this time, and we are still here to serve you online at microsoft.com”


11 – Coronavirus: How can we stay in virtual touch with older relatives?

As the government encourages “social distancing” in the fight against coronavirus, older people are facing the prospect of being told to stay at home for weeks. But what if a parent or older person in your life, doesn’t already have access to video calling tech? “You might want to consider getting a specialised device to make video calls to your loved ones,” says Kate Bevan, editor of computing at Which?, the consumer magazine. “Once they’re set up, they’re very simple to use but you do have to dig through settings in their apps to connect them and that’s not always as straightforward as it might be,” she says.


12 – Small business loans app blamed as 500,000 financial records leak out of … you guessed it, an open S3 bucket

A now-defunct mobile app for loaning money to small business owners has been pinned down as the source of an exposed archive containing roughly 500,000 personal and business financial records. The research team at vpnMentor said it traced an exposed database of financial records back to a former Android/iOS app called MCA Wizard, developed jointly by Advantage Capital Funding and Argus Capital Funding back in 2018. The app, which has been pulled from both the Google and Apple stores, was apparently designed to allow businesses to apply for and manage merchant cash advance (MCA) short-term loans.

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