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InfoSec News Nuggets 4/23/2020

ITU-WHO Joint Statement: Unleashing information technology to defeat COVID-19

The World Health Organization, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with support from UNICEF are set to work with telecommunication companies to text people directly on their mobile phones with vital health messaging to help protect them from COVID-19. These text messages will reach billions of people that aren’t able to connect to the internet for information. Now more than ever, technology must ensure that everyone can access the information they need. The collaboration will start in the Asia Pacific region and then roll out globally. The goal is to reach everyone with vital health messages, whatever their connectivity level. An estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with most people who are unconnected living in low-income countries, where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.


FBI Warns Popular Social Media Trends Can Lead to Fraud

The FBI Charlotte office is warning social media users to pay close attention to the information they share online. A number of trending social media topics seem like fun games, but can reveal answers to very common password retrieval security questions. Fraudsters can leverage this personal information to reset account passwords and gain access to once-protected data and accounts. The high school support photo trend encourages users to share their high school photo to support the class of 2020. Many people are including the name of their schools and mascots, and their graduation years. All three are answers to common password retrieval security questions. The FBI encourages you to be vigilant and carefully consider the possible negative impact of sharing too much personal information online.


LAPD ditches predictive policing program accused of racial bias

The Los Angeles Police Department is dumping a controversial predictive policing program that forecasts where property crimes will happen. The PredPol system has been accused of magnifying racial bias, but the LAPD said its ditching it to cut costs amid the coronavirus pandemic. “That is a hard decision,” said Police Chief Michel Moore, according to the LA Times. “It’s a strategy we used, but the cost projections of hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on that right now versus finding that money and directing that money to other more central activities is what I have to do.” Civil liberties campaigners have disputed his claim. They argue that their protests had pushed the police to abandon the program, rather than the pandemic.


Department of Justice Announces Disruption of Hundreds of Online COVID-19 Related Scams

As of April 21, 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received and reviewed more than 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, many of which operated from websites that advertised fake vaccines and cures, operated fraudulent charity drives, delivered malware, or hosted various other types of scams.  To attract traffic, these websites often utilized domain names that contained words such as “covid19,” or “coronavirus.”  In some cases, the fraudulent sites purported to be run by, or affiliated with, public health organizations or agencies.


NFL Tackles Cybersecurity Concerns Ahead of 2020 Draft Day

The NFL draft is slated to start Thursday, and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be the first virtual version of the event ever presented. This raises a few cybersecurity concerns, according to researchers and the teams themselves — but the NFL is planning on knocking the security ball straight through the uprights. Fans and players alike look forward Draft Day every year, when clubs, choosing based on a pre-set order, ask hopefuls looking to play football on a pro level to join their rosters. This year, club personnel, League staff and prospects will all participate from home. According to the NFL, individual clubs will submit their picks to the league office via Microsoft Teams. For communications between team personnel, Zoom has been approved for use. And, all 58 prospects have been sent a phone and camera set up for broadcast and communication with the League.


Virtual army rising up to protect health care groups from hackers

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, a related crisis has emerged. Hackers are taking advantage of the increased reliance on networks to target critical organizations such as health care groups and members of the public, stealing and profiting off sensitive information and putting lives at risk. But cyber criminals are increasingly coming up against an army of information security professionals worldwide, who have come together over the past months to fight a quiet daily war online to block the efforts of hackers.


Researchers train AI to spot difference between bots and human users on Twitter based on their activity patterns

A joint team of researchers from the UK and the US claim to have trained an artificial intelligence (AI) programme to identify bots on Twitter by examining the pattern of their activities. In the study, the researchers used a large Twitter database to analyse changes in the behaviour of human users and bots over the course of an activity session. The team reviewed two different datasets of Twitter users. The first dataset, labelled as French Elections (FE), consisted of a collection of more than 16 million tweets, posted by more than 2 million different users. These tweets were posted between 25 April 2017 and 7th May 2017.


Verizon Giving Customers 15GB Extra Hotspot Data for May

Verizon today announced that it is planning to provide an additional 15GB of LTE data to all consumer and small business plans in May to continue to support its customers who are working from home. The 15GB of data will be automatically added to consumer and small business shared data plans, hotspots, and jetpacks, and can be used from May 1 through May 31. Customers with unlimited data plans are able to use the extra data as hotspot data, but data caps remain in place.

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