Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Africa to get hardwired
Lack of infrastructure has always hampered the growth of the internet in Africa, leaving its nations behind many other countries. Facebook is hoping to put an end to this by building one of the world’s longest undersea cables, 23,000 miles in length, that will encircle the continent, tripling its capacity and improving the connectivity of its countries.
When completed in 2024, the cable will provide Africa with highly-reliable broadband, 4G and 5G capacity, as well as redundancy that can supplement growing demand in the Middle East. As a result, the £800 million project will enable more of the continent’s 1.3 billion people to access the internet. Today, only 40% of the population has online access, compared to the global average of 60%. With such a big investment, no doubt Facebook also has big plans for its own African expansion. It’s also an opportunity for many other businesses to start selling to customers on the continent.
NHS Nightingale builders hacked
Interserve and Bam Construct, two of the construction companies helping to build the emergency NHS Nightingale hospitals across the UK have suffered cyberattacks during May. This follows government warnings that organisations involved in healthcare were likely to be targeted during the pandemic.
Bam Construct, which had been infected by a virus, has been able to continue with day to day operations but has taken its website and other systems offline for precaution. Interserve, on the other hand, said some of its operations may be impacted. If your organisation works in healthcare, it may be time to improve your system’s security.
XSS vulnerability in WordPress affiliate plugin
Over 40,000 WordPress websites which have the WP Product Review plugin installed, have been warned of a bug in the software that makes it vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks. The plugin is used for affiliate marketing and enables website owners to earn commission when a user clicks on a link in a product review and then goes on to make a purchase.
Attackers can use cross-site scripting to inject malicious scripts into the links of all the products reviewed using the plugin. Anyone who uses WP Product Review and who doesn’t have automatic updates enabled should update to version 3.7.6 (or later) as soon as possible to remove the vulnerability.
Exponential growth is a challenge for all companies and Zoom is no different, growing from 10 million to 300 million users in the space of a few months. The latest stumbling block on its troubled path is an outage that hit the headlines because it disrupted the UK government’s Coronavirus press conference from Downing Street. Perhaps luckily for the politicians, they managed to give their presentations but missed out on having to answer the usual barrage of questions from journalists.
Boris Johnson and his team weren’t the only users affected, however, as millions of users across the UK and the east coast of the USA were unable to join meetings or lost connections. This included many worshippers taking part in Sunday’s online church services.
Edison turning in his grave
If you name anything after the great inventor Edison, it had better work well. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for third-party email client, Edison Mail, this weekend as a bug in their software gave thousands of users access to the emails from different users’ accounts.
The issue was the result of users enabling a new email syncing feature on their Apple devices. A flaw in the feature caused users’ mailboxes to sync with those of other accounts, giving them full access to all the emails.
Although the issue has now been rectified, over 6,000 users were affected in what is a significant breach of data with potentially damaging consequences for the victims. The app’s developers have since rolled back the update, secured all the affected accounts and issued an updated version of the software. Certainly more of a shock than a lightbulb moment for Edison!
Spyware pulls the wool over Google’s eyes
Spyware went undetected on the Google Play store for almost four years, affecting hundreds of thousands of Android users in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia. Called Mandrake, the malware spied on users that downloaded the apps: OfficeScanner, CoinCast, Abfix, SnapTune Vid, Currency XE Converter, Horoskope and Car News, and then infected devices to access personal data.
The sophisticated group behind the malware not only developed the apps but went to lengths to beguile Google and give them the appearance of legitimacy. They fabricated online reviews, developed websites for the apps and had prominent social media accounts on Reddit, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
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