Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the technology and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this week.
Ransomware causes havoc
Multinational facilities management company, ISS World, has suffered a devastating ransomware attack that left it without many of its IT services. The attack took its website offline and left over 40,000 of its UK employees without email. While most of its half a million global workforce don’t use computers in their jobs, the attack’s impact has affected the company’s entire operations.
This is part of an ongoing shift, with the tactical use of ransomware moving away from household PC users towards bigger businesses from whom the cybercriminals can demand larger payments, sometimes in the millions.
Barclays gives Big Brother the boot
Marketed as an application to track employee engagement but seen by employees and privacy campaigners as a ‘creepy spying app’ akin to Big Brother, Sapience was supposed to help Barclays improve productivity and HR transparency. However, following negative staff feedback, the banking giant has now done a swift U-turn on its use.
The application is able to monitor how long employees engage in tasks at their desks and sends automated warnings to any who spend too long on their breaks. However, the system was deemed to deny employees workplace privacy and was seen to be overly intrusive. A warning to all employers, perhaps, that people shouldn’t be treated like machines.
BT customers lose out to phishing
Scammers who used phishing techniques to infiltrate BT customer accounts went on to defraud over 2000 customers of £358,000. Using email and payment details obtained during the phishing scam, the cybercriminals opened PayPal accounts in the users’ names, used these to buy luxury items and then had them delivered to ‘safe-house’ addresses where they were collected and sold. To prevent BT customers from becoming aware of the activities, the criminal gang also diverted email addresses and phone numbers to their own accounts, thus keeping victims in the dark.
While seven people have now been imprisoned for the offences, it’s yet another reason for all businesses to consider using Personal Signing Certificates that encrypt and authenticate emails so recipients know they are authentic.
Climate change denial – it’s a bot thing
If you’re influenced by the ideas that people express on social media, you may be concerned that a quarter of the tweets expressing doubt in climate change are not posted by scientific experts or even by people with opinions but are created by bots.
Research undertaken at Brown University in the US discovered 25% of climate change denial posts were generated by bots pretending to be real users. These tweets were used to reject global warming and climate change and thus give the allusion that there are significantly more people who disagree with current scientific findings than there actually are. Unsurprisingly, this is one form of fake news that Donald Trump hasn’t tweeted a complaint about.
A rubbish idea too smart to bin
As a Yorkshire-based company, we’re always proud when Yorkshire leads the way in innovation. Right now this is happening in Sheffield. Traditionally associated with steelmaking and groups like Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, it’s about to become famous for its bins. These, however, are no ordinary bins. Rather, they are connected to sensors that can tell when they are full and need to be emptied. These IoT devices then let the folks at the council know so that a bin wagon can be dispatched to remove the said waste. Not only does this ensure no-one’s left with an overflowing bin; it also means unfilled bins can be left for later, thus helping to reduce pollution, congestion and costs.
The same technology is also helping to ensure trees get watered and grit silos get replenished. Perhaps those who want to live like common people should move to Sheffield.
10 most hackable forms of password
Research by NordPass has revealed the ten most likely types of password to be hacked. These include letters following the order on a keyboard (e.g. qwertyuiop), simple to guess number strings (e.g. 000000, 123456, etc.), passwords with the word ‘password’ or ‘admin’ in them, names of people, sports teams and music bands, expletives and even happy words or phrases (e.g. ilovecats or lifeisgreat.) Another easy type for hacker software to discover is when the name of the web service is included in the password (e.g. netflix99, HSBC4321 or twitter22). Always make sure you use strong passwords or, preferably, two-step authentication.
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