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DIGIT Tech News Roundup: 6th of September 2019

Ross Kelly


Tech News

In this edition of DIGIT’s weekly Tech News Roundup, we highlight some of the top-trending tech and business news stories permeating the airwaves in the week beginning 2nd of September.


DIGIT’s Top-trending

Millions of UK Facebook users’ phone numbers exposed online

Social media giant Facebook has confirmed that hundreds of millions of its users’ phone numbers were exposed in a non-password-protected online server.

Facebook’s admission follows a report by TechCrunch, which first brought the privacy lapse to light. The exposed data included more than 419 million records in total and was comprised of 130 million records from users in the US, 18 million records from users in the UK and 50 million records for users in Vietnam. Since the server was not password protected, it was easy for anyone to find and access online.

Facebook took the database offline after TechCrunch made the company aware of the situation. A spokeswoman for Facebook claimed that the actual number of users exposed was approximately 210 million because the records contained duplicates. The company is now investigating the incident to ascertain when the database was created and who is responsible for its creation.

The compromised records contained users’ unique Facebook IDs and the phone numbers listed on the accounts. A user’s Facebook ID, typically a long public number associated with a user’s account, can be easily used to discern an account’s username.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.

Study reveals Scots expect IoT to enhance healthcare

Almost nine out of ten (88%) of Scottish citizens believe the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technologies will enhance healthcare delivery in Scotland.

This is one of the key findings from research commissioned by Capita on behalf of the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN).

Increased digitisation and the use of technology could help reduce costs and alleviate pressure on healthcare services at a time when Scotland’s working-age population is expected to decrease faster than in the rest of the UK.

In fact, the research also finds that 84% of Scottish citizens said digital access to healthcare (e.g. online chat with a health professional, video appointment with a GP) is important to where they choose to live – further underlining the need for greater connectivity.

Jack Anderson, head of digital & innovation for SWAN at Capita IT & Networks, said: “In Scotland today, citizens are used to using digital technologies at work or at home, and this research shows that when it comes to healthcare, the expectation is no different. From video consultations to smart medical devices, Scottish citizens of all ages believe the IoT will improve healthcare across the country.

“In recent years, significant technical leaps have been made and there is considerable buzz around how the IoT will impact health services. With a robust and future-proof network in place, everyone in Scotland will have the opportunity to benefit from connected healthcare – including the one million people living in remote or hard-to-reach areas.”

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.

40,000 Scottish schoolchildren taught how to hack

About 40,000 school pupils are learning about ethical hacking and digital forensics as part of an online challenge designed to find the country’s next generation of cyber superheroes.

As well as learning about the ins and outs of cyber defence, the youngsters have been discovering more about the exciting career opportunities available in cybersecurity – one of Scotland’s fastest-growing industries.

The training, delivered by Skills Development Scotland, is entering its third and penultimate year on a high after smashing its launch targets.

Organisers initially hoped that 4,000 students would complete the course by the end of its four-year run, yet after just two years almost 40,000 have joined in with the computer-based fun – both online and through real-world events held across Scotland.

In previous years, pupils gained hands-on experience of cracking password encryptions, hacking a bank and defending a hospital from a cyber-attack. All challenges were designed to get the message across about the importance of online security for both personal safety reasons and as a career option.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.

Facebook could be preparing to hide its maligned ‘like’ feature

Prominent app researcher Jane Manchun Wong claims to have discovered code that indicates Facebook plans to hide the number of likes a post receives – with the actual number hidden from everyone except the user.

Wong’s discovery follows a similar situation earlier this year with Instagram. The researcher revealed that Facebook’s sister platform was also planning to launch a feature to hide likes. Just weeks later, the social media site began initially testing this in Canada.

Since then, the scheme has been rolled out to a host of other nations, including Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

In a blog post, Wong commented: “I observed that Facebook has recently begun prototyping this hidden like/reaction count feature in their Android app by reverse-engineering the app and playing with the code underneath.

“Currently, with this unreleased feature, the like/reaction count is hidden from anyone other than the creator of the post, just like how it works on Instagram. This list of people who liked/reacted will still be accessible, but the amount will be hidden.”

Wong noted that like and reaction counts on comments are not yet hidden. However, she speculated that this could be “due to the nature of this feature being in an early stage of development”.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.

Security expert becomes UK’s first-ever white hack hacker millionaire

Bug bounty platform HackerOne has announced that five security experts have become self-made millionaires through ethical hacking, also known as a white hat hacking.

This announcement follows just months after the site revealed that teenage Santiago Lopez had made history by becoming the world’s first-ever white-hat hacker to earn $1 million from bug bounties.

The white hat hackers include Mark Litchfield from the UK, Nathaniel Wakelam from Australia, Frans Rosen from Sweden, Ron Chan from Hong Kong, and Tommy DeVoss from the US. Litchfield’s achievement makes him the first Brit to hit this milestone.

“Hacking can open doors to anyone with a laptop and curiosity about how to break things,” said Litchfield. “I hope our achievements will encourage other hackers, young and old, to test their skills, become part of our supportive community, rake in some extra money along the way and make the internet a much safer place for people.”

Over the past year on average, bug bounty payments for vulnerabilities have increased 65%, this rise has been driven by the fact that 25% of all resolved security flaws have been classified as high to critical severity. Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Intel offer some of the most competitive bug bounty programmes in the world, with awards as high as $1.5 million for critical issues.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article here.

In Case You Missed It…

Satori Botnet man pleads guilty

A 21-year-old in Washington, USA, has pleaded guilty to helping develop and deploy the Satori IoT botnet.

Kenneth Currin Schuchman pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting computer intrusions. Schuchman is alleged to have acted alongside two others as part of a conspiracy to develop the botnet between July 2017 and October 2018.

The botnet was developed to launch DDoS attacks against a myriad of targets, and the group behind its development is alleged to have sold access to it.

Schuchman is believed to have been tasked with identifying new vulnerabilities in IoT devices, which in turn could be exploited to conscript them into the botnet.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article via InfoSecurity.

New funding announced to tackle online child abuse

The UK Government has pledged more investment to combat child abuse online. Chancellor Sajid Javid announced the £30 million funding boost will be directed toward tackling “the scourge of online child sexual exploitation”.

These plans form part of an investment package worth £13.8 billion which the Chancellor claimed is the “fastest increase in spending for 15 years”.

In July this year, the UK Government announced the establishment of the UK Council for Internet Safety, a new body charged with tackling digital abuse throughout the UK.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article via ComputerWeekly.

Taxpayers against cities paying up in ransomware attacks, says survey

Nearly 60% of citizens in US cities are against using taxpayer money to pay ransoms, a survey conducted by IBM Security and Morning Consult has revealed.

Based on data compiled from 2,200 survey respondents, the study highlighted citizens’ opposition to paying ransoms – a tactic employed by a number of US cities so far this year.

Within the space of two weeks earlier this year, Lake City and Riviera City in Florida agreed to pay hefty sums to retrieve data seized in ransomware attacks. Combined, the two local governments paid more than $1 million – a move that sparked both controversy and a lengthy debate over how to handle such attacks.

Interestingly, although taxpayers are against paying ransoms in cyberattacks, they do support increased spending on cybersecurity protection. More than 60% of respondents said they would prefer their city to deal with significant recovery costs rather than bow to the ransom.

Similarly, 90% of respondents said they would support increased federal funding to help bolster cyber defences in cities through the United States.

Want to find out more? Check out the original article via ZDNet.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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