Search This Blog

Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

COVID-19 used as a lure for Cyber Attacks: Report suggest massive increase in Phishing Trends


Since the starting of the year, 2020 has been a bearer of bad news and Covid seems like a bad punch line. With 14 Million cases, the pandemic has wreaked havoc not only on human life but other sectors of business and economy as well; especially impacting cybersecurity, giving a sweet opportunity for hackers and scammers to con people.


According to recent research by Positive Technologies, there has been a 25% increase in phishing attacks in quarter one (Q1)of this year as compared to Q4 of 2019 and 13% of these phishing attacks were related to COVID-19. One of the analysts at Position Technologies said, “Hackers were quick to use common concerns about coronavirus as lures in phishing emails. One out of every five emails was sent to government agencies.”

The researchers also noted that 23 of the tenacious and active APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) groups targeted financial and medical institutions, government agencies, and industries. Around 34% of the attacks on organizations were ransomware ( malware attackers demanding money ransom in order to decrypt files and to not reveal stolen data). One out of every 10 ransomware was targeted at an organization.

This year has seen ransomware evolving into much-feared threat with Maze ransomware collaborating with other ransomware groups and publishing the stolen data on their website. Another ransomware Snake released in the beginning of this year, even deletes backups and snapshots.

Many security analysts discourse that the report from the research isn't all that surprising as COVID-19 has been used as a lure and click-bait to trap users desperate for info on the pandemic.

Jamie Akhtar, CEO of CyberSmart says, “enormous spike in phishing campaigns, fake websites and social profiles that were deliberately impersonating COVID-19 and healthcare-related authorities as hackers exploited the unprepared public.”

 Adding, “Many of these phishing emails can be extremely convincing and are not likely to end soon.

“Businesses and their employees can protect themselves against these attacks in the future by using email filtering that will detect and flag suspicious email addresses and malicious links or attachments, but these often don't catch everything. Training employees on how to spot suspicious and phishing emails is the best way to prevent these kinds of attacks.”

Importance of Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Sector


Hackers and cybercriminals have targeted the healthcare sector for a long time. Among the healthcare industry, hospitals are generally the primary target for hackers, as they generate a lot of money. The hospitals hold very sensitive information of the patients, including credentials and personal data, and the hackers can take advantage of that. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals have received a large number of funds from the government and other agencies to deal with the issue, and the hackers are after the money.


The critical issue is that healthcare IT systems store patient credentials, including banking details, ID, and credit card details. Besides this, information such as patient's HIV details can be exposed, and cybercriminals can exploit for extortion. On the dark web, ID credentials can be sold for very profitable money, so the government and healthcare industry should take extra precautions to stay safe from cyber attacks. In the present pandemic crisis, blackmail has become one of the most common cyberattacks threats. Blackmail is different from ransomware; in the latter, the player holds company data as ransom by encrypting malware. Whereas, while blackmailing, the hacker threatens to expose critical data, unless his demands are met, which is mostly money.

In this scenario, the hospitals don't have any option but to compensate the cybercriminal as revealing patient information is not only dangerous but also against the doctor-patient confidentiality. In the starting phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, hackers across the world didn't target the healthcare industry. It created a false sense of security among the government and experts that the healthcare sector was safe from hackers and cyber attacks. It was all but long when the hackers finally decided to take a toll on cyberattacks on healthcare.

Therefore, the healthcare industry should step-up and create a robust cybersecurity infrastructure that ensures patients' privacy and security. General awareness of cybersecurity among citizens is also essential, especially sensitizing the hospital staff. Most important and the last one, healthcare institutes should team up with cybersecurity agencies that provide protection and security from cyber attacks and hackers.

Enterprises Improving Their Response to Cybersecurity Incidents, Yet Contributing To Reduce the Effectiveness of Defense


IBM recently released the results of a global survey, which recommended that while investment and planning are on the uptake, adequacy isn't on a similar 'incline', with reaction endeavors hindered by complexity brought about by divided toolsets.

Conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the research highlighted reactions from more than 3,400 security and IT staff across the world.

This research was IBM's fifth annual Cyber Resilient Organization Report, which says that while organizations are improving in cyberattack planning, identification, and response, their capacity to contain a functioning threat has declined by 13%.

By and large, enterprises send 45 cybersecurity-related tools on their networks yet the widespread utilization of an excessive number of tools may add to an inability not only to distinguish, yet additionally to shield from dynamic attacks.

While it creates the impression that the enterprise cybersecurity scene is achieving another degree of development, in any case, with 26% of respondents saying that their organizations have now embraced formal, all-inclusive Cyber Security Incident Response Plans (CSIRPs), there's been an expansion from 18% five years ago.

In total, nonetheless, 74% of respondents said their cybersecurity planning posture despite everything fails to be desired, without any plans, especially ad-hoc plans, or irregularity still a thistle in its IT staff.

Furthermore, among the individuals who have adopted a reaction plan, just a third has made a playbook for basic attack types to keep an eye out for during daily tasks.

"Since different breeds of attack require unique response techniques, having pre-defined playbooks provides organizations with consistent and repeatable action plans for the most common attacks they are likely to face," the report notes.

As indicated by IBM, an absence of planning and response testing can prompt a damages bill up to $1.2 million higher than a cyberattack would have in any case cost a victim company and the expense can be high as far as disruption is concerned.

Thus IBM responded that "With business operations changing rapidly due to an increasingly remote workforce, and new attack techniques constantly being introduced, this data suggests that many businesses are relying on out-dated response plans which don't reflect the current threat and business landscape."

This is all considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid and sudden changes a large number of us have encountered in our workplaces, CSIRP arrangements should be inspected, and if need be, changed to adjust to the working from home environment.

Cyberattacks in the U.S. Hit an All-Time High due to Covid-19, Says Black Hat Report.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, cybersecurity experts suspect a rise in cyberattacks and cybercrimes, says a survey by Black Hat earlier this week. Around 275 cybersecurity professionals (respondents in the study) have expressed concerns about potential breaches in the U.S. infrastructure and the I.T. industry. More than 90% of these experts believe that due to coronavirus, there has been a jump in cyber threats in the U.S., resulting in data leaks and privacy breaches. Around 24% of experts believe that the current danger is very severe and critical.


Among the cybersecurity threats, work from vulnerabilities in the remote access systems tops the list, accounting for 57% of the attacks. Meanwhile, phishing scams and spam attacks account for a hefty 51%. Around 85% of these experts claim that there might be a targeted cyberattack on the U.S. infrastructure in the next two years. The threat figures went up from 69% in 2018 to 77% in 2019. Among these, around 15% of the respondents believe that the government and the private sector is ready to face these attacks. These percentage figures went down from about 20% in 2019.

The majority of the cybersecurity experts believe that their firms would have to take care of the upcoming cybersecurity challenges. More than half of these believe that they currently lack the required staff force to combat cyber threats. Besides this, the budget required to protect their organization's data from cyberattacks is also low. Besides the concerns about the lack of resources to defend against cybercriminals, experts also say that they lack proper technology. According to the survey results, only half of the technology tools could be termed effective.

"The survey results suggest that the world's top cybersecurity professionals are more concerned than ever about cybersecurity risk at the global, national, enterprise, and consumer levels. While cyber threats have been growing in volume and sophistication in recent years, most security professionals believe that the radical shift toward remote access creates unprecedented risk for sensitive data," says the 2020 Black Hat USA report.

Fake applications are replicating "TraceTogether," a Singapore Covid-19 contact tracing application


Recently, these counterfeit apps emerged on the internet, which alarmed the local authorities to warn the general public. A cybersecurity authority named "SingCert," which stands for the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team, issued an advisory saying that cybercriminals have been copying contact tracing apps to spread malware as Singapore is currently on its way to move out from the lockdown phase. Hackers use these counterfeit apps and embed them with malware. Later, if successful, they can steal personal user data and monitor their device activity log, says the cybersecurity firm SingCert.


These fake apps use the same brand logo of the original contact tracing app TraceTogether, to prevent getting caught from the users or cyber authorities. However, the malware embedded in these apps is capable of stealing banking credentials and user data. As far as hacking incidents go, SingCert hasn't received any official user complaints of downloading any fake application. TraceTogether, a contact tracing app, detects people who may have come across in contact with any Covid-19 infected person. The app uses Bluetooth technology to trace these people and is very efficient in cases where the infected patient forgets the people he might have met, when or before he was diagnosed with the virus.

Anomali, a US-based cybersecurity firm, had recently on its blog post said that they had found at least 12 fake contact tracing applications that were used by hackers to spread malware and steal user information. Few of these apps behaved exactly like TraceTogether. Once the user downloads these apps, the apps self-install and download malware that is aimed to steal banking credentials. According to Anomali, these fake apps are not on official app distribution platforms like Google Playstore or iPhone's App store but rather are downloaded via 3rd party websites.

Meanwhile, SingCert has requested the users to install apps only from verified sources and cross-check their originality. It has also warned users to beware of applications that ask too many user access permissions. The users should read user reviews to make sure they have downloaded the right apps, and if the reviews are too poor, they should reconsider using that application. For users who have downloaded apps from 3rd party sources and websites, they should uninstall and run an anti-virus scan.

Singapore’s Move to Facilitate Contact Tracing Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic Rejected by Its Residents


While each country is attempting to stymie the outbreak of the disastrous coronavirus in different ways, Singapore attempted the same perhaps it wasn't a plan well thought off as the country attempted to come up with an inventive and a profoundly technological solution to battle the everyday rising cases of the virus.

Their arrangement included developing a wearable device that would be issued to each resident as an approach to facilitate contact tracing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the move, unfortunately, wasn't well-received by the citizens as it started an open objection with respect to their worries about their privacy.

An online petition titled “Singapore says 'No' to wearable devices for COVID-19 contact tracing", has thus to date, garnered in excess of 17,500 signatures.

The online petition describes the usage of such devices as "conspicuous encroachments upon our privileges to protection, individual space, and opportunity of development".

In words of Wilson Low, who started the petition on June 5, "All that is stopping the Singapore government from becoming a surveillance state is the advent and mandating the compulsory usage of such a wearable device. What comes next would be laws that state these devices must not be turned off [or] remain on a person at all times -- thus, sealing our fate as a police state.”

Singapore's Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vivian Balakrishnan, said during a parliament session Friday that while the government had introduced a contact tracing app earlier, TraceTogether, a wearable device was essential as it would not rely upon somebody possessing a smartphone.

His team however is developing and would “soon roll out a portable wearable device" keeping in mind the existing issues with the application, which didn't function well on Apple devices as the iOS operating system would suspend Bluetooth scanning when the app was running in the background.

He said that if the devices are proved to work viably, then they may be issued to each resident in Singapore, yet didn't expressly say that the government would make it obligatory for everybody to utilize it.

Wilson, however, was very determined upon proving his point as he wrote, “Even if we're not, we recognize the potential creation of a two-tiered society -- those who wear the devices versus [those] do who do not -- therein, and an open pass to engage in yet another form of prejudice and societal stratification.”

Later including, "The only thing that stops this device from potentially being allowed to track citizens' movements 24 by 7 are: if the wearable device runs out of power; if a counter-measure device that broadcasts a jamming signal masking the device's whereabouts; or if the person chooses to live 'off the grid' in total isolation, away from others and outside of any smartphone or device effective range.”

Numerous different residents also came to his support as they very openly expressed their concerns with respect to the potential execution of wearable devices, further taking to Balakrishnan's Facebook page to ask the legislature against taking this course.

One user Ian Chionh went so far as to accusing the government of utilizing the coronavirus as "an excuse" to put a tracking device on all residents on Facebook.

Wilson had likewise referenced something similar to these worries adding that "The government looks to the COVID-19 pandemic as the perfect excuse to realize what it has always envisioned for us, this country's populace: to surveil us with impunity, to track us without any technological inhibitions, and maintain a form of movement monitoring on each of us at all times and places. And to do so by decreeing it compulsory for all law-abiding persons to become 'recipients'."

Aside from TraceTogether, the Singapore government utilizes an advanced digital check-in tool, SafeEntry, to facilitate its contact tracing efforts.

The system gathers visitors' very own data, either through QR codes or barcode scans whenever they enter a venue, like supermarkets and workplaces. Information gathered through SafeEntry is retained for 25 days, just like TraceTogether's data retention policy.

The TraceTogether app was updated just the previous week to incorporate the registration of passports numbers for travelers visiting Singapore and barcode scans to support SafeEntry.

The nation however has begun with easing the restrictions, initially set up to check the spread of the virus - in phases as more and more businesses wish to resume with their operations over the following month.

Is Data Science loosing all that hype?


All over the world companies are making cuts, the COVID-19 has lead to a major economic downfall, and companies are struggling to stay afloat by reassessing their strategies and priorities. This has made companies realize the actual value of data science in business and things are not looking good. There have been mass cuts and layoffs in tech industries including data scientists and AI specialists and many are saying that the hype over data science is finally coming down.

Over the last five years the data science field has bloomed with a soaring speed and talent in data science has increased exponentially but it is expectant of companies to let this department go as when we look at direct business value, data science, unfortunately, don't add much - they fail to make the essential need-to-be list. Hence, the demand for data scientists will significantly decrease in the foreseeable future.

Dipanjan Sarkar, a Data Science Lead at Applied Materials talks about AI and lose business models saying, “The last couple of years, the economy had been doing quite well, and since every company wanted to join the AI race, they started pulling up these data science teams. But, they didn’t do the due diligence in hiring. They didn’t have a clear vision in mind as to how their AI strategy is actually going to help. Companies may think that they’re not getting any tangible value from large data science teams. This can trigger a move to cut down the staff, which may be non-essential ".

Most of the core business is done by engineering and manual processes and data science just adds the cherry on top. AI, machine learning, and data science are only valuable if t data science creates money or save it. Companies currently are focusing on cash curves and ventures like data science have become big questions thus when companies make cuts, data scientists will be the first to let go.

"People need to understand that data science is nothing special than any other IT related field. Furthermore, it is a non-essential work. I firmly believe that data science people will get fired first than engineers in any company’s worst situation (like Covid-19 pandemic),” according to Swapnil Jadhav, Principal Scientist (Applied Research) at DailyHunt.

Red Cross asks the Government to take Preventive Measures on Cyberattacks against Health Departments


Currently, while the whole world is struggling to fight against the coronavirus epidemic, cyberattacks have increased in numbers, targeting health departments like hospitals, research centers, and WHO. According to Reuters, "the Red Cross called for an end to cyberattacks on healthcare and medical research facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, in a letter published Tuesday and signed by a group of political and business figures."

Due to this, a group of 42 top world leaders have come together and requested the Government to take some immediate actions on the increasing attacks against the healthcare institutions. Among the members, there is Madeleine Albright, ex U.S Secretary of State and Brad Smith, president, Microsoft. Peter Maurer, President of International Red Cross Society, says the Government should take some swift measures and step-up to stop these attacks. He hopes that the Government is willing to commit to international obligations to prevent these attacks. He has asked for international cooperation from various health departments to combat this problem. It can be a severe problem for war-stricken countries where the conditions of healthcare departments are already deteriorating, and these cyberattacks will make things even worse.

The various leaders have asked the Government to work side by side with civil society. It comes after the news of cyberattacks on healthcare institutes came out. Ransomware was one of the attacks, that jammed the computers and infected the healthcare systems. It affected the healthcare institutes' functioning, like treating the patients, research, and various tests. Last month, incidents of the cyberattack on health institutes were reported by the Czech Republic government. Another event appeared where the DarkHotel hacking group attacked WHO.

News of various countries reporting attacks on healthcare systems also emerged, where the records of COVID-19 patients were stolen along with lab tests data. "Over the last several months, cybercriminals have targeted hospitals with computer viruses, usually in schemes to extort or hold their data ransom. More sophisticated hacking groups, such as those associated with governments, have also targeted medical research centers to steal valuable data about COVID-19 treatments," reports Reuters on its website.

Email Phishing Scam: Scammers Impersonate LogMeIn to Mine Users' Account Credentials


A Boston, Massachusetts based company, LogMeIn that provides software as a service and cloud-based remote connectivity services for collaboration, IT management and customer engagement has fallen prey to the scammers targeting companies' work from home schemes set up due to the ongoing pandemic, the campaign impersonates the remote access tool (RAT) LogMeIn and mines the unsuspecting users' account credentials.

As the number of people working from home increased rapidly, scammers saw it as a golden opportunity to carry out impersonations of remote tools such as Zoom and LogMeIn more blatantly than ever; the first incident being spotted in the month of May confirms the attributions made by the researchers in regard to COVID-19.

In this particular attack, the phishing email appears to be coming from LogMeIn, cautioning the user at the receiving end, of a zero-day exploit present in the LogMeIn Central and LogMeIn Pro- two of the company's products. It goes unsaid that in reality there exists no such vulnerability and victims' are made to follow a link that claims to be LogMein URL but takes the user to a phishing page where they would enter the credentials that would be obtained by the scammers behind the attack. Additionally, the threat actors are also exploiting the security issues that already existed in remote access platforms as a part of this phishing campaign.

While giving further insights, Abnormal Security said “Other collaboration platforms have been under scrutiny for their security as many have become dependent on them to continue their work given the current pandemic,”

“Because of this, frequent updates have become common as many platforms are attempting to remedy the situation. A recipient may be more inclined to update because they have a strong desire to secure their communications.”

In order to avoid being scammed by such phishing campaigns, Ken Liao, vice president of Cybersecurity Strategy at Abnormal, alerted users, "Many of the recent attacks have masqueraded as updates--even more specifically--security updates,"

"As always, users should default to updating applications via the application itself and not via links in emails to prevent not only credential loss but the potential introduction of malware onto their machines."

Cybercriminals Spreading Node.js Trojan Promising Relief from the Outbreak of COVID-19


A java downloader going by the extension “Company PLP_Tax relief due to Covid-19 outbreak CI+PL.jar” has been recently detected. Drawing inferences from its name, researchers suspected it to be associated with COVID-19 themed phishing attacks.

Running this file led to the download of an undetected malware sample that is written in Node.js; Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, Javascript runtime environment that executes Javascript code outside of a browser and as it is primarily designed for web server development, there's a very less probability of it being already installed onto systems.

The trojan that is suspected of employing the unconventional platform for bypassing detection has been labeled as 'QNodeService'. The malware has been designed to perform a number of malicious functions including uploading, downloading, and executing files.

It is also configured to steal credentials stored in web browsers and perform file management etc. Currently, the malware appears to be targeting Windows systems only, however, the code signifies a potential for 'cross-platform compatibility', researchers concluded a possibility of the same being a 'future goal' for cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals are devising new methods all the time to design malware such as trojans to infect as many machines as possible without getting noticed.

To stay on a safer side, users are recommended to block malware from acquiring access via all the possible doorways like endpoints, networks, and emails.

The Dreambot Malware Botnet Appears To Have Gone Silent and Possibly Shut Down


Dreambot's backend servers as per a report published by the CSIS Security Group, a cyber-security firm situated in Copenhagen, seem to have gone quiet and potentially shut down completely.

It started in March around the same time when the cybersecurity community likewise stopped seeing the new Dreambot samples disseminated in the wild. 

Benoit Ancel, the malware analyst at the CSIS Security Group, says, “The lack of new features? The multiplication of new Gozi variants? The huge rise of Zloader? COVID-19? We can't be sure exactly what was the cause of death, but more and more indicators point at the end of Dreambot." 

The Dreambot malware's apparent demise put an end to a six-year-old "career" on the cybercrime landscape. First spotted in 2014, it was created on the leaked source code of the more seasoned Gozi ISFB banking trojan, one of the most reused bits of malware today. 

With time, Dreambot received new highlights, like the Tor-hosted command and control servers, a keylogging capacity, the capacity to steal browser cookies and information from email clients, a screenshot feature, the capacity to record a victim's screen, a bootkit module, and a VNC remote access feature - just to name the most significant.

Typical Dreambot Control Panel

Besides, Dreambot likewise evolved from a private malware botnet into what's known as a Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS). 

 As a CaaS, the Dreambot creators would publicize access to their botnet on hacking and malware forums. Various crooks could gain access to a part of Dreambot's infrastructure and an adaptation of the Dreambot malware, which they'd be answerable for distributing to victims. 

Dreambot "customers" would infect victims, steal funds, and pay the Dreambot gang a week after week, month to month, or at a yearly expense. CSIS says this model seems to have been fruitful. "We counted more than a million [Dreambot] infections worldwide just for 2019," Ancel said. 

In any case, the CSIS researcher additionally said that as of late, Dreambot developed from being only a banking trojan. All the more explicitly, it evolved from a specific banking trojan into a generic trojan. 

Criminals would lease access to the Dreambot cybercrime machine, yet not use it to steal money from bank accounts. Instead, they'd taint countless computers, and afterward review each target, searching for explicit computers. 

Nonetheless, Dreambot operators have not been 'publicly identified' and stay on the loose. The explanation behind this whole cybercrime platform's current disappearance likewise stays a mystery. Be that as it may, with the operators everywhere, Dreambot's return 'remains a possibility'.


The UK Government Vs Apple & Google API on the New COVID-19 App That Tells Who Near You is Infected!



Reportedly, the United Kingdom declared that their coronavirus tracing application is being run via centralized British servers and that’s how they are planning to take things forward and not via the usual “Apple-Google approach” which is a preferred one for most.

Per sources, the CEO of the Tech unit of the National Health Service mentioned that their new smartphone app will have its launching in the upcoming weeks, with the hopes of helping the country return to normalcy by beating coronavirus.

According to reports, the UK government believes that the contact-tracing protocol created by Apple and Google protects user privacy “under advertisement only”. Hence the British health service supports a system that would send the data of who may have the virus to a centralized server giving all the controls in the hand of the NHS.

The way of the NHS and that of Apple and Google, work via Bluetooth by putting a cell-phone on the wireless network, having it emit an electronic ID that could be intercepted by other phones in the vicinity. If a person tests positive for COVID-19 their ID would be used to warn the others near them.

Meaning, if you were near an affected person, your phone would show flags about their being infected, you’d be notified about it and if you may have caught the novel coronavirus you’d be alerted about that too, mention sources.

Per reports, Google and Apple especially had created an opt-in pro-privacy API for Android and iOS. The feature allows the user’s phone to change its ID on other phones near them and store it across different intervals of time.

Per sources, if a person is discovered to have COVID-19 they can allow the release of their phone’s ID to a decentralized set of databases looked over by healthcare providers and the nearby users would be notified about it.

The above-mentioned approach works best to help ensure that the users aren’t tracked by exploiting the above information. Google and Apple say that their protocol would make it next to impossible for them, the governments, and mal-actors to track people. The data wouldn’t leave the user’s phone unless they want it to, that too anonymously if and when.


A person, to declare themselves infected must enter a specific code from a healthcare provider after being tested positive which is a great way to curb fraudulent announcements about being infected.

The NHS, on the other hand, thought of proposing a centralized approach that makes the government, the party that has the coronavirus related details of all the users on their database for further analysis.

Per sources, for this application to be successful 60% of a population would have to download it and opt for it. Trust plays a major role here, if the users don’t trust the app it would be of no use to others either.

Reports mention that most countries prefer the Google and Apple method better, including Switzerland, Austria, and Estonia. Germany too is in strong support of a decentralized line whereas France had to face criticism for its inclination towards the centralized approach.

Nevertheless, the NHS is hell-bent on going forward with the centralized approach and is adamant that it will safeguard the privacy of people no matter what. In the centralized way of things, the NHS would capture all the IDs of phones with the app active on them and store the details on their database. Later on, if a user is found to be infected the NHS would make the call about all the hows, whens, and ifs of the warning procedure on the other phones.

If things were to work out the way NHS wants it to, the application would advise users to take steps to help them save themselves against the virus, like self-isolating if need be. The advice notified would be customized per the situation. They would also build a better database and help people with first-hand updates. People could also voluntarily provide detailed information about themselves to make the app’s experience more comprehensive.

Moreover, the centralized system would be way easier for conducting audits and analysis of the data that has been stored in the databases for further research about users that are at most risk.

But regardless of all the superficial advantages, the NHS would still be creating a database bursting with people’s personal information like their health statuses, their movements, and that too with the government having complete control of it.

The success of the entire operation dwells on the people’s trust in the NHS, the UK government, and the governments of all the countries for that matter who have opted for the centralized system.

Residents in China under Surveillance amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


According to recent reports, China is alleged for surveilling its residents' homes among the coronavirus epidemic. However, there is no official rule that says China can keep quarantined residents under watch. The incident has been happening since February in China, where few residents have reported cases of security camera equipped right in front of their homes. Three people have already informed of this incident, whereas other similar cases have appeared on social media.


Currently, China doesn't have any national law that allows it to watch its people through surveillance cameras, but still, the cameras are equipped in various public areas in China. According to sources, the authorities are continually keeping a watch on people, whether they are in malls, eating in a restaurant, boarding transport, or even in schools and colleges. According to data by CNN, around 20 Million cameras were installed across china in the year 2020, and this is only a rough estimate. According to some other sources, the numbers can go even higher. As per the reports of IHS Markit Technology, which currently works under Informa Tech, China had around 350 Million surveillance cameras installed in the year 2018, which is five times than of the USA.

What will happen by 2021? 

According to the data, the projection suggests that by the year 2021, China will have equipped six times more surveillance cameras than the US. According to Comparitech, a UK based research organization, "Estimates vary on the number of CCTV cameras in China, but reports range from 200 million up to 626 million in use by 2020. Based on the country's current population of 1.4 billion people, that would mean nearly one camera for every two people. Although this projection might seem vast, it may be a fraction of the actual number."

In the present times, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the Chinese authorities to keep a watch on its residents' private life. According to these residents, it is a complete breach of privacy. Knowing that this issue might appear, the Joint Civil Society issued a statement earlier this month that said, "the COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health emergency that requires a coordinated and large-scale response by governments worldwide. However, States' efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance."

Around 25,000 Email Addresses and Passwords Belonging to NIH, WHO, World Bank and Others Posted Online


The SITE Intelligence Group, a non-governmental US-based consultancy group that monitors online activities of international terrorist groups and tracks global extremism, recently discovered around 25,000 email addresses and passwords being posted online by unidentified activists. Reportedly, these credentials belong to the World Health Organisation, National Institutes of Health, the Gates Foundation, and various other organizations united in the global battle against COVID-19 – working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

The data of unidentified origins was exposed on Sunday and Monday and straight away used by cybercriminals to make attempts at hacking and take advantage of the posted information by causing incidents of harassment led by far-right extremists. The information made its first appearance on 4chan, an imageboard website where people anonymously post their opinions on subjects ranging from politics, anime, music, video games to sports and literature. It then subsequently appeared on Pastebin, Twitter, and Telegram groups belonging to far-right extremists.

However, the authenticity of the email addresses and passwords is still in question as the SITE said it was unable to verify the data. As per Robert Potter, an Australian cybersecurity expert, the 2,732 emails and passwords belonging to WHO were found to be authentic.

The biggest victim of the incident was NIH with a total of 9,938 emails and passwords being exposed, following NIH was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the second largest number i.e., 6,857 and the World Bank with a total of 5,120, according to the report by SITE. All three organizations were quick to decline the requests of making any comment on the matter.

While providing insights, SITE's executive director, Rita Katz said, “Neo-Nazis and white supremacists capitalized on the lists and published them aggressively across their venues.”

“Using the data, far-right extremists were calling for a harassment campaign while sharing conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic. The distribution of these alleged email credentials was just another part of a months-long initiative across the far right to weaponize the covid-19 pandemic.” She further added.

Meanwhile giving assurance, Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough said, “We’re aware of this account activity and are taking widespread enforcement action under our rules, specifically our policy on private information. We’re also taking bulk removal action on the URL that links to the site in question.”

Facebook Makes Its Largest Bet on the Developing Market; Invests $5.7 Billion in Indian Internet Giant Jio


“The country is in the middle of a major digital transformation, and organizations like Jio have played a big part in getting hundreds of millions of Indian people and small businesses online. With communities around the world in lockdown, many of these entrepreneurs need digital tools they can rely on to find and communicate with customers and grow their businesses.”

This is what Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, said in a post to his Facebook page on the occasion of the social media giant making its biggest single investment by putting $5.7 billion into Jio Platforms of India on Tuesday.

Adding later on that the move indicates its 'commitment' to India, as approximately more than 388 million people in India have been in a solid connection with the internet service over the past four years via Jio.

While numerous businesses have been harmed by the aftermath from the Covid-19 pandemic, huge technology companies are positioned to profit over the long haul as more people resort to their services while keeping indoors.

Facebook is thusly making preparations to move ahead with vital and strategic investments at a very 'fragile' time in the global economy.

David Fischer, Facebook's chief revenue official, and Ajit Mohan, Facebook's managing director in India, in a blog-entry by-lined by the former said that “One focus of our collaboration with Jio will be creating new ways for people and businesses to operate more effectively in the growing digital economy. For instance, by bringing together JioMart, Jio’s small business initiative, with the power of WhatsApp, we can enable people to connect with businesses, shop, and ultimately purchase products in a seamless mobile experience.”

With more than 400 million Indian citizens utilizing WhatsApp and more than 300 million people utilizing the company's core social network, therefore Facebook sees a lot of chance with Jio.

Apart from this, last week India's Economic Times revealed that Facebook and Reliance were intending to use WhatsApp and Jio administrations to make a WeChat-style "super-app" for India.

Tencent's WeChat has enormous penetration in China, with in excess of a billion users and numerous independent businesses utilizing it for payments, promotion, and communication. Yet, it is to be noticed this isn't Facebook's first swoop into the Indian market.

Quite a long while ago, it attempted to offer free internet connectivity to Indian users in a program called Free Basics. Yet, that initiative hit a lot of obstacles until it was ultimately banned in the nation by the telecom regulator TRAI, in 2016.

What's more, is that the regulators concluded that businesses couldn't offer free internet services that supported only a few companies over the others. Facebook has been at a disagreement with the Indian government over WhatsApp for quite some time recently.

The government had demanded that WhatsApp change its encryption to trace messages back to their source, which WhatsApp refused to comply with. Simultaneously, regulators have over and over again thwarted WhatsApp's request to offer a payments service to its Indian users.

Here are some of the reaction tweets by people on the Jio-Facebook collab.







Google Is All Set To Fight The Coronavirus Themed Phishing Attacks and Scams


These days of lock-down have left cyber-criminals feeling pretty antsy about “working from home”. Not that it has mattered because apparently, that is why the number of cyber-crime cases has only hiked especially the Phishing attacks.

This has gotten Google working on its machine-learning models to bolster the security of Gmail to create a stronger security front against cyber-criminals.

Given the current conditions, the attackers seem to have a morbid sense when it comes to the themes of the Phishing attacks, i.e. COVID-19. Reportedly, 18 Million such attacks were blocked in a single week. Which amount up to 2.5% of the 100 Million phishing attacks it allegedly dodges every day.

Google, per sources, is also occupied with jamming around 240 Million spam messages on a daily basis. These phishing attacks and spams at such a worrisome time have impelled Google and Microsoft to modify their products’ mechanisms for creating a better security structure.

Reportedly, the number of phishing attacks, in general, hasn’t risen but in the already existing number of attacks, the use of COVID-19 or Coronavirus seems to have been used a lot.

Malware and phishing attacks, especially the ones related to COVID-19 are being pre-emptively monitored. Because being resourceful as the cyber-criminals are the existing campaigns are now being employed with little upgradations to fit the current situation.


A few of the annoying phishing emails include, ones pretending to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) to fool victims into making donations for VICTIMS to a falsified account.

Per the intelligence teams of Microsoft, the Coronavirus themed phishing attacks and scams are just the remodeled versions of the previous attacks.

The attackers are extremely adaptive to the things and issues that their victims might easily get attracted to. Hence a wide variety of baits could be noticed from time to time.

During the lock-down period of the pandemic, health-related and humanitarian organizations have been extensively mentioned in the scams and phishing emails.

Per sources, the Advanced Protection Program (APP) lately acquired new malware protections by enabling Google Play Protect On Android devices to some specifically enrolled accounts.

Allegedly, users trying to join the program with default security keys were suspended, while the ones with physical security keys were still allowed to be enrolled.

All the bettered security provisions of Google shall be turned on by default so that the users can continue to live a safe and secure life amidst the pandemic.

COVID 19 Contact Tracing: Is your Privacy at Risk?


Apple and Google's latest team up together to build a technology that will help trace the spread of coronavirus is a much-appreciated move, that will surely help the society to fight coronavirus. Still, one must also be aware of the privacy concerns, as the users will be sharing their data with these companies. The announcement came last Friday that the two companies are currently working together to build an application that will help in fining the COVID-19 trace. This process is called 'contact tracing,' and it will be carried with the help of Bluetooth technology that will benefit informing people as soon as they come in contact with an infected person.


Both the technology giants have assured that user privacy and security will be their utmost concern. According to cybersecurity experts, these companies who will be using user data such as- contacts, location; wouldn't be used for any other purposes. Even the companies won't have access to this information, and that is why these companies are prioritizing user privacy.

What about government surveillance? 
South Korea, while using technology to find the traces of infected people, is using CCTV footage, user location, credit card records, and even the conversation between individuals. This type of technological surveillance raises concerns about the privacy of individuals. According to cybersecurity experts, the South Korean government is releasing alerts that tell an individual's age, his neighborhood, his workplace, and also his location. None of such details are necessary as over sharing of these personal details can create a panic among the public. Some researchers have even gone to an extent, saying that this surveillance is expected to last even after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

According to experts, the government should tell the public about the reasons for data collection, so the public doesn't panic and even gets a better understanding of the situation. In the present time, it is evident that these surveillances used for health purposes, but another concern is that this data can be used for other purposes such as law enforcement. The important fact is to know about the limits of this surveillance and to keep an eye if it becomes a tool for mass surveillance.

COVID-19: Google and Apple Team up on Contact Trace Technology


Around the world, the governments and health departments are fighting together against the Coronavirus pandemic, coming up with solutions to reduce its effect, so the society and the people can recover from it at the earliest. Keeping this in mind, various software companies and enthusiasts, too, are continually working to build technologies to aware the people to stay safe. Apple and Google together have come forward to contact trace Coronavirus patients. They are working together in developing a technology that will let people know whether they have come in contact with any Coronavirus infected person.


"To further this cause, Apple and Google will be launching a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing," says Apple and Google. The initial aim is to help third party contact tracing applications work accurately. But the primary objective is to get rid of downloading dedicated apps while supporting the work. The approach by Apple and Google will keep in mind that- the users participating are voluntary and would stay anonymous. At the same time, their privacy will remain the utmost concern for both companies.

The contact tracing method will somewhat work like this- with the help device's Bluetooth connection signals; the user will know whether he/she has been in contact with an infected person long enough to catch the virus. If either of the people is tested positive for COVID-19 in the future, an immediate warning will be issued to the original handset owner, informing him about the situation. The companies, while addressing the privacy concern, say that neither GPS nor personal information of the user will be collected.

"All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world's most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life," said the two companies in a joint statement.

Bitcoin Prices Are Off The Charts!


Bitcoin, our favorite digital currency has experienced a certain kind of unbelievable hike, all of a sudden. It has profited across several markets with a spike of 12% in its price solely in the last week, mention sources.

Word has it that the Bitcoin price has risen around 6% in the last 24-hour trading duration, overtaking next to all main indices, even the stocks throughout Asia and Europe.

Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency including cryptocurrency have escalated around the globe owing it to the Coronavirus lockdowns.

Per sources, The Bitcoin price has outgrown the $7,000/Bitcoin level and is ascending to “$7,170 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange”.

As if they knew things were going to go south, the Bitcoin investors were up and about right from the start of this year. In fact, surveys indicate that the Bitcoin price has a high probability of rocketing up to $20,000/Bitcoin in 2020.

The basic foundational facets for a better Bitcoin system exist today owing to various developmental projects in the crypto industry. An in case of such massively unprecedented crisis investors would want to fall back upon digital currency

Asian and European markets furthered their reserves by 3% and 2-4%. Researchers mention that Bitcoin purchases could have a positive effect on the stock markets.

History has it that the Bitcoin price has seen a major upswing before from a low $1,000 to a high $20,000 in a matter of a year.

Investors are in genuine awe with this ascent in the prices of Bitcoin and see this as a new opportunity for cryptocurrency in general because of the fresh interest the market has shown for it.

Per analysts, this year investors may need to rethink their current cryptocurrency store and even pile up more of it in case of increased demand because of risk assets.

Everyone understands that if the things were to stay the way they are there is a strong chance for a longer period of intense recession.

This has given birth to questions regarding the effect of COVID-19 on the economy and the part Bitcoin could play in it.



E-Commerce Attacks Didn't Increase During Coronavirus Quarantine


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people across the globe to stay at home. The quarantine has increased online shopping figures. Even though a majority of the people are shopping online for everything, from food to groceries to daily essentials, the web skimming attacks didn't increase and are supposedly expected not to in the near time, due to it, say cybersecurity experts. Web skimming or Magekart attacks or e-skimming is a kind of cyberattack where the attacker inserts malicious codes in the online stores' website. When the users make any payment in the checkout process while entering the data, the hackers steal their credit card credentials.


Web skimming attacks were famous amid the hackers during 2017-18 and had been rising since then. Various cybersecurity experts and agencies, when asked about 'the impact of large scale online shopping on the web skimming incidents,' they all agree that web skimming attacks will not rise just because more people are shopping now, spending most of their time online, while staying at home. It is because, for a very long time, hackers have tried to breach prominent e-commerce websites but have failed to do so, while the web skimming incidents have remained constant through the years.

According to these cybersecurity experts, there's only one condition under which web skimming attacks can increase, and that is only when the number of online stores will increase can the hackers look for new sites to attack. Unless that happens, the rate of web skimming attacks will remain the same. According to the statistical analyses by Sanguine Security, the data shows that web skimming attacks have slightly fallen during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not every cybersecurity agency agrees with this data.

But according to Jerome Segura, who is a web analyst at Malwarebytes, the web skimming attacks on online stores have not increased, therefore it confirms with Sanguine Security's data. It may be because the number of online stores increased before 2-3 months, but nobody observed these attacks during that time. Another reason might be that buyers prefer shopping from popular e-commerce websites, which are hard to breach through for hackers.