FixMeStick’s Weekly Round-Up: Mar 16th – 22nd

Hey there! Welcome back to another edition of our weekly round up, where we provide you with some of the big cyber news that’s been happening over the past week. With everything that’s been happening with the COVID-19 virus, we hope that you’ve been staying safe, both on and off the web!

For this week’s round up, we have more news regarding COVID-19 hacks, how smartphones can be used to track the spread of the virus, and how people are using the Zoom app to troll users.

Despite promising that they will no longer attack medical institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminal group Maze appear to be following that promise quite half heartedly.

On March 18th, the group released a statement indicating that they would be refraining from any further ransomware attacks on medical organizations, but this hasn’t stopped them continuing to demand a ransom be paid from an attack launched just a few days before their pledge. The group has apparently hacked Hammersmith Medicines Research, a research group that previously worked on the Ebola virus, and is now due to start working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. As leverage, Haze has published patient info, and states that they will continue to do so until their demands are met. 

While government officials say that they will not give into ransomware attacks, it’s interesting to point out how cyber attacks have increased since the pandemic has reached new levels. We suggest brushing up on your internet safety skills by consulting our guide here.

Last week we reported on countries who were tracking their citizens to curb the spread of the virus, and now it seems like the United States wants to do something similar. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently issued a call to action for technology organizations to join in on developing “new data-mining techniques to answer high-priority scientific questions related to COVID-19.”

Over 60 companies are said to be involved with the effort, among those are Facebook, Google, Twitter, Apple, IBM – all with the goal of preventing the spread of the virus, as a recent study indicates COVID-19 cases would have been dramatically reduced if China had enacted its protective measures a few weeks earlier.

Essentially, the goal is to map user data in an effort to track the movements of infected individuals, and thus prevent further spread. With that being said, it does bring up concerns regarding privacy – though at this stage, truly anything is on the table.

You can read more into the topic here.

As many of you are aware, the past few weeks have called for social distancing, which is good considering it will minimize the spread of the virus, but it poses a lot of problems when it comes to how we can communicate with others. Many people are now opting towards remote-work apps such as Microsoft, Slack, and Zoom, which allows users to communicate through chat and video. 

However, these apps don’t seem to be foolproof. With many organizations choosing to work with Zoom, it’s given trolls a new way to harass individuals who are simply trying to make a video call. The app itself features a conference call feature, although if the right settings aren’t in place, anyone will be able to join.

Recently, people’s video calls have had unexpected drop ins by anonymous users – usually with videos depicting the most gross things they can think of. Sex videos and videos of people defecating are only a portion of what has been spammed. 

While this is obviously a bit alarming, you can simply change your settings by following Zoom’s support article. With everything that’s been happening recently, having to witness some gross video during your conference call is definitely not appreciated.

That’s it for this week, folks! For those of you who are working from home, we always recommend checking out our comprehensive guide on remote working. It’s important to exercise your internet safety tactics as much as possible, because cyber criminals love to take advantage of moments like these!