Archive for July, 2017

Ransomware Attack on Merck Caused Widespread Disruption to Operations

July 31st, 2017

Pharmaceutical giant’s global manufacturing, research and sales operations have still not be full restored since the June attacks.

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Iranian Hackers Ensnared Targets via Phony Female Photographer

July 31st, 2017

US, Indian, Saudi Arabian, Israeli, Iraqi IT, security, executives in oil/gas and aerospace swept up in elaborate social media ruse used for cyber espionage operations.

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Kitchen sponges are festering germ dens—and sanitizing them doesn’t help

July 31st, 2017

Enlarge / Some germy places in the house include the kitchen faucet and sponges. Typically people wash their hands after handling raw meat in the kitchen and frequently use sponges or cloths to wipe germs from surfaces in the kitchen. (Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images) (credit: Getty | MCT)

Scientists have long thrown shade at the unassuming kitchen sponge. The household staple skulks in sinks amid dirty dishes and soggy food scraps, sopping up and amplifying microbial forces capable of invading clean food spaces. The savvy kitchen-goer may think they have this situation locked down—a simple toss through a sanitizing dishwasher cycle or a sizzling swirl in the microwave… and done. Sudsy germsplosion averted.

Nice try, says science.

In a comprehensive study of 14 household sponges and their microbial inhabitants published in Scientific Reports, researchers confirmed that kitchen sponges are indeed domestic abominations. Moreover, any sterilizing attempts only seem to temporarily free up sponge-space for potential pathogens, which rapidly recolonize the festering scrubber.

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Posted in food safety, infectious diseases, microbes, microbiology, science, sponge | Comments (0)

World Wide Web – The journey from 1990

July 31st, 2017

This year on my birthday, family and friends sent me gifts and flowers bought from online stores. Even my cake was ordered online! I wondered, “How would things have been without the World Wide Web?”

August 1, 2017 was the 26th birthday of the World Wide Web and this is the right opportunity to thank its creators, and this service for all that it has made possible.

The World Wide Web (we know it better as the www that precedes all web addresses) was the brain-child of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, and was born in August 1990 at CERN in Switzerland. Very soon this service became the magic portal that gave access to infinite resources online – something our previous generation would have thought possible only in science fiction.

A year later in August 1991, the first website was published, and today there are more than one billion websites in existence!

How many times do you use the browser service each day? Take a guess-10, 20, 30? Almost everything you do online requires you to use a browser – whether it’s using Google for information, watching movies and shows online, checking social media accounts, making online transactions or even communicating through WhatsApp. Well, that makes it how many times??

Cyber criminals have created bugs that can attack systems, crash devices, steal files, and disrupt organizational functioning and services. As responsible netizens, we should therefore be aware of the potential cyber threats and use a reputed security software to keep us and our family safe online.

The theory of a computer bug or virus was introduced long before the first virus was developed. In 1983, Fred Cohen demonstrated a program that could replicate itself multiple times. The first worm to create global disruption was the ‘Morris Worm’. Developed by Robert Morris, it leveraged the vulnerabilities in the UNIX system and replicated itself regularly, massively slowing down computers. This attack has the dubious distinction of being the first global multi-platform attack and raised awareness about the need for cybersecurity.

The exponential growth of internet users, businesses and services online has given ample opportunities for cyber criminals to launch targeted attacks, to fulfil various ends. Modern hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated using social engineering and phishing to target gullible users.

Some notable global cyber-attacks include:

  • 2004: Netsky and Sasser worm attacks
  • 2006: Operation Shady Rat
  • 2008: Project Chanology
  • 2009: Yahoo attack (Operation Aurora)
  • 2010: Stuxnet worm
  • 2011: Sony PlayStation Hack
  • 2012: Flame
  • 2013: Spamhaus Project
  • 2017: #Wannacry and #Petya ransomware

Though we use the terms Virus, Worms, Trojan Horses interchangeably, they are in fact not quite the same. While a virus needs a host file to spread from one computer to another; a worm is a self-replicating program that can create copies of itself and send to all on the user’s contact list. A Trojan horse pretends to be a genuine software but actually contains a malicious code.

Being aware is the first step towards cyber safety and what better way to observe World Wide Web day than by being a safe surfer? Here’s how you can ensure your safety while browsing:

  • Use a well-known security software, like McAfee LiveSafe or McAfee Total Protection
  • Always install OS updates, don’t keep it for later
  • Disable Auto-run of attachments in your e-mail program
  • Be very suspicious of .exe files
  • Scan all apps, devices, files and software before use
  • Use McAfee WebAdvisor to identify safe sites to visit

Here’s looking forward to the achievement of the Digital India vision where every citizen will know how to browse safely and lead a secure digital life and encourage their family to do so.

The rise in ransomware attacks has directed global attention towards cyber insurance and we shall be exploring this in our next blog. See you next time!

 

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All the things the Internet hates about the Tesla Model 3 have me excited

July 31st, 2017

Enlarge / The first batch of production Tesla Model 3s, ready to be handed over to their new owners. (credit: Tesla)

Last Friday, Tesla’s new Model 3 electric vehicle finally hit the streets. At an event in California, the company handed over the first few production vehicles, a process that will continue for quite some time as Tesla fills what could be half-a-million prospective orders on its books.

Tesla made its reputation—and rebuilt that of the EV—on the backs of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, high-end vehicles that have done a lot to dispel the idea that an EV has to be a hair-shirt experience. But it has a very different task at hand with the Model 3, which must sell at a far lower price and in much greater volume. That’s meant an obsessive approach to cost reduction, requiring some design choices that have not gone down well with everyone. But the more I consider what the company has done, the more impressed I am. Assuming the early takes and my gut instinct are accurate, Tesla deserves to sell them in the millions.

What kilowatts?

While I have your attention, I do have one gripe about the Model 3 I would like to get on the record, and it concerns how we talk about batteries. As expected, the Model 3 is available with a choice of two different battery packs, and I was wrong—the bigger battery isn’t just a software unlock away. Unlike the Model S and Model X, the 3 will use Tesla’s 2170 cells. The 2170s are larger than the 18650 cells even though they cost less to produce and have almost double the energy density (6,000mA compared to 3,000mA, according to InsideEVs.) But just what the battery specs are for the Model 3 variants remains unknown. The event and Tesla’s press kit simply describes them by range: 220 miles or 310 miles.

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Posted in cars, tesla model 3 | Comments (0)

Anthem Hit with Data Breach of 18,580 Medicare Members

July 31st, 2017

Third-party service provider for the insurer discovered one of its employees allegedly engaged in identity theft of thousands of Anthem Medicare members.

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Cybersecurity 101: Top Takeaways from Our Back to School Study

July 31st, 2017

The end of summer is almost here, which means both parents and their kids are starting to gear up for the new school year. Of course, the first homework assignment and first day outfits are top of mind, however, these teens will be thinking about their devices too — what devices they can bring to class, what they’ll post about school events, etc. But will they be thinking about what they need to do to keep these devices secure? To see how students approach device use and security in the classroom, we conducted a survey, Cybersecurity 101: Teens in the Classroom, of more than 3,900 high school students (9th-12th grade) around the world. Here are a few of our key takeaways: 

Students Are Devoted to Their Devices

Between social media and smart devices, kids are staying connected now more than ever before. And it looks like the use of these connected devices in the classroom is here to stay. 86% of students spend at least one hour per day using an internet-connected device during school hours for school-specific work. Technology has just become an everyday part of the classroom experience for students, as more than half (57%) of students spend three or more hours per day using a connected device during school hours for school-specific work.

But, it’s important to note, this connected work isn’t always done with pure intentions, as almost half of students (47%) claim to have seen or heard of another student using a connected device in the classroom to cheat on an exam, quiz, project or other assignment – with only 21% admitting to doing it themselves. Students are also defying the rules when it comes to cybersecurity restrictions as well. When it comes to getting around cyber restrictions put in place by schools, 24% of the students have successfully accessed banned content. Beyond that, almost half (45%) of the students were able to access any (21%), or some (24%) social media sites on school-owned connected devices.

Education Goes Beyond Normal Curriculum

So, what exactly is being done to address this defiance? Fortunately, both administration and teachers are actively trying to employ policy as well as educate these kids on why cybersecurity is so important. 80% of students surveyed think that their school takes the necessary steps to ensure at least the school-owned devices they use are protected from cyberthreats. And most students (86%) feel up-to-date and informed about cybersecurity education/guidelines from their school before accessing school-owned connected devices.

Why Is Security Is Still Struggling?

So, given schools are providing this education, the question is – why do security gaps still exist? The study discovered that, as teens age, cybersecurity education becomes less of a priority for parents. 50% of parents of children 14 to 15-years old regularly talk about staying safe online, but this percentage dropped to 30% for older teenagers 16 to 18-years old. Shockingly, 14% of 16 to 18-year olds have never talked with their parents about how to stay safe online.

Therefore, as a parent, it’s crucial you begin making cybersecurity a priority for your teens. To do just that, follow these tips:

-Talk to your teens. The best way to ensure your teen is staying safe online is to talk to them. Ask them about what they do online and encourage safe behavior like avoiding interacting with individuals they don’t know in real life.

-Use the social networks that your kids are using. Not only will you gain a better understanding about what your kids do online, but you will also become a more trusted source because you will know the ins and outs of their favorite apps/networks.

-Protecting all your devices. Be sure to install comprehensive security software, like McAfee LiveSafe, across all of your family’s devices. Having security software is essential to protecting your family’s devices and privacy.

And for teens, it’s important to keep the following pointers in mind for when you’re using your connected devices next:

-Mind what you share. Personal information should be shared in moderation and only when necessary. Also, ensure that you are enabling privacy settings within social networks. Without privacy setting enabled your profile is open to everyone, which could increase the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated.

-Keep passwords private. Avoid sharing passwords with anyone other than parents or guardians. Once you share your password you no longer have control of your account.

As for schools themselves, we have a few additional tips on how you can continue to improve your cybersecurity education:

-Create student contracts in the classroom. The first step to creating guidelines for devices in class is to clearly spell out the terms of a ‘classroom device usage’ so there is no room for misunderstanding. Certain conditions such as staying on task and being considerate of others’ privacy must be upheld by students for devices to be used for in-classroom work.

-Keep parents updated and involved. Parents need education too. Schools should frequently update parents about how technology is used in the classroom setting. Not only does this promote understanding and support from parents but, equally importantly, it helps bridge the technology gap between parents and their kids.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 


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HBO Hacked — ‘Game of Thrones’ Scripts & Other Episodes Leaked Online

July 31st, 2017

If you are a die heart fan of ‘Game of Thrones’ series, there’s good news for you, but obviously bad for HBO.

Hackers claim to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from HBO, including episodes of HBO shows yet to release online and information on the current season of Game of Thrones.

What’s more? The hackers have already leaked upcoming episodes of the shows “Ballers” and “Room 104” on the

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Kepler data may hold a Neptune-sized surprise, our first exomoon

July 31st, 2017

Enlarge (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

One of the most important things we’ve learned from the Kepler mission is that, in many ways, our Solar System isn’t unique. Lots of stars have planets, many have multiple planets, and the list of planets includes many with sizes and densities similar to our eight planets. But there are lots of details of our own planets, like the composition and presence of atmospheres, that are much harder to examine at these distances.

One of the features we haven’t gotten a grip on is the presence of moons. Most of our Solar System’s planets have them, and they seem to form by a variety of mechanisms. We’d expect them to be common in exosolar systems, too, but so far we haven’t yet spotted any.

A new paper, which goes into extensive detail about the calculations needed to look for an exomoon, makes it clear why: we simply don’t have enough observation time to pick one up in most cases. But the paper also suggests there may be an exception, as the data hints at a Neptune-sized exomoon, though the statistics aren’t yet conclusive.

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Should Adobe make Flash open source? [POLL]

July 31st, 2017

Some of us are counting down to the end of Flash; others are trying to give it life after death. Who’s right? Have your say…

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