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Cybersecurity Newsletter - Issue 8

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

13 Jan 2021

Cybersecurity Newsletter

Keeping an eye on cyber news and threats

Millions of social media accounts leaked by data-scrapers

318 million social media records from Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have been exposed due to a misconfiguration in cloud database ElasticSearch, owned by Chinese social media management company SocialArks.

The leak was discovered when performing checks for unsecured databases which found the server to be unencrypted and had no password protection.

The platform in question is used for advertising and marketing, and the data contained on the server appears to have been ‘scraped’ which is a violation of each social media platforms terms of service, and just plain unethical.

The data included with these scraped accounts included contact details such as email addresses, phone numbers, company names and employment position, photos, locations settings and the list goes on, anything that may be publicly visible on a profile.

If you care about your privacy, make sure your personal information is kept private on any social media platforms and be careful with what you share. Check your privacy settings to make sure nothing is public.

More detail on this topic can be found here.

70TB of Parler user activity leaked

I’ll be honest here, I hadn’t actually heard of Parler until recently and I’m sure some of you are in the same boat, but what we have heard about is the attack on Capitol in the US last week. Well, Parler is the social media platform that was used by the Trump activists to coordinate their siege.

It was the platform of choice since the rules on the site are more relaxed than other social media outlets, attracting far-right groups and was actually a candidate for holding Trumps social media presence after Twitter and Facebook suspended his accounts.

Since the attack on the Capitol, Parler went down as Amazon, Google and Apple booted the platform but before this happened hackers scraped a huge amount of user data from the network including posts, videos and messages.

The data gathered was all publicly available but did include driving licenses, emails and addresses, all of which could prove useful to law enforcement in locating those who participated in the attack.

More on this topic here.

Bitdefender releases decryption tool for Darkside ransomware

Darkside are a ransomware group that offer their tools out to other cybercrime groups as a service, also known as Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). The groups would apply for the software and deploy it how they see fit using their own methods, encrypting files and asking for pay-outs to decrypt them.

Bitdefender have just released a decryption tool that will decrypt any files affected by Darkside’s ransomware, meaning many people affected by it are now able to decrypt all of their files without paying the ransom. Go Bitdefender!

More info on this here.

WhatsApp group invites searchable on Google

New Delhi Google has been adding private WhatsApp group chat invite links to a searchable online database (known as indexing) making them accessible by a simple Google search. Anyone with these links are able to join the group chat.

There was another incident of the same nature recently where 4,000 invites links were indexed on Google. The problem may arise from people posting these links on public channels and anything posted publicly is searchable, so be careful not to post these invite links anywhere public such as social media platforms.

Speaking of which, WhatsApp are updating their privacy policy in February to say that it ‘may share your information with its family of companies to facilitate, support as well as integrate their activities and improve services’, and WhatsApp’s parent company is Facebook.

Tip of the week – Phone Updates

I’ve mentioned updates before because they are important and easily put off or forgotten, and the same applies to our smart phones. Keeping our smart phones secure is just as important (if not more so) as our computers.

Think about all the photos, accounts, and apps you have on your phone including social media and banking apps. Updates aren’t just new features to the phone or the app, they contain important security patches they may fix vulnerabilities discovered in the previous version. Making sure you are running the latest version of you phone’s OS or the apps are up to date can help keep these apps secure and prevent your personal data, social media or bank accounts being exposed.

Check for updates regularly in your phones settings under Software Update or System Update, make sure it’s set to automatic, and the same goes for your Google Play or App Store, make sure those are set to auto update and check regularly that there are no outstanding updates.

That’s all for now, see you next week.


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