Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues August 25, 2019

Subject: Cyber Safety for Students
Source: DHS via CISA

Cyber Safety for Students – Original release date: August 20, 2019: As summer break ends, many students will return to school with mobile devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Although these devices can help students complete schoolwork and stay in touch with family and friends, there are risks associated with using them. However, there are simple steps that can help students stay safe while using their internet-connected devices.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends reviewing the following resources for more information on cyber safety for students:

Subject: Texas working to recover from ransomware attack on 22 government targets
Source: CNNPolitics

Washington (CNN) At least 22 cities and local governments in Texas are working to recover from a seemingly coordinated ransomware attack on their computer networks.

“Evidence continues to point to a single threat actor,” Elliott Sprehe of the Texas Department of Information Resources, which is coordinating the state’s response to the attack, said in a statement Tuesday. The agency declined to share speculation on who might be responsible, citing an ongoing federal investigation. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are assisting with the response.

Ransomware is most commonly a tactic for criminal hackers to make easy money. It works by encrypting a victim’s computer, then demanding a payment — often in bitcoin — to unlock it. Ransomware authors are rarely caught, though the FBI has indicated it’s tracking some suspects, waiting for them to move to a country that can extradite to the US.

Reported ransomware attacks on US cities and local governments have been on the rise since 2017, even as the number of generic attacks has faltered in that period. While most victims are smaller cities and counties, larger cities like Albany, New York, and Baltimore have been hit this year. Smaller governments make particularly ripe targets, because they often have underfunded IT staffs and provide essential services, incentivizing them to pay.

Subject: Google adding autocorrect to Gmail
Source: Google GSuite Blog via beSpacific

Google GSuite Blog: “We’re introducing new spelling and grammar correction capabilities for Gmail to help you compose emails quickly with confidence. As you type your message, Gmail will use artificial intelligence to make smarter spell-check suggestions while also detecting potential grammar issues. For some common spelling mistakes, we’ve also added as-you-type autocorrection for improved accuracy. Read more here about how grammar suggestions work…”

Subject: Just Security Launches the Russia Investigation Congressional Clearinghouse
Source: Just Security via beSpacific

“Today we launch the Russia Investigation Congressional Clearinghouse – a resource tool that seeks to provide, in one place, all congressional investigations materials related to Russia’s efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. We trust it will be a great resource for journalists, academics, and the broader Just Security readership. Bookmark the clearinghouse page to find publicly released document request letters, committee reports, deposition and interview transcripts, hearing transcripts, legislative proposals, subpoenas, criminal referrals, and major press releases related to the various Russian investigations. The database is organized by congressional session, and then by committee, with an internally hyperlinked table of contents to take you to the right section of materials. This project grew out of my longstanding frustration as an academic with research on congressional oversight materials…”


Subject: In New Facebook Effort, Humans Will Help Curate Your News Stories
Source: The New York Times via beSpacific

The New York Times – “Facebook has long relied on algorithms to select news stories for its users to see. Now the social network wants to rely on something else for the same task, too: humans. Specifically, Facebook plans to hire a team of editors to work on a news initiative called News Tab, which is its latest venture into the world of publishing. The Silicon Valley company said that journalists would help curate News Tab, a new section inside of the company’s mobile application that will surface the most recent and relevant stories for readers. Facebook said it planned to hire seasoned journalists from various outlets for the roles and would put up job postings on its employment board on Tuesday. News Tab is part of the company’s effort to highlight real-time journalism and news. It will exist outside of the News Feed, Facebook’s never-ending stream of status updates and friend requests… [one two three – got librarians? – if not – hire some – please!]

Subject: You Can Finally See All Info Facebook Collected About You From Other Websites
Source: BuzzFeed News via beSpacific

BuzzFeed News – “…Facebook collects information about its users in two ways: first, through the information you input into its website and apps, and second, by tracking which websites you visit while you’re not on Facebook. That’s why, after you visit a clothing retailer’s website, you’ll likely see an ad for it in your Facebook News Feed or Instagram feed. Basically, Facebook monitors where you go, all across the internet, and uses your digital footprints to target you with ads. But Facebook users have never been able to view this external data Facebook collected about them, until now. Facebook tracks your browsing history via the “Login with Facebook” button, the “like” button, Facebook comments, and little bits of invisible code, called the Facebook pixel, embedded on other sites (including BuzzFeed News). Today the company will start to roll out a feature called “Off-Facebook Activity” that allows people to manage that external browsing data — finally delivering on a promise it made over a year ago when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at a company event that it would develop a feature then called “Clear History.”

See also the related Facebook Newsroom blog posting

Posted in: AI, Big Data, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Data Mining, Email, Government Resources, Legal Research, Privacy, Social Media