Cyber Security Today: Ransomware advice, Android spyware and Slack alert

Ransomware advice for organizations, Android spyware found in Play store and Slack password alert.

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday July 19th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for

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I was at a cyber security conference outside Toronto on Thursday where ransomware was one of the big topics. By coincidence, at the same time the town of Collierville, Tennessee said it had been victimized by ransomware. The town said access to files has been blocked, but municipal operations and services aren’t affected. Meanwhile, the library system of a county in upstate New York is recovering from a ransomware attack last week. It seems ransomware attacks are popping up daily, but one conference speaker noted that reported attacks dropped last year. But that’s because attackers are focusing on companies and governments rather than sending ransomware out in mass emails to millions of people. One presenter said there’s still a big debate on whether to pay a ransom to get back your data: Paying may encourage attacks, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get access to your data. On the other, companies may not have backups of crucial data they can’t afford to lose. Companies can protect themselves through cyber security basics: Train staff to watch out for a suspicious email, make sure IT is looking for suspicious network activity, limit access to servers and websites, make sure software is patched and updated, and have good backups.

The Google Play store this week pulled seven Android apps that allowed people to silently keep tabs on the location and data of others. Called stalkerware, these apps have names like Spy Tracker, SMS Tracker and Employee Work Spy. They were usually promoted as parental control apps, but they may have also been used to spy on partners suspected of cheating. Because the apps have to be manually installed by a person on someone else’s phone they aren’t big names. Still, security company Avast, which alerted Google about them, says they’ve been downloaded 130,000 times. Victims wouldn’t know they’ve been targeted because the apps can be hidden. Avast calls these apps unethical because they promote criminal behaviour.

Have you been using the Slack collaboration application for several years? You may recall that in 2015 the company was hacked. In response, Slack reset passwords for users it thought might have had data stolen. This week the company said it is resetting passwords for another group of subscribers after coming across a list of stolen login credentials dating back to that four-year-old incident. One news site estimates it involves 100,000 people. You may be notified if you created a Slack account before March, 2015 and haven’t changed your password recently.

Finally, administrators who oversee a Drupal content management system running version 8.7.4 should consider upgrading to the newest version because of a critical bug.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at That’s where you’ll also find my news stories aimed at businesses and cyber security professionals. Cyber Security Today can be heard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or add us to your Flash Briefing on your smart speaker. Thanks for listening.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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