Stalkerware and ransomware increasing, password advice and updates to watch for.
Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday October 4th, I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cyber security for ITWorldCanada.com.
A few months ago I warned about stalkerware, which are apps installed on a smartphone or tablet that lets another person keep an eye on what you’re doing. Usually this app gets installed when you’re not looking by a spouse, lover or friend who has access to your device. This is not a parental control app a parent installs on a child’s device. This is is an illegal snooping app. This week security vendor Kaspersky put out some numbers that may give an idea of how common their use is, based on the number of detections from its security software. In the first eight months of the year there were more than 518,000 cases where the software either registered the presence of stalkerware on users’ devices or detected an attempt to install it. And remember, that number is only for devices that use Kaspersky software. Huge numbers of people either don’t use antivirus software on their mobile devices, or use another brand. Some of these apps hide themselves on devices, so victims don’t know its there. Stalkerware has to be installed directly by someone. So think twice before letting a friend, or someone closer, use your phone.
As I mentioned on Wednesday, this is Cyber Security Awareness Month. As part of that Google released a public opinion poll that, if representative, shows a lot of Americans aren’t cyber aware. Twenty-four per cent of respondents said they use weak passwords like “admin” and “1234.” Fifty-nine per cent have used a name or birthday in an online password. Many people must know others use weak passwords because 27 per cent of respondents say they’ve tried to guess someone else’s password — and of those 17 per said they guess right. Well, if you can guess right, so can criminals. Look, it isn’t easy to have to remember lots of passwords. That’s why there are password managers. Google has one it just improved, which is why it released the survey. There are lots of password managers. Go online, do a search, use one of them.
The FBI this week issued a reminder to organizations that ransomware is crippling those who aren’t prepared. The latest hit were three rural hospitals in the same group in Alabama. For a time new patients had to be sent to Birmingham. Last week a major hospital in downtown Toronto was hit. The FBI urges organizations to regularly back up their data and verify its integrity. Ensure backups can’t be infected by being connected to live networks. Focus on employee awareness and training to recognize suspicious email. And make sure all software gets security patches as soon as they are available.
Finally, some product updates to watch for: If you use WhatsApp on an Android device running version 9 or 8 of the operating system, make sure you upgrade to the latest version of WhatsApp. There’s a serious bug that could let a hacker into your device by sending you a repeating video called a GIF. Like one of those videos of a cat doing something silly.
And Microsoft has put out another Windows update to fix a printing problem. This patch is to fix ones that were issued over a week ago. It also updates Internet Explorer.
That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Links to details about these stories can be found in the text version of each podcast at ITWorldCanada.com. 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.