Stop teens from accessing online porn, FBI warning to home buyers and inside a cryptojacking scheme.

Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday February 19th. I’m Howard Solomon, contributing reporter on cybersecurity for ITWorldCanada.com.

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While covering a Canadian online digital identity conference this week I caught a presentation by Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne to stop under-18 year olds from accessing internet porn. One of the unfortunate advantages to the internet is that children can access almost any website unless they’re constantly supervised — which, as busy parents know, is impossible. So curious pre-teens and teens may learn about porn sites and try to explore. The senator suggests a way to stop that: Force commercial porn sites to verify viewers are at least 18 years of age. For those who argue such a law would only apply to companies doing business in Canada, the senator notes that one of the biggest porn sites in the world called PornHub is headquartered here.

As for how to prove age, she notes sites that sell liquor online and gambling sites have to make age verification checks. For better security she suggests government-authorized third party organizations specializing in age verification be responsible for doing this for porn sites.

The average age of teens first seeing porn is 11, the senator says. Porn re-enforces gender stereotypes, can be violent and teaches kids bad lessons about sex. There’s a link to Miville-Dechêne’s speech to the Canadian Senate here.

The FBI is warning Americans about a rise in what are called business email scams. This category of crime gets people to fall for email messages asking them to change where payments are supposed to go. What drew the FBI to issue this latest warning is a rise in scams pretending to be from real estate title verification companies. The crook has been able to determine a victim is about to buy a house and sends an email purporting to be from the title company handling the deal with instructions on sending them down payments. Prospective home buyers, real estate agents and title companies have to be careful with communications regarding money transfers.

Finally, cryptojacking is the technique used by crooks to steal computer cycles from victims to mine for cryptocurrency. They do it by infecting Windows and Linux computers and servers with malware. This week Palo Alto Networks reported on one of the oldest schemes for mining the Monero currency, which it calls WatchDog. It’s been running since early 2019. Researchers estimate at least 476 systems have been secretly compromised to run this particular malware. Mind you, apparently it’s only collected enough Monero to equal $32,000. That’s not the point. The point is there’s lots of cryptojacking going on in addition to this one. Organizations are losing computer power from operations like this because they aren’t watching for infections close enough. And there’s a risk one a criminal gang starts with cryptojacking they may move to bigger things like stealing passwords and data.

That’s it for this morning. Don’t forget this afternoon you can catch the Week In Review edition of the podcast, where I’ll discuss some of this week’s news with a guest analyst. You can listen on your way home or on the weekend.

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