Cyber Security Today: Tech firms team to fight cyber crime; Excel mistake and bad ad blockers

Tech companies are teaming up to fight cyber crime; watch for this mistake with Excel spreadsheets and beware of malicious ad blockers for browsers

We’re bringing you the latest cyber security news Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Friday April 20th.

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There’s hope countries can agree not to launch cyber attacks against each other. But in the absence of concrete action, 34 tech companies this week agreed to do something. They formed the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, promising to defend customers from malicious attacks by cyber criminals and governments. The 34 so far include Cisco Systems, Facebook, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle and Trend Micro.

They promise to mount a stronger defense against cyber attacks, to not help governments launch cyber attacks against innocent citizens and companies, to co-ordinate vulnerability disclosures and share threat information.

It will help, but we still need nations to make more of a commitment to stop using the Internet for low-level warfare.

Excel spreadsheets are used by many organizations to store data. But they are tricky to use safely. A borough in England found that out the hard way. Tripwire reports the London-area borough was fined the equivalent of $170,000 for inappropriately disclosing personal information in a freedom of information request. All that was asked for were statistics on how many empty properties were in the municipality. A pivot table with a list of named owners and addresses of empty properties produced. Then a list of just the empty properties was created, which was pasted into a new spreadsheet. Bureaucrats checked that no personal data was in the spreadsheet by scrolling through the cells, clicking each once. However, by double-clicking people’s names from the original document were revealed. Reporters got hold of the spreadsheet and discovered the error.

One solution: Make sure there are no slips taking data from a spreadsheet by putting it into a text format so you can see everything.

Finally, have you downloaded an ad blocker for your browser to stop ads popping up on your screen? It may not be safe.

The Hacker News  reports a security researcher has found five malicious ad blockers in the Google Chrome Store. The most common is “Ad Remover for Google Chrome.” The five may have been installed by millions of users. Google has already removed them from the store. The danger of malicious browser extensions is they can access everything you do online – including stealing your passwords and credit card numbers. The lesson is the less you plug into your browser the better.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing. 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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