Top Tech News: Cyber Attacks on UK from 'Hostile Nation States', Stalkerware on the rise & Facebook Under Investigation

November 7, 2019 | Celen Ebru Paytoncular

Details about the antitrust investigation into Facebook led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, more than 600 attempted cyber attack on the UK from 'hostile nation states', and the rise of the use of Stalkerware apps. 

iPhone 11 Max Pro with Facebook app open on home page next to Apple Macbook

Facebook Facing 47 Attorneys General in Antitrust Probe

Facebook is currently under investigation for antitrust violation practices, as the New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that a total of 47 attorneys general have signed on to take part.

The investigation will be focusing on Facebook's dominance and whether it broke any state or federal laws as a result of any anticompetitive behaviour related to that dominance. Facebook also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and VR company Oculus. Critics argue that the social network has been buying up its competition and have suggested that it should be broken up. 

“Our investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising. As we continue our investigation, we will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk.”

- New York State Attorney General Letitia James 

The investigation could encompass numerous areas, including privacy, data collection, and monopolistic business practices. The attorneys general will primarily search for possible violations of state laws, although this is not the only investigation the company is currently facing. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice are both investigating Facebook over antitrust concerns. 

Facebook received a $5 billion fine earlier this year for violating user privacy as part of their involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as it was discovered that the company harvested personal data from millions of people using their Facebook profiles, and used this for political advertisements.

Read more on the anti-trust investigation into Facebook

Cyber Attacks Attempts on UK From 'Hostile Nation States'

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) declared at the NCSC's Annual Review that they were successful in averting cyber attacks from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea that posed "strategic national security threats to the UK."

Ciaran Martin shared details of the attacks, stating that the NCSC avoided 658 attacks on 900 various organisations, including airports, schools and emergency services between September 2018 and August 2019. 

masked man sitting in dark room in front of computer screen

The NCSC also shared details of a domestic operation, Operation Haulster, which was successful in tackling more than a million cases of suspected credit card fraud. The operation ensured "victims of high-end cyber crime were protected before they lost a penny" by collecting stolen credit cards and reporting them to banks. 

Lewis Henderson, VP of Threat Intelligence at Glasswall Solutions Ltd warned that "highly sophisticated attackers are using surgical precision, with near military levels of planning, preparation and execution."

Read more about the NCSC's efforts to combat cyber attacks

The Use of Stalkerware - Apps Used to Spy on Partners - is on the Rise

The use of stalkerware is on the rise in the UK. The number of people who have discovered software on their phones has risen by at least 35% in the last year, according to cyber-security company Kaspersky. The company's findings indicate Russia is the country with the highest levels of stalkerware activity. India, Brazil, the United States and Germany complete the top five, with the UK in eighth place with 730 detections.

Kaspersky's researchers have stated that their technology has detected these types of applications on at least 37,532 devices so far this year. 

person holding iphone displaying lock screen with sunset display background

"Most people will routinely protect a laptop or desktop, not that many people actually protect a mobile device," stated David Emm, principal security researcher.

Stalkerware allows someone to see and hear what a person is doing by tapping into the microphone and camera - it even has the ability to switch between the front and back cameras. Your location can also be viewed live, as well as what you are up to on your device - messages, phone-calls, and any applications you open or use.

Top tips to avoid being victimised by stalkerware:

  • Most stalkerware requires physical access to your phone - don't leave your device unattended
  • Add a security app - antivirus software can detect and remove stalkerware
  • Don't use fingerprint lock on your device; a partner can use your fingerprint while you're asleep
  • Check which apps are on your phone. If you see an app you don't recognise, search online for information about the app and delete it

Read more on this and hear the stories of women affected by stalkerware.

Unilever is Replacing Recruiters With AI to Assess Job Interviews

arlington-research-Dnt2DT6wNWo-unsplash-compressorUnilever, a multinational consumer goods company, is saving hundreds of thousands of pounds annually by replacing human recruiters with AI with the use of software from HireVue, a US company. Their system analyses body language, facial expressions, and language used - including speed of delivery and tone of voice. The software analyses video interviews and and checks the traits detected against traits that are considered to be predictive of job success. 

And Unilever are not the first to implement this method: Vodafone, Singapore Airlines and Intel have also used similar systems. Unilever told the Guardian it had saved 100,000 hours of human recruitment time within the last year.

The Royal United Services Institute (RSA) recently examined the use of AI and automated decision making in recruitment and other industries. Members of the panel have hopes that algorithms could make fairer decisions on things in the workplace such as pay rises and promotions. However, they also raised questions about whether automated systems would reinforce existing bias in the workplace, with employees who are traditionally white and male being favoured for promotions and pay rises.

Read more about how AI is replacing recruiters to assess job interviews

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