Cyber experts advise users to be cautious while using mobile apps

Cyber experts advise users to be cautious while using mobile apps
This June 16, 2017, file photo shows social media app icons on a smartphone held by an Associated Press reporter in San Francisco. (AP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Cyber experts advise users to be cautious while using mobile apps

Cyber experts advise users to be cautious while using mobile apps
  • The countries attacked most often were Egypt, accounting for 31 percent, Saudi Arabia with 18 percent and the UAE with 17 percent of all attacks in the region, Kaspersky’s analysis said

RIYADH: Choosing the right partner is important, but there is a need to be careful while using apps for this as Saudi Arabia is the second most-affected country in the Middle East from cyberattacks disguised as dating apps.
An analysis by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, has shown that in 2019 the region saw a circulation of 658 threats under the guise of over 20 popular dating applications, with 2,082 attacks on 1,352 users detected.
The countries attacked most often were Egypt, accounting for 31 percent, Saudi Arabia with 18 percent and the UAE with 17 percent of all attacks in the region, Kaspersky’s analysis said.
It added that popular dating services used worldwide, such as Tinder, Bumble or Zoosk, often become bait used to spread mobile malware, or to retrieve personal data to later bombard users with unwanted ads or even spend their money on expensive subscriptions.
Such files have nothing to do with legitimate apps, as they only use a name and sometimes copy a design of authentic dating services, it said.
It added that cybercriminals would most often choose Tinder to cover their files: The app’s name was used in nearly a third of all cases (693 attacks detected in the region).
However, the researchers noticed that around 13 percent of attacks came from apps disguised as local services solely for
Arab matchmaking.
The danger these malicious files bring varies from file to file, ranging from Trojans that can download other malware, to ones that send expensive
SMS messages, to adware.
It further revealed that cybercriminals who specialize in phishing also do not miss the chance to feed on those seeking to find love. Fake copies of popular dating applications and websites, such as Match.com and Tinder, flood the internet.

BACKGROUND

Popular dating services used worldwide, such as Tinder, Bumble or Zoosk, often become a bait used to spread mobile malware.

Users are required to leave their personal data or connect to the applications via their social media account. The result is not surprising: The data will later be used or sold by cybercriminals, while the user will be left with nothing.
Muhammad Khurram Khan, professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University, told Arab News: “As the use of dating and social media apps continues to rise and gain popularity, cybercriminals continue to promulgate and leverage fake malicious apps to steal users’ personal data. This technique is called social engineering, which exploits human psychology and weaknesses to trap innocent netizens.”
Khan, who is the founder CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, Washington D.C, added that fake apps masquerade as legitimate applications to trick users to install them and once installed, these applications could perform a variety of malicious actions through ‘honey traps’ e.g. access the device’s camera, microphone, calendar, GPS location, personal data, contact list and financial information.
“Cybersecurity awareness and hygiene could help to protect from these risks by practicing simple sets of actions,” he said.
As an expert he advised that users should always stay attentive and download original versions of applications that are available in the official app stores.
“It is imperative to keep checking the apps permissions to know about their rights to access the devices resources e.g microphone, camera and photos,” he said, adding: “Users should also use and update their antivirus and other malware protection tools.”
 
Vladimir Kuskov, head of advanced threat research and software classification at Kaspersky, said: “Love is one of those topics that interests people universally, and, of course, that means that cybercriminals are also there. Online dating has made our lives easier and yet uncovered new risks on the path to love. We advise users to stay attentive and use legal versions of applications that are available in official application stores.”


Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’
Updated 15 January 2021

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’

Hong Kong censorship debate grows as Internet firm says can block ‘illegal acts’
HONG KONG: The company which approves Internet domains in Hong Kong said it will now reject any sites that could incite “illegal acts,” raising new concerns about freedoms after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on the Chinese-ruled city last year.
Holders of .hk domains were advised of the policy change late on Thursday, sources told Reuters, hours after Internet service provider Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) said it had blocked access to HKChronicles, a website offering information about anti-government protests.
The moves came just days after the arrest of over 50 pro-democracy activists, and sources have told Reuters that China is planning a further crackdown.
HKBN said it had blocked the website, which also publishes personal information on Hong Kong police officers, in compliance with the national security law, the first such censorship in the city of its kind.
Anti-government protests in 2019 relied heavily on social media channels like Telegram which allowed protesters to organize anonymously. Many sites also sprung up in support of the protest movement, though a number shut after the passage of the security law.
In the emails, the Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Company (HKDNR) alerted holders of .hk domains to the new “acceptable use” policy by its parent, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC), which goes into effect on Jan. 28, according to copies shared by recipients with Reuters.
It said it could reject applications for new .hk sites that it believes could incite criminal acts, abuse privacy or provide false or misleading information.
It was not immediately clear whether the policy will apply to existing .hk websites. The HKIRC, the HKDNR and the Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The rollout of the acceptable use policy is quite worrying,” said one website operator who declined to be identified, citing fear of repercussions.
“Things like providing false or misleading information, who are they to decide? Are these preventive measures for future false news regulations?“
The moves are fueling worries that a censorship mechanism similar to China’s “Great Firewall” is being put in place in Hong Kong.
While the Internet in mainland China is heavily censored and access to many foreign platforms like news sites is blocked, residents in Hong Kong have so far enjoyed greater freedoms under the “one country, two systems” framework that it was promised when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.
China Mobile and PCCW, the other major Internet providers in Hong Kong, did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Wong Ho Wah, who is running for Hong Kong’s legislature to representing the information technology sector, said he was deeply worried that Hong Kongers’ freedom to access information on the Internet was starting to be affected.
“The government has the responsibility to explain the justification and the rationale of the action,” he said, referring to the blocking of HKChronicles’ website.