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

  • 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.”


Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

A woman struggles moving her office chair and other items in the normally-busy central business district Wellington after New Zealand imposed a lockdown in a bid to smother coronavirus infection rates. (AFP)
Updated 31 March 2020

Ardern’s online messages keep spirits up in New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

  • 39-year-old PM’s clear communication wins praise, even from fiercest critics more txt pls more

WELLINGTON: Hours after New Zealand imposed a nationwide lockdown to beat a coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to Facebook, livestreaming in a sweater from bed, to “check in” on citizens and tell them of the day’s events.

Ardern’s news conferences for more than 30 minutes a day, taking queries, streaming Facebook videos and posting pictures on Instagram, offer a contrast with some world leaders who have stumbled through confusing briefings about virus combat plans.
“I thought I would jump online quickly and check in with everyone ... as we all prepare to hunker down for a few weeks,” she said in one of her social media messages, seen and cheered by millions in lockdown. “This feels like the comfort of being tucked into bed at night by my mum,” said a viewer who responded to the post. “Thanks for checking in with us.”
New Zealand’s tally of 589 virus infections, and one death, is far smaller than other countries, such as giant neighbor Australia, which has 4,200 cases and 17 deaths.
Thursday’s lockdown is expected to have far-reaching effect on the export-oriented economy of the nation of five million.
But the 39-year-old prime minister’s clear communication has garnered praise, even from her fiercest critics.
“I think she communicates really clearly and really well,” John Key, a former prime minister and senior leader of the opposition National Party said on a radio show.

I think she (Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern) communicates really clearly and really well.

John Key, Former prime minister

While urging New Zealanders to keep to their own “bubble,” or stay home to save lives, Ardern has also talked about working from her office, spending time with family, and even a struggle with toilet training her daughter, who turns two in June.
Ardern took the helm of the Labour-led government in October 2017, as the youngest female prime minister at the time, and became only the second elected leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto.
Her compassionate yet decisive actions after last year’s mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques drew global praise.
But facing domestic criticism for her government’s handling of housing shortages and the economy, Ardern is expected to face a tough re-election contest in September.
On Instagram on Sunday, she described events in her “bubble,” and was asked how toilet training was going with daughter Neve Te Aroha, who was three months old when she accompanied Ardern at her UN debut in 2018. “We are having zero success!” Ardern replied.