A report by Kaspersky Security Solutions has revealed that about 28 million cyber-attacks and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs (pornware, adware etc.) were recorded as of August 2020.
The key highlight of the report indicated that the number of cyber-attacks were outnumbered by a growing trend in the use of “grey zone” programs which disturb users’ experiences, while users might not even be aware of their presence.
On the reason for the growing “grey zone” software attacks, a security researcher at Kaspersky, Denis Parinov opined, “The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the program is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals.
“The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programs on their device and that in some cases, such programs are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads. This is why many security solutions, including ours, flag such programs to make sure users are aware of its presence, influence on their device and activity.”
Commenting further, a part of the report read thus: “Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programs that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves. However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way. For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones. While calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, the researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware. They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.”
The report indicated that PUAs are potent and more widespread than traditional malware. For example, the results over the same 7-month period in Nigeria showed that there were 3.8 million cyber-attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections – which is four times as much.
Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections. Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances.
Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for best carbon capture technology
Elon Musk has announced a donation of $100 million prize money for the best technology that can capture carbon dioxide.
Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for the development of the “best” carbon capture technology.
Elon Musk wrote in a tweet, “Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology,” details next week.
Carbon capture technology is designed to prevent the release of CO2 generated through conventional power generation and industrial production processes by injecting the CO2 into suitable underground storage reservoirs.
According to Reuters, “Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.”
Since the tweet was shared, it has garnered thousands of responses from people because of the jaw-dropping cash prize. A lot of people have started sharing their carbon capture ideas.
The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.
Newly-sworn-in U.S. President, Joe Biden has pledged to accelerate the development of carbon capture technology as part of his sweeping plan to tackle climate change. On Thursday, he named Jennifer Wilcox, an expert in carbon removal technologies, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
Besides Tesla, Elon also heads rocket company SpaceX and Neuralink, a startup that is developing ultra-high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect the human brain to computers.
Google threatens to remove its search engine from Australia due to media code
Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia due to the media code introduced by the government.
Google said that it will disable its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a media code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay local media companies for sharing their content.
The code requires Google and Facebook to enter mandatory arbitration with media companies if they cannot reach an agreement over the value of their content within three months.
It also requires the platforms to give the news businesses 14 days’ notice of algorithm changes, and non-discrimination provisions have been put in place to stop the tech giants from taking retaliatory action such as removing content or punishing organisations that participate in the code.
Mel Silva, Google Australia and New Zealand VP told Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation Committee today that Google would shut off the search in Australia if the government’s proposed media bargaining code becomes law. According to her, “The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents an unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google”
Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Alphabet Inc-owned Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.
Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison said Australia would not respond to the threats as news media companies fired back at suggestions their content did not add value to the platforms. “Australia makes our rules for things you can do in Australia. That’s done in our Parliament. It’s done by our government, and that’s how things work here in Australia,” he said. “People who want to work with that, in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats.”
What you should know
- Google’s threats follow similar remarks made by Facebook Australia’s managing director, Will Easton in September, who announced plans to remove news articles from the social media’s main app if the media code is passed by Parliament.
- To avoid the operation of the code, Google and Facebook have no option but to cease linking to news altogether. If Google can’t reliably separate news results from other search results, then logically it may have to pull its entire search service from Australia.
- Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers.
- This new media code will affect millions of Australians who use Google Search and Facebook every month.
Facebook Oversight Board to review decision to suspend Trump’s account
The decision to suspend Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be examined by an oversight board.
Facebook’s Oversight Board has received a proposal to revisit the decision to indefinitely suspend former US President, Donald Trump’s access to Facebook and Instagram.
On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely, a decision reached when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving the country shaken.
Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications said that the circumstances around Trump’s suspension was an unprecedented set of events that called for unprecedented action and also explained why the Oversight Board would review the case.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Clegg said. “This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again.”
The oversight board was established last year to make the final call on some of the most difficult content decisions Facebook makes. It is an independent body and its decisions are binding — they can’t be overruled by CEO Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else at Facebook. The board itself is made up of experts and civic leaders from around the world with a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
According to the Oversight Board, a five-member panel will evaluate the case soon with a decision planned within 90 days. Members will decide whether the content involved in this case violated Facebook’s Community Standards and values. They will also consider whether Facebook’s removal of the content respected international human rights standards, including freedom of expression.
Trump’s case is a big moment for how impactful the board’s decisions will really wind up being. If the board overturns Facebook’s decision, that decision would likely kick up a new firestorm of interest around Trump’s Facebook account, even as the former president recedes from the public eye.
What you should know
- Following the violent attack of the US Capitol building by Trump supporters, Facebook announced the suspension of Trump’s account indefinitely, on allegations of inciting his supporters.
- YouTube also suspended Trump’s channel and removed new content uploaded by Trump’s campaign, citing potential threats of violence.
- Twitter announced it has permanently suspended Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.
- Jack Dorsey, the CEO and founder of Twitter, in his statement, said that the decision to ban Trump from the social network was the right decision, but one that sets a dangerous precedent.