Week Ending: 25th October - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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National Cyber Security Month is almost over, so with that, this week’s roundup reports on the biggest I.T. and tech news this week: cybersecurity-related stories. From computer criminals scamming users out of £4000 and hackers compromising other hackers, to a report showing the UK’s high volume of cyberattacks, in particular on the government. Tech giant Google has also made a major breakthrough in computing. It’s been another busy one - catch up here.

Devon man loses £4000 in a computer scam

Doug Varey fell victim to cyberfraud when a common online security software scam forced him to pay a sum of £4000. When a pop-op offered security protection for 12 years at a cost of only £556 per year, Varey clicked the link to sign up and then, it was too late.

A few months later after signing up, Doug Varey received a call from a security firm telling him to look at his computer, where a man in Russia had taken over his device and was shown buying firearms. The ‘adviser’ on the phone stated that the ‘security firm’ could rid of the problem for a fee of £4000.

Police in India have now arrested seven people associated with the call centre scam after it has seen people lose thousands of pounds. Two call centres have also been shut down in association with targeting UK and US residents following raids on the centres. The investigation has been ongoing between British police, Indian police and Microsoft to shut the scam known as ‘computer software service fraud’ down, with it being the most common online scam affecting 2000 people a month.

Read more here.

Hackers vs Hackers

US and UK intelligence agencies have revealed that an Iranian hacking group was hacked by Russian hackers in order to spy on numerous countries. OilRig, the codename for the Iranian hacking group, was compromised by Turla, the Russian hacking group, to enable it to target other victims.

An investigation by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) into an attack on an academic institution that has been ongoing since 2017 uncovered that the Russian group had targeted OilRig to use its capabilities, tools and collect data to compromise further systems.

At least 20 victims were fully compromised as Turla attacked organisations from 35 countries, the majority in the Middle East. The objective? To steal “secrets” and confidential data; successfully stealing private documents from the government and other targets all whilst using OilRig to cover its tracks. The NCSC would not directly attribute the attacks to the Russian and Iranian states but Turla has previously been linked by others to Russia’s Security Service, the FSB, and OilRig to the Iranian state. The aim of revealing the details was to ensure others can protect themselves against such attacks.

Find out more here.

UK targeted by 656 cyberattacks in the past 12 months

It has been revealed in the National Cyber Security Centre’s latest annual report that the UK has been targeted by 656 cyberattacks in the past 12 months, between September 1st 2018 and August 31st 2019. The government was the number one target, closely followed by universities and technology firms. Although, an abundance of British entities have been targeted, including a ransomware attack against the police, universities with the threat of stealing intellectual property, and a phishing campaign that attempted to steal from 200,000 people with a fraudulent airport email.

The NCSC was originally set up as part of a £1.9 billion cybersecurity strategy and according to the organisation, the majority of the centres’ work is protecting from hostile states such as North Korea, China, Russia and Iran. It monitors the state of cybersecurity in the UK and plays an important role advising businesses and organisations on the best way to stay safe online, and it actively pushes its Active Cyber Defence strategy which attempts to reduce the number of cyberattacks around the globe.

Since its inception in 2016, the NSCC has prevented and handled a total of 1,800 cyber-related incidents. Discover more here.

A quantum supreme computer for Google

Google has claimed that an advanced computer has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ for the first time ever, exceeding the performance of other computers. Google’s Sycamore quantum processor was able to perform and complete a task in 200 seconds that would usually take the world’s top supercomputers 10,000 years to complete.

Scientists at the tech giant have been working on quantum computers for decades, because they promise incredibly faster speeds by allowing numerous calculations to be performed simultaneously.

In classical computers, the unit of information is called a "bit" and can have a value of either 1 or 0. But, in a quantum system, it’s equivalent - the qubit (quantum bit) - can be both 1 and 0 at the same time. Scientists have struggled over the years to build working devices with enough qubits to make them competitive with conventional types of computer.

Professor Jonathan Oppenheim from UCL said that it’s an “impressive milestone,” however, science is still “decades away from a quantum computer that solves problems we are actually interested in.”

Find out more about the results here.

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