With the lockdown extension the phrase on everyone’s lips this week, it is understandable if I.T. and tech news has gone a miss on your agenda. That’s why we’ve rounded up the biggest I.T. and tech news stories from the week to make sure you’re fully up to date. This week brings claims of Government operated bots on Twitter to boost Coronavirus news, laptops being given to disadvantaged teens to ensure they don’t miss out on vital education, and a uniform attempt to take down Covid-19 phishing scams. Catch up with it all here.
Bots impersonating NHS classed as fake news
Unconfirmed claims that the Department for Health and Social Care has been running fake accounts has been shared by the likes of journalists, politicians, and leading public figures. Critics have claimed that the unverified scandal is almost as bad as Cambridge Analytica. John O’Connell, writer for Far Right Watch, allegedly identified 128 fake Twitter accounts that were supposedly involved with spreading fake news on Coronavirus. John O’Connell suggested that the accounts were set up by individuals associated with the DHSC or marketing agencies working for the government.
The fake accounts apparently promoted the idea of herd immunity and boosted the government’s messages on the virus. Mr O’Connell has also claimed to have identified four individuals running the accounts. He states that these have since been deleted but has yet to release their names.
Twitter has confirmed that there is no evidence of bot networks being used to manipulate Twitter conversations around the Covid-19 pandemic, contradicting the far-fetched allegations that the UK government is using anonymous online accounts to boost conversations on Coronavirus.
Read more about it here.
Laptops offered to disadvantaged students to work from home
Worries that pupils from poorer families could be unfairly losing out during the weeks out of school have surfaced, so it has been announced that disadvantaged teenagers in England will be able to borrow laptops from schools, enabling them to study at home throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Alongside this, the Department of Education is also supporting free online lessons for primary and high school children. The government is currently promoting 180 online lessons per week for pupils from reception through to Year 10.
Laptops and tablets will be given to deprived teens who do not have a computer device at home to allow them to study to their best potential in the current circumstance. The move has been done in an attempt to support teenagers until schools can open again with the aim of relieving parents of some pressure. Year 10’s, who will be due to sit their GCSE’s next year, are the main priority to receive laptops. There is no specific quantity of laptops or set budget, it will be up to schools to decide which pupils are most in need. There is also the offer of some 4G routers to help families connect to the internet.
Discover more here.
Public urged to report Coronavirus related phishing emails
Intelligence agency, GCHQ, is calling on the public to report Coronavirus-related phishing emails to counteract a rapidly increasing number of online scams. Numerous new hacks and scams have surfaced throughout the pandemic in a bid to exploit internet users during the lockdown.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a branch of the intelligence agency, has introduced the email reporting service with a simple request to the public, forward malicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the NCSC’s scanning system will check for fake emails and automatically and instantly remove criminal sites.
Just last month alone, over 2,000 online scams related to Coronavirus were identified. This included online shops, malware distribution sites, phishing sites and advanced fee-frauds. Many of the scams target those who fear the virus by claiming to share tips on how to avoid the virus and sharing fake reports about people who have contracted it. They require you to enter your credentials in order to access the information and that information is then stolen by the scammers.
Learn more here.
Apple hacking risk through email flaw
A flaw in Apple’s iOS system has left millions of Apple iPhone and iPad users vulnerable to the exploitation of hackers. ZeCops, a mobile security firm, confirmed that a bug in the Mail app has left users exposed to hackers. ZeCops said with “high confidence” that the bug had allowed several high-profile people to be hacked.
The bug was reported by the firm to tech giant Apple in March, who was not aware of the flaw. All hackers would have to do is send an outwardly blank message to an iPhone or iPad’s Mail account. When the email was opened it would crash the app, forcing the user to reboot. During the reboot, hackers would be able to access information on the device.
This attack is different from other hacks as users do not need to download any external software or visit a website that contains malware. Usually, a hack requires some action on the part of the victim, but not this one.
Find out more about the bug here.
Those were some of this week’s top stories but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels: