Week Ending: 26th June - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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With the announcement that lockdown will ease further on 4th July, in this week’s roundup of I.T. and tech news, we take a look at trends which have surged during lockdown. We explore how gaming-related cyber-attacks have significantly increased over the last few months, how the UK’s internet use is at an all-time high with adults using apps to stay connected, informed and entertained, more than ever before, and lastly, how Microsoft Teams has launched a host of new features in an attempt to make the app more useful in non-professional scenarios.

Beware! Gaming-related cyberattacks have surged during COVID-19

At the end of March 2020, millions of people globally were forced to stay inside as a result of Coronavirus. Lockdown measures and rules were put in place and individuals had so much more time on their hands. What happened next? Many turned to video games as a source of entertainment.

After spotting this trend and sudden surge of individuals playing video games online, cybersecurity provider, Kaspersky, took a deeper look into the threat of playing video games during the lockdown period. The findings showed that cybercriminals have been exploiting the increased interest in video games to launch various attacks.

According to Kaspersky researchers, there was an increase in the daily number of attempts to direct users to malicious sites that exploited the gaming theme: when comparing numbers to January 2020, there was a 54% increase in April 2020.

It was found that users were often tempted by promises such as free versions of popular games, updates and extensions, or even cheats. If users clicked on these links, a wide variety of malicious programs could be downloaded, such as password stealing malware, ransomware and software that secretly mines cryptocurrency from the victim’s computer.

The most popular games used in attacks by criminals were Steam, Global Offensive, The Witcher 3 and the world’s best-selling video game, Minecraft, which was subject to more than 130,000 web attacks!

We are not surprised that there has been a significant increase in gaming-related cyberattacks in recent months, as numbers of people playing the games have surged massively. We strongly advise users against using the same computer for gaming and business.

For more information and tips on how to stay safe from whilst playing video games, read more here.

The UK’s internet use has significantly increased

It has been reported this week by Ofcom, that during April this year, adults spent an average of four hours a day online, this has increased from three-and-a-half hours in September 2019.

It has become apparent that Coronavirus has radically changed online behaviour over the last few months as individuals have been seeking new ways to keep connected, informed, entertained and fit during lockdown.

For example, Twitch, the livestreaming platform for gamers, has seen an increase of 1.9 million users from January to April, and TikTok reached 12.9 million UK visitors in April – up from 5.4 million users in January. Also, video conferencing app, Zoom, has proved a huge hit in lockdown – up from 659,000 users in January to a staggering 13 million in April with the nation turning to it for business meetings, to chat to family and friends, and to take part in quizzes and games.

Furthermore, according to Ofcom’s report, during the pandemic, there has been a shift where people have moved away from landline calls and text messages to favour messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Plus, statistics have revealed that seven in 10 people have made video calls at least once a week during lockdown.

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s director of strategy and research said:

“Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy. Coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time.”

Find out more here.

Microsoft Teams becomes more useful

Microsoft Teams was originally designed specifically for businesses; however, the pandemic has seen millions of individuals in the UK turn to the video conferencing platform to keep in touch with family and friends.

Now, the Microsoft Teams update for Android and iOS is set to receive a host of new features in an attempt to address the need to communicate virtually with family and friends more than ever before.

The popular video call app is set to open up its text, chat and video conferencing facilities to non-business users – as well as enable the ability to share photos, videos and GIFs.

It is reported by Tech Radar that, once a group has been set up on Microsoft Teams, users will be able to organise groups collectively using dedicated dashboards that allow shared to-do lists and calendar items, which can also be assigned to a specific person.

In addition to this, Microsoft Teams will now allow mobile users to share documents securely between individuals and groups, and it will come with a built-in lockbox for storing private information such as passwords and account credentials.

The new features to Teams are currently available in a preview on Microsoft Teams for mobile but are expected to enter general availability later this year. This is when desktop and web clients will also be able to receive the new functions.

With the new updates, Microsoft Teams are hoping to extend the power of the app beyond work scenarios, to personal life.

A blog which was published by the firm read:

“Whether you’re a busy parent managing daily family life or just trying to stay connected and in sync with those who matter most, the new features are designed to alleviate the need for disparate tools and instead offer one central hub for individuals, groups and families to collaborate and stay connected and organized”.

Discover more information here

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.