At a glance.
- Scottish Environmental Protection Agency's ransomware incident.
- Australian gun owners' data inadvertently exposed.
- Privacy as a desirable feature in the market.
SEPA suffers Christmas ransomware attack.
Digit reports the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) received an undesirable gift on Christmas Eve: a ransomware attack. Though SEPA told the Northern Scot that the likely “international serious and organized cybercrime groups” stole approximately 1.2GB of data “related to a number of business areas,” the exact nature of the compromised information has not been disclosed. The agency is collaborating with the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, and the National Cyber Security Centre on the investigation, and though some key systems have been forced offline, SEPA does not expect a disruption of services.
Queensland police inadvertently expose gun owner data.
The Queensland Police Service (QPS) in Australia released a statement apologizing for the accidental disclosure of Moreton district gun owners’ personal information, reports ABC. The names and email addresses of over 1,200 recipients were unintentionally exposed in an email regarding firearm security. Though QPS asserts that the incident was merely the result of human error, the president of the Shooters Union, Graham Park expressed his concern about the security of the QPS's data system, stating "there are more modern and more cost-effective ways to effectively track firearms.”
WhatsApp has made the controversial decision to revamp its privacy terms, requiring users to allow WhatsApp to share data with owner Facebook, but after facing resistance from users, the messaging app appears to be stalling. The Wall Street Journal reports that WhatsApp has pushed back the update; users now have until May 15 to agree to the terms, as opposed to the previously stated February 8. A spokesman for WhatsApp explained, “There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern, and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.” SeekingAlpha speculates users are not misinformed -- the ramifications of the change have been made abundantly clear -- but rather are concerned about Facebook’s business model, which focuses on the monetization of user data at the expense of user privacy.
As users seek an alternative, many are turning to competitors like Telegram and Signal, known for prioritizing user privacy. For those considering switching to Signal, ZDNet offers a guide to optimizing the platform’s security settings. For instance, Screen Lock requires biometric authentication to use the app, and Always Relay Calls, though it might diminish call quality, hides the user’s IP address by routing all calls through Signal’s server.
In the thick of this uptick in demand, CyberScoop reports Signal suffered “technical difficulties” late last week, with messaging slowing to a crawl or simply being unavailable, though it’s unclear whether the issue was the result of the 61-fold increase in new users last week. On Saturday, the Verge reports, the company tweeted that it was up and running again, but offered no explanation as to the cause of the issues. “Thanks to the millions of new Signal users around the world for your patience,” the tweet read. “Your capacity for understanding inspired us while we expanded capacity.”
In keeping with this trend toward users seeking more privacy, ZDNet reports that traffic on privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reached an all-time high on Monday, topping 100 million user search queries in one day. Though it pales in comparison to Google’s 5 billion searches a day, this is a huge milestone for the underdog, likely due to its commitment to not collecting user data.