The second week in August has come to an end and you know what that means, yet another PCGuide weekly roundup. We’ve seen ransomware rear its ugly head again, this time with Canon being the target, a Florida teen arrested for the Twitter Bitcoin hack, and YouTube banning over 2500 propaganda accounts along with much, much more.
There’s also been a bunch of TikTok revelations including Microsoft potentially purchasing the platform, Instagram launching their competitor Reels, and putting new community guidelines in place to combat misinformation. We’re going to give you a small insight into these pieces but if you fancy reading the full stories, head over to the individual articles.
Diving straight into those TikTok news pieces, let’s look at Microsoft swooping in the potentially buy the platform. On Friday, August 1st, Trump announced that the US “maybe banning TikTok,” which was followed, on Sunday, by an announcement from Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who said that action would be taken in the following days against “a broad array of national security risks” presented by software companies, including TikTok. But, in a move to keep TikTok in the lives of Americans, Microsoft released a statement on their company blog announcing that, following a conversation between President Trump and Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, they will be continuing discussion about potentially purchasing TikTok.
“Microsoft fully appreciates the importance of addressing the President’s concerns,” the statement reads. “It is committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury”.
Microsoft stated that they do not intend to provide further updates until a “definitive outcome” has been reached, which they hope will be no later than September 15th. Guess it’s a waiting game until then.
Looking next at Instagram’s attempt to break into the TikTok market, Reels has been released. Reels will allow you to create 15-second long clips that can be shared directly to your feed, story, or a newly created Reels page located within the Explore tab. Like TikTok, you’re able to add music from Instagram’s built-music library to your clips as well as any audio you’ve separately recorded. Other features include hands-free recording, a countdown timer, and AR effects coupled with the ability to edit a number of clips together, not having to rely on a single take. Lasso, Facebook’s main channel take on the TikTok craze crashed and burned, so will Reels share the same fate? Let’s wait and see. If the Microsoft deal goes through, it’ll certainly be an interesting battle.
Finally, after being under pretty heavy scrutiny in terms of data privacy, TikTok is looking to switch up its community guidelines to prevent misinformation. According to a company blog post, this will include updating their policies on misleading content, broadening their fact-checking partnerships to help verify election-related misinformation, adding an in-app reporting option for election misinformation, and working with experts including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect against foreign influence on our platform.
They are especially focussing on the elimination of deepfakes and disinformation: “Our intent is to protect users from things like shallow or deepfakes, so while this kind of content was broadly covered by our guidelines already, this update makes the policy clearer for our users”. Let’s hope it brings an end for harmful deepfakes that have made their way onto the platform.
Now all of that TikTok news is out the way, let’s look at the other big stories to hit the web.
The culprit of the worldwide Twitter hack was apprehended along with two further arrests being made for his accomplices. A 17-year old Florida-based male named Graham Clark was seemingly the orchestrator behind the attack who accessed the Twitter accounts of prominent individuals, including VP Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama, and businesses such as Apple and Coinbase. Clark, himself, is being charged as an adult with the state attorney Andrew Warren implying that this was not the work of “an ordinary 17-year old,” with the later press conference implying that even though the $100,000 in Bitcoin that was stolen was a large sum if it went further, there could have been massive effects on financial markets.
“This could have had a massive, massive amount of money stolen from people, it could have destabilized financial markets within America and across the globe; because he had access to powerful politicians’ Twitter accounts, he could have undermined politics as well as international diplomacy,”
It looks like he’ll be going to jail for some time, hopefully, a big deterrent for those who are planning to cause similar online havoc.
In similar hacking news, Canon has been the target of yet another ransomware attack similar to that of Garmin that occurred last week. In a screenshot obtained by BleedingComputer, a company-wide notification titled “Message from IT Service Center” was sent at around 6 AM this morning from Canon’s IT department, stating that Canon is experiencing “widespread system issues affecting multiple applications, Teams, Email, and other systems may not be available at this time”.
BleedingComputer has also allegedly obtained screenshots from the ransom note sent to Canon, which read:
“We hacked your network and now all your files, documents, photos, databases and other important data are safely encrypted with reliable algorithms.
“You cannot access the files right now. But do not worry. You can get it back! It is easy to recover in a few steps. We have also downloaded a lot of private data from your network, so in case of not contacting us as soon as possible this data will be released.
“If you do not contact us in 3 days we will post information about your breach on our public news website and after 7 days the full downloaded info”.
Canon is yet to provide a real comment on the matter but let’s see if they pay the money required to get their files back!
Finally, YouTube has been cracking down on propaganda on their platform by banning over 2500 accounts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’. YouTube made just 277 bans of similar accounts in the first quarter of this year, making that 2500 number almost ten times that figure.
In a Threat Analysis Group (TAG) bulletin for Q2, Google detailed that, over the course of three months, they terminated 21 accounts (including one AdSense account and one advertising account) related to two separate investigations into coordinated influence operations in Iran and 90 accounts relating to several ongoing investigations into Russian operations. Most of the bans – 2596 to be exact – were associated with coordinated influence operations related to Chinese propaganda.
We live in an internet world that’s full of misinformation and ‘fake news’ so big props to YouTube for banning as many accounts as possible.
We’ve gone through a number of news stories here but there’s been much more posted on the site. Here are some examples:
But, we’re not just a news website, we’ve published an array of different content including how-tos, features, and guides. We’ve looked at more monitor stuff with how to get the most out of your monitor, how to fix screen tearing, and how to fix those pesky dead pixels. For you students out there we’ve dropped guides on how to turn your dorm room into a smart home, the best tech for a college night out, and how to make money as a student. All aiding your life in education.
All in all, it’s been a pretty varied week on PCGuide and we hope you’ll not only come away informed on the latest developments in the tech world but also some knowledge on getting the most out of your monitor yet again. See you next week for more, with a bunch of breaking news as well as some interesting tidbits on computer animation.