Category Archives: Data and computer security

The Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the Facebook data scandal

This week, a Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica sheds light on one of the most complex scandals of our time. Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the story and appears in the film, looks at the fallout – and finds ‘surveillance capitalism’ out of control

Related: Arron Banks threatens Netflix over Great Hack documentary

Cambridge Analytica may have become the byword for a scandal, but it’s not entirely clear that anyone knows exactly what that scandal is. It’s more like toxic word association: “Facebook”, “data”, “harvested”, “weaponised”, “Trump” and, in this country, most controversially, “Brexit”.

Cambridge Analytica didn’t decide democracy was for sale. We built this world, so we should own it

(December 11, 2015) First hint of the scandal

People have completely misunderstood the scandal as being about privacy, when it’s actually about power

The Cambridge Analytica files resulted in a multi-year investigation from the UK Information Commissioner's Office, "the most important ever", according to Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner.

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How do I remove malware from my Windows laptop?

Don’s laptop is infected with malware and he’d like a clean machine, what’s the best way?

What’s the cheapest way to get my Windows laptop swept and cleaned out of malware etc? Don

There are two obvious ways to clean a Windows laptop, and both of them are free. The first is to run a number of anti-malware programs to find and remove the bad stuff. The second is to reset it to factory condition.

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Hacked forensic firm pays ransom after malware attack

Largest private provider Eurofins hands over undisclosed fee to regain control of systems

Britain’s largest private forensics provider has paid a ransom to hackers after its IT systems were brought to a standstill by a cyber-attack, it has been reported.

Eurofins, which is thought to carry out about half of all private forensic analysis, was targeted in a ransomware attack on 2 June, which the company described at the time as “highly sophisticated”. Three weeks later the company said its operations were “returning to normal”, but did not disclose whether or not a ransom had been paid.

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How Chinese spy app allows officials to harvest personal data

Intrusive software collects emails and texts and could be used to track movement

The tourists travelling into China were never supposed to know their phones had been compromised.

The surveillance app being installed on their devices should have been removed by the border officers tasked with the job. But their apparent carelessness has provided a rare insight into the techniques used by China to snoop on visitors and the kind of information being harvested from their phones.

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Australian National University hit by huge data breach

Vice-chancellor says hack involved personal and payroll details going back 19 years

The Australian National University is in damage control after discovering a major data breach a fortnight ago in which a “significant” amount of staff and student information was accessed by a “sophisticated operator”.

The university has confirmed an estimated 200,000 people have been affected by the hack, based on student numbers each year and staff turnover.

Related: Australian security services investigate attempted cyber attack on parliament

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The Guardian view on cybercrime: the law must be enforced | Editorial

Governments and police must take crime on the internet seriously. It is where we all live now

About half of all property crime in the developed world now takes place online. When so much of our lives, and almost all of our money, have been digitised, this is not surprising – but it has some surprising consequences. For one thing, the decline in reported property crimes trumpeted by successive British governments between 2005 and 2015 turns out to have been an illusion. Because banks were not required to report fraud to the police after 2005, they often didn’t. It would have made both banks and police look bad to have all that crime known and nothing done about it. The cost of the resulting ignorance was paid by the rest of government, and by the public, too, deprived of accurate and reliable knowledge. Since then, the total number of property crimes reported has risen from about 6m to 11m a year as the figures have taken computerised crime into account.

The indirect costs to society are very much higher than the hundreds of millions that individuals lose. One example is the proliferation of plagiarism software online, which developed an entire industry in poor, English-speaking countries like Kenya, serving idle or ignorant students in England and North America. The effort required by schools and universities to guard against such fraud has been considerable, and its cost entirely disproportionate to the gains made by the perpetrators.

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