Phishing Hits All Time High | EU Common Charging Port | New UK Centre To Fight Information War
Article by Christopher Lauder, Delegate Relationship Executive, Rela8 Group
Phishing Hits All Time High
First up this week, the Anti Phishing Working Group (AFWG) has announced that by looking at their data, they can confirm that the first quarter of 2022 saw phishing attacks hit a record high. They found that phishing attacks in the first quarter of this year topped one million for the first time.
Similarly, the Phishing Activity Trends Report has also revealed that March of 2022 was the worst month on record for phishing, with 384,291 phishing attacks detected.
Of the industries hit, the financial sector came out worst and accounted for 24% of all detected attacks. Other popular targets include webmail and SaaS providers.
Not only are attack numbers high, last week security researchers released details of a new major phishing campaign which is taking place on Facebook. Researchers believe that hundreds of millions of social media users may have been targeted. While the campaign has been active since at least last September, it has scaled up quite significantly in April and May of this year according to the security vendor Pixm.
In this phishing campaign, the user is tricked to enter their credentials into a Facebook portal which seemingly looks to be legitimate to view a video. The attacker, now armed with the users credentials, then hijacks the account and sends out even more links to the victims contacts using Facebook Messenger.
At least 8.5 million users have visited the phishing portal so far this year, which clearly highlights the success rate that this kind of phishing attack can generate.
EU Common Charging Port
Next, let’s head over to the EU. Last week, the EU has begun to pave the way for all smartphones to be legally required to use a USB-C port for charging. This is a move that could be a headache for Apple, whose iPhone is the only main brand of smartphone not to use this type of connection, instead opting for their own proprietary lightning port.
The EU’s agreement will begin to apply from Autumn 2024 for all smartphones sold in the bloc. The EU has said that this rule change aims to reduce hassle for consumers, as well as reduce electronic waste. This is because it will enable consumers to use older chargers for new devices.
The rules will apply to “all small and medium-sized portable electronic devices”, which will include mobile phones, tablets, cameras, keyboards, speakers, headphones, headsets and earbuds. Laptops will have to be adapted to fit the requirements 40 months after they come into force.
The decision is yet to be approved by the European Parliament and European Council but is expected to be a formality. The UK will not be implementing this new rule.
According to the EU, these new rules will “lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.”
Source - EU Common Charging Port – Reuters
Source - UK Will Not Copy EU – BBC News
New UK Centre To Fight Information War
Finally, here in the UK a new centre is being opened which aims to boost the UK's security through building expertise in cutting-edge technology. It will be called The Centre for Emerging Technology and Security (CETaS), and will be based at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's centre for data science and artificial intelligence. It is being described as "an innovative approach that will help to maintain the UK as a leading voice in international security".
UK officials say it will help develop expertise outside government, including in publicly available information. This is proving vital in combating Russian disinformation over Ukraine. In a paper issued to mark the launch of the new government funded CETaS, two anonymous government officials wrote on the weaponisation of disinformation in the Russia/Ukraine conflict:
"In the current phase of the conflict, the balance of advantage is with those who seek the truth about progress in Russia's campaign"
CETaS, in partnership with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has also released a paper called 'The Future of Open Source Intelligence for UK National Security'. Open source intelligence relies on analysing publicly available data, like videos on social media, in contrast to "secret" intelligence that spies obtain through covert means, like intercepting communications or running agents.
Paul Killworth, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security, told the BBC:
"The Ukrainian conflict has shown us the importance of data analysis and technology for exposing Russian disinformation campaigns [...] Centres such as CETaS provide another tool in the armoury of open societies. It gives us more teams of specialists able to investigate claims."
US and UK governments have been active in using open-source information to be able to talk publicly about what their secret sources are indicating. But this type of information is most powerfully used by those outside government to reveal what is really happening on the ground.