Tech coronavirus roundup: From police scam warnings to Facebook returnees

Tech coronavirus roundup: From police scam warnings to Facebook returnees

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Police scam warnings in regard to the coronavirus spread have been issued by Europol.

Europol represents the 27 police forces of EU countries and, until the end of the year, the UK too. It says that the coronavirus has increased the risk of online scams in three ways …

Police scam warnings

First, reports TNW, increased fear levels make people more likely to panic when faced with an email demanding urgent action. Second, the increase in online shopping means there are more ecommerce scams out there. Third, there are specific coronavirus-themed scams.

One common attack vector hackers used to infect users’ systems was via fake coronavirus tracking dashboards designed to spread malware. Indeed, researchers pointed out COVID-19-themed domain names are 50% more likely to be malicious than any other domains.

Cybersecurity experts fight hackers

It’s not just individuals who are being targeted, but organizations too. Reuters reports that cybersecurity experts from than 40 different countries are joining forces to protect healthcare providers and communications networks.

Called the COVID-19 CTI League, for cyber threat intelligence, the group spans more than 40 countries and includes professionals in senior positions at such major companies as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O).

One of four initial managers of the effort, Marc Rogers, said the top priority would be working to combat hacks against medical facilities and other frontline responders to the pandemic. It is already working on hacks of health organizations.

Also key is the defense of communication networks and services that have become essential as more people work from home.

Smartphone data shows how easily the virus spreads

Two companies have joined forces to provide a graphic illustration of just how easily the virus can spread, tracking the movements of smartphones present on just one Florida beach over Spring Break.

Alexa joins Siri in coronavirus self-diagnosis

Earlier this week, Apple gave Siri the ability to help people self-diagnose COVID-19, using a questionnaire provided by the CDC.

Amazon has now done the same for Alexa devices.

Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, our Alexa health team built a U.S. experience that lets you use Alexa to check your risk level for COVID-19 at home, using just your voice.

Ask, “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?” or “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have coronavirus?,”

Zuckerberg and Gates commit $75M

Two high-profile tech philanthropic organizations have committed a total of $75M to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator – a body set-up to coordinate international researchers working on vaccines and treatments for the disease.

The Verge reports that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed $50M, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative set up by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Chan has promised $25M.

900% in Twitter hate speech toward China

Less happily, a report has found a 900% increase in hate speech on Twitter directed at China and Chinese people.

After analyzing millions of websites, popular teen chat sites, and gaming platforms, AI-based startup L1ght recorded a 900% increase in hate speech directed towards China and the Chinese […]

People are spending more and more time on social networks, communication apps, chat rooms and gaming services, and the problems endemic to these platforms – hate, abuse, toxicity and bullying – have become accentuated.

Coronavirus lockdown reverses #deletefacebook

The Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 may have led to a #deletefacebook movement, but it seems that a combination of being locked down at home, and a desire to check up on family and friends, has lead to many people reactivating their accounts. CNET reports.

“For most of us, social media is a primary source of rapidly delivered news, updates from friends and a general method of connecting to the world,” said Adam Alter, an associate professor of marketing and psychology at New York University, who wrote a book about the addictive nature of technology. “This is a unique situation,” he said of the pandemic, “the fear of missing out on updates might be more extreme than it usually is.”

It’s hard to quantify how many people have returned to Facebook after dropping off the platform. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for information on how many users have rejoined the social network since the coronavirus outbreak began. Usage data, however, suggests the social network and its services, including Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, have seen a surge in traffic since the virus outbreak started.

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March 28, 2020 at 01:24AM

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