Coordinated Cyberattack Targets EU Institutions | Avast

Plus, Google launches a trial of its new ad targeting tech and hackers hide malware in a Call of Duty cheat

According to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for the European Commission confirmed that a number of European Union organizations “experienced an IT security incident in their IT infrastructure” last week, adding that no major information breach had been detected as of yet.

The spokesperson would not supply further details on the attack as the investigation is still in its initial stage. An inside source told Bloomberg that the attacks were bigger than average and serious enough to warrant an alert issued to all commission senior officials. Another anonymous source said that commission staff had recently been warned about potential phishing attempts, which suggests the attacks may have been expected. “Government institutions have to face way more risks than the average user,” commented Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons. “On top of the day-to-day attacks, they hold valuable information that is a target to cybercriminal groups and foreign intelligence agencies.” 

Google begins trial of new ad targeting tech

This week Google began testing its new ad targeting tech known as the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) with a random selection of Google Chrome users. The new tech is intended to replace cookies, assigning each user a FLoC ID number instead, which informs advertisers of the user’s behavioral patterns over the previous week, including the websites that were visited. The Chrome users participating in the trial do not know they are participating, and the only way to opt out is to turn off third-party cookies in the browser’s settings. Watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) strongly criticizes the new tech. Read more on the EFF website

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Malware hidden in Call of Duty cheat

Activision published a report this week warning users that hackers have been disguising malware as a cheat for Call of Duty: Warzone. The game is free to play and hosts millions of users. The malware installs a dropper on the user’s system, which is then poised to receive more malware from its command-and-control center. An anonymous source told Vice that one of the malware’s goals is to hijack the user’s computer power and use it to mine cryptocurrency. The hackers selling the malware even posted a tutorial video on YouTube to teach attackers how to use it. In the last year, Activision has banned over 80,000 cheaters from Call of Duty: Warzone.

Arguments for and against regulating Google

Tech giant Google is embroiled in three antitrust lawsuits, including one brought by the U.S. Department of Justice which alleges the company acts like a monopoly and elbows out its competition. The Land of the Giants podcast recently devoted an episode to discussing the pros and cons of breaking up Google. According to Vox, supporters of regulating Google believe that the internet titan has amassed too much influence over daily life and the economy, and that people are essentially forced to use its products. Those against any new regulations claim that because Google’s products are largely free, they are beneficial to consumers, and tighter restrictions could stymie some of Google’s greatest innovations. 

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Russia implements Twitter throttling

Researchers learned this week that Russia is attempting a new form of censorship – instead of outright blocking Twitter, it is throttling all network traffic between the social media site and Russian users. Experts believe that by slowing network traffic down to a crawl, Russia is hoping its citizenry will grow too frustrated to use the site. The move came with some unintentional side effects, however. All Twitter content is hosted on t.co, so Russian regulators throttled all domains that had “t.co” in its string. This led to many other sites, including Microsoft.com and Reddit.com to be throttled as well. Read more about it on Ars Technica

This week’s ‘must-read’ on The Avast Blog

Over Easter weekend, we learned that over half a billion Facebook users’ personal data, including phone numbers, was leaked online. Here’s what you should do about the Facebook leak today.


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