‘Sadfishing’ social media warning

‘Sadfishing’ social media warning

At a recent conference, head teachers of private schools announced how ‘sadfishing’ is a growing behavioural trend where people make exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy. It means that those with genuine problems are often overlooked or even bullied.

The term was coined after a number of celebrities, such as Kendall Jenner, were accused of teasing details about personal issues on their social media site to drum up publicity and attract more likes and shares. The charity Digital Awareness UK (DAUK), says that vulnerable children who face genuine distress, are turning to the internet to find support, where they may be bullied as a result. For those who fail to receive the support they were looking for, emotional and mental health problems are made worse.

There also fears that groomers could be preying on vulnerable children by providing sympathy to gain their trust.

Earlier this year, a study (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) of 250,000 teachers in 48 countries, suggested schools in England had the highest incidence of problems with online behaviour. It indicated that 27% of head teachers in England had to deal with problems related to online bullying every week – compared with an international average of 3%.

Chris Jeffery, head teacher of Bootham School, in north Yorkshire, who chairs the HMC’s wellbeing working group, said social media and mobile technology were now an “inescapable aspect of the landscape of the lives of young people”.
“Given the nature of that technology, trends are fast-moving and it is crucial that educators and parents have regular insights into how young people are using their devices,” he said.

www.bbc.technews (1st October)

Instagram biggest online platform for child grooming

Instagram biggest online platform for child grooming

A charity has found that sex offenders are grooming children on Instagram more than on any other platform.

Police in England and Wales recorded 1,944 cases of sexual communication with children within six months. Instagram was used in 32% of the 1,317 cases where a method was recorded, Facebook in 23% and Snapchat in 14%.

Instagram and Facebook said they “aggressively” fought grooming, while Snapchat said it was “unacceptable”.

Following pressure from campaigners, sexual communication with a child became an offence in April 2017. In the 18 months that followed, more than 5,000 online grooming offences were recorded by police, according to the data gathered by the NSPCC. The charity said the figures did not “fully reflect the scale of the issue”, as many crimes went undetected or unreported.

Where the police logged age and gender, seven out of 10 victims were girls aged 12 to 15. One in five was aged 11 or under. The youngest victim was five years old.

www.bbc.co.uk/technews (1st March 2019)

Out-of-date code causes chaos

Out-of-date code causes chaos

A report from the US Congress has revealed that credit agency Equifax’s 2017 network breach (which affected 143 million people) was not spotted because of an expired software certificate.

Last week, mobile operator O2 blamed a similar issue for causing a network blackout which affected the UK.

Digital certificates are basically small pieces of code created by using sophisticated mathematics that ensure that communication between devices or websites are sent in an encrypted manner, and are therefore secure. They play an essential role in keeping IT infrastructure up and running safely and are issued by certificate authorities, who electronically vouch that the certificates are genuine. When issued, these certificates are given an expiration date of anything between a few months and several years.

Digital certificates are issued for a variety of software that encrypts communications, including those embedded in hardware. In O2’s case it seems that a certificate linked to network equipment installed by Ericsson was the weak link.

Equifax’s certificate was linked to crucial software that monitored the network for suspicious traffic, meaning the hackers were not spotted in time.

While some think that the reason they expire is to allow the authorities to keep charging for renewals, there are some valid reasons why they need to be regularly updated – including changing technology, new vulnerabilities to encryption and the ownership of the certificate changing hands.

In O2’s case, the certificate reached its expiry date, which in turn meant that when different parts of the network attempted to communicate securely, they no longer trusted each other and refused to connect.

In Equifax’s case, the certificate in question was linked to software which monitored the network for suspicious traffic and had expired 19 months ahead of the breach. This means that their networks were not being monitored for hackers.

There are billions of certificates in circulation and, with the internet of things flourishing and connecting ever more devices to the web, more are needed each day.
“As business becomes digital in increasingly complex and ubiquitous ways, all enterprises need to protect themselves from repeating this disastrous outcome. A best practice in so doing is to automate the discovery, monitoring, and renewal of certificates of all types,’ said Tim Callan, a senior fellow at Sectigo.
“The proliferation of certificates and ever-increasing complexity of IT infrastructure has made it more and more challenging for IT professionals to stay on top of this component of their networks.”

www.bbc.co,uk/technews (12th December 2018)

Facebook’s secret deals come to light

Facebook’s secret deals come to light

A cache of internal documents have been published online by a parliamentary committee – against the wishes of Facebook’s chief. The emails show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data – whilst refusing others. The files also apparently show that Facebook had made it deliberately hard for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the committee, said ‘I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents. They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they excuse their dominant position in the social media market.’

A spokeswoman from Facebook said ‘we stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friend’s data with developers. …the facts are clear: we have never sold people’s data.’

Mr Zuckerberg also posted a personal response on his Facebook page – “I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do,” he said.
“But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do – including the explanation of these internal documents – doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives.”

www.bbc.co.uk/technews (5th Dec 2018)

Google staff walk out over treatment of women

Google staff walk out over treatment of women

Staff at Google offices around the world are staging an unprecedented series of walkouts in protest at the company’s treatment of women. Staff in Zurich, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Berlin were amongst those to take part.

The employees are demanding several key changes in how sexual misconduct allegations are dealt with at the firm including a call to end forced arbitration – a move that would make it possible for victims to sue.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has told staff he supports their right to take the action.

The formal demands being made to Google’s management are –

  1. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequality
  2. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report
  3. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously
  4. The elevation of the chief diversity officer to answer directly to the CEO, and make recommendations directly to the board of directors
  5. The appointment of an employee representative to the board
  6. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees

www.bbc.co.uk/technews (1st Nov 18)

Apple Watch owners asked to return devices for repair

Apple Watch owners asked to return devices for repair

Apple Watch owners have been asked to return their devices for repair after some owners complained that software had caused their devices to stop working.

Those affected reported that their watches had become stuck in a state showing only the apply logo on their screens.

The problem appears to have baffled the firm’s repair staff meaning there is no way at present for owners to restore the products themselves. Apple said it intended to release a revised update soon.

Meanwhile, several people have been told to send their watches in for a fix – much to the disappointment of some customers.

Anyone experiencing problems have been told contact AppleCare.

www.bbc.co.uk/technews (31st Oct 18)