Plus more news bytes, like Costa Rica’s ransomware emergency and the White House’s deep dive into quantum computing.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post this week that Instagram is testing digital collectibles so users can display NFTs on their profiles by linking their third-party digital wallets. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital files that live on a blockchain, thus tying the ownership of each file to one individual. While a jpeg of the NFT could be copied ad infinitum, the owner of the original is identified by the blockchain data. “NFTs are a thing, that’s clear,” said Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons. “In fact, Twitter already made the first move, and, of course, Meta’s Instagram doesn’t want to get left behind.”
The growing popularity of NFTs, unfortunately, make them prime fodder for phishing scams. “NFTs are moving millions of dollars,” Corrons stated, “and there is a lot of speculation and easy ways to scam innocent users. We advise users to be careful and keep informed to avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent schemes surrounding NFTs.” Zuckerberg said that in the future, Facebook would also have the ability to share NFTs, as well as other apps in the Meta family. For more on this story, see ZDNet.
Costa Rica declares national emergency over ransomware
In one of his first official acts, Costa Rica’s new president Rodrigo Chaves declared a national emergency, saying that the country is suffering from cybercriminals and cyberterrorists. The Russian-based Conti ransomware gang claimed responsibility for ongoing attacks through April on the Costa Rican finance ministry, labor ministry, and social services agency. Last week, the U.S. State Department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of Conti leaders. The attacks began during the previous president’s final month in office. For more on this story, see The Guardian.
F5 patches severe flaw in BIG-IP
Last week, tech company F5 disclosed and patched a BIG-IP vulnerability that hackers could exploit to execute commands that run with root system privileges. The flaw carries a 9.8 rating out of 10, and the vulnerable components are used by 48 of the Fortune 50 companies. BIG-IP is a line of appliances that organizations deploy as firewalls and load balancers. Hackers sniffing out the tech could find over 16,000 instances of the gear discoverable online. The threat stems from a faulty authentication implementation of the iControl REST, a set of web-based programming interfaces for configuring and managing BIG-IP devices. See Ars Technica for more.
Smart homes will run on Matter
In an interview with The Verge, Senior Director of Google Smart Home Ecosystem Michele Turner talked about Matter, the new interoperability smart home standard that Turner said would be “absolutely foundational” to the proactive smart homes of the future. “The proactive home is really that intelligence layer,” Turner said, referring to the various devices that connect the home to Wi-Fi and to each other. Matter is a standard that will allow devices from different brands to be part of the same smart home network. The project started as a dinner meeting among representatives from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Zigbee, and has evolved into the next level of smart home creation.
White House looks closer at quantum computing
Through an executive order and a national security memorandum, the Biden administration announced it is taking steps to advance in the field of quantum computing while also mitigating its risks. Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that uses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for traditional computers. The executive order states its purpose is to “ensure continued American leadership in quantum information science and its technology applications.” The national security memorandum spells out “key steps needed” to maintaining the nation’s advantage in the field “while mitigating the risks of quantum computers to the nation’s cyber, economic, and national security.” For more, see CSO.
This week’s must-read on the Avast blog
Crypto romance scams are relatively new in the US, but they’re already taking a toll. Read up as we explore the story of a scam victim and explain what to do if you’ve been scammed.