Welcome to our latest round-up of news from the tech and hosting world. Here’s what we’ve discovered this month.
Fake Amazon review scam exposed
Thanks to an online data leak, a number of independent businesses that sell products on Amazon have been caught paying customers for fake 5-star reviews. Security outfit, Safety Detectors, uncovered a scam in which vendors contacted consumers, offering to refund them if they purchased a product and gave it a 5-star review. Once the review had been posted, the refund was then paid not via Amazon, but via the consumers’ PayPal accounts.
With the data leak revealing the credentials of around a quarter of a million fake reviewers, most of them in Europe and the US, the scale of the scam was potentially enormous. What’s more, as purchases were actually made, any reviews would have been listed as coming from a verified purchaser. Besides conning genuine customers, it’s also something that can impact the honest vendors on the marketplace.
Facebook advertisers whacked iOS privacy update
Advertisers making use of Facebook’s advanced tracking tools have been thwarted by Apple’s recent iOS14 update. Until recently, the ability to track users’ browsing behaviour has helped Facebook provide its advertisers with highly targeted ads for marketing and remarketing purposes. However, the iOS14 update prevents third-party apps on Apple devices, such as Facebook, from using cookies or other methods of tracking, unless the device owner opts in.
According to a recent study, only 13% of global users have given permission. With millions of Facebook users accessing the site on iPhones, this low figure seriously hampers the ability to put effective advertising strategies in place. With Google also planning to abolish tracking cookies in the near future, online advertising looks set for a period of significant upheaval.
Bank’s big data cloud project
In a project that could only happen using cloud tech, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is setting up a data insights platform to help its organisational clients deliver better products and services for their own customers.
The project will make use of all the transactional data gathered by the bank which, after being cleansed of identifying data, can be used by its new range of AI-powered tech, automated decision-making tools. With the bank handling more transactional data than any other in Australia, it will give its clients unprecedented access to insights that will help them to react quickly to the evolving needs and expectations of their customers and changes in the market, while enabling them to launch new products swiftly.
Ransomware vendors get a conscience
We’ve long been used to big brands and personalities changing their stance on something after being humbled by a Twitter backlash. It’s not, however, something you’d expect from a ransomware gang – until now. The storm of protest that followed DarkSide’s attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the US, an act that closed 5,500 miles of pipeline and left the east coast without fuel, has caused the cybercriminal gang to adopt an entirely more contrite approach.
In an apology published online, the outfit has promised to issue all its victims with decryption keys and pay them compensation for their losses. What’s more, it has closed down its Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) operations, ending other gangs’ ability to use its tools to ransom their victims.
Interestingly, the backlash has affected other cybercriminal groups. Another prominent ransomware provider, Babuk, has also ceased operations, changing its focus to naming and shaming corporate wrongdoers, while the XSS cybercrime forum has banned the advertising, promotion and discussion of ransomware on its site.
UK workers lack digital skills
In an age when digital transformation is becoming a necessity for businesses, it comes as something as a surprise that in a tech advanced country like the UK, 77% of employees say they have received no training from their employers in essential digital skills. Indeed, according to a report from FutureDotNow, over 17 million British workers lack the digital skills needed in today’s workplace.
Included in FutureDotNow’s list of essential digital skills are such things as password best practice, data analysis, using cloud storage and identifying phishing emails, as well as basic, everyday tasks like being able to access payslips or book leave online.
With the majority of UK organisations failing to tackle the lack of digital skills, FutureDotNow warns it can have a significant effect on the UK economy, slowing digital transformation, impeding productivity and making companies less competitive than international rivals.