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  • Internet speeds should be back to normal for South Africans, one day earlier than expected and just in time for your weekend streaming binge. 
  • The Ile D’Aix vessel has completed its repair work on the undersea cable break of the West African Cable System (Wacs), says the South African National Research and Education Network.
  • Likewise, the SAt-3 system is back online as well. 

South African’s internet should be back to normal thanks to speedy repair work done by the Ile D’Aix vessel at the cable break of the West African Cable System (Wacs) – just in time for a lockdown weekend binge. 

The South African National Research and Education Network (NREN) confirmed that the cable had been repaired on Saturday morning. 

WACS Outage Update: We have had final confirmation that the WACS repairs are complete and everything is according to specification. This matter is now resolved from an SA NREN perspective.798:54 AM – Apr 4, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy40 people are talking about this

A second, different break of the South Atlantic Telecommunications (SAT-3) undersea cable was fixed by the Leon Thevenin vessel on Thursday. 

This brings to an end another set of unusual circumstances where two undersea cables broke at the same time, resulting in slow internet across the country. Earlier this year, South Africans also suffered slow internet after an unusual double cable break.

The latest outage inconvenienced South Africans who are trying to work from home, after the country went into lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus, more than a week ago. 

The Sat-3 fault was located in a similar area to the previous break in January, which was apparently caused by a short circuit. This was due to intense pressure from being trapped under heavy sediment carried by the flow of turbulent waters from the Congo River into the submarine canyon where the cable runs.

Wacs and SAT-3 are segments of a 25 000km undersea cable which connects Africa to Europe.

Read Original Article…

Bill Gates is plugging money into building factories for seven promising coronavirus vaccine candidates, even though it will mean wasting billions of dollars.

On Thursday’s episode of “The Daily Show,” the Microsoft billionaire told the host Trevor Noah that his philanthropic organization, the Gates Foundation, could mobilize faster than governments to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

“Because our foundation has such deep expertise in infectious diseases, we’ve thought about the epidemic, we did fund some things to be more prepared, like a vaccine effort,” Gates said. “Our early money can accelerate things.”

Gates said he was picking the top seven vaccine candidates and building manufacturing capacity for them. “Even though we’ll end up picking at most two of them, we’re going to fund factories for all seven, just so that we don’t waste time in serially saying, ‘OK, which vaccine works?’ and then building the factory,” he said.

Gates said that simultaneously testing and building manufacturing capacity is essential to the quick development of a vaccine, which Gates thinks could take about 18 months.

In a Washington Post op-ed article published earlier this week, Gates said some of the top candidates required unique equipment.

“It’ll be a few billion dollars we’ll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don’t get picked because something else is better,” Gates said in the clip. “But a few billion in this, the situation we’re in, where there’s trillions of dollars … being lost economically, it is worth it.”

The Gates Foundation “can get that bootstrapped and get it going and save months, because every month counts,” he added.

The Daily Show✔@TheDailyShow

“We can save months, and every month counts.” @BillGates and Trevor discuss combating coronavirus tonight at 11/10c7,0023:44 AM – Apr 3, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy2,336 people are talking about this

Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, have already pledged $100 million toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic, including an effort to send at-home coronavirus test kits to people in Washington state.

In his Post op-ed article, Gates urged the government to enforce stricter lockdown measures in every state and estimated that the US would need another 10 weeks of nationwide shutdowns to effectively deal with the crisis.

Read Original Article…

  • The South African government is setting up a Covid-19 database to track anyone who may be carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, or anyone who has had contact with a carrier.
  • The health department now has the power to demand location data from cellphone companies, going back to 5 March, for that database.
  • People tracked will not be notified intially, but a judge will get a list of those whose movements are traced, after the fact.
  • The database is supposed to be de-identified six weeks after the Covid-19 disaster is declared over.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

As of Thursday the South African government can trace the movements of any South African cellphone user back as far as 5 March, in order to fight Covid-19.

That movement data will go into a special database to identify anyone who may have had physical contact with a person known to be carrying the SARS-Cov-2 virus, for possible testing and quarantine.

Users whose locations are traced need not be notified initially, but a judge will be given a list of the people affected – after the fact – in order to make recommendations about privacy protections.

In the month after the state of national disaster is ended, those who were tracked must be told their movements had been traced. 

The database is due to be de-identified, leaving only general data for future study, six weeks after South Africa’s national state of disaster around Covid-19 is declared over.

The government has made clear its intention to use cellphone tracking since 25 March, when it said cellphone operators had agreed to hand over such data.

But South Africa’s cellphone operators said they had not made any such agreement – because it would have been illegal.

“We cannot provide personal information or information that identifies a specific individual without a Section 205 subpoena. We can assist governments with high-level aggregated data that can be critical during this global health crisis with due regard to the privacy of our customers,” Vodacom told Business Insider South Africa.

MTN did not answer questions, but Cell C also said it had not been asked to track its users.

“The data information request doesn’t include personal data or information that identifies any specific individual,” Cell C told Business Insider.

But under new regulations gazetted on Thursday by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (which is in overall charge of disaster regulations), cellphone companies are required to hand over exactly that kind of individual data.

Under the rules, which are in force immediately, the director-general of the health department can direct any licensed electronic communications company to provide information on “the location or movements of any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted Covid-19” as well as “any person known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact, during the period 5 March 2020 to the date on which the national state of disaster has lapsed or has been terminated” with someone thought to have the condition.

That data is supposed to be kept in a tightly controlled Covid-19 database.

Six weeks after the state of disaster ends, individual data must be destroyed and the database must be de-identified, the regulations say, thought that de-personalised information can be “retained and used only for research, study and teaching purposes”.

There will be no oversight of the process as the data is requested and collected, but a designated retired judge is supposed to receive weekly reports including the names and details of everyone traced.

That judge may then make recommendations “as he or she deems fit regarding the amendment or enforcement of this regulation in order to safeguard the right to privacy while ensuring the ability of the Department of Health to engage in urgent and effective contact tracing to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19.”

Read Original Article…

Google will publish location data from its users around the world from Friday to allow governments to gauge the effectiveness of social distancing measures put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the tech giant said.

The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of the company’s blogs. 

Trends will be display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.

“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” they said.

“This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”

Like the detection of traffic jams or the measurement of traffic on Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history. 

No “personally identifiable information,” such as a person’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available, the post said.

The reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified. 

From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide. 

In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing “anonymised” smartphone data to better track the outbreak. 

Even privacy-loving Germany is considering using a smartphone app to help manage the spread of the disease.

But activists say authoritarian regimes are using the coronavirus as a pretext to suppress independent speech and increase surveillance.

And in liberal democracies, others fear widespread data harvesting and intrusion could bring lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.

Read Original Article…

Telkom has confirmed it will zero-rate educational websites as well as those that information the population about the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Zero-rated educational websites primarily comprise the educational facility websites of universities and colleges.

Telkom is doing this to assist these educational institutions to continue their learning and teaching processes – even if physical classes must be cancelled.

Telkom has also zero-rated official coronavirus information sites on its network – including The National Institute for Communicable Diseases and SA Government websites.

“We believe that the pandemic can be overcome if we work together and ensure that South Africans are empowered with access to accurate information about the virus,” said Telkom spokesperson Mooketsi Mocumi.

Wits partners with Vodacom and MTN

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) is in talks with mobile operators – including Telkom, Vodacom, and MTN – to forge partnerships regarding student data consumption in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib said he had personally spoken with Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko, while his staff had spoken with Vodacom, MTN, and others.

This is part of the university’s plans to move to online teaching and learning should the need arise.

Habib said that the university is already in the final week of classes before the semester break – giving it additional time to decide on measures it will take.

“We have at least another two weeks to three weeks. We have to determine what the scale of this pandemic is going to be before we determine appropriate actions for the country as a whole,” said Habib.

Zero-rated websites

The full list of the educational websites zero-rated by Telkom can be viewed below.

InstitutionURL
Boland FET Collegehttp://www.bolandcollege.com/
Cape Peninsula University of Technologyhttp://www.cput.ac.za/
Capricorn FET Collegehttp://www.capricorncollege.co.za/
Central Johannesburg FET Collegehttp://www.cjc.edu.za/
Central University of Technologyhttp://www.cut.ac.za/
Coastal FET Collegehttp://www.coastalkzn.co.za/
College of Cape Townhttp://www.cct.edu.za/
Durban University of Techhttp://www.dut.ac.za/
Eastcape Midlands FET Collegehttp://www.emcol.co.za/
Ehlanzeni FET Collegehttp://www.ehlanzenicollege.co.za/
Ekurhuleni East FET Collegehttp://www.eec.edu.za/
Ekurhuleni West FET Collegehttp://www.ewc.edu.za/
Elangeni FET Collegehttp://www.efet.co.za/
Everything Mathshttp://everythingmaths.co.za
Everything Sciencehttp://everythingscience.co.za
False Bay FET Collegehttp://www.falsebaycollege.co.za/
Flavius Mareka FET Collegehttp://www.flaviusmareka.net/
Gert Sibande FET Collegehttps://educonnect.co.za/institutions/institution/gert-sibande-tvet-college/
Goldfields FET Collegehttp://goldfieldstvet.edu.za/
Ikhala FET Collegehttps://www.ikhala.edu.za/
Khan Academyhttps://www.khanacademy.org
King Satha Dalindyebo FET Collegehttp://www.ksdcollege.edu.za/
Lephalale FET Collegehttp://leptvetcol.edu.za/
Letaba FET Collegehttp://www.letabafet.co.za/
Maluti FET Collegehttp://www.malutitvet.co.za/
Mangosuthu University of Technologyhttp://www.mut.ac.za/
Mindsethttps://learn.mindset.africa/
Mopani South East FET Collegehttp://www.mopanicollege.edu.za
Motheo FET Collegehttps://www.motheotvet.co.za/
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Universityhttps://www.mandela.ac.za/
Nkangala FET Collegehttp://www.nkangalafet.edu.za/
North West Universityhttp://www.nwu.ac.za/
Northern Cape Rural FET Collegehttp://ncrtvet.com/
Northlink FET Collegehttp://www.northlink.co.za/
Orbit FET Collegehttp://www.orbitcollege.co.za/
Rhodes Universityhttp://www.ru.ac.za/
Sedibeng FET Collegehttp://www.sedcol.co.za/
Sekhukhune FET Collegehttp://www.sekfetcol.org/
South Cape FET Collegehttp://www.sccollege.co.za/
South West FET Collegehttp://www.swgc.co.za/
Stellenbosch Universityhttp://www.sun.ac.za/
Taletso FET Collegehttps://taletso.edu.za/
Thekwini FET Collegehttp://www.thekwinicollege.co.za/
Tshwane North FET Collegehttps://www.tnc.edu.za/
Tshwane South FET Collegehttp://www.tsc.edu.za/
Tshwane University of Technologyhttp://www.tut.ac.za/
Umfolozo FET Collegehttp://www.umfolozicollege.co.za/
University of Cape Townhttp://www.uct.ac.za/
University of Johannesburghttp://www.uj.ac.za/
University of Kwazulu-Natalhttp://www.ukzn.ac.za/
University of Limpopohttp://www.ul.ac.za/
University of Pretoriahttps://www.up.ac.za/
University of the Free Statehttp://www.ufs.ac.za/
University of the Western Capehttp://www.uwc.ac.za/
University of Vendahttp://www.univen.ac.za/
University of Zululandhttp://www.unizulu.ac.za/
Vaal University of Technologyhttp://www.vut.ac.za/
Vuselela FET Collegehttp://www.vuselelacollege.co.za/
Walter Sisulu Universityhttp://www.wsu.ac.za/
West Coast FET Collegehttp://www.westcoastcollege.co.za/
Western College for FEThttp://www.westcol.co.za/

Read Original Article…

They knew it was coming and have been desperately building capacity – yet the flood of workers to video conferencing software has proved too much for companies like Zoom and Microsoft.

This morning, with millions of Americans joining the global trend toward social distancing and working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, demand for services like Zoom’s conferencing software and Microsoft’s Teams outstripped capacity and starting 0900 on the East Coast, outages began.

As can be seen from third-party observers like DownDetector, the problems only increased as more and more workers woke and logged into their computers to connect with co-workers. As California – the hub of tech activity in America – came online, it only got worse.

Currently Zoom is reporting that its software has “degraded performance” and its phone service has a “partial outage.” A quick look at social media confirms that the issue is widespread.

It’s fair to say that all remote working companies are scrambling to deal with the sudden flood of users. Zoom, for example, has updated its audio conferencing system in the background in order to people running meeting the ability to change dial-in options: a sign that people who usually do not use its software are having to be guided through it by manager and meeting organizers.

Zoom may be regretting its decision to make hay while the sun shines: all its execs, its CEO, CFO and CIO have been on a media blitz in recent days in an effort to get its name out there. They have been boasting about their low latency, network optimization, decision to remove a 40-minute limit on free accounts and even offering free video conferencing for schools.

“Zoom conquered video chat — now it has even bigger plans,” reads the headline from one over-excited publication this morning. It may prove to have been too successful at raising awareness.

Teamwork? Not so much
Not that there is anyone out there who isn’t struggling. Software giant Microsoft, which has been heavily promoting its Teams conferencing service the past week, is also having issues.

Microsoft Teams gets off to a wobbly start as the world and its cat starts working from home
READ MORE
Faced with the flood of people this morning, with depressingly inevitability, the service fell over. It appears to have partially recovered, although it is still producing a high and steady stream of outage reports. You have to wonder whether people simply abandoned the service and switched to something else if they couldn’t log in.

Based on the imperfect system of reports to DownDetector and the number of mentions of outages on social media, it would appear that Google has largely managed to deal with demand – an improvement from late last week. And granddaddy of video conferencing, Cisco’s Webex is also handling the load well this morning.

But it is very hard to get a clear picture without the companies’ actual stats – and they currently have zero intent of sharing that information.

Outages on video conferencing services. Can you see a pattern?

But all that comes before the inevitable issues with getting people communicating over their phones and computers. Not just the social aspect of it but, of course, everyone’s microphone and video settings.

The sound of the United States this morning: “Can everyone hear me? Can everyone mute if they’re not talking? Whoever has dogs, could they please move or turn off their mic?”

Read Original Article…

Hackers are spreading misinformation including fake live maps of areas hit by Coronavirus disaster to spread Azorult malware.
There is probably no such calamity or crisis that cybercriminals would spare from exploiting for their personal gains and health disasters have become their most valuable commodities of late. Previously, we witnessed cybercriminals exploiting global events such as the Football World Cup, Christmas or disasters like missing Malaysia Plane (MH-370) to spread malware or misguide masses.

However, the Coronavirus health epidemic is the current favorite of cybercriminals. In January this year, HackRead.com’s Waqas reported how cybercriminals were using the Coronavirus disaster to spread fear and infect users’ devices with Emotet banking trojan.

Now, according to the IT security researchers at Reason Labs, hackers are exploiting the growing trend of researching and finding out more about the COVID-19 disease, aka coronavirus. They are using this curiosity to drop malware.

In a blog post, researchers explained that hackers are launching attacks through infected websites offering information on the disease. The sites are infected with Azorult malware, which is a data-stealing malware discovered in 2016.

These websites compel the user to download an application to stay updated on the latest news about the virus. Interestingly, this application is not installed but presents a map that reveals how the virus is spreading across the globe. This malicious map generates a binary file called CoronaMap.exe that gets installed on the victim’s device.

Hackers using fake live Coronavirus map to spread malware
Fake domain running fake live Coronavirus map (Image via Reason Lab)

As the internet offers a plethora of information on the rapidly spreading virus, innocent users are most likely to click on the wrong/malicious links and get their login credentials including usernames and passwords and financial information exposed or even hacked. Whatever information is stored on their browser will be stolen by hackers including cryptocurrencies.

It must be noted that there are genuine maps available that can be used to track coronavirus but the version hackers are using have fake URLs and their details also differ from the original source. Currently, the malware mainly targets Windows-based systems but Alfasi believes that a new version will soon be launched to infect different devices.

Read Original Article…

Big Tech has become notorious for its hoarding of its users’ personal data, collected with great breadth and down to minute details. Billions have been paid by online platforms to settle legal charges over their invasive and reckless privacy follies. Facebook in particular is associated with this, especially after a series of major scandals involving leaks or hacks of personal data. But Google is inarguably the greediest of these companies in its data collection, to an extent that can surprise even jaded users. This makes sense economically, since the collection of data is a key part of the network effect of online search—more searches and click data mean algorithms that deliver more accurate searches, attracting more users and searches, in the familiar positive feedback cycle of what economists call “network effects.”

From early days, Google held onto all the data it could get its hands on—who searched for what, what kind of results were likely desired, where searches came from, and so on. A major step in this was the release of Google’s email service, Gmail. It caused a large stir itself as users learned the free, high-storage email service served ads on-screen that were targeted to the user by scanning the text of their emails. The scanning was conducted automatically by software algorithms similar to those used to filter out spam from inboxes, but the company was completely unprepared for the backlash, not realizing that their huge scale and power made such moves feel creepier. However the service had a crucial ancillary benefit for the company—it required a login. With that, Google could cross-reference people’s email data with their search history on Google and their YouTube platform (which also required login to post video), along with precise location data from Maps and GPS data from phones running Android—the beginning of its program to synthesize its data into comprehensive individual profiles.

But the real turning point was the acquisition of the major display ad agency DoubleClick, which brought pivotal changes to the company’s “cookies.” Cookies are pieces of software planted on your computer or phone by sites as you browse the Web, recording where you’ve been for the purpose of presenting ads you’re likely to be interested in. Cookies are now stupendously widespread—visiting a typical websites like CNN or dictionary.com can put dozens of them on your PC or phone.

Google’s AdSense system had always used these cookies, but the escalation was dramatic, as Wired’s pro-industry reporter Steven Levy wrote covered in his book In the Plex. He reported that the company gained “an omniscient cookie that no other company could match.” As a user browses, the cookie:

develops into a rather lengthy log that provides a fully fleshed out profile of the user’s interests…virtually all of it compiled by stealth. Though savvy and motivated consumers could block or delete the cookies, very few knew about this possibility and even fewer took advantage of it. The information in the DoubleClick cookie was limited, however. It logged visits only to sites that ran DoubleClick’s display ads, typically large commercial websites. Many sites on the Internet were smaller ones that didn’t use big ad networks…Millions of those smaller sites, however, did use an advertising network: Google’s AdSense. AdSense had its own cookie, but it was not as snoopy as DoubleClick’s. Only when the user actually clicked on an ad would the AdSense cookie log the presence of the user on the site. This ‘cookie on click’ process was lauded by privacy experts…Google now owned an ad network whose business hinged on a cookie that peered over the shoulder of users as it viewed their ads and logged their travels on much of the web. This was no longer a third-party cookie; DoubleClick was Google. Google became the only company with the ability to pull together user data on both the fat head and the long tail of the Internet. The question was, would Google aggregate that data to track the complete activity of Internet users? The answer was yes…after FTC regulators approved the DoubleClick purchase, Google quietly made the change that created the most powerful cookie on the Internet. It did away with the AdSense cookie entirely and instead arranged to drop the DoubleClick cookie when someone visited a site with an AdSense ad…Now Google would record users’ presence when they visited those sites. And it would combine that information with all the other data in the DoubleClick cookie. That single cookie, unique to Google, could track a user to every corner of the Internet.

Amazingly, Google co-founder Sergei Brin dismissed fears about this mega-cookie as “more of the Big Brother type,” meaning exaggerated. But even that might be putting a positive gloss on today’s data hoarding—Lawrence Lessig, who has defended the company in areas like its book scanning, noted that in Orwell’s book 1984 where Big Brother was introduced, at least the characters “knew where the telescreen was…In the Internet, you have no idea who is being watched by whom. In a world where everything is surveilled, how to protect privacy?”

And in 2016, Google went even further by changing its terms of service, asking users to activate new functions that would give them more control over their data, and let Google serve more relevant ads. But what the change did was merge its tracking data with your search history and the personal information in your Gmail/YouTube/Google + accounts, into “super-profiles.” And Google wasn’t done—beside using the mega-cookie to record our browsing history, combined with our search logs and Gmail contents, Google “Now Tracks Your Credit Card Purchases and Connects Them to Its Online Profile of You,” as a recent MIT Technology Review headline indicates. By contracting with third party data firms that track 70% of all credit and debit card purchases, Google can now offer advertisers further confirmation of which ads are working, not just to the point of clicking but to the point of sale.

With its new TOS, Google does let users view some of the data it holds on them, but it takes “an esoteric process of clicks,” as Ken Auletta put it in his book Googled, and again most users are unaware of these issues in the first place, and since we’re opted in, most fail to view their data files. Additionally, each Google service has its own privacy terms and settings, and they change without warning, so we have to be constantly vigilant for their changes and subtleties. And Google joins the tech community in its use of “dark patterns,” repetitive tactics that wear down users into allowing data access. And finally, even opting-out of customization doesn’t end the data collection, just the use of it to target ads to you—your movements, browsing, searching, emailing and credit card buying are all still compiled. In time Google announced it would soon stop the unpopular scanning of Gmail text to place ads—the catch was that the company had enough data on users from its super-profiles that it could personalize them without the scanning.

And for all its hoarding, the pile isn’t secure—Google had allowed software developers to design applications like games for Google +, the company’s unsuccessful attempt to compete with Facebook in social media. But a glitch in the software allowed developers access to private portions of Google + user profiles over a three-year period before its discovery, including full names, email, gender, pictures, locations, occupation and marital status. An internal memo indicates that as with Facebook’s own developer data leaks, there’s no way to know if the data was misused in any way. But most important, Google learned of the issue in spring 2018 but refused to announce or disclose it, fearing “reputational damage” to itself.

Whatever this company is, it rhymes with “shmevil.”

Read Original Article…

A new email-based extortion scheme apparently is making the rounds, targeting Web site owners serving banner ads through Google’s AdSense program. In this scam, the fraudsters demand bitcoin in exchange for a promise not to flood the publisher’s ads with so much bot and junk traffic that Google’s automated anti-fraud systems suspend the user’s AdSense account for suspicious traffic.

A redacted extortion email targeting users of Google’s AdSense program.

Earlier this month, KrebsOnSecurity heard from a reader who maintains several sites that receive a fair amount of traffic. The message this reader shared began by quoting from an automated email Google’s systems might send if they detect your site is seeking to benefit from automated clicks. The message continues:

“Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account undoubtedly! This will happen due to the fact that we’re about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP’s in rotation — a nightmare for every AdSense publisher. More also we’ll adjust our sophisticated bots to open, in endless cycle with different time duration, every AdSense banner which runs on your site.”

The message goes on to warn that while the targeted site’s ad revenue will be briefly increased, “AdSense traffic assessment algorithms will detect very fast such a web traffic pattern as fraudulent.”

“Next an ad serving limit will be placed on your publisher account and all the revenue will be refunded to advertisers. This means that the main source of profit for your site will be temporarily suspended. It will take some time, usually a month, for the AdSense to lift your ad ban, but if this happens we will have all the resources needed to flood your site again with bad quality web traffic which will lead to second AdSense ban that could be permanent!”

The message demands $5,000 worth of bitcoin to forestall the attack. In this scam, the extortionists are likely betting that some publishers may see paying up as a cheaper alternative to having their main source of advertising revenue evaporate.

The reader who shared this email said while he considered the message likely to be a baseless threat, a review of his recent AdSense traffic statistics showed that detections in his “AdSense invalid traffic report” from the past month had increased substantially.

The reader, who asked not to be identified in this story, also pointed to articles about a recent AdSense crackdown in which Google announced it was enhancing its defenses by improving the systems that identify potentially invalid traffic or high risk activities before ads are served.

Google defines invalid traffic as “clicks or impressions generated by publishers clicking their own live ads,” as well as “automated clicking tools or traffic sources.”

“Pretty concerning, thought it seems this group is only saying they’re planning their attack,” the reader wrote.

Google declined to discuss this reader’s account, saying its contracts prevent the company from commenting publicly on a specific partner’s status or enforcement actions. But in a statement shared with KrebsOnSecurity, the company said the message appears to be a classic threat of sabotage, wherein an actor attempts to trigger an enforcement action against a publisher by sending invalid traffic to their inventory.

“We hear a lot about the potential for sabotage, it’s extremely rare in practice, and we have built some safeguards in place to prevent sabotage from succeeding,” the statement explained. “For example, we have detection mechanisms in place to proactively detect potential sabotage and take it into account in our enforcement systems.”

Google said it has extensive tools and processes to protect against invalid traffic across its products, and that most invalid traffic is filtered from its systems before advertisers and publishers are ever impacted.

“We have a help center on our website with tips for AdSense publishers on sabotage,” the statement continues. “There’s also a form we provide for publishers to contact us if they believe they are the victims of sabotage. We encourage publishers to disengage from any communication or further action with parties that signal that they will drive invalid traffic to their web properties. If there are concerns about invalid traffic, they should communicate that to us, and our Ad Traffic Quality team will monitor and evaluate their accounts as needed.”

Read Original Article…

As of Monday, there have been 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States and one confirmed death of an American. In addition to those patients, US health officials are currently monitoring hundreds of people across the country for the virus. Those infected with coronavirus are exhibiting pneumonia-like symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Additional resources for tracking the virus include this page from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and another from the WHO. These websites list up to date news on the spread of the virus as well as situation reports and maps of infected areas. Researchers from the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s Hospital and Northeastern University have also launched a virus tracking website with real-time updates.

Coronavirus was first reported to the WHO on Dec. 31, with Chinese investigators linking the disease to the coronavirus family of viruses, which also includes the deadly SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). 

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, has maintained the position that the public risk from coronavirus in the US right now is still considered low. Messonnier said the strategy behind the US response to coronavirus is to slow it down, not stop it. 

“It’s important to know that this strategy is not meant to catch every single traveler returning from China with novel coronavirus,” said Messonnier, at a previous press briefing. “Given the nature of this virus and how it’s spreading, that would be impossible. But working together, we can catch the majority of them.”

Nonetheless, financial markets are on edge amid fears of a global pandemic. The DOW Industrial has crashed and rebounded several times over the last few weeks, and Chinese stocks have plunged as the coronavirus outbreak worsens. 

Individual technology companies have also reported uncertainty surrounding the Chinese market and the impact of the coronavirus. Apple noted in its first-quarter financial results that the coronavirus outbreak in China is affecting operations, and Google has closed offices and limited business travel. There are also concerns that the broader technology supply chain in China will be disrupted by the virus. 

The Mobile World Congress technology conference in Barcelona was canceled due to coronavirus fears and dwindling corporate attendance. A number of high profile companies pulled out of the event before it was canceled — including Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, Intel, Sony, Nvidia, LG and Ericsson — and event organizers preemptively banned all attendees from Hubei province.

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