#WhatTheTech 18

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
30 August 2019

We’ve handpicked some tech/security-related news stories from the past week, in case you missed them.

Instagram phishing scam 
Instagram has been hit by a phishing scam that uses a fake Two-factor authentication (2FA) email request.

2FA adds an additional layer of security by asking for not only a password, but also a second aspect such as a passcode or pin number, or a biometric factor such as a fingerprint or facial scan. This process is designed to make it harder for hackers to gain access to accounts or personal information, as knowing the password alone is not enough. Unless, of course, the hackers are actually the creators of the fraudulent 2FA.

Researchers recently discovered the crafty phishing scam, which uses a fake 2FA email request to deceive Instagram users into entering their log-in credentials. The contrived email reads, “Someone tried to log in to your Instagram account. If this wasn’t you, please use the following code to confirm your identity”, followed by a six-digit code to be entered after the victim clicks on a link leading to a fake log-in page. 

The link, unfortunately, leads to a malicious domain that convincingly impersonates the real Instagram log-in page, complete with a valid HTTPS certificate. 

The irony of utilising a cybersecurity process for malicious behaviour is quite unsettling – should we now even be wary of the systems built to protect us online?

RBS and Natwest websites down
On Tuesday, major UK banks, RBS and Natwest, were inaccessible online from 09:00 BST. The disruption lasted for 7 hours on RBS’ website, and 9 hours for Natwest’s online banking. 

RBS, which also owns Natwest, suggested that customers use other methods to access their accounts, such as ATMs, mobile apps, going into a branch, or telephone banking. A spokesperson for RBS said at the time, “We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Data published last week revealed that the RBS group has had the most accessibility problems in the past three months.

Both websites are now working as normal, but RBS has not explained the cause of the problem.

Google apps banned on new Huawei
Chinese company Huawei will be launching it’s latest phone, the Mate 30 Pro, in the next few weeks. But there will be something missing – access to all Google apps.

As a result of a US government ban on Huawei sales, apps like Google Maps and YouTube will no longer be licensed, Google has confirmed. Without access to the Google Play app store, customers will be unable to download popular apps, which may lead to a struggle in sales, analysts suggest.

However, the Android operating system is open for any manufacturer to offer it on their smartphone/tablet – companies just need an agreement with Google to include their popular apps. So far, Google has not revealed whether it has applied for permission to offer it’s apps to Huawei.

Huawei commented, “Huawei will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the US government allows us to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.”

Will customers really want a smartphone without access to apps that we use daily?

Apple Macbook No
Thinking of travelling with a MacBook Pro? You might want to check if your airline allows it first.

Virgin Australia and Qantas Airways have both issued similar prohibited item rules surrounding 15-inch Apple Macbook Pros. The Macbooks are prohibited from the cargo hold and those travelling in the cabin as hand luggage must be turned off for the entire flight. 

This new rule comes after a worldwide recall of a number of Apple MacBook batteries in June, but it applies even to Macbook Pros that haven’t been subject to the recall. 

Apple issued a warning stating that 15-inch Pros sold between September 2015 and February 2017 “contain a battery that may overheat and pose a safety risk”.

Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways have followed suit and also banned the device.

We’ll be back next week with more tech news!

Watch our tech news roundup here!

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