Instagram releases wellbeing toolkit for teens

Plus, Trickbot learns a new trick and Robinhood faces over 30 lawsuits regarding GameStop stock restrictions

With over a billion monthly users, Instagram is among the most popular social networks worldwide. People of all ages flock to the platform, many of them teenagers. In order to guide its teen users to the most balanced, positive experience they can have, Instagram has released the “Addressing the Pressure to Be Perfect” toolkit, which teens and their parents can use to create a self-awareness that protects them from both creating and falling victim to a toxic environment on the platform.

The toolkit addresses teens directly, but it also includes parent guides for each section. Among the topics covered in the toolkit are support for wellbeing, creating a positive image, balancing time, and privacy tips.

Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons calls it a step in the right direction. “This toolkit is really great,” he said. “It addresses a real issue that exists for which there is no technical solution – our psychological wellness while using social media. On top of that, it is important to cover all the bases, and educating about privacy is probably the most important one.” For privacy tips that go beyond Instagram, see our Avast tips to refresh your online privacy and our comprehensive privacy tips for parents

Trickbot adds ability to scan networks

A new evolution in the persistent Trickbot malware allows it to scan the infected system’s network in search of more vulnerable systems to attack. The updated malware uses the open source Masscan tool to map the victim’s local network, searching for open ports, which it then reports back to its command and control center. Trickbot first appeared in 2016 as a banking trojan that initially just stole data. Over time, its attacks began to entail dropping malware as well. We listed Trickbot as one of the five biggest web threats to managed networks last year, and we were not the only ones who understood the danger. Both Microsoft and the US Cyber Command attempted to take down Trickbot in the fall of 2020, but the malware was too slippery. For more on this new strain, see Bleeping Computer

BBB warns against posting pix of vaccination card

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to be administered around the world, the US Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises against sharing photos of vaccination cards on social media. In a news release last week, the BBB reminded the public that the COVID-19 vaccination cards contain self-identifying information that can open one up to identity theft. The patient’s full name, birthday, and local vaccine administration information are all plain to see on the card. In this age of excited shares on social media, the BBB suggested everyone simply share their vaccination stickers instead, which are given out like voting stickers. In addition to identity theft, photos of vaccination cards can provide bad actors with an official template to create phony cards, which could in turn wreak havoc on the entire vaccination process. 

The danger of social media algorithms

According to a Vox article published last week, the sophisticated algorithms used by social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are programmed primarily to keep users on the associated platform, with no regard for truth, balance, or mental wellness. The AI that powers the algorithms is optimized to keep the user’s mind (and eyes) engaged, for better or for worse. The article’s author concedes that this protocol is not innately bad-intentioned, as it leads some users to learn more about harmless topics in which they’re interested, but it is decidedly not well-intentioned, as it will provide whatever content it calculates will keep the user glued to the screen. Avast advises all users to be aware that these algorithms are always at work, whether the content being shown is truthful, false, harmless, or divisive. One protective measure users can take is to follow our practical daily tasks to reclaim privacy on Facebook

Robinhood faces over 30 class-action lawsuits 

Stock-trading app Robinhood placed restrictions on its users who wanted to buy GameStop shares, sending many of them into a fury and resulting in more than 30 class-action lawsuits against the company. Citing an impossible-to-meet demand for funds needed to back the transactions, Robinhood limited its users only to holding or selling their Gamestop stocks – nobody was permitted to buy. The company’s CEO will testify before the US Congress on February 18th regarding the matter. Read more on PCMag.

This week’s ‘must-read’ on The Avast Blog

Our current system lacks official fact checkers for much of the content that we consume online. This holds us, as consumers, responsible for doing the fact-checking ourselves. Find out how to prepare yourself to take on the scrolling masses with this set of fact-checking tips.

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