Security News

Japan invests in AI matchmaking

Avast Security News Team, 11 December 2020

Plus, CISA warns that certain GE hospital equipment is at risk and a UK regulator wants to keep big tech in line

In response to a falling birth rate over the past 3 years, the Japanese government has allocated 2 billion yen to subsidize new and ongoing AI matchmaking throughout the country in 2021. The funds will be distributed to local authorities as part of a national effort to combat low birth rates. According to the BBC, the country’s population is projected to drop from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million over the next 80 years. 

Officials believe the AI will match people on a deeper level than human matchmakers can, but Sachiko Horiguchi, a socio-cultural and medical anthropologist at Japan’s Temple University, believes the money would better help the birth rate problem if it went towards helping low-income earners. Horiguchi argues that if the population is not interested in dating in the first place, matchmaking systems will be ineffective. Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons agreed, commenting, “There are academics all around the world that have been studying the reasons for birth rate decreases in prosperous countries. None of them have blamed the lack of matchmaking abilities from human beings as the culprit of the situation. There are many cases where AI will be the answer, but it won’t make a difference if we’re asking the wrong questions.” 

More countries begin rolling out citizen IDs

The pandemic has spurred many technologically underdeveloped countries to begin working toward national registries of their citizens using an open source ID platform called MOSIP. Researchers in India built MOSIP based on the country’s effective Aadhaar system, which assigns all citizens a digital ID number. Aadhaar was revered for being so effective in the early days of the pandemic when the Indian government used it to distribute $1.5 billion to the bank accounts of 30 million citizens. Morocco, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Guinea, Sri Lanka, the Ivory Coast, Togo, and Tunisia are all hoping to set up MOSIP systems over the next few years. For more, see the article in The Economist.

CISA warns about GE medical equipment flaw 

In an advisory this week, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned about a dangerous vulnerability present in a series of over a dozen GE Healthcare imaging and ultrasound products used in hospitals. The vulnerability is viewed as dangerous because it is very easy to exploit. The products all share a default password that personnel must use to perform maintenance duties on the devices. The problem is that the default password is easy for anyone to find, and it allows hackers to expose sensitive data and manipulate patient health information. Compounding the problem, hospital staffs themselves cannot change the default password. Instead, they must contact GE Healthcare support to have the credentials changed. According to Ars Technica, GE Healthcare will eventually provide patches and additional information about the problem.

UK watchdog CMA puts big tech on notice

New UK tech regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has suggested to the British government that it must be granted the power to levy great fines on big tech enterprises in order to keep the digital marketplace fair and balanced for smaller companies. The organization proposed a maximum fee of 10% of worldwide turnover for any company that breaches the CMA’s code of conduct. Last year, Google made $160 billion in worldwide revenues and Facebook made $70.6 billion. Read more at The Guardian

Internationally wanted cybercriminal gets sentenced in France

41-year-old Russian national Alexander Vinnik was sentenced in Paris this week to five years in prison and €100,000 in fines for laundering money for cybercriminals, including ransomware gangs. Vinnik faced a much larger sentence for the creation and distribution of Locky ransomware, but he was acquitted of those charges. Founder of the defunct BTC-e currency exchange business, Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017, which triggered a year-long extradition war. Authorities in Russia, the U.S., and France all requested Vinnick be sent to their country to face charges. Learn more at ZDNet

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

The time has come for us to take a look at what 2021 holds within the world of cybersecurity and malicious online activity. Our team has rounded up a handful of predictions for next year that include Covid-19 vaccination scams and the abuse of weak home office infrastructures. Read more in our full list of 2021 predictions.