Security News

Parents of tech-savvy teens save thousands

Avast Security News Team, 9 October 2020

Plus, the IRS is under investigation and Tesla says goodbye to reporters forever

Cybersecurity researchers in U.K. compared the data collected from 2,664 teens with current IT freelancer rates and calculated that households containing a tech-savvy teenager saved an average of about $5,300 a year in troubleshooting, tech support, and digital labor costs.

Interviewing teens on the nature and length of any and all tech tasks they’ve done for their parents over the last 12 months, the researchers learned that parents largely needed help with social media, email problems, and video editing more than anything else. Other tasks included copywriting, data entry, graphic design, computer security, document generation, and online selling. The teens reported that much of the needed advice concerned the navigation of Zoom or Skype video calls. More than 70% surveyed said their parents chose to ask them for help instead of calling their company’s IT agent. Read more of this story on PCMag

IRS under investigation for illegally tracking Americans

The Criminal Investigations unit of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is under fire for not securing warrants before purchasing and using location data harvested by mobile apps to track and identify criminal suspects. In a letter to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Senators Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren demanded a formal investigation into the warrantless tracking. Citing the action as a breach of the Fourth Amendment, the senators write “The IRS is not above the law and the agency’s lawyers should never provide IRS-CI investigators with permission to bypass the courts and engage in warrantless surveillance of Americans.”

Stalking cases on the rise during pandemic

In a new Cosmopolitan investigation, several recent stalking cases are examined in detail, each with its own specific story, but all sharing a common theme – the victims were rarely taken seriously by law enforcement. While victims get persistently tormented by their stalker, each time they report it to the police, it’s seen as a single incident and not treated as a persistent threat. In England and Wales, 21% of women surveyed said they had been stalked in their adult lives. Paladin, a UK stalking advocacy service, reported a 40% increase in calls since lockdown began. Modern methods allow stalkers to use technology for tracking and tracing. As a resource to potential stalking victims, Avast has advice on how to spot the signs of stalkerware on your phone and how to keep stalkerware at bay

New Facebook info delays congressional Big Tech report

An investigative report on Big Tech which was due earlier this week to Congress has been delayed twice – firstly due to new learnings about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and secondly due to some Republican members who want to add more comments. The report, which focuses specifically on Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, was commissioned in June 2019 as a bipartisan effort to find potential areas for reform in the U.S. antitrust laws. Just before the report’s release, a whistleblower gave the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust new information regarding the Instagram acquisition. The nature of that new information has not yet been made public. Read more of this story on CNBC

Tesla disbands PR department

Electric vehicle blog Electrek reported that Tesla has dissolved its public relations department, leaving no point of contact for press or media outfits. The blog states, “The move has been confirmed to Electrek at the highest levels of Tesla, with the source saying, ‘We no longer have a PR Team.’” Tesla has not responded to press inquiries for several months because, according to Electrek, the last person to leave the PR/communications department at Tesla departed in December 2019. Other PR personnel were shifted to new roles. There seem to be still a few PR managers in Tesla’s European and Asian operations, but the core global team working out of the U.S. has been dissolved.  

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

Technology has made it possible for millions of children to comply with social distancing by providing a means for them to see family, socialize, and even go to school. But technology isn’t immune to the problems of the physical world. According to a new survey from Avast, one third of children under the age of 12 in the U.S. (32%) have had bad experiences online during lockdown.