TECHNOLOGY

Weekender

Apple closes all stores outside China

The company also asks employees to work from home in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.
Hours after Apple moved its annual developers conference online, the company now says it will close all of its stores outside of Greater China on coronavirus worries.

Apple’s stores outside of China will close for the next two weeks.

Apple Stores around the globe will close until March 27, the company said. It also encouraged employees to work from home and said it’s committed $15 million to help with recovery efforts. It’ll also match donations made directly by employees.
“In our workplaces and communities, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted late Friday. In a note posted to Apple’s newsroom, Cook said hourly workers would continue to be paid during the store closures.

Now playing: WWDC 2020 will be online only 1:56
The coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. The virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31 and has been under investigation since. Chinese scientists have linked the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS. The World Health Organization has labeled the coronavirus a pandemic.
The disease has now spread to the US and caused President Donald Trump on Friday to declare a state of emergency. Schools have closed, Broadway theaters have shut down, and various other activities and sporting events have been canceled or delayed. More than 1,600 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US, and there’s still a shortage of tests for the virus.
See also

  • Apple’s WWDC to be online-only this year due to coronavirus
  • Tech shows canceled? Working from home? CNET’s here to talk about it
  • Apple warns coronavirus will hurt iPhone supply and its quarterly revenue

Earlier Friday, Apple said it would hold its Worldwide Developers Conference online only. The event, one of its biggest of the year, is where the company introduces its newest software features for its iPhones, Macs and various other devices. Apple hasn’t yet said when the online conference will be held.
“The current health situation has required that we create a new WWDC 2020 format that delivers a full program with an online keynote and sessions, offering a great learning experience for our entire developer community, all around the world,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. Apple counts 23 million registered developers in more than 155 countries.
Apple is just the latest in a string of companies shifting or canceling events as the coronavirus has spread around the world. Other companies, like the internet giants Facebook and Google, have also canceled their respective developer events, which were planned for the spring. Large organizations too have scuttled their plans, including the annual SXSW music and tech festival in Texas, the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Even Disneyland shut down.

Coronavirus and Apple
Like many companies around the world, the coronavirus has been hurting Apple’s operations. The company last month warned that it likely will miss the quarterly revenue guidance it gave in January. It cited two reasons for the update: The coronavirus was hurting both demand from Chinese customers and production capabilities inside the country. China is one of Apple’s biggest markets and the primary location where its devices like the iPhone are assembled. Because factories are coming online later, there’ll be iPhone shortages around the globe, Apple said.
Apple in late January closed its stores in China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The stores are now all opened, and they won’t be included in the new round of closures. -CNET


How hackers are preying on fears of Covid-19

SECURITY experts say a spike in email scams linked to coronavirus is the worst they have seen in years.
Cyber-criminals are targeting individuals as well as industries, including aerospace, transport, manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare and insurance.
Phishing emails written in English, French, Italian, Japanese, and Turkish languages have been found.
The BBC has tracked five of the campaigns.

The World Health Organsation is being impersonated by many hacking campaigns

Click here for a cure
Researchers at the cyber-security firm Proofpoint first noticed a strange email being sent to customers in February. The message purported to be from a mysterious doctor claiming to have details about a vaccine being covered up by the Chinese and UK governments.
The firm says people who click on the attached document are taken to a spoof webpage designed to harvest login details. It says up to 200,000 of the emails are being sent at a time.
“We have seen 35-plus consecutive days of malicious coronavirus email campaigns, with many using fear to convince victims to click,” says Sherrod DeGrippo from the company’s threat research and detection team.
Proofpoint says three to four variations are launched each day.
“It’s obvious these campaigns are returning dividends for cyber-criminals,” says Ms DeGrippo.
The best way to see where a link will take you is to hover your mouse cursor over it to reveal the true web address. If it looks dodgy, don’t click.

Covid-19 tax refund
Researchers at cyber-security firm Mimecast flagged this scam a few weeks ago. On the morning they detected it, they saw more than 200 examples in just a few hours.
If a member of the public clicked on “access your funds now”, it would take them to a fake government webpage, encouraging them to input all their financial and tax information.
“Do not respond to any electronic communication in relation to monies via email,” says Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast. “And certainly do not click on any links in any related message. This is not how HMRC would advise you of a potential tax refund.”

Little measure that saves
Hackers pretending to represent the World Health Organization (WHO) claim that an attached document details how recipients can prevent the disease’s spread.
“This little measure can save you,” they claim.
But Proofpoint says the attachment doesn’t contain any useful advice, and instead infects computers with malicious software called AgentTesla Keylogger.
This records every keystroke and sends it to the attackers, a tactic that allows them to monitor their victims’ every move online.
To avoid this scam, be wary of emails claiming to be from WHO, as they are probably fake. Instead visit its official website or social media channels for the latest advice.

The virus is now airborne
The subject line reads: Covid-19 – now airborne, increased community transmission.
It is designed to look like it’s from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It uses one of the organisation’s legitimate email addresses, but has in fact been sent via a spoofing tool.
Cofense, the cyber-defence provider, first detected the scam and describes it as an example of hackers “weaponising fear and panic”.
It says the link directs victims to a fake Microsoft login page, where people are encouraged to enter their email and password. Then victims are redirected to the real CDC advice page, making it seem even more authentic. Of course, the hackers now have control of the email account.
Cofense says the combination of a “rather good forgery” and a “high stress situation” make for a potent trap.
One way to protect yourself is to enable two-factor authentication, so that you have to enter a code texted or otherwise provided to you, to access your email account.

Donate here to help the fight
This example was reported to malware experts Kaspersky. The fake CDC email asks for donations to develop a vaccine, and requests payments be made in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
The premise is of course ridiculous, but the email address and signature look convincing.
Overall, Kaspersky says it has detected more 513 different files with coronavirus in their title, which contain malware.
“We expect the numbers to grow, of course, as the real virus continues to spread,” says David Emm, principal security researcher at the firm. –BBC

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