February is a busy month for those of a romantic nature, as people around the world look to secure gifts, restaurant reservations, and accommodation for Valentine’s Day on the 14th. But scammers are busy, too, as they look to exploit people’s best intentions. Elsewhere, we reveal how cyber criminals are moving away from targeting more traditional Microsoft products, as the company tries to close security holes in its products. And we also uncover the month’s biggest data breaches, whilst also bringing you an update on Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki, the man accused of Finland’s notorious Vastaamo data breach.
In July 2022, Microsoft changed the default behavior of Office apps to block macros (a popular route of infecting users). But scammers have now shifted their attention to Microsoft’s note-taking app, OneNote. And F‑Secure Researcher Amit Tambe has seen attacks using OneNote documents increase by a factor of three in 2023.
An employee of Reddit fell for a phishing attack in early February, which then allowed criminals to steal internal data. Reddit said that the stolen data affected current and former employees and claimed user data was not compromised. Joel Latto, F‑Secure Security Advisor, praised Reddit’s response, but also highlighted that early confidence can sometimes be misplaced.
F‑Secure detected a significant rise in dating scams spread through spam as February 14th approached. Romance scams work in predictable ways, with criminals using fake or stolen photos to establish an attractive identity and build the fantasy of a romantic relationship. Patricia Dacuno, Senior Researcher at F‑Secure, reveals some tips on how to spot these scams.
Julius “Zeekill” Kivimäki faces extradition to Finland from France to face eight charges related to the hacking, extortion and leaking of the mental health records of over 30,000 patients from the now bankrupt Vastaamo Psychotherapy Center. Laura Kankaala, F‑Secure’s Threat Intelligence Lead, called the Vastaamo story a “tragedy”.
Our monthly F‑Alert threat reports guide you through the biggest cyber security stories as they develop around the world. Delivering what matters most when it comes to protecting your data and devices.
Every month F‑Alert tells you what’s happening in cyber security. Even more importantly, we tell you why it’s happening. And our experts provide simple advice to help secure your digital moments.