Cyberthreat Roundup: School Attacks, Social Media Hacks, and Janet Jackson Crashing your Computer

Kids are back in school, and summer is winding down, but ongoing cyberthreats remain a constant issue regardless of the season. From students to small business owners and just about everyone in between, identity theft, fraud, and other concerns related to modern digital life dominate headlines and cause understandable worry. In this post, we’ll examine a handful of the latest cybersecurity problems worth exploring to keep you informed and up to date. 

School Districts in the Crosshairs

Just in time for the start of the school year comes reports of a ransomware incident affecting one of the largest school districts in the US. The Los Angeles Unified School District was hit with a ransomware attack over Labor Day weekend. The district has nearly a half million students and over a thousand schools, making it the second largest district in the country. Administrators stated that they noticed suspicious network activity leading up to the attack before publicly announcing that a ransomware incident had occurred. The district released a statement saying that “while the District’s ability to intercept the attack by deactivating all our systems was the swift, decisive and prudent action to avoid catastrophic breach, the recovery from the disruption has proven more challenging than initially anticipated.”

A ransomware group called the Vice Society has claimed responsibility for this attack, and this group has a history of targeting educational institutions and related entities. This incident is alarming because of the amount of data stolen and its potential impact on students and staff now at risk for future fraud. The district took immediate steps to attempt to regain access to its systems, but ongoing issues still need to be completely resolved. Among these were challenges in resetting passwords that allow students and staff to access school district websites. The Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and local officials have all been involved in responding to the incident. Details of what specific data was compromised or a dollar amount for a ransom have not yet been revealed. 

TikTok Denies Hack but Social Media Privacy Issues Remain

In other recent headlines is a disputed report that the popular social media platform TikTok had been hacked, potentially exposing information on billions of records. These reports started to surface around the first few days of September on data breach forums and Twitter, prompting TikTok to make a statement claiming that there was no evidence of a breach. Before this response, an individual posted screenshots of the stolen data in a forum and claimed to have taken 2 billion records from a TikTok database. TikTok disputes that this claim is authentic but has still encouraged users to change their passwords and enable two-factor authentication just to be safe. 

This incident, or alleged incident depending on who you believe, once again highlights the privacy issues inherent to virtually all of the major social media platforms. TikTok has been involved in a previous privacy scandal involving exposed user data from its parent company in China, so it’s difficult to blindly accept its claims that news of this recent breach is entirely false. Professional analysis of the supposed stolen data has proven inconclusive as well, meaning there really isn’t strong evidence on either side to know if the hack is authentic or if TikTok is trying to save face. Still, the incident demonstrates that social media remains a constant target because of the troves of data that the platforms hold on billions of users. 

Other recent news involving social media includes a $402 million fine handed out to Instagram for failing to protect the data of children. The fine was imposed by Ireland’s data privacy regulator and came after nearly a two-year investigation into the platform concerning users aged 13 to 17. This revealed that minors using Instagram were allowed to open and manage business accounts, exposing their personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers. Meta, the parent company of Instagram, is appealing this decision and claims their updated settings in recent months are designed to keep children safe and prevent their personal information from being displayed. 

Classic Janet Jackson Jam Brings Down the House – and Your Computer  

For a little light-hearted twist on digital dilemmas comes the revelation that a popular Janet Jackson song can crash computers. You read that right. Microsoft’s chief software engineer, Raymond Chen, recently discussed this quirky issue showing that a specific audio frequency in Jackson’s hit song Rhythm Nation can crash older laptops. This problematic frequency interferes with the hard drives that spin at 5400 rpm. 

Computer manufacturers realized this potential issue years ago and created a special filter in the audio systems of specific laptops to remove the frequencies, but it turns out not every computer received the update. Janet Jackson reposted a video on her Instagram account showing several computers going dark when Rhythm Nation is played through the speakers. Most tech issues make you cringe, but it’s hard not to smile at this one. 

Apple Unveils New Security and Privacy Features with iOS 16

Apple recently released iOS 16, the newest operating system for iPhone and iPad users. With it comes a few noteworthy security and privacy features designed to keep user data and information better protected. 

Safety Check is one of these features that allows iPhone users to easily reset all of the data and location access information they have given to others. Apple states that the feature was created with people in domestic violence situations in mind and allows you to easily reset or change data sharing options from the Settings menu. The other new feature is Emergency Reset, which allows you to stop sharing all data and information with all apps and other people in seconds. This also lets a user reset their Apple ID and password to prevent others from logging into their account, and they can also remove emergency contacts from the device and account if desired. These features are intriguing advancements in personal data security and are already proving to be welcomed innovations. 

LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.

*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.