Over 13000 Vivo phones found to be using same IMEI number

Smartphone’s IMEI is like a digital fingerprint that is unique to each and every device. It is used by the telecom companies to provide network connectivity on a SIM card and since the IMEI number of two devices cannot be the same, it is also used to track and trace lost devices or criminals.

However, in a bizarre case, the police in Meerut, located in Uttar Pradesh has stated that it has found not one but over 13,500 smartphones using the same IMEI number. Identifying this as a severe security issue, the cops have registered a case against the Chinese smartphone maker Vivo.

As per the reports, the case came into highlight after a Sub Inspector from Meerut Police got his smartphone back after repairs that cost him Rs. 2605 in September last year. However, even after the repairs, the phone showed a system error and he later found that the IMEI number of the device was changed.

A case was filed and notices were sent to the smartphone maker and due to the unsatisfactory response from Vivo, a complaint was filed with the cyber cell team. This is when the cyber cell team identified that there were 13,557 different Vivo phones with the same IMEI number operational across the country.

While IMEI number may sound rather irrelevant for a common user, however, it becomes a grave security concern as it makes it impossible for cops to intercept criminals.

Back in 2012, a similar incident was reported when 18,000 phones were found to be using the same IMEI number. Later in 2017, the federal government announced that tampering with the IMEI numbers is a punishable offence. Last year over a lakh stolen phones were found to be using the same IMEI number.

While this can be seen as negligence at the end of the company, the Meerut Police has already started an investigation in this matter. We have also reached out to Vivo and will update this story once we receive any response.

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The Witcher season 2 and The Lord of the Rings shut down over coronavirus

As large parts of the world go into self-isolation to combat the spread of coronavirus, it's been confirmed that production of two more major TV shows is being temporarily shut down. The Witcher season 2, which was filming in the UK, and Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series, filming in New Zealand, are both on hold right now.

Redanian Intelligence, a site that has broken Witcher-related news numerous times, first reported The Witcher's shutdown, with numerous outlets backing up the claim. It makes sense: Netflix previously shut down all production for shows filming in US and Canada, and Redanian Intelligence claims this new shutdown will last for two weeks, which lines up with Netflix's other shutdown notice.

The New Zealand Herald, meanwhile, reported that filming on Amazon's huge The Lord of the Rings series in West Auckland has been suspended for two weeks. Staff have reportedly been told that "there are no clear answers to when we will resume production". 

This is happening everywhere

It's a similar situation with TV shows and movies around the world right now. If there's an ongoing TV show you enjoy that's supposed to be filming right now, it's almost certainly on hold. The Flash? Shut down. Grey's Anatomy? Shut down. Stranger Things season 4? Shut down.

That's just the way things are right now. Whether it affects air dates or release dates of shows is yet to be seen, but the longer this goes on, it's more likely that series are going to be pushed back.

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FBI: Over $140 million handed over to ransomware attackers

By analyzing bitcoin wallets and ransom notes, the FBI has determined that cybercrime victims paid over $ 140m to ransomware operators over the past six years.

At this year's RSA security conference, FBI Special Agent Joel DeCapua presented in his findings during two sessions in which he explained how he was able to use bitcoin wallets and ransom notes collected by the FBI, shared by private partners or found on VirusTotal to figure out how much victims paid in ransom payments.

According to DeCapua, between October 2013 and November 2019, approximately $ 144,350,000 was paid in bitcoins to ransomware actors. However, this figure does not include operation costs related to these attacks but just the ransom payments that were made.

When it came to the most profitable ransomware families, Ryuk brought in the most money for ransomware operators at $ 61.26m followed by Crysis/Dharma at $ 24.48m and Bitpaymer at $ 8.04m. It's worth noting that the actual amount of payments made over these six years is likely much higher as the FBI does not have access to all of the data surrounding ransomware attacks, as many businesses keep them secret to prevent hurting their stock prices.

Defending against ransomware

During his sessions at RSA, DeCapua also provided some tips on how companies and individuals can avoid falling victim to ransomware attacks.

DeCapua revealed that the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is the most common method that ransomware attackers are able to gain access to a network before deploying ransomware. In fact, RDP accounts for 70-80 percent of network breaches which is why he recommends that organizations use Network Level Authentication (NLA) for additional protection. 

With NLA, clients are required to authenticate themselves with the network before they can actually connect to the remote desktop server. This provides increased security against preauthentication exploits though, DeCapua also suggested that unique and complex passwords should be used for RDP accounts.

Additionally, DeCapua suggests that businesses and individuals be careful of phishing attacks, install software and operating system updates, use complex passwords, monitor their networks and have a contingency plan with backups to prevent falling victim to a ransomware attack.

Via BleepingComputer

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Need some running earbuds? Beats Powerbeats 3 deal sees price cut by over 50%

If you're on the hunt for some new running headphones, the Beats Powerbeats 3 are a great choice – and they're currently reduced by over 50% in both the US and the UK. 

In the US, you can get these workout-friendly wireless earbuds for just $ 89, representing a huge saving of $ 111; meanwhile, UK buyers can save £92 on the Powerbeats 3.

Today's best Beats Powerbeats 3 deals

The PowerBeats 3 are well-made and long-lasting, with great audio for fitness headphones; with this deal, they're easy on the wallet, too.

With 12 hours of battery life, and ear hooks to ensure a secure fit, they should stay switched on and comfortable no matter how long or how vigorous your workouts are.

An inline remote means you can click to change the volume of your music, skip tracks, and take calls without reaching for your phone.

These buds have a great bass response, though audiophiles may find the lowest frequencies a little overwhelming; either way you'll enjoy a good level of detail in your music, and that powerful bass is ideal for pushing you through even the toughest workout. 

What about the Powerbeats 4?

That's why we awarded them 3.5 out of 5 stars in our Powerbeats 3 review – they're not perfect, but these buds are brilliant for runners.

We saw similar price drops over Black Friday and the early Christmas sales; they're a little long in the tooth now, which is likely why more retailers are dropping their Powerbeats 3 prices. If you're looking for something a little more contemporary, check out the Beats Powerbeats Pro, which launched last year and come with Apple's most recent headphone chip.

Furthermore, with rumors of a Powerbeats 4 launch on the horizon, it's little wonder that prices for the Powerbeats 3 are starting to drop – we're not expecting these prices to fall much lower in the near future though (unless we see them return to their all-time low of $ 79 in the US), so we'd recommend snapping up this fantastic deal in the meantime.

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Bitdefender wants to protect your device for just over 7 dollars, but there’s a catch

If you're looking for a great deal on security – Bitdefender has extended its Black Friday sale and its Total Security 2020 platform has never been so cheap.

The company is offering a huge 60% discount, which means you pay only $ 35.99 (excluding taxes) for a year's protection instead of the usual $ 89.99. 

That’s about $ 7.20 per device, or just pennies per day, for one of the best security suites on the market.

While there is a VPN tool includes, it's not the best in town for a number of reasons – and we believe you'd be much better off using a standalone service such as  ExpressVPN.

In a nutshell, you get complete protection across up to five of your devices (Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android). The new version includes webcam and anti-ransomware protection and zero system slowdowns, plus dozens of other features.

Just bear in mind that this deal is only valid for the first year and you will likely pay far more going forward. One way to get around the issue is to use a different email on renewal to pass as a new customer. 

We'd recommend leaving the company's Antivirus Plus 2020 and Internet Security 2020 offerings; both of them are fantastic products but will run you $ 12 and $ 4 respectively. With Total Security 2020, you get a much better all-rounder with extra device coverage to boot.

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