Newsletter : CCleaner Compromised By Hackers & Siri Becomes Psychologist

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The advent of computers, and the subsequent accumulation of incalculable data has given rise to a new system of memory and thought parallel to your own. Humanity has underestimated the consequences of computerization.” ~ Puppet Master (Ghost in the Shell)

CONTRARY TO ITS NAME CCLEANER NOW PUTS MALICIOUS CRAP ON YOUR SYSTEM

THE STORY

Cisco Talos confirms compromised download servers leading to a malware attack affecting more than 2 million victims.

WAIT, CRAP CLEANER IS NOW A VIRUS?

Although not intentionally but it is true that CCleaner, a software by Avast Piriform that supposedly cleans all crap files from your system, has also been delivering malware payloads to approximately 2.27 million users. According to Cisco Talos, a digital security intelligence firm based in California, hackers took control of Avast Piriform’s servers and rigged CCleaner to deliver a malware to anyone who downloads the software.

As per an article published on Cisco Talos’ official blog, “Talos recently observed a case where the download servers used by software vendor to distribute a legitimate software package were leveraged to deliver malware to unsuspecting victims. For a period of time, the legitimate signed version of CCleaner 5.33 being distributed by Avast also contained a multi-stage malware payload that rode on top of the installation of CCleaner.”

OKAY, HOW BAD IS THE MALWARE?

According to Cisco Talos, this attack can be identified as a supply chain attack that is meant to disrupt the relation between supplier and customer. Since Crap Cleaner or CCleaner is famous among users as an adept junk cleaning and optimization software, this attack suddenly makes more sense.  

As for the malware itself, it was a virus designed to turn victims’ computers into zombie botnets that could be used as a part of a large scale malware attack. If Talos’ research is correct and plausible, then this attack could have affected a major chunk of users across the globe impacting more than 35,000,000GB data.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT?

Fortunately, the attack might not be as widespread as we might be forced to believe as only paid users would be affected by this. Since the free version of CCleaner doesn’t support automatic updates, they were exempted from the payload and hence are safe. For customers who want to update to the latest version, it was advised by Avast Piriform to manually download the latest version instead of using the in-app updater.


APPLE TRYING TO TURN SIRI INTO A DIGITAL SHRINK

THE STORY

Researchers and engineers at Apple Inc. trying to find ways to enhance Siri’s psychological abilities for use in therapy.

CAN SIRI CURE DEPRESSION?

Well not exactly cure, but Apple researchers are trying to find ways to make Siri a reliable tool for users dealing with depression and loneliness, rather than just being a digital assistant. As users also tend to ask random questions than only specific tasks to Siri, it would certainly be worthwhile if users could get replies and indulge in deep conversations to relieve stress. So if this technology takes shape, you can simply tell Siri if you’re feeling depressed just like you would to a clinical psychologist.

According to the advertisement by Apple,”People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind. They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life.” Therefore Apple’s decision to research with clinical psychology can be a stepping stone towards digital healthcare.

BUT IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?

While this doesn’t sound far-fetched, it is still a unique requirement as far as skillset is concerned. Apple is basically looking for a scientist with professional coding experience and knowledge in clinical psychology and human behavior. And since this would most likely be launched in multiple languages, the employee also needs to be a linguist. Now this is one really specific set of skills we’re talking about and it is certain that it is a long shot.

Despite several hiccups and warnings by the likes of Elon Musk, there has been a steady growth in AI tech users. Gadgets such as smart speakers and digital assistants have found trust among users and adding a bit of medical advice would only expand its utility. So let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this idea turns soon into a real thing.

 

Akshay Peter

Akshay Luke Peters is a writer and blogger for Systweak Software. He likes to write about off-beat topics and technological awareness. He is also part musician who likes to explore the future of technology in entertainment and popular media.

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