Massive Ransomware Attack Affects Hundreds of Businesses

Software company Kaseya was targeted by a cyberattack starting Friday that has since spread to hundreds of mainly small and medium-size businesses. On Monday, Kaseya chief executive Fred Voccola reported to Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, that the attackers demanded a $70 million ransomware payment and that his company wasn’t aware of any breach of critical infrastructure impacting national security. According to experts, the attackers may be members of REvil, a Russian cybercriminal group. Continue reading Massive Ransomware Attack Affects Hundreds of Businesses

U.S. Offers Incentives for Countries to Avoid China’s 5G Gear

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) is leading a program to encourage nations to avoid gear from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in building their own 5G networks. The workshops on how to do so, combined with a handbook and some financial incentives, are aimed at legislators in Central and Eastern Europe as well as developing countries around the world. The handbook will include case studies of how the United Kingdom, for example, deployed 5G without Chinese equipment. Continue reading U.S. Offers Incentives for Countries to Avoid China’s 5G Gear

Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

The Biden administration has formed the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force with plans to “develop a roadmap to democratize access to research tools that will promote AI innovation and fuel economic prosperity.” The task force, composed of 12 academic, government and industrial members led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will establish the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). The task force is charged with drafting a strategy to create an AI research system about Americans and finding enough computing power to analyze the data.  Continue reading Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Facebook revealed that former President Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform would last for at least two years. Trump will be eligible for reinstatement on the social network in January 2023, before the next U.S. presidential election. At that time, experts will decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded.” Further violations would trigger “rapidly escalating sanctions” and potentially a permanent suspension. The company also announced that it would end its policy of treating the posts of world leaders and other politicians differently than those of other Facebook users. Continue reading Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

The FBI is investigating 100 ransomware variants, stated director Christopher Wray, who revealed that many of them trace back to Russian hackers. He noted that the cyberattacks share “a lot of parallels … a lot of importance, and a lot of focus by us on disruption and prevention” with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most recently, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline cost its operators $4.4 million to regain control and restore services (however, federal authorities recovered $2.3 million in cryptocurrency yesterday). Another attack targeted JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company.  Continue reading FBI Director Raises Alarm Over Ransomware Threats to U.S.

Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

Russia’s Internet regulator, Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), has increased demands that Facebook, Google and Twitter remove “illegal” content and restore blocked pro-Kremlin content or face restrictions. Since anti-Kremlin protesters used the platforms more recently, Roskomnadzor has upped the frequency of its demands. This week it told Google to block “thousands of pieces of illegal content” or risk throttling. A Russian court also fined Google six million rubles ($81,000) for not removing another piece of content. Continue reading Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

U.S. Takes Steps Against Russian and Chinese Cyberattacks

Blaming Russia for attacks that interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, President Biden imposed new sanctions on 32 entities and individuals in that country. Although sanctions will make it more difficult to partake in the global economy, the White House did not immediately limit Russia’s ability to borrow money on the global market. Biden noted he “chose to be proportionate” and “is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia.” The FBI has also recently taken strong steps to stop Chinese hacking. Continue reading U.S. Takes Steps Against Russian and Chinese Cyberattacks

Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

President Joe Biden is working on a draft executive order to require companies doing business with the federal government to report hacks within a few days. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated the order would also require the companies to use data encryption and two-factor authentication and would combat ransomware and improve protection for industrial control systems, transportation and election security. The SolarWinds hack has prompted the government to pay closer attention to cybersecurity. Continue reading Biden to Issue Executive Order Upgrading U.S. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

Russia and China recently ran sophisticated hacks from servers inside the United States, going undetected by the National Security Agency, which is prohibited from conducting surveillance in the U.S., as well as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Private computer security firms were the first to raise the alarm on these foreign attacks, and Microsoft reported that its patches are being reverse-engineered by criminal groups to launch ransomware attacks on corporations. The White House is paying attention. Continue reading Cybersecurity: White House Pursues Public-Private Alliances

After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

The SolarWinds hack invaded at least nine U.S. government agencies and 100+ corporations. Now, Microsoft is at odds with Dell Technologies and IBM on the best way to secure data. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated that “cloud migration is critical to improving security maturity,” but the other two companies opine that a hybrid cloud and on-premise data storage is preferable. Smith stated that all the breached accounts Microsoft identified involved on-premise systems and that a hybrid system is more vulnerable to attacks. Continue reading After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

In December, suspected Russian hackers compromised SolarWinds Corp., a small software vendor, leveraging it to infiltrate the U.S. departments of Commerce, State and Treasury, as well as numerous private companies. An in-depth investigation revealed that the hack’s scope was larger than first known, with about one-third of those hacked having no direct connection with SolarWinds. Now, the Biden administration has selected White House National Security Council senior official Anne Neuberger to lead the response. Continue reading White House Names Official to Lead Probe of Expansive Hack

Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

Spotify Technology SA posted unexpectedly strong subscription growth during Q4 2020, to 345 million monthly active users, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Paid subscriptions grew 24 percent above the same period last year to 155 million. But average revenue per subscriber fell 8 percent to €4.26 ($5.13) due to discounted plans and lower rates in India and Russia. The company’s 2021 outlook takes into account that such growth could diminish in 2021. Shares of the company fell 9 percent to $315. Continue reading Spotify Reports Q4 Subscriber Growth, Focuses on Podcasts

EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

The European Union is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, even as it scrutinizes proposals targeting U.S. Big Tech behavior and, in some cases, business models in an effort to reestablish itself as the “global tech cop.” Although the Electoral College has yet to convene and vote and inauguration day isn’t until January 20, the European Commission and Council are already issuing policy papers on how they hope to partner with the new U.S. administration on numerous issues. Continue reading EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

At a Senate Judiciary Committee, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey reported that their companies made improvements in blocking misinformation during the 2020 presidential election, compared to their inability to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said both companies will face modifications to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them from liability for user-posted content, and the two chief execs expressed cautious support for the idea. Continue reading Facebook, Twitter Chief Execs Support Section 230 Changes

MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

The Motion Picture Association submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative stating that VPNs, DNS masks and Tor networks can be a direct threat to legitimate streaming services. MPAA membership has been limited to top Hollywood studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. but that changed last year when Netflix joined. The mission, however, remains the same, which is to deter global piracy. The association goes after copyright infringers, be they site owners or app developers, and is also involved in lobbying. Continue reading MPAA Reports on Threat of Geolocation Piracy to Streaming

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