Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference & disinformation.
The FBI and law enforcement in Europe have shut down a major ransomware operation accused of extorting more than $100 million from organizations across the world by encrypting victims’ computer systems and demanding payments to provide a key to unlock them, U.S. officials said Thursday. The Washington Post
BuzzFeed said it would rely on ChatGPT creator OpenAI to enhance its quizzes and personalize some content for its audiences, becoming the latest digital publisher to embrace artificial intelligence. The Wall Street Journal
The FBI accused the notorious North Korean hacker group Lazarus of stealing $100 million from a United States-based cryptocurrency firm last year. During a crypto heist at the end of June, Lazarus allegedly hacked Horizon Bridge, a service that allows people to move virtual assets between different blockchain networks and is owned by the blockchain company Harmony. The Record by Recorded Future
FBI shuts down ransomware gang that targeted schools and hospitalsThe Washington PostJoseph Menn, Perry Stein and Aaron SchafferThe FBI and law enforcement in Europe have shut down a major ransomware operation accused of extorting more than $100 million from organizations across the world by encrypting victims’ computer systems and demanding payments to provide a key to unlock them, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Chinese influence operations may lack critical element: influenceCyberScoopChristian VasquezOne of China’s most prolific influence operations has turned out to be spammy, low-quality, and generally results in low engagement, Google’s Threat Analysis Group said after it disrupted more than 50,000 instances of activity from the so-called Dragonbridge network in 2020, according to a report released Thursday.
US federal agencies hacked using legitimate remote desktop toolsTechCrunchCarly PageThe U.S. government’s cybersecurity agency has warned that criminal financially motivated hackers compromised federal agencies using legitimate remote desktop software. CISA said in a joint advisory with the National Security Agency on Wednesday that it had identified a “widespread cyber campaign involving the malicious use of legitimate remote monitoring and management (RMM) software” that had targeted multiple federal civilian executive branch agencies — known as FCEBs — a list that includes Homeland Security, the Treasury and the Justice Department.
U.S. lawsuit against Google could benefit Apple and othersReutersSheila Dang and Diane BartzA landmark lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department against Alphabet's Google over its dominance of advertising technology could help rivals and websites that sell ad space, but leaves an uncertain future for the advertisers themselves, experts told Reuters.
Meta to reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accountsThe New York TimesSheera Frenkel and Mike IsaacJust over two years after Donald J. Trump’s accounts were suspended from Facebook and Instagram, Meta, the owner of the platforms, said on Wednesday that it would reinstate the former president’s access to the social media services.
TikTok’s new defense in Washington: Going on the offenseThe New York TimesCecilia Kang, Sapna Maheshwari and David McCabeTikTok, the popular Chinese-owned video app, has been in the cross-hairs of American regulators for years now, with both the Trump and Biden administrations weighing how to ensure that information about Americans who use the service doesn’t land in the hands of Beijing officials.
FBI: North Korean hacking group Lazarus behind $100 million crypto heistThe Record by Recorded FutureDaryna AntoniukThe FBI accused the notorious North Korean hacker group Lazarus of stealing $100 million from a United States-based cryptocurrency firm last year. During a crypto heist at the end of June, Lazarus allegedly hacked Horizon Bridge, a service that allows people to move virtual assets between different blockchain networks and is owned by the blockchain company Harmony.
Ukraine - Russia
Russia bans largest independent news website MeduzaFinancial TimesMax SeddonMeduza, the largest Russian independent news site, has been declared an “undesirable organisation” in one of the most stringent acts of censorship since President Vladimir Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February.
German cybersecurity officials looking into 'attacks' on websitesSky NewsGermany is looking into digital attacks by hackers targeting websites in the country. The attacks - known as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) - work by directing high volumes of internet traffic towards targeted servers in a bid by so-called hacktivists to knock them offline. "The scope and source of these attacks are currently being clarified," the German interior ministry said.
Elon Musk’s Twitter hit with holocaust denial hate speech lawsuit in GermanyTechCrunchNatasha LomasTwitter owner and self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist” Elon Musk is facing a legal challenge in Germany over how the platform handles antisemitic hate speech. The lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in the Berlin regional court by HateAid, a group that campaigns against hate speech, and the European Union of Jewish Students, argues that Musk-owned Twitter is failing to enforce its own rules against antisemitic content, including holocaust denial.
Don’t use TikTok, Dutch officials are toldPOLITICOPieter HaeckPublic authorities in the Netherlands are being told to steer clear of TikTok amid growing concerns across the EU and U.S. that the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform poses privacy risks.
British cyber agency issues warning over Russian and Iranian espionage campaignsThe Record by Recorded FutureAlexander MartinTwo separate but similar espionage campaigns from Russian and Iranian-linked groups have prompted a warning from Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre. In a document published on Thursday local time the NCSC warned how instead of sending surprise phishing emails, the hacking groups – identified as “Russia-based” SEABORGIUM and “Iran-based” APT42, or Charming Kitten – are contacting their targets in a benign fashion and attempting to build a rapport and a sense of trust.
Facebook offers African moderators a pitiful severanceMail & GuardianLydia NamubiruAbout 200 African content moderators are being laid off by Sama, Meta’s Kenyan subcontractor. This comes after Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to renew Sama’s contract, which expires at the end of March.
Nigeria launches domestic card scheme in cashless bidReutersCamillus EbohNigeria's central bank on Thursday launched a domestic card scheme to rival foreign cards like Mastercard and Visa, hoping to enhance its drive to make Africa's biggest economy a cashless society and save the country foreign transaction fees.
Pro-Iranian hacking group focused on Saudi Arabia, researchers sayCyberScoopAJ VicensIn a report published Thursday, researchers with Secureworks Counter Threat Unit Research Team say they can find no evidence that ties Abraham’s Ax to Hezbollah. Rather, it’s more likely the group is operated by the same entity behind Moses Staff, a hacktivist group that went after Israeli targets with hack-and-leak operations that researchers have previously linked to the Iranian government and Secureworks calls Cobalt Sapling.
Israel’s high-tech economic engine balks at govt policiesAssociated PressTia GoldenbergIsrael’s tech industry has long been the driving force behind the country’s economy. Now, as Israel’s new government pushes ahead with its far-right agenda, the industry is flexing its muscle and speaking out in unprecedented criticism against policies it fears will drive away investors and decimate the booming sector.
NZ & Pacific Islands
Tech companies fly to Fiji for ‘do good’ initiative: Australian Information Industry AssociationThe AustralianDavid SwanThe AIIA’s Pacific Islands Digital Capability Uplift Program, which will take place next month, follows Telstra’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of Digicel Pacific last year, a buy partially funded by the federal government in what was viewed as a political move to counter the rising regional influence of China. The program would deliver on-the-ground training and capability uplift to Pacific countries with a focus on cloud, digital government, digital transformation and cybersecurity fundamentals, Australian Information Industry Association boss Simon Bush said in an interview.
BuzzFeed to use ChatGPT creator OpenAI to help create quizzes and other contentThe Wall Street JournalAlexandra BruellBuzzFeed said it would rely on ChatGPT creator OpenAI to enhance its quizzes and personalize some content for its audiences, becoming the latest digital publisher to embrace artificial intelligence. In a memo to staff sent Thursday morning, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Chief Executive Jonah Peretti said he intends for AI to play a larger role in the company’s editorial and business operations this year.
Europe’s strategic technology autonomy from China: Assessing foundational and emerging technologiesGerman Council on Foreign RelationsDr. Tim RühligOpen Strategic Autonomy in emerging and foundational technologies has rightly been identified as a crucial policy goal in order to preserve the European Union’s capability to act. China is at the centre of this discussion, not least because of increasing geopolitical tensions and China’s growing footprint in digital technologies. What sounds good in abstract terms, however, can be difficult to operationalize. We identify four dimensions of Open Strategic Autonomy: supply chain resilience, national security, values and sustainability, and technological competitiveness. All four dimensions are equally legitimate policy goals but require different policy tools that can at times be conflicting.