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Ransomware attacks have now topped online espionage as a national security threat, according to the head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.
Lindy Cameron told London’s Royal United Services Institute today that while state-backed cyber activity such as online spying and the theft of intellectual property was a “malicious strategic threat to the UK’s national interests”, “the primary key threat is not state actors but cyber criminals”.
Ransomware incidents rose by more than 60 per cent to 305m in 2020, according to data from SonicWall. In the latest case, the clean energy company Invenergy said on Friday that it had been hacked but did “not intend to pay any ransom”, after Russia-linked hacking group REvil threatened to leak embarrassing details about its billionaire chief executive.
On Sunday, President Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin appeared to give separate commitments that they would help one another bring cyber criminals to justice. But while Putin spoke of allowing extraditions to the US, Biden said he would be committed to US criminals being held accountable in America.
In an FT opinion piece, the former head of Britain’s MI6 Alex Younger argues the reality is that many ransomware gangs are in Russia, “and as long as they don’t intrude on Russian interests, they will be left alone”.
At today’s Nato summit, leaders are expected to sign off on a confidential cyber defence strategy, which includes extending existing powers to invoke Nato’s “Article 5” principle of collective defence in cases of cyber attacks,
“[This] will upgrade the defence, political and intelligence dimensions of cyber across the alliance,” said Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser. “And in the communiqué that will be released, there will be a strong commitment to Nato’s emphasis on cyber deterrence and collective defence.”
The Internet of (Five) Things
Vodafone boosts Huawei’s 5G competitors
Open RAN 5G networks allow a multiplicity of suppliers and Vodafone announced on Monday that Samsung Electronics, NEC, Dell and Wind River would help it build Europe’s first commercial open RAN network. They are benefiting from Huawei’s exclusion. The Chinese company has just reported that its UK operating unit’s 2020 revenues fell 27 per cent to £913m. Sony is one company not being helped by Huawei’s decline, with less demand for its image sensors for smartphones.
Big Tech faces smart TV curbs
Google, Amazon and Samsung’s bargaining power with broadcasters is set to be reined in by the UK government through an overhaul of broadcasting rules to guarantee the prominence of public service media such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 on smart televisions. On Friday in the US, the House of Representatives introduced five different bills in the biggest legislative threat to Big Tech in years.
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Global ad boom expected
Global advertising spending is forecast to boom this year, surging a record 14 per cent to an all-time high, as the world economy emerges from the pandemic with a summer of sport and consumer exuberance. Spending by marketers will increase $78bn to $657bn, largely driven by the flourishing digital ad market, according to the Magna research group.
Space trip sold for $28m
A ticket to take a brief trip to space with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos next month has been sold at auction for $28m. The identity of the winning bidder has not yet been made public, nor that of the fourth passenger who will join Bezos and his brother Mark.
Shine taken off Shein
Popular Chinese ecommerce platform Shein, whose big data-driven designs have propelled it to the top of app download charts, is facing complaints from apparel brands that claim it has infringed their intellectual property. In one example, the makers of the iconic Dr Martens boot is suing Shein over a “clear intent to sell counterfeits”, pointing to a “Martin boot” listed on the site.
Tech week ahead
Monday: The US Senate is expected to confirm Big Tech critic Lina Khan as a commissioner on the five-member Federal Trade Commission.
Tuesday: The Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing on Protecting Competition and Innovation in Home Technologies, with Amazon, Google and Sonos answering questions on subsidies for smart speaker products. Oracle reports its fourth-quarter earnings after the market close.
Thursday: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg does an online interview at the VivaTech event in Paris. Adobe reports second-quarter earnings after the market close.
Friday: China kicks off its 618 shopping festival, the country’s second largest online fair, after Alibaba’s Singles Day gala in November. The event started as a promotional campaign launched by retailer JD.com.
Tech tools — Xbox mini-fridge
Microsoft unveiled “a new system that leaves others cold” at its weekend presentation at the E3 games convention. The world’s most powerful mini fridge is neither a joke nor a console. It will be launched during the holiday season and looks like a supersized Series X. Engadget has more.
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