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Microsoft and corporate activism

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BOSTON — Artificial intelligence needs to eat, breathe and sleep data to be effective. By that measure, the company…

— or country — with the most data should emerge victorious. But Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, said the idea that data accumulators will rule the world and the rest of us will be powerless is a pessimistic take on what’s to come.

He prefers optimism. Indeed, Smith said there are ways to keep, say, China from becoming a global data dictator. His recommendation: Create “a global standard for ethical principles and for the protection of things like privacy so that the price for global admission is adherence to a global standard.”

Such a standard could create a classic data-silo problem for countries that don’t comply. For example, China may have the world’s largest population, but if it can’t access Europe’s data or the United States’ data, it will struggle to uncover patterns on a global, rather than national, scale.

That was one of the points Smith made at HUBweek, an innovation festival in Boston. In a fireside chat with Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of Harvard Business Review, Smith made it clear that Microsoft is participating in a new kind of corporate activism that targets broad societal issues — and it’s using this newly public corporate conscience as an advocacy and marketing tool.

For example, in December, Microsoft publicly supported a giving women and men the right to take a sexual harassment claim to court rather than keep the complaint in arbitration. When North Carolina a that restricted LGBT rights, Microsoft lent its voice to the opposition. More recently, the company launched the Defending Democracy Program, which is aimed at protecting campaigns from hacking, increasing political advertising transparency and defending against disinformation.

The political thread in the examples Smith provided is hardly accidental: Customers are increasingly turning to companies to take on issues they care about because of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., Smith argued.

“We are living in a time when there are historically low levels of trust in government,” he said. “And so, whereas in the past, people would say, ‘I care about this. I’m going to go to government.’ They are less inclined to do that.”

But jumping into corporate activism and promoting a company’s moral compass can also create wrinkles. Smith said, given the gridlock in Washington, customers are beginning to ask Microsoft to help regulate the very technology it’s developing. One HUBweek attendee raised a question that has become common at tech events: Can government officials craft policy that effectively keeps up with the rapid pace of change in the tech industry? 

Smith shot down the idea, saying that any technology company’s involvement in regulation is inappropriate and restricts progress. “I don’t think it’s viable to ask tech to slow down,” he said. “It is not only appropriate, but it is right to ask government to move faster. And it’s incumbent on those of us in the technology sector to do what we can to share information so that governments can move faster.”

Plus, he said, “it’s important to remember that, in this country and in many others, people elect those who make the laws. People do not elect companies.”

‘Moneyball’ for movies

Legendary Entertainment is using analytics to develop films. Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer for the media company, referred to this as “Moneyball for movies,” referencing the story of how data helped transform a losing baseball team.

The use of data to develop movie products isn’t , but in the past, much of the data was collected through analog methods. These days, the data that Marolda’s applied analytics team uses for analysis comes from a variety of sources — from one-on-one conversations with viewers to digital data such as search queries and Twitter conversations.

The tried-and-true method of testing a film before a live audience is also used — but with a twist. While Marolda’s team tries “to be as unintrusive as possible” during the testing process, it uses iPads to capture facial expressions and wristbands to collect heart rate and other “various signals,” he said. That kind of data is used to determine what’s working and what’s not.

“We try and identify those moments where people are confused, people are rolling their eyes, where they’re really engaged,” Marolda said.

The data can also help pin down much bigger problems such as whether the chemistry between the two leads is believable. Marolda said filmmakers often have a gut answer to human chemistry questions like the latter, but the data can provide solid evidence.

“With that kind of evidence, entire storylines are removed from movies, reshoots might happen to redirect the plot,” he said. “Those indicators are a great way to understand what the opportunities are for improvement.”

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/252450811/Microsoft-and-corporate-activism

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Crypto sees second week of outflows; ether posts record outflows – CoinShares

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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cryptocurrency investment products and funds saw outflows for a second straight week, with ether posting record outflows as institutional investors took a step back, data from digital asset manager CoinShares showed on Monday.

Total crypto ouflows hit $21 million for the week ending June 11. Since mid-May, total outflows reached $267 million, representing 0.6% of total assets under management (AUM).

Ether, the token used in the Ethereum blockchain, posted its largest outflow last week of $12.7 million, data showed. The token has been one of the strongest performers this year.

But CoinShares said ether inflows last week were mixed, “implying mixed opinions among investors.”

Ether was last up 1% on the day at $2,536. Since hitting a record $4,380.64 on May 12, ether has fallen 40%.

The outflows in bitcoin cooled last week to $10 million, significantly lower than the previous record week of $141 million, CoinShares data showed. Trading activity in bitcoin products rose 43% from the previous week.

Bitcoin rose above $40,000 on Monday following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who said Tesla sold the currency but may resume transactions using it. It was last up 1.8% at $39,686.

While bitcoin is currently trading 36% below its 11-year exponential trend, Dan Morehead, co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, said in his Blockchain Letter on Monday that investors should resist the urge to close positions and instead go the other way if they have the emotional and financial resources to do so.

“Bitcoin generally goes way up…Anyone that has held bitcoin for 3.25 years has made money,” said Morehead.

Grayscale, the largest digital currency manager, raised its AUM to $33.04 billion last week, from $30.3 billion the previous week.

CoinShares, the second biggest digital asset manager, saw AUM slip to $3.8 billion, from nearly $4 billion the week before.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/crypto-sees-second-week-outflows-ether-posts-record-outflows-coinshares/15444

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Analysis: Murkiness of Russia’s ransomware role complicates Biden summit mission

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By Joseph Menn

(Reuters) – As U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over ransomware gangs in his country that twice recently targeted critical American infrastructure, his administration is publicly blaming the Russian government for allowing those criminals to profit without prosecution.

The FBI and private cybersecurity companies have not disclosed any evidence showing Russian government involvement in the ransomware attacks on U.S. fuel transporter Colonial Pipeline Co and meatpacker JBS SA of Brazil. Putin has called the idea that Russia was responsible absurd.

But as the cyber operations of Russian intelligence agencies have evolved, it has become harder for the U.S. government to distinguish alleged Russian intelligence operatives from ordinary cyber criminals stealing secrets in ransomware forays and threatening to publish them, according to more than a dozen U.S. intelligence, national security and law enforcement officials and experts outside of government interviewed by Reuters.

“It’s a combination of tasking and turning a blind eye, but there’s always a plausible deniability,” said cybercrime expert John Bennett of corporate risk consultancy Kroll.

As the top FBI agent in San Francisco, Bennett oversaw an investigation of a massive breach https://www.reuters.com/article/yahoo-hack-indictments-fsb-idINKBN16N0K4 of 500 million Yahoo email accounts that led to 2017 U.S. charges against two officers of Russia’s FSB security agency accused of instructing outside criminal hackers. A Canadian defendant pleaded guilty to nine felony counts in the case, while charges against three Russians remain pending because they are outside of America’s grasp.The White House said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia when he meets Putin in Geneva on Wednesday in the wake of forced shutdowns at Colonial Pipeline and meatpacker JBS, which has extensive U.S. operations.

Putin told Russian state television that Moscow would be willing to hand over cybercriminals to the United States if Washington reciprocates. Biden on Sunday called that statement a sign of progress. White House and State Department officials declined to elaborate or say what Biden would seek from Putin.

Russian officials have denied control of criminal groups while calling hackers whose activities fulfill Kremlin objectives “patriotic.” In public statements and private forums, major criminal groups warn affiliates not to attack targets in Russia. Many ransomware programs will not execute on devices that have keyboards set for the Russian language.

In another U.S. criminal probe, Evgeniy Bogachev, a Russian national, was charged https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-leads-multi-national-action-against-gameover-zeus-botnet-and-cryptolocker-ransomware in 2014 with running GameOver Zeus, a variant of sophisticated bank-fraud software, and distributing early ransomware called Cryptolocker.

Though it was not part of the indictment, GameOver Zeus’ pattern of data collection – searching infected computers for banking passwords and phrases including “top secret” – indicated a relationship with Russian intelligence, according to senior U.S. Justice Department official John Carlin, who oversaw the case during the Obama administration.

Increasingly, ransomware has moved toward bigger targets and toward stealing secrets instead of just encrypting them inside the targets. Both trends could fit with Russian government goals, said analyst Craig Williams of Cisco Systems’ Talos threat intelligence unit.

Evil Corp, a group that the U.S. Treasury has said is led by a Bogachev associate named Maksim Yakubets, became the first ransomware gang to focus on “big game” targets likely to pay more, said Adam Meyers, senior vice president of cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike.

A 2019 U.S. Treasury Department sanctions order https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm845 accused Yakubets both of carrying out large-scale crimes and taking FSB directions, “acquiring confidential documents through cyber-enabled means and conducting cyber-enabled operations on its behalf.”

Yakubets was indicted https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/russian-national-charged-decade-long-series-hacking-and-bank-fraud-offenses-resulting-tens in the United States in 2019 for alleged hacking, wire fraud and bank fraud. The United States has offered millions of dollars in reward money for information leading to the arrests of Bogachev and Yakubets and published photographs of them, but they have not been apprehended by Russian authorities.

Analysts told Reuters Yakubets is married to the daughter of a former senior FSB operative. Reuters was unable to reach either man for comment.

Because the Treasury sanctions forbid U.S. ransomware targets from paying Evil Corp, the group keeps renaming its encryption software.

One of the new variants is called Hades, according to CrowdStrike https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/hades-ransomware-successor-to-indrik-spiders-wastedlocker. As of March, the Hades variant had been found in multiple companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, according to incident responders at Accenture https://www.accenture.com/us-en/blogs/cyber-defense/unknown-threat-group-using-hades-ransomware, including in the transportation and manufacturing sectors.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco; Editing by Will Dunham and Edward Tobin)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/analysis-murkiness-russias-ransomware-role-complicates-biden-summit-mission/15439

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Analysis: Murkiness of Russia’s ransomware role complicates Biden summit mission

Published

on

By Joseph Menn

(Reuters) – As U.S. President Joe Biden prepares to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over ransomware gangs in his country that twice recently targeted critical American infrastructure, his administration is publicly blaming the Russian government for allowing those criminals to profit without prosecution.

The FBI and private cybersecurity companies have not disclosed any evidence showing Russian government involvement in the ransomware attacks on U.S. fuel transporter Colonial Pipeline Co and meatpacker JBS SA of Brazil. Putin has called the idea that Russia was responsible absurd.

But as the cyber operations of Russian intelligence agencies have evolved, it has become harder for the U.S. government to distinguish alleged Russian intelligence operatives from ordinary cyber criminals stealing secrets in ransomware forays and threatening to publish them, according to more than a dozen U.S. intelligence, national security and law enforcement officials and experts outside of government interviewed by Reuters.

“It’s a combination of tasking and turning a blind eye, but there’s always a plausible deniability,” said cybercrime expert John Bennett of corporate risk consultancy Kroll.

As the top FBI agent in San Francisco, Bennett oversaw an investigation of a massive breach https://www.reuters.com/article/yahoo-hack-indictments-fsb-idINKBN16N0K4 of 500 million Yahoo email accounts that led to 2017 U.S. charges against two officers of Russia’s FSB security agency accused of instructing outside criminal hackers. A Canadian defendant pleaded guilty to nine felony counts in the case, while charges against three Russians remain pending because they are outside of America’s grasp.The White House said Biden will bring up ransomware attacks emanating from Russia when he meets Putin in Geneva on Wednesday in the wake of forced shutdowns at Colonial Pipeline and meatpacker JBS, which has extensive U.S. operations.

Putin told Russian state television that Moscow would be willing to hand over cybercriminals to the United States if Washington reciprocates. Biden on Sunday called that statement a sign of progress. White House and State Department officials declined to elaborate or say what Biden would seek from Putin.

Russian officials have denied control of criminal groups while calling hackers whose activities fulfill Kremlin objectives “patriotic.” In public statements and private forums, major criminal groups warn affiliates not to attack targets in Russia. Many ransomware programs will not execute on devices that have keyboards set for the Russian language.

In another U.S. criminal probe, Evgeniy Bogachev, a Russian national, was charged https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/us-leads-multi-national-action-against-gameover-zeus-botnet-and-cryptolocker-ransomware in 2014 with running GameOver Zeus, a variant of sophisticated bank-fraud software, and distributing early ransomware called Cryptolocker.

Though it was not part of the indictment, GameOver Zeus’ pattern of data collection – searching infected computers for banking passwords and phrases including “top secret” – indicated a relationship with Russian intelligence, according to senior U.S. Justice Department official John Carlin, who oversaw the case during the Obama administration.

Increasingly, ransomware has moved toward bigger targets and toward stealing secrets instead of just encrypting them inside the targets. Both trends could fit with Russian government goals, said analyst Craig Williams of Cisco Systems’ Talos threat intelligence unit.

Evil Corp, a group that the U.S. Treasury has said is led by a Bogachev associate named Maksim Yakubets, became the first ransomware gang to focus on “big game” targets likely to pay more, said Adam Meyers, senior vice president of cybersecurity technology company CrowdStrike.

A 2019 U.S. Treasury Department sanctions order https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm845 accused Yakubets both of carrying out large-scale crimes and taking FSB directions, “acquiring confidential documents through cyber-enabled means and conducting cyber-enabled operations on its behalf.”

Yakubets was indicted https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/russian-national-charged-decade-long-series-hacking-and-bank-fraud-offenses-resulting-tens in the United States in 2019 for alleged hacking, wire fraud and bank fraud. The United States has offered millions of dollars in reward money for information leading to the arrests of Bogachev and Yakubets and published photographs of them, but they have not been apprehended by Russian authorities.

Analysts told Reuters Yakubets is married to the daughter of a former senior FSB operative. Reuters was unable to reach either man for comment.

Because the Treasury sanctions forbid U.S. ransomware targets from paying Evil Corp, the group keeps renaming its encryption software.

One of the new variants is called Hades, according to CrowdStrike https://www.crowdstrike.com/blog/hades-ransomware-successor-to-indrik-spiders-wastedlocker. As of March, the Hades variant had been found in multiple companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, according to incident responders at Accenture https://www.accenture.com/us-en/blogs/cyber-defense/unknown-threat-group-using-hades-ransomware, including in the transportation and manufacturing sectors.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco; Editing by Will Dunham and Edward Tobin)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/analysis-murkiness-russias-ransomware-role-complicates-biden-summit-mission/15439

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case

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By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/huawei-cfo-seeks-publication-ban-hsbc-documents-us-extradition-case/15438

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