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What Organizations Should Learn From the Colonial Pipeline Breach

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@jtruongJessica Truong

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Earlier this month, the Colonial Pipeline Company found itself to be a victim of a cybersecurity ransomware attack. In response to the attack, the company took certain systems offline to contain the threat, which temporarily stopped all pipeline operations and also affected some of their IT systems.

It was discovered that Darkside, an Eastern Europe hacking group, was responsible for this ransomware attack. The hack prompted “a shutdown of the 5,500-mile pipeline that carries 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast” (TechnologyReview). 

This unfortunately led to a gas shortage that primarily affected the East Coast.

Colonial Pipeline’s CEO, Joseph Blount, paid DarkSide $4.4 million in Bitcoin to regain control of their computer systems and restart fuel delivery to the East Coast.

This event is just one example of the importance of ransomware attacks and why they aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, they are on the rise.  

What is Ransomware?

McAfee’s definition of ransomware is “malware that employs encryption to hold a victim’s information at ransom”. An individual or organization’s data is encrypted so that all files, databases, and applications are inaccessible unless a ransom is paid.

Once the ransom is paid then the individual or organization will be given back access to their data.  

Why is Ransomware so Effective?

These attacks instill fear and panic into their victims causing them to do whatever is needed in order to regain control of their information and systems. Hackers can also threaten that they will leak an organization’s confidential data if ransom is not paid.

It’s a win-lose situation, the hackers gain revenue from the victims and the victims lose money but regains control of their data and computer systems.

Ransomware Attacks Are on The Rise

Ransomware attacks have been increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and according to the FBI, “malicious actors have exponentially increased their activity, causing a 300% increase in cybercrimes over the same period last year” (Imcgrupo). SafeAtLast states that in 2021, ransomware attacks against businesses will occur every 11 seconds. 

The healthcare sector has also been seeing a rise in ransomware attacks, hackers are taking advantage of healthcare organizations during a vulnerable period of time.

Ransomware attacks cost healthcare organizations $21 billion in 2020.

According to hea!thcare innovation, through this past year, “92 individual ransomware attacks affected more than 600 separate clinics, hospitals, and organizations, and over 18 million patient records”. 

Ransomware will continue and therefore must continue to be a concern for organizations. As technology is constantly evolving, Cybersecurity efforts need to keep up with it.

It is crucial that there are proper security practices in place, in order to be one step ahead of attackers and prevent these attacks from occurring. 

Hackers are constantly using new techniques to perform these ransomware attacks, the attacks are becoming more sophisticated, aggressive, and frequent. 

What has the Colonial Pipeline Attack Taught Us? 

There are a few  takeaways from this attack that should be noted of:

  • First and what I believe to be the most important, is that hackers today spend an immense amount of time learning, researching vulnerabilities, and exploiting them in order to develop complex attacks to avoid detection
  • Rapid response and recovery is crucial – it is extremely important to make sure that once a ransomware attack is found that it is detected and necessary actions have been taken to reduce the spread of ransomware 
  • Properly managed security is vital to industrial protection – the ability to ensure protection across all systems is critical for strong protection

How to Protect Your Organization Against Ransomware

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More organizations have purchased cyber insurance to further protect themselves against cyber attacks. 

The following list includes some of the best practices that an organization and its employees should follow to protect themselves against ransomware:

  • Update software and operating systems with the latest patches
  • Perform a backup of data on regular basis
  • Be cautious of suspicious emails and to not click on any links and/or attachments within them
  • Strong password implementation 
  • Restrict administrative access

Ransomware attacks are not disappearing anytime in the near future. Instead, they are on the rise thanks to the world pandemic. 

Hackers are always adapting to new technologies and incorporating new techniques.

Another ransom attack has occurred again following the Pipeline Breach and this time JBS Foods, the world’s largest meat supplier as the target. 

JBS Foods paid $11 million in Bitcoin to the hackers.

Hackers will not stop this specific attack and will continue to target high-profile targets because they know they can be successful. The ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline Breach displayed how much more organized the attackers have become.

Because of this, organizations must increase their security to protect themselves from such threats. These hackers are after the bigger organizations and aren’t worried about getting caught. 

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AI

Amazon Wants a Leader For Its Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Unit

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Amazon seems determined to maintain its reputation as an innovative company and is looking to experiment with cryptocurrencies through a digital currency payment and blockchain unit.

According to an announcement posted on Thursday, Amazon is looking for a blockchain specialist to lead its Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy.

The Payments Acceptance & Experience team is seeking an experienced product leader to develop Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy and product roadmap … You will work closely with teams across Amazon, including AWS, to develop the roadmap, including the customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities as well as the launch strategy.

What Amazon is Looking For

The expert must have at least an MBA or equivalent degree, 10+ years of business or technology experience, team management skills, understanding of data and metrics, and good communication skills.

The corporation did not disclose any salary offer. The person must be based on or willing to move to Seattle, Washington.

Amazon seems to be convinced of the need to innovate in the field of payments and finance. The cryptocurrency and blockchain development team is a sign of the company’s interest in exploring these emerging technologies to offer better financial products.


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According to an email shared by Business Insider, Amazon’s team confirmed its interest in exploring an approach to the world of cryptocurrencies. Still, they did not specify whether it would be through the development of a proprietary currency or through the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment:

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon … We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

An Old Relationship With Crypto

Amazon’s interest in the world of cryptocurrencies isn’t new. Back in 2017, it purchased, at least preemptively, a number of domains linking its brand to cryptocurrencies, including amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com, and even amazonethereum.com.

However, at the time, Patrick Gauthier told CNBC that the e-commerce giant did not have much interest in cryptocurrencies and had no plans to support crypto payments.

In fact, the Pay With Moon plugin that allowed payments on Amazon with Bitcoin through Lightning Network had to change its business model to instead allow its users to purchase virtual credit cards instead of paying directly on Amazon’s site.

Also, as Cryptopotato reported in February this year, Amazon launched a job offer for a new payments system involving “Digital and Emerging Payments (DEP),” although they did not mention a direct relationship with Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency either.

This time, however, Amazon seems more willing to go public with its casual relationship with cryptos.

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AI

Fintech Giant Zip Co to Provide Cryptocurrency Trading Services

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Amazon seems determined to maintain its reputation as an innovative company and is looking to experiment with cryptocurrencies through a digital currency payment and blockchain unit.

According to an announcement posted on Thursday, Amazon is looking for a blockchain specialist to lead its Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy.

The Payments Acceptance & Experience team is seeking an experienced product leader to develop Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy and product roadmap … You will work closely with teams across Amazon, including AWS, to develop the roadmap, including the customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities as well as the launch strategy.

What Amazon is Looking For

The expert must have at least an MBA or equivalent degree, 10+ years of business or technology experience, team management skills, understanding of data and metrics, and good communication skills.

The corporation did not disclose any salary offer. The person must be based on or willing to move to Seattle, Washington.

Amazon seems to be convinced of the need to innovate in the field of payments and finance. The cryptocurrency and blockchain development team is a sign of the company’s interest in exploring these emerging technologies to offer better financial products.


ADVERTISEMENT

According to an email shared by Business Insider, Amazon’s team confirmed its interest in exploring an approach to the world of cryptocurrencies. Still, they did not specify whether it would be through the development of a proprietary currency or through the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as a means of payment:

“We’re inspired by the innovation happening in the cryptocurrency space and are exploring what this could look like on Amazon … We believe the future will be built on new technologies that enable modern, fast, and inexpensive payments, and hope to bring that future to Amazon customers as soon as possible.”

An Old Relationship With Crypto

Amazon’s interest in the world of cryptocurrencies isn’t new. Back in 2017, it purchased, at least preemptively, a number of domains linking its brand to cryptocurrencies, including amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com, and even amazonethereum.com.

However, at the time, Patrick Gauthier told CNBC that the e-commerce giant did not have much interest in cryptocurrencies and had no plans to support crypto payments.

In fact, the Pay With Moon plugin that allowed payments on Amazon with Bitcoin through Lightning Network had to change its business model to instead allow its users to purchase virtual credit cards instead of paying directly on Amazon’s site.

Also, as Cryptopotato reported in February this year, Amazon launched a job offer for a new payments system involving “Digital and Emerging Payments (DEP),” although they did not mention a direct relationship with Bitcoin or any cryptocurrency either.

This time, however, Amazon seems more willing to go public with its casual relationship with cryptos.

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Blockchain Startups Raised over $4 Billion in VC Funding in Q2 2021

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Most blockchain-based startups have seen funding from venture backers, despite the current cryptocurrency market downturn, recording over $4 billion in Q2 alone.

This massive venture capital backing is in keeping with the established trend of VC funding for blockchain firms as investors look to be part of the new wave of disruption associated with decentralized finance.

VC Backers Continue to Dole Out Funding for Blockchain Startups

According to CNBC on Thursday (July 22, 2021), venture capital investors seem not to worry about the volatile nature associated with the crypto market, especially with the current slump in market prices. Bitcoin, which reached an all-time high )ATH) of over $63,000 back in April, is trading within the $33,000 range, losing over 50% of its ATH. Ether price has also suffered a slump after getting to over $4,000 in May.

Meanwhile, data from CB Insights, an analytics firm, revealed that the total funds received by different blockchain companies are $4.38 billion. The figure signals a more than 50% increase from Q1 2021, and almost a ninefold growth compared to Q2 2020.

In May, major fintech company Circle received $440 million from VC backers, making it the largest venture capital funding in a blockchain company. Meanwhile, Circle is planning to go public through an alliance with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Concord Acquisition Corp. The merger, if successful, will put Circle’s valuation at $4.5 billion.


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Ledger, a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, raised the second-biggest round in Q1 2021 with $380 million. According to an interview with CNBC in December 2020, the company’s CEO Pascal Gauthier noted that the cryptocurrency market was gradually maturing, with institutional investors showing interest in the emerging industry.

Speaking to CNBC, CB Insights senior analyst, Chris Bendtsen :

“At the current rate, blockchain funding will shatter the previous year-end record — more than tripling the total raised back in 2018. Blockchain’s record funding year is being driven by the rising consumer and institutional demand for cryptocurrencies. Despite short-term price volatility, VC firms are still bullish on crypto’s future as a mainstream asset class and blockchain’s potential to make financial markets more efficient, accessible, and secure.”

Institutional Investors Seek Exposure to Crypto Industry

The record inflow of funding for blockchain firms is coming from both traditional VC funds and blockchain-focused funds alike. Some asset managers are even creating blockchain venture arms for both early and late-stage funding of projects in the industry.

As previously reported by CryptoPotato in June, venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz announced the launch of a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund. According to the company, the new fund would be distributed across various crypto and blockchain startups.

Blockchain Capital raised $300 million for its Fund V LP back in May, with PayPal, Visa. hedge funds, and others participating in the capital raise.

Meanwhile, the trend is continuing in Q3 2021 with massive funding deals. Recently, major cryptocurrency derivatives platform FTX secured a record $900 million in its Series B funding, causing the company’s valuation to grow to $18 billion.

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CNBC

WhatsApp says NSO spyware was used to attack officials working for US allies

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The NSO Group has denied that its spyware was used to compromise many politicians’ phones, but WhatsApp is telling a different story. The chat giant’s CEO, Will Cathcart, told The Guardian in an interview that governments allegedly used NSO’s Pegasus software to attack senior government officials worldwide in 2019, including high-ranking national security officials who were US allies. The breaches were reportedly part of a larger campaign that compromised 1,400 WhatsApp users in two weeks, prompting a lawsuit.

The reporting on the NSO “matches” with findings from the 2019 attack on WhatsApp, Cathcart said. Human rights activists and journalists were also believed to be victims.

The executive was responding to allegations that governments used Pegasus to hack phones for 37 people, including those of women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Those targets were also on a 2016 list of over 50,000 phone numbers that included activists, journalists and politicians, although it’s not clear that anyone beyond the 37 fell prey to attacks.

NSO has strongly rejected claims about the hacks and the list, insisting that there’s “no factual basis” and that the list was too large to be focused solely on potential Pegasus targets. It also directly challenged Cathcart, asking if the WhatsApp exec had “other alternatives” to its tools that would help thwart “pedophiles, terrorists and criminals” using encrypted software.

Cathcart, however, didn’t buy that explanation — he pointed to the 1,400 people as possible evidence that the number of targets was “very high.” Whatever the truth, it’s safe to say WhatsApp won’t shy away from its lawsuit (or a war of words) any time soon.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/whatsapp-nso-spyware-attack-215334253.html?src=rss

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