Society, Science & Technology, Security

Written by  //  August 7, 2021  //  Science & Technology, Security  //  No comments

How cryptocurrency became a powerful force in Washington
The infrastructure bill is in part stalled as negotiations proceed on how closely to regulate the crypto industry
(WaPo) Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and the Biden administration had agreed on a proposal that would give federal regulators authority to impose new tax reporting obligations on cryptocurrency brokers, which enable traders to buy and sell cryptocurrency. The crypto provisions emerged as lawmakers struggled to find ways to pay for the bill, with nonpartisan estimates suggesting the tax changes — which would codify work the Internal Revenue Service was beginning to undertake — would increase federal revenue by about $28 billion over 10 years.
But an odd-couple coalition of liberals concerned about government overreach into tech and conservatives skeptical of financial regulation have pushed back strongly against the plan, which, they argue, would harm innovation.
Regardless of the measure’s ultimate fate, the fact that crypto regulation has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks to passage of the bill underscored how the industry has become a political force in Washington — and previewed a series of looming battles over a financial technology attracting billions of dollars of interest from Wall Street, Silicon Valley and financial players around the world, but that few still understand.
“What I think you’re seeing is the maturing of the industry — you see the crypto folks now understanding how Washington can influence their world and Washington learning a little bit about the technology,”

30 July
2021 CrowdStrike Global Threat Report
The CrowdStrike 2021 Global Threat Report is one of the industry’s most highly anticipated reports on today’s top cyber threats and adversaries. It features analysis from the CrowdStrike Threat Intelligence team and highlights the most significant global events and trends in the past year.
This year’s highlights include:
The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on cybersecurity
“Big game hunters” targeting the healthcare sector
Significant nation-state-based targeted attacks and operations observed from China, Iran, DPRK, Russia and others
The pivotal role that access brokers play in the eCrime ecosystem
How ransomware adversaries are rapidly adopting data extortion methods
Recommendations you can take to proactively address emerging threats
Download the Report

30 July
CSO Global Intelligence Report: The State of Cybersecurity in 2021
The message is clear in a fresh survey of 2,741 security, IT, and business professionals around the world: The damage from attacks is widespread and organizations are increasing security budgets to fend off further impact.
Any lingering indifference to cybersecurity risk has evaporated in the face of spiking ransomware attacks, software supply chain threats, and the challenges of securing remote workers. That’s the clear message of CSO’s Global Intelligence Report: The State of Cybersecurity in 2021, fielded via online survey in May and June of this year.
Unsurprisingly, half of those surveyed said they had seen an increase in security incidents at their organizations over the past year. What stands out is the extent of the harm: Nearly half of those attacked reported seeing economic damage, a loss of productivity, and theft of PII (personally identifiable information). No less than 28% said intellectual property had been stolen.
Most shocking of all: 15% of respondents who had been attacked experienced a full shutdown of their business and 12% admitted to suffering “massive” economic impact. The survey also found that 60% of organizations in the utilities sector endured economic damage from a cyberattack, the highest of any industry segment.
Read the report

Biden memo, infrastructure deal deliver cybersecurity performance goals and money
The White House initiatives and expected passage of the US infrastructure plan will set new cybersecurity standards for critical infrastructure, provide money to state and local governments.

11 June
What’s Driving the Surge in Ransomware Attacks?
By
As the United States emerges from the coronavirus lockdown, digital experts are combating a “pandemic of a different variety,” as the former head of U.S. cybersecurity Chris Krebs warned in May. On several occasions in the past seven months, ransomware attacks have shut down large sectors of the American economy, with hackers taking advantage of lax security measures for an easy payday. The concept is fairly simple: Hackers use malicious software to break into and encrypt a company’s data, then hold it ransom until the victim pays up, often in seven-figure installments.
One security firm that tracks ransomware attacks estimated that there were some 65,000 successful breaches in 2020. Around the time that Colonial Pipeline’s system was compromised, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas estimated that $350 million in ransom payments were handed out to groups engaging in ransomware schemes last year.

7 June 2021
The microchip shortage is one of the unforeseen outcomes of the pandemic
(CNET Now What) The world runs on microchips. Not just the elaborate ones at the heart of your phone or laptop but mostly a lot of ordinary ones that you aren’t even aware of. They enable the power windows in your car and the timer in your coffee maker. But a chip shortage is putting a crimp in the production of all kinds of products.
… What we’re seeing is just about everything electronic is having trouble getting a supply” of chips. The chip industry’s fabrication plants or “fabs” aren’t well-suited to whipsawing demand.
“These are gargantuan battleships. They’re not factories you take offline and back online on a whim,” says CNET senior reporter Stephen Shankland. Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung are regarded as the big three — but an array of lesser-known chip companies can hold up the production of products even if Intel or TSMC chips are available.
Production recovery in the chip industry may be almost as complicated as its products. “High-end processors might be fine by the end of this year,” says [CNET senior reporter Shara] Tibken. “In some other areas it could stretch well into next year. But I haven’t heard anyone say [it stretches] into 2023.”

13 May
The semiconductor shortage is in no danger of ending soon.
(Slate) Semiconductors are the chips that manage functions like data storage, graphic rendering, and power consumption in electrical devices. They are typically made of silicon wafers and are omnipresent in today’s digital world. Goldman Sachs reports that 169 industries in the U.S. have products with embedded semiconductors, and that there will be a 20 percent average shortfall of the components for the affected businesses. There are numerous varieties of chips and, in the past, shortages have typically been limited to a certain type. What’s made the current shortage so difficult to manage is that it’s affecting many different types and brands all at once.
As with seemingly everything these days, the problem has to do with the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, demand surged for laptops, monitors, smartphones, video-game consoles, and other devices as large segments of the population had to work and entertain themselves at home. In addition, Chinese tech companies have been hoarding semiconductors in anticipation of U.S. sanctions restricting the country’s access to chip technology. Several major factories have also had to halt production due to fires, blizzards, and droughts, and renewed interest in Bitcoin has put a rush on cryptocurrency mining equipment, which, yes, requires semiconductors.
Executives at Intel, the world’s biggest semiconductor company, say that it will take about two years for the industry to construct more chip factories to meet the demand. Intel itself is spending $20 billion to build two new factories in Arizona. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., another major chip manufacturer, is investing $100 billion over the next three years to expand capacity, including by building a plant in Arizona as well. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package also includes $50 billion in subsidies for semiconductor factories, a provision that has received bipartisan support. The president further signed an executive order in February for a 100-day review of the semiconductor supply chain.

7 May
The global chip shortage is starting to have major real-world consequences
As technology has advanced, semiconductor chips have spread from computers and cars to toothbrushes and tumble dryers — they now lurk beneath the hood of a surprising number of products.
But demand for chips is continuing to outstrip supply, and car makers are no longer the only companies feeling the pinch.
Many companies — particularly those in China who have been hit by sanctions — are boosting their stockpiles of in-demand chips to try to ride out the storm, but that’s making chips even harder to get hold of for other firms.

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