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Russian Hacker Group Killnet’s Distributed Denial of Service Cyberattack Thwarted by US Treasury

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By Reuters | Updated: 2 November 2022

The US Treasury last month repelled cyberattacks by a pro-Russian hacker group, preventing disruption and confirming the effectiveness of the department’s stronger approach to financial system cybersecurity, a US Treasury official said on Tuesday.

The Treasury has attributed the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to Killnet, the Russian hacker group that claimed responsibility for disrupting the websites of several US states and airports in October, said Todd Conklin, cybersecurity counselor to Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo.

The incident, not previously reported, occurred a couple of days before similar attacks from Killnet on US financial services firms, Conklin told a financial services industry and regulator conference on cybersecurity.

Killnet claimed on October 11 that it had attacked JPMorgan Chase’s network infrastructure, but the bank reported no impact on its operations.

Conklin described the attack on the Treasury as “pretty low-level DDoS activity targeting Treasury’s critical infrastructure nodes.”

In line with new procedures adopted under the Biden administration, he said the Treasury quickly shared internet protocol (IP) addresses used in the attack with financial services firms.

“It confirmed that we’re on the right track with how we’re trying to actually share tactical information with the sector in real time with the mind that we are interconnected and face the same threat actors,” Conklin said, adding that this information includes downgraded intelligence and details on adversaries.

The changes emanated from a shift in Treasury’s cyber threat posture after Adeyemo and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen took office. Adeyemo created the cybersecurity counselor position, elevating Conklin to a department-wide coordinating role. Conklin joined Treasury during former President Donald Trump’s administration.

Adeyemo also told the conference that the incident was a “stark reminder” that Treasury and financial services firms face the same threats, especially since Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February.

“Before and over the course of this unconscionable invasion, we have remained in close contact with many of you to provide critical updates, flag potential risks, and ensure we are giving you what you need to keep your systems secure,” Adeyemo told the regulator-led Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC) and the industry-led Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC).

Adeyemo called for the two groups, launched 20 years ago after the 9/11 attacks, to deepen their cooperation to drive cloud and data protection workstreams and focus on new systemic risk issues.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Meta floats $14 a month ad-free plan for Instagram, Facebook in EU – WSJ

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By Reuters | Updated: October 3, 2023

Oct 2 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms (META.O) is exploring a plan that could make users in the European Union shell out as much as $14 to access ad-free versions of Instagram or Facebook or agree to personalized ads for the free versions, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Under the plan, Meta would charge roughly 10 euros ($10.46) a month on a desktop for a Facebook or Instagram account, and about 6 euros for each additional linked account, the report said, citing people familiar with the proposal.

On mobile devices, the price for a single account would jump to roughly 13 euros because Meta would factor in commissions charged by Apple’s and Google’s app stores, WSJ said.

The social media company was fined 390 million euros earlier this year by Ireland’s Data Privacy Commissioner and told it cannot use the so-called “contract” legal basis to send users ads based on their online activity.

Meta subsequently said it intended to ask users in the EU for their consent before allowing businesses to target advertising in order to address a number of evolving regulatory requirements in the region.

Meta has now told European regulators it hopes to roll out the ad-free plan, which it calls subscription no ads (SNA), in the coming months for users in Europe, the report said.

A Meta spokesman told the Journal that the company believes in “free services which are supported by personalized ads” but is exploring “options to ensure we comply with evolving regulatory requirements.”

Meta, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission and the European Commission did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment outside regular business hours.

The New York Times first reported that Meta was considering paid versions of Facebook and Instagram with no ads for users residing in the EU, without giving details about how much they would cost.

($1 = 0.9553 euros)

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France’s Planisware IPO targets price range of 16 to 18 euros per share

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By Reuters | Updated: October 1, 2023

Oct 2 (Reuters) – French software company Planisware launched on Monday an initial public offering as part of its aim to become a leading provider of multi-specialist project management solutions.

The group said 15.1 million shares will be sold, priced between 16 and 18 euros each, and it hopes to raise 241 million euros ($254.52 million) from the share sale.

The pricing of the offering is expected to take place on Oct. 11.

($1 = 0.9469 euros)

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Robinhood sees $100 million finance costs tied to regulatory issues in third quarter

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 June 2022

Sept 29 (Reuters) – Robinhood Markets (HOOD.O) expects a $100-million charge in the third quarter to resolve some legal and regulatory matters that were previously disclosed, the trading app operator said on Friday.

The company has had several run-ins with regulators. It was also at the center of the “meme stock” trading frenzy in early 2021, when a group of retail investors on social media bought shares of highly-shorted stocks such as GameStop (GME.N).

However, a stormy economic climate last year spooked retail traders, Robinhood’s chief customer base.

The company beat revenue expectations during the second quarter and reported a profit for the first time as a public company in August.

Robinhood’s shares were marginally higher after the bell.

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UK’s CMA says examining Qualcomm’s buyout of Israel’s Autotalks

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 September 2023

Sept 29 (Reuters) – Britain’s antitrust regulator on Friday said it was examining whether Qualcomm’s (QCOM.O) purchase of Israeli auto-chip maker Autotalks would lessen competition in the UK market.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has invited comments on the deal, which was announced in May.

Qualcomm had said it would acquire Autotalks, a maker of chips used in crash-prevention technology in vehicles, but had not disclosed the terms of the deal.

Autotalks, which makes dedicated chips used in the V2X communications technology sector for manned and driverless vehicles, would help Qualcomm expand its automotive business.

Last month, EU regulators said that the U.S. chipmaker would have to seek antitrust approval for the planned takeover, while Politico reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to open an in-depth probe into the deal.

Qualcomm and Autotalks did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

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Australia Inc roiled by string of cyber attacks since late 2022

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 September 2023

Sept 29 (Reuters) – Australian firms have suffered many cyber attacks since September 2022, putting the spotlight on the country’s understaffed cybersecurity industry that experts say seems ill-equipped to tackle such hacks, endangering sensitive information of people.

Here is a list of companies that have been hit by data breaches:

OPTUS
Australia’s second-largest mobile operator and a unit of Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI) was the first to report a data breach in September that affected up to 10 million customers, about 40% of the nation’s population. The exposed data included home addresses, drivers’ licences and passport numbers.

Sept 29 (Reuters) – Australian firms have suffered many cyber attacks since September 2022, putting the spotlight on the country’s understaffed cybersecurity industry that experts say seems ill-equipped to tackle such hacks, endangering sensitive information of people.

Here is a list of companies that have been hit by data breaches:

OPTUS
Australia’s second-largest mobile operator and a unit of Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI) was the first to report a data breach in September that affected up to 10 million customers, about 40% of the nation’s population. The exposed data included home addresses, drivers’ licences and passport numbers.

WOOLWORTHS
Australia’s biggest grocer Woolworths Group Ltd (WOW.AX) said in October its majority-owned online retailer MyDeal identified that a “compromised user credential” was used to access its systems, exposing email addresses, phone numbers and delivery addresses of about 2.2 million customers.

FORCENET
Australia’s Assistant Minister For Defence Matt Thistlethwaite said on Oct. 31 that hackers targeted a communications platform used by the country’s military personnel and defence staff with a ransomware attack but that no data was compromised.

DAILOG
IT services consulting firm Dailog, another unit of Singapore Telecommunications (STEL.SI), faced a cyber attack that potentially affected 1,000 current and former employees and fewer than 20 client, the company said on Oct. 10.

AUSTRALIAN CLINICAL LABS
Medlab, a unit of Australian Clinical Labs Ltd (ACL.AX), one of the country’s largest pathology providers, suffered a breach in the same month that exposed data of about 223,000 patients.

MEDIBANK
Health insurer Medibank Private (MPL.AX), which covers about one-sixth of Australians, said in November that personal and significant amounts of health claims data of around 9.7 million of its current and former customers were compromised, forcing it to flag a hit to earnings and withdraw forecast for a key metric.

On June 20, Medibank confirmed that a file containing names and contact details of staff members had been compromised after its building manager faced a cybersecurity breach.

TELSTRA
Australia’s largest telecoms operator Telstra (TLS.AX) in early October suffered what it called a small data breach, which exposed data of about 30,000 current and former employees dating back to 2017.

On Dec. 11, Telstra said 132,000 customers were affected by an internal error which led to the disclosure of certain customer details.

BWX
Skin and hair care products maker BWX Limited said in November a malicious code was “unlawfully” entered onto one of its websites that may have compromised credit card numbers and expiry dates of about 2,500 customers.

TPG TELECOM
Australia’s No.2 internet service provider TPG Telecom (TPG.AX) said in December it had been notified of unauthorised access to a hosted exchange service that hosts email accounts of up to 15,000 business customers.

CBA
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA.AX) said on March 8 its Indonesian unit, PT Bank Commonwealth (PTBC), had been hit by a cyber incident involving unauthorised access of a web-based software application used for project management.

IPH
Days later, Australian intellectual property services provider IPH Ltd (IPH.AX) said it had detected unauthorised access to a portion of its IT environment, compromising information including administrative documents and some client documents.

LATITUDE
Australian digital payments and lending firm Latitude Group Holdings Ltd (LFS.AX) said on March 16 a hacker had stolen personal information held by two service providers, compromising about 103,000 identification documents and 225,000 customer records.

On April 11, the firm said it will not pay a ransom to the hackers as it saw no assurance that the payment would result in the return or destruction of the stolen data, and it did not want to reward criminal behaviour.

TECHNOLOGYONE
Australia’s TechnologyOne Ltd (TNE.AX) said on May 10 it had detected an unauthorised third-party access to its back-office systems, becoming the latest target in a series of cyber attacks that has bogged companies in the country since last year.

SMARTPAY
New Zealand-based Smartpay Holdings (SPY.NZ) disclosed a ransomware attack confirming the theft of information from customers in Australia and New Zealand, making it the latest victim in a slew of cyberattacks in the region.

SHELL
Shell Plc (SHEL.L) said on Sept 15 that it has identified a cybersecurity incident involving some employees who worked with its unit BG Group in Australia before the merger, becoming the latest victim of the MOVEit hack.

ENERGY ONE
Australian software supplier Energy One (EOL.AX) said on Sept. 29 it has not uncovered any evidence of malicious activity on its customer systems after the company identified a cyber incident in August. The company’s investigations found no evidence of compromise of personal information of its current and former employees, it said, adding that Energy One continues to securely trade.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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OpenAI, Jony Ive in talks to raise $1 billion from SoftBank for AI device venture, Financial Times reports

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By Reuters | Updated: 28 September 2023

Sept 28 (Reuters) – ChatGPT maker OpenAI is in advanced talks with former Apple designer Jony Ive and SoftBank’s (9984.T) Masayoshi Son to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence”, fuelled by more than $1 billion in funding from the Japanese conglomerate, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief, has tapped Ive’s company LoveFrom to develop the ChatGPT creator’s first consumer device, the report said.

Discussions are said to be “serious” but no deal has been agreed on, and it could be several months before a venture is formally announced, the report said, adding that Son, Altman and Ive have discussed creating a company that would draw on talent and technology from their three groups.

SoftBank declined to comment on the FT report. OpenAI did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Ive and LoveFrom could not be reached for comment.

Tech website The Information first reported on Tuesday that Ive and Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device and that Softbank’s Son has also been involved in some aspects of the conversation.

Ive was a close creative collaborator with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He spent more than two decades at the tech giant and led the design of the candy-colored iMacs that helped Apple re-emerge from near death in the 1990s as well as the design of the iPhone.

SoftBank has been looking for deals in AI, including a potential investment in OpenAI, after the blockbuster listing of its Arm unit, the FT reported earlier this month, adding that Son was looking to invest tens of billions of dollars in the technology.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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