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By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft encourages cloud adoption amid Nobelium cyberattacks
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft uncovered sophisticated phishing attacks targeting thousands of accounts belonging to government personnel and human rights organizations last week, attributing the malicious activity to Nobelium. The hacking group has been previously linked to the Russian foreign intelligence agency SVR and the recent SolarWind attacks.
Now, Microsoft has proposed what needs to be done in order to prevent cyberattacks of this magnitude in the future.
A blog post penned by Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt states that the company has been monitoring the situation closely and antivirus software coupled with solutions like Microsoft Defender for Office 365 are detecting and protecting against malware. This is why a large number of organizations have not been compromised despite being targeted.
An important point that Burt raised is the need to differentiate between "espionage as usual activities" like the Nobelium attack from last week versus crippling cyberattacks like SolarWinds and Colonial Pipelines. As such, there also needs to be clearer distinction between how to respond to such activities. The executive went on to say that:
Lastly, the Redmond tech giant emphasized the importance of transitioning to the cloud where providers are working actively to follow the latest cybersecurity standards and managed tooling. It also encouraged that everyone should enable two-factor authentication when using digital services, as the bare minimum. Burt praised the U.S. government's Cybersecurity Executive Order which highlights the need for public and private sectors to collaborate and strengthen the cybersecurity infrastructure of not only government tooling, but also the ecosystem in general. The executive called the U.S. government's recent commitment to cybersecurity "unprecedented" and indicated that the collaboration should continue.
Russia demands Facebook and Twitter store user data within its borders by July 1
by Christer Broström
Yesterday, we reported on Russia's ultimatum to Google where Russia threatened Google to delete material deemed illegal by Russia's internet commission, Roskomnadzor, which ultimately could result in fines or throttling of their services, as has been done to Twitter earlier this year.
And today Russia is focusing on social media services like Facebook and the aforementioned Twitter, according to the British newspaper The Independent. While several big IT companies like Apple, Samsung, and PayPal have local databases with data for their Russian users in compliance with Russian laws, Facebook and Twitter do not, and by July 1 these social media services have to have localized data or pay fines of up to 18 million roubles ($245,100). That may not be enough to scare tech giants like Facebook but a country-wide ban might, like what has happened to LinkedIn in Russia.
This is not the first time Facebook and Twitter have been in conflict with Roskomnadzor, as both companies have been fined four million roubles back in February, something Facebook paid immediately while Twitter is still appealing. According to the deputy head of Roskomnadzor, Milos Wagner, Roskomnadzor has yet to hear from Facebook and Twitter on how they intend to implement these changes.
Source: The Independent
Russia gives Google 24 hours to delete illegal content or be "throttled"
by Subir Kathuria
Russia's internet commission Roskomnadzor on Monday gave Google 24 hours to delete banned and illegal content. It has warned that not doing so would lead to fines and throttling of Google services in the country. The fines would range from 800,000 rubles to 4 million rubles and can go up to 10% of the company's total annual turnover. It has also told Google to unblock a YouTube video posted by the state-run Sputnik France outlet.
The Russian internet watchdog says Google has failed to remove 20-30% of links to content that is banned in Russia including 26,000 instances of illegal content which the search giant has been notified of.
Roskomnadzor told state-run TASS news agency:
The ultimatum appeared just hours after it was disclosed that Google had filed a lawsuit in the Moscow Arbitration Court against Roskomnadzor over its earlier demands to remove 12 videos from YouTube which Russia says calls on minors to participate in unauthorized rallies.
Google and Russia have been clashing over various issues in recent months. YouTube has blocked the channel of pro-Kremlin, conservative Tsargrad TV and removed state-run RT videos which it said promoted coronavirus disinformation. Russia’s competition authorities are also investigating Google for alleged abuse of its market dominance.
Russian lawmakers last week submitted a draft bill that would force foreign technology companies to open offices in Russia if they wanted advertising business from Russian companies. Russia has also enacted laws requiring Russian-made apps, such as browsers and search engines, to be pre-installed on all smartphones sold in Russia.
The Russian government has already slowed down Twitter and has threatened to ban it in the country if it does not comply with its order. Roskomnadzor has previously requested companies like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter to delete posts, videos, and pictures that it believes encourage children to join protests.
By Usama Jawad96
Twitter bans hundreds of state-affiliated propaganda accounts from Russia and Iran
by Usama Jawad
Twitter has been experimenting with multiple techniques to improve the integrity and health of its platform. It recently announced that it is making it easier to identify accounts held by heads of state, and also unveiled Birdwatch for a community-driven approach to curbing the spread of misinformation. Today, the company has announced that it has banned hundreds of state-affiliated propaganda accounts from Iran, Russia, and Armenia.
Image via Flickr Back in October 2020, Twitter banned 130 accounts from Iran that were disrupting conversations around the first presidential debate. Now, it has banned an additional 238 accounts for manipulation of platform policies. However, the firm has noted that the problematic accounts did not manage to get much engagement.
With regards to its investigations and banning Russian propaganda accounts, Twitter had the following to say:
Lastly, 35 accounts associated with the Armenian government were also banned. These were responsible for furthering the narratives of the Armenian government and also targeted Azerbaijan. Twitter noted that in several cases, these accounts also pretended to be political figures and news operations from Azerbaijan, likely to portray the country in a negative light.
Twitter has announced that it has added information about all of these accounts to its archive for further analysis. This information operations archive was started in October 2018 and currently has the whereabouts of 85,000 accounts from 20 countries which participated in platform manipulation. The Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) is one of the entities currently studying this data.
TWIRL 1: SpaceX set to launch 60 Starlink satellites this week
by Paul Hill
'This Week in Rocket Launches' is a new weekly series that aims to bring you a round-up of all the planned rocket launches over the coming week. With India, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States all sending missions to Mars and private companies like SpaceX inserting Starlink satellites into Earth’s orbit, the occurrence of rocket launches is pretty frequent. Streams to upcoming launches will be provided where possible but some space agencies only post videos after launch.
This week, there are five rocket launches from China, India, Iran, Russia, and SpaceX. There’s nothing super exciting such as human flights this week, instead, all of the missions are concerned with getting various satellites into orbit. The launch with the most delays is the SpaceX mission which planned to fly in November, December, January 27, 29-31, February 1-5, 7, 16, and 17 - hopefully, it gets off the ground this week to take a batch of Starlink satellites into the Earth's orbit.
The first launch will come sometime on Monday in China. A Long March CZ-4C rocket will take the Yaogan 31 Group 03 satellites into orbit where they will perform electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests. It’s unclear what time the launch is slated for but the Long March rocket will take off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and if we see any footage it will be after the event.
The next launch is slated for Thursday, this time from the Islamic Republic of Iran which is using its Simorgh rocket to carry the Pars 1 satellite into orbit. The mission will launch from the Imam Khomeini Space Launch Center in Semnan after it was delayed last year. Pars 1 has been described as the country’s most advanced remote-sensing satellite and will apparently monitor the country’s agricultural lands, forest and lakes, as well as help estimate the damage from fires and floods that occur.
SpaceX is up on Friday at 2:40 AM UTC (Thursday 21:41 PM local time). A Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket will take 60 Starlink satellites into low Earth orbit and further boost the firm’s satellite internet coverage which it recently began opening up to customers. The YouTube channel CosmoSapiens already has a YouTube event lined up so feel free to set a reminder, you might also get to watch the launch directly on SpaceX’s YouTube channel and SpaceX’s launch page.
After SpaceX’s launch, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, will launch a Soyuz 2.1b rocket carrying the first Arktika-M remote sensing and communications satellite that will be used for weather forecasting and monitoring the environment in the Arctic region. The 2.1-tonne payload will sit in a highly elliptical 12-hour Molniya orbit and carry a multi-spectral imager for hydro-meteorological studies and rescue system transmitters for cases where emergency communications are needed. The mission has been delayed several times since 2018 but as long as the weather is good, the dependable Soyuz rocket should take off successfully on Sunday from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.
The final launch of the week comes from Sriharikota in India. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will carry the Amazonia 1 satellite as well as three CubeSats: Anand, Saditsat, and Unitysat. Amazonia 1 is a Brazilian satellite that’s equipped with an optical camera to monitor environmental conditions in the Amazon. This launch was originally scheduled for September and February 22 but hopefully, it lifts off on the 28th.