Телефонна розмова з ініціативи австрійської сторони тривала 45 хвилин
The arrival of the pandemic intensified feelings of loneliness and social isolation for millions of older people, many of whom were already battling depression and other health issues. For those struggling, a robot companion might make a difference, and states like New York are starting to provide them to residents free of charge. VOA’s Julie Taboh has more. Camera: Adam Greenbaum
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine appears to be having an unanticipated impact in cyberspace — a decrease in the number of ransomware attacks.
“We have seen a recent decline since the Ukrainian invasion,” Rob Joyce, the U.S. National Security Agency’s director of cybersecurity, told a virtual forum Wednesday.
Joyce said one reason for the decrease in ransomware attacks since the February 24 invasion is likely improved awareness and defensive measures by U.S. businesses.
He also said some of it is tied to measures the United States and its Western allies have taken against Moscow in response to the war in Ukraine.
“We’ve definitively seen the criminal actors in Russia complain that the functions of sanctions and the distance of their ability to use credit cards and other payment methods to get Western infrastructure to run these [ransomware] attacks have become much more difficult,” Joyce told The Cipher Brief’s Cyber Initiatives Group.
“We’ve seen that have an impact on their [Russia’s] operations,” he added. “It’s driving the trend down a little bit.”
Just days after Russian forces entered Ukraine, U.S. cybersecurity officials renewed their “Shields Up” awareness campaign, encouraging companies to take additional security precautions to protect against potential cyberattacks by Russia itself or by criminal hackers working on Moscow’s behalf.
And those officials caution Russia still has the capability to inflict more damage in cyberspace.
“Russia is continuing to explore options for potential cyberattacks,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Matthew Hartman told a meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week.
“We are seeing glimpses into targeting and into access development,” Hartman said, noting Russia has for now held back from launching any major cyberattacks against the West. “We do not know at what point a calculus may change.”
FBI cyber officials have likewise voiced concern that it could be a matter of time before the Kremlin authorizes cyberattacks targeting U.S. critical infrastructure, including against the energy, finance and telecommunication sectors.
U.S. and NATO officials on Wednesday also cautioned that it would be a mistake to think that just because there have been few signs of “catastrophic effects” that Russia has not tried to leverage its cyber capabilities to its advantage.
“It has been happening and it’s still happening,” said Stefanie Metka, head of the Cyber Threat Analysis Branch at NATO. “There’s a lot of cyber activity that’s happening all the time and probably we won’t know the full extent of it until we turn the computers back on.”
Said the NSA’s Joyce: “If you look at Ukraine, they have been heavily targeted. What we’ve seen are a number of wiper viruses, seven or eight different or unique wiper viruses that have been thrown into the ecosystem of Ukraine and its near abroad.” Wiper viruses are viruses that erase a computer’s memory.
These included a cyberattack against a satellite communications company, which hampered the ability of Ukraine’s military to communicate and had spillover effects across Europe.
But with help from the U.S. and other allies, Ukraine was able to mitigate the impact, Joyce said.
“The Ukrainians have been under threat and under pressure for a number of years, and so they have continued to adapt and improve and develop their tradecraft to the point where they mount a good defense and, equally as important, they mount a great incident response,” he said.
Some cybersecurity experts say that ability to respond might be one of the biggest take-aways, so far, from the invasion.
“Resiliency matters,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, the founder of the Silverado Policy Accelerator and the former chief technology officer of cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, at Wednesday’s virtual forum. “The Ukrainians have gotten really, really good at rebuilding networks, quickly mitigating damage.”
Another key lesson, he said, is the limitations of cyber.
“If you’ve got kinetic options, if you can create a crater somewhere, take out a substation, take out a communication system, that’s what you’re going to prefer to use,” Alperovitch said. “That’s what’s easiest [to do] to get lasting damage.”читати
Meta, the company that owns Facebook, is hosting its second annual Africa Day campaign to promote Africans who are making a global impact.
The content producer for the film project, South African filmmaker Tarryn Crossman, said Meta identified eight innovators, creators and businesspeople on the continent whose stories the company wanted told for the “Made by Africa, Loved by the World” campaign.
Crossman’s company, Tia Productions, teamed up with Mashoba Media to find four fellow filmmakers in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their job was to make two- to three-minute documentaries about the subjects.
“So, for example we did Trevor Stuurman here in South Africa,” Crossman said. “He’s a visual artist and his line was, I just loved so much, he says: ‘Africa’s no longer the ghost writer.’ We’re telling our stories and owning our own narratives. That’s kind of the thread amongst all these characters. They all have that in common.”
Nairobi-based filmmaker Joan Kabangu made a movie about Black Rhino VR, a Kenyan virtual reality content producing company which has worked with international brands.
“They are the pioneers around creating VR content, 360 content, augmented mixed reality kind of content in Kenya, in the wider Africa. And it’s a company which is run by a young person and everybody who is working there is fairly young. And they are really getting into how tech is being used to elevate the way we are creating content in 2022, going forward,” Kabangu said.
Of Meta’s Africa Day campaign she said, “I feel it’s celebrating the good in Africa.”
In Ghana, Kofi Awuah’s movie making has been delayed by floods in the capital, Accra. But he is determined to finish. His innovator is designer Selina Beb, whose work can be seen on Instagram and is sold online, often to buyers in the U.S. and Britain.
“She’s very unique,” Awuah said. “Based on material she uses and even the processes she uses are kind of things that tell a Ghanian or African story. For instance, she uses a certain kind of stone that you can find only in the northern parts of Ghana.”
Awuah said being a part of the campaign is the chance of a lifetime.
“My manager called me to tell me that we gotten a contract from Meta and I almost, like I had a heart attack,” she said. “When that call came, I felt this is the moment for me to express myself to the millions or billions of people who are using Facebook, who are using social media.”
Meta will also be hosting free virtual training sessions throughout the week. These include training on monetization, cross-border business and branded content.
In February, the Nigerian technology startup CrowdForce announced a big break: It had received $3.6 million from investors to expand its financial services operations to many more underserved communities.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tomi Ayorinde said new funding will boost its mobile agent network from 7,000 to 21,000 this year.
“We were looking to scale faster and really gain market share,” Ayorinde said. “And what we’re doing is also very impact-related because we’re creating jobs, avenues for people to make extra income in their communities. So, it was also very interesting for impact investors to be part of what we’re trying to do.”
When Ayorinde helped launch CrowdForce seven years ago, he intended it to be a data collection company. But after about two years, the company overhauled its business model when Ayorinde realized it could fill a need for bank accounts.
“When we collected data of 4.5 million traders what we saw was, a lot of them didn’t have bank accounts and the ones that have bank accounts had a very tough time accessing the cash that was sent to them,” said Ayorinde.”That’s when we kind of realized that there’s a bigger problem to solve here.”
Experts say about 60% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people lack access to banks or financial services. Technology startups in Africa are trying to fix that, said the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association known as AVCA.
In a recent report, the industry group said African startups attracted $5.2 billion in venture capital last year, and that West Africa – led by Nigeria – accounted for the largest share of investments.
AVCA research manager Alexia Alexandropoulou said investors are looking to tap into Africa’s huge population of young people.
“Africa is the world’s most youthful population, so as the proportion of skilled labor increases, then the result will be more human capital in order to power African businesses and also the industrial development within the continent,” said Alexandropoulou.
AVCA’s report also cites increased internet penetration in Africa and more favorable government policies as contributing to increased investments in financial technology services knwoFintech.
But Fintech Digital Marketing Expert Louis Dike said there are obstacles to overcome, such as weak currencies and policies.
“Africa is not a perfect place because it’s still made up of virgin markets,” said Dike. “The standard of living is quite low, our regulations are not consistent, today the government will say this and tomorrow they will change the law and restrict some startup activities.”
But with new talents emerging in technology, more startups with big dreams are emerging in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.читати
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his deal to buy Twitter can’t move forward unless the company shows public proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the social media platform are fake or spam.
Musk made the comment in a reply to another user on Twitter early Tuesday. He spent much of the previous day in a back-and-forth with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s effort to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.
In his tweet Tuesday, Musk said that “20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be much higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate.”
He added: “Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of 5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”
Twitter declined to comment.
It’s Musk’s latest salvo over inauthentic accounts, a problem he has said he wants to rid Twitter of.
At a Miami technology conference Monday, Musk estimated that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots, a percentage he said was at the low end of his assessment.
The battle over spam accounts kicked off last week when Musk tweeted that the Twitter deal was on on hold pending confirmation of the company’s estimates that they make up less than 5% of total users.
Also at the All In Summit, Musk gave the strongest hint yet that he would like to pay less for Twitter than the $44 billion offer he made last month.
Musk’s comments are likely to bolster theories from analysts that the billionaire either wants out of the deal or to buy the company at a cheaper price. His tweet Tuesday came in reply to one from a Tesla news site speculating that Musk “may be looking for a better Twitter deal as $44 billion seems too high.”
“Twitter shares will be under pressure this morning again as the chances of a deal ultimately getting done is not looking good now,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives, who covers both Twitter and Tesla, said in a research note. He estimated that there’s “60%+ chance” that Musk ends up walking away from the deal and paying the $1 billion breakup fee.
Musk made the offer to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share on April 14. Twitter shares have slid since then. They were down slightly in Tuesday morning trading to $37.28.
To finance the acquisition, Musk pledged some of his Tesla shares, which have slumped by about a third since the deal was announced.
In tweets on Monday, Agrawal acknowledged Twitter isn’t perfect at catching bots. He wrote that every quarter, the company has made the estimate of less than 5% spam. “Our estimate is based on multiple human reviews of thousands of accounts that are sampled at random, consistently over time,” Agrawal wrote.
Estimates for the last four quarters were all well under 5%, he wrote. “The error margins on our estimates give us confidence in our public statements each quarter.”
Twitter has put the under 5% estimate in its quarterly filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for at least the last two years, well before Musk made his offer last month.
But in the filings, Twitter expressed doubts that its count of bot accounts was correct, conceding that the estimate may be low.