FEB
28

CISA, FBI warn US orgs of WhisperGate and HermeticWiper malware

CISA, FBI warn US orgs of WhisperGate and HermeticWiper malware

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and FBI released new guidance on the WhisperGate and HermeticWiper malware strains in a joint advisory this weekend. 

The government agencies warned US organizations and companies to look out for WhisperGate and HermeticWiper after they were seen being used against organizations in Ukraine in the run-up to Russia's invasion of the country. 

Both CISA and the FBI reiterated that there is no specific threat against US organizations. 

"In the wake of continued denial of service and destructive malware attacks affecting Ukraine and other countries in the region, CISA has been working hand-in-hand with our partners to identify and rapidly share information about malware that could threaten the operations of critical infrastructure here in the US," said CISA Director Jen Easterly. 

"Our public and private sector partners in the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC), international computer emergency readiness team (CERT) partners, and our long-time friends at the FBI are all working together to help organizations reduce their cyber risk."  

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FEB
28

Climate change is blowing our predictions out of the water, says the IPCC

Climate change is blowing our predictions out of the water, says the IPCC

When the International Panel on Climate Change published its last dismal forecast in 2014, it focused on the risks in years to come. Now that future is already here. A new 3,675 page-long report released by the IPCC today gives a detailed look at how the world has already destabilized—and how it will continue to do so until drastic action is taken.

“Today’s IPCC report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.”

Currently, average global temperatures stand at about 1.09 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 174 countries and the European Union, aims to keep that rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius. At this level, climate change will still have a strong impact on the planet, but not nearly as much as an increase of 2 or 3 degrees. There is some debate on if the world can hit that goal with its current trajectory, and what must be done to stay below the 1.5-degree cap.

[Related: You can’t escape climate change by moving to New Zealand.]

The report, authored by 270 researchers spanning nearly 70 nations, describes how climate change is coming on harder and faster than anyone predicted. Additionally, it advises governments and communities to expand their adaptation strategies to protect increasingly vulnerable landscapes.

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FEB
28

The Oddly Addictive Quality of Google Alerts

The Oddly Addictive Quality of Google Alerts

Google advertises its alerts as a way to “monitor the web for interesting new content.” To use them, you simply identify any word, phrase, name, or topic to follow; then the tech firm crawls the Internet looking for mentions, and delivers every new appearance of that term by e-mail. You can restrict the results by language and region, and choose among frequencies for how often you receive the notices (multiple times a day, in real time, or in digest form once a day or once a week) and also among sources (news, blogs, videos, or any Web site at all).

Most of my alerts for the book produced frequent, if unremarkable, results. “Harper Lee,” for instance, turned up mentions of the novelist that were occasionally useful—if someone had posted memories of her to a blog or if an auction house was selling a collection of her letters—but were more often a useless deluge of all the babies, dogs, and cats named in her honor. “Willie Maxwell,” however—the name of a preacher whose life Lee had researched and tried to turn into a true-crime book in the years after “To Kill a Mockingbird”—was another story. Decades ago, Maxwell took out life-insurance policies on his family members (five of whom he was accused of murdering), using several different names, among them Will, Willie, William, W.J., and W. M. Maxwell. Only one Google Alert reliably returned results: “Willie Maxwell,” a name that began appearing in my in-box with some regularity.

Every few weeks, I’d check my e-mail and find that Willie Maxwell was back in the news. A Danish songwriter was suing him for copyright infringement. Multiple outlets reported that police caught him drag racing while drunk on the Gowanus Expressway. He was arrested for allegedly assaulting three employees of the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. His Hollywood Hills landlords sued him for nearly two hundred thousand dollars in damage to their house. Last fall, he was indicted for conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine, and was released on bond after pleading not guilty. About a month later, he was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport for an unrelated outstanding warrant.

My Willie Maxwell had been murdered by a vigilante during the summer of 1977, and, despite rumors that he was still haunting three counties in Alabama, he plainly had nothing to do with this Willie Maxwell. Willie Junior Maxwell II is the legal name of the rapper better known as Fetty Wap, whose musical career took off around the time that I started tracking the Reverend Maxwell. The year that I began writing, Fetty Wap became the first artist to have four songs simultaneously on the Billboard Top Ten for rap. “Trap Queen,” “Again,” “My Way,” and “679” were all songs of the summer, and Fetty Wap quickly became the star of my in-box.

If you set a Google Alert for “hot-dog cannon,” then chances are it works exactly as intended: infrequently delighting you with news about launchers designed to hurl hot dogs great distances. Broader terms, however, present a problem, especially when Boolean search isn’t an option: if ANDs, ORs, or NOTs might exclude the exact results you’re looking for, you end up suffering through the semi-relevant and not-at-all relevant in the hopes that, someday, the alert will turn up something actually relevant. My colleague Patrick Radden Keefe found that one of his alerts for his nonfiction book “Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” was especially troublesome, not because people didn’t cover the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) and the “disappeared” enough but because he’d routinely receive e-mails like one that notified him of an article in the New York Post, titled “Real estate industry confidence skyrockets as commercial deals rebound,” which included one Ira Schuman saying, “The panic has disappeared.”

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FEB
28

Are social media influencers misleading their followers about NFTS?

Are social media influencers misleading their followers about NFTS?

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are the latest craze taking over the internet, with seemingly unknown artists suddenly making millions. But following in the same chaotic path cryptocurrencies have taken before, the world of NFTs has exploded into an uncontrollable phenomenon.

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While the concept of an NFT has been around since around 2015, they’ve reached a peak in the last year or two but especially in recent months. With the success that has now been achieved, NFTs have penetrated the world of celebrities and influencers.

Despite this sudden interest in NFTs, the image connected with the technology isn’t entirely positive. According to research by Tidio, roughly 82% of those who are Gen-Z and 51% of millennials believe that NFTs are scams.

Merav Ozair, a blockchain expert and fintech professor thinks this perception comes from a misunderstanding of the technology, and a perpetuation of hype and gimmick culture from influencers.

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FEB
27

Tim Winton says Australia's climate change approach a 'dumpster fire of business as usual'

Acclaimed author Tim Winton has used a closing address at the Perth Festival to implore people and governments to wean themselves off a reliance on fossil fuels industries, calling the current approach to climate change a "smouldering dumpster fire of business as usual".

Key points:

Tim Winton, Stella Donnelly, and Pond frontman Nick Allbrook raised concerns about sponsor Woodside's Scarborough gas projectScarborough is expected to emit millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas annuallyThe festival says it receives support from sponsors representing the scope of WA business

Winton was the latest in a string of artists who used their appearances at the event to denounce Woodside's Scarborough gas project west of Karratha, as well as the company's sponsorship of a WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and WA Youth Orchestra (WAYO) event inspired by climate change.

Stella Donnelly and Pond frontman Nick Allbrook were among those to raise their concerns about the environmental impact of the project expected to emit millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas annually. 

Winton said in an interview with ABC Radio host Nadia Mitsopoulos that the fossil fuels industry had a disproportionate influence on society and culture.

"If we're trying to give ourselves any chance of meeting the climate challenge, the emergency that we're facing, then we've got to extricate ourselves from their influence," he said. 

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