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US recovers most of $4.4M crypto ransom paid by Colonial Pipeline | Cybercrime News

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United States intelligence officials say halting cyberattacks has become a national security priority, and US President Joe Biden plans to bring up the attacks when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

By Bloomberg

The U.S. has recovered the majority of the $4.4 million in cryptocurrency ransom paid to the perpetrators of the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline Co. last month that temporarily halted fuel supplies across the U.S. east coast, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

“Ransomware attacks are always unacceptable but when they target critical infrastructure we will spare no effort in our response,” Monaco told reporters on Monday.

Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said law enforcement identified a virtual wallet used in the ransom payment and then recovered the funds. He said investigators have found more than 90 companies victimized by DarkSide, a Russia-linked cybercrime group blamed in the pipeline hack.

“Today we turned the tables on DarkSide,” Monaco said, as she called on companies to invest more to protect their critical infrastructure and intellectual property. “DarkSide and its affiliates have been digitally stalking U.S. companies for the better part of last year.”

The ransomware attack in May caused fuel shortages at gasoline stations in several states and even affected operations by some airlines and airports. It was part of an increasing trend of such acts against critical infrastructure that is posing an early test of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Colonial Pipeline ended up paying DarkSide in order to help restore its operations.

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials say stopping hacking attacks has become a national security priority, and the issue has raised tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Biden plans to bring up hacking attacks when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

The message at the one-on-one meeting in Geneva on June 16 will be that “responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals, and responsible countries must take decisive action against those ransomware networks,” Psaki said. Putin has denied knowing about or being involved in ransomware attacks.

Brazilian-based JBS SA, the world’s largest meat processor, restarted beef production last week after a ransomware attack forced it to halt operations across the globe.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News

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Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title

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Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson

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Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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