Special Reports Cyber Security 02/07/2018 issue
© Daniel Pudles

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Hackers are increasingly using indirect routes to attack companies, spreading malware through IT supply chains and ecommerce platforms. New cryptocurrency investors, too, have become a target, according to the FT's latest Special Report on Cyber security.

Those indirect attacks can come through the supply chain - through cloud service providers or other managed IT companies.  Symantec, the cyber security company, says in a recent report it saw a 200 per cent increase in supply chain attacks in 2017 compared with the previous year. National governments are increasingly concerned about the trend.

"One of the slow burning, strategic issues is the integrity of the supply chain and how corporations and government departments manage that risk," says Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of GCHQ. “I think collectively we have been slower than we should have been to realise the importance of that.”

Another growing attack target is the crowd of new cryptocurrency investors. As crypto exchanges increase their levels of security, criminals are looking for ways to defraud cryptocurrency users directly, tricking them into giving away the details of of their digital wallets. 

“The types of people who are starting to use and buy bitcoin are much less technically sophisticated now, and so are much more prone to phishing attacks,“ says Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, a London-based company that tracks and tries to prevent criminal activity in cryptocurrencies.   Elliptic has seen a fivefold increase in phishing attacks since the start of the year.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg also writes a column on cyber security: 

"I am often asked how significant a cyber attack would need to be to trigger an Article 5 response. My answer is: we will see. The principles of deterrence dictate that this must remain deliberately vague or we risk inviting attacks at a level immediately below that threshold."

Read the full cyber security report here.

Flag as Important

Broadcom buys….Computer Associates?!
To general analyst bemusement, the chipmaker that failed to take over rival Qualcomm has gone and bought CA Technologies, paying $18.9bn for the business software supplier.  Scooping up cash-generating companies with debt is not the sole preserve of private equity funds, comments Lex. Broadcom just pulled off the dealmaking equivalent of a handbrake turn, says Richard Waters in his Inside Business column. Wall Street has taken a very dim view of the move, with the company's shares falling as much as 19 per cent.

Antitrust chief backs Big Tech
Here's another slightly surprising move. The US justice department’s antitrust chief has indicated he is comfortable with large technology groups snapping up smaller rivals, arguing that “great efficiencies” can come from such deals in Silicon Valley. Makan Delrahim told the FT that consumers had benefited from deals like Google’s $1.65bn acquisition of YouTube in 2006.

Comcast comes back with another bid
Comcast, the US cable group, quickly returned fire in the dramatic transatlantic bidding war with Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. It sweetened its bid to buy pan-European pay TV group Sky to £26bn and topped a rival offer made by Fox.  Fox had some good news, with the UK government finally approving its approach. Further bids are expected with the dealmakingthe talk of Sun Valley.


Huawei plots AI push
Once a month, a top Huawei executive huddles with colleagues to talk about how to bring artificial intelligence into everything the Chinese tech giant makes, from telecom base stations and cloud data centers to devices like smartphones and surveillance cameras. The broad effort, unreported till now, is code-named Project Da Vinci—referred to as Project D by some Huawei executives, according to people familiar with the matter. (The Information)

Twitter's fresh fake account purge
Twitter said on Wednesday it will remove millions of locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. The company says each user should expect to lose four followers on average, and that the changes will mostly occur this week. (Bloomberg)

Tech tools you can use - MacBook Pro refresh

Nothing has changed on the outside of the new Touch Bar MacBook Pros announced by Apple today and made immediately available.  All of the really important stuff is happening inside, says Techcrunch. There is a six-core Intel Core i7 or i9 on the bigger machine, backed with up to 4TB of storage and up to 32GB of memory. Venturebeat focuses on new keyboards and True Tone screens. The updated 13-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar and 15-inch MacBook Pro models with Touch Bar start at $1,799 and $2,399 respectively.

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