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Hackers were paid a ransom, Colonial Pipeline boss confirms

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Colonial Pipeline's petroleum farm.

The boss of one of the United States’ biggest fuel pipelines says his company paid a $USD 4.4 million ransom to hackers.

The Colonial Pipeline experienced a cyberattack that shut down its nationwide network on 7 May. As such, millions of barrels of petrol, diesel and jet fuel stopped flowing.

Joseph Blount is the CEO of the Colonial Pipeline. He told the Wall Street Journal the ransom was a “highly controversial decision”. But he conceded it “was the right thing to do for the country”.

The 8,900 kilometre pipeline carries 2.5 million barrels a day, or 45 percent of the east coast’s supply of critical fuel supplies.

“I will admit that I wasn’t comfortable seeing money go out the door to people like this,” Mr Blount explained

However, President Biden believes there was evidence that Russian hackers were involved in the attack.

“So far there is no evidence from our intelligence people that Russia is involved. Although, there is evidence that the actors, ransomware is in Russia… they have some responsibility to deal with this.”

The hackers are from DarkSide, who allegedly steal from larger corporations and give the ransom funds to charity.

The group released a statement on the dark web. “From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future.”

After the cyberattack, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to strengthen cybersecurity defences across the US.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Meta responsible for a massive data leak

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Meta responsible for a massive data leak as Irish regulator imposes fine

Irish regulator, the Data Protection Commission, has fined Meta $275 million dollars for breaching rules to protect user data.

An investigation found Meta’s Facebook was guilty of allowing sensitive user data to be accessed from the platform. After being downloaded it was later uploaded into an online hacker forum.

Users throughout 2018 and 2019 were most at risk of their private personal data being accessed and shared.

Meta admitted tools it had created to allow people to find their friends using their phone numbers was to blame. The function was removed from the platform soon after the breach was discovered in 2019.

Worldwide, the investigation also found that data was scraped from 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries. This included over 32 million records pieces of information form users in the U.S. and 11 million in the UK.

Even though the data is three or more years old, it may still be of use to cybercriminals keen to impersonate people to procure credit cards, mobile phones and make other online purchases.

This is yet another example of social media platforms being unable to adequately protect their users by devising and implementing preventative pre-emptive security measures.

While governments attempt to hold social media platforms like Meta accountable for the content they allow on their platforms and their lax data security measures, it remains to be seen whether the platforms will actually pay the fines being imposed. Moreover, will the fines result in any genuine change?

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META scales back its New York office

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Social media giant Meta has opted to scale back its presence in New York, as the company tries to reduce costs through a slowing online ad market.

The company revealed it will be subleasing a small portion of its facilities at a commercial tower at Hudson Yards.

A statement from the company says:

“The past few years have brought new possibilities around the role of the office, and we are prioritising making focused, balanced investments to support our most strategic long-term priorities and lead the way in creating the workplace of the future.”

In October, Meta issued a weaker-than-expected forecast for the fourth quarter and indicated revenue will drop for the period.

As well, the company revealed it was laying off over 11,000 workers, taking steps to become a leaner and more efficient company.

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Crypto’s Kraken slashes 30 percent of workforce

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One of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, Kraken, is laying off about 30% of its headcount, more than a thousand people.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Jesse Powell says the cuts are being made “in order to adapt to current market conditions.”

Powell wrote in a blog post that slowing growth, prompted by “macroeconomic and geopolitical factors,” had muted customer demand.

Powell says:

“We had to grow fast, more than tripling our workforce in order to provide those clients with the quality and service they expect of us,”

“I remain extremely bullish on crypto and Kraken.”

Crypto exchanges have been buffeted by withdrawals and regulatory scrutiny after the implosion of FTX, which is now spreading to other crypto exchanges.

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