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US to treat ransomware attacks with same priority as terrorism

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Colonial pipeline

The U.S. Department of Justice is elevating investigations of ransomware attacks

The department now plans to treat ransomware attacks to a similar priority as terrorism in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline hack and mounting damage caused by cyber criminals.

Internal guidance sent to U.S. attorney’s offices across the America stated information about ransomware investigations in the field should be centrally coordinated with a recently created task force in Washington.

“It’s a specialised process to ensure we track all ransomware cases regardless of where it may be referred in this country,”

said John Carlin, principle associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.

The latest development comes after a cyber criminal group which is understood to be based in Russia, penetrated the pipeline operator on the U.S. East Coast, locking its systems and demanding a ransom.

The cyber hack caused a shutdown lasting several days, led to a spike in gas prices, panic buying and localised fuel shortages in the southeast. 

Hackers were paid a ransom, Colonial Pipeline boss confirms

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.

Anthony Lucas is reporter, presenter and social media producer with ticker News. Anthony holds a Bachelor of Professional Communication, with a major in Journalism from RMIT University as well as a Diploma of Arts and Entertainment journalism from Collarts. He’s previously worked for 9 News, ONE FM Radio and Southern Cross Austerio’s Hit Radio Network. 

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Are U.S. voters rebuking Joe Biden over his Israel policy?

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The Israel-Hamas War is entering a sixth month.

During a recent trip in New York, President Joe Biden was asked when a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas might start.

He said he hopes a pause in hostilities can take effect in the coming days to allow for remaining hostages to be released.

Jonathan Tobin, the editor-in-chief of Jewish News Syndicate joins Veronica Dudo. #IN AMERICA TODAY #featured #IsraelHamas #war #Israel #Hamas #ceasefire

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Putin threatens West with nuclear strike

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a direct threat to employ nuclear weapons against the West, accusing NATO and the United States of preparing to strike Russia.

Putin delivered this ominous warning during his annual address to the nation, raising global tensions to unprecedented levels.

During his speech, Putin accused NATO and the US of deceptive maneuvers, alleging their intentions to launch an attack on Russian territory.

He emphasised Russia’s readiness to defend itself, boasting of its modernized nuclear arsenal and asserting the capability to defeat any potential aggressors on their own soil.

The Russian leader’s words carried a chilling reminder of the destructive power at his disposal, stating, “They have to understand that we also have weapons, weapons that can defeat them on their own territory.”

Such rhetoric underscores the grave risk of escalating conflict and the potential catastrophic consequences of nuclear warfare.

Nuclear war

Putin warned that the deployment of troops to Ukraine by NATO countries could lead to a real risk of nuclear war.

He emphasised Russia’s determination to strengthen its military presence in response to perceived threats from neighboring nations aligning with Western alliances.

In addition to military concerns, Putin criticized Western efforts to engage Russia in an arms race, vowing to bolster Russia’s defense capabilities while accusing the West of attempting to weaken the country economically and politically.

Despite escalating tensions and global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Putin sought to rally support domestically, praising Russian unity and resilience in the face of adversity.

He portrayed Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine as a defensive measure to safeguard national interests and protect Russian citizens.

Putin’s aggressive stance towards the West underscores the deepening rift between Russia and Western powers, raising fears of a potential conflict with far-reaching consequences.

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FAA gives Boeing 30 days to fix 737 MAX program

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The Federal Aviation Administration has issued Boeing a 90-day deadline to devise a comprehensive plan for enhancing quality control procedures after a recent incident involving a 737 Max aircraft.

Less than two months following an alarming occurrence where a door plug blew out of a 737 Max aircraft just nine minutes into an Alaska Airlines flight, the FAA has demanded Boeing to present a thorough strategy to address quality control deficiencies.

The incident, which took place on Flight 1282, revealed that essential bolts required to secure an unused door panel on the nearly new aircraft were missing, according to a preliminary investigation conducted earlier this month.

The door plug had been removed and reinstalled at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, factory where the 737 Max is manufactured.

This incident adds to a string of production issues plaguing Boeing’s flagship aircraft.

Action plan

In response to the FAA’s directive, Boeing affirmed its commitment to developing a comprehensive action plan with measurable benchmarks.

The aerospace giant assured that its leadership is fully dedicated to meeting this challenge head-on.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the need for Boeing to implement substantial and enduring improvements, emphasizing that foundational changes will necessitate ongoing commitment from the company’s leadership.

The FAA intends to hold Boeing accountable at every stage of the process, ensuring that mutually agreed milestones and expectations are met.

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