Facebook to launch global cryptocurrency Libra in 2020

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 18 June 2019
Facebook leads 27 organisations in efforts to launch a new global cryptocurrency called Libra

Facebook has established a new subsidiary called Calibra to create financial services for Libra

Facebook has unveiled its proposed new global cryptocurrency, called Libra, which will be launched in the first half of 2020. 

Libra has been put  together by Facebook with with 27 different organisations from around the world. Facebook has also established a new subsidiary called Calibra, which will create financial services for Libra and provide a digital wallet for users to save and spend the digital currency.

Calibra's digital wallet will be connected with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and will also be available as a standalone app.

Libra will not be a speculative asset, like Bitcoin. Instead, it will be a digital currency backed by a reserve of assets.


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"The Libra Blockchain is a decentralized, programmable database designed to support a low-volatility cryptocurrency that will have the ability to serve as an efficient medium of exchange for billions of people around the world," reveals Libra website.

Facebook believes the new currency will not only enable transactions between businesses and consumers across the globe, but will also provide unbanked consumers in developing countries access to financial services.

The goal is to eventually create a mainstream cryptocurrency that anyone can use to buy almost anything, and which can also support the complete range of financial products, from loans to credit to banking.

To achieve that goal, Facebook has created the nonprofit Libra Association with 27 other organisations, to be based in Geneva, to manage Libra.

Facebook's partners in this project include non-profit organisations, venture capital firms, crypto companies, technology and telecoms firms and financial service providers. Prominent names backing Libra include Mastercard, PayPal, Coinbase, Visa, eBay, Spotify, Vodafone, Uber and Lyft.

According to Facebook, the new currency will be independently managed and backed by real assets. Each member of the Libra Association will contribute a minimum of $10 million to the joint venture, giving it more than $1 billion backing the new digital currency. This asset pool, dubbed the Libra Reserve, will ensure that the Libra currency is backed by conventional assets.

Sending Libra to other users would be as easy as sending a "text message", according to Facebook.

"In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, such as paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code, or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass," the company claimed in a blog posting.

Libra payments ought to be accepted by all members of the Libra Association, initially. Facebook also expects the new digital currency to be bought and sold on currency markets in the future.

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Russia: Cyber war with US a possibility

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 18 June 2019
Russia says cyberwar between US and Russia is theoretically possible. Image via Pixabay

President Trump has rejected reports of US agencies deploying malware in Russia's power grid

Russia has warned that a reported US digital infiltration into Russia's electric power grid could trigger a cyber war between the two countries.

The warning from President Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov followed a report in The New York Times, suggesting that US is readying for a future cyberwar against Moscow, and that a cyberwar between two countries was possible, in theory.

"Undoubtedly this information shows the hypothetical possibility... all signs of cyberwar and military cyber action against the Russian Federation," said Peskov.


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According to Tass, Peskov said that several strategic areas of the Russian economy had endured cyber attacks from adversaries in the past and added that government agencies were constantly working to combat such attacks.

Peskov added that President Putin has sought, on multiple occasions, to initiate cooperation between various countries to prevent cyber crime. 

"Unfortunately, our American partners never responded to our initiatives," Peskov noted.

Last week, The Times reported that US Cyber Command was more aggressively deploying malware into Russia's grid and that those digital incursions don't even need approval from president Trump.

The report cited current and former unnamed US government officials and revealed that the primary purpose of planting malware into Russian power systems was to enable the US to conduct cyber attacks in case should a major conflict with Russia break out at any time in future.

The publication added that Trump gave the Cyber Command more powers last year to carry out offensive digital operations against the US adversaries, although the newspaper accepted that it did not have classified data to confirm whether Cyber Command has the power to shut down Russia's power system.

Mr Trump — who The New York Times claimed had not been briefed on the secret cyber operations — rejected the report on Sunday, describing it in a tweet as "a virtual act of treason".

Trump added that the newspaper was "desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our country."

The US government has never publically disclosed details of past cyber actions taken against its adversaries. But last week national security adviser John Bolton said that US had started taking more aggressive steps in cyberspace against countries that were engaged in cyber operations against the US.

General Paul M. Nakasone, chief of US Cyber Command, also said recently that the US needed to have "defend forward" capabilities to foil cyberattack against critical US systems.

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Microsoft's GitHub acquires Pull Panda for code-review collaboration

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 18 June 2019
GitHub has acquired Pull Panda, a start-up known for creating code review tools for GitHub developers

Pull Reminders, Pull Analytics, and Pull Assigner now available free in the GitHub Marketplace

Microsoft-owned GitHub has acquired Pull Panda, a start-up behind code review tools for GitHub developers.

As a result, Pull Panda's three products - Pull Reminders, Pull Analytics, and Pull Assigner - have been made available for free as one application in the GitHub Marketplace. In future, GitHub plans to integrate Pull Panda's suite of code review tools into its platform.

Better code reviews mean better code for software teams of all sizes, whether you work in open source or on a Fortune 500 team

Financial details of the deal were not revealed by any of the two companies.

According to GitHub, the purpose of the purchase is to "help teams create more efficient and effective code review workflows on GitHub".

"Better code reviews mean better code for software teams of all sizes, whether you work in open source or on a Fortune 500 team," GitHub wrote in a blog post.

"However, fast-moving teams can run into delays as pull requests pile up and fall through the cracks. Teams need a better way to manage reviews, reduce turnaround times, and ship code faster."


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Pull Panda, based in Boulder, Colorado, was founded by Abi Noda in 2018. Pull Panda's code review tools enable teams to collaborate on code and gain better insights into their processes.

Pull Reminders tool enables notifies developers when a collaborator needs their review.

Pull Analytics provides real-time statistics on top contributors, wait times, and several other attributes of a team's process. This tool provides team leaders insight into how speedily reviews are completed, along with other related information.

Pull Assigner tool helps to automatically distribute code across teams for review so that no developers find themselves overloaded.

According to Pull Panda, more than 1,000 companies are currently using its products, most notable users being Pivotal Software, Instacart, and WeWork.

In a blog post, Abi Noda said that he expects the new deal to enable Pull Panda's products to be offered to "millions more developers around the world". Noda added that he will join GitHub to continue to develop Pull Panda's features as part of the core product.

GitHub was purchased by Microsoft last year for $7.5 billion - one of Microsoft's largest acquisitions to date.

Pull Panda is the second acquisition made by GitHub since being purchased by Microsoft. Earlier, it bought Dependabot Inc., whose namesake app notified developers about flaws hiding in their software.

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What's new in ransomware and how can businesses stay ahead of the threat?

By Aleksander Jarosz | Opinion | 18 June 2019

EclecticIQ's Aleksander Jarosz on minimising the risk of lockdowns, data theft and disruption

Despite our observations on the decline of ransomware between 2016 and 2017, the profit-hungry criminal underworld never sleeps. Recent developments indicate that ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly complex and now, more than ever, organisations must stay alert to the prospect of potential targeted attacks from the latest attack methods and malware variants. 

A recent ransomware landscape analysis by EclecticIQ - 2019 Ransomware Snapshot: Understanding the Current Landscape - focuses on 20 different variants of ransomware found in the wild and worryingly places the current estimated malware variant figure at over 100, meaning the threat at hand is fairly diverse. With the latest reported versions using the same algorithms the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends to IT administrators in order to secure their systems, there's plenty of scope to keep CIOs and CISOs up at night. But if the right precautions are taken and regular back-ups are made and tested, risks can be managed. 

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware with file-altering capabilities on an endpoint, database or server, using encryption to change the format of files within a computer system - thus making them inoperable and effectively useless to the owner.

Ransomware uses fraud and is time-based - often victims will be presented with ransomware notes that inform them that they will have to pay the ransom in order to access a decryption service using the key that the attackers hold, within a time period set by the threat actors. The encryption key to permanently decrypt the files is exchanged for money in the form of cryptocurrency. It is worth noting that paying the ransom does not always lead to files being decrypted and it is always worth checking to see whether a free decryption tool is available online.

Relatively simple in its approach, ransomware has become a popular form of attack - both as a standalone vector and in combination with other forms of malware. It employs strong encryption algorithms which are nearly impossible to break if a decryption tool is not available in the public domain, and large ransoms have been paid by organisations desperate to limit the damage.


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As the threatscape has evolved, cybercriminals can now attack thousands of systems at the same time, and, as previously mentioned, ransomware is now often used with other malware. In fact, cybercriminals are now often seen co-operating in dark web markets in order to increase profitability. Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) packages are offered in these environments and are becoming increasingly popular. As part of these schemes, cybercriminals license out ransomware services to buyers and take a cut of any money that is made from the victims.

The rise of RaaS has allowed threat actors to distance themselves from a lot of the dirty, system penetration work and still make money, effectively establishing a hierarchy in which ransomware attacks and campaigns are outsourced. As the popularity of RaaS increases, one limiting factor remains - the devaluation of cryptocurrencies.

What's new in 2019?

Notable variants for Q1 in 2019 include Ryuk, MongoLock and hAnt. Ryuk has been a particularly damaging ransomware as it has been used to deliver other forms of malware such as TrickBot, a powerful banking Trojan which has been plaguing customers of major banks since 2006. Ryuk ransomware has so far targeted a media company, a data aggregation company and several government entities.

The MongoLock ransomware variant is particularly feared as it acts like a wiper, deleting files upon infection instead of the usual course of encryption observed in other variants. MongoLock targets databases with weak security settings and presents a ransom note in a further effort to deceive and monetise, while never actually delivering the files back to the victims.

Finally, hAnt is a highly targeted ransomware that infects CryptoMiners in China. Due to its cheap electricity there has been a surge in cryptomining and cryptojacking activities within the country. To profit on this development, ransomware authors of hAnt have designed their malware to scan systems for specific types of mining rigs - with the Antminer S9 and T9 being primary targets. Once located, the infection threatens to destroy the rigs by turning off fans and any overheating protection.

In a nutshell, the current landscape presents threats which have changed our approach to security in the past few years. A new approach is needed to carefully monitor the known avenues of infection.  Organisations and their CISOs need to develop a holistic approach to security, which encompasses the whole of their digital perimeter, beyond just email servers. CISOs now have to consider what devices are being connected to their networks and what programs they are allowed to download, and also to lock down local admins' access to their mainframe systems. Strong identity management policies should also be a key focal point to be considered, with an educational aspect across organisations - if you haven't audited this in a while, now would be the right time to do so.

Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) can also go a long way to enhancing security. While ransomware changes quickly, threat intelligence narrows the focus. Instead of tracking hundreds of variants, CISOs are able to focus on a handful of specific ones - for example ransomware programs that have attacked critical national infrastructure in the last 90 days. The key here, is always to be a step ahead of the attacker in order to better manage the risks.

Aleksander Jarosz is a threat intelligence analyst at EclecticIQ

5 things women in tech want to see at an event

By Holly Brockwell | Opinion | 18 June 2019
Holly Brockwell discusses how tech events need to change

'The fact that women want to be treated equally doesn't mean we all have the same needs, and it definitely doesn't mean we have the same needs as men.' Holly Brockwell discusses how tech events need to change

The fact that women want to be treated equally doesn't mean we all have the same needs, and it definitely doesn't mean we have the same needs as men.

There's been lots of discussion over the last few years about how to create events that are welcoming and inclusive for women in tech. But as ever, it's better to talk to women than about them, so we asked the women of Twitter to tell us exactly what they want to see from an event - whether it's one designed specifically for women or for everyone.

Here's what they said.

1. A code of conduct (CoC)

As the brilliant Ashe Dryden puts it in her indispensable Code of Conduct 101:

"To be considered an adequate code of conduct, it must have four complete parts:

● statement of unacceptable behavior
● how the policy will be enforced
● how and whom to make an incident report to
● training and reference materials for organizers, staff, and volunteers on how to respond to incident reports."

Game designer Jennifer Scheurle told us "I'm straight-up not going to conferences anymore without a decent code of conduct that is easily accessible."

Software engineer Samathy Barratt adds, "The biggest one is having a real enforceable CoC which details what one needs to do, how they can do it and what action is taken. And remind everyone that you have a CoC at the start of the day."

But of course, just paying lip service isn't enough. Character artist Shay wants to know where to go if someone breaks the code: "I would want it to be made clear where i could go privately if [the CoC] is breached. Sometimes you can't just go to any event helper or security guard with an issue. I would feel calmer knowing there was someone explicitly that I could go to."

Finally, software engineer Kelly Ellis points out that it's important to report violations and reinforce that your event's code of conduct is actually being enforced - "I want to know the CoC is upheld and isn't meaningless."

2. A comfortable temperature

Women are constantly undermined at work by freezing air con temperatures which not only leave us shivering at our desks, but actively impair our thinking.

The same goes for conferences. Designer-developer Jessica VanDusen explains, "I was at a conference where one only room in a huge conference centre was freezing. No idea why, but it made it nearly impossible to pay attention to the talk."

Kelly Ellis adds, "I'm at a tech conference right now and it's a huge issue for me. It's so cold in there, and I didn't bring a jacket (just a dress with no tights) that I decided to skip the keynotes. I can't even absorb information when I'm that uncomfortable."

3. A distinct lack of 'manels'

No surprises here: women in tech would really rather not see the male-and-pale panels that make up the ManelWatch Twitter account. As UX specialist Fiona MacNeill puts it, "If you cannot build a representative panel then you are asking the wrong questions and should change or bin the idea."

On a similar note, digital marketer Emily says " there should be ZERO assumption of someone's credentials or capabilities based on gender" because "getting to a tech event and immediately being talked down to [because] I'm a woman is a common occurrence."

UI engineer Stephanie Vacher makes the excellent point that dress codes should also be carefully considered: "no sexist/racist dress codes (natural hair is allowed, makeup is not mandatory, not forced to wear heels)."

And finally, games composer Zofia Domaradzka would like to request a women's cut of the free conference t-shirts. Preferably not in sizes XS and XXL with nothing in between...!

[Turn to next page]

4. A bit of consideration

Modern women have a lot to deal with - more than men, in many cases. A lot of the women who responded to our tweet wanted to see some consideration for that at events for women in tech, in various forms.

A key way to take the weight off women's shoulders is to provide childcare at events. Of course, looking after the kids is in no way women's work, but as Fiona Mc Andrew points out, statistics suggest the bulk of the burden still falls on us.

Kelly Ellis suggests both childcare and private breastfeeding spaces, while backend engineer and keynote speaker Melissa Benua says events should have "at least a baby/toddler chill out area," because "sometimes life happens and you gotta suck it up and be mum at the conference."

If events can't provide childcare themselves, tech analyst Lauren Maffeo suggests a stipend, or else as Dr Effie Le Moignan puts it, "don't be weird about people bringing babies."

Free sanitary products in the toilets were a popular suggestion, though it's important to note that to be truly inclusive, these should be in all bathrooms, not just those marked 'women'. In fact, ideally, toilets would be gender neutral.

One last thing on loos - toilet paper and plenty of it. As Dr Le Moignan mentions, it always runs out at busy events.

5. Other women!

That means women on the panels, women in the audience, women on stage, women in the events team, women everywhere.

And not just any women, but women from all different aspects of tech - as founder of Ada Lovelace Day Suw Charman explains, "not just coders, designers and founders, but marketers, UX, HR, content managers, partnership managers, advocates."

A range of ages would be good too - Anya Rikku says, "Things that are for women just getting into tech [whether] 18 starting uni or 40 wanting a career change doing open uni. I'd love to go to these things but worry I'm out of my depth." Fiona Mc Andrew adds, "Trying to get a women over 35 on a panel can be tough. We are missing their valuable insights."

No excuses

This is all very prescriptive feedback, which means there's no excuse for event organisers to keep making the same mistakes.

That includes us, so we'll be doing our utmost to make the Women In Tech Festival UK 2019 the most welcoming, comfortable, inspiring environment we possibly can. See you in September.

Container use has more than doubled in the past 6 months, finds survey

By John Leonard | News | 18 June 2019
Multi-cloud and containers are becoming the norm - but how can firms optimise usage?

Study by Densify finds a rise in multi-cloud and container strategies

A global survey of 439 enterprise IT professionals by cloud resource management software company Densify in May found that hybrid and multi-cloud strategies are increasingly prevalent. Sixty-six per cent of respondents ran more than one cloud infrastructure service, the most popular public cloud provider being AWS, followed by Microsoft Azure and then Google Cloud Platform. Just ahead of Google, 38 per cent using it, was VMware on-premises virtualisation.

Public cloud adoption continues to increase, and perhaps as a consequence of the rapid proliferation of cloud options, 40 per cent of respondents described themselves as being 'not up to speed' with the latest developments. This situation is likely to become exacerbated, particularly in view of rapid changes in the way in which applications are architected and deployed, with traditional VMs beginning to be displaced by containers as the platform of choice.

Indeed, containers are growing at an astonishing rate: the survey found a doubling of container use over the last six months with 44 percent using them in production as opposed to 19 per cent last November.

Organisations using containers typically turn to managed Kubernetes services to orchestrate deployments, with Amazon EKS being the most popular. While infrastructure automation using AWS CloudFormation, Hashicorp Terraform, Azure Resource Manager and similar infrastructure-as-code solutions was being undertaken by the majority, a significant 45 per cent had not yet adopted such automated management tools.

Cloud was once sold to enterprises as a money saving option, and while it can be good for the bottom line this is by no means guaranteed, particularly as visibility into exactly which resources are being consumed can be tricky in such a complex environment; and for operations staff cost is not always front of mind. Indeed, 45 per cent of respondents said they overspent the cloud budget in the last 12 months, with a quarter of those doing so by 25 per cent or more.

Application performance management tools (59 per cent) and cloud management platforms (52 per cent) were in widespread use for selecting optimal cloud resources but there was still a high degree of manual tweaking and 'best guess' optimisations. Meanwhile for container-based applications and microservices, the survey found that the use of automated tools to optimise CPU, memory and container size lagged well behind the rate of adoption of the newer deployment methodologies, with 'best guess' and 'tribal knowledge' being the most common practices.

"Cloud and containers have evolved so quickly that there currently is a lack of best practices and guidance around practices and solutions that ensure infrastructure resources are selected and managed efficiently," the report notes. 

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Free tool to decrypt all versions of the GandCrab ransomware released

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 17 June 2019
GandCrab ransomware is thought to have infected over 1.5 million Windows systems since January 2019. Image via Pixabay

Bitdefender's decryption tool can neutralise the latest versions of GandCrab, as well as retrieve files encrypted by earlier versions

Bitdefender has released a free tool enabling victims of the GandCrab ransomware to decrypt their files without paying a ransom.

Bitdefender researchers developed it in partnership with Europol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Romanian Police, the UK's National Crime Agency, DIICOT, and several other security agencies across Europe.

The decryption tool is available for download on websites of Bitdefender Labs and the No More Ransom project. According to its developers, it is capable of neutralising the latest versions of the malware - GandCrab v5.0 through to GandCrab v5.2 - and can also retrieve files encrypted by earlier versions of the ransomware.


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GandCrab 5.2 will almost certainly be the last version of the ransomware after the group behind it announced their retirement earlier this month - having made tens of millions of dollars from cyber crime. 

After the shutdown at the end of the month, all decryption keys held by the group will be deleted. 

The first version of the GandCrab decryptor was released in February last year. In October, Bitdefender released an update to the tool. A special decryptor for GandCrab ransomware victims located in Syria was also released.

We can safely assume that 5.2 will be the last ransomware version ever from the GandCrab team

Free decryption tools released over the past 18 months have helped more than 30,000 victims, according to Bitdefender. These tools have also saved victims around $50 million in unpaid ransoms.

GandCrab is, by far, the most widespread ransomware strain at the moment, according to security experts. It emerged in January 2018, and filled the place of the Cerber and Locky ransomware strains.

In less than a year, it became the world's most widespread ransomware, accounting for about 50 per cent of all infections. It is believed to have infected over 1.5 million Windows systems since January 2019.

The ransomware was also rented out to other hackers on a well-known hacking forum.

The creators of the ransomware claim it has been behind the extortion of around $2 billion from victims. The group behind it say they have laundered the money raised from the ransomware by investing in multiple legitimate businesses. 

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Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei admits US sanctions will cut revenues by $30bn

By Graeme Burton | News | 17 June 2019
Ren Zhengfei at a press conference earlier this year

Zhengfei admits he underestimated potential impact of being placed on US 'Entity List'

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has admitted that US sanctions will hit his company harder than originally anticipated.

At a ‘Coffee with Ren' event today in Shenzhen, China Ren suggested that the action by the US government could knock as much as $30 billion off of the company's revenues this year and in 2020, compared to $105.2 billion the company posted in 2018.

"We cannot get components supply, cannot participate in many international organizations, cannot work closely with many universities, cannot use anything with US components, and cannot even establish connection with networks that use such components," Ren said, according to Reuters which had a reporter at the event.


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Ren admitted that he had underestimated the impact that being placed on the US ‘Entity List' last month, which requires its US suppliers to apply for licences before they can sell components to the networking hardware firm. The practical result of the move was the near-instant shutdown of cessation of business between Huawei and suppliers with ties to the US.

While President Trump rowed-back a little with a 90-day stay of execution for Huawei, the company will still struggle to find suitable replacements for goods and services provided by companies such as Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, Google, ARM and Microsoft in the time available.

"We did not expect they would attack us on so many aspects," Zhengfei added.

In addition to the impact on the company's core networking hardware products, the company is also expecting international sales of smartphones, which rely on ARM-based microprocessors and networking chips from Qualcom, to be cut in half this year.

Noted Silicon Valley ‘gurus' George Gilder and Nicholas Negroponte also appeared at the event alongside Zhengfei. They were also critical of the US action, according to Reuters journalist Sijia Jiang.

"Our president has already said publicly that he would reconsider Huawei if we can make a trade deal. So clearly that is not about national security, we don't trade national security. So it is about something else. And this trade war has got to end," said Negroponte. Both Gilder and Negroponte claimed to be meeting Zhengfei for the first time.

Gilder added that the US was making "a terrible mistake" and suggested that Huawei could help solve the problem of a "catastrophically insecure internet architecture".

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Huawei expects smartphone sales to fall by half outside of China

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 17 June 2019
The US government placed Huawei in its "Entity List" in May 2019

Huawei is considering pulling launch of Honor 20 smartphone from Europe in order to focus on China

Huawei is anticipating a fall in international smartphone shipments this year of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent as a result of the US sanctions imposed in May. 

That's according to a weekend report by Bloomberg, citing the usual "people familiar with the matter". It comes as Huawei prepares to launch its £399 Honor 20 smartphone in the UK on Friday this week.

According to Bloomberg, the company is currently assessing its options and may even pull the Honor 20 from overseas markets in order to focus on its core market in China. 

While the Honor 20 runs on Huawei's home-grown Kirin system-on-a-chip, fabricated by TSMC, potential buyers may have apprehensions regarding its ability to receive updates for Android.


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Last month, the US government placed Huawei in its "Entity List", barring the company from doing business with US companies without explicit prior approval.

The ban saw a series of US suppliers and suppliers with US links stop working with Huawei, almost overnight. The move was so draconian that even Google withdrew its Android licence, stripping Huawei of the right to pre-load the Play Store, Google Maps and Gmail on all new Android smartphones, and Facebook has removed its app from Huawei devices, too. 

The move could also affect the ability of Huawei to push security and other updates to Android users. 

The US government decided within days to temporarily lift the ban for 90 days, giving Huawei a stay of execution

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei nevertheless has publicly remained bullish for the company's prospects. He said that such restrictions "may slow" the company's growth, but "only slightly".

Internally, though, the Bloomberg report indicates that Huawei executives are expecting a sharp fall in smartphone sales volumes of anywhere between 40 million to 60 million units this year. If the ban stays in place, the drop will be even steeper in 2020. 

To offset overseas the anticipated sales decline, Huawei is working on a strategy to grab up to 50 per cent of China's smartphone market this year. 

Huawei's share in China's smartphone market last year was 34 per cent, according to box counters Canalys, making it the only one of China's top five smartphone makers to report growth.

Despite that, the company needs to secure its position in the market and to ward off competition from upstart brands like Vivo and Oppo, which are trying to attract customers in various segments by continuously refreshing their products.

Huawei's long-term strategy includes developing more of its mobile software and technology, particularly chip technology, to decrease its dependence on US suppliers.

The company is also reportedly developing its own mobile operating system, dubbed 'Hongmeng', and has filed trademark applications in a number of countries to support this move.

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US agencies have deployed malware into Russia's power grid systems, the New York Times claims

By Dev Kundaliya | News | 17 June 2019
President Trump was unimpressed with the New York Times report that suggested he was unaware of the action

President Trump labelled the New York Times report "a virtual act of treason"

American Cyber Command has deployed malware into Russian power grid systems to enable the US to potentially conduct cyber attacks in the event of a major conflict with Russia.

That's according to a report by The New York Times, which claims that US Cyber Command is now using new powers to aggressively install cyber-tools against Russia, and that those digital incursions don't even need approval from the president Trump.

The report anonymously cited "current and former officials" to back up its claims. "It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year," one intelligence official said. He added: "We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago."

Whether or not US Cyber Command now has the power to effectively shut off Russia's power grids is impossible to know unless it is actually attempted by the agencies, the Times concluded.

The sources added that they believe President Trump has not been briefed about the deployment of malware inside Russian power systems.

While the US government has never disclosed publically any information on exactly what actions have been taken in the past, national security adviser John Bolton said last week that the country is now changing its strategy and taking an aggressive offensive stance in cyberspace against adversaries engaged in cyberoperations against the country. 

Cyber Command boss General Paul M. Nakasone has also stressed the need for "defend forward" capabilities to counter the threat of cyber attacks against US systems.


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Security experts advocating an aggressive offensive strategy against Russia say that it was long overdue, following public warnings from the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of investigation that Russian agencies were attempting to inject malware into US systems.

According to those agencies, the purpose of the malware is to get into a position to be able to damage US electrical infrastructure, water supplies and other vital systems in the event of a conflict between Russia and the US. Russian agencies were also accused of interfering in the 2016 US presidential elections and launching campaigns to promote disinformation on social media.

However, President Trump flatly rejected the report via Twitter, calling it "a virtual act of Treason".

"Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country....." President Trump tweeted.

For good measure, he also labelled the media "cowards" and the "enemy of the people".

The Times responded to Trump's tweets by saying that his own officials had made clear that they had no security concerns about the story. 

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