Hashtag Trending Feb.15th-U.S., U.K sanction ransomware gangs, new open-source “super cloud” and Salesforce adds gender options

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Have ransomware gangs finally “a bridge too far?” has crossed over, a new “super cloud” it says is not only open source, but it’s also much cheaper than other cloud providers and Salesforce recognizes new gender options.

February 15 is Wednesday. These stories and more on Trending Hashtags—Today’s Top Technology News. I’m your host, Jim Love.

Could economic sanctions be the tool that finally wipes out ransomware gangs? Some recent studies suggest this new approach may work.

Recently, the US and the UK cooperatively implemented financial sanctions on seven individuals who are part of the Russia-based cybercrime gang, Trickbot.

Trickbot has been one of the most prolific cybercrime organizations. It first appeared in 2016 and many feel it has survived because of its connections to and protection by Russian intelligence and the Russian government in return for its attacks against US and Western targets.

The group made its debut in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, first attacking non-Russian financial systems. Later, Trickbot targeted hospitals and health care centers, affecting computer networks, telephones, and in the process disrupting the already overstretched ambulance services and hospitals across the US.

US and other authorities have targeted the gang and in 2020 their botnet was disrupted and two key gang members were arrested. Despite this, the gang has survived and is reported to have continued to support or work with Russian intelligence services to attack targets in the US and UK, particularly major health care facilities.

Now, Western governments are fighting back in a new way. According to an article in CPO magazine, they are banning gangs and imposing fines, making it too expensive for companies to pay the ransom. Victims often find that they would rather rely on backup and recovery than pay to get their files back from attackers.

Apart from taking action to stop the flow of money, the government is taking various other actions including identifying and even arresting the members of the group. Roger Grimes, an evangelist at cybersecurity firm KnowBe4, said the sanctions “represent a turning point in the battle” given that the full force of every possible government agency has been brought to bear – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency. CISA, FBI, Department of Justice, National Security Agency, Trade Councils, Foreign Agencies and more. Grimes said, “Even the President of the United States joined in. Ransomware has finally crossed a ‘bridge too far'”.

However, there are limits to sanctions. While sanctions may limit the international movement of subjects, they may not facilitate arrest if they reside in a country that encourages their activities, such as Russia. Furthermore, hackers don’t really go out of business, they usually go underground for a short period of time and then re-emerge with a new criminal brand.

Trickbot, in particular, has proven to be more resilient than other ransomware gangs because they have diversified their attacks, and do not always demand payment from victims. So it is unlikely that the sanctions will shut down all their activities.

However, research by the Intel 471 Threat Research Team states that “we haven’t seen any trickbot activity since the February 2022 blog post. It is highly likely that Trickbot will not be seen again. One possible scenario is that the source code could be sold or leaked, and other threat actors could reuse it or put the source into a new project…”

Source: cpo magazine

The demand for public cloud is increasing but so is the competition within the public cloud marketplace. And there may be a new competitor.

One company, Aakash Networks, is taking a new approach to competing with hyperscalers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft by operating an open-source, decentralized “super” cloud.

Their model allows anyone with a data center or computer to share unused processing cycles to create a new, open source, collaborative cloud provider.

Trying to take advantage of unused computing cycles is an idea that has been tried before. Decades ago, researchers tried to create a pool of unused cycles on personal computers as part of the Search for Intelligent Life (SETI) project.

But now, the convergence of cloud and open source technologies may have created a commercially viable alternative.

Greg Osuri, CEO of Aakash Networks, said in an interview with Data Center Knowledge that they have built a marketplace that gives data center operators control over pricing and features through reverse auctioning. This means users, or tenants as Aakash calls them, specify their application needs and maximum budget. Providers bid on the order with the lowest bid winning.

“It’s 75 to 85 percent cheaper than the Amazon of the world,” Osuri said.

According to a Gartner report, the use of marketplaces is also a key data center right-sizing strategy and is part of a broader trend to integrate “on-premises, co-location, cloud and edge”.

The new offering promises to allow cloud-native and containerized applications to run faster on a decentralized cloud. Open source software is beneficial for developers and users as well. It’s easier for developers to launch new apps and users can enjoy more flexibility in how they use the apps.

Source: data center knowledge

Microsoft’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Yesterday, the giant permanently removed Internet Explorer in some versions of Windows 10. The company had previously said that IE would be phased out via Windows Update, but later said it would be via an Edge update.

The update has been rolled out to all devices – both consumer and commercial – at the same time and there is no possibility of rolling back the change.

A banner titled “The future of Internet Explorer is in Microsoft Edge” is now visible and users will be redirected to Edge any time they attempt to launch an IE-based use-case. Their browsing data will also be seamlessly migrated.

Source: neovin

Microsoft also yesterday spun off Yammer, the enterprise social network it bought for $1.2 billion a decade ago.

The Redmond giant tried to integrate Yammer into its office suite in 2019. But after the launch of employee experience platform Viva, Yammer’s relevance took a drastic hit. Yammer’s fate was decided when Microsoft moved on to Viva in 2022 with the launch of Viva Engage, which at the time was branded as an evolution of the Yammer Community app.

But now the Yammer brand will be phased out and Viva Engage will be saved. This will include transitioning the existing Yammer mobile app to Viva Engage in March 2023, followed by a transition to the Yammer web app this summer.

Let’s take a moment of silence for Yammer.

Source: techcrunch

Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client is experiencing a potential rebirth.

The Mozilla Foundation decided to overhaul Thunderbird in 2012 after it was practically abandoned and moved to a community-driven development model with many developers volunteering to work on the project.

“Many volunteer contributors with varying tastes … resulted in an inconsistent user interface without a consistent user experience.” said Alessandro Castellani, the company’s product design manager.

The reform, named Supernova, aims to eliminate all existing technical and interface debt accumulated over the past ten years on the platform.

Thunderbird 115′ Supernova is scheduled to release in July 2023.

Source: register

Walmart is cracking down on remote work, closing some offices and forcing employees to relocate or leave.

The company is closing offices in Carlsbad, California, Portland, Oregon and Austin, Texas, though it has not said when these centers will close.

With the office closures, hundreds of employees will either have to relocate to one of Walmart’s tech hubs or leave the retailer. The company said it would pay relocation costs for those who decide to relocate.

Company spokesman Rob Munro told Insider that the retailer is also cutting back on remote work for tech staff. Everyone working on the Global Tech Team under Suresh Kumar, Walmart’s global chief technology and development officer, will be expected to work from the tech office at least two days a week.

“Our decision to live together is anchored by Walmart’s fundamental belief that our people make a difference, our culture matters and we form stronger partnerships when we are physically together,” Monroe said.

Source: business Insider

Salesforce has added two new fields to its software wherever people are referred to, one to include pronouns and another for gender identity.

With the move, the business software giant wants to allow customers to better represent transgender and non-binary people, but also help make gender data more accurate.

Axios wrote that administrators no longer need to add custom fields to expand the capability of reporting more standard data across a wider range of gender identities.

To accelerate this move, Salesforce partnered with its own employees from the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the nonprofit Out & Equal, working to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion.

Salesforce has however made it clear that it is not required to collect data on gender identity from customers, which may be unnecessary and inappropriate in some cases.

At the end of the day, the move is about more inclusive language, said Paula Goldman, Salesforce’s chief ethical and humane use officer. “It’s about giving businesses the tools to better understand and serve their diverse customer base.”

Source: axios

Here is today’s top tech news.

Links to these stories can be found in articles posted at itworldcanada.com/podcasts. You can also find more great stories and more in-depth coverage at itworldcanada.com or in the US at technewsday.com.

If you’re trying to stay up to date on cyber security, you might want to follow our companion podcast, CyberSecurityToday.

Hashtag Trending airs five days a week with the daily newscast and we have a special weekend edition featuring an interview with an expert in some aspect of the technology that is making the news.

It’s always great to hear from you, you can find me on LinkedIn, Mastodon, Twitter or leave a comment below the article for this podcast on ITWorldCanada.com.

I’m Jim Love, have a wonderful Wednesday.

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