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Exclusive: Suspected North Korean hackers targeted COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca – sources

Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus….

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LONDON (Reuters) – Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.

The hacking attempts targeted a “broad set of people” including staff working on COVID-19 research, said one of the sources, but are not thought to have been successful.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not respond to a request for comment. Pyongyang has previously denied carrying out cyberattacks. It has no direct line of contact for foreign media.

AstraZeneca, which has emerged as one of the top three COVID-19 vaccine developers, declined to comment.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss non-public information, said the tools and techniques used in the attacks showed they were part of an ongoing hacking campaign that U.S. officials and cybersecurity researchers have attributed to North Korea.

The campaign has previously focused on defence companies and media organisations but pivoted to COVID-related targets in recent weeks, according to three people who have investigated the attacks.

Cyberattacks against health bodies, vaccine scientists and drugmakers have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic as state-backed and criminal hacking groups scramble to obtain the latest research and information about the outbreak.

Western officials say any stolen information could be sold for profit, used to extort the victims, or give foreign governments a valuable strategic advantage as they fight to contain a disease that has killed 1.4 million people worldwide.

Microsoft said this month it had seen two North Korean hacking groups target vaccine developers in multiple countries, including by “sending messages with fabricated job descriptions.” Microsoft did not name any of the targeted organisations.

South Korean lawmakers said on Friday that the country’s intelligence agency had foiled some of those attempts.

Reuters has previously reported that hackers from Iran, China and Russia have attempted to break into leading drugmakers and even the World Health Organisation this year. Tehran, Beijing and Moscow have all denied the allegations.

Some of the accounts used in the attacks on AstraZeneca were registered to Russian email addresses, one of the sources said, in a possible attempt to mislead investigators.

North Korea has been blamed by U.S. prosecutors for some of the world’s most audacious and damaging cyberattacks, including the hack and leak of emails from Sony Pictures in 2014, the 2016 theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and unleashing the Wannacry ransomware virus in 2017.

Pyongyang has described the allegations as part of attempts by Washington to smear its image.

Additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in GENEVA; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

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Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/healthcare-coronavirus-astrazeneca-north/exclusive-suspected-north-korean-hackers-targeted-covid-vaccine-maker-astrazeneca-sources-idUSL8N2IC2QU

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Reuters

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds aims for $2 bln valuation in U.S. IPO

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

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A sign on the entrance to the Allbirds flagship store is seen in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

The company, backed by asset manager Franklin Templeton, said it is offering 19.2 million shares priced between $12 and $14 each, along with the selling stockholders. At the top end of that range, the IPO would fetch about $269 million.

As global calls grow to limit global warming and switch to more environmentally friendly ways of living, several companies have come under investor and activist pressure to contribute to the change.

Among a handful of startups that recently tapped into investor interest in such sustainable offerings were Oprah Winfrey-backed vegan milk maker Oatly Group AB (OTLY.O) and Jessica Alba’s consumer goods company Honest Co (HNST.O). read more

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Numerous celebrities, top business executives and high-profile personalities such as Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Google co-founder Larry Page have been spotted wearing Allbirds sneakers in recent years.

Allbirds, however, toned down some of its environmental references in an amended filing earlier this month. The company, which said in August it would pioneer a framework to conduct the first-ever “sustainable public equity offering”, later removed references to the claim.

In its latest filing, Allbirds said it expects net revenue to grow up to 32% to $62.5 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, due to higher sales at its physical stores.

However, higher expenses are expected to drive up net losses to about $15 million to $18 million in the quarter, from nearly $7 million a year earlier.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/footwear-maker-allbirds-targets-over-2-bln-valuation-us-ipo-2021-10-25/

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Reuters

Facebook apologizes for second outage in a week, services back up

Facebook Inc apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oct 8 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

The company confirmed its social media platform, Instagram, Messenger and Workplace were impacted by the latest outage.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

During the latest outage, some users were unable to load their Instagram feeds, while others were not able to send messages on Facebook Messenger.

People swiftly took to Twitter to share memes and jokes about the second service disruption this week. “Looks like Facebook went to a 3-day work week. Monday and Friday shutdowns?” a Twitter user said.

Instagram thanked users for their patience and “for all the memes this week”.

On Monday, the social media giant blamed a “faulty configuration change” for a nearly six-hour outage that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

The outage on Monday was the largest that web monitoring group Downdetector had ever seen and blocked access to the apps for billions of users, leading to a surge in usage of rival social media and messaging apps. read more

Moscow officials said Monday’s outage showed Russia was right to develop its own social media networks, while EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted the repercussions of relying on just a few big players, underscoring the need for more rivals. read more

Both the outages piled pressure on Facebook this week after a former employee turned whistleblower accused the company on Sunday of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation. read more

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in Dallas; Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/instagram-feeds-not-loading-some-users-2021-10-08/

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Reuters

Chinese social media platforms to “rectify” financial self-media accounts

China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

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WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

This follows an announcement by China’s cyberspace regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), that it would look into accounts that have repeatedly released financial news illegally, distorted economic policy interpretation, badmouthed financial markets, spread rumours and disrupted network communications.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Wechat said in a statement on Saturday that from now until Oct. 26, it would investigate and shut down financial self-media accounts that “badmouth the financial market” and “blackmail and spread rumors.”

Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou also released similar statements on Saturday, reported the Global Times, with Sina Weibo and Kuaishou adding that they would severely crack down on accounts that violate the rules.

The announcements come amid a recent crackdown by Beijing on the tech sector, with the latest regulations targeting “chaotic” celebrity fan culture and algorithms that technology companies use to drive their business. read more

China is also framing rules to ban internet companies whose data poses potential security risks from listing outside the country, including in the United States. read more

Reporting by Emily Chow. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-social-media-platforms-rectify-financial-self-media-accounts-2021-08-28/

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