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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Venture capital investments in cybersecurity firms hit a record high last year amid a surge in cyber crime over the last few years, according to a report released on Thursday by U.S.-based Strategic Cyber Ventures.
Total venture capital funding in the space totaled $ 5.3 billion in 2018, up 20 percent from $ 4.4 billion seen in 2017.
“We’re seeing mega-breaches happening on an extremely frequent basis,” Chris Ahern, data scientist and principal at Strategic Cyber Ventures, told Reuters on Wednesday.
“I don’t think that’s going to stop anytime soon. And investors are seeing that as an opportunity for investment.”
Cybersecurity has become the focus for governments and corporations around the world as digital crime increases.
The latest quarterly data from cybersecurity firm ThreatMetrix showed that it detected 210 million attacks in the first quarter last year, with another 151 million seen in the second quarter. Compared with 2015, cyberattacks have surged more than 100 percent, illustrating an overall heightened risk landscape over the last two years, ThreatMetrix said.
U.S. cybersecurity firms took the bulk of investments, accounting for 46 percent of investments in 2018, according to the Strategic Cyber Ventures report. Asian and European companies took 22.6 percent of global investment, up from 12.7 percent in 2014.
“We’ve seen this trend in the broader tech ecosystem as well, with many large international funds and investment outside of the U.S.,” the report said.
“Simply put, amazing and valuable technology companies are being created outside of the U.S.”
That said, Ahern sees a bit of a pullback in investments for this year. “There is still a lot of money being put to work in 2019. I do think investors are a little bit weary, there’s a bit of vendor fatigue,” he added.
Asked about the biggest cybersecurity threat in the world, Strategic Cyber Ventures co-founder and chief executive officer Hank Thomas told Reuters that he considers the People’s Liberation Army — China’s armed forces — as the largest cyber threat actor in the world.
“They’re playing the long game. They have been able to use cyber to facilitate all sorts of things beyond just information warfare,” said Thomas, who is a former U.S. army intelligence officer focused on cyber, signals intelligence, information operations, and military intelligence planning.
Strategic Cyber Ventures has a $ 100 million portfolio that includes four cybersecurity companies.
Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Phil Berlowitz
Tesla, the pioneering electric-car manufacturer that posted blowout earnings this week, may be facing an FBI investigation over investor communications it made regarding the production levels of its Model 3 sedans, the Wall Street Journal said Friday.
Earlier this month, Tesla settled with the SEC over charges that it misled investors after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private. The SEC, which alleged that the tweets were fraudulent, at first sued Musk, before reaching a settlement that required Musk and Tesla to each pay $ 20 million in fines, while finding an independent chairman to replace Musk.
According to the Journal, Tesla the FBI “has intensified” its investigation into whether Tesla misstated data on the production of its Model 3, its lowest-priced sedan. Tesla has invested heavily in the Model 3 production, adding to losses in recent quarters. Last quarter, however, Model 3 sales pushed Tesla into the black.
In a statement, Tesla disputed some of the Journal’s report. “Earlier this year, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the Department of Justice about its public guidance for the Model 3 ramp,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement to Fortune. “We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process, and there have been no additional document requests about this from the Department of Justice for months.”
The Journal reported that former Tesla employees, who received subpoenas earlier in the investigation, have been contacted in recent weeks by the FBI for further testimony.
Musk told investors on earnings calls that Tesla would be producing between 5,000 and 20,000 Model 3s per month by the end of 2017, the Journal said. In reality, Tesla ended up producing only 2,700 Model 3’s for all of 2017. The FBI is reportedly investigating such discrepancies.
While Tesla admits it did not meet its early and ambitious production goals, it said it was “transparent about how difficult it would be… and that we were entering ‘production hell.’” Tesla further noted that “it took us six months longer than we expected to meet our 5,000 unit per week guidance,” but that its approach has been “to set truthful targets – not sandbagged targets that we would definitely exceed and not unrealistic targets that we could never meet.”
Tesla’s stock, which rose 5.2% Friday during official trading, was down 1.8% in after-hours trading.
Facebook responded to a New York Times investigation on Oct. 15 into ethnic violence incited by members of the Myanmar military by banning 13 additional pages with a combined 1.35 million followers. The pages represented themselves as offering beauty, entertainment, and general information, but the Times report said the military controlled the pages, rather than fans of pop stars and national heroes, as the pages alleged.
Facebook announced the move in an update to a blog post about its previous actions to combat the spread of false information via its service in Myanmar that have led to killings and widespread violence against ethnic minorities. Accounts and pages previously banned had about 12 million followers, and included the account for the general in charge of the country’s armed forces.
Facebook received heavy criticism for its slow response to its platform being used for violence, and said as much in August in the initial version of its Myanmar blog post, when it admitted “we have been too slow to prevent misinformation and hate.”
The Times reported that the Myanmar military have engaged in a systemic campaign for five years on Facebook to target the Rohingya, a stateless minority population in the country comprising mostly Muslims. As many as 700 military personnel were involved, the Times said. Facebook confirmed many details for the newspaper. The company did not immediately respond to a request from Fortune for comment.
The spread of fake information ranging from specific false accounts about rapes and murders by Muslims to blanket condemnations of Islam are seen as leading directly to a large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. Over 700,000 Rohingya have left Myanmar since August 2017, joining more than 300,000 who had already departed the country, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. A report from the agency in August estimates at least 10,000 Rohingya people had been killed in violence, but other observers believe the number could be far higher.
(Reuters) – Shares of Cisco Systems Inc and other network equipment makers fell on Friday after a report that Amazon.com Inc’s cloud services business was considering selling its own network switches to business customers at much lower prices.
Cisco’s shares were down 5 percent, wiping off nearly $ 11 billion from its market capitalization. Shares of Juniper Networks Inc and Arista Networks Inc fell 4 percent as investors feared that Amazon’s scale and pricing power could disrupt the sector.
The report comes days after Amazon sent shockwaves across the drug retailing sector with its move to buy small online pharmacy PillPack.
The networking devices will consist of open-source software and unbranded hardware known as “white-box” switches and come with built-in connections to AWS cloud services, such as servers and storage, the Information said.
Amazon Web Services could price its white-box switches 70-80 percent less than comparable switches from networking giant Cisco, the report said, citing one of the people with direct knowledge of the unit’s plan.
“If true, we think this would be a notable negative for the networking equipment space going forward,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves wrote in a note.
AWS expects to launch the switches for sale within the next 18 months, according to the report.
Amazon and Juniper did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cisco and Arista declined to comment.
Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Chinese video app Tik Tok, the most downloaded app globally on Apple Inc’s app store in January-March, will set up a team of censors in Indonesia to overturn a ban imposed for “inappropriate content”, local media reported on Thursday.
The app is popular among young people for its homemade music videos. But access was blocked on Tuesday by authorities in Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, for featuring content deemed pornographic and blasphemous.
Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara told Reuters that the ban was temporary and could be lifted after Tik Tok cleaned up its content.
“We’ve asked Tik Tok to build a system that filters negative content and want them to have a liaison office in Indonesia,” the minister said on Thursday.
Tik Tok is operated by venture-capitalist backed Toutiao, one of China’s fastest-growing technology startups valued at over $ 30 billion, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
A Toutiao spokesperson told media on Wednesday that Tik Tok would set up a team of 20 censors in Indonesia charged with monitoring and sanitizing content.
The firm’s vice president, Zhen Liu, was quoted by newspaper Tempo as saying Toutiao would add up to 200 employees to Tik Tok’s Indonesia office by the end of the year.
Rudiantara would not confirm to Reuters whether the changes would be sufficient to lift the ban.
Reuters could not reach Toutiao or Tik Tok for comment on Thursday.
Reporting by Cindy Silviana & Fanny PotkinEditing by Christopher Cushing
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Tech news site ZDNet said on Sunday it stood by its report that identified a security vulnerability in data-linked to Aadhaar – India’s national identity card project, after a semi-government agency that manages the database sought to discredit the report.
ZDNet reported here that a data leak on a system run by a state-owned utility company could allow access to private information of holders of the biometric “Aadhaar” ID cards, exposing their names, their unique 12-digit identity numbers, and their bank details.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which manages the Aadhaar program, said “there is no truth in this story,” in a statement late on Saturday.
ZDNet’s global editor-in-chief Larry Dignan said in an email to Reuters on Sunday the publication stood by its report. Dignan said they spent weeks compiling evidence and verifying facts.
“We spent weeks reaching out to the Indian authorities, specifically UIDAI, to responsibly disclose the security issue, and we heard nothing back — and no action was taken until after we published our story,” said Dignan.
UIDAI sought to downplay the report stating that even if the claims in the story were true, it would raise security concerns with the database of the utility company and not with the security of UIDAI’s Aadhaar database. UIDAI said it is “contemplating legal action against ZDNet”.
Multiple researchers and journalists, who have identified loopholes in India’s massive national identity card project, say they have been harassed here by some government agencies and slapped with criminal cases because of their work.
Aadhaar is a biometric identification card that is becoming integral to the digitisation of India’s economy, with over 1.1 billion users it is the world’s largest such database.
Indians have been asked to furnish their Aadhaar numbers for a host of transactions including accessing bank accounts, paying taxes, receiving subsidies, acquiring a mobile number, settling a property deal and registering a marriage.
The government’s demands for Aadhaar linkage for multiple services is currently being challenged here in India’s Supreme Court.
At the same time, security researchers and journalists have highlighted multiple vulnerabilities and data leaks tied to the program. UIDAI has sought to downplay the reports and last week it said the biometric data was safe from hacking as the storage facility was not connected to the internet.
Reporting by Malini Menon; Writing by Malini Menon and Krishna N. Das; Editing by Andrew Bolton, Euan Rocha and David Evans
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