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Russia wages “relentless and destructive” cyberattacks to bolster Ukraine invasion

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On March 1, Russian forces invading Ukraine took out a TV tower in Kyiv after the Kremlin declared its intention to destroy “disinformation” in the neighboring country. That public act of kinetic destruction accompanied a much more hidden but no less damaging action: targeting a prominent Ukrainian broadcaster with malware to render its computers inoperable.

The dual action is one of many examples of the “hybrid war” Russia has waged against Ukraine over the past year, according to a report published Wednesday by Microsoft. Since shortly before the invasion began, the company said, hackers in six groups aligned with the Kremlin have launched no fewer than 237 operations in concert with the physical attacks on the battlefield. Almost 40 of them targeting hundreds of systems used wiper malware, which deletes essential files stored on hard drives so the machines can’t boot.

“As today’s report details, Russia’s use of cyberattacks appears to be strongly correlated and sometimes directly timed with its kinetic military operations targeting services and institutions crucial for civilians,” Tom Burt, Microsoft corporate vice president for customer security, wrote. He said the “relentless and destructive Russian cyberattacks” were particularly concerning because many of them targeted critical infrastructure that could have cascading negative effects on the country.

It’s not clear if the Kremlin is coordinating cyber operations with kinetic attacks or if they’re the result of independent bodies pursuing a common goal of disrupting or degrading Ukraine’s military and government while undermining citizens’ trust in those institutions. What’s undeniable is that the two components in this hybrid war have complemented each other.

Examples of Russian cyber actions correlating to political or diplomatic development taken against Ukraine before the invasion began include:

  • The deployment of wiper malware dubbed WhisperGate on a “limited number” of Ukrainian government and IT sector networks on January 3 and the defacement and DDoSing of Ukrainian websites a day later. Those actions came as diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukrainian allies broke down.
  • DDoS attacks waged on Ukrainian financial institutions on February 15 and February 16. On February 17, the Kremlin said it would be “forced to respond” with military-technical measures if the US didn’t capitulate to Kremlin demands.
  • The deployment on February 23 of wiper malware by another Russian state group on hundreds of Ukrainian systems in the government, IT, energy, and financial sectors. Two days earlier, Putin recognized the independence of Ukrainian separatists aligned with Russia.

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Russia stepped up its cyber offensive once the invasion began. Highlights include:

  • The February 14 and February 17 compromises of critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian cities of Odesa and Sumy. These actions appeared to have set the stage for February 24, when Russian tanks advanced into Sumy.
  • On March 2, Russian hackers burrowed into the network of a Ukrainian nuclear power company. A day later, Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power station.
  • On March 11, a government agency in Dnipro was targeted with a destructive implant. The same day, Russian forces launched strikes into Dnipro government buildings.

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Wednesday’s report said that as early as March 2021, hackers aligned with Russia prepared for conflict with its neighboring country by escalating actions against organizations inside or aligned with Ukraine.

The actions haven’t stopped since. Burt wrote:

When Russian troops first started to move toward the border with Ukraine, we saw efforts to gain initial access to targets that could provide intelligence on Ukraine’s military and foreign partnerships. By mid-2021, Russian actors were targeting supply chain vendors in Ukraine and abroad to secure further access not only to systems in Ukraine but also NATO member states. In early 2022, when diplomatic efforts failed to de-escalate mounting tensions around Russia’s military build-up along Ukraine’s borders, Russian actors launched destructive wiper malware attacks against Ukrainian organizations with increasing intensity. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Russian cyberattacks have been deployed to support the military’s strategic and tactical objectives. It’s likely the attacks we’ve observed are only a fraction of activity targeting Ukraine.

The report includes a variety of security measures that can be implemented by likely targets of Russian cyberattacks to protect themselves. One measure includes turning on a feature called controlled folders. The feature, which isn’t enabled by default, is designed to protect data in specific folders from destruction from ransomware, wipers, and other types of destructive malware.

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Broadcom is in ongoing talks to acquire VMware, but a deal is not imminent (Greg Roumeliotis/Reuters)

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Sources: Broadcom is in ongoing talks to acquire VMware, but a deal is not imminent  —  Chipmaker Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O) is in talks to acquire cloud service provider VMware Inc (VMW.N), people familiar with the matter told Reuters.  —  Negotiations between Broadcom and VMware are ongoing and a deal is not imminent, the sources said.

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How to watch AMD, Nvidia, and Microsoft’s Computex 2022 keynotes

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Computex is just hours away and will feature keynotes from some of the biggest names in tech, including AMD, Nvidia, and Microsoft. There will almost certainly be some exciting announcements from each brand, but since Computex takes place in Taipei, Taiwan, the keynotes don’t occur at the most convenient times (at least for those of us in North America).

Microsoft and AMD’s keynotes will have you staying up into the wee hours of the morning tonight, while Nvidia’s keynote doesn’t take place until late tomorrow evening. Here’s how and when to tune into each keynote:

How to watch AMD’s keynote

AMD CEO Lisa Su is set to speak in a keynote titled “AMD Advancing the High-Performance Computing Experience,” which is set to highlight AMD’s latest innovations in laptop and desktop performance. The chip company is rumored to reveal Ryzen 7000 series desktop CPUs that use the new Zen 4 core architecture, as well as its X670E, X670, and B650 motherboards that support the next-gen AM5 platform.

You can watch the keynote on YouTube when it goes live early tomorrow morning on Monday, May 23rd at 2AM ET, 11PM PT, or 2PM local time in Taipei. If you’re unsure what time that is for where you live, you can check out this handy time conversion chart AMD posted to Twitter.

How to watch Nvidia’s keynote

Nvidia’s keynote will feature six different speakers, including Ian Buck, the company’s vice president of accelerated computing; Jeff Fisher, the senior vice president of GeForce; and Michael Kagan, the CTO of Nvidia. The keynote is set to cover a range of topics, such as accelerated computing, gaming, content creation, and data center solutions.

You can watch the keynote from Nvidia’s YouTube livestream tomorrow night, May 23rd at 11PM ET / 8PM PT, or 11AM on local Taipei time.

How to watch Microsoft’s keynote

Microsoft’s keynote includes a talk from Panos Panay, the chief product officer behind Windows and Microsoft Surface devices, as well as Nicole Dezen, Microsoft’s corporate vice president. The keynote is simply titled “A Conversation About Windows 11 with Panos Panay and Nicole Dezen.”

You can watch the 30-minute keynote from YouTube early tomorrow morning on May 23rd at 3:30AM ET / 12:30AM PT, or 3:30PM local time in Taipei.

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Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses (Reuters)

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Reuters:

Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses  —  India’s One 97 Communications Ltd (PAYT.NS), the parent of fintech firm Paytm, on Friday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss due …

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