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Tech Bytes – Week of May 16

📰 Recent Top Tech News

  1. US largest oil pipeline gets hacked with $5mn bitcoin ransom

  2. Tesla drops Bitcoin buy option due to environmental cost

  3. Facebook requested by US Attorney Generals to stop Instagram for Kids app

The Takeaways

  1. The Colonial Pipeline, which supplies 45% of the US east coast’s petrol, was hacked by DarkSide, a European hacker group. This shut down operations for days, severely restricting fuel supplies. Colonial paid up US$5Mn to get a decryption tool, slowly restoring operations.

🔎 Our Take

  • Large companies operating critical services are a favorite hackers target because hackers know the companies will find a way to pay them. Since this hack received so much attention, the hackers requested only a US$5mn amount (though they could have easily asked for and got US$30mn). Even though they paid the money, Colonial managed to resume operations faster than the decryption tool provided by the hackers.

  • We expect most such companies and all critical agencies to come under additional cybersecurity scrutiny, similar to how banks are regulated for financial risks. Even then, the very nature of technology means that preventing hackers is a non-stop activity.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Imagine a scenario where you are hacked. Think ahead to understand the impact, such as daily operations (customers transactions, keys to servers, customers contacts, inventory data), with the intention of not having to pay any ransom. Plan for alternative tools, and in the worst case, paper printouts from backups. Also, consider hacking insurance.

2. Elon Musk announced that Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as a payment option, due to the environmental impact. This crashed the value of Bitcoin by some 20% and boosted other ‘more environmentally friendly’ cryptos.

🔎 Our Take

  • Bitcoin mining is an energy-consuming monster, with mining using up as much electricity as a large country. This means significant fossil fuels are being burnt to earn Bitcoin, which is against Telsa and Elon Musk’s environmental mission. Telsa bought $1.5Bn (now worth $2.5bn) in Bitcoin as an alternative investment. However, the nature of cryptocurrency is that there must be some cost to generate coins – if the system is too efficient, then it wouldn’t be rare and therefore wouldn’t have as much value.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Elon Musk is a mover and shaker of not only Bitcoin but almost every other cryptocurrency. Keep in mind that every time you hear bitcoin crash, it will be based on another new record high. As with any asset, real or otherwise, the value is based on what others are also willing to pay for it. And for now, and in the foreseeable future, more and more people are willing to pay for it, driving the value up.

3. Facebook was planning on an Instagram for Kids app, which would allow kids under 13 to sign up. In a letter from 44 US Attorney Generals, it was asked to stop the development of the proposal.

🔎 Our Take

  • Facebook is a personal data-hungry company, as its business model relies on creating addictive applications. They also know that the earlier users get used to an app, the more they are likelier to continue using it. Various countries also restrict data gathering on children, which is something Facebook would

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Set some guidelines as a leader, of things you would not do. This will also impact your culture and give your team a clear direction of what to avoid, and likely increase respect for you.

Jargon Buster

  • DeFi- Decentralised Finance – this typically refers to a cryptocurrency-based financial system, but it technically means any system where there is no central banking system or middle layer to save and handle transactions.

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