Microsoft says Russian state-sponsored hackers spied on its executives

Microsoft says Russian state-sponsored hackers spied on its executives
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Updated 20 January 2024
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Microsoft says Russian state-sponsored hackers spied on its executives

Microsoft says Russian state-sponsored hackers spied on its executives
  • Hackers used a “password spray attack” starting in Nov. 2023 to breach a Microsoft platform, researchers found
  • Microsoft said it investigated the incident and disrupted the malicious activity, blocking the group’s access to its systems

Microsoft said on Friday that a Russian state-sponsored group hacked into its corporate systems on Jan. 12 and stole some emails and documents from staff accounts.

The Russian group was able to access “a very small percentage” of Microsoft corporate email accounts, including members of its senior leadership team and employees in its cybersecurity, legal, and other functions, the company said.

Microsoft’s threat research team routinely investigates nation-state hackers such as Russia’s “Midnight Blizzard,” who they say is responsible.
The company said its probe into the breach indicated the hackers were initially targeting Microsoft to learn what the technology giant knew about their operations.
The company said the hackers used a “password spray attack” starting in Nov. 2023 to breach a Microsoft platform. Hackers use this technique to infiltrate a company’s systems by using the same compromised password against multiple related accounts.
The Russian Embassy in Washington and Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Microsoft said it investigated the incident and disrupted the malicious activity, blocking the group’s access to its systems.
“This attack does highlight the continued risk posed to all organizations from well-resourced nation-state threat actors like Midnight Blizzard,” the company said, noting that the attack was not the result of a specific vulnerability in its products or services.
“To date, there is no evidence that the threat actor had any access to customer environments, production systems, source code, or AI systems,” a company blog reads.
Microsoft’s disclosure follows a new regulatory requirement implemented by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in December that mandates publicly-owned companies to promptly disclose cyber incidents. Affected companies must file a report about a hack’s impact within four business days of discovery — disclosing the time, scope and nature of the breach to the government.
Midnight Blizzard is also known as APT29, Nobelium or Cozy Bear by cybersecurity researchers and linked to Russia’s SVR spy agency, according to US officials. The group is best known for its intrusions of the Democratic National Committee surrounding the 2016 US election.
Microsoft products are widely used across the US government. The company faced criticism last year for its security practices after Chinese hackers stole emails belonging to senior US State Department officials.


UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
Updated 10 sec ago
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UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence

UAE’s Anwar Gargash urges peaceful resolution amid ‘monstrous’ Gaza violence
  • Advisor to the UAE president says Arab peace initiative underway
  • Israel’s ‘criminal government’ does not reflect ‘values’ of Judaism

DUBAI: Dr. Anwar Gargash, diplomatic advisor to the UAE president, says the violence in Gaza has reached “monstrous levels” and called on the international community to find a peaceful solution to the carnage.

Speaking on the final day of the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Wednesday, Gargash expressed shock at the scale of the violence in Gaza.

“The targeting of innocents have taken on monstrous levels. We have witnessed wars in Palestine before but never at such a level of monstrosity,” he said. “The region cannot sustain further escalations.”

Gargash reaffirmed that neighboring Arab countries support the Palestinian cause.

“We believe in the cause, our conscience simply will not permit us to abandon our support to Palestine especially in light of the ugliness we see today coming out of Gaza and most recently from Rafah.

“The current right-wing, criminal government in Israel does not equate (to) Jewish values.”

Gargash highlighted the UAE’s continued support for Gaza and said the displacement of Palestinians from “spot to spot” must end.

“Israel is undermining itself with its current policies and actions. We support the establishment of the Palestinian state. We need a clear roadmap to guarantee its independent establishment. If both sides wish to live in peace this is the only way to go.”

He mentioned an ongoing Arab initiative aimed at fostering peace, warning that states must take control of the situation to prevent further chaos.

“While the global conscience has been awakened, we cannot wait for the world,” he noted. “Active steps and initiatives must be taken now or else this will remain a pipe dream.”

Participating in a panel discussion, the Emirati diplomat also accused the international community of double standards.

“Look at the difference of approach between Ukraine and Palestine. Mind you, both are still going through war. The old approaches must go, the current system is not working anymore to solve anything. We need to find new ways and cooperation for a better outcome.”

He urged Arab states to unite and collaborate beyond politics, and added that the UAE was committed to expanding regional ties and mending relations with Iran.

“For the past 12 to 15 years with all the events that happened in the Arab world, we saw it give way to radical ideologies, rise of militias, vacuum powers filled in with outside influences, and ideologies that sprung about opposing healthy nationalism.

“We continue to deal with these problems. We need a better cooperation between Arab states, a willingness to change old, sick module, for the collective betterment of the region.”


‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
Updated 50 min 34 sec ago
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‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign

‘All Eyes on Rafah’ image garners millions of shares in latest social media solidarity campaign
  • Slogan stems from WHO director’s comments urging people to pay attention to Rafah following Netanyahu’s evacuation plan
  • Post is believed to be first example of AI-generated viral activist artwork

LONDON: The image “All Eyes on Rafah” has garnered millions of shares in the latest social media solidarity campaign, drawing widespread attention to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.

The post renewed advocacy efforts following a deadly Israeli airstrike on the city in southern Gaza.

According to Forbes, the slogan appears to have originated from a comment by Rik Peeperkorn, director of the World Health Organization’s Office of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In February, Peeperkorn used the phrase to shift attention toward Rafah after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an evacuation plan for the city ahead of planned attacks targeting what Netanyahu claims are the last remaining strongholds of the militant group Hamas.

By Wednesday morning, the post had surpassed 40 million shares on Instagram, with the hashtag #AllEyesonRafah trending across social media platforms.

The image, believed to be one of the first examples of AI-generated viral activist artwork, depicts tents in a camp arranged to spell out “All Eyes on Rafah.”

The phrase is intended to highlight the plight of Rafah, where local authorities reported the loss of at least 45 civilian lives following an Israeli airstrike on Sunday, which Netanyahu described on Monday as a “tragic mistake.”

Israel has faced international scrutiny for the attack, which is part of a broader offensive by the Israeli army in and around Rafah.

The decision has been widely condemned by world leaders who have urged Israel to halt its invasion in an area where about 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from elsewhere in the Gaza Strip had sought shelter.

Last Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered an immediate halt to the offensive, a position rejected by Israel.

In an opinion piece in The Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, journalist Josh Kaplan described the post as “another vapid, lazy way to say ‘I care,’” arguing that the slogan “is one in the long canon of feel good posts that achieve very little but make the sharer feel, even just for a second, like they’re doing something to help.”

Kaplan wrote: “I understand that there is outrage at the way Israel is conducting its war. The images coming out of Gaza often feel indefensible. But what does sharing an AI image that looks nothing like Gaza actually do?”

He added: “To learn about the conflict and to formulate an opinion that maintains dignity for all sides is something that cannot be accomplished by sharing an Instagram post. All it does is make Israelis, who will have to be involved in any future peace process, feel, yet again, that the world doesn’t care about their suffering.”


US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
Updated 29 May 2024
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US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts

US presses TikTok, Meta and X to crack down on antisemitic posts
  • Bloomberg News reports that US special envoy requested big tech to designate a policy team member to address the issue, publicly report trends
  • Deborah Lipstadt also asked to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews

LONDON: The Biden administration is urging big technology companies to ramp up efforts to curb antisemitic content on their platforms, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.
Representatives from companies including Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok and X met on Thursday with US special envoy Deborah Lipstadt to monitor and combat antisemitism.
Lipstadt requested that each company designate a policy team member to address the issue and conduct training for key personal to identify antisemitism and publicly report trends in anti-Jewish content.
“We welcomed this convening and were pleased to come together to share facts about the ongoing steps TikTok takes on this important issue and to continue to learn from experts in the room,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta and X did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
Countries around the world have seen a rise in antisemitism following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel and subsequent bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military.
The companies have not yet agreed to voluntary moves, but the administration is hopeful they will act soon, Lipstadt told Bloomberg News.
The administration is also requesting staff training in order to help identify more implicit antisemitic messages on online platforms and to differentiate between criticism of the Israeli government and hatred directed at Jews, Lipstadt added.


Nigel Farage grilled on UK TV following comments denounced as Islamophobic

Nigel Farage grilled on UK TV following comments denounced as Islamophobic
Updated 29 May 2024
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Nigel Farage grilled on UK TV following comments denounced as Islamophobic

Nigel Farage grilled on UK TV following comments denounced as Islamophobic
  • Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley challenges former leader of right-wing parties UKIP and Reform UK over controversial comments about Muslims
  • Farage said on Sunday that the growing number of Muslims in Britain do not subscribe to country’s traditional values

LONDON: Good Morning Britain presenter Richard Madeley clashed with Nigel Farage during a live TV interview with the former politician about comments he made on Sunday that prompted allegations of Islamophobia.

The former leader of the right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) and Reform UK, and honorary president of the latter, sparked controversy when he said there is a “growing number of young people in this country who do not subscribe to British values” and “loathe much of what we stand for.” He specifically referenced the Muslim community.

Madeley challenged Farage by citing a 2018 survey conducted by IPSOS Mori and said: “They found, absolutely conclusively, that Muslims in the UK attach more importance on being British than the general population.

“Eighty-five percent feel they truly belong to Britain, 55 percent feel that their national identity as British is very important to them, and that compares to 44 percent of the general population. So I’m bound to ask, what on earth were you talking about there?”

Farage responded by citing another survey, and argued that his comments on Sunday, during an interview with Sky News, were taken out of context. He claimed 23 percent of 18-to-24-year-old Muslims in Britain believe jihad is a good thing.

“Now that of course is not a British value in any way at all and it’s a very disturbing trend that’s particularly prevalent among the young,” he said, adding that it was “undoubtedly true” that there is an increasing number of young people in Britain who “not only don’t subscribe to our values, they openly support Hamas.”

Madeley and co-presenter Charlotte Hawkins pointed out that the poll Farage referenced was heavily criticized because of its methodology.

“You also said in the interview that you could take someone to a particular street in Oldham and there would be nobody there who speaks English,” Madeley said.

“Well again, that’s just not true; the Office of National Statistics say that only 0.7 percent of people in Oldham don’t speak English. That’s less than one in a hundred.”

Several MPs have condemned Farage’s comments. The minister of state for Northern Ireland, Steve Baker, described the remarks as “ignorant and offensive.”

Meanwhile, BBC News presenter Geeta Guru-Murthy issued an on-air apology on Tuesday after saying earlier in the day that Farage was using his “customary inflammatory language.”

Guru-Murthy, who was speaking after the broadcast of a clip of Farage speaking at a Reform UK event in Dover, said she acknowledged that her comment “didn’t meet the BBC’s editorial standards on impartiality.”


RedBird boss describes failed Telegraph takeover as ‘a shame’ in first comments since deal collapsed

RedBird boss describes failed Telegraph takeover as ‘a shame’ in first comments since deal collapsed
Updated 28 May 2024
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RedBird boss describes failed Telegraph takeover as ‘a shame’ in first comments since deal collapsed

RedBird boss describes failed Telegraph takeover as ‘a shame’ in first comments since deal collapsed
  • Rani Raad says failure of bid, blocked by UK legislation banning foreign governments from owning national newspapers, would weaken the publication’s brand
  • His Abu-Dhabi-backed investment group is now focusing on selling the titles at a premium and looking at other opportunities

DUBAI: Rani Raad, the CEO of RedBird International Media Investments, described the collapse of the Abu Dhabi-backed company’s takeover bid for British newspaper The Telegraph as “a shame” and said it will ultimately weaken the publication’s brand.

In first public remarks since the deal floundered in April, he told Al Arabiya’s Hadley Gamble, during a conversation at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Tuesday, that RedBird had effectively taken charge of The Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator magazine in December after repaying a $753 million debt owed by owners the Barclay family to Lloyds Bank.

However, finalization of the deal collapsed as a result of UK legislation prohibiting foreign governments from owning British national newspapers.

“In an ideal world I would be sitting in front of you all saying, ‘We own The Telegraph,’” Raad said. “Not only would that be good for us and our portfolio but also good for the people working in paper.

“My fear is what happened in The Telegraph ultimately is something that would cost the paper and its employees more, and the UK government more, than any of us over here.”

Raad said that while it was not his place to comment on UK politics, policymakers had changed the rules when the deal was almost complete, with negative effects on the promotion of inward investments.

“Last year alone, the UK lost 1,200 journalists,” Raad said. “For whatever reason, whether xenophobia or party politics, it was a shame the way it played out.”

He added that the group is now focusing on the sale of The Telegraph and The Spectator for a premium, and he remains optimistic about a successful outcome.

“We will make our money back, and then some, and move on to other markets and focus on other opportunities,” Raad said. “Our only regret, in hindsight, is the timing could have been better crafted.”

He also shared his views on the decline of CNN, and the wider American network television industry, which recently hit a 30-year low in primetime ratings. He spent 25 years at CNN International Commercial, including serving as its president, and believes the news brand should not be counted out just yet.

“RedBird IMI was established in partnership with former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker, alongside partners in Abu Dhabi and Gerry Cardinale in New York. We wanted to focus on news and a new transition,” Raad said.

“What they (CNN) are dealing with is just a situation whereby the sector is going through drastic transformation. They are learning how to serve a new audience and demographic. There is potential for reinvention and growth.

“CNN is a very, very powerful news brand globally. Ultimately, if they find a way to make that transition, to talk to a broader demographic, it’ll be here for a long, long time.”