Microsoft says it hasn’t been able to shake Russian state hackers

Microsoft says it hasn’t been able to shake Russian state hackers
Microsoft admitted on March 8, 2024, that it had been unable to evict the elite Russian government hackers who broke into the email accounts of senior company executives in November and who it said have been trying to breach customer networks with stolen access data. (AP/File)
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Updated 09 March 2024
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Microsoft says it hasn’t been able to shake Russian state hackers

Microsoft says it hasn’t been able to shake Russian state hackers
  • The hackers from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service used data obtained in the intrusion to compromise some source-code repositories and internal systems, Microsoft says
  • Microsoft’s admission exposes the perils of the heavy reliance by government and business on the company’s software monoculture, say cybersecurity experts

BOSTON: Microsoft said Friday it’s still trying to evict the elite Russian government hackers who broke into the email accounts of senior company executives in November and who it said have been trying to breach customer networks with stolen access data.

The hackers from Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service used data obtained in the intrusion, which it disclosed in mid-January, to compromise some source-code repositories and internal systems, the software giant said in a blog and a regulatory filing.
A company spokesman would not characterize what source code was accessed and what capability the hackers gained to further compromise customer and Microsoft systems. Microsoft said Friday that the hackers stole “secrets” from email communications between the company and unspecified customers — cryptographic secrets such as passwords, certificates and authentication keys — and that it was reaching out to them “to assist in taking mitigating measures.”
Cloud-computing company Hewlett Packard Enterprise disclosed on Jan. 24 that it, too, was an SVR hacking victim and that it had been informed of the breach — by whom it would not say — two weeks earlier, coinciding with Microsoft’s discovery it had been hacked.
“The threat actor’s ongoing attack is characterized by a sustained, significant commitment of the threat actor’s resources, coordination, and focus,” Microsoft said Friday, adding that it could be using obtained data “to accumulate a picture of areas to attack and enhance its ability to do so.” Cybersecurity experts said Microsoft’s admission that the SVR hack had not been contained exposes the perils of the heavy reliance by government and business on the Redmond, Washington, company’s software monoculture — and the fact that so many of its customers are linked through its global cloud network.
“This has tremendous national security implications,” said Tom Kellermann of the cybersecurity firm Contrast Security. “The Russians can now leverage supply chain attacks against Microsoft’s customers.”
Amit Yoran, the CEO of Tenable, also issued a statement, expressing both alarm and dismay. He is among security professionals who find Microsoft overly secretive about its vulnerabilities and how it handles hacks.
“We should all be furious that this keeps happening,” Yoran said. “These breaches aren’t isolated from each other and Microsoft’s shady security practices and misleading statements purposely obfuscate the whole truth.”
Microsoft said it had not yet determined whether the incident is likely to materially impact its finances. It also said the intrusion’s stubbornness “reflects what has become more broadly an unprecedented global threat landscape, especially in terms of sophisticated nation-state attacks.”
The hackers, known as Cozy Bear, are the same hacking team behind the SolarWinds breach.
When it initially announced the hack, Microsoft said the SVR unit broke into its corporate email system and accessed the accounts of some senior executives as well as employees on its cybersecurity and legal teams. It would not say how many accounts were compromised.
At the time, Microsoft said it was able to remove the hackers’ access from the compromised accounts on or about Jan. 13. But by then, they clearly had a foothold.
It said they got in by compromising credentials on a “legacy” test account but never elaborated.
Microsoft’s latest disclosure comes three months after a new US Securities and Exchange Commission rule took effect that compels publicly traded companies to disclose breaches that could negatively impact their business.


‘Do not expect change in US foreign policy even with new administration,’ experts tell Arab Media Forum

‘Do not expect change in US foreign policy even with new administration,’ experts tell Arab Media Forum
Updated 28 May 2024
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‘Do not expect change in US foreign policy even with new administration,’ experts tell Arab Media Forum

‘Do not expect change in US foreign policy even with new administration,’ experts tell Arab Media Forum
  • American regional policy was discussed along with Gaza conflict

DUBAI: American foreign policy remains consistent regardless of the sitting president, and no major strategic shifts should be expected with a new administration, political experts told attendees at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on Tuesday.

While American elections every four years bring new faces to the forefront, this cycle features familiar candidates, with current Democratic President Joe Biden running for re-election against former Republican President Donald J. Trump.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Rumaihi, a political science professor at Kuwait University, emphasized that America’s actions are driven by its own interests, regardless of the president’s party affiliation.

“We are talking about America, a dominant power with a system that has not changed much throughout its history. We can disagree with it, but we should not make enemies out of it,” Al-Rumaihi said.

“We foster great economic relations with China and Russia, but our weaponry and defense in the region are American-made.”

Al-Rumaihi echoed Saudi diplomat Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s sentiment that “America’s enemies must fear America, but America’s friends must fear it more,” highlighting the Arab world’s political animosity toward US foreign policy due to perceived double standards.

Dr. Raghida Dergham, columnist and executive chairperson of the Beirut Institute, suggested that Biden’s handling of the Gaza situation could have electoral repercussions.

“Biden’s approach on Gaza will no doubt affect his votes. His double standards are glaring. Both running presidents are aware of this as we see them trying to rally the state of Michigan, which has a large Arab base that can affect the votes. And while Washington has a massive impact on the region, we are now seeing (its) different approach as to how the Gulf reacts to it,” she said.

Dergham underscored Saudi Arabia’s firm stance on Gaza and the future creation of a Palestinian state.

She urged other Gulf countries to follow Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “bold and brave attitude” to pressure US and Israeli diplomatic and security strategies.

“I believe (the) relationship between America and the Gulf will remain stable, however we wish for a president that doesn’t view Arabs solely through the Iranian and Israeli prism.”

Dergham, citing Egyptian journalist Abdel Latif El Menawy, attributed the region’s current tensions to American policies since former President Barack Obama, which left a power vacuum.

“I would still like to say we are not the enemies of the American people; we are in disagreement of their foreign policy however,” she continued.

“We have been brought up with the notion that America’s stance remains unwavering, but that changed when Trump came into power with his character and policies. With what is currently taking place in Gaza, I don’t think Washington can continue to depend on the states it did before.”

The war in Gaza is a major focus of the three-day event in Dubai.

On Tuesday, a panel titled “Palestine through the lens of Arab media” explored the role of media in covering the Palestinian cause amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is also expected to be a central topic in other sessions, including those featuring Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, prime minister of Yemen; Jasem Albudaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council; and Egyptian comedian and media personality Bassem Youssef, who has been a vocal critic on the international stage since conflict broke out Oct. 7.


Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
Updated 27 May 2024
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Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes

Vanity Fair France apologizes for removing Palestinian pin from image of Guy Pearce at Cannes
  • Magazine faced backlash on social media for appeared attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity

LONDON: Vanity Fair France was forced to issue an apology for digitally removing a Palestinian pin worn by actor Guy Pearce at the Cannes Film Festival.

On May 21, Vanity Fair published an article featuring several photographs of celebrities attending the festival. Among these was a portrait of Pearce wearing a black Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo.

Social media users quickly noticed that a pin of the Palestinian flag seen on his left lapel in other images had been removed.

Journalist Ahmed Hathout was one of the first to highlight the alteration, tweeting: “So Guy Pearce showed solidarity with Palestine at Cannes by wearing a pin and Vanity Fair decided to photoshop it out. Little did they know the bracelet was also of the Palestinian flag colors.”

The French subsidiary of the American magazine faced significant backlash on social media for what appeared to be an attempt to censor pro-Palestinian solidarity.

One user, @DarkSkyLady, tweeted: “Can we finally admit many of these outlets are propaganda-mouthpieces for colonialism and white supremacy?”

Another user, @Joey_Oey89, commented: “Reminder to unfollow and mute Vanity Fair. They smear celebs who take a stand against genocide and have made their stance clear.”

Responding to the criticism, Vanity Fair France posted an apology under Hathout’s tweet: “Good evening. We mistakenly published a modified version of this photo on the website. The original version was published on Instagram on the same day. We have rectified our error and apologize.”

The article on the magazine’s website now displays the unaltered image.

Pearce was among many celebrities at the prestigious festival who expressed solidarity with Palestine amid Israel’s brutal assault and seige on Gaza.

Other notable figures included actors Cate Blanchett and Pascale Kann, supermodel Bella Hadid, Indian actress Kani Kusrut, French actress Leila Bekhti, and Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El-Moudir.
 


Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
Updated 27 May 2024
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Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
  • The Atlantic’s writer Graeme Wood suggested that in certain scenarios killing of children can be legally justifiable
  • Campaign group condemned the piece, calling the The Atlantic’s stance on the issue ‘egregious’

LONDON: The Atlantic has ignited a wave of online criticism after publishing an article arguing that “it is possible to kill children legally” in Gaza.

Titled “The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense,” the opinion piece by staff writer Graeme Wood questioned the accuracy of the UN’s civilian death toll numbers from the Israeli war on Gaza.

Wood suggested that the UN’s statistics were unreliable, claiming they are sourced from Hamas.

“The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond ‘a lot.’ It gets its statistics from Hamas,” the piece read.

Wood, known for his skeptical stance toward Hamas and Palestine since the conflict erupted last October, controversially suggested that in certain scenarios, the killing of children can be legally justifiable.

Despite acknowledging that “even when conducted legally, war is ugly,” Wood argued, “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one,” he wrote.

The article sparked a significant online backlash, with the campaign group Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) condemning The Atlantic for the article.

“Eight months into the genocide and western media is still manufacturing consent for Zionism,” the group wrote in a post on X on Sunday.

“Defending child murder is egregious; but @TheAtlantic has historically defended imperial bloodshed,” WAWOG added.

Users took to social media to express their frustration over the article, with some questioning the legality of Wood’s claim and calling his choice of words “disgusting.”

“‘A legally killed child’ is a phrase I never imagined I would read in my lifetime,” wrote Lebanese political activist and musician Peter Daou on X.

Others have also called for canceling their subscriptions to The Atlantic.

The backlash comes as Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday, hitting tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with reports that people were “burning alive.”

These attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, described by the UNRWA as “horrifying.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, the death toll in Gaza has neared 36,000 people, with the vast majority being children and women.


Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
Updated 27 May 2024
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Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
  • Youth ‘can craft a better future for us all,’ says Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
  • Praises Gulf leaders ‘who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election’

DUBAI: Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs, delivered a sharply defined message to Arab youth and their custodians.

In a speech at the Arab Media Summit, Al-Khalifa echoed the words of former US President John F. Kennedy, saying: “For a better world and a prosperous country, one must ask themselves what I can do for my country rather than what can my country do for me.

“The youth, which make up over 60 percent of our citizens today, is very different than previous generations. They have become the driving force behind certain industries and have taken to adopting certain causes that will craft a better future for us all.

“They are engaged in political and civil societies more than ever before throughout history. They have even managed to become successful in sectors such as journalism, social media in forms of content, podcasts and also showing sharp wit in investments and trade.”

Al-Khalifa, who served in a military academy, said he carries the academy’s message of “in order to serve, you must lead” throughout his life and policies.

 “While challenges can occur, as it did during the COVID pandemic, which affected not only economies but personal lives as well, it was a lesson to be learned. We came out of it, and we are at a better place now.

“Challenges are opportunities. Some folk lost a lot during the pandemic, while others progressed, and the difference between the two is that one seized the opportunity to create and further themselves. while others remained still.”

On the subject of open borders and one being a “global citizen,” Al-Khalifa urged the youth and their elders to continue to strive, travel, experience and learn, but to maintain a “moral direction that connects and centers you to who you are: an Arab.”

He added: “We are an Arab ummah, and what does that mean? It is a legacy, it is victories, accomplishments, values that we have carried and learned from our forefathers that we continue to build on today. To take on Western concepts such as ‘global citizen,’ one can be lost. Our identity is Arab first and foremost.

“Our religion, Islam, urged us to read, learn and engage. And that is what we do with other countries as we both compete and cooperate with them.

“Know who you are and where your roots lie. Some societies have become fragmented due to their abandonment of their values. Nowadays, we have Westerners who are enrolling their children in our schools to keep them centered and away from social and moral confusion.

“While it is valid and important to ride the new wave in terms of technology and progress of open borders to make our countries better, I urge fathers and mothers to continue to stress on an upbringing that focuses identity and positive moral values.

“We want to invest in our youth. It is important that they feel seen, valued, trusted and supported and wanted. If we do that, then their stock will never plummet. They are half of our present and all of our future.”

He concluded his speech by saying how blessed the Gulf is to have leaders “who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election,” and offered a prayer to the lives lost in Gaza.


Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth
Updated 27 May 2024
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Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

DUBAI: The annual Arab Media Forum launched in Dubai on Monday for a three-day summit involving media leaders and executives from across the region.

This year’s forum is geared toward youth, focusing on arming the next generation of journalists and media professionals with the tools and know-how to thrive in the ever-growing industry in the Arab world.

For the past two decades, the forum has brought together regional and international speakers to discuss the industry’s challenges and impact on Arab societies.

More than 1,000 creative and media students are expected to attend, along with prominent Arab personalities, content creators and global media industry leaders taking part in a range of panel discussions and master classes.

Notable speakers include Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the king’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs in Bahrain; and Dr. Sultan Al-Neyadi, the UAE’s minister of state for youth affairs.

Monday’s schedule includes master classes on Meta, tools for storytelling, interactive media, as well as building personal brands.

Panels and discussions on the opening day cover sports media, the art of directing and redefining storytelling.

Tuesday and Wednesday will feature discussions on key political, economic and technological developments by media personalities, editors in chief, writers and experts from the region and around the world.

The forum will close with an awards ceremony recognizing content creators and journalists in a range of categories.