The US Suffers from a Major Cyberattack as China Turns Against Alibaba

Photo by Andy Feliciotti on Unsplash

The US is currently dealing with the largest cyberattack ever which is targeting the government and large corporations. China launches antitrust investigation into Alibaba. Nuro to be California’s first self-driving delivery service. Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines expected to work against the new variant of coronavirus. Medical schools are seeing a surge in applications. Here are this week's top stories.

1. The suspected Russian cyberattack against the US.

Security Brief

A massive cyberattack is targeting large companies and U.S. agencies. Not much is still known about the attack and espionage, but it was at a very large scale and will impact the whole world. Back in March, a well-organized group of foreign hackers (believed to be from Russia) were able to gain access to SolarWinds, an IT firm that provides network monitoring software for government agencies and hundreds of large corporations. The hackers planted code in the companies upcoming software update and any client who downloaded the new update of SolarWinds was impacted. As a result of this planted code, the attackers were able to silently monitor and hence were able to gain access to sensitive information and observe the communications of any company or agency that uses SolarWind’s latest software update which was released in March. Between 18,000 to 33,000 companies and agencies have been impacted. A fraction of the currently known victims includes the departments of Treasury, Commerce and Energy, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Deloitte, and Los Alamos National Laboratory which oversees nuclear weapons. It’s still unknown if nuclear protocols were compromised but we know that many more were attacked and spied on by these hackers. FireEye, a private cybersecurity company, was the first to detect the hack in early December when they realized one of their digital tools were missing. They immediately alerted authorities which led to the discovery of this highly sophisticated attack. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr are currently blaming the Russians for this attack. These attacks were most likely caused by a group known as Cozy Bear, a code name for a wing of Russian intelligence linked to several high-profile attacks including the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and the Olympics in 2018. It’s going to take years and billions of dollars to repair the current damage. Secrets were leaked and data was stolen and much of that is unreplaceable. The effects of this attack will be long lasting and impact the world.

2. China is turning against Alibaba

Alibaba logo in China, Reuters

China is launching an antitrust investigation into Alibaba. The tech giant is getting accused of anti-competition practices at the e-commerce firm. Alibaba is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology. The Chinese government is worried about the dominance of online businesses and doesn’t want Alibaba to expand into different sectors. China will make anti-monopoly enforcement a priority next year, especially in the tech industry. We are seeing this happen all around the world. These companies have become too big and they have started harming their country instead of doing good. Take Facebook for example; the US has launched over three investigations in the past three months over data, privacy, and Facebook’s anticompetitive behavior. Facebook has an abundance of people’s data and has too much influence, hence the US government is trying its best to stop the company from expanding. A handful of corporations shouldn’t be this powerful and governments across the world need to stop them and break them apart.

3. Nuro to be California’s first self-driving delivery service

Nuro R2

Nuro, the autonomous vehicle startup, has been given permission by California to start and charge for its driverless delivery service. The Nuro R2 was made to specifically deliver packages and travel at a maximum speed of 25 mph. They are approved to only operate in fair weather conditions with a speed limit of 35 mph. The R2 uses radar, thermal imaging, and 360-degree cameras to direct its movement. This very big step forward for Nuro and the autonomous vehicle. This is the future for companies like Uber eats and even stores like Walmart. Many people have become used to these delivery services due to the pandemic. It's extremely convenient for the consumer and the retailer. This is also very beneficial to our environment as these vehicles use electricity instead of gas. The one negative about this is that it's going to cut jobs. The pandemic has already caused millions of people to lose their job and this will only make unemployment worse.

4. Vaccines expected to work against the new variant

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The coronavirus is slowly mutating and new variants of the virus have emerged in South Africa and the UK. Both of the variants are very similar and they spread faster than the normal coronavirus and the data currently shows that it’s not more fatal. Those variants have already spread across the world due to a lack of travel regulations. Cases have been reported in the UK, South Africa, Japan, Spain, France, Sweden, Nigeria, Canada, and many more countries. The main concern is whether the vaccines will still work on these new variants. Researchers and scientists currently believe that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine are effective against these new variants but they are not 100% sure. It is very common for viruses to mutate and we will most likely see many more mutations as time passes. Viruses are living creatures with the goal to spread and survive and the only way a virus can do that is to mutate. We need to very closely monitor this virus and observe its mutations. We also need to be ready to take immediate action to stop the virus from spreading if it becomes deadlier or a lot more transmissible. Vaccines can easily be modified to contain the new strains of the virus but it will take months for the vaccines to be manufactured. Basic practices like wearing a mask and maintaining distance are the best way to contain the virus and keep your self safe.

5. Medical schools are seeing a surge in applications

Photo by Adhy Savala on Unsplash

The coronavirus pandemic is causing people to reconsider health care professions. Medical schools are seeing a surge in applications nationwide. Applications are up 18% nationwide compared to last year. People are seeking higher-paying jobs as the pandemic forced millions out of work and created financial hardships for many. Nursing programs are also reporting a very high number of applications. Most schools are still accepting the same number of students but many are planning to increase that number. This surge is being called the ‘Fauci Effect’ as he has become a public hero and inspired many to go into this field. “After 9/11 there was a huge increase in the number of young people going into the military. And now, we see a physician, Fauci nationally, and [Dr. Jeff] Pothof more locally, two physicians who are inspiring the next generation of young people to come and be part of the solution,” said Dr. Mary McSweeney, assistant dean of the medical school at The University of Wisconsin. Health care workers are an essential part of life and society benefits from having a high number of them.

Above were my top stories for the week ending December 27, 2020, hope you liked it. Please leave your feedback or point of view in the form of a comment.

Thanks, see you next year!

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Curious High Schooler, who loves to share new and exciting stories. Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com

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Lakshya Jain

Lakshya Jain

Curious High Schooler, who loves to share new and exciting stories. Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com

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