The US is readying sanctions against Russia over the SolarWinds cyber attack. Here’s a simple explanation of how the massive hack happened and why it’s such a big deal

SolarWinds
SolarWinds Corp. banner hangs at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the IPO day of the company in New York.

  • SolarWinds was the subject of a massive cybersecurity attack that spread to the company’s clients.
  • Major firms like Microsoft and top government agencies were attacked, and sensitive data was exposed.
  • Here’s a simple explanation of what happened and why it’s important.

SolarWinds, a major US information technology firm, was the subject of a cyberattack that spread to its clients and went undetected for months, Reuters first reported in December. Foreign hackers, who some top US officials believe are from Russia, were able to use the hack to spy on private companies like the elite cybersecurity firm FireEye and the upper echelons of the US Government, including the Department of Homeland Security and Treasury Department.

On Thursday, it was reported that the US government was ready to impose sanctions on about a dozen Russian intelligence officials over their alleged role in interfering with the 2020 presidential election as well as the Solarwinds attack.

Here’s a simple explanation of how the massive breach happened, and why it matters.

An unusual hack

In early 2020, hackers secretly broke into Texas-based SolarWind’s systems and added malicious code into the company’s software system. The system, called “Orion,” is widely used by companies to manage IT resources. Solarwinds has 33,000 customers that use Orion, according to SEC documents.

Most software providers regularly send out updates to their systems, whether it’s fixing a bug or adding new features. SolarWinds is no exception. Beginning as early as March of 2020, SolarWinds unwittingly sent out software updates to its customers that included the hacked code.

The code created a backdoor to customer’s information technology systems, which hackers then used to install even more malware that helped them spy on companies and organizations.

Read more: How hackers breached IT company SolarWinds and staged an unprecedented attack that left US government agencies vulnerable for 9 months

The victims

SolarWinds told the SEC that up to 18,000 of its customers installed updates that left them vulnerable to hackers. Since SolarWinds has many high-profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies and multiple agencies in the US government, the breach could be massive. Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a February congressional hearing that more than 80% of the victims targeted were nongovernment organizations.

Read more: Microsoft said its software and tools were not used ‘in any way’ in the SolarWinds attacks. New findings suggest a more complicated role

US agencies – including parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury – were attacked. So were private companies, like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Deloitte, and other organizations like the California Department of State Hospitals, and Kent State University, the Wall Street Journal reported.

And since the hack was done so stealthily, and went undetected for months, security experts say that some victims may never know if they were hacked or not, the Wall Street Journal reported.

At the Treasury Department, hackers broke into dozens of email accounts and networks in the Departmental Offices of the Treasury, “home to the department’s highest-ranking officials,” Sen. Ron Wyden said. The IRS hasn’t found any evidence of being compromised, he added. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC that the hackers have only accessed unclassified information, but the department is still investigating the extent of the breach.

Read more: Former US cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs says officials are still tracking ‘scope’ of the SolarWinds hack

Who did it?

Federal investigators and cybersecurity experts say that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, known as the SVR, is probably responsible for the attack. Russian intelligence was also credited with breaking into the email servers in the White House, the State Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2014 and 2015. Later, the same group attacked the Democratic National Committee and members of the Hilary Clinton presidential campaign.

Russia has denied any involvement with the breach and former President Donald Trump had suggested, without evidence, that Chinese hackers may be the culprits. But the Biden White House has said it may respond to the cyberattack in the coming weeks, which could include actions against the Russian government.

Microsoft’s Smith said during the February hearing that he believes Russia is behind the attack, and FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said based on his company’s forensic analysis, the evidence is “most consistent with espionage and behaviors we’ve seen out of Russia.” However, the execs noted that the full extent of the attack is still unfolding.

Read more: 5 takeaways from the Tuesday Senate hearing over the SolarWinds cyberattack

Why it matters

Now that multiple networks have been penetrated, it’s expensive and very difficult to secure systems. Tom Bossert, President Trump’s former homeland security officer, said that it could be years before the networks are secure again. With access to government networks, hackers could, “destroy or alter data, and impersonate legitimate people,” Bossert wrote in an Op-Ed for the New York Times.

Not only is the breach one of the largest in recent memory, but it also comes as a wake-up call for federal cybersecurity efforts. The US Cyber Command, which receives billions of dollars in funding and is tasked with protecting American networks, was “blindsided” by the attack, the New York Times reported. Instead, a private cybersecurity firm called FireEye was the first to notice the breach when it noticed that its own systems were hacked.

FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia testified in February after the US Senate summoned SolarWinds as well as Microsoft, CrowdStrike to a series of hearings over the sweeping breach.

The hack could accelerate broad changes in the cybersecurity industry. Companies are turning to a new method of assuming that there are already breaches, rather than merely reacting to attacks after they are found, Business Insider previously reported. And the US government may reorganize its cybersecurity efforts by making the Cyber Command independent from National Security Agency, the Associated Press reported.

The attack may also lead to a strengthened relationship between the US government and the cybersecurity industry, with the private sector helping federal officials fight off nation-state attacks and foreign bad actors in the future, as Insider reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The key facts you need to know about Section 230, the controversial internet law that Trump hated and Biden might reform

joe biden
President Joe Biden has hinted that Section 230 could be revoked or reformed.

  • The Biden administration is reportedly looking into either reforming or even revoking Section 230.
  • Section 230 is a part of US law that gives sites the ability to regulate content on their platforms. 
  • It also means they are not liable for illegal content posted to their platforms by users.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Section 230, the part of US law that shields tech companies from legal liability, is back under fire.

Reuters reported this week that Congressional Democrats have started talking to the White House about cracking down on Big Tech, potentially by making them accountable for harmful misinformation that spreads on their platforms. 

Democratic representative Tom Malinowski told Reuters Section 230 has been mentioned in these discussions as a way for holding Big Tech responsible for harmful content.

Section 230 has become a contentious point in US politics and as a presidential candidate, Joe Biden also said he supported repealing the law, so it’s likely that it will continue to come under political scrutiny under his administration.

What is Section 230? 

Section 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and its advocates have called it “the most important law protecting internet speech.”

It includes a variety of guidelines for regulation of “interactive computer services,” which, today, includes social media companies like Twitter and Facebook. 

The section, which has been described as “the 26 words that created the internet,” says “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 

This essentially allows sites like Twitter and Facebook to avoid being regulated as publishers, protecting them from being held liable for illegal posts (with some exceptions). Whereas a newspaper would be held liable for the content it produces and publishes, social media companies are able to distance themselves from the content posted by people onto their platforms. 

The section also gives social media sites the ability to regulate content, such as hate speech, on their platforms: 

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service… shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” 

This specific text protects social-media sites against claims from people who say the First Amendment gives them the power to post whatever they’d like, as long as it’s not illegal, without it being taken down. 

While sites like Twitter and Facebook have been hesitant to regulate speech on their platforms, they have removed or flagged content if it explicitly violates their policies, such as policies against inciting violence. For example, Twitter’s rules ban hate speech but such speech is allowed generally by the First Amendment. 

Why do lawmakers care about Section 230?

President Donald Trump first started calling for Section 230 to be revoked in May last year after Twitter flagged two of his tweets about mail-in voting with a warning that read “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” 

The move prompted Trump to issue an executive order targeting social-media companies’ protections under Section 230. 

The order directed federal agencies to alter Section 230 and change the way they interpret and enforce Section 230, and while it ultimately had no effect on the law it raised its public profile and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle started discussing its possible revocation – though for very different reasons.

Republicans viewed amending or revoking Section 230 as a way to combat perceived anti-conservative bias in Big Tech companies, while Democrats largely saw it as a way to make companies liable for harmful content.

Following the Georgia runoffs in January the Democrats control both Houses, meaning they have a better shot at re-crafting Section 230 the way they want

This poses a potential threat to Big Tech executives, who say that changing Section 230 could chill freedom of speech online.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said while testifying before a Senate Judiciary hearing in October that revoking Section 230 would mean platforms like theirs would pre-emptively take down far more content out of fear of legal liability, leaving less room for nuanced moderation.

Legal expert Jeff Kosseff told Insider in January that fully revoking Section 230 could counter-intuitively end up entrenching the power of Big Tech companies.

“The companies impacted by Section 230 are not just Facebook and Twitter and Google. It’s any company that operates a website that hosts user content, so it’s everything from Facebook to a small local news site that allows user comments,” Kosseff said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What you need to know about Section 230, the controversial internet law Trump hated and Biden might reform

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • The Biden administration is reportedly looking into either reforming or even revoking Section 230.
  • Section 230 is a part of US law that gives sites the ability to regulate content on their platforms. 
  • It also means they are not liable for illegal content posted to their platforms by users.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Section 230, the part of US law that shields tech companies from legal liability, is back under fire.

Reuters reported this week that Congressional Democrats have started talking to the White House about cracking down on Big Tech, potentially by making them accountable for harmful misinformation that spreads on their platforms. 

Democratic representative Tom Malinowski told Reuters Section 230 has been mentioned in these discussions as a way for holding Big Tech responsible for harmful content.

Section 230 has become a contentious point in US politics and as a presidential candidate, Joe Biden also said he supported repealing the law, so it’s likely that it will continue to come under political scrutiny under his administration.

What is Section 230? 

Section 230 is part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, and its advocates have called it “the most important law protecting internet speech.”

It includes a variety of guidelines for regulation of “interactive computer services,” which, today, includes social media companies like Twitter and Facebook. 

The section, which has been described as “the 26 words that created the internet,” says “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 

This essentially allows sites like Twitter and Facebook to avoid being regulated as publishers, protecting them from being held liable for illegal posts (with some exceptions). Whereas a newspaper would be held liable for the content it produces and publishes, social media companies are able to distance themselves from the content posted by people onto their platforms. 

The section also gives social media sites the ability to regulate content, such as hate speech, on their platforms: 

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service… shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” 

This specific text protects social-media sites against claims from people who say the First Amendment gives them the power to post whatever they’d like, as long as it’s not illegal, without it being taken down. 

While sites like Twitter and Facebook have been hesitant to regulate speech on their platforms, they have removed or flagged content if it explicitly violates their policies, such as policies against inciting violence. For example, Twitter’s rules ban hate speech but such speech is allowed generally by the First Amendment. 

Why do lawmakers care about Section 230?

President Donald Trump first started calling for Section 230 to be revoked in May last year after Twitter flagged two of his tweets about mail-in voting with a warning that read “Get the facts about mail-in ballots.” 

The move prompted Trump to issue an executive order targeting social-media companies’ protections under Section 230. 

The order directed federal agencies to alter Section 230 and change the way they interpret and enforce Section 230, and while it ultimately had no effect on the law it raised its public profile and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle started discussing its possible revocation – though for very different reasons.

Republicans viewed amending or revoking Section 230 as a way to combat perceived anti-conservative bias in Big Tech companies, while Democrats largely saw it as a way to make companies liable for harmful content.

Following the Georgia runoffs in January the Democrats control both Houses, meaning they have a better shot at re-crafting Section 230 the way they want

This poses a potential threat to Big Tech executives, who say that changing Section 230 could chill freedom of speech online.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said while testifying before a Senate Judiciary hearing in October that revoking Section 230 would mean platforms like theirs would pre-emptively take down far more content out of fear of legal liability, leaving less room for nuanced moderation.

Legal expert Jeff Kosseff told Insider in January that fully revoking Section 230 could counter-intuitively end up entrenching the power of Big Tech companies.

“The companies impacted by Section 230 are not just Facebook and Twitter and Google. It’s any company that operates a website that hosts user content, so it’s everything from Facebook to a small local news site that allows user comments,” Kosseff said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How Ben Affleck became an accidental Dunkin’ influencer

ben affleck dunkin
Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas take a stroll, with a cup of Dunkin’ iced coffee, in July.

  • Ben Affleck’s love for Dunkin’ proved a constant through the unpredictable and stressful 2020. 
  • The actor appeared in countless paparazzi photos with his trusty Dunkin’ iced coffee at his side, cementing the connection between him and the iconic coffee chain. 
  • Drayton Martin, Dunkin’s vice president of brand stewardship, told Business Insider that the chain does not have any official partnership with Affleck, calling him a “true lover of the brand.” 
  • Instead, Ben Affleck seems to have become an accidental Dunkin’ influencer, lighting up the internet with his genuine love for the coffee chain. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a year of uncertainty and stress, there has been one constant: Ben Affleck’s love for Dunkin’. 

Affleck, who claims to drink Dunkin’ every day, has had two constant partners during the pandemic: his girlfriend and fellow actor Ana de Armas, and a cup of Dunkin’ iced coffee. As many celebrities stayed out of sight, Affleck appeared in countless paparazzi photos with his trusty Dunkin’ at his side.

The final days of 2020 brought one last Affleck-Dunkin’ sighting. Paparazzi caught Affleck, decked out in Boston gear, fumbling an order of iced coffees and Munchkins on the doorstep of his California home. The photos went viral, as photos of Affleck and Dunkin’ are wont to do. 

 

“Ben Affleck is a pap favorite,” Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber, hosts of the celebrity podcast Who Weekly, told Business Insider in an email. According to the hosts, Affleck is known for just being himself, “a dude from Boston.” 

“And aside from the Red Sox and clam chowder, Dunkin’ Donuts is as Boston as it gets,” Finger and Weber added. 

Affleck’s appreciation for Dunkin’ isn’t new. But, over the last few years, his love for the chain has transcended from a quirky talk show talking point to a sort of cultural touchstone. 

ana de armas and ben affleck
Affleck and de Armas in April.

 When Dunkin’ announced it was closing locations earlier this year, Jezebel asked: “What Does Ben Affleck Think About Dunkin Donuts Closing 450 Stores?”

A social media rumor sparked a Vulture investigation into if Dunkin’ keeps Affleck’s order on file. (Conclusion: Dunkin’ says no, so, probably not?)

Affleck’s love for Dunkin’ has spawned endless tweets, further linking the actor and the chain.

Carrie Wittmer, a freelance writer who has tweeted about Affleck and Dunkin’ with some frequency, said she thinks of Affleck as an accidental Dunkin’ influencer. 

“I have always been a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee fan,” Wittmer said. “My parents are coffee snobs and Dunkin’ was one of the only fast food places they got coffee from and I usually have Dunkin’ coffee for my home brew.”

But, Wittmer said, Affleck has made her think about Dunkin’ even more than usual this year. 

As Affleck’s paparazzi shots with Dunkin’ proliferate, they have sparked questions regarding Affleck’s relationship with the chain. After all, Dunkin’ has rolled out some wild marketing in 2020, from a partnership with Homesick candles to a merch lineup that includes bedding and scrunchies. A sponsorship deal with Ben Affleck would not be out of the realm of possibility. 

Read more: How Dunkin’ stole Starbucks’ crown as king of social media in 2020 using TikTok stars, purple drinks, and coffee-scented candles

Is Affleck getting paid by the coffee chain as part of a stealth sponsorship deal? Or, does he just really love Dunkin’?  

Is Dunkin’ paying Ben Affleck to drink coffee? 

ben affleck dunkin ana de armas
Affleck and his Dunkin’ order in April.

We needed answers from Dunkin’, both about Affleck and some of the chain’s official marketing strategies. (Again, Dunkin’ successfully launched a $34 Homesick candle that smelled like coffee.) So, earlier in December, Business Insider spoke with Drayton Martin, Dunkin’s vice president of brand stewardship. 

Martin had a lot to say about Dunkin’s partnerships and marketing strategies, as the chain has worked to puncture potential customers’ perceptions of the brand. Dunkin’ has partnered with a number of celebrities, including rapper Snoop Dogg and TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. But, Martin said, it does not have any official partnership with Affleck.  

“He is a true lover of the brand and it is all his spontaneous expression,” Martin said.

“We love Ben Affleck. … He’s obviously from the Boston area and a terrific brand ambassador, but that’s his own doing,” she added. 

ben affleck dunkin
Affleck in March.

Martin’s answer lines up with Weber and Finger’s conclusion that “Ben just genuinely has gotta have his Dunkies.”

“If it’s all some sort of covert paid sponsorship, congrats to Ben,” they said. “But if there’s anything to know about doing ads, it’s that it’s basically work and work tends to ruin things you love! It appears that Ben truly still loves his java.” 

In other words, Affleck’s Dunkin’ obsession has become the best kind of free advertising. It is coming from someone that genuinely loves the brand, with a passion that won’t be tarnished by a paycheck. As a frequent paparazzi target, Affleck gives Dunkin’ more face time than celebrities who avoid photographers (or, who are more low key about their love for Dunkin’.)

Anecdotally, it’s a relationship that is paying off for Dunkin’. Finger said he has found himself craving Dunkin’ after seeing yet another paparazzi shot of Affleck with his iced coffee. (Weber said she is always craving Dunkin’.) And, while Whittmer said she would have bought the Dunkin’ Homesick candle without Affleck’s influence, the Affleck-Dunkin’ connection has made her appreciate both more in 2020. 

“I have always loved both, but I have never thought more about either,” Whittmer said. 

Read the full story of how Dunkin’ stole Starbucks’ crown as king of social media in 2020 here. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Facebook banned Holocaust denial from its platform in October. Anti-hate groups now want the social media giant to block posts denying the Armenian genocide.

facebook mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaving The Merrion Hotel in Dublin after a meeting with politicians to discuss regulation of social media and harmful content in April 2019.

  • In October, Facebook announced changes to its hate speech policy and insituted a ban on posts denying the Holocaust. 
  • However, the ban did not include the denial of other genocides, such as the Rwandan or Armenian genocides.
  • Now, advocates are calling for Facebook to ban posts denying the Armenian genocide, too.
  • From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenians and expelled another half a million. Turkey still falsely claims that the genocide never happened.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Anti-hate advocates are calling on Facebook to ban posts denying the Armenian genocide, which led to the deaths of over 1.5 million ethnic Armenians, saying the social media giant’s policy on hate speech fails to address recent crimes against humanity.

The call to action follows Facebook’s October announcement that it would ban posts denying the Holocaust, which came after pressure from human rights groups, Holocaust survivors, and a 500-plus company ad boycott. However, the change did not include the denial of other genocides, such as the Rwandan and Armenian genocides, Bloomberg reported.

“They have an obligation to responsibly address all genocide,” said Arda Haratunian, board member for the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the largest non-profit dedicated to the international Armenian community.  “How could you not apply the same rules across crimes against humanity?”

Now, voices from across the Armenian diaspora and anti-hate groups are calling for the company to change its policy. In November, the Armenian Bar Association penned a letter to Facebook and Twitter (which banned posts denying the Holocaust in the days after Facebook did), proposing that they expand their ban to posts denying the Armenian genocide, too. 

“It made us hopeful, because it was a sign that Facebook is taking steps towards fixing its speech problem,” said Lana Akopyan, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property and technology, and member of the Armenian Bar Association’s social media task force. The Armenian Bar Association has yet to receive a response from either company, Akopyan told Business Insider.

The calls to expand hate speech policies come as social media platforms face a wider reckoning on how they regulate speech. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have criticized section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a legal provision that shields internet companies from lawsuits over content posted on their sites by users and gives companies the ability to regulate that content. 

In recent years, Facebook has struggled with human rights issues on the platform. In 2018, a New York Times investigation found that Myanmar’s military officials systematically spread propaganda on Facebook to incite the ethnic cleansing of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority population.  Since 2017, Myanmar’s military has been accused of carrying out a systemic campaign of killing, rape, and arson against Rohingyas, leading over 740,000 to flee for Bangladesh, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

Facebook’s current hate speech policy prohibits posts that directly attack a protected group, including someone of a racial minority, certain sexual orientation or gender, or religion. But the platform lacks a cohesive response to other “harmful false beliefs,” like certain conspiracy theories, said Laura Edelson, a PhD candidate at NYU who researches online political communication. Rather than a systematic approach to harmful misinformation, Edelson likened Facebook’s strategy to a game of “whack-a-mole.” 

“You are allowed to say, currently, the Armenian genocide is a hoax and never happened,” said Edelson. “But you are not allowed to say you should die because you are an Armenian.”

From 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 Armenians and expelled another half a million. However, Turkey still falsely claims that the genocide never happened. 

“Holocaust denial is typically done by fringe groups, irrational entities. The denial of the Armenian genocide is being generated by governments… which makes it a far greater threat,” said Dr. Rouben Adalian, Director of the Armenian National Institute in Washington, D.C. 

It also makes enforcement a thorny issue for Facebook, since it may involve moderating the speech of political leaders.

“Facebook doesn’t want to wrangle with this issue, not because it’s technically difficult, because it isn’t, but because it is difficult at a policy level,” said Edelson. “There’s a government agent here, that you are going to have to make unhappy. In the case of the Armenian genocide, it’s the Turkish government.”

Facebook did not respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment. Twitter said hateful conduct has no place on its platform and its “Hateful Conduct Policy prohibits a wide range of behavior, including making references to violent events or types of violence where protected categories were the primary victims, or attempts to deny or diminish such events.” The company also has “a robust glorification of violence policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide,”a spokesperson said. 

Yet online the falsehoods proliferate, advocates told Business Insider. On Facebook, the page “Armenian Genocide Lie” has thousands of followers, and screenshots of tweets shared with Business Insider show strings of identical posts that appear to be posted by bots, calling the Armenian genocide “fake.” 

And stateside, Armenians point to a string of hate crimes, including the arson of an Armenian church in September and the vandalism of an Armenian school in July, as evidence that anti-Armenian sentiment is a growing issue.

The calls for change come amid international conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of  Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan and is populated by many ethnic Armenians. War broke out in September. In November, Armenia surrendered and Russia brokered a peace deal. Tensions continue to flare in the area and videos of alleged war crimes have surfaced online.

“Facebook has a responsibility, first and foremost, to its users, to protect them against harmful misinformation. The idea that the Armenian genocide did not happen pretty clearly falls into that category,” said Edelson. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which successfully lobbied for social media companies to ban Holocaust denial, is also supporting the calls for change. 

“ADL believes that tech companies must take a firm stance against content regarding genocide and the denial or diminishment of other atrocities motivated by hate,” said an ADL spokesperson in a statement to Business Insider.  “Tech companies should, without doubt, consider denial of the Armenian genocide to be violative hate speech.”

Dr. Gregory Stanton, founding president of human rights nonprofit Genocide Watch, says that denial is a pernicious stage of genocide, since it seeks to erase the past and can predict future violence. 

“Denial occurs in every single genocide,” said Stanton. “I think it’s irresponsible…. with Facebook’s incredible reach, it absolutely should be taken down.” 

As for Akopyan, her fight to change Facebook’s policy is personal. Her family survived the Baku Pogroms in Azerbaijan, a campaign in 1990 in which Azeris killed ethnic Armenians and drove them from the city. Akopyan’s family left all their belongings behind and fled in the night, Akopyan said. The International Rescue Committee sponsored her family, and she relocated to Brooklyn, New York, at 10-years-old. 

“I grew up in that tension as a child, where Azerbaijani mobs tried to kill me and my family, and I escaped,” she said in an interview. “How many times [do] our people have to lose everything and be driven away from their homes to start over?” 

“And it continues to happen,” she added.  “I can’t help but think it’s because there’s constant denial of it ever happening to begin with.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

The accused Nashville suicide bomber was reportedly paranoid about 5G technology. Here’s what we know about the false 5G conspiracy that went viral this year.

nashville explosion
: FBI and first responders work the scene after an explosion on December 25, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • On Christmas morning, a suicide bombing shook Nashville. The explosion injured three and damaged 41 buildings, Business Insider previously reported. 
  • The FBI said Anthony Quinn Warner, who was in the van that exploded, was responsible for the bombing. Besides Warner, there were no casualties.
  • While the investigation is ongoing, the local NBC affiliate reported that investigators were looking at Warner’s obsession with 5G conspiracy theories, which may have caused him to target the AT&T building in Nashville. 
  • Here’s what we know about the false 5G conspiracy theories. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Anthony Quinn Warner, who the FBI says was responsible for the suicide bombing that hit Nashville on Christmas Day, may have been motivated by 5G conspiracy theories to carry out the attack, as local NBC affiliate, WSMV, reported

Although the federal investigation is ongoing, a source told the Daily Mail that investigators theorize Warner believed that 5G was responsible for his father’s death, and had purposefully targeted an AT&T building in Nashville as a means of striking against telecommunications giants. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the false theory that 5G, the next generation of cellular infrastructure, is responsible for ills from cancer to COVID-19 itself, has become increasingly popular. Here’s a simple explanation of the false theory, and how it has risen to influence.

Read more: Google’s misinformation chief talks fact-checking the pandemic: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’

What does the theory claim?

There’s a whole constellation of theories about 5G, but most boil down to the idea that 5G produces radiation that is harmful to human health. Some unsupported theories say that 5G damages trees, others say that it weakens the immune system and causes cancer, and still others say that Bill Gates is using 5G to brainwash Americans. 

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, new claims about 5G have emerged. Some social media posts falsely claimed that COVID-19 is a cover-up for illnesses caused by 5G, others purported that 5G had accelerated the spread of COVID-19.

How did it start?

Suspicions about telecommunications and health concerns have a long history. People protested when 3G was rolled out in the 90s, and before that, they protested cell phones themselves, Full Fact, a UK-based anti-misinformation nonprofit, reported.

Much of the misinformation about 5G can be traced to the work of Dr. Bill Curry, who shared a chart claiming that radio waves become more dangerous to brain matter at higher frequencies back in 2000, the New York Times reported. But, his claims of risk were overblown, scientists said, since it didn’t account for the fact that the skin protects the brain from high-frequency radio waves. 

How did the latest 5G theory spread? 

The misinformation about high-frequency waves was distributed by the state-run television network Russian Today, according to a 2019 New York Times report. RT – which was also linked to the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 election – broadcasted, without evidence, that 5G can cause health issues like autism and cancer. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, conspiracy theorists linked the two, even leading to some people in the UK setting telephone poles on fire

The misinformation circulated on social media, too. Facebook posts listing “5G illness” symptoms and 5G conspiracy groups proliferated online. Public figures like newscasters and celebrities have also spread the unsupported theory, as the New Statesman reported

Read more: COVID-19 has triggered a new wave of conspiracy theories among those who fear a ‘cashless society’

Does 5G pose a health risk?

Experts say no. 5G radiowaves are “non-ionizing radiation,” which means that they don’t have the power to damage the DNA inside of cells. And despite claims that 5G is a higher frequency radio waves, and therefore is more dangerous than 3G and 4G networks, the opposite is true, scientists say. 

“It’s a little ironic that there’s all this worry about 5G,” Chris Collins, a professor at the New York University School of Medicine’s radiology department, told CNN Business. “It really doesn’t get past the skin.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ford’s head of electric vehicles throws shade at Tesla, saying the new Mustang Mach E’s ‘roof doesn’t come off’

Mustang Mach E
Ford reveals its first mass-market electric car the Mustang Mach-E, which is an all-electric vehicle that bears the name of the company’s iconic muscle car at a ceremony in Hawthorne, California on November 17, 2019. This is Ford’s first serious attempt at making a long-range EV and will be the flagship of a new lineup that will include an electric F-150 pickup truck.

  • Ford’s first mass-market electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, is hitting dealerships.
  • In an interview with Autoblog, the executive in charge of the vehicle took a thinly veiled swipe at Tesla’s well-documented quality lapses. 
  • “The doors fit properly, the plastics and other materials color-match, the bumpers don’t fall off, the roof doesn’t come off when you wash it, the door handles don’t get stuck in cold weather,” he said of the Mustang Mach-E. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Ford’s electric-vehicles czar took at thinly veiled swipe at Tesla in an interview published Friday, alluding to a string of issues reported by owners in recent years.

Darren Palmer, who’s helmed the automaker’s electric catch-up efforts since 2017, spoke to Autoblog about the new Mustang Mach-E. It’s the automaker’s first battery-powered car, and is entering an increasingly crowded field that’s overwhelmingly dominated by one name: Tesla.

“We want to pick up on early majority adoption,” Palmer told the website. While there are a bevy of competitors flooding the market, EV adoption is still relatively low and gas-powered cars still dominate roads, especially in the US. Electric cars accounted for less than 3% of all sales globally in 2019, according to IEA estimates, even as their adoption rate surges.

Vaguely addressing the elephant in the room, Palmer touted Ford’s century of manufacturing experience.

“The doors fit properly, the plastics and other materials color-match, the bumpers don’t fall off, the roof doesn’t come off when you wash it, the door handles don’t get stuck in cold weather,” he said, assumably referring to Tesla’s welldocumented quality issues of years past. In two instances, owners of Model Y vehicles said their cars roofs’ blew clear off the cars.

And in November, Tesla recalled nearly 10,000 Model X vehicles over a roof trim issue. The company did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

“When people see the true benefits of electric vehicles, it drives that want and desire,” Palmer said.

Read more: REVIEW: The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s most important vehicle in decades – and one of the most exciting electric cars I’ve ever driven

 

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Disney World is building a train station that will connect the parks with Orlando’s Airport, Miami, and more

walt disney world monorail reopening day
Disney’s monorail might soon have a new coworker.

  • Disney World will connect to Orlando and Miami by rail as soon as 2022. 
  • The company in late November announced a deal with Brightline to build a station at Disney Springs as the train operator expands to Miami. 
  • Brightline also has plans to break ground on a Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas route this year. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Next stop: Disney World, hopefully at a time when the pandemic will be in the rearview mirror.

Brightline, which currently operates trains between Miami and West Palm Beach, announced on in late November a deal with Disney World to build a station there as it extends service north to Orlando.

Brightline planned florida extension map
Brightline’s map of planned stations.

The Disney World station is planned for the Disney Springs complex, the company said. Brightline’s extension to the Orlando International Airport is set to open in 2022, but the company did not provide a timeline for the Disney station.

Brightline, which has been hit hard by the pandemic and hasn’t run any trains since March, hasn’t slowed down its aggressive expansion in both Florida and California. A route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas is set to break ground this year.

In a 2019 interview, Brightline’s main investor, Fortress Investments founder Wes Edens, said there are up to a dozen so-called city pairs ripe for rail service. Those include Atlanta to Charlotte, Chicago to St. Louis, and Houston to Dallas, where a competing private rail operator is also working on a project.

Read more: Brightline is on the cusp of connecting Disney World to Miami by train. Its owner explains what’s next in the railroad’s quest to beat Amtrak at its own game.

With tens of millions of people visiting Disney World every year, many of whom arrive at Orlando’s airport, it’s a chance for Brightline to convince even more people to opt for greener transportation.

For a market where train travel is kind of foreign, we have to think of creative ways to get people in through the top of the funnel,” president Patrick Goddard told Business Insider in January.

Disney World might just be the thing to do it.

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Wall Street analysts tore down 7 competing car batteries. They found Tesla once again at the front the pack.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at its factory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song
Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at its factory in Shanghai

  • Tesla’s held a comfortable lead on electric-vehicle manufacturing and sales for years, after virtually inventing the industry on its own. 
  • But now it’s not the only player in town, and competitors are quickly catching up, according to UBS. 
  • To understand manufacturing costs and technology, analysts at the bank tore down seven battery models used by various competitors.
  • They found Tesla still has a comfortable lead and continues to out-innovate, but said companies like Volkswagen stand a decent chance of catching up soon. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The competition in electric vehicles comes down to one thing: batteries.

To better understand who’s using the best batteries in their cars – and how much they’re spending to do it – analysts at the investment bank UBS compared seven cells from all major manufacturers, including Tesla and its suppliers, as well as those for Volkswagen, General Motors, Toyota, BMW, and more.

Perhaps unsurprisingly based on pasts tests, Tesla once again came out on top by most measures. But because it relies on suppliers like CATL, LG Chem, and Panasonic who also supply other automakers, the lead is only slim, UBS says. 

“While Tesla continues to lead with the best overall powertrain technology,” the analysts wrote in an October note, “the cost lead in battery cells is minor by now and will depend on its new proprietary cell design in the future.”

And after Tesla posted record profits in October, UBS says the company has likely lowered its battery costs even further since it completed its study. That was a charge issued by Elon Musk at Tesla’s “Battery Day,” when he outlined a plan to in-source battery production and further drive down costs.

“We’ve got to get the cost of batteries down,” Musk told investors in September. “We’ve got to make – and we’ve got to be better at manufacturing, and we need to do something about this curve.”

That’s not just a Tesla problem, even if competitors try to copy things like its cylindrical cell design, as UBS predicts. Allied Market Research predicts the market for the lithium-ion batteries used in EVs will grow more than three-fold by 2027, from $36.7 billion in 2019 to $129.3 billion.

And the only way for anyone to catch up, in UBS’ eyes, will be to go all-in like Volkswagen.

“A steep cost reduction curve in combination with an ever-improving regulatory environment in favor of EVs makes it a necessity for auto companies to pursue an ‘all-in’ EV strategy, meaning that purely CO2-compliance strategies are likely to fail,” UBS said.

“Tesla will likely remain the cost and technology benchmark for several more years, and Volkswagen is the fastest follower on a global scale. Its €33bn committed EV investments of over a 5-year period are still unmatched.”

Read more: How much Tesla pays its employees, from software engineers to product managers

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Here’s a simple explanation of how the massive SolarWinds hack happened and why it’s such a big deal

SolarWinds
SolarWinds Corp. banner hangs at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on the IPO day of the company in New York.

  • SolarWinds is a major IT firm that provides software for entities ranging from Fortune 500 companies to the US government. 
  • Reuters first reported that SolarWinds was the subject of a massive cybersecurity attack that spread to the company’s clients. 
  • The breach went undetected for months, and could have exposed data in the highest reaches of  government, including the US military and the White House.
  • Here’s a simple explanation of what happened and why it’s important. 

SolarWinds, a major US information technology firm, was the subject of a cyberattack that spread to its clients and went undetected for months, Reuters first reported last week. Foreign hackers, who some top US officials believe are from Russia, were able to use the hack to spy on private companies like the elite cybersecurity firm FireEye and the upper echelons of the US Government, including the Department of Homeland Security and Treasury Department. 

Here’s a simple explanation of how the massive breach happened, and why it matters. 

An unusual hack

Earlier this year, hackers secretly broke into Texas-based SolarWind’s systems and added malicious code into the company’s software system. The system, called “Orion,” is widely used by companies to manage IT resources. Solarwinds has 33,000 customers that use Orion, according to SEC documents

Most software providers regularly send out updates to their systems, whether it’s fixing a bug or adding new features. SolarWinds is no exception. Beginning as early as March, SolarWinds unwittingly sent out software updates to its customers that included the hacked code. 

The code created a backdoor to customer’s information technology systems, which hackers then used to install even more malware that helped them spy on companies and organizations. 

Read more: How hackers breached IT company SolarWinds and staged an unprecedented attack that left US government agencies vulnerable for 9 months

The victims

SolarWinds told the SEC that up to 18,000 of its customers installed updates that left them vulnerable to hackers. Since SolarWinds has many high profile clients, including Fortune 500 companies and multiple agencies in the US government, the breach could be massive.

US agencies, including parts of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Treasury were attacked. So were private companies, like Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Deloitte, and other organizations like the California Department of State Hospitals, and Kent State University, the Wall Street Journal reported

And since the hack was done so stealthily, and went undetected for months, security experts say that some victims may never know if they were hacked or not, the Wall Street Journal reported

At the Treasury Department, hackers broke into dozens of email accounts and networks in the Departmental Offices of the Treasury, “home to the department’s highest-ranking officials,”  Senator Ron Wyden said. The IRS hasn’t found any evidence of being compromised, he added. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CNBC that the hackers have only accessed unclassified information, but the department is still investigating the extent of the breach.  

Read more: Former US cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs says officials are still tracking ‘scope’ of the SolarWinds hack

Who did it?

Federal investigators and cybersecurity experts say that Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, known as the SVR, is probably responsible for the attack. Russian intelligence was also credited with breaking into the email servers in the White House, the State Department, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2014 and 2015. Later, the same group attacked the Democratic National Committee and members of the Hilary Clinton presidential campaign.

Russia has denied any involvement with the breach and President Trump has suggested, without evidence, that Chinese hackers may be the culprits.

Why it matters

Now that multiple networks have been penetrated, it’s expensive and very difficult to secure systems. Tom Bossert, President Trump’s former homeland security officer, said that it could be years before the networks are secure again. With access to government networks, hackers could, “destroy or alter data, and impersonate legitimate people,” Bossert wrote in an Op-Ed for the New York Times

Not only is the breach one of the largest in recent memory, but it also comes as a wake-up call for federal cybersecurity efforts. The US Cyber Command, which receives billions of dollars in funding and is tasked with protecting American networks, was “blindsided” by the attack, the New York Times reported.   Instead, a private cybersecurity firm called FireEye was the first to notice the breach when it noticed that its own systems were hacked. 

Finally, the hack could accelerate broad changes in the cybersecurity industry. Companies are turning to a new method of assuming that there are already breaches, rather than merely reacting to attacks after they are found, Business Insider previously reported. And the US government may reorganize its cybersecurity efforts by making the Cyber Command independent from National Security Agency, the Associated Press reported

Read more: Op-Ed: The fallout from the SolarWinds hack that infiltrated the US Treasury and Homeland Security will get worse before it gets better

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