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Security Update for This Week: Signal Is Now Verifying Usernames

In a world where technology ,Security Update and global events intertwine, this week has witnessed a myriad of stories that may have slipped under the radar. From animal liberation groups utilizing cutting-edge equipment to extremist organizations embracing generative AI, and geopolitical tensions leading to internet blackouts, these tales showcase the complex relationship between technology and its consequences.

Animal Liberation Meets High-Tech Tactics:

Direct Action Everywhere, an animal liberation group, recommends high-tech equipment such as drones and thermal vision scopes, as revealed in a manual reviewed by WIRED. This document provides a rare insight into the organization’s use of technology in daring operations aimed at rescuing animals from factory farms, including pigs, goats, ducks, and chickens.

Generative AI in Extremist Propaganda

Extremist groups are delving into generative AI to saturate social media with propaganda and misinformation, according to researchers at Tech Against Terrorism. A recent report details how terrorists use artificial intelligence to manipulate imagery and circumvent content moderation. To combat this surge in extremist content, a collaborative effort between Tech Against Terrorism and Google has resulted in the creation of Altitude. This tool centralizes the collection of verified terrorist content, simplifying the process of vetting posts on various platforms.

Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Intensifies with Internet Blackouts

Israel’s actions in Gaza have potentially worsened the humanitarian catastrophe by imposing severe internet blackouts. Following a complete internet shutdown as Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip, the region experienced additional connectivity blackouts. The most recent blackout, lasting approximately 15 hours, coincided with an intensive operation to cut off Gaza City in the north from southern Gaza.

Sandworm’s Power Grid Attack in Ukraine

A report from cybersecurity firm Mandiant discloses that the Russian military intelligence agency, Sandworm, orchestrated a power grid attack targeting a Ukrainian electric utility last year. This cyberattack, synchronized with missile strikes on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, resulted in a blackout affecting Ukrainian civilians.

Online Extremism During the GOP Presidential Debate

The third GOP presidential primary debate was livestreamed on Rumble, an alternative to YouTube known for hosting controversial figures. Nick Fuentes, accused of promoting hate speech, has utilized Rumble to propagate antisemitic views and Holocaust denial conspiracies, garnering substantial viewership. Notably, Fuentes’ YouTube account was terminated in 2020 after Google demonetized it.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT Faces DDoS Attack

Users encountered difficulties accessing ChatGPT as OpenAI experienced what appeared to be a distributed denial-of-service attack. Initially attributed to increased interest, OpenAI later revealed that periodic outages were due to an abnormal traffic pattern reflective of a DDoS attack. Anonymous Sudan claimed responsibility, citing biases towards Israel and against Palestine. OpenAI has since resolved the issue.

Ransomware Targets US Arm of Chinese Bank

The US arm of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China fell victim to a ransomware attack, disrupting trades in the US Treasury market. This attack, attributed to the Lock bit ransomware gang, adds to the growing list of organizations targeted by this prolific group, raising concerns about cybersecurity.

Signal’s Privacy Boost with Usernames Security Update

Signal is beta testing usernames, allowing encrypted communication without exchanging phone numbers. This feature, set to go live in early 2024, enhances the app’s privacy applications, providing users with an alternative way to connect while maintaining anonymity.

Challenges in Countering Disinformation

Cooperation between government, researchers, and tech companies aimed at countering online disinformation is dwindling due to a sustained campaign by US Republicans. FBI interactions with social media firms regarding foreign influence campaigns are now supervised by Justice Department lawyers, following a court ruling forbidding significant encouragement to remove misinformation.

Also read: What topics will Elon Musk and Rishi Sunak discuss at their AI talk


as technology continues to shape our world, these stories underscore the intricate relationship between technological advancements, global events, and their far-reaching consequences. Stay informed, stay vigilant.

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