This week, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) shared evidence of North Korean remote workers in U.S. businesses. The Slack app became the latest company to remove its integrations with X (Twitter). A high-risk ransomware group was taken down by cybercrime experts from 11 countries.
Meanwhile an Apple insider shared insights about the company’s plans to develop its own artificial intelligence (AI). Finally, 41 states sued Meta for alleged mental health impacts on children.
Let’s get to the details.
#1. Remote North Korean IT workers funded the ballistic missile program
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed that thousands of information technology (IT) workers in U.S. companies were from North Korea. They sent millions of dollars in wages back home to fund their country’s weapons program. These workers used false identities to get these IT jobs. They also used different methods to hide their locations. For example, they would pay Americans to use their home Wi-Fi as a way to disguise their internet protocol (IP) address.
The announcement came during a news conference held in St. Louis by FBI officials. The allegations are based on court documents, which showed how North Korea sent freelance IT workers to target U.S. businesses. In their positions, the North Koreans not only sent funds for the missile program but also stole valuable company data.
The FBI seized $1.5 million and dozens of domain names during their investigation. However, they did not reveal the affected companies. The FBI recommended that employers should be more vigilant when hiring remote workers. Companies should insist on video interviews to ensure they are not hiring hackers or compromising national security.
#2. Slack removes its integration with X (Twitter)
The business collaboration app, Slack, officially retired its integration with X (formerly Twitter) this week. The integration allowed users to receive X notifications and publish tweets via the Slack app. In a statement to The Verge, the company said that the X integration was no longer functioning properly. This was due to recent changes to the X application programming interface (API).
X began implementing API changes in March this year. These include new pricing tiers and functionalities. Slack indicated that these changes caused “upstream API limitations” that have negatively impacted how the collaboration app works. The company also retired its official @SlackStatus account on X. The account notified users about issues with the application and helped to resolve them.
Slack is the latest company to cut ties with X over the API changes. Air France stopped offering customer service via its official X account (@airfrance) in April. American Express also deactivated its official @AskAmex customer service account in August.
#3. International law enforcement agencies take down Ragnar Locker hackers
Cybercrime authorities from 11 countries brought down the Ragnar Locker malware and ransomware group this week. Ragnar Locker began targeting international organizations in 2019. Their signature tactic was to threaten to release sensitive data if their victims turned to law enforcement for assistance. The take-down operation began in 2021, bringing together specialists from countries like Czechia, France, Japan, Ukraine, Spain, and the United States.
The authorities seized Ragnar Locker’s infrastructure in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany. Its data leak website was also taken down in Sweden. The first arrests associated with this group began in October 2021 in Ukraine. This shows how widespread Ragnar Locker operations were across the world. The group was considered one of the most dangerous hackers of recent years.
The international cybercrime effort took numerous coordination meetings. All parties required seamless access to forensic information and data analysis to trace the cybercriminals. The successful outcome of the investigation demonstrates that authorities must overcome significant challenges to keep up with sophisticated hacking groups today.
#4. More insights into Apple’s AI strategy
In July this year, Apple insiders revealed plans to design its own artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Apple GPT or Ajax. It aims to rival ChatGPT and boost Apple’s personal assistant software, Siri. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple was caught off-guard by the acceleration of AI. This week, Gurman said that Apple plans to spend over $1 billion annually on its AI offering.
Apple’s AI tools will be integrated into the next version of the iOS operating system across all devices. The company will also add AI into numerous applications, including Apple Music, Keynote, and Pages. However, the company is still determining whether to build their AI into devices or deploy it via the cloud. Gurman expects that a combined approach would manage production and operational costs.
Apple has not made any formal announcement about their AI strategy. However, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, acknowledged the potential of AI in the company’s products. He indicated that the Apple ecosystem already integrated artificial intelligence and machine learning. But he was also aware of the risks and concerns surrounding AI products. The news about AppleGPT increased the company’s stock value by 2.3%, which translated to $71 billion.
#5. 41 states and D.C. sue Meta for its impacts on children’s mental health
Attorneys general from 41 U.S. states and the District of Columbia sued Meta this week. They alleged that the firm’s Facebook and Instagram applications were addictive and caused harm to the mental health of children. In a 233-page lawsuit, the lawmakers argued that Meta’s platforms contributed to eating disorders, low self-esteem, disrupted sleep, and other mental health problems in kids.
The lawsuit also claimed that Meta chose to engage younger users rather than protecting their privacy and safety. Should the courts rule against Meta, the tech giant may face a range of consequences, including penalties and policy changes.
This is the latest lawsuit against social media companies concerning their impacts on children’s mental wellbeing. TikTok also came under scrutiny in March this year. The company’s top executives testified before Congress over allegations that the platform caused emotional distress in the youth. This shows that lawmakers are becoming increasingly concerned about the online safety and privacy of minors.