Feds help take down ransomware group behind Fulton County hack | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

My friends, good afternoon! Here’s your Tuesday Tech Drop, the latest news from the intersection of tech and politics.

Hack attack update

Several law enforcement groups from across the world, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, say they’ve taken control of platforms used by an international ransomware group that claimed responsibility for a crippling hack of computer systems in Fulton County, Georgia, among others, Axios reports. The hack affected phone systems and bill- and tax-paying systems, and restricted access to certain court records. State authorities have been tight-lipped about what data was accessed and whether any data was leaked, but they’ve said the hack didn’t reach District Attorney Fani Willis’ office and won’t affect her election-related RICO prosecution of Donald Trump and his co-defendants. 

Read more at Axios

Techies of one accord

A group of 20 top tech companies on Friday signed a symbolic statement declaring their intent to help users identify so-called deepfakes, or videos produced with the aid of artificial intelligence to simulate actual people, in the lead up to the 2024 elections, NBC News reports. Note that none of the participating companies — including Meta, TikTok and X — actually vowed to remove manipulative deepfakes from their platforms; but they did offer a lot of vague assurances, such as a pledge to “counter risks from the creation and dissemination” of deceptive A.I.-generated content. I’m wary about over-celebrating this step in the right direction until we see it in practice.

Read more at NBC News

Speaking for the voiceless

Last week, the family and friends of gun violence victims promoted a new campaign that recreates their loved ones’ voices using artificial intelligence. The Guardian reports that the campaign, called “The Shotline,” uses A.I. to recreate victims’ voices to be used in messages that can be sent to lawmakers. It’s jarring, yes, but advocates say it’s needed to spur lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation. 

Read more at The Guardian

More social media suits

More lawsuits are targeting social media platforms, claiming they are addictive by nature. On Valentine’s Day, six plaintiffs across several states sued Match, the company behind the dating apps Hinge and Tinder, NPR reports. The suit claims Match looks “to transform users into gamblers locked in a search for psychological rewards that Match makes elusive on purpose.” The company says the suit has “zero merit.” 

And in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams announced a lawsuit against several popular social media companies for allegedly helping to fuel a youth mental health crisis. In response, several of the companies pointed CNN to existing tools they say help teens and families manage their experiences on their platforms.

Both lawsuits are part of an increasingly popular push to reckon with social media’s reported effects on the human brain. 

Read more at NPR and Reuters

Better safe than Sora

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, debuted a platform called Sora that deploys artificial intelligence to create high-definition videos out of text prompts. The technology is currently in testing and not yet available to the public, ABC News reports. Personally, I find it pretty terrifying to consider all the ways this could be misused to produce damaging deepfakes, even if the company says it’s taking steps to prevent the technology’s abuse.

Read more at ABC News

Beware of posers

The Chinese government is using the social media platform X to sow discord and chaos in the U.S. political system, according to The Washington Post. The outlet reports that security representatives from X have disappeared from regular cross-platform meetings since CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform. In the absence of action by X, the Chinese government’s accounts continue to disguise themselves as Americans to push extremist views, such as right-wing arguments about race and attacks on liberal billionaire George Soros. The Post goes on to suggest the U.S. is less prepared to fight social media manipulation in this year’s election than it was in 2020. (X did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.)

Read more at the Washington Post


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