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[News] Data – not diamonds – at center of jeweler heist

When you purchase gold, precious gems, and fancy watches, you may worry that someone may try to steal your jewelry. But you might not expect someone will steal — and release — your personal data about the purchases.

This is exactly the position facing hundreds of clients of the London high-end jewelry store Graff. According to the British paper The Daily Mail, the Russian hacker group known as Conti initiated a ransomware attack on Graff’s computer systems. 

Although Conti has not yet announced a ransom or other demands, the hackers have already leaked nearly 70,000 customer documents on the dark web. And given Conti’s history, experts say it’s likely the ransom will be substantial, and that the hackers demand it be paid in cryptocurrency or even gems.

Authorities are concerned that the data, which includes client lists, invoices, receipts, and credit details, could prove disastrous to clients. Given that Graff’s known client list includes people such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and David Beckham, it’s clear that the data could have widespread repercussions in the celebrity world.  

Making matters even worse, this hack is not a simple malware attack but is instead what’s known as a ‘RansomOp,’ a much more complex and insidious form of infiltration into a computer system. Reports suggest the hackers sent an email to a staff member that, when opened, infected the company’s entire network.

Cybereason, a company that works to undermine cyberattacks, warns that Graff and its clients face serious threats from this data breach. Due to the affluent nature of the clientele, any data about purchases may provide details for future thefts. Furthermore, information about their purchase history and expenditures may damage client reputations or brands. This breach also opens up the clients to future spear-phishing attacks, where clients may believe they are interacting with a trusted individual but instead are providing details to criminals.

As Philip Ingram, a former colonel in British military intelligence, said to The Daily Mail,

“This is going to bring the highest levels of international law enforcement down on the gang, and that’s going to give them a whole lot of headaches in trying to get the ransom paid and then get away with it.”

In other news

  • Gaming studio CEO takes a massive pay cut. In an update to our story from the summer, CNN reports that Activision Blizzard CEO CEO Bobby Kotick has asked the company’s board to pay him the “lowest amount California law will allow,” while the company addresses widespread complaints about gender discrimination and harassment. Assuming the board accepts his request, he will earn only $62,500, a massive reduction from his previous earnings of $155 million. In a letter to company employees, Kotick promises, among other things, a “new zero-tolerance harassment policy” and “increase the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50%.”
  • SQUID crypto players end up losing all. Last week someone created a new Squid Game cryptocurrency to capitalize on the popularity of both the TV show and crypto trading. Proving to be the only winners of the trade, Gizmodo describes how the creators made off with $3.38 million when the cryptocurrency hit a high of $2861 before cashing out—something known in crypto circles as a “rug pull” and causing the cryptocurrency to drop to zero in valuation. Further removing any trace of the crypto, the website SquidGame.cash and all of its social network accounts are gone. 
  • China promises to clean up its act. In a plan released by the government, China has announced that by 2060 it intends to reduce its use of fossil fuel to below 20%. According to the Guardian, the objective is to stop relying on coal, though paradoxically the country is going ahead with new coal-fired power plants in the face of power outages. Cutting coal use puts the country’s economic growth in jeopardy, as officials warn fewer power plants would reduce industrial output.  
  • These bacteria love their meta(l). Scientists in Chile have discovered metal-eating bacteria in the Tatio geysers, located 13,779 feet (4,200 meters) above sea level in the middle of the country near the Argentinian and Bolivian borders. As reported in Interesting Engineeering, one researcher isolated the iron-oxidizing Leptospirillum bacteria, already used in some industrial applications, from its preferred metallic meal, and discovered that the colony ate an entire nail in three days. The liquid that remained could then be used to leach copper from rock in a less toxic manner than existing processes. As mining is a heavy environmental polluter, researchers hope using the future use of these bacteria will lead to greener mining operations.
  • Robot dogs get down to the Rolling Stones. This time, rather than being the harbingers of death and terror, the Boston Dynamics robot dogs are dancing to classic rock ’n’ roll.

Tip of the week

When it comes to used electronics crafted from plastic, glass, and metal components, recycling is crucial to limiting carbon emissions, reducing groundwater pollution, and keeping the electronics supply chain in motion. But you can’t just throw your broken iPhone X into the municipal recycling tub with your wine bottles and peanut butter jars. Special care is required to recycle your old devices properly. 

To recycle your electronics quickly and efficiently, return your old devices to a big-name retailer. Best Buy, Staples, and many well-known stores accept drop-offs of used laptop batteries, TVs, cell phones, PCs, and printer cartridges for recycling. Some offer a store credit on your next purchase. Samsung, Apple, and Amazon all offer to pay for return shipping on items you send back for recycling and typically give you a promo code for new purchases. 

By returning your used electronics to retailers for recycling, you help protect the precious resources needed to manufacture new devices while shrinking your own carbon footprint. 

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Jackie Dana avatar

Jackie Dana

Jackie has been writing since childhood. As the Namecheap blog’s content manager and regular contributor, she loves bringing helpful information about technology and business to our customers. In her free time, she enjoys drinking copious amounts of black tea, writing novels, and wrangling a gang of four-legged miscreants. More articles written by Jackie.

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