Friday, May 12, 2017
Ransom-ware cyber-attack hits nearly 100 countries; German growth speeds up; Chinese spent $24bn on 'golden visas'
1 Ransom-ware cyber-attack hits nearly 100 countries (Julia Carrie Wong & Olivia Solon in The Guardian) A ransomware cyber-attack that may have originated from the theft of “cyber weapons” linked to the US government has hobbled hospitals in England and spread to countries across the world.
Security researchers with Kaspersky Lab have recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 99 countries, including the UK, Russia, Ukraine, India, China, Italy, and Egypt. In Spain, major companies including telecommunications firm Telefónica were infected.
By Friday evening, the ransomware had spread to the US and South America, though Europe and Russia remained the hardest hit, according to security researchers Malware Hunter Team. The Russian interior ministry says about 1,000 computers have been affected.
The malware was made available online on 14 April through a dump by a group called Shadow Brokers, which claimed last year to have stolen a cache of “cyber weapons” from the National Security Agency (NSA). At the time, there was skepticism about whether the group was exaggerating the scale of its hack.
The NSA is among many government agencies around the world to collect cyber weapons and vulnerabilities in popular operating systems and software so they can use them to carry out intelligence gathering or engage in cyberwarfare. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a user’s data, then demands payment in exchange for unlocking the data. This attack was caused by a bug called “WanaCrypt0r 2.0” or WannaCry, that exploits a vulnerability in Windows. Microsoft released a patch (a software update that fixes the problem) for the flaw in March, but computers that have not installed the security update remain vulnerable.
2 German growth speeds up (BBC) Germany's economy grew strongly in the first three months of this year, driven by investment and consumption, official figures show. First-quarter GDP growth was 0.6%, faster than the October-to December 2016 figure of 0.4%.
Household and state spending were strong, while firms invested money in construction and equipment, said German statistics authority Destatis. Foreign trade also helped, as exports increased faster than imports. Germany has the largest economy in the eurozone and its performance is in marked contrast to that of other big countries, such as Italy and France.
3 Chinese spend $24bn on ‘golden visas’ (Khaleej Times) More than 100,000 Chinese have poured at least $24 billion in the last decade into "golden visa" programmes across the world that offer residence in exchange for investment, an Associated Press analysis has found. Nowhere is Chinese demand greater than in the US, which has taken in at least $7.7 billion and issued more than 40,000 visas to Chinese investors and their families in the past decade.
The flood of investors reflects how China's rise has catapulted tens of millions of families into the middle class. But at the same time, it shows how these families are increasingly becoming restless as cities remain choked by smog, home prices multiply and schools impose ever-greater pressure on children.
They also feel insecure about being able to protect their property and savings. Their money goes towards government bonds, businesses, mountain ski resorts, new schools and real estate projects, including a Trump-branded tower in New Jersey built by the Kushner Companies, once run by Jared Kushner, now a White House senior adviser.
China's "golden visa" investors are part of a wave characterised not by poverty, persecution or war, but by people with steady jobs and homes who are pursuing happiness that's eluded them in their homeland.
Key to their spending power is China's real estate boom. Real estate prices in China's largest cities have more than tripled in the last decade, with prices in Beijing rising by an average of 25 per cent a year during that time. Since late 2015 alone, Beijing's home prices have jumped 63 per cent, making a 1,300 square-foot (120 square-metre) apartment worth more than $1 million.