We are looking at the latest and most important headlines in the tech world, focusing on the developments in fintech, biotech, telecom, and AI sectors. This week, we look at one of the biggest crypto heists in history, Google breaching five Sonos patents, Binance in charge of tracing and seizing the assets stolen in a June malware attack, Scotiabank announcing an innovative BNPL plan, Dopay receiving a banking agent license, malware attacks in Kenya targeting corporate users, Caption Health and Butterfly partnering on AI-powered portable ultrasounds, Lumen and Google partnering on leveraging ML to speed up the growth of algae in a search for affordable therapeutic compounds, and a new survey that shows how telecom officials feel about the current 5G developments.
The cryptocurrency platform Poly Network that became known in the news this week, (after the biggest digital coin heist in history) now announced that almost all of the crypto tokens have been returned. The heist occurred on Tuesday and hackers froze over $610 million tether coins. Now, all but $33 million have been returned. Poly Network referred to the hackers as “white hat”, the so-called ethical hackers that attempt to expose cyber vulnerabilities upon the return of the stolen funds.
The platform added that the previously frozen tokens were transferred to a wallet controlled by the hacker and Poly Network both. “The repayment process has not yet been completed. To ensure the safe recovery of user assets, we hope to maintain communication with Mr. White Hat and convey accurate information to the public,” said Poly Network on Twitter.
On Friday, a U.S. trade judge decided that Google infringed five Sonos patents relating to smart speakers. In his brief ruling, Charles Bullock who serves as the chief administrative law judge of the U.S. International Trade Commission did not go into details as to why Google’s sale of products breached the federal tariff law, referred to as Smoot-Hawley.
For a long time, Sonos has been trying to ban Google from importing Home smart speakers, Pixel phones, and similar technology for products. After the ruling, the spokesperson for the company said Sonos was pleased with the result which “ “confirmed Google’s blatant infringement”. Following the ruling, Sonos’ shares went up by %11.4.
The ruling will still go through the full ITC review at the end of this year.
On Friday, it was reported that Binance will be in charge of identifying the hackers behind the $2.6 million hacks on the AI research lab Fetch.ai. The hackers stole the crypto funds from Fetch’s Binance account at the beginning of June, reselling the tokens for a much-reduced price. The Royal Courts of Justice in London has ordered the major crypto exchange to both trace the cybercriminals and seize the assets that were stolen.
“We need to dispel the myth that crypto assets are anonymous,” said Syedur Rahman, a partner from Fetch.ai’s legal team at Rahman Ravelli. “The reality is that with the right rules and applications, they can be tracked, traced, and recovered.”
According to the available information, Binance is currently in the process of tracking down the hackers but it may require further evidence from Fetch.ai.
“We can confirm that we are helping Fetch.ai in the recovery of assets,” a Binance spokesperson said to Cointelegraph. “Binance routinely freezes accounts that are identified as having suspicious activity occurring in line with our security policies and commitment to ensuring that users are protected while using our platform.”
The Canada-based Scotiabank just announced an innovative feature that will convert credit card repayments into BNPL installment plans. The customers will have the choice of repaying the debt in three, six or 12-month payments. No additional credit checks or applications are required for the plan and it can be discontinued at any time without additional fees.
Brett Mooney, SVP, credit cards and lending at Scotiabank, comments: “Our customers told us that they’re looking for more options to help them manage their finances. This new credit card feature offers our customers more flexibility in how they pay for purchases, in addition to the convenience, rewards, and lifestyle benefits that our credit cards already provide.”
The Cairo-based fintech Dopay, aiming at creating the next generation virtual banking platform was granted a banking agent license in Egypt. The startup got its license through Arab Banking Corporation Egypt (Bank ABC Egypt). In the partnership between the two, Dopay and Bank ABC Egypt aim at implementing a platform that they describe as “a gamechanger for Egypt in terms of accessibility, speed, and convenience of payments”.
It is worth mentioning that almost ⅓ of citizens in Egypt do not have a bank account and over 90% do not have access to credit. Thus, there is a strong need for services that Dopay offers, which is shown by the strong support of international investors including Force over Mass Capital and Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, as well as Techstars Ventures, Ace and Company, and the NN Group. With Dopay accounts, businesses will get the opportunity to open accounts for all employees and beneficiaries. Each account will come with a prepaid debit card.
“I am delighted that, after rigorous scrutiny, the Central Bank of Egypt has recognized the security and efficiency of our platform and product,” said Frans van Eersel, founder and CEO of Dopay. “Obtaining this license is a significant landmark on our journey to becoming a leading virtual banking platform in Egypt.
“I am very proud of Dopay’s team of innovators who have taken us successfully to this milestone and I am also appreciative of the support of Bank ABC Egypt. Being granted this license is also a vital next step to making our platform the foundation for the delivery of many more new services to come.”
According to the newest research, the overall number of cyber attacks in Kenya has steadily declined this year, the number of attacks that target corporate users calls for attention. The research shows that out of 7 962 malware attacks that were reported in the country so far in 2021, 29.3% targeted corporate users.
“As local businesses have continued to adjust to remote work scenarios and the rest of the circumstances surrounding the covid-19 pandemic, we have continued to witness cybercriminals using this to their advantage, exploiting the situation however they can. When looking at such statistics, we believe it is evident that cybercriminals are more commonly targeting unsuspecting corporate users in Kenya as a way to compromise corporate systems,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa. “It is especially financial phishing that has become one of the most popular tools used by cybercriminals to make money. It does not require much investment or technical expertise from a hacker and can be propagated quickly. In most cases, successful scammers win access either to the victim’s money or data that can be sold or otherwise monetized. For any business, this points to how important it is to address one of the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain – that of the individual user. It also signifies the importance of remaining vigilant from a cybersecurity perspective, especially during difficult operating conditions.”
Among the recommendations and best practices that must be implemented are the fundamental cybersecurity solutions and providing compulsory training for all employees. Additionally, the research recommends using anti-advanced persistent threat (APT) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) technologies.
“With the landscape unlikely to change for the foreseeable future, it is best to combine sophisticated cybersecurity solutions with continuously evolving training to keep employees apprised of the latest threats especially when it comes to financial malware,” Opil says.
An exciting exclusive strategic partnership has been announced in the biotech world. Caption Health and Butterfly Network decided to collaborate on an integrated portable ultrasound device that will leverage the different strengths of AI.
“This is a pivotal time when imaging can reinvent diagnostic speed and accuracy,” said Caption Health’s president and CEO, Steve Cashman in a statement. “Butterfly’s comprehensive and versatile whole-body ultrasound solution will now have FDA-cleared AI guidance and interpretation, allowing every healthcare provider the ability to capture and understand cardiac function, and this is only the beginning.”
Although a partnership between the two companies was expected at one point last year, the companies seemed to go in separate directions later on. Having said that, Butterfly went through a large change and hired Todd Fruchterman as the new CEO. Fruchterman who previously served as a president and general manager of 3M’s $4.8 billion medical solutions division quickly started implementing big changes and announcing ambitious plans for Butterfly.
“By combining Butterfly’s differentiated solution with Caption’s AI capabilities, we are accelerating on our promise to provide practitioners with an easy-to-use advanced assessment tool that allows them to make more informed clinical decisions earlier in the patient care journey,” Fruchterman said.
The collaboration between Caption Health and Butterfly is the start of many similar partnerships we are bound to see as the use of AI progresses in the healthcare industry.
Another interesting partnership that was announced in the past week is the one between Lumen Bioscience and Google. Luman is a startup that genetically engineered the bluish-green algae, Spirulina, to produce therapeutic compounds. Now, the biotech will work together with Google researchers to leverage machine learning to optimize the environment in which spirulina can grow. The project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
In the long term, Lumen aims at providing a range of affordable biologic drugs in an easy-to-take dose. So far, the work done by Google researchers has provided 17 variables that can help algae grow. Although the amount of combinations makes it impossible to experiment with one change at a time due to financial reasons, the teams have conducted 16 rounds of experiments and published the findings on the preprint server bioRxiv.
“We believe this paper is the first to describe the application of AI techniques to biologics manufacturing,” said Lumen’s co-founder and chief scientific officer Jim Roberts. “We look forward to the future implementation of these practices, as supported with funding from the Department of Energy, to provide mucosally and topically delivered biologics for highly prevalent diseases that, until now, have been infeasible due to the cost and scaling challenges of traditional biomanufacturing platforms.”
A recent Telecoms.com survey showed that 80% of telecoms professionals that participated in the research claimed 5G has met or exceeded their expectations. Titled “5G: Realities and Expectations”, the survey aimed at exploring how the telecom professionals view the current progress of 5G. The results were overwhelmingly positive of the current state of 5G but the respondents have also identified the major challenges and obstacles that 5G will be facing during the next 12 to 24 months.
60% of respondents answered that high cost will be the biggest obstacle to the fast rollout of 5G NR networks. Furthermore, while the majority of survey respondents claimed that OpenRAN is critical, almost half of them believe interoperability will be a major challenge for the adoption of OpenRAN. Nevertheless, the telecom experts have expressed deep confidence in the further development of 5G.
“5G is set to form a key part of global economy recovery post-pandemic. Yet, despite our collective need for the next generation of connectivity, there are still a variety of barriers to overcome, including the deployment constraints and regulatory impediments highlighted in this survey,” said Phil Sorsky, SVP of Global Sales of Outdoor Wireless Networks at CommScope, which co-sponsored the survey. “CommScope is driving forward, creating the solutions necessary for us all to realize the opportunities discussed in this report, leveraging our global scale and wireless expertise.”
“The survey adds a further dimension to the realities of the challenges operators face as they deploy and strive to monetize 5G service offerings,” said Dr. Sameh Yamany, CTO of VIAVI Solutions, which also sponsored the survey. “Meeting a range of potentially competing use cases on the same network with extraordinarily diverse characteristics in terms of data rates, latency, reliability, and number of connected devices ultimately call for management solutions including predictive analytics and intelligent adaptability, with automated test processes, artificial intelligence and machine learning as their cornerstones,” Dr. Yamany added.