Telecom operators demand justice, ransomware payments must die and X wants to be your bank account – The October Tech Digest
Greetings fellow tech enthusiasts! We are entering the season of hot water bottles (I sleep with one every night!), autumnal leaves, roasts, and Thanksgiving preparations. With the festive holidays right around the corner, October and the spooky season flew by in a haze. As the month has left us, it is time to reflect on the industry’s top news stories.
While things started to slow down around us, the world of technology was buzzing with breakthroughs, including new initiatives, big promises, and a united front against cybercrime.
The cybersecurity sector saw a new initiative to ban ransomware payments. Meanwhile, we saw telecoms companies shaking things up with the EU, in a battle to demand a fairer approach with network funding. In the world of fintech, Elon Musk is stepping up to create an ‘everything app’, shaping X into a platform that will include financial services.
Grab a cuppa and let’s unwrap all of this and more below.
Telecoms: Telecom giants urge EU to make Big Tech pay what it owes for networks
To kick off, the net neutrality debate rears its head once more. As the fight to treat internet data and users equally continues, the world of telecoms saw some bold moves. Europe’s largest telecom companies, including BT, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica, called on the EU to compel Big Tech companies to pay a fair contribution for utilising telecom networks.
In an open letter signed by 20 CEOs, they argued that technology companies benefiting the most from telecom infrastructure should shoulder a greater portion of the costs, particularly as telecom companies face immense pressure for future investments amid the 5G rollout and full-fibre network upgrades. The executives also revealed that Big Tech pays disproportionately low fees for data transport in telecom networks, fueling the need for a fair share approach.
The telecom leaders stressed the urgency of regulatory action to secure future investments – the European Commission did say earlier in September, that an additional €200 billion investment requirement to achieve 5G and gigabit coverage targets by 2030.
As the industry awaits regulatory decisions, this battle between telecoms and tech giants is poised to reshape the digital landscape in Europe and will be an interesting one to follow.
Cybersecurity: Uniting against ransomware: 40 countries pledge to stop paying ransomware gangs
In my blog last month, we looked at a major cyberattack impacting the hospitality sector. Cyberattacks are on the rise and affecting more people than ever before, so what has piqued our interest this month is what is being done to combat them.
The US-led International Counter Ransomware Initiative will see 40 countries agree to not pay ransoms to cybercriminals. The agreement aims to weaken hackers’ financial foundations and reduce the worldwide impact of ransomware attacks.
The U.S. accounts for a staggering 46% of these incidents – the initiative therefore seeks to address the issue by identifying ransom payment accounts and seeking to have them closed. By fostering improved information sharing on ransom payments, the alliance will create a “blacklist” of digital wallets associated with ransomware payments and will use AI to scrutinize blockchain transactions.
As the world grapples with a surge in ransomware attacks, this united front signals a global resolve to disrupt the financial lifelines of cybercriminals and secure a safer digital future.
Fintech: Elon Musk’s ambitious plan aims to replace bank accounts by 2024
Sometimes things get mixed up and sectors interlace themselves – our tech world is quite fluid and this next story is a good demonstration of that. Taking over the Big Tech world seems to not be enough for Elon Musk. This month saw the multi-billionaire and CEO of X admit he wants to manage his users’ “entire financial lives”, without them having to resort to a bank or a physical financial institution in the future.
Musk is on a mission to transform X into a financial platform and has set an ambitious goal to roll out financial features by the end of 2024. This would extend beyond simple transactions, with users no longer needing traditional bank accounts.
As this story evolves, there is a lot to say about the integration of social media and financial services. It makes one wonder about the future of finance – could we one day be solely managing our money through social media?
AI: UK Government launches funding to support AI careers
As reported in Computer Weekly, technology Secretary Michelle Donelan has unveiled a £60 million Regional Innovation Fund aimed at supporting universities in regions with lower levels of research and development (R&D) funding. The fund will aim to aid 110 universities, with each institution receiving a share of £48.8 million.
The initiative aims to spur local economic growth and increase productivity. Donelan emphasized the government’s commitment to bolstering R&D investment, with a target of £20 billion by the end of 2024, highlighting its impact on driving innovation and supporting British scientists and businesses.
In addition to the Regional Innovation Fund, Donelan announced a further £8 million in funding for AI scholarships. This funding is expected to provide opportunities for 800 individuals to excel in AI, reinforcing discussions on AI safety. Preparing the next generation of AI entrepreneurs will be imperative when tackling the technology.
Big Tech: Apple creates AI jobs
On a similar note, whilst AI takes the world by storm, we are seeing more and more companies adapt, with the Big Tech guys fighting to get there first.
The tech world has seen a copious amount of layoff rounds the past few months, with Big Tech players like Amazon, Meta, and Google having started a domino knock-off effect. However, earlier this month, Apple’s CEO Tom Cook announced the company’s intent to hire more staff in the UK, specifically in the field of AI. This comes after Amazon’s recent announcement of an investment of up to $4bn into the AI firm Anthropi and Microsoft’s investment in ChatGPT back in January.
Cook highlighted that AI is integral to various features on Apple devices, emphasizing its omnipresence. The move was welcomed by UK officials, with Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan describing it as another vote of confidence in the country’s tech sector. It is great to see a big tech company aiming to develop and invest in AI to create jobs and train tech professionals, rather than replace jobs with technology.
October felt like a splash of cold water across our faces. Whilst we see several themes that have distressed our beloved tech world persist (ruthless cyberattacks included), this month was characterised by several initiatives aiming to foster innovation and safeguard the digital world. We saw some major stories in telecommunications, fintech, cybersecurity, and more. As we get ready to pull out our Christmas jumpers, we look forward to what the next month will bring. Join us next month for our recap of the top news in tech!