Pressing pause on AI, Silicon Valley Chaos and Clop on the rise – The March Tech Digest
It’s a new month and we are back with the top stories in tech. As we transition into warmer weather – which is not always assured in the UK – let’s look back on March’s top tech stories. The past month has been unpredictable – I don’t really know whether I need to wear two sweaters or to savour an ice cream. What I do know, is that I was yet again struck by some of the headlines that took the tech world by storm.
March’s biggest headlines have not necessarily brought entirely good news, further highlighting the existential crisis that some parts of the tech world are going through right now. The cybersecurity space saw increased attacks and the rise of further threat groups. Furthermore, the Silicon Valley bank collapsed, sending ripples far and wide across the tech industry. If that was not enough, the AI takeover continues, with big tech names asking for it to slow down, due to fears surrounding the potential security threats.
Let’s unwrap all of this and more below.
Cybersecurity: Cl0p ransomware and its falling victims
If you’ve been hit by a cyberattack recently… Clop your hands. When the ransomware gang first appeared a month ago, they aimed to target the healthcare sector and to cause serious damage. They were recently behind the attacks that exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the GoAnywhere MFT secure file transfer tool, stealing data from more than 130 companies.
According to TechCrunch, the latest intel on this means that Clop’s attack has been unfolding throughout a period of nearly two months and it has added some big names to its victim list, including Procter & Gamble, Virgin Group, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hitachy Energy, Hatch Bank, Rubrik, AvicXchange and many more.
This is the second mass cyberattack this year, with ransomware gangs aiming to get more creative, following a year of fewer attacks and fewer targets willing to pay malicious actors to unlock their systems.
New victims come forward after mass-ransomware attack https://t.co/DGt5yLSELc
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) March 23, 2023
Fintech: Houston we have a problem: Silicon Valley Bank collapses
Moving on, another big headline this month was the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the 16th largest U.S. bank with assets totalling $209 billion at the end of 2022. The crash is said to have been caused by a number of issues including uninsured deposits and the tech boom coming to an end. This was not helped by panicked customers finding out on social media and withdrawing their funds immediately.
While this is not exclusively a fintech story, there were major implications in this space, due to some of the bank’s portfolio of customers in the tech industry. The bank financed nearly half of all U.S. venture-backed technology and healthcare companies and supported startup companies despite those being typically higher risk. The incident raised questions around where startups should be keeping their money and the policy implications as a result.
TechCrunch spoke to numerous founders about how their businesses have been impacted by this, as venture capital-backed startup companies are the ones feeling the consequences more significantly.
Telecoms: Germany banning Chinese 5G components
Let’s shift to the telecom sector. There have been a lot of discussions surrounding the potential security risks of China’s 5G technology. Germany is reassessing the safety and potential risks of misuse with regards to the security, confidentiality and functionality of these telecommunication infrastructures.
If the proposed changes are implemented, it is likely that Germany will ban some 5G wireless network components manufactured by Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd, due to rising concerns around potential security risks currently being assessed.
As of now, no conclusive decision has been made and things are a bit unclear, but in terms of the possible implications this might have, UK operator BT has stated that banning Huawei from its networks could cost £500mn. The implications for the telecoms sector could be big – this is definitely a story to track!
AI: Big tech leaders ask for a pause in AI development
Yes, we do keep bringing AI up, okay? You are right, but we simply cannot help it and seemingly, neither can big tech players. Towards the end of the month, around 1500 technology leaders including Elon, released an open letter calling AI developments to be halted for six months.
AI is an unstoppable force that can aid in many ways but that has also created a census of fear within the tech industry, due to its uncontrollable nature, fast-paced development and powerful digital mind. With rising security concerns and some big techs downsizing their workforce, there is a need to create balance, to regain control and to catch up.
AI’s capability to moderate human speed discourse makes it a very valuable asset to malicious actors, which has raised government security concerns worldwide. Overall, there is a call to control the use of generative AI tools as much as possible.
— Forbes Tech (@ForbesTech) March 30, 2023
GreenTech: UK and Canada agree to boost GreenTech supply chains
In the beginning of the month, the UK government announced its agreement with Canada, to enhance green technology supply chains, particularly critical minerals such as cobalt and lithium, that will help boost the economy and ensure a secure clean energy ecosystem.
Our planet has endured enough injustice and sustainable choices and behaviour are very important on all fronts. Achieving a net-zero future and lowering greenhouse gas emissions is of critical importance, so as to move towards a more sustainable future. With this in mind, the demand for critical minerals is expected to rise by as much as 500% by 2050, so this forms part of the UK’s efforts to secure supply chains for these minerals and boost green technologies, such as hydrogen production and nuclear energy.
Overall, March definitely did not disappoint and kept the tech world very much on its toes, with sharp headlines in cybersecurity, tech finance, telecommunications, green tech and artificial intelligence. Join us next month for our next wrap up of the top news in tech!