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Compared to the conventional ground warfare now under way, Ukraine’s online campaign to fight the invasion may be highly unconventional.
As Quartz reports, it has been conducting meme warfare on Twitter, with political cartoons and jokes about President Putin and Russia. Then there is catfishing. The New York Post says Russian soldiers have been communicating with Ukrainian women on Tinder, opening up the possibility for military intelligence to set up fake profiles and find out troop locations and movements.
Reuters reports the government of Ukraine is asking for volunteers from the country’s hacker underground to fight a cyber war. A defensive unit would protect infrastructure such as power plants and water systems. The offensive volunteer unit would help Ukraine’s military conduct digital espionage operations against the invading Russian forces.
While the spectre of a nuclear conflagration is confining the armed conflict to Ukraine’s borders, there is nothing to stop it spreading online. One of the most chilling fears is that a regional conflict could escalate into an invisible global confrontation in cyber space, writes John Thornhill.
For years, Russia has been the world’s most active nation state hacker, responsible for more than half of such cyber attacks. Its top three target countries have been the US, Ukraine and UK. Some commentators have argued that it is only a matter of time before the west experiences a “cyber Pearl Harbor”.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Musk defends brother’s share sale
Elon Musk has denied passing information that could have hurt Tesla’s stock price to his brother Kimbal, after a report that both men have become the subject of an insider trading investigation by US regulators. Kimbal Musk sold Tesla stock the day before his brother launched a poll on Twitter in November over whether he should divest a large slice of his own holding.
2. US sues to stop Change ownership change
The US Department of Justice has sued to block UnitedHealth’s $13bn acquisition of Change Healthcare, in the latest move by the Biden administration to clamp down on large takeovers. UnitedHealth’s health services arm Optum last year set out to buy Change, a healthcare insurance tech group.
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3. Coinbase set to suffer from crypto falls
The US-listed crypto exchange breezed past expectations to report fourth-quarter revenues of $2.5bn — up from less than $500mn in the same period of 2020. But Lex points out falling crypto prices in the current quarter mean the company expects transaction volumes to fall, dragging subscription and service fees down.
4. Consumers have a beef with plant-based meat
Industry leader Beyond Meat reported quarterly losses of $80.4mn, more than triple those of a year before. Rival Maple Leaf Foods said that consumers viewed plant-based meat as an “expensive novelty”.
5. Why do some great ideas fail to scale?
In the unlovely jargon of Silicon Valley, products such as Coca-Cola or the iPhone “scale”. In other instances, early initiatives deliver a sensational result, only to fade at a larger scale. This phenomenon is called the “voltage drop”. Tim Harford explains why this happens to so many promising ideas.
Tech tools — Oppo Find X5 Pro
I tried Oppo’s Find X3 Pro last year and was really impressed by the cameras. The Chinese company’s flagship smartphone series has just been updated with three new X5s, including the Pro — there was no X4, but its innovative folding phone, the Find N, filled that gap.
Techradar has had a hands-on with the new Pro version and reports the screen and cameras are the same, bar the removal of the microscope camera, which for me had been an unused gimmick. Oppo has teamed up with Hasselblad for new software features, including XPAN, which shoots like the old Hasselblad XPAN camera in grainy widescreen, and Hasselblad Master Styles, filters designed by the company based on famous photographers who use its cameras. The battery has around 10 per cent more storage than the X3 and Techradar says charging speed is greatly increased.
Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, says the X5 series will be key to Oppo growing its share in European markets, where it is well positioned to take over from Huawei as a leading Android challenger to Samsung. “The Find X5 family is a nicely designed range and the Find X5 Pro offers an eye-catching halo product, particularly the ceramic white variant,” he says.
The X5 Pro starts at £1,049 in the UK and is available from March 24.
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