Thierry Monjauze, managing director at Harris Williams, said, “It has been a privilege to be a continued trusted advisor to Receipt Bank and its shareholders, Insight and Kennet, over the last few years, advising on yet another successful transaction. Receipt Bank’s momentum has been tremendous, and, with this new investment and new investor in Augmentum, we believe the growth is set to accelerate in the future.”
The funding will be used to continue growth in Australia, Europe and North America, in addition to building on Receipt Bank’s product suite. The proprietary machine learning technology of the company takes in financial data from multiple sources, categorizing and digitizing it for accountants and bookkeepers. The solution processes and stores 45 new fields of small business financial information each second — from bank accounts, invoices, receipt photos and bills.
Julien Oussadon, a director at Harris Williams, said, “Receipt Bank’s CEO Adrian Blair has established a team with exceptional talent, depth and experience — the opportunity ahead is exciting. This transaction adds to our strong track record of advising leading FinTech companies.”
In separate news, reports surfaced in July that U.K. small business lender and commercial card company Capital on Tap was working with Receipt Bank to roll out the Receipt Bank Card. The company announced that the partnership would let small businesses gain greater control over company spend, as well as streamline expense management processes. By integrating the collection automation and data extraction technology of Receipt Bank, the firms can connect expense management capabilities to a corporate card solution for small businesses.
The Earth’s oceans cover 70% of its surface. They supply half the oxygen we breath. They influence rainfall all over the world. They can send catastrophic tsunamis on shore in coastal communities. They’re home to the fish that make up 20% of the protein we consume. And those are just some things we know about them.
Man has long sought to know what wonders lay hidden in the deep sea. Whatever odd or marvelous things may be down there — treasures, sunken vessels, bizarre, undiscovered animal life — light isn’t among them. The pitch darkness and pressure of the ocean’s depths put limits on exploration. Now, technologists are using sonar data and artificial intelligence to see into the world’s oceans.
Since it impacts us land dwellers in so many ways, we can benefit from increasing our knowledge about it, according to Sebastien de Halleux (pictured), chief operating officer of Saildrone Inc. It’s a very hostile, dangerous environment, which is why we know so little about it, he added. The typical ships and buoys we’ve deployed to study it have left much a mystery. The data they collect from these bodies covering 70% of the planet is tiny compared to the amount of on-land data we have.
Ideally, we would be able to take photographs of the deep sea to make out its topography, and lifeforms. Unfortunately, the light from a camera’s flash can’t travel through miles of ocean water. But it is possible to pick up sounds from the deep with sonar sensors. Saildrone’s fleet of about 1,000 autonomous surface vehicles uses these sensitive, sound-detecting devices.
These bright orange sailboats are typically 23 feet long with a sail more than 16 feet tall. They harness wind power for propulsionand solar power for onboard electronics. The sonar data they collect, processed with machine learning, can produce a “statistical biomass distribution” or a 3-D rendering of the seabed, according to De Halleux.
“We use sound instead of light,but with the same principle … which is that we sendthose pulses of sound down and [listen to the echo] from the seabed or from fish or crittersin the water column,” De Halleux said. “We paint the ocean with sound.”
De Halleux spoke with Dave Vellante (@dvellante) and John Walls (@JohnWalls21), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. They discussed how oceangoing drones are advancing the collection and application of sea data. (* Disclosure below.)
This week, theCUBE spotlights Saildrone in our Startup of the Week feature.
Investing in impact
Founded in 2014, Saildrone has been a revenue-generating company since day one. It got started with funds from venture capitalists interested in supporting projects with long-term impact. Increasingly common “impact funds” enable financially viable startups that address social or environmental matters — like sustainable agriculture, public health, microfinance, etc.
More than 1,300 investors manage $502 billion in impact-investing assets, globally, according to Global Impact Investing Network. Some argue that investing for good and for profit in one shot is less effective than investing for pure return and then donating money. However, research from McKinsey & Co. on impact investments in India demonstrates that they have been able to reach return goals.
Saildrone’s customers include governmental organizations like NASA and NOAA, as well as research universities. It’s involved in Seabed 2030, a UN-backed initiative to map the ocean floor by 2030. Its drones have no fuel, no engine, and no carbon emission, making them 100% environmentally friendly, De Halleux explained. And they offer a relatively easy, inexpensive means to capture ocean data.
“No government has ever come and told us, ‘We have enough ships or enough data,’” De Halleux said. “If you’ve got a coastline, you’ve got a data problem.”
Autonomy at sea, analytics on land
The autonomous vehicles don’t require any crew members to operate them. They leave the dock on their own, sail around the world for up to a year, then return to the same dock. A drone harvests all the energy it needs from the environment: wind for propulsion and solar power for electricity,which powers the onboard computers, sensors, and the satellite link that tells it when to return to shore.
Programming the boats to navigate the open sea by themselves can prove challenging. To respond to objects and events at sea, their algorithms must train on the lots of data. So the drones take millions of pictures of the ocean environment. Then Saildrone’s technologists train use these or other data sets to train algorithms to recognize a boat on the horizon, a bird, a seal, etc.
“In some hard cases, when you have a whaleunder the Saildrone or a seal lying on it, we have a lotof fun pushing it on our blog and asking the expertsto really classify it. You know, what are we looking at?” De Halleux said.
For the majority of Saildrone’s boats, analysis of captured data takes place onshore. In fact, the drones themselves have little autonomy. The actual data analytics and inferencing — powered by the Amazon Web Services Inc. cloud — takes place onshore within Saildrone. Once a drone sends data on its environment back to shore, engineers crunch it and optimize the route. They then send instructions via satellite back to the boats. The data from a drone’s 25sensors may be processed into products such as weather forecasts. The Saildrone Forecast application renders a picture of the Earthand predictions about weather.
Saildrone relies on AWS data infrastructure to process petabytes of data. Running weather models has traditionally required the use of supercomputers. Saildrone is able to run these compute-intensive workloads with the latest high-performance AWS instances.
“That really is an amazing newcapability that did not exist even five years ago,” De Halleux said.
The company just announced a 72-foot ship called the Surveyor that has onboard compute. All sonar data is processed on the ship with machine-learning and artificial-intelligence technology and sends the finished product back to shore. “Because no matter how fast satelliteconnectivity’s evolving, it’s always a small pipeso you cannot send all the raw data for processing on shore,” De Halleux explained.
As advanced as this technology sounds, it is actually more affordable than previously available systems for gathering ocean data, according to De Halleux. In the past, some less developed nations could not afford the tools to accurately forecast weather or establish fishing quarters.
“Now they can. And this is part of deliveringthe impact — it’s leveraging this amazinginfrastructure and putting it in the hands, with a simple product, of someone, whether they liveon the islands of Tuvalu or in Chicago,” De Halleux concluded.
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS re:Invent event. (* Disclosure: Amazon Web Services Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a high-impact threat warning to U.S. businesses and organizations on October 2, 2019. That threat was ransomware, and the FBI warned that cybercriminals “upgrade and change their techniques to make their attacks more effective and to prevent detection.” Although often dismissed as old news by some, that the City of New Orleans recently declared a state of emergency following an attack should be proof enough that ransomware remains a real and present danger. Now an already successful piece of ransomware malware, behind the December 23 attack that encrypted “almost all Windows systems” at Maastricht University, has evolved to become even more of a threat to Windows 10 users. Security researchers have revealed that the latest Clop ransomware variant will now terminate a total of 663 Windows processes before file encryption commences. Clop can kill a host of Windows 10 and Microsoft Office applications. Here’s what is known so far.
A brief history of Clop
Clop first emerged as a pretty straightforward variant of the CryptoMix ransomware family back in March 2019. At the time, it didn’t appear to be anything particularly out of the ordinary, not least as CryptoMix had been making a nuisance of itself since March 2016. However, even in those early days, the threat actors behind Clop were looking to tweak the malware threat: Clop started targeting entire networks rather than just individual Windows machines.
Lawrence Abrams, writing for Bleeping Computer on November 22, 2019, noted that Clop had evolved to attempt the disabling of Windows Defender, and the removal of Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes’ Anti-Ransomware protections. It was thought that the Russian-speaking TA505 threat group was behind the Clop attacks at the time. The most recently reported, and certainly the biggest, of the Clop attacks hit Maastricht University in the Netherlands on December 23, 2019.
Clop evolves to become Windows 10 app-killing threat
Windows 10 is something of a perennial favorite target amongst threat actors. From the advanced persistent threat (APT) attack groups like Thallium, which Microsoft recently countered with a decisive counterpunch, through to the Snatch Team of cyber-criminals which implemented “devious and evil” malware to bypass Windows 10 security software during attacks as reported in December 2019.
It should, therefore, come as little surprise that the actors behind Clop would have put time and effort into adapting the malware code to target Windows processes. Ransomware will commonly attempt to disable security software, that much is a given. However, a Bleeping Computer report has now confirmed that a Clop variant reverse-engineered at the end of 2019 can now terminate a total of 663 Windows processes. “It is not known why some of these processes are terminated,” Bleeping Computer editor-in-chief, Abrams, said, “especially ones like Calculator, Snagit, and SecureCRT, but it’s possible they want to encrypt configuration files used by some of these tools.” It’s also possible that the threat actors are merely trying to ensure as many files as possible are closed as being open might mean they couldn’t be successfully encrypted.
What we can say for sure is that the Clop Windows processes closedown is unexpectedly large, with all sorts of typical applications impacted. The full list is found in researcher Vitali Kremez’s report here. When you realize that Acrobat, Calculator, Edge, PowerPoint, Skype, Word and even the new Windows 10 Your Phone app are targeted, it’s clear this is a broad brush being applied. What’s more, these are not being closed by way of a Windows batch file. Instead, Clop has embedded the closedown functionality into the malware executable itself.
How to mitigate the Clop ransomware risk
As with all ransomware threats, the best mitigation is to be prepared. That means being cyber aware: understanding how malware is distributed helps users to spot the kind of emails and attachments that are dangerous and take appropriate action. Ensuring that systems and applications are patched with the latest security updates is also best practice, vulnerabilities in browsers are often exploited by threat actors to install ransomware, for example. Beyond user education and proper patch management, the application of controlled folder access is also recommended to prevent ransomware from successfully executing its encryption intentions. Any ransomware mitigation advice would be lacking were it not to mention that the three, two, one rule of backups should also be in place. That means that backing up your files regularly isn’t optional folks, and those backups should ideally be onto two different types of storage media and one “offsite” location.
It’s a constant game of cat and mouse when it comes to tracking gangsters’ communication in Haryana but at the moment, the mouse has got a bit smarter. Gangsters whose numbers are usually under surveillance of police cyber cells are using “fake” numbers to make WhatsApp calls.
“There are certain websites where fake numbers are available. The numbers work for just 15 minutes. Once you enter details after downloading WhatsApp, an OTP (One Time Password) is generated. This OTP is also visible on these websites. After entering the OTP, one can make a call,” says SP, Security and Telecom, Pankaj Nain.
Kaushal gang, he points out, has used this methodology to make extortion calls or to threaten police or talk among themselves.
Kaushal gang is active in Gurugram, Faridabad and Rewari. Kaushal was arrested in August last year. After jumping parole in 2016, he was involved in a number of extortion cases and murders. In June last year, the gang was involved in the murder of Haryana Congress spokesperson Vikas Chaudhary in Faridabad.
“Fake calls and spoofing are common in Haryana,” says Nain.
But how are the police tracking the communication? “These days all social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram help in cracking crimes. Service providers also share information. But in the end, the outcome is based on a number of factors, including human intelligence. Whenever Internet is involved, a criminal leaves digital footprint. We have to not just track the communication, we have to nab the criminal too,” says Nain.
About spoof calls
It was poor network that led Haryana Power Minister Ranjit Chautala to detect extortionists. As soon as the spoof call from Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s landline number got cut, he called back but his OSD told him that they had not rung him up.
The extortionists were caught, with one in Delhi and another from Chandigarh.
In this case, Crazy Call app is used which allows you to make spoof calls. There are other apps available too. These software applications allow you to depict any name or number on another person’s phone screen. Such calls are made on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP). If the signal is weak, the sound will reach later than normal communication and the receiver can sense that something is fishy.
Crazy Call app is banned in India but accused Upkaar Singh, who has a PhD, used Opera web browser to download it. He used to run a taxi stand.
One of the simplest ways of spoofing is to make people store your number by the name of any VIP. It would fool people who use Truecaller app. Some years ago, a Karnal resident was found extorting money by claiming to be calling from the CM’s Office. The call ID would appear as ‘CM Office’ on Truecaller. There is also an advanced feature in the app where one can choose the name which will be depicted on the other’s mobile phone screen.
“The Virtual Private Network (VPN) platform generates different IP addresses, which makes it difficult to reach the real Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. It is used while making spoof calls too. We take the help of private technology experts for reaching criminals as well,” says Nain.
SIM card cloning
In SIM card cloning, there is more than one SIM of the same number which is in use. “But with advanced security features at the end of the service provider, only one number will work. So, as of now, this modus operandi is only used for financial frauds,” says the SP.
After taking details from social media accounts and befriending them, receivers are asked to switch off their mobile for a while by posing as service providers. Once the phone is switched off, they clone the SIM. The original number never gets the network and will cease to work. On the other hand, fraudsters would use the mobile number and OTPs generated on it and other details for further exploitation.
Pairing of devices
Pairing of devices is a new technology where two mobile phones or a watch and mobile phone are paired. Here, even if the main device is switched off, the paired device can be used to receive and send data. The calls or data can be received on one device only but some people bypass it too by making changes at backhand. Most of these fraudsters and gangsters have one or two technology experts as part of their team.
Dark web is separate from the usual world wide web (www), which is indexed by search engines. The rest forms part of Dark Web or Deep Web. “It is used for smuggling of arms and drugs. It is difficult to crack. Haryana is yet to get any case related to it but other states have witnessed cases of drug peddling,” says Nain.
The deals are made in virtual currency like Bitcoin. After making purchases, the products land at your doorstep like what one gets from Amazon or Flipkart.
As per information reported to and tracked by CERT-In, the number of cyber security incidents in India:
2016 : 50,362
2019 (Till Oct): 3,13,649
77% Increase in the number of cyber crime cases registered in two years
Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka were the top three states, respectively, in registering cyber crimes
Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh lower in pecking order