Threat from nuclear weapons and missiles has grown since Trump entered office


The situation presents a broader challenge to the United States. The administration has heralded an era of “great power competition” with China and Russia, resulting in a competitive buildup that arms-control advocates warn is risking a full-blown arms race.

Russia is developing nuclear-armed underwater drones, nuclear-powered cruise missiles and other destabilizing weapons designed to penetrate U.S. missile defenses. China is ramping up its missile force and building out its nuclear capabilities with new nuclear submarines. And the United States is modernizing its own arsenal, while adding low-yield nuclear warheads to submarines and enhancing missile defenses. All the while, Iran and North Korea are advancing as threats.

The result is an escalatory cycle that experts say is threatening decades of progress controlling the world’s most dangerous weapons. A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies warned that the decline of U.S. global influence and the rise of regional security tensions, coupled with the staying power of authoritarian leaders, will incentivize more nations to pursue nuclear weapons and limit Washington’s ability to respond.

The issue looms over the final days of the U.S. presidential campaign, as North Korea demonstrates that, despite Trump’s efforts, Kim Jong Un’s regime is busy enhancing its nuclear missile arsenal. Trump is also rushing to conclude a last-minute arms control deal with Russia, hoping to secure an agreement he can tout as a diplomatic win before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Trump’s interest in arms control dates to at least the 1980s, when he sought unsuccessfully to engage in nuclear talks with the Soviets on behalf of the Reagan administration. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump described nuclear weapons as the world’s biggest problem and has called the issue more important than climate change.

But after nearly four years in office, he hasn’t

Half of All UK Companies Fall Into Bottom Quadrant of Competitiveness, Posing Threat to UK’s Future Prosperity, New Research Reveals



A new model of competitiveness devised by academics at Goldsmiths, University of London in partnership with Microsoft scores almost half (46%) of UK firms in the lowest quadrant, posing a threat to Britain’s prosperity as organisations rally from the impact of COVID-19, and prepare for Brexit as UK-EU negotiations reach their conclusion.

The research finds that more than half (54%) of UK organisations surveyed have seen a decrease in revenue this year compared to last year, with more than one in five (22%) experiencing a drop greater than 15%. The same proportion (22%) had to scrap an existing business model within days of entering the UK’s first lockdown, and 45% of leaders surveyed expect their current business model will cease to exist in 5 years’ time – an increase of 12% over the past year.

However, the model also identifies minimal, rapid changes that UK organisations could make to existing business models, which would quickly yield a cumulative boost to the British economy in excess of £48 billion – more than the entire cost of the UK furlough scheme. Further, this value is just a starting point based on minimal changes and minimal investment by business leaders – it could grow considerably if organisations drive longer-term investment in competitiveness.

Forming the basis of a new report launched today by Microsoft, Creating a Blueprint for UK Competitiveness, the model incorporates input from renowned experts on competitiveness from Harvard University, the CBI, PwC and the Tech Talent Charter, and utilises data from a survey of 1,713 UK senior decision makers and 2,470 UK employees, conducted in partnership with YouGov. The report also includes practical insights from a range of leading British businesses following sustainable growth strategies, including Admiral and Sainsbury’s.

A hollow victory?

As organisations begin the rebuilding

U.S. Department Of Justice Reveals Growing Bitcoin And Crypto National Security Threat Could Herald ‘Oncoming Storm’


Bitcoin and cryptocurrency use by terrorists, rogue nations and other criminals has grown in recent years—with high-profile attacks drawing international attention.

The illicit use of bitcoin and cryptocurrency ranges from money laundering and tax evasion to extortion, with cyber criminals increasingly demanding bitcoin and crypto payments in ransomware attacks on computer systems.

Now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has warned the emergence of bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies is a growing threat to U.S. national security, with the attorney general William Barr’s Cyber-Digital Task Force calling it the “first raindrops of an oncoming storm.”

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“Current terrorist use of cryptocurrency may represent the first raindrops of an oncoming storm of expanded use,” the Cyber-Digital Task Force said in a report that found bitcoin and cryptocurrencies pose an emerging challenge to law enforcement activities. “Cryptocurrency also provides bad actors and rogue nation states with the means to earn profits.”

The DOJ report, titled Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework and published by the Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force last week, found bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been used to support terrorism, purchase illicit items, conduct blackmail and extortion, cryptojacking and launder funds.

Investigators also said bitcoin and cryptocurrencies could be “detrimental to the safety and stability of the international financial system.”

The response of U.S. and international law enforcement has been held back by inconsistent regulation country-to-country. The DOJ has spent the last two years determining how best to address these issues, according to the document that “outlines the Department’s response strategies.”

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Why US sanctions on China’s Ant Group may be an empty threat


Washington could soon expand its war against Chinese tech companies by setting its sights on Ant Group, the crown jewel of billionaire Jack Ma’s empire.

a group of people performing on a counter: People walk past the Ant Group Co. mascot displayed at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Jack Ma's Ant Group is seeking to raise $17.5 billion in its Hong Kong share sale and won't seek to lock in cornerstone investors, confident there will be plenty of demand for one of the largest equity deals in the financial hub, according to people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

© Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People walk past the Ant Group Co. mascot displayed at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China, on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. Jack Ma’s Ant Group is seeking to raise $17.5 billion in its Hong Kong share sale and won’t seek to lock in cornerstone investors, confident there will be plenty of demand for one of the largest equity deals in the financial hub, according to people familiar with the matter. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

But there doesn’t appear to be much the US government could do to realistically hurt the digital finance company. Unlike other Chinese tech firms that have drawn the ire of Washington, Ant does little business in the United States.

Ant Group was floated as a potential US target by Bloomberg News, which reported last week that the Trump administration is considering restrictions on Ant, as well as Tencent’s WeChat Pay. Citing people familiar with the matter, the news outlet said the US government fears that their digital payment platforms threaten national security.

WeChat is already facing scrutiny in the United States, but sanctions on Ant and its payments app Alipay would be an escalation in the US-China tech war. Alipay and WeChat Pay are daily necessities for hundreds of millions of Chinese merchants and consumers. Ant’s wealth management products are also used by millions.

US authorities are worried about Ant because it represents “new modes of finance that they can no longer control,” said Cameron Johnson, adjunct faculty instructor at New York University in Shanghai and partner at consulting firm Tidal Wave Solutions.

It’s not clear how close Washington may be to

Can This New Android Threat Brick Your Phone When You Answer A Call?


Microsoft recently published a security blog that warned about a sophisticated new ransomware variant. Not, as you might expect, ransomware that impacts users of the Windows operating system, though. Nope, instead, this was a warning for Android users.

The discovery of a context-aware machine learning code module in the MalLocker.B certainly deserves the sophisticated tag. However, that module has yet to be activated, and more of that in a moment. What has grabbed the attention of Android users who have read the various reports online, it would seem, is the fact that MalLocker.B can effectively brick phones only with a press of the home button when answering a call. But how true is that, and how worried should Android smartphone users actually be?

First things first, this is a fascinating and highly detailed bit of technical blogging from the Microsoft security folk. As such, that is to be welcomed, as is all information that helps us understand how threats, including ransomware, are evolving. Most users, however, will not have read that report for the very same reason: it’s a technical deep dive. That’s a shame, but not unsurprising. The job of journalists and reporters in the information security space is to explain such highly technical revelations in a way that can be absorbed by almost anyone regardless of their level of technical understanding.

On the whole, I think ‘we’ do a pretty decent job of that, and the MalLocker.B reporting is no exception. Apart from one thing: my inbox would suggest that many readers are coming away with the idea that their Android smartphones are in danger of being bricked simply because they have pressed the home button in response to an incoming call. That is