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China’s Micron chipmaker ban ramps up US trade tensions

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China's Micron chipmaker ban ramps up US trade tensions

A move by Beijing to bar US firm Micron Technology Inc from selling memory chips to key domestic industries has ramped up tensions in an ongoing trade spat with Washington and lifted shares of firms that could benefit from the move. 

China’s cyberspace regulator said late on Sunday that Micron, the biggest US memory chipmaker, had failed its network security review and that it would block operators of key infrastructure from buying from the company.

It did not provide details on what risks it had found or what products from the company would be affected.

Analysts said they saw limited direct impact on Micron, as most of its key customers in China are consumer electronics players but warned the move could prompt some companies to rid their supply chains of Micron products due to political risks.

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Beijing’s decision was opposed by Washington but also helped stocks of Micron’s rivals in China and South Korea, which are seen benefiting as mainland firms seek memory products from other sources.

“We firmly oppose restrictions that have no basis in fact,” a spokesperson from the US Commerce Department said in a statement on Sunday.

“This action, along with recent raids and targeting of other American firms, is inconsistent with (China’s) assertions that it is opening its markets and committed to a transparent regulatory framework.”

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have grown in recent months following raids and visits by Chinese authorities to US corporate due diligence firm Mintz Group and management consultancy Bain.

Micron said on Sunday it had received the regulator’s review and looked “forward to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities.”

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The company is the first US chipmaker to be targeted by Beijing after a series of export controls by Washington on certain American components and chipmaking tools to block them being used to advance China’s military capabilities.

China launched the review in late March amid a dispute over chip technology and worsening relations between Washington and Beijing.

The move also comes shortly after Group of Seven nations agreed to “de-risk, not decouple” economic engagement with China and as US President Joe Biden called for an “open hotline” between Washington and Beijing.

The US Commerce Department said it would speak directly with authorities in Beijing to clarify their actions.

“We also will engage with key allies and partners to ensure we are closely coordinated to address distortions of the memory chip market caused by China’s actions,” the department said.

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While the Chinese statement and state media said the Micron decision needed to be seen as an individual case in the context of national security concerns, not geopolitics, prominent Chinese commentator Hu Xijin struck a different note.

“Washington itself encourages US companies to do things that endanger China’s national security, so it suspects that Chinese companies are doing the same,” the former editor-in-chief of nationalist state tabloid Global Times tweeted. “The whole world should be wary of the US.”

China’s announcement on its Micron review helped boost shares in some local chipmaking-related firms on Monday, as state media reported that domestic players could benefit from the move.

Shares in companies including Gigadevice Semiconductors, Ingenic Semiconductor, Shenzhen Kaifa technology opened up between 3% and 8% before paring gains.

Micron’s major rivals also saw their shares gain, with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix up 0.9% and 2.1%, respectively. They trimmed gains later and closed up 0.2% and 0.9%, as analysts expect limited impact on Micron.

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Both Samsung and SK Hynix had no comment.

“Since Micron’s DRAM and NAND products are much less in servers, we believe most of its revenue in China is not generated from telcos and the government. Therefore, the ultimate impact on Micron will be quite limited,” Jefferies said in a note.

Micron generated $5.2 billion of revenue from China including $1.7 billion from Hong Kong last year, about 16% of its total revenue, according to Jefferies.

Bernstein said a 2% hit to sales was the most realistic estimate given Micron’s exposure to the enterprise and cloud server segment is relatively small.

Beijing has broadly defined industries it considers “critical” as ones such as public communication and transport but has not specified just what type of business these apply to.

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China, the world’s biggest semiconductor buyer, has gradually reduced its reliance on foreign-made chips in a multi-year campaign to boost its self-sufficiency.

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Scammers can crack almost half of the passwords in less than a minute

Scammers can crack almost half of the passwords in less than a minute

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Scammers can crack almost half of the passwords in less than a minute

In June 2024, Kaspersky experts conducted a large-scale study on the resistance of 193M English passwords, compromised by infostealers and available on the darknet, to brute force and smart guessing attacks. According to the research results, 45% of all analyzed passwords which is almost 87M could be guessed by scammers within a minute. Only 23% (44M) of combinations turned out to be resistant enough and cracking them would take more than a year.

Kaspersky telemetry indicates more than 32 million attempts to attack users with password stealers in 2023. These numbers show the importance of digital hygiene and timely password policies. The results of the Kaspersky study demonstrate that the majority of the reviewed passwords were not strong enough and could be easily compromised by using smart guessing algorithms.
Besides, the majority of the examined passwords (57%) contain a word from the dictionary, which significantly reduces the passwords’ strength. Among the most popular vocabulary sequences, several groups can be distinguished. Popular names include “ahmed”, “nguyen”, “kumar”, “kevin”, “daniel”. While popular words in passwords are “forever”, “love”, “google”, “hacker” and “gamer”. Standard passwords are “password”, “qwerty12345”, “admin”, “12345” and “team”.

The analysis showed that only 19% of all passwords contain signs of a strong combination – a non-dictionary word, lowercase and uppercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. At the same time, the study revealed that 39% of such passwords could also be guessed using smart algorithms in less than an hour.
”Unconsciously, human beings create ‘human’ passwords – containing the words from dictionary in their native languages, featuring names and numbers. Even seemingly strong combinations are rarely completely random, so they can be guessed by algorithms. Given that, the most dependable solution is to generate a completely random password using modern and reliable password managers. Such apps as Kaspersky Password Manager can securely store large volumes of data, providing comprehensive and robust protection for user information,” Commented Yuliya Novikova, Head of Digital Footprint Intelligence at Kaspersky.

In order to strengthen passwords, users should use a different password for each service. That way, even if one of your accounts is stolen, the rest won’t go with it. It’s better not to use passwords that can be easily guessed from your personal information, such as birthdays, names of family members, pets, or your own name. These are often the first guesses an attacker will try.It’s nearly impossible to memorize long and unique passwords for all the services you use, but with a special solution, such as Kaspersky password manager, you can memorize just one master password.
Enable two-factor authentication (2FA). Using a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Premium will enhance your protection. It monitors the internet and Dark Web and warns if your passwords need to be changed.

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Additional information can be found in the research material on Securelist and Kaspersky Daily post. 

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Spotify launches new basic streaming plan in US

Spotify launches new basic streaming plan in US

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Spotify launches new basic streaming plan in US

Spotify introduced a new streaming plan for users in the United States on Friday, after raising prices for its premium plans earlier this month.

The new basic plan will start at $10.99 per month for eligible users. It will have the streaming benefits of a premium plan, but no monthly audiobook listening time.

Premium plans allow users to listen to offline ad-free music and 15 hours of audiobook listening time per month.

Spotify raised the prices for premium plans earlier in June, the latest step by the Swedish music-streaming service in its push to increase margins.

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The company raised the prices of its plan to $11.99 from $10.99 per month, the duo plan to $16.99 from $14.99, and its family plan to $19.99 from $16.99 in the United States, its largest market by revenue.

Spotify has been trying to boost its margins in recent months by lowering marketing spending and through layoffs, after relying on promotions and hefty investments to drive user growth.

The audio-streaming giant is looking to introduce a new expensive plan for its most ardent users later this year, Bloomberg News reported last week, with the plan likely to cost $5 more per month for access to better audio and fresh tools for creating playlists and managing song libraries.

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OpenAI acquires database analytics firm Rockset

OpenAI acquires database analytics firm Rockset

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OpenAI acquires database analytics firm Rockset

Microsoft-backed OpenAI has acquired search and database analytics firm Rockset for an undisclosed sum, the ChatGPT maker said on Friday.

A technology Rockset offers called vector search has benefited from increased adoption as more applications use artificial intelligence to power recommendation engines, voice assistants, and chatbots and detect anomalies.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Rockset said it will become a part of OpenAI and power the retrieval infrastructure of the ChatGPT maker’s products.

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This means Rockset’s expertise in real-time data processing and vector search will enhance OpenAI’s ability to quickly access and analyze vast amounts of information, likely leading to faster and more accurate responses from AI models.

CONTEXT

OpenAI is looking to stay ahead of the curve by integrating new functionalities in ChatGPT and developing new AI models to fend off competition from the likes of Alphabet’s Google and Anthropic, among others.

Reuters reported last month that OpenAI has been developing a search engine product to potentially compete with Google and AI search startup Perplexity.

Rockset, which counts Greylock, Sequoia and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s venture capital arm among its investors, said in August last year it had raised $105 million in total capital.

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