In July, Microsoft took legal action against COVID-19-related cybercrime that came in the form of business email compromise attacks. Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a damaging form of cybercrime, with the potential to cost a company millions of dollars. Even the most astute can fall victim to one of these sophisticated schemes. The 2019 FBI cybercrime report indicates that losses from Business Email Compromise attacks are approximately $1.7 billion, which accounts for almost half of all losses due to cybercrime. As more and more business activity goes online, there is an increased opportunity for cybercriminals to target people in BEC attacks and other cybercrime. Their objective is to compromise accounts in order to steal money or other valuable information. As people become aware of existing schemes and they're no longer as effective, the tactics and techniques used by cybercriminals evolve.
To read about how Microsoft is working to protect customers, visit Microsoft on the Issues
"Go ahead, take it," President Putin says to you.
"Take what?" you ask.
"This Covid vaccine," he continues, turning a small syringe over in his hands. "It's safe. Trust me. We… tested it on my daughter."
Would you do it? Russian President Vladimir Putin is betting that a lot of people will say yes. On Tuesday he announced that Russia has become the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine, and that mass vaccinations will begin there in October.
<p><strong>The catch is: no one knows if it really works. </strong>In order to win the vaccine race, the Gamaleya institute in Moscow never ran what scientists call a "Phase III Trial": the critical final round of testing in which medications are given to thousands of people to make sure that they actually deliver immunity without intolerable side effects. </p><p>Globally, there are just <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html" target="_blank">eight vaccines</a> at Phase III right now, and Russia says it will join them this week. But up until now the Russian vaccine has been tested on just <a href="https://www.barrons.com/articles/russia-registers-vaccine-76-people-have-tried-it-51597165886" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">76 people</a>. Among them are the Russian scientists who developed the vaccine -- they injected themselves with it and seemed pleased with the results. And one of Putin's daughters took it as well. After a day or so of fever, her dad <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/11/russia-coronavirus-vaccine-putin-daughter-393455" rel="dofollow" target="_blank">said</a>, she was fine. </p><p>Cutting corners to win the global vaccine race isn't without risk, so what are the pros and cons here for Putin?</p><p>Well, if the vaccine <em>is</em> effective, it would deliver a few huge wins. </p><p><strong>A PR coup.</strong> The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest global crisis since World War Two, and it won't truly end until there's a vaccine. Russian state TV has been hyping this for months, and getting there first would be a huge feather in Putin's cap: it's no accident that the vaccine was named Sputnik V, an homage to the <a href="https://history.nasa.gov/sputnik/" rel="dofollow" target="_blank">time</a> that the USSR beat the USA to put the world's first satellite in orbit. </p><p><strong>A public health victory.</strong> A successful vaccine would enable economic and social life to get back to normal in Russia faster than anywhere else. That would be a huge help for Putin, whose approval ratings have <a href="https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/05/06/putins-approval-rating-drops-to-historic-low-poll-a70199" rel="dofollow" target="_blank">touched historic lows</a> during the pandemic. </p><p><strong>Soft power in a syringe.</strong> If other countries line up to get the Russian vaccine rather than wait for the other Phase III trials around the world to finish, it would give Russia tremendous influence over economies and societies around the world. Moscow says at least 20 countries have <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiL-sOJ85PrAhX7mHIEHY9aCJwQFjACegQIAxAB&url=https%253A%252F%252Fwww.ndtv.com%252Fworld-news%252Frussia-covid-19-vaccine-russia-dubs-new-coronavirus-vaccine-sputnik-after-soviet-satellite-2277797&usg=AOvVaw12ZfWzSBs1gpsOExGIWtcX" target="_blank">already expressed</a> interest. If the key to returning to (something like) normalcy says "Made in Russia" on it, people won't forget. </p><p><strong>Lastly, vaccine is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. </strong>Russia says there's already demand for a billion doses. Whoever manufactures those billion doses will be raking in big cash. And permission to hold that lucrative rake will, as ever, come directly from Putin himself – a company this important will be controlled by people very close to the Russian president. </p><p><strong>What if the vaccine doesn't work? </strong>Cases could surge again as ineffectively-vaccinated people begin socializing and working as normal again. Negative side effects could be widespread. The logistics of delivering it at home and abroad could seize up. </p><p>If any of these things happens on a large scale, it will be hard to cover up, and Russia would take a hit in all four of the areas above, particularly if competing vaccines elsewhere in the world emerge from Phase III trials soon. </p><p>But given the upsides, Putin is probably betting that the vaccine is good enough to make any negative news of that kind easy to contain, deny, or spin.</p><p><strong>He's also waiting for an answer to his question to you: </strong>what's it gonna be — would you roll up your sleeve for Sputnik V? </p>
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The global race is on to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. While it usually takes many years to develop and widely distribute vaccines, scientists around the world are now trying to get one ready within an unprecedented time frame: 12-18 months. And while there is some international cooperation in that effort, there's also fierce competition among countries, as everyone wants to develop a vaccine on their home turf first, not only for prestige, but also to get their citizens at the front of the line for the shots when they are available. There are hundreds in development, but to date only eight vaccines have progressed to Phase III of the clinical trial process, meaning they are being tested on thousands of people and the results are compared with those who receive a placebo drug. Phase III is the final stage before approval. Who's gotten there so far?
Hard Numbers: "Italexit" gains steam, food aid for Lebanon, Egypt elects senators, US COVID vaccine skeptics
August 11, 2020
45: A new poll says that 45 percent of Italians would support leaving the European Union if the UK economy remains in a "good state" five years after Brexit. Calls for a national referendum on "Italexit" are gaining steam in Italy, where a new anti-EU party is capitalizing on the sentiment that the EU abandoned the country at its darkest hour with COVID-19 (despite Italy later getting the lion's share of the EU's coronavirus rescue package).
<p><strong>50,000:</strong> The UN World Food Program is sending <a href="https://insight.wfp.org/world-food-programme-to-scale-up-in-lebanon-as-blast-destroys-beiruts-port-7270471d1f87" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">50,000</a> metric tons of wheat flour to prevent a food shortage in Lebanon. International donors have pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/whats-next-for-lebanon" rel="dofollow" target="_self">crisis-ridden country</a>, where the government resigned following last week's deadly twin explosions at the Beirut port. </p><p><strong>200:</strong> Egyptians <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-election-senate/egyptians-vote-for-newly-created-senate-idUSKCN2570WA" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">start voting</a> on Tuesday to elect 200 new senators. The remaining 100 senators of the 300-member upper chamber of parliament will be directly appointed by the military, which has gained increasing power in the country under the authoritarian government of former army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. </p><p><strong>35:</strong> About one in three Americans (35 percent) would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine even if it is free and approved by the Federal Drug Administration, according to a new Gallup <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/317018/one-three-americans-not-covid-vaccine.aspx" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" target="_blank">survey</a>. The US anti-vaxxer movement was already on the rise before the pandemic, and many of its members plan to resist vaccination mandates if they are approved by states or the federal government. </p>
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<p>Let's recap the latest drama between the world's two largest economies. In tech, after squeezing <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/can-huawei-go-its-own-way" target="_self">Huawei</a> over 5G, US President Donald Trump now wants to ban <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-tick-tock-for-tiktok-netanyahu-loses-support-guyanas-new-president" target="_self">TikTok</a> and WeChat. Harsh words — backed up by sanctions — are still flying over China's crackdown on Hong Kong and its repression of the Uighurs. The US has also waded into the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/us-now-rejects-beijings-south-china-sea-claims-so-what" target="_self">South China Sea</a> dispute, closed China's <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/houston-we-have-a-problem-with-china" target="_self">consulate in Houston</a>, and stirred up a hornet's nest by dispatching the highest-ranking official to visit <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/09/asia/taiwan-us-azar-tsai-china-intl-hnk/index.html" target="_blank">Taiwan</a> in more than 40 years. </p><p>Why is this all happening? Because <strong>each side, in its own mind, is winning.</strong></p><p>Trump's big swipes at China are good electoral politics: Americans' distrust of China is at an <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/07/30/americans-fault-china-for-its-role-in-the-spread-of-covid-19/" target="_blank">all-time high</a>, and one of the (very) few things that Democrats and Republicans <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/04/28/meet-new-bipartisan-consensus-china-just-wrong-old-bipartisan-consensus-china/" target="_blank">agree on</a> these days. What's more, Democrats can't really push back on Trump's China approach now that the US intelligence community has said it <a href="https://apnews.com/e98a8285f773403af163bc720d70fc2d" target="_blank">believes</a> Beijing prefers a Biden victory in November.</p><p>For Beijing, the US undermining Chinese tech companies and slapping sanctions on Chinese officials over "internal" matters feeds President Xi Jinping's nationalist narrative that Washington is preventing China from taking its rightful place as a rising global power. It also explains why Beijing wants to <a href="https://www.heritage.org/asia/commentary/will-chinas-censors-bring-us-the-splinternet" target="_blank">break the (US-dominated) internet</a>, and assert its dominance over all territories where China's rule is contested — including <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/when-strongmen-move-from-push-to-shove" target="_self">Taiwan</a>.</p><p><strong>However, there's one area they seem unlikely to mess with for now.</strong> Phase I of the <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-us-and-china-strike-a-deal" target="_self">US-China trade deal</a> signed in January was hardly a big win for either side, but enough to pause a rapidly escalating trade war that was <a href="https://unctad.org/en/pages/newsdetails.aspx?OriginalVersionID=2226" target="_blank">hurting</a> both US and Chinese businesses (and consumers).</p><p>And despite the increasingly bad blood between the two countries, neither wants to blow up that agreement. Trump knows that if the Chinese reimpose earlier tariffs on US agricultural goods, it could hurt him with key <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/17/trump-biden-battle-for-blue-collar-voters-will-revive-trade-debate-192270" target="_blank">US voters</a> whose support he needs to get reelected. Xi, meanwhile, certainly doesn't want a fresh round of US tariffs to kneecap China's own economy, the only major one that is <a href="https://time.com/5867556/china-becomes-first-major-economy-to-rebound-after-coronavirus/" target="_blank">actually growing</a> while the rest of the world suffers a pandemic-related recession.</p><p><strong>But tick, tock…</strong> No, not the app. The clock is ticking towards a moment when the current situation between the US and China could change more significantly: November 3, the date of the US presidential election.</p><p>Competition between the two powers is virtually assured no matter who comes out on top. But the winner will shape what that rivalry looks like at a critical moment.</p>A <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/biden-goes-to-china" target="_self">Biden presidency</a> is likely to be more predictable and diplomatic, sure — but also to cobble together a broad and effective global coalition that will stand up to China. If Trump wins, the president will probably feel vindicated by his policy so far, and emboldened to hit China even harder, though with less global help. Stay tuned.
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