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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

Russian hackers tried to bring down Ukraine’s power grid to help the invasion

Targeted attack: Russian hackers targeted the Ukrainian power grid and attempted to cause a blackout that would have hit 2 million people, according to Ukrainian government officials and the Slovakian cybersecurity firm ESET. The hackers tried to destroy computers at a Ukrainian energy company using malware specifically designed to demolish systems by erasing data and rendering them useless.

Russian support: The impact remains unclear. Ukrainian officials say they thwarted the attack, which they claim was intended to support Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. If successful, the hack would have caused the biggest cyber-induced blackout ever.

Successful infiltration: According to a Ukrainian government document that was shared with international partners in recent weeks, Russian hackers did recently break into a Ukrainian power company and temporarily shut down nine electric substations. The document, which has not been made public, was shared with MIT Technology Review. Read the full story.

Patrick Howell O’Neill

House-flipping algorithms are coming to your neighborhood

When Michael Maxson found his dream home in Clark County, Nevada, it was not owned by a person but by a tech company. Zillow, the US’s largest real estate listings site, started buying up homes in 2018, predicting it could create a “one-click nirvana” for purchasing real estate. The big idea was to use data to price houses and investor cash to buy them before fixing them up and selling them.

When he went to take a look at the property, however, he discovered a huge water leak had eroded walls and flooded the neighbors’ yard. Despite offering to handle the costly repairs himself, Maxson discovered that the house had already been sold to another family, at the same price he had offered.

During this time, Zillow lost more than $420 million in three months of erratic house buying and unprofitable sales, leading analysts to question whether the entire tech-driven model is really viable. For the rest of us, a bigger question remains: Does the arrival of Silicon Valley tech point to a better future for housing or an industry disruption to fear? Read the full story.

Matthew Ponsford

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The world has clocked up more than half a billion known covid cases
The true number is likely to be far higher. (NYT $)
Cases are rising again across the US. (NYT $)
Experts are split over whether the US should ditch tests for travelers entering the country. (WP $)

2 Some Ukrainians are fighting Russia by fact-checking for Facebook
But there’s still enormous pressure to go into physical battle. (WP $)
The country is experiencing a relentless campaign of cyberattacks. (WSJ $)+ Cybersecurity experts are lobbying for standards to ward off hacking threats. (Bloomberg $)+ Drones are being used to gather evidence of war crimes. (WSJ $)
Russia’s tech workers are fleeing the country to seek employment elsewhere. (NYT $)

3 Jack Dorsey is finding an adoring audience among the crypto faithful
And potentially rewriting his legacy in the process. (Bloomberg $)
There’s no getting around it—Block’s prototype wallets look like rocks. (The Verge)

4 It looks like SpaceX is winning the 21st century space race
Its next wave of success hinges on its Starship reusable rocket. (Fast Company $)
Starlink briefly went down over the weekend. (The Register)

5 Tax sites are getting greedy with your data
And they’re being secretive and shifty about it in the process. . (WP $)
This tax season is going to be particularly unpleasant for NFT investors. (The Atlantic $)

6 Twitch viewers are going wild for chess

Spearheaded by the game’s premier bad boy, Hikaru Nakamura. (New Yorker $)
Online chess fans are raising money for Ukraine. (CBC)

7 Shanghai’s lockdown is bad news for global supply chains
Gadgets’ circuit borders are expected to be the biggest casualty. (FT $)

8 Tech firms are pulling out the stops to tempt their employees back into the office
To be honest, a private show from Lizzo would be hard to turn down. (NYT $)
But plenty of tech workers will work from home for the foreseeable. (The Information $)
Some handy tips for the hybrid-working haters. (WP $)

9 The malware detection industry is getting tied up in lawsuits
Cybersecurity’s biggest names are not happy about what they see as patent trolling. (The

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download April 13, 2022: Russian hackers, and house-flipping algorithms
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Published Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2022 13:24:33 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys



Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
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Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth



EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
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Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens



The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
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Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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