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Yahoo Confirms Hackers Stole data From 500m Accounts

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Yahoo said Thursday a massive attack on its network in 2014 allowed hackers to steal data from half a billion users and may have been “state sponsored.”

Yahoo, which confirmed details of the breach months after reports of a major hack, said its investigation concluded that “certain user account information was stolen” and that the attack came from “what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.”

“Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen,” said a statement by the US internet giant in what is likely the largest-ever breach for a single organization.

“Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.”

The comments come after a report earlier this year quoted a security researcher saying some 200 million accounts may have been accessed and that hacked data was being offered for sale online.

Yahoo said the stolen information may have included names, email addresses, birth dates, and scrambled passwords, along with encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers that could help hackers break into victims’ other online accounts.

While there is no official record of the largest breaches, many analysts have called the Myspace hack revealed earlier this year as the largest to date, with 360 million users affected.

– Ammunition for hackers –

Computer security analyst Graham Cluley said the stolen Yahoo data “could be useful ammunition for any hacker attempting to break into Yahoo accounts, or interested in exploring whether users might have used the same security questions/answers to protect themselves elsewhere on the web.”

He noted that while Yahoo said that it believes the hack was state-sponsored, the company provided no details regarding what makes them think that is the case.

“If I had to break the bad news that my company had been hacked… I would feel much happier saying that the attackers were ‘state-sponsored,’” rather than teen hackers, Cluley said in a blog post.

University of Notre Dame associate teaching professor and data security specialist Timothy Carone told AFP that the Yahoo hack fit the “big picture” when it comes to cyberattacks launched by spy agencies in Russia, China, North Korea or other countries.

“It just smacks of traditional trade craft,” Carone said.

“It is a broad sweep of getting information on people and building up profiles on those who may be of use to them.”

Carone described Russia, China and North Korea as the usual three suspects in state-sponsored hacks, but cautioned that allies are not above cyber snooping as well.

“People have to realize that anything they put out there is fair game,” he said, stressing a need for internet users to remain wary.

It appeared that looted Yahoo data did not include unprotected passwords or information associated with payments or bank accounts, the Silicon Valley company said.

Yahoo is asking affected users to change passwords, and recommending anyone who has not done so since 2014 to take the same action as a precaution.

Users of Yahoo online services were urged to review accounts for suspicious activity and change passwords and security question information used to log in anywhere else if it matched that at Yahoo.

“Online intrusions and thefts by state-sponsored actors have become increasingly common across the technology industry,” Yahoo said in a statement.

“Yahoo and other companies have launched programs to detect and notify users when a company strongly suspects that a state-sponsored actor has targeted an account.”

– Yahoo being bought –

Confirmation of the major cyber breach comes two months after Yahoo sealed a deal to sell its core internet business to telecom giant Verizon for $4.8 billion, ending a two-decade run as an independent company.

It was not immediately clear if the data breach could impact the closing of the deal or the price agreed by Verizon.

“Frankly, the timing couldn’t be worse for Yahoo,” Cluley said.

The telecom firm said it was reviewing the new information.

“Within the last two days, we were notified of Yahoo’s security incident,” Verizon said in a statement.

“We will evaluate as the investigation continues through the lens of overall Verizon interests, including consumers, customers, shareholders and related communities.”

AFP

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Commodities

Increased Demand Paves The Way for Expansion of Africa’s Sugar Industry

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Sugar - Investors King

Africa, June 2021:  A new focus report produced by the Oxford Business Group (OBG), in partnership with the International Sugar Organization (ISO), explores the potential that Africa’s sugar industry holds for growth on the back of an anticipated rise in regional demand. The report was presented to ISO members during the MECAS meeting at the Organization’s 58th Council Session, on June 17th 2021.

Titled “Sugar in Africa”, the report highlights the opportunities for investors to contribute to the industry’s development by helping to bridge infrastructure gaps in segments such as farming and refining and port facilities.

The report considers the benefits that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could deliver by supporting fair intra-African sugar trade efforts and bringing regulatory frameworks under a common umbrella, which will be key to improving competitiveness.

The increased international focus on ESG standards is another topical issue examined. Here, the report charts the initiatives already under way in Africa supported by green-focused investment with sustainability at their core, which will help to instil confidence in new investors keen to adhere to ESG principles in their decision-making.

In addition, subscribers will find coverage of the impact that Covid-19 had on the industry, with detailed analysis provided of the decrease in both worldwide sugar production and prices, as movement restrictions and social-distancing measures took their toll on operations.

The report shines a spotlight on sugar production in key markets across the continent, noting regional differences in terms of output and assessing individual countries’ roles as net exporters and importers.

It also includes an interview with José Orive, Executive Director, International Sugar Organisation, in which he maps out the particularities of the African sugar industry, while sharing his thoughts on what needs to be done to promote continental trade and sustainable development.

“The region is well advanced in terms of sugar production overall, but several challenges still hinder its full potential,” he said. “It is not enough to just produce sugar; producers must be able to move it to buyers efficiently. When all negotiations related to the AfCFTA have concluded, we expect greater investment across the continent and a clearer regulatory framework.”

Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that while the challenges faced by Africa’s sugar producers shouldn’t be underestimated, the new report produced with the ISO pointed to an industry primed for growth on the back of anticipated increased consumption across the continent and higher levels of output in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Regional demand for sugar is expected to rise in the coming years, driven up by Africa’s population growth and drawing a line under declines triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “With sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita sugar consumption currently standing at around half of the global average, the opportunities to help meet increasing domestic need by boosting production are considerable.”

The study on Africa’s sugar industry forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.

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Gold

Global Demand for Investment Gold Plunged by 70% YoY to 161 Metric Tons in Q1 2021

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Last year, investors flocked to gold as stock markets crashed on a gloomy economic outlook due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second quarter of 2020, global demand for investment gold surged to over 591 metric tons, the second-highest level since 2016. However, the investors’ demand for gold has dropped significantly this year.

According to data compiled by AksjeBloggen, global demand for investment gold plunged by 70% year-over-year to 161 metric tons in the first quarter of 2021.

The Lowest Quarterly Figures after Record Gold Investments in 2020

In 2016, the global gold demand amounted to 4,309 metric tons, revealed Statista and the World Gold Council data. By the end of 2019, this figure rose to 4,356 metric tons. Investment gold accounted for 30% of that amount. Worldwide gold jewelry demand volumes reached 2,118 metric tons that year. Central banks and technology followed with 648 and 326 metric tons, respectively.

Statistics show the global demand for investment gold surged amid the COVID-19 outbreak, growing by 35% YoY to almost 1,800 metric tons in 2020. Demands for gold used in technology also rose by 17% to 383.4 metric tons, while central banks and other institutions bought 326.2 metric tons of gold in 2020, a 50% plunge in a year.

However, after record gold investments in 2020, the global demand for gold for investment purposes dropped to the lowest quarterly level in years.

The Price of Gold Dropped by 5% Since January

The average gold value tends to increase during a recession, making it an attractive investment in uncertain times. In February 2019, a troy ounce of gold cost $1,320.07, revealed the Statista and World Gold Council data. By the end of that year, the price of gold rose to $1,479.13.

The gold price continued growing throughout 2020, reaching an all-time high of over $2,000 in August. By the end of the year, the precious metal price slipped to $1,864 and then rose to over $1,950 in January 2021.

However, the first quarter of the year brought a negative trend, with the price of gold falling to $1,684 by the end of March. Statistics indicate the price of gold stood at around $1,860 last week, a 5% drop since the beginning of the year.

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Gold

Gold, Other Safe Haven Assets Plunge Ahead of Fed Rate Hikes

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Gold and Bitcoin - Investors King

Gold and other safe-haven assets plunged last week as the Federal Reserve signals the possibility of raising interest rates twice in 2023 given the ongoing economic recovery post-COVID-19.

The price of gold dropped by 6.04 percent last week as investors rushed to move their funds out of safe-haven assets including the new gold, cryptocurrency.

The entire crypto space sheds $898 billion in market value to hover around $1.625 trillion last week, down from $2.523 trillion recorded on Wednesday 12, 2021. Its highest market capitalisation till date.

The Federal Reserve raised inflation expectations to 3.4 percent and shifted the year it is expected to increase interest rates from near-zero to 2023 from the previously projected 2024.

The new hawkish stance of the central bank led to capital outflow from safe havens and subsequently boosted dollar attraction.

The United States Dollar gained across the board with the dollar index that tracks its performance against six major currencies, rising by 0.63 percent to 91.103 last week.

However, on Monday morning the gold showed signs of recovery, gaining 0.5 percent to $1,772.34 per ounce following the retreat in U.S. treasury yield that boosted the attraction of non-yielding metal.

Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency coin, pared losses to $33,245 per coin, up from the $32,658 decline it posted last week.

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