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Microsoft Invests in Rubrik, Partners to Protect Customers from Ransomware

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Microsoft Corp. is investing in software startup Rubrik Inc. and the two companies will combine on products that will help customers hit by ransomware recover their critical data without paying hackers.

The companies declined to specify the size of the investment. The funding totaled in the low tens of millions and valued Rubrik at about $4 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private terms. Rubrik was started with the idea of modernizing the market for data-backup software, taking on a previous generation of vendors like EMC, now part of Dell Technologies Inc., and Veritas, now owned by the Carlyle Group.

The two companies will jointly sell software based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud to prevent, find and recover from ransomware attacks. The products also make sure backup copies of customer data and cloud software haven’t been compromised by the hackers, said Rubrik Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Bipul Sinha. The companies currently share 2,000 customers.

“When an attacker tells you they have control to the keys to your data and you can’t get it back without paying a ransom, this allows us to have an alternative source for that data in real-time to be able to bring that company back to operational control,” Tyler Bryson, a Microsoft vice president, said in an interview. “There’s a lot of backup solutions out there, but even those are vulnerable to having been compromised. If you didn’t design with the modern cloud architecture in mind, you may find you’ve just recovered to something already compromised.”

A spate of damaging ransomware attacks has occurred this year in which a hacker takes over networks and demands payment in order for a company or government agency to regain its data and control of its systems. In July, Miami-based Kaseya Ltd. was targeted. Because Kaseya provides software to managed service providers, who in turn offer information technology services to small- and medium-sized companies, the attackers were able to spread the infection to 1,500 businesses. The notorious ransomware gang REvil claimed credit and asked for $70 million to unlock the computers it infected. The attack followed others against Colonial Pipeline Co. and meatpacker JBS SA.

Ransomware attacks have accelerated during the pandemic as more companies use the cloud and their own corporate networks to deal with workforces split between home and an office, Sinha said. Microsoft and Rubrik have been working on combined products for a few years, but the need has become more critical.

“If somebody makes a mistake like clicking on an offer for a free cruise and ransomware gets in, we have the full assessment and mitigation solution,” he said. “What we are saying is you don’t have to pay the bad guys.”

Rubrik, founded in 2014, has raised a total of $553 million. The company’s last funding round was in 2019 at a valuation of $3.3 billion. Among the early investors was Microsoft board member and former chairman John Thompson. Thompson is also a Rubrik director.

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Alphabet Leads Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Investment

Alphabet has so far invested $1.5 billion in blockchain companies between September 2021 and June 2022

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has so far invested $1.5 billion in blockchain companies between September 2021 and June 2022, the largest among global companies.

A recent report by Blockdata has shown. According to the report, Alphabet led funding rounds of blockchain/cryptocurrency companies with $1.506 billion invested in four rounds.

Blackrock, Morgan Stanley, Samsung, Goldman Sachs and others followed as shown in the statement below.

The report went on to say, “Forty corporations invested in companies in the blockchain/crypto space during this time. Samsung is the most active, having invested in 13 companies. United Overseas Bank came in next with 7 investments, followed by Citigroup with 6 investments, and Goldman Sachs with 5. In most cases, we cannot determine how much money these corporations have invested, as they participate in funding rounds with multiple or many other investors. As a proxy of this, we can look at the total funding amounts of the rounds they participated in.

“Based on this, the investors active in the biggest funding rounds are Alphabet ($1,506M in 4 rounds), Blackrock ($1,171M in 3 rounds), Morgan Stanley ($1,10M in 2 rounds), Samsung ($979M in 13 rounds), Goldman Sachs ( $698M in 5 rounds, BNY Mellon ($690M in 3 rounds), and PayPal ($650M in 4 rounds). The 40 companies invested approximately $6B into blockchain startups between September 2021 and June 2022.“

Further analysis of the data, revealed that banks have begun to increase their exposure and interest in crypto and blockchain companies, driven by an increase in client demand for crypto services.

Banks on the list of crypto investors are United Overseas Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and BNY Mellon.

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Telecommunications

Call, Data Rate to Jump 100% as FG Imposes 5% Excise Duty on Telecoms

Call and Data rates could jump as much as 100% once the Federal Government implemented 5% excise duty on telecommunication services

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Services Tax

Call and Data rates could jump as much as 100% once the Federal Government implemented 5% excise duty on telecommunication services, a source from the sector stated.

According to industry experts, the increment will not only impact subscribers but also increase tax burden on telcos which would translate into rise in tariffs.

This, experts explained would increase the total consumption tax on the sector from just the 7.5% Value Added Tax (VAT) to 12.5%, a situation they said would worsen Nigerians’ economic status given the ongoing happenings in the country.

If implemented, Nigerians are now expected to be paying as much as N40 a minute, up from N20 and could be paying up to N2,500 per gigabyte.

Last week, Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, decried the new tax, threatening to take the Federal Government to court for overburden the industry with so much taxes at a time when the telecommunication sector and the entire Nigerian economy was not faring well.

He said: “The 5 percent excise duty will overburden the industry. As a Minister, I was neither consulted nor obtained a memo to that effect. Even the appropriate lawmakers that were supposed to be talked with have also told me they were not.

”Things are not done that way. Besides condemning the tax, we will take every lawful step to guarantee that the tax does not stand.”

However, Ahmed Zainab, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, had different excuse for going ahead with the new 5% excise duty. According to her, the new 5% excise duty was in line with 2020 Finance Act and was part of Federal Government efforts at augmenting the nation’s revenue, especially from the non-oil sector.

The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers and the Nigerian Telecommunication Consumer have joined Pantami and other Nigerians to kick against the decision they considered wicked and inconsiderate.

Chief Adeolu Ogunbajo, president National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) also added his voice. He said the sector is barely holding its ground with the existing 7.5 percent VAT, additional 5 percent will sum the total VAT in the sector to 12.5 percent. This is a killer move on the sector, he said.

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Soft POS User Base to Grow 475% Globally by 2027

The total number of merchants deploying soft POS solutions will surpass 34.5 million globally by 2027

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A new study from Juniper Research has found the total number of merchants deploying soft POS solutions will surpass 34.5 million globally by 2027; rising from 6 million in 2022. This growth will be driven by Apple’s entrance into the soft POS space; enabling iOS users to access an affordable mobile POS solution.

Soft POS enables NFC enabled smartphones or tablets to accept contactless payments, without additional hardware.

1.2 Billion iOS Users Added to Soft POS Market

The research forecasts that Apple’s decision to enable third parties to develop soft POS solutions leveraging iOS NFC capabilities will result in an influx of iOS-specific services; leading to innovative solutions for merchants. Furthermore, the research predicts Apple’s entry will provide 1.2 billion iOS users with soft POS capabilities; unlocking a previously untapped market.

Soft POS is the latest development from Apple within the payments space; building upon Apple Pay and Apple Pay Later. Soft POS vendors should leverage Apple’s payment ecosystem by developing innovative solutions such as integrated QR payment acceptance, using Apple Pay and Pay Later compatibility to attract a broader iOS user base.

Increasing Contactless Payment Adoption to Drive Soft POS Uptake

The research anticipates soft POS adoption being driven by the increasing use of contactless payments – with volumes expected to rise from 195 billion in 2022 to 408 billion by 2027. Therefore, consumers will come to expect contactless acceptance as standard; forcing smaller merchants to adopt contactless-capable POS solutions. Merchants are anticipated to embrace soft POS, based on cost savings achievable from eliminating the need for additional hardware, as well as mobility advantages over contactless POS.

This will be profound for small-sum and mobile merchants that must accept contactless transactions, but lack the need for high-cost dedicated terminals. As such, the research recommends soft POS vendors must look to target micro and mobile merchants; designing solutions that meet their unique needs.

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