On Wednesday, many Ukrainian government websites and some Ukrainian bank websites went offline. The outage was the result of a mass distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack where hackers flood a server or network so that others are unable to access it. While the source of the attack is yet to be confirmed, and Russia has denied involvement, the attack comes a day after President Biden announced that Russia had started an invasion of Ukraine.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration enacted sanctions to cut off Russia’s access to foreign capital. Past US sanctions, such as that of Russia in 2014 after the Crimean invasion, have generally been successful. This is mainly due to the reserve currency status of the US dollar and the large role the US banks play in the global financial system. With the proliferation of cryptocurrency though, Russia may be able to trade without going through the US banking system or using the US dollar. Russia itself has developed its own central bank digital currency, which it plans to trade with, and they are suspected of using ransomware hacking to steal digital currencies to offset losses. Similar tactics have been used by North Korea and Iran in efforts to diminish the effects of US sanctions. The US has stepped up its cryptocurrency monitoring efforts and has urged the cryptocurrency industry to implement internal controls, such as geolocation tools, to prevent bad actors from using their services.
In an effort to democratize non-personal data, the EU has proposed the Data Act which would force data sharing within Europe. The European Commission hopes that the bill will help startups compete with tech giants, ensure that valuable data is being properly utilized, and generate $305.76 billion in the European economy by 2028. Along with sharing data, the bill would require companies to make it easier to transfer data. Industry lawyers and lobbyists have protested the bill, saying it would place significant compliance burdens on companies and create legal uncertainties, especially around foreign access to data. Europe is not alone in their effort to control data. Similar proposals to the Data Act are in the works in Canada, South Korea, and the US.
Salesforce recently revealed a plan to enter the $41 billion NFT market with an NFT Cloud sales platform. Employees at the company however, were less than thrilled about the announcement. More than 400 Salefroce employees signed an open letter protesting the move. The letter, pointing to NFTs’ large carbon footprint, expressed concern that entering the NFT market would be counter to the company’s goal of sustainability. Other concerns relate to the vast amount of fraud and scams that proliferate in the NFT market. Not all employees are opposed though, with many expressing support for the decision. In response to the letter, Salesforce announced that it would be holding a “listening session” for employees to discuss the issue.
Researchers are exploring the possibility of using CRISPR, a gene editing tool, to treat diseases resulting from single gene mutations, many of which currently have no FDA treatment available. In mid-2021, two biotech companies - CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceutical - reported positive preliminary results from small clinical trials which used CRISPR to treat sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, both of which are inherited blood disorders. In January, 2022, another clinical study to treat ATTR amyloidosis demonstrated that infusion of CRISPR directly into the bloodstream is safe and effective. While this study, and others using CRISPR, are promising, it's too early to be sure of their success as the data is early. Still, these early studies give hope to those suffering with these and other genetic diseases. Issues at this point are the high cost of treatment - more than $1 million per patient - and the possible off-target effects that can occur when CRISPR acts in locals it was not intended to.
The FDA has recently approved a new wearable device that allows those suffering from diabetes to continuously monitor their glucose levels throughout the day. While continuous glucose monitors (CGM) are not new, the device the FDA approved can last six months, almost double its closest competitor. The new CGM device, like most CGMs, will not be cheap, especially for those paying out of pocket.