Hacker in Black Gloves Hacking the System.
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Your to-do list for stopping hacks

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Good morning! Businesses are facing a surge in attacks using stolen identity credentials — in fact, that’s now the largest source of breaches. So what can your company do about it?

Ground zero for avoiding hacks

While the theft of passwords and other credentials has long been a part of the hacker playbook, identity-based attacks have risen to the forefront in the last few years. That’s not surprising, with so many employees now working outside of a corporate network firewall, not to mention the rise of shadow IT. But it still requires swift action from corporations.

Focusing on identity is critical to increasing security because today, “all attacks become identity-based attacks” at some stage of the incident, said Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of widely used identity platform Okta.

  • “If you can get identity right, you’re protecting yourself from all attacks, at some level,” McKinnon said. “And the inverse is also true: If you get it wrong, you’re opening yourself up to all kinds of attacks.”

Getting improved visibility into IT environments is key. The adoption of an identity threat detection tool is worth considering, as is technology for helping to secure the use of unmanaged applications, or “shadow IT,” experts said. And more robust forms of authentication than the humble password can also go a long way.

  • Those are just one of many vital insights that you can read in today’s Special Report Take a look.

— Kyle Alspach

Neobanks take on credit scores

It’s hard to build credit, but neobanks think they have a solution: secured credit cards.

Secured cards work by fronting money to subprime borrowers. Neobanks’ cards work the same way, but with a twist: Chime, Varo, and GO2bank offer people a way to deposit money into a credit-builder account, which determines their credit limit. They can then pay off the credit card with the credit-builder balance.

There are things these banks should watch out for. Lenders should be concerned about “mistakenly granting credit to high-risk applicants,” fintech analyst Alex Johnson told Protocol’s Veronica Irwin. These cards don’t actually indicate financial responsibility.

  • Varo and GO2bank say that the requirement to pay off credit cards by the end of a payment period negates this concern.

The CFPB has its eye on these offerings, too. But the CFPB has yet to bring neobanks fully under its regulatory purview and hasn’t consistently supervised them.

  • “There’s no accountability as of right now,” said Rachel Gittleman, head of financial services outreach at the Consumer Federation of America.

Critics say that neobanks market these cards in misleading ways. But fintechs disagree, saying they’re clear with customers about risks. “Access should not be a privilege,” said Abhijit Chaudhary, chief product officer at GO2bank parent company Green Dot. “Credit-building is a journey, and a big enterprise initiative for us — secured credit cards are just one part.”

Read more about how neobanks are trying to shake up the world of credit scoring .

Elon’s sub-Optimus robot

Been hoping you could staff up a factory floor with Tesla’s new humanoid robots? Then you’re in for a long wait.

Elon Musk showed off his Optimus robot on Friday, at Tesla's annual AI Day. And there … wasn’t all that much to show off.

  • Musk tried to temper enthusiasm early on. “I do want to set some expectations with respect to our Optimus robot,” he said, pointing out that last year’s demo involved an actor in a robot costume.
  • The Optimums robot was moved onto stage by three Tesla engineers. It walked and waved, but it was unclear if it was moving independently or being remote-controlled from off-stage.
  • It looked slightly more impressive in a video that Musk showed, able to carry objects and even pick up a watering can.

But the criticism has been biting. AI expert Gary Marcus rounded up a lot of it, and there are some fairly major concerns.

  • The robot doesn’t move as impressively as many others, for instance those made by Boston Dynamic. It’s unclear whether Optimus is in any way autonomous yet, which is a huge step if it’s left to take. And Musk wasn’t able to outline a killer application for the robot.
  • Praise mostly came for the Tesla team creating the current robot so quickly, though that also came caveated by the fact that what was on display was far from close to the cutting edge.

All told, Optimus is a long way off being worth the $20,000 Musk claims it could sell for. But this kind of setback has never bothered Musk before, so who knows what will happen at AI Day 2023.

— Jamie Condliffe


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The old office’s new emission mission

The Office of Fossil Energy has been around for a while. But it’s got a new name, and now it has a new mission.

Carbon management will be the new focus of the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (or FECM). Managing carbon will be one of the key tasks of the 21st century if we’re to avoid serious climate damage, and it comes in a few flavors.

  • There’s carbon removal, or pulling carbon dioxide from the ambient air. The FECM has $3.5 billion set aside to establish four direct air capture hubs; companies that are working on CDR will join together to collaborate.
  • Then there’s carbon capture or storage from smokestacks, which would prevent carbon from making it to the atmosphere in the first place. The government has done this sort of work in the past, but it hasn’t been successful at scale. “This is a chance for them to learn from past mistakes,” Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn told me.

The office marks a changing mentality among government leaders toward climate tech. Rather than allowing carbon to fly willy nilly (my editor’s words, not mine) into the atmosphere, the renamed office shows leaders are trying to actively manage carbon.

  • The Biden administration has set a goal of reducing emissions at least 50% by 2030, and the Inflation Reduction Act will help by spurring the transition to renewables and EVs.
  • But FECM takes a different view and is focused on tackling emissions from fossil fuels that are already out in the world as well as how to clean up stubborn, carbon-intensive sectors like cement and aviation.

Still, there’s some irony. At the same time the U.S. is pushing people to use fossil fuels, it’s creating new tech that can capture carbon from burning fossil fuels. “There’s this very weird tension of being like, ‘We're going to create a problem abroad and then sell the solution to the problem,” Brian said.

— Sarah Roach

People are talking

Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire said operating crypto without regulation is “completely unrealistic.

  • “These are financial instruments, and financial instruments are regulated.”

Stellantis’s Carlos Tavares expects chip supply to remain “very complicated” until 2023:

  • “Then [it will] ease a little …semiconductor manufacturers have an interest in making business with us again, especially as they're raising prices".

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda thinks the road to electric vehicles is longer than many people say:

  • “Just like the fully autonomous cars that we are all supposed to be driving by now, EVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than media would like us to believe.”

Tim Cook doesn't think people fully understand the metaverse:

  • “I always think it’s important that people understand what something is. And I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”

Coming this week

Evolve starts Wednesday. Execs from Lacework, Cisco, and other companies are expected to speak.

Google is hosting a hardware eventon Thursday for its Pixel 7 smartphone and Pixel Watch.

Tech Prom is Wednesdayat The Anthem in Washington, D.C. The Center for Democracy and Technology is the host.

TwitchCon begins Fridayat the San Diego Convention Center.

In other news

Google shut down Google Translate in China because of low usage. It was one of a few Google products that still existed in China.

Celsius's Alex Mashinsky withdrew $10 million just before funds were frozen on the platform, according to The Financial Times. The former CEO used most of that money to pay state and federal taxes.

Activision’s Frances Townsend is stepping down as compliance chief and becoming an adviser to the board and CEO Bobby Kotick. Townsend was criticized for her response to sexual assault claims last year.

Don’t feel like going through Elon Musk’s texts yourself? We put together a guide of people he texted with and what they wanted.

The next version of Google’s Android Compatibility Definition document will require hardware makers to support the AV1 video codec for both tablets and phones.

The business card is dead. Long live … the QR code?

Tesla hit a vehicle delivery record, delivering 343,830 vehicles to customers in the last quarter as it recovers from supply chain problems.

Lucky enough to be recruiting? Here is LinkedIn’s best advice for sourcing talent.

TikTok is bringing live shopping to the U.S., sources told The Financial Times. The platform partnered with LA-based TalkShopLive to bring the feature to the U.S.

The future of computing will use new hardware, but the software that runs on it might be what really pushes forward technologies like quantum and neuromorphic computing.

Chips are the new steel

WW2 was decided by steel and aluminum, and the Cold War by atomic weapons. What’s next? Chris Miller, a professor at Tufts University, thinks that chips could be what decides the future.

In an interview with Protocol’s Hirsh Chitkara, Miller touched on the evolving military uses of semiconductors. “Militaries are confronting semiconductors everywhere they turn,” he said. “Their ability to access the right types of semiconductors and more advanced chips is crucial for every aspect of the modern battlefield.”


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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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