The Download April 13, 2022: Russian hackers, and house-flipping algorithms

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

Russian hackers attempted to bring down Ukraine’s power grid to aid the invasion.

Targeted attack: Russian hackers attacked the Ukrainian power grid and tried to cause a blackout that would have affected 2 million people, according to Ukrainian government officials and the Slovak cybersecurity company ESET. Hackers attempted to destroy computers at a Ukrainian energy company using malware specifically designed to demolish systems by deleting data and rendering it unusable.

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

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

Patrick Howell O’Neill

House swapping algorithms are coming to your neighborhood

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

However, when he went to take a look at the property, he discovered that a large water leak had eroded the walls and flooded the neighbors’ patio. Although he offered to take care of the expensive 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 home purchases 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 signal a brighter future for housing, or an industry disruption to fear? Read the full story.

Matthew Ponsford

The must reads

I’ve searched the internet to find today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The world has recorded more than 500 million known cases of covid
The actual number is likely to be much higher. (NYT$)
+ Cases are on the rise again in the US.. (NOW $)
+ Experts are divided on whether the United States should eliminate testing for travelers entering the country. (WP$)

2 Some Ukrainians are fighting Russia by fact-checking for Facebook
But there is still enormous pressure to get into the physical battle. (WP$)
+ The country is experiencing an incessant campaign of cyberattacks. (WSJ$) + Cybersecurity experts are pushing for standards to be established to protect against hacking threats.. (Bloomberg$)+ Drones are being used to collect evidence of war crimes. (WSJ$)
+ Tech workers from Russia are fleeing the country to seek employment elsewhere. (NOW $)

3 Jack Dorsey is finding an adoring audience among crypto-faithfuls

And potentially rewrite his legacy in the process. (Bloomberg $)
+ There’s no way around it: Block’s prototype wallets look like rocks. (The edge)

4 It seems that SpaceX is winning the space race of the 21st century
Your next wave of success depends on your reusable Starship rocket. (Fast Company $)
+ Starlink briefly went down over the weekend. (Register)

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

6 Twitch viewers are going crazy for chess
Headed by the main bad boy of the game, Hikaru Nakamura. ($ New Yorker)
+ Online chess fans are raising money for Ukraine. (CBC)

7 Shanghai lockdown is bad news for global supply chains
Gadget circuit limits are expected to be the biggest casualty. (FT$)

8 tech companies are doing everything they can to tempt their employees back to the office
To be honest, it would be hard to turn down a private show from Lizzo. (NYT$)
+ But many tech workers will be working from home for the foreseeable future. (The information $)
+ Some useful advice for those who hate hybrid work. (WP$)

9 The malware detection industry is getting involved in lawsuits
The biggest names in cybersecurity are not happy with what they see as patent trolling. (The edge)

10 tiny electric cars could challenge Bolivia’s muscle trucks 🚗
They are affordable, but face an uphill battle to break into the mainstream. (Rest of the world)

quote of the day

“What is happening globally and in the US is that people have basically given up. They just want to get back to normal life.”

—Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, says the general public is exhausted with covid restrictions, the New York Times reports.

We can still have nice things

A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Do you have any ideas? Write me ortweet them to me.)

+ When they’re not building a crypto empire, it seems the locals of El Salvador aren’t afraid to have a good time.
+ This list does a good job of narrowing down Jared (Donald) Dunn’s best lines from Silicon Valley.
+ This story of art forgers making millions off fraudulent paintings is Hollywood stuff.
+ A timely reminder from Usain Bolt on theimportance of kindness.
+ Get inspired by this uplifting piece and send a compliment to your favorite colleague today.
+ An ode to the woman with the best voice of all: Kathleen Turner.
+ These racing cats are putting us all to shame.

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