💽 The plan to stop ransomware

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The Hustle

Remember the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video? The family behind the viral YouTube hit auctioned it off as an NFT for $760k+.

Yep, 2021.

The big idea
ransomware

America’s massive ransomware problem, explained

“A cybercriminal only has to be lucky once, while a defender has to be lucky every minute of every day.”

That’s from a recent report on ransomware by the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) — basically The Avengers of cybersecurity.

Ransomware is a malware that demands ransom in exchange for decrypting files or to prevent the sharing of stolen data. As inconveniences go for IT departments, it’s numero uno.

And the problem is only getting worse

Ransomware attacks are increasingly common. Some of the latest include:

  • The Colonial Pipeline: This month hackers were paid $4.4m to restore systems to the operator of a gas pipeline that supplies ~45% of the East Coast
  • CNA Financial: The insurance company paid $40m in March to free itself from a ransomware attack

In 2020, ransomware victims coughed up a total of $350m (311% more than 2019).

Ransomware is a pain in society’s ass

Pretty much every institution is a target:

  • Public health: An October attack on the University of Vermont Medical Center cost ~$64m
  • Local governments: A May 2019 attack on Baltimore cost $18.2m and took out the city’s 911 dispatch system
  • Schools: 57% of all attacks in August and September 2020 were on K-12 schools

The average downtime from an attack is 21 days. Even after paying a ransom, it takes an average of 287 days to fully recover.

But the IST has a plan

The group’s report outlines a plan to turn the tide in the ransomware fight.

A key recommendation is better coordination between agencies within the United States (e.g., National Security works closely with a new cyber security agency) and with similar groups in other nations.

Seems simple (it’s not). You can read more about each step here.

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SNIPPETS

Amazon may soon buy MGM for ~$9B, meaning the studios’ massive library — including Bond, James Bond — could appear on Prime Video. #big-tech

Uber and Lyft are both offering free or discounted rides for people getting vaxxed. #big-tech

At-home spin master Peloton is dropping $400m on its first US factory, located in Wood County, Ohio. #ecommerce-retail

Comfy shoe company Birdie grew 300% in 2021 but still lost out on sales. Why? They ran out of shoes. #ecommerce-retail

Wow: Researchers at Washington State University can turn plastic into jet fuel in an hour — though critics say the benefits may not extend beyond the lab. #emerging-tech

Aurora Solar snags $250m in Series C funding. Aurora’s sunny idea is to use aerial scans to measure for solar panels vs. in-person visits. #clean-energy

Reef madness: A heat-resistant species of coral in the Gulf of Aqaba may be the key to protecting reefs from global warming. #clean-energy

Solidus Labs, which checks for manipulation on crypto trading platforms, just scored $20m in Series A funding. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that prevents social media from kicking the state’s politicians off their platforms (however, the law may be found unconstitutional). #privacy

Asia Tech

Don’t let this fool you, Indonesia is made up of 17k+ islands! (Source: Getty Images / Encyclopedia Britannica)

Indonesian farm-to-consumer app harvests $65.5m

It turns out Stardew Valley isn’t the only farming app people love.

TaniHub Group, an Indonesian startup that connects farmers to customers, just announced $65.5m in Series B funding, per TechCrunch.

Founded in 2016, the agtech startup currently hosts 45k+ farmers and 350k buyers, including restaurants and stores.

The business model is straightforward…

… and consists of 3 parts:

  • TaniHub, its ecommerce platform, where farmers and customers meet
  • TaniSupply, which fulfills orders across 6 warehouses
  • TaniFund, which provides loans to farmers that they repay via TaniHub sales

Increased demand for online groceries during the pandemic led to a 6x YoY sales increase in 2020.

What’s next for TaniHub?

CEO Eka Pamitra says it will use the new funding to beef up its supply chain and improve its supply-demand forecast model to help farmers plan ahead.

It will also expand across Indonesia — the world’s 4th-most-populated country (275m+ people) — where a fragmented market and too many middlemen hurts farmers and consumers alike.

Farm-to-consumer is ripe right now:

  • Secai Marche, a Japanese platform that connects farmers to chefs, restaurants, and consumers, raised $1.5m.
  • Harvie.Farm lets people purchase customized community-supported agriculture (CSA) boxes online.
  • Barn2Door CEO Janelle Maiocco told The Wall Street Journal that ~50% of the farms on its platform sold out of stock in 2020 as home cooking and online shopping boomed.

At this rate, investors may be harvesting some gains soon (sorry).

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Packaging Tech
LiquiGlide demo

Demo of LiquiGlide’s product (Source: LiquiGlide / Delish)

Want to squeeze every last drop out of a toothpaste tube? Now you can.

Here are 2 experiences that many of us can relate to:

  • Folding a toothpaste tube dozens of time
  • Using a knife to coax the last drops of ketchup out of a bottle

There’s now a solution.

According to The Economist, Colgate-Palmolive — the $72B consumer goods company — is commercializing packaging technology…

… that has a super-slippery surface

The product is called LiquiGlide and was invented in 2012 by a professor-student team from MIT.

This is how the sorcery LiquiGlide works:

  • Either a container or pipe is created with a “microscopically textured pattern”
  • A formulated liquid is applied to the surface, which fills the gaps and allows “gooey substances to slide easily”

Colgate’s first easy-sliding product is Elixir

A toothpaste currently selling in Europe.

Even though the first LiquiGlide demo was for ketchup, actual ketchup makers have yet to use the product.

The MIT duo believe that their slippery invention can eventually be used for food products of all thickness (mayo, hummus, sour cream).

Another huge benefit

Existing containers for toothpaste are typically made from materials that are difficult to recycle, like plastic laminates and aluminum foil.

LiquiGlide is a green-friendly alternative.

Not only do you get to squeeze out every last drop, but you can also feel good about where you put the waste after.

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TRENDS

Influencers are cutting brands’ acquisition costs by 40%

According to Statista, the influencer market will reach $13.8B in 2021. A well-executed influencer promotion can lower your CPA by 40% compared to traditional PPC campaigns.

“But I’ve tried working with influencers before… it didn’t work.”

Learn the new formula: vet, automate, and repurpose

Nik Sharma, who led growth for Hint and VaynerMedia, published a Trends report on how to use influencers to supercharge your PPC campaigns.

Covering the 3 areas of influencer ROI:

Access the full report and hundreds of others by becoming a Trends member.

Lower your CPA →
Hacker of the day
Santiago Lopez headshot

Santiago Lopez in a recent interview with the BBC (via BBC)

Bug bounties are programs where large corporations pay hackers to find vulnerabilities in their code.

Netscape launched the first bug bounty program in 1995, to find issues in its browser. Since then, companies with gnarly code bases — Google, Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft, Uber, Verizon, etc. — have paid millions of dollars to “ethical” hackers.

One of the top “ethical hackers” is Santiago Lopez (in his early 20s) of Buenos Aires. He became the first person to earn $1m on HackerOne, a platform that connects hackers with bounties.

Lopez, who first got interested in hacking after watching Hackers, is completely self-taught and clocks 6-7 hours a day finding bugs.

Other good tidbits:

  • His first bounty was $50
  • His largest bounty was $9k
  • He’s identified 1,670+ bugs

The Hustle previously covered Santiago and the rise of young hackers here.

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