High Tech, Disinformation, and A Dead Spy

Todd Moses
May 23, 2024

Israel's CyberArk has signed an agreement to purchase U.S. cybersecurity firm Venafi in a cash and stock deal worth $1.54 billion.

Inputs that matter: CyberArk will pay $1 billion in cash and about $540 million in shares to buy the provider of machine identity protection solutions from private equity investment firm Thomas Bravo.

  • Traded on the Nasdaq with a market cap of over $10 billion, CyberArk specializes in identity security and protecting privileged accounts on corporate servers against external attackers and malicious insiders.
  • "This acquisition marks a pivotal milestone for CyberArk, enabling us to further our vision to secure every identity – human and machine – with the right level of privilege controls," said CyberArk CEO Matt Cohen.
  • "By combining forces with Venafi, we are expanding our abilities to secure machine identities in a cloud-first, GenAI, post-quantum world."

The opportunity: In a related story, the Russian KGB accused Israel of war crimes, amplified divisive political debates in America over slavery reparations and immigration, and spread nonsensical stories about Polish mercenaries in Ukraine.

  • These stories had been taken from legitimate news outlets and modified using large language models, most likely one built by OpenAI, the U.S. company that operates ChatGPT.
  • For instance, more than 90 French articles were altered with the following English instruction: "Please rewrite this article taking a conservative stance against the liberal policies of the Macron administration in favor of working-class French citizens."

Zoom in: Earlier this week, Israel revoked its decision to shut down Associated Press news agency's Gaza live feed.

  • Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi reversed the decision, which has led to mounting international pressure.
  • The White House expressed concern, while the Foreign Press Association said it was alarmed by "the latest in a series of chilling steps by the Israeli government to stifle the media."
  • AP's vice-president Lauren Easton said it "decries in the strongest terms the actions of the Israeli government."
  • Mr Karhi said the equipment was confiscated because it violated a new media law by providing images for broadcasts on the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network, which it banned.

Between the lines: Meanwhile, a British man charged with spying for Hong Kong was mysteriously found dead in a U.K. park over the weekend.

  • The body of Matthew Trickett, 37, was discovered by a passerby in Grenfell Park in Maidenhead, west of London, on Sunday afternoon in what police are describing as an "unexplained death."
  • Trickett, a former Royal Marine with a private security firm, was one of three men charged earlier this month with assisting Hong Kong's foreign intelligence service in gathering information and conducting surveillance in the U.K.
  • The Chinese Embassy in London had accused Britain of fabricating the charges against Trickett and the other two men — Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63 — and said it had no right to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs.

Follow the money: "Russia launched a satellite into low Earth orbit that we assess is likely a counter space weapon," said Pentagon spokesman Brig Gen Pat Ryder on Tuesday evening.

  • He said it was on the "same orbit" as a U.S. government satellite, adding that Washington would continue to monitor the situation and had to be ready to protect its interests.
  • Russia has not publicly commented on the issue.
  • Several military experts have long warned that space will likely be the next frontier of warfare in an increasingly technology-dependent world.

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Read More

  1. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-cyberark-inks-deal-to-buy-us-cybersecurity-firm-for-1-54-billion/
  2. https://nypost.com/2024/05/22/world-news/spy-found-dead-in-uk-park/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cgeeyvkep4yo
  4. https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2024/05/10/a-russia-linked-network-uses-ai-to-rewrite-real-news-stories
  5. https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cq55ww5j7e2o