Microsoft Goes To War.
A library of every sound in the ocean.
1. Western nations dropped economic sanctions of historic scale on Russia that are hobbling its financial system and effectively reversing 30 years of post-Cold War engagement. The economic moves by the U.S. and Europe, in response to the invasion of Ukraine, reverberated Monday through Russia’s economy, which was largely cut off from much of the West, and hindered the ability of Russia’s central bank to manage the country’s financial system and mitigate the damage. Western banks and businesses added to the governments’ actions by halting operations in Russia and sales to Russian companies. Many cited the risks of potentially violating sanctions. In just days, Russia has been all-but-unplugged from a global system that powered its transition from a closed, government-controlled economy to a more modern one that yielded Western goods, foreign travel and a middle-class lifestyle. (Source: bloomberg.com, wsj.com)
2. The U.S. and European Union blocked Russia’s central bank from using its emergency reserves to protect the economy from the Western pressure campaign, a salvo the bank’s governor said risked triggering a financial crisis. The coordinated action blocks the central bank from selling dollars, euros and other foreign currencies in its reserves stockpile to stabilize the ruble. Announcing the move Monday in Washington before U.S. markets opened, U.S. officials said they intended the sanctions to stoke already surging inflation, and the actions against the Bank of Russia are intended in effect to neutralize the country’s monetary defenses. The sanctions also target another major government stockpile of assets, a key sovereign-wealth fund called the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and prevent Moscow from using other government and private banks to sidestep sanctions on its financial system, the officials said. (Source: wsj.com)
3. U.S. payment card firms Visa and Mastercard have blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their network, complying with government sanctions imposed over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Yesterday, Visa said it was taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding that it will donate $2 million for humanitarian aid. Mastercard also promised to contribute $2 million. "We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve," Mastercard said in a separate statement late on Monday. The government sanctions require Visa to suspend access to its network for entities listed as Specially Designated Nationals, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The United States has added various Russian financial firms to the list, including the country's central bank and second-largest lender VTB. (Source: reuters.com)
4. Shipping giant Maersk will temporarily halt all container shipping to and from Russia, deepening the country’s isolation as its invasion of Ukraine sparks an exodus of Western companies. The West has imposed heavy restrictions on Russia to close off its economy and block it from the global financial system, effectively making it "uninvestable" and encouraging companies to halt sales, cut ties and dump tens of billions of dollars worth of investments. (Source: reuters.com)
5. Last Wednesday, a few hours before Russian tanks began rolling into Ukraine, alarms went off inside Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center, warning of a never-before-seen piece of “wiper” malware that appeared aimed at the country’s government ministries and financial institutions. Within three hours, Microsoft threw itself into the middle of a ground war in Europe — from 5,500 miles away. The threat center, north of Seattle, had been on high alert, and it quickly picked apart the malware, named it “FoxBlade” and notified Ukraine’s top cyberdefense authority. Within three hours, Microsoft’s virus detection systems had been updated to block the code, which erases — “wipes” — data on computers in a network. Then Tom Burt, the senior Microsoft executive who oversees the company’s effort to counter major cyberattacks, contacted Anne Neuberger, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for cyber- and emerging technologies. Ms. Neuberger asked if Microsoft would consider sharing details of the code with the Baltics, Poland and other European nations, out of fear that the malware would spread beyond Ukraine’s borders, crippling the military alliance or hitting West European banks. Before midnight in Washington, Ms. Neuberger had made introductions — and Microsoft had begun playing the role that Ford Motor Company did in World War II, when the company converted automobile production lines to make Sherman tanks. (Source: nytimes.com)
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