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Court Lets Microsoft DCU Seize 42 Chinese Hacker Websites

The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit has seized 42 websites from China-based hacking group Nickel, in attempt to thwart the group’s intelligence-gathering operations. A Virginia federal court granted Microsoft’s request to take over the U.S.-based websites run by Nickel, also known as APT15. Microsoft had since 2016 been tracking the group’s activities, determining them “highly sophisticated,” with attacks designed to install malware that facilitated surveillance and data theft attacks. Nickel was used to attack organizations in the United States and 28 other countries around the world, DCU says.

Microsoft’s DCU believes the attacks were being used to gather intelligence from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organizations, writes vice president customer security and trust Tom Burt in a blog post.

Microsoft provided details of the phishing scheme in court documents unsealed Monday, but withheld the names of individuals and organizations neutralized in the sting, according to The New York Times.

Citing immediate and irreparable harm, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia acceded to the request for a temporary restraining order and required the hackers to turn the websites over to Microsoft. “Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft’s secure servers will help us protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel’s activities,” Burt writes.

DCU has pursued an aggressive legal strategy against cybercriminals and nation-state hackers, bringing 24 lawsuits and taking down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and another 600 exploited by nation-state actors, according to Burt. “We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future,” he adds.

U.S. cybersecurity agencies had warned of the “major threat” Chinese hacking presented America and its allies, reports NYT, noting that the Biden administration in July accused the Chinese government of a hacking campaign that compromised the email of some of the world’s biggest companies and governments.

Meanwhile, “the rapidly expanding criminal industry of ransomware” is “based primarily in Russia,” according to a separate NYT article, which cites a Treasury Department estimate of $1.6 billion in ransoms paid by American companies since 2011. Typically, ransom payments are made in cryptocurrencies that are then converted to conventional currencies.

The crime wave shows no signs of slowing down. Burt acknowledges the legal interventions of Microsoft DCU, while disruptive, “will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities,” but adds that “we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks.”

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Didi Exits NYSE for Hong Kong, China Tightens Tech Control

China is making an investment statement as it attempts to take control of its financial future and set new yen-centric standards for international monetary exchange. Much is being read into Didi Chuxing delisting itself Friday from the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised billions of dollars, capping at $39 billion for the Beijing version of Uber. The message is: with money of its own and a knack for finding more, the world’s No. 2 economy feels it no longer needs Wall Street and says it will relist on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

The move comes with mistrust of Beijing running high among the U.S. and its allies. It also coincides with China exerting increased control over the nation’s own companies, even as it cracks down on foreign operators.

“It is mutual decoupling, but it is also a contest to set the rules by which international intercourse takes place,” WilmerHale law firm partner Lester Ross told The New York Times of Didi’s New York farewell. (As an aside: San Francisco-based Uber reported a Q3 loss of $2.4 billion that NYT in an earnings piece attributes to investment in Didi. Uber has a current market cap of $74 billion, per Trefis, after a tough ride through the COVID-19 pandemic — one data point in analyzing who needs whom.)

But China “has been asserting greater control over its private companies, particularly those like Didi, which has extensive data on hundreds of millions of the Chinese taxi hailers and ride sharers,” writes NYT. “It seeks a private sector more in line with the Communist Party’s growing focus on spreading wealth and meeting its policy goals — aims that Wall Street investors most likely can’t help with.”

Didi’s NYSE departure, a mere five months after its IPO, “marks the end of a cushy relationship between Wall Street and Chinese tech giants, who are under siege from authorities in Beijing and regulators in America,” according to Yahoo News, which describes “a sweeping Chinese regulatory crackdown in the past year that has clipped the wings of major Internet firms wielding huge influence on consumers’ lives — including Alibaba and Tencent.”

Following Didi’s announcement on Friday, other Chinese tech firms trading on the NYSE — like Alibaba, JD.com and Pinduoduo — saw shares drop sharply. Alibaba, “whose arrival on Wall Street in 2014 to a loud fanfare kicked off the parade of Chinese firms listing in the Big Apple,” writes Yahoo News, fell to its lowest level in almost five years on rumors that it could be the next to leave town.

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UK Regulator’s Order for Meta to Sell Giphy Shocks Big Tech

Regulators the world over have been exhibiting antitrust leanings in an effort to temper Big Tech’s unfettered growth, but the UK’s unprecedented move ordering Meta Platforms to sell animated images platform Giphy nearly a year after the purchase has shocked many. The surprise is due not only to the timing, but also for its U.S. implications, and because Giphy’s modest stature has triggered the realization that no deal is too small to escape scrutiny. Meta’s Giphy deal is being described as a “killer acquisition,” wherein an innovative startup is purchased with an intent to quash future competition.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority decision “marks the first time the British government has forced a major American technology company to divest one of its major acquisitions,” reports Quartz, which goes on to explain that “the British government has the power to block or unwind mergers on antitrust grounds” even when, as in this case, the companies involved are U.S.-based.

“If Facebook and Giphy both participate in the UK market, the CMA has jurisdiction over them and can, in principle, order Giphy divested,” University of Michigan Law School professor Daniel Crane is quoted as saying in Quartz.

Such cross-border oversight “is necessary for examining global companies, especially ones that serve the online world” and “an essential part of the global competition enforcement regime,” the Balanced Economy Project’s Michelle Meagher told Quartz.

Meta “isn’t pleased” by the sell order, according to Ars Technica, which reports the company “is considering all options, including an appeal.”

In a press release, the CMA said an investigation led to the decision that Meta’s Giphy purchase may stifle competition among social media platforms and a market correction “can only be addressed by Facebook selling Giphy in its entirety to an approved buyer.”

Since its 2013 launch, New York-based Giphy has become the go-to online source for shareable, animated GIFs, its high-engagement content used across the web, including by Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, competing services Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok, as well as Apple iMessage and Android message apps.

The CMA investigation concluded that Meta could thwart competition by “denying or limiting other platforms’ access to Giphy GIFs,” driving more traffic to Meta-owned sites, “which already account for 73 percent of user time spent on social media in the UK,” according to the press release.

Facebook announced its intent to acquire Giphy in May 2020. The purchase price was not disclosed, though it has been reported as between $300 and $400 million. In October 2021, the CMA fined Meta roughly $70 million for breach of an order requiring compliance reports during its investigation.

Ars Technica quotes Bloomberg Law analyst Eleanor Tyler as saying, “The same worldwide enforcers that allowed Facebook to suck up Instagram and WhatsApp are now very wary of even small purchases by the major platforms. What this shows is a change in attitude, and that’s critical.”

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New TriCaster 1 Pro and next generation TriCaster 2 Elite added to NewTek TriCaster line

SAN ANTONIO, USA, December 2nd, 2021— NewTek, the leader in IP-based video technology and part of the Vizrt Group, today launched the TriCaster 1 Pro: a streamlined live video production system with support for 4K UHD switching, live streaming, recording, data-driven graphics, virtual sets, media publishing, and more. TriCaster 1 Pro, and TriCaster 2 Elite offer integrated flexibility of software and IP networks - opening a world of opportunities with the tightest, NDI-native integration, only available in TriCasters. Both TriCasters also enable LiveGraphics™, LivePanel™, and Live Story Creator tools as standard offering automation, title and motion graphics, and bespoke control surfaces.

Since its release in July 2020, the TriCaster 2 Elite has been celebrated as setting a new standard for how much can be achieved with a single system. The TriCaster 2 Elite remains the flagship TriCaster offering, and now features both selectable audio and video returns with unmatched quality and flexibility, as well as NDI Genlock – putting the system in a league of its own.

"Today's producers have to keep up with an insatiable demand for video content while maximizing flexibility."

Will Waters NewTek's Head of Product Management

“TriCaster offers the only complete set of production tools while focusing on efficiency and flexibility only available through combining IP networking and software-defined solutions. The TriCaster 1 Pro is a welcome addition for the storytellers that need robust remote calling but don’t require an extreme quantity of sources and destinations. The update to the TriCaster 2 Elite serves to cement its position as a transformative platform that truly takes video production to another level.” Production. Better.

Dynamic and powerful nested macros capabilities within the TriCaster Pro 1 and TriCaster 2 Elite allow operators to deliver complex productions effortlessly. Operators can send Alpha Channel through one of the MIX outs, bringing post-production closer to live. Users can also use the keying on TriCaster to feed graphics or real-time 3D creation tools. TriCaster 1 Pro and TriCaster 2 Elite support encoding of three channels. Remote guests. Better.

Both TriCaster models now offer the latest version of Live Call Connect, effortlessly integrating popular video communication applications like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype TX, Microsoft® Teams, Discord, Slack, and Tencent as video inputs. In addition, producers can turn any mobile device into a live production camera by using the NDI TriCaster Camera App - now available, for free, for Android and iOS devices.

Live audio. Better.

Using AI, TriCaster 1 Pro and TriCaster 2 Elite help to maintain all important production quality by cancelling or reducing background noise from any source. The tool automatically detects voices and cleans the audio meaning remote callers in loud environments can be clearly and easily heard, just by the touch of a button, using the Neural Voice Isolation tool. NewTek TriCaster 1 Pro is available now at $21,995 USMSRP - International pricing may vary.

The NewTek TriCaster 2 Elite update is free and available to download now for all existing TriCaster 2 Elite users. TriCaster 2 Elite is available to buy and priced at $29,995 USMSRP

For more information, please visit https://www.newtek.com/tricaster/

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Vizrt Group and NewTek Win Big at 2021 NAB Product of the Year Awards

Taking home four awards across Vizrt Group’s three brands, NewTek, NDI, and Vizrt, the recognition from this year’s NAB Product of the Year Awards showcases the strength of the Group’s software-defined visual storytelling technology.

The awards program, in its third year, recognizes significant and promising new products and technologies that were set to be displayed for the first time at the canceled NAB Show 2021. Instead, the award ceremony was held virtually during NAB Amplify, a digital platform for the industry to continually connect, and is available to watch on-demand later this week.

“Millions of viewers are tuning in weekly to catch up with their favorite sports teams. These numbers have increased significantly due to the pandemic, especially as feeds stream across multiple platforms to reach home and mobile viewers. Because of these changes, there’s an urgent need for sports video storytellers of all sizes to produce high caliber, excellent quality content. Our solution is 3Play 3P2, as it brings 4k replay capabilities, for the first time, to any sports production no matter where it’s being broadcast, or how big it is, at a fraction of the cost of traditional replay systems,” says Barbara Spicek, president and GM, NewTek.

The awards won by NewTek, NDI, and Vizrt include:

Asset Management, Automation, Playout: NewTek: 3Play® 3P2

NewTek’s unmatched sports replay solution, 3Play 3P2®, won for its unparalleled connectivity, efficiency, and enhanced operator-centric workflow that breaks the play down to immerse audiences deeper into the game in real-time and 4K resolution.

IT Networking/Infrastructure and Security: NDI 5

NDI 5 is a true revolution in video storytelling that turns the whole world into a studio. NDI 5 was awarded for its innovation by enabling creatives, for the first time in history, to connect to any device, in any location, anywhere in the world, and share live, high quality, low latency video.

Graphics, Editing, VFX, Switchers: Vizrt: Vizrt XR Set — Viz Engine 4.3 and Unreal Engine

Extended reality and virtual sets are an everyday occurrence in creative output. With the latest update to Vizrt’s XR Set, combining the power of Viz Engine and the creative freedom of Unreal Engine, creatives have more choice, with less effort and complexity without compromising quality to bring the most engaging graphics to audiences. This recognition demonstrates the exceptional standard of Vizrt graphics.

Remote Production: Vizrt: Vizrt Live Production in the Cloud

More so now than ever, content is coupled with the need for flexibility in deployment, production, and delivery. Vizrt’s Live Production in the Cloud Solution offers an unmatched end-to-end live production workflow from source to delivery to empower the modern storyteller. As it’s also NDI® 5 native, it’s the first production system built that leverages the transformative technology – both of which are now award-winning.

“As a company, our mission has always been to allow anyone with a story to be able to tell it. We strive not just to make the next versions of our products but more importantly how we can innovate and challenge the status quo as we do this. I am so proud to be part of the most amazing R&D team in the industry who are helping push the software-based future of live video,” adds Dr. Andrew Cross, president of product development, Vizrt Group.

For the full list of winners from the NAB 2021 Product of the Year Awards, visit here. For more information about Vizrt Group, visit the website here.

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How Teradek Wave Works with Sharelink

The Teradek Wave is a powerful 5-in-1 live streaming encoding monitor that simplifies professional live streaming.

Its daylight-viewable display and event pre-configuration abilities offer a paradigm shift in the live streaming workflow, adding more simplicity, versatility, and reliability for you to stream with.

Wave can stream to a variety of destinations using either WiFi, Ethernet, or cellular internet connections. But with the power of Teradek’s Sharelink cloud service, Wave can boost your streams even further with two main features: network bonding and multi-destination streaming.

Let’s take a closer look at what these features are and what they do for your streams.

Network Bonding

The thing live streamers dread most is losing internet connection. There is nothing worse than delivering highly-engaging live content, only to have an unstable internet connection that annoyingly breaks up your stream – or worse – completely drops the video. Especially when the stakes are high, like a wedding stream where each once-in-a-lifetime moment is expected to be captured and shared with virtual guests, without interruption.

The Teradek Wave has three built-in network connection options, including WiFi 6, Ethernet, or USB cellular modem. Without bonding, you only have one option at a time for connecting to the internet with no fall-back plan. But with network bonding, you can split your video bitrate across multiple internet connections, giving you a fail-safe connection. If one of your connection methods fails, bonding keeps your stream stable by giving it several other connections to fall back on.

Using the network bonding feature with Wave is a must-have for our productions. I’ve had ‘guaranteed’ secured hard lines go out on me while the local IT struggles to troubleshoot the network. With network bonding, we are able to secure a steady uplink for every production whether indoors, outdoors, or in congested versus rural areas. Without network bonding, the risk of dropping your feed is too great, making Sharelink worth it.”

- David Galligan, Founder of Galligan Media

It may be a little difficult to picture how network bonding actually works, so...

Let's get nerdy for a minute.

With Sharelink’s network bonding, encoded video is strategically divided, frame by frame, amongst ALL available internet connections. Once in the cloud, the frames are put back together into a full video stream. If a frame is missing from an issue with any of the connections, Sharelink can re-request the frame to patch it into the video stream before sending it to your chosen destination.

This way, you can stream at the highest quality and stability that your location allows, across all the connections. This is a must-have for live streaming professionals who want to provide the best image and avoid internet stability interruptions as much as possible.

For example – say you are using the Teradek Wave to live stream a church service. You have a WiFi connection with slow upload speeds, as well as two USB cellular modems plugged into your Wave unit. Your Wave and Sharelink account will work together to divide the encoded video data (your church’s live streaming service) amongst the internet connections (the WiFi and two USB cellular modems), and re-assemble them in the cloud on Sharelink.

Sharelink will then stream the service out to your selected platform destination(s), which transitions us into our next topic.

Multi-Destination Streaming

By default, Teradek Wave will natively stream to your Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, Wowza, or Custom RTMP(S) destination. While a single destination stream is standard, it restricts your live stream to only broadcast to those who use the platform you select: catering to only a portion of your viewers, and neglecting the potential to reach a larger audience.

But with Sharelink, you no longer have to choose which platform would yield the best viewing results. With Sharelink, you have the power to say, “Why not all of them?”

When streaming to Sharelink with your Wave, Sharelink’s cloud servers can distribute the incoming video feed to as many destinations as you want. Grow your audience as you simultaneously stream your events to Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, and even to multiple events, groups, or pages within each platform. If your platform of choice takes RTMP ingest, add as many RTMP destinations as you want. This serves your audience best to choose whichever platform they prefer to view your stream on while you get to capture those viewership numbers. With multistreaming, everybody wins.

Most clients want to hit multiple channels when streaming to social media: YouTube, multiple Facebook pages or groups, LinkedIn, etc. Having all that pre-built for the client in the cloud and available with a single push from the location lowers local streaming demands for the producer and increases reach for the client and raises the value of our streams.”

- Anthony Burokas, Broadcast TV Video Producer

Try it Out!

Pairing the Teradek Wave with a Sharelink subscription unlocks immense benefits for any streamer: amateaur or professional.

Curious about how much your live streaming would improve with Sharelink? Teradek offers a two month risk-free trial for all new Sharelink subscription accounts. Sign up on sharelink.tv and receive 30 days for free. Get an additional 30 days free when you register your Wave unit to your Sharelink account.

After signing up, connect your Teradek Wave to your Sharelink account through the Wave’s interface, and watch as your Sharelink dashboard ingests the video feed through your encoder. Once your Wave unit and Sharelink account are connected, get ready to experience live streaming like never before.

Want to talk to an expert? Reach out and let's find out how Wave and Sharelink can solve your live streaming needs.

Let us know how Wave and Sharelink have improved your live streaming in the comments below!

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Teradek Bolt 4K Wins Engineering Emmy® Award from Television Academy

Teradek is proud to announce that our beloved Bolt 4K – a wireless video transmission system for on-set monitoring – is one of only eight technologies to win a 2021 Engineering Emmy® Award from the Television Academy. The 73rd Engineering Emmy® Awards, which broadcasts on Oct. 21, honors individuals, companies, or organizations for developments in broadcast technology.

Sharing the Emmy accolades are Nicolaas Verheem, Marius Van der watt, Dennis Scheftner and Zvi Reznic. Teradek gives special recognition for his contribution to this accomplishment to Professor Meir Feder, Holder of the prestigious Information Theory Chair, and Head of Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science at Tel-Aviv University's School of Electrical Engineering, who is one of the principal inventors of the underlying technology. Other significant contributors to this award win include Ryan Barber, Greg Smokler, and Ilya Issenin.

The Television Academy, in its Oct. 7 press release announcing the award winners, said:

“Engineers, scientists and technologists are a vital part of our industry and are key to the continuing evolution of television. These extraordinary pioneers and groundbreaking companies we are honoring have advanced the medium and elevate storytelling to a worldwide audience.” - Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy

“It has been a challenging year for the television production community; but despite the pandemic, production has come back and with it a host of new technologies that are being used to help the storytelling process. This year a wide range of technologies are being recognized. They run the gamut from high-end, computer-generated special effects to lighting enhancements; audio tools; script-note technology; and systems that help maintain distancing protocols.” - Committee Chair John Leverence

The Teradek Bolt and underlying technology was also recognized in February 2021 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with two Scientific and Technical awards®.

“Our team stood on the shoulders of giants, not only those of our colleagues in California and Israel, but also the many groundbreaking scientists over the last two centuries who made the magic of wireless video become a reality,” said Nicolaas Verheem, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Teradek. “We are honored to receive an Engineering Emmy Award for our development of the Bolt 4K, which was forged over a decade of hard work, with a relentless focus on the customer, leading to our solution slowly pulling ahead of the alternatives and having a meaningful and lasting impact on the industry.”

Teradek Bolt 4K is a zero-delay, wireless video transmission system for on-set monitoring, offering high-quality 4K wireless video integrated into the workflow. Bolt 4K has been critical in implementing changes needed to support social distancing protocols. Today, over a hundred thousand Bolt transmitters and receivers are working in the entertainment industry—owned by camera operators, digital imaging technicians, drone pilots, production companies, and rental houses—to efficiently serve all television productions.

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