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White House warns companies to step up cybersecurity

The White House warned corporate executives and business leaders on Thursday (Jun 3) to step up security measures to protect against ransomware attacks after intrusions disrupted operations at a meatpacking company and a southeastern oil pipeline. There has been a significant hike in the frequency and size of ransomware attacks, Anne Neuberger, cybersecurity adviser at the National Security Council, said in a letter. She further said that the threats are serious, and they are increasing. She urged companies to take critical steps to protect their organizations and the American public. The recent cyberattacks have forced companies to see ransomware as a threat to core business operations and not just data theft, as ransomware attacks have shifted from stealing to disrupting operations. Strengthening the country's resilience to cyberattacks was one of President Joe Biden's top priorities. A major meatpacker resumed U.S. operations on Wednesday following a ransomware attack that disrupted meat production in North America and Australia. A Russia-linked hacking group that goes by the name of REvil and Sodinokibi was behind the cyberattack against JBS SA, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The cyberattack followed one last month by a group with ties to Russia on Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, which crippled fuel delivery for several days in the U.S. Southeast. Biden believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has a role to play in preventing these attacks and planned to bring up the issue during their summit this month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. (CNA

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Indonesia aims to increase the proportion of renewable power in its 2021-2030 national electricity plan to at least 48%, from 30% in the 2019-2028 plan, a senior energy ministry official said on Friday. The national electricity supply plan (RUPTL) is a power supply guideline set by the government for state utility company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) for a 10-year period, but the plan is regularly revised. Under the current RUPTL, coal is expected to power 48% of the electricity needs of Southeast Asia's largest economy. Indonesia is a major producer and exporter of thermal coal. To reach the planned renewable power guideline, Rida said diesel power plants would be converted into renewable plants, while old plants will be retired, among other efforts. PLN said last week that it would gradually retire its coal-fired power plants as part of its plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. (Reuters)

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Asia-Pacific is struggling to vaccinate its population as Covid-19 infections rise rapidly in many places around the region, some at record-breaking levels. Many Asian governments had problems securing vaccines, said Benjamin Cowling, a professor at The University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health. Besides, initial success at containing the coronavirus in Asia may have caused people to view vaccination with less urgency, he added. India, Nepal, Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan are among those that have broken records in the number of daily cases in the past month — leading authorities to impose new restrictions to try to bring down the cases. Countries in Asia-Pacific have collectively administered around 23.8 doses of Covid vaccine per 100 people, according to CNBC analysis of data compiled by statistics site Our World in Data as of June 1. That’s far below North America’s roughly 61.4 doses per 100 people and Europe’s 48.5 doses per 100 people, the data showed. Africa is the region with the slowest vaccination drive, and only 2.5 doses were administered for every 100 people, according to the data. Economists at French bank Natixis have been tracking vaccine supplies and inoculation progress across Asia-Pacific. They said in a note last month that while supply shortage was a major factor in the region’s slow vaccination, few economies still face that problem currently.  (CNBC)

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