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Russian cybercrime bust and how fight the hackers-commentary

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Beyond the operation’s scale, the striking picture that emerges from the indictment is the degree to which Infraud operated very much like a dark-web cousin of major commercial marketplace sites.

The group’s leadership imposed a rigid hierarchy to maintain order on the site, delegated authority to system administrators and other associates who held roles of varying responsibility ranging from “Moderators” to “Super Moderators” to “Administrators.” It also relied on a system of strictly enforced rules and user-generated feedback to maintain quality control. Longstanding site members were promoted to “VIP Member” status to honor their contributions and solicited advice on the “In Fraud We Trust” discussion forum.

Given Infraud’s worldwide membership, U.S. law enforcement needed to partner with others across the world to effectuate the arrest and to send a meaningful warning to wrongdoers in the future: The unsealing of the indictment followed the arrests of 13 individuals in the United States and six other countries (Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo, and Serbia).

In its public statement, the Justice Department offered thanks to a long list of cooperating law enforcement agencies around the world without whom “[t]he international operation to dismantle the Infraud Organization would have been impossible.”

Conspicuously absent from the list is Russia, even as the indictment gives indications that the site itself was being hosted in Russia. Among other things, the indictment alleges that in 2011 the site’s founder issued a decree that banned the buying and selling of contraband involving Russian victims, a tactic experts noted is used to discourage Russian law enforcement from taking down a Russian-hosted server.

While these types of multi-jurisdiction arrest sweeps are intended to send a message to cyber-criminals, the most important message in the near term is for the public: In today’s environment, companies are not just up against solo hackers, but highly skilled enterprises that rely on an international collection of criminal and cyber expertise.

A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy as much as $109 billion in 2016 and emphasized that even though “government can help address some elements of cyber protection issues, the most direct actions in cybersecurity are in the hands of the private sector.”

Meeting this threat takes a serious investment in technological safeguards as well as a willingness to adapt to an evolving threat. Companies and individuals should invest now in protections against these kinds of threats and begin planning for scenarios in which their systems are breached and their information finds its way to these kinds of dark corners of the internet.

Commentary by John P. Carlin and David Newman. Carlin was the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division (NSD) and served as chief of staff and senior counsel to former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, where he helped lead the FBI’s evolution to meet growing and changing national security threats, including cyber threats. He currently chairs Morrison & Foerster’s global risk and crisis management group and co-chairs its national security group. He is also the chair of the Aspen Institute’s Cybersecurity & Technology Program and a CNBC contributor.

Newman is a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, associate White House counsel, and director on the National Security Council staff. He is currently counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, where he represents clients in a wide variety of national security and global risk and crisis management issues.

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How to deal with pressure to go back into the office as lockdowns ease

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With workplaces slowly reopening as coronavirus vaccinations gather pace, some people may be feeling the pressure to go back into the office more than they would actually like. 

Many employers have embraced sweeping changes brought in by the coronavirus pandemic, with the majority of people being forced to work from home, as an opportunity to adopt more flexible ways of working going forward.

Technology firms like Spotify and Salesforce are letting employees choose where they want to work from, or if they even want to come back into the office ever again. However, some employers have resisted the idea that this could mark a more permanent shift

And then some companies have policies specifying that workers come into the office at least a certain number of days a week. In theory, this might make workers feel pressured to come into the office more than the specified amount if co-workers are doing so, over similar feelings of guilt that have prompted staff to work longer hours throughout the pandemic.  

But just like those feelings of guilt associated with working remotely, experts say there are ways to overcome this anxiety. 

‘Presenteeism’

Gail Kinman, a visiting professor of occupational health psychology at Birkbeck University of London, told CNBC on a telephone call that “part of the problem is that when people work at home, they often feel that they need to gain trust to show that they’re working.”  

Kinman said less experienced workers, or people who’ve started new jobs during the pandemic, might worry about this more because they’re not yet used to a company’s culture. 

She said it was a similar feeling to “FOMO” (fear of missing out), suggesting that people at home might worry that colleagues going back to work more might have more chance of getting promoted and fear they might be left behind. 

One way to combat this anxiety was to talk to other colleagues to discuss these concerns. 

Ellie Green, a jobs expert at British recruitment site Totaljobs, told CNBC via email that “staff shouldn’t be afraid to instigate conversations with HR departments and bosses to ensure their preferences are heard.” 

She also said it was important for employees to draw clear boundaries between work and home life “to avoid feeling the need to be available at the ping of a (Microsoft) Teams or Slack notification, or caving in to the pressure of presenteeism.” 

Presenteeism can be associated with coming into work when sick. But it can also be interpreted as the culture of workers spending more hours in the office, yet not necessarily being productive the entire time, as a way of putting in “face time” in front of bosses. 

Carina Cortez, chief people officer at Glassdoor, told CNBC over email that it was natural for workers to feel some apprehension about what the “new normal” would look like, given how their expectations around working patterns had changed over the past year. 

She also said it was important for workers feeling under pressure about a return to “make their voice heard and input any way they can to ensure that employers have a broad representation of opinions from staff on returning to the office.” 

At the same time, Cortez said while there were operational and social benefits to spending time in-person with colleagues, if employees did feel pressure to go back into the office more than they’d like, “then maybe it is time to consider employers with a better cultural fit.” 

Janine Chamberlin, U.K. country manager at LinkedIn, told CNBC via email that it was also the responsibility of employers to ensure presenteeism didn’t manifest itself going forward. 

“Businesses that are able to embrace flexible working, building on the trust which has been established during this period of remote working, will not only be able to reduce presenteeism, but end it altogether,” she said.

Check out:

How to ace a job interview with a robot recruiter

 1 in 4 workers is considering quitting their job after the pandemic

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Medical experts share travel options for vaccinated people

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared vaccinated Americans to travel again, but some immunized travelers remain on the fence about making summer plans.  

Is it finally safe to fly? What about visiting unvaccinated relatives or traveling with young children?  

CNBC Global Traveler asked medical professionals — all of whom are involved in treating or researching Covid-19 — to share their travel plans this summer. Here are their responses, in their words.

Summer travel is ‘unlikely’

“It’s unlikely I’ll be traveling this summer … I’m concerned that the proliferation of variants, existing or new, is setting the stage for a replay of last summer’s ebb and flow Covid-19 surge pattern. I’m also concerned that vaccine hesitancy … or supply and access issues will limit our ability to reach herd immunity in the short term.” 

“We only have to look as far as recent Covid-19 surges in countries like Canada or states like Michigan to see how vaccine supply issues and variant spread can lead to a dangerous surge with wide impact.”

There’s nothing wrong with a wait and see approach right now. 

Mark Cameron

Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine

“[My kids] are desperate to get out of the house and into a theme park this summer but that’s just not in our cards right now. I still think that there will be relatively safe ways to travel this summer, and that there’s nothing wrong with a wait and see approach right now.”

“Fully vaccinating, moving our bubble with us, and maintaining the infection control measures that have kept us safe so far, even if not mandated, would be part of the plan.”

—Mark Cameron, epidemiologist and associate professor at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine

Only from one home to the other — by car

“I am not traveling this summer, except to travel by car from our place in New York City to our home in the country. Under normal circumstances, we would travel extensively, including abroad. But this year, we will spend most of our time in our country home, since it is much easier to avoid close contact than it is in the city or when traveling afar.”

“When we do have to come into the city, we will do so by car. And when we arrive, we will avoid public transit, crowded venues and indoor activities.”

This is not yet the time to let up….

William Haseltine

President, Access Health International

“Being vaccinated didn’t change my behavior or my summer travel plans. There are new variants … emerging with regularity, and the vaccines will not be equally effective against them all. Because of this, I and all those in my immediate family are taking the same precautions after vaccination as we did before we were vaccinated. That includes avoiding unnecessary travel.”

“When we do need to go into public places, like to the post office or the grocery store, we wear N95 masks and a face shield, a combination that has proven effective even in indoor healthcare settings of significantly cutting down the risk of infection.”

“If some members of our extended family are required to travel over the summer, we’ll be asking them not to visit us until at least two weeks post travel — that includes the adults that are vaccinated and the children who are not.”

“This is not yet the time to let up on the public health measures that can help us control the pandemic.”

—William Haseltine, former professor at Harvard Medical School and current president of Access Health International; author of “Variants! The Shape-Shifting Challenge of COVID-19”

Yes, but in the same region  

“The family trip we are taking this summer will be semi-local. We plan to get to the Jersey Shore [to rent] an efficiency apartment … enjoy the hiking, the beach and the pool and will bring our food with us. We will be driving so that we can easily bring everything.”

Dr. Sharon Nachman said a consideration for her family’s summer travel plans to the Jersey Shore was “how easily we could get back in case of an emergency.”

Jon Lovette | Photographer’s Choice RF | Getty Images

“By bringing our own food, we cut down on the need to go to areas that may be crowded or unsafe. By looking at locations that had a variety of outdoor activities, we can get the fresh air and sunshine we have been missing for the past several months.”

“[My children] have all been vaccinated, but our grandkids have not been. With careful planning, we plan to visit and play with them this summer.”

—Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the pediatric infectious disease division at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

Travel plans are undecided

“I do not have concrete plans yet. I live in California, and I may decide to visit the local destinations within driving distance with my husband for a few days just for a break. We may also decide to fly to Hawaii. Hawaii requires testing prior to departure and on arrival. My husband and I are well adults and are both vaccinated now, and that is in part why we are comfortable with the idea of considering domestic travel at this point. We will definitely be masking and wearing eye protection during travel.”

For longer flights, Dr. Supriya Narasimhan said she would consider booking a business class ticket because “the empty middle seat doesn’t exist anymore, flight operators are flying fewer trips, and many are fairly full.”

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

“International travel is a whole different consideration. We would like to visit family in India in the summer because we have not seen them for the last 18 months, but India is experiencing a surge. … people do not reliably mask on flights and the era of empty middle seats is [in the] past, so contracting Covid during travel is a very real risk, made more complex by emergence of new variants.”

“In my institution’s experience, post-vaccination Covid is rare, and we have yet to see a severe case post vaccination. I trust in our vaccines, but I will do my part to decrease my risk even further by masking diligently when I am around others.”

—Dr. Supriya Narasimhan, chief of infectious diseases at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center

Definitely traveling, but only domestically

“My wife and I will be traveling by plane to visit relatives on the East Coast. We will be wearing masks and be conscious of maintaining social distance throughout the terminal as well as while on board.”

“Both my wife and I are fully vaccinated as are the family we will be visiting. The vaccine roll-out and the impact on state-mandated pre- and post-travel testing and post-travel quarantines [were] crucial to our plans. If there had still been quarantine requirements, we would have delayed traveling until these were lifted — not due to fears of infection but merely due to the practical implications.”

Dr. Charles Bailey said he plans to clean surfaces on his flight, including seat arms and controls, tray table and seat pocket “lip.”

Craig Hastings | Moment | Getty Images

“If our travel plans had included young children who had not yet been fully vaccinated, we would have considered the CDC recommendation for pre- and post-travel testing as well as possible implications of a post-travel quarantine period in regard to return-to-school dates.  Ascertaining any requirement or expectation by the schools they would be returning to in the fall would have been a reasonable idea as well.”

—Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Hospital and Providence Mission Hospital

Going abroad this summer

“Similar to many Americans, my family also has plans to travel this summer. This summer, four of our family members would like to travel to Lima, Peru, and take a journey to discover the many pleasures of this country, including the historical Machu Picchu. Seventy-two hours before boarding the airplane we will get a PCR Covid-19 test to protect ourselves and others.”  

“Airport and mass transit is expected to be more congested than in the last year.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that all travelers are vaccinated.  As healthcare providers, my wife and I are both fully vaccinated, and our [adult] children will be vaccinated before our travel activities.”

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Credit Suisse earnings Q1 2021

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A Credit Suisse logo in the window of a Credit Suisse Group AG bank branch in Zurich, Switzerland.

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LONDON — Credit Suisse reported Thursday a net loss of 252 million Swiss francs ($295 million) at a time of increased pressure on the bank.

The bank said the loss reflected a “significant charge with respect to the US-based hedge fund matter in 1Q21, offsetting positive performance across wealth management and investment banking.”

The Swiss lender warned of heavy losses earlier this month after a scandal involving Archegos Capital, a U.S. based hedge fund, which collapsed after taking on too much risk. Credit Suisse said it took a hit of 4.4 billion Swiss francs as a result.

In addition, investment bank CEO Brian Chin and chief risk and compliance officer, Lara Warner, both stepped down. The executive board decided to waive bonuses for the 2020 year, and also cut the proposed dividend.

Regulators in the U.S. and Switzerland have asked Credit Suisse for more information on the collapse of Archegos, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In March, Credit Suisse also adjusted its asset management business and suspended bonuses after the collapse of Greensill Capital, a British supply chain finance firm.

This is a developing news story and will be updated shortly.

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