Using Your Devices Against You


Jun 01, 2019



Jun 01, 2019



For the last month, American cities from Baltimore to San Antonio have been under incessant attack from cybercriminals who are interrupting digital infrastructure from real estate sales to water billings – and demanding large sums of money to make it stop.

But what if these cyber hackers are using our own government's weapons? Is the U.S. government to blame?

EternalBlue, which is being used by malicious actors across the world, was originally the hacking crown jewel of the NSA itself. But the NSA ultimately lost control of it through the infamous Shadow Brokers leak. North Korea was the first to co-opt the tool in the WannaCry attackthat would paralyze the British healthcare system and German railroad system.

Now the tool is being used in the U.S., bringing Baltimore's digital pipes to a standstill. To make matters worse, the NSA and FBI won't own up to their role in the fiasco, or their glacial response to get out critical patch updates that might help.

As these cyberattacks continue to make headlines, we may be at the beginning of an arms race between Silicon Valley startups and state-powered entities. We must make sure Kent Brockman isn’t the only one asking the important questions…

Portfolio News

UMA's USStocks DeFi project - learnings and next steps - A great Medium post from portfolio company Universal Market Access ("UMA") on what they learned from offering synthetic access to the top 500 U.S. exchange-listed equities by market capitalization, margined in Dai. Read more__

Plaid launches in U.K. to boost open banking on both sides of the Atlantic - Portfolio company Plaid is expanding across the pond! The expansion will enable fintech startups in the UK to take advantage of open banking rules, while also enabling companies on either side of the Atlantic to expand across the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Read more__

Easily integrate into the Plaid data network with Plaid Direct - Portfolio company Plaid is offering a new, lightweight integration that allows banks and fintech applications to quickly and easily become a data source in the Plaid network - enabling their customers to enjoy open banking-style connectivity across fintech apps. Read more__

Using Your Devices Against You

In Baltimore and beyond, a stolen N.S.A. tool wreaks havoc - The Shadow Brokers leak, which is now the most destructive and costly NSA breach in history, has spawned a series of malicious actor attacks that now puts much of American cities' critical digital infrastructure at risk. Read more__

Industry News

Venture capitalists bet big on the $1.9 trillion payments industry - Tech firms from Stripe to our own portfolio companies Extend and Flutterwave are trying to grab a slice of the $1.9 trillion payments industry. CNBC digs into the massive market. Read more__

Innovation driving digital acceleration in Latin America - A good read out of Swift's Latam regional conference where banks in the region are looking to increase digitization, while managing cyber and compliance challenges. Read more__

First American Financial Corp. leaked hundreds of millions of title insurance records - First American, a leading provider of title insurance, put 885 million PDFs including bank account numbers, statements, mortgage and tax records, Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, and drivers license images online, with no security at all! Read more__

Cryptocurrency Visa card could open a back door for dirty money - Visa’s latest cooperation with Coinbase for a UK crypto card will allow customers to “spend funds from your cryptocurrency wallets” anywhere Visa is accepted. The card’s spending limit starts at a whopping £10,000 a month. Read more__

Morningstar takes aim at rating giants with $669m DBRS deal - Morningstar accounts for just 0.1% of the credit-rating market. This will rise to 2.4% once the DBRS deal closes. By contrast, the big three of S&P Global, Moody’s and Fitch have a combined 96 per cent. Read more__

How governments are beginning to regulate AI - In a historic step last week, 42 countries came together to support a global governance framework for one of the most powerful emerging technologies of our time - artificial intelligence. Read more__

Bitcoin billionaires — return of the Winklevoss twins - Ben Mezrich’s "Bitcoin Billionaires" is a new account of the Winklevii's move into crypto. According to the FT it makes an easily digested cryptocurrency primer. Read more__

Indonesia launches QR code standards - The central bank has been developing QRIS, a more complex QR pattern that allows users from one payment service to transfer funds to any rival service, since early last year. Read more__

Select Financing

Brex - San Francisco based provider of corporate credit cards is reportedly raising its Series D at a $2b valuation, led by Kleiner Perkins. Read more__

ChargeAfter - Tel Aviv-based credit network for retailers raised $8M in Series A funding led by Propel Venture Partners. Read more__

PayJoy - San Francisco based smartphone financing startup has raised $20m of Series B funding led by Greylock Partners. Read more__

Pillar - New York based student lending startup raised a $5.5m Series Seed led by Kleiner Perkins. Read more__

Robinhood - Robinhood is nearing the close of a funding round from existing investors at a valuation of between $7 billion and $8 billion, according to a person with direct knowledge of its plans. Read more__

SoFi - San Francisco based lending and personal finance platform has raised $500M in equity funding led by the Qatar Investment Authority.Read more__

Wealthsimple Toronto based investment management platform has raised $75m in venture financing led by Allianz X. Read more__


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