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Paris-based Breega closes €250M fund, opens Barcelona office to back Iberian startups – TechCrunch

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Paris-originated VC Breega wasn’t enormously well-known in the VC world (it only closed its 1st fund in 2015) until, perhaps, it started attracting attention with its second €110 million Seed fund, just under a year go. It’s portfolio now includes a number of scale-ups including Moneybox, Cuvva, Coverflex and Libeo. Perhaps part of its ‘secret sauce’ is how it has managed to put together an in house-team of experts in growth, talent, and comms, of which more later.

Suffice it to say, Breega seems to be punching all the right numbers. It’s now closed a €250 million venture fund, enabling it to move from funding Seed-stage European companies to now being able to go for Series A stage and beyond. It’s also now opened a Barcelona office (alongside London and Paris) headed up by Partner and recently nominated Head of European Venture, Isabelle Gallo. Breega’s aim is to finance at least 20 companies in total with the new fund. To date, Breega has backed 70 promising portfolio companies across 7 countries.

Breega’s investors include institutional players EIF (European Investment Fund) Bpifrance, Group Crédit Agricole, Amundi, LCL, Isomer Capital and a number of European entrepreneurs, which Breega hasn’t named specifically.

The new fund doubles its assets under management to half a billion euros. This is Breega’s fourth fundraise in seven years.

The new fund will have a strong focus on (although not limited to) fintech and insurtech companies.
Breega’s new fund has also now backed Keebo (fintech), UKIO (proptech) and Mila (insurtech).

Ben Marrel, Co-founder and CEO at Breega said in a statement: “Our fourth and largest fund to date will allow us to finance later stage companies at Series A stage and above and to continue to support our existing portfolio startups as they grow. This new money will also allow us to expand further into the increasingly dynamic Iberian tech ecosystem, one of the most dynamic in Europe.”

Current investments in the Iberian market include property tech Ukio, insurtech and employee benefits platform, Coverflex, and the fintech investment platform, Ninety-Nine.

Breega’s inhouse, free-of-charge ‘Scaling Squad’ consists of a team of experts in growth and pairing, talent, marketing and communication. Ben Stanway, founder and Co-CEO of Moneybox says this “acted like an extension of our own team.”

Replying to me over email, Marrel added: “We’re also very interested in seeing how advances in Blockchain technology and quantum computing will impact innovation – Breega is an early investor in Alice&Bob and we’re very excited to be accompanying them in the race to creating the world’s first fault-free quantum computer.”

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US government says North Korean hackers are targeting American healthcare organizations with ransomware – TechCrunch

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The FBI, CISA, and the U.S. Treasury Department are warning that North Korean state-sponsored hackers are using ransomware to target healthcare and public health sector organizations across the United States.

In a joint advisory published Wednesday, the U.S. government agencies said they had observed North Korean-backed hackers deploying Maui ransomware since at least May 2021 to encrypt servers responsible for healthcare services, including electronic health records, medical imaging, and entire intranets.

“The FBI assesses North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors have deployed Maui ransomware against Healthcare and Public Health Sector organizations,” the advisory reads. “The North Korean state-sponsored cyber actors likely assume healthcare organizations are willing to pay ransoms because these organizations provide services that are critical to human life and health. Because of this assumption, the FBI, CISA, and Treasury assess North Korean state-sponsored actors are likely to continue targeting [healthcare] organizations.”

The advisory notes that in many of the incidents observed and responded to by the FBI, the Maui ransomware caused disruption to healthcare services “for prolonged periods.”

Maui was first identified by Stairwell, a threat-hunting startup that aims to help organizations determine if they have been compromised, in early-April 2022. In an analysis of the ransomware, Stairwell principal reverse engineer Silas Cutler notes that Maui lacks many of the features commonly seen with tooling from ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) providers, such as an embedded ransom note or automated means of transmitting encryption keys to attackers. Rather, Stairwell concludes that Maui is likely manually deployed across victims’ networks, with remote operators targeting specific files they want to encrypt.

North Korea has long used cryptocurrency-stealing operations to fund its nuclear weapons program. In an email, John Hultquist, vice president of Mandiant Intelligence, said that as a result “ransomware is a no-brainer” for the North Korean regime.

“Ransomware attacks against healthcare are an interesting development, in light of the focus these actors have made on this sector since the emergence of COVID-19. It is not unusual for an actor to monetize access which may have been initially garnered as part of a cyber espionage campaign,” said Hultquist. “We have noted recently that North Korean actors have shifted focus away from healthcare targets to other traditional diplomatic and military organizations. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations are also extraordinarily vulnerable to extortion of this type because of the serious consequences of a disruption,” he added.

The advisory, which also includes indicators of compromise (IOCs) and information on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) employed in these attacks to help network defenders, urges organizations in the healthcare industries to strengthen their defenses by limiting access to data, turning off network device management interfaces, and by using monitoring tools to observe whether Internet of Things devices have become compromised.

“The FBI, along with our federal partners, remains vigilant in the fight against North Korea’s malicious cyber threats to our healthcare sector,” said FBI Cyber Division assistant director Bryan Vorndran. “We are committed to sharing information and mitigation tactics with our private sector partners to assist them in shoring up their defenses and protecting their systems.”

The U.S. government’s latest warning follows a spate of high-profile cyberattacks targeting healthcare organizations; University Medical Center Southern Nevada was hit by a ransomware attack in August 2021 that compromised files containing protected health information and personally identifiable information, and Eskenazi Health said in October that cybercriminals had access to their network for almost three months. Last month, Kaiser Permanente confirmed a breach of an employee’s email account led to the theft of 70,000 patient records.

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Hotel giant Marriott confirms yet another data breach – TechCrunch

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Hotel group Marriott International has confirmed another data breach, with hackers claiming to have stolen 20 gigabytes of sensitive data including guests’ credit card information.

The incident, first reported by Databreaches.net Tuesday, is said to have happened in June when an unnamed hacking group claimed they used social engineering to trick an employee at a Marriott hotel Maryland into giving them access to their computer.

“Marriott International is aware of a threat actor who used social engineering to trick one associate at a single Marriott hotel into providing access to the associate’s computer,” Marriott spokesperson Melissa Froehlich Flood told TechCrunch in a statement. “The threat actor did not gain access to Marriott’s core network.”

Marriott said the hotel chain identified, and was investigating, the incident before the threat actor contacted the company in an extortion attempt, which Marriott said it did not pay.

The group claiming responsibility for the attack say the stolen data includes guests’ credit card information and confidential information about both guests and employees. Samples of the data provided to Databreaches.net purport to show reservation logs for airline crew members from January 2022 and names and other details of guests, as well as credit card information used to make bookings.

However, Marriott told TechCrunch that its investigation determined that the data accessed “primarily contained non-sensitive internal business files regarding the operation of the property.”

The company said that it is preparing to notify 300-400 individuals regarding the incident, and has already notified relevant law enforcement agencies.

This isn’t the first time Marriott has suffered a significant data breach. Hackers breached the hotel chain in 2014 to access almost 340 million guest records worldwide – an incident that went undetected until September 2018 and led to a £14.4 million ($24M) fine from the U.K’s Information Commissioner’s Office. In January 2020, Marriott was hacked again in a separate incident that affected around 5.2 million guests.

TechCrunch asked Marriott what cybersecurity protections it has in place to prevent such incidents from happening, but the company declined to answer.

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Rivian says it’s on track to deliver 25,000 vehicles this year – TechCrunch

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Rivian said Wednesday the company produced 4,401 vehicles at its manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois, and delivered 4,467 vehicles for the quarter ended June 30.

“These figures remain in line with the company’s expectations, and it believes it is on track to deliver on the 25,000 annual production guidance previously provided,” Rivian said in a statement.

In the first quarter of 2022, Rivian produced 2,553 vehicles and delivered 1,227 vehicles.

The production figures include a mix of the Rivian R1T pickup truck, R1S SUV and the commercial vans it is making for Amazon.

Developing...

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