Catch up on this month’s round-up of the latest hosting and tech news. Here’s what we’ve uncovered since our last edition.
Boost for UK Fintech
The UK Fintech sector continues to recover strongly in 2021, with venture capital funding rising over 100% during the last 12 months to over £8 billion, nearly half of which was invested in startups. This has resulted in the number of UK fintech unicorns, startup companies valued at over USD 1 billion, rising to 40, more than a third of the 112 total unicorn businesses within the UK. Thirty-five of these are based in London.
While investment has gone up significantly, much of it is from overseas, with over £3.6 billion coming just from the USA. While lack of homegrown investment is a concern, the growth signifies the global attractiveness of the UK fintech companies and the potential they have for the future.
Linux malware threat
Researchers have discovered a new malware that targets systems running on Linux. Known as FontOnLake, it is often installed by default, disguised as popular Linux commands. These commands, however, have been modified to install backdoors, giving attackers remote access to the system. They also launch at startup, enabling the malware to remain persistent.
The difficulty for Linux users is that the modified files appear as genuine Linux utilities and no one yet knows how victims are supplied with these infected versions. Once on the system, they are used to steal login credentials, together with the command history of user accounts found in the Bash shell. Additionally, the malware installs a rootkit that allows it and its activities to stay hidden.
Debian and CentOS seem to be the main operating systems being targeted, while geographically, detection of the malware is mostly in Southeast Asia.
AI adoption a priority
The adoption of artificial intelligence is becoming a priority across business sectors. According to Gartner’s Emerging Technology Product Leaders Survey, almost 90% of decision-makers predict funding for AI technology and AI projects to increase over the next 12 months. A third of these expect their company to spend over USD 1 million on AI by the end of 2023, with an average investment of over two-thirds of a million.
With AI technology predicted to impact every type of business operation as it evolves and diversifies, investment in it is second only to that in cloud and IoT. What makes it particularly important at present is that customers are highly attracted to AI-enabled products and services. And with lots of emerging AI tools now being developed, many of which will be widely available, businesses wanting to keep pace with their competitors will be compelled to adopt AI.
Google’s $1B African Investment
Over the next five years, tech giant Google will invest USD 1 billion in Africa. The project’s aim is to improve internet connectivity across the continent and support startups.
The latter will be achieved via the company’s Africa Investment Fund, which will provide £50 million in funding to help startups access technology and network connectivity, and recruit employees. Google is particularly interested in startups where its expertise can add value and where there is strategic overlap, these include those in the eCommerce, fintech and local language content sectors.
In addition, Google will collaborate with Kiva, a non-profit organisation, providing $10 million in low-interest loans to small businesses. This part of the project will operate across South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, which have been some of the African economies worst affected by the pandemic.
With regard to connectivity, Google will link Africa and Europe via an undersea cable, increasing internet speeds by 400% while reducing data costs. At the same time, it will expand a project launched in Kenya that lets individuals pay in instalments for 4G-enabled phones. This will be rolled out over the continent.
To boldly go
Finally, if there is one major tech story this month, it has to be William Shatner’s trip to space on Blue Origin’s New Shepherd. Over the decades, Star Trek has inspired many people to take up careers in science and technology and, as a result, what was just science fiction when the show first aired in 1966 is now science fact. How fitting it is then, and a sign of how far we have come, to see Shatner finally board a real spaceship and blast off into space.
While it was just a ten minute rather than a five-year mission, the 90-year-old actor’s reaction said it all. The world’s oldest ever astronaut described it as the most profound experience of his life, “I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore … whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” It is, perhaps, a lesson to us all about what great things we can achieve with technology. Here’s looking to the future!
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