Hillicon Valley — Layoffs, hiring freezes hit tech firms

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Tech companies, from startups to industry giants, are conducting layoffs and hiring freezes ahead of a predicted recession.  

We’ll also look at the future of the cryptocurrency industry after recent plummets, as well as warnings about cyberattacks from Russia against Ukraine and allies.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar, Chris Mills Rodrigo and Ines Kagubare. Subscribe here.

Recession fears affect tech workers

Hiring freezes and layoffs are hitting the tech sector as Silicon Valley prepares for a predicted recession.   

  • The hiring impacts are hitting companies of all sizes across tech, from industry giants to more nascent startups, signaling that the industry’s growth is slowing amid rising interest rates and surging inflation.   
  • Near-zero interest rates, a booming stock market and massive consumer demand allowed tech firms to aggressively expand their workforce at the start of the pandemic. But the recent economic downturn is forcing many companies to reverse course and cut costs to shore up their reserves.   

“It’s the perfect storm for tech companies,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush. “Because valuations are sky high, hiring was unprecedented and in the course of six months it’s been a 180.”  

Since May, tech startups have laid off nearly 27,000 workers, according to layoffs.fyi, which tracks publicly announced job cuts. That’s roughly double the total number of layoffs recorded in all of 2021. 

Read more here.

Crypto’s uncertain future

The market value of most cryptocurrencies has plummeted over the last few months, leaving investors reeling.  

  • The steep fall amid a wider market dip poses risks for the future of crypto assets and raises questions about their insulation from the rest of the economy. 
  • The global market capitalization of cryptocurrencies recently dipped below $1 trillion, down from above $3 trillion in November of last year.  

That decline has come from all parts of the crypto world, from steady falls in the value of popular coins to the complete implosion of major projects. 

Read more here.

RUSSIA TARGETED UKRAINE ALLIES WITH CYBER ATTACKS

Russia has levied dozens of cyber espionage campaigns in 42 countries since it invaded Ukraine in February, according to a new Microsoft report. 

The report says those efforts have targeted entities across six continents and primarily focused on NATO allies and groups supporting Ukraine. 

“The Russian invasion relies in part on a cyber strategy that includes at least three distinct and sometimes coordinated efforts – destructive cyberattacks within Ukraine, network penetration and espionage outside Ukraine and cyber influence operations targeting people around the world,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in the report. 

The tech giant previously detailed Russian cyber operations against Ukraine itself during the invasion in April. 

Sixty-three percent of the observed Russian activity in the 42 countries beyond Ukraine targeted NATO members, according to the new report.

The United States has been Russia’s top target, but the company also noted a large amount of activity in Poland — which borders Ukraine and has provided significant military and humanitarian assistance to the country — as well as the Baltic states. 

Read more here.

A CYBER WARNING FOR THE FINANCIAL SECTOR

Retired Gen. Keith Alexander, the former National Security Agency chief and head of U.S. Cyber Command, warned Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely to unleash cyberattacks against the U.S. financial sector as retaliation for the West’s involvement in its war with Ukraine. 

  • Alexander said Putin has stated that the U.S. was intending to launch cyberattacks against Russian banks following sanctions that crippled the country’s economy. The general said that type of statement, which could not be independently confirmed, could give Putin the power to go after U.S. financial institutions, including in cyberspace. 
  • “I think he was actually putting it out there because [Russian] banks are having problems more so because of sanctions than anybody attacking them,” Alexander said.  
  • “[The statement] will also give him the authority to unleash his guys against our financial institutions,” he added.  

Read more here.

Data privacy bill on deck

A House panel will debate a bill that would set national standards for how companies obtain and manage data on Thursday. 

The bipartisan bill, known as the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, was formally introduced in the House on Tuesday by Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.).  

The Energy and Commerce consumer protection subcommittee will hold a markup on the data privacy bill, along with seven others. 

Not so fast: Although the bill has bipartisan support in the House, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has pushed back on the legislation slamming it as “riddled with loopholes.” Without her support, it faces slim chances of pushing forward in the Senate.  

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Biden budget prioritizes space sector  

Notable links from around the web: 

The Avatars Wear Prada (The New York Times / Vanessa Friedman) 

Pornhub’s Top Executives to Step Down (Vice / Samantha Cole) 

How Russia’s vaunted cyber capabilities were frustrated in Ukraine (The Washington Post / David Ignatius) 

Lighter click: Risky business

One more thing: A social media search

Police in northern Florida are turning to social media to search for teenagers and young adults who broke into an $8 million home and threw a party.  

The Walton County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page that it received a noise complaint early Saturday morning in WaterColor, a community near Seaside.

When officers arrived, most attendees of the party had already left, but photos and videos have since surfaced on Snapchat, Instagram and other social media sites of the party and those who attended. 

The sheriff’s office included some of the pictures and videos in its post, showing some attendees smoking, drinking and boxing each other as others present watched and recorded on their phones. 

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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