Technology media highlights - April 2024

Technology media highlights - April 2024

The Briefing

22 April 2024
10 minute read
  Key highlights
  • A cyberattack on infrastructure in a small Texas town was attributed to a hacker with ties to the Russian government. 
  • TikTok is testing a new platform that would focus on photos and text, rather than short-form video. 
  • Boston Dynamics announced a new all-electric version of Atlas, its humanoid robot. 
  • The EU has passed new legislation that would regulate the tech industry more closely. 
  • As AI technology becomes more affordable and accessible, businesses are finding increasingly creative ways to implement it. 

Recent cyberattacks in the United States have been linked to Russian interference. 

In January 2024, water facilities in Muleshoe, Texas were hacked, causing a tank to overflow. While the attack flew relatively under the radar at the time, new evidence indicates that a hacker linked to the Russian government may be behind it. 

When the attack happened, a hacktivist group named Cyber Army of Russia Reborn took credit for it on Telegram. They also announced that they had hacked water facilities in the nearby town of Abernathy, Texas, as well as water facilities in Poland and a water mill in France. The hacker also shared screen recordings of the attack. 

The attacks have been investigated by Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm owned by Google. Mandiant has found that the Cyber Army of Russia Reborn has ties to Sandworm, a government-sponsored military intelligence unit known for devastating cyberattacks. While Sandworm has primarily targeted infrastructure in Ukraine, this attack indicates that Sandworm could be exploring more brazen attacks on infrastructure in the US. 


State-sponsored Russian interference in US elections has been a major concern for the past decade. Investigations have found that Russia used social media platforms to spread misinformation and create conflict leading up to elections in 2016, and to a lesser extent, in 2020. 

With another presidential election coming up this year, cybersecurity experts are already watching for signs of interference. Microsoft analysts have reported that Russia has continued to launch social media campaigns and create fake news sites in an attempt to interfere with the upcoming election. Microsoft also found some evidence that China and Iran are using similar social media strategies to attempt to influence US politics, but not on the same scale that Russia is. 

These developments highlight just how pervasive these politically-motivated cyber threats can be. As political tensions rise around the world, both online media outlets and infrastructure units will need to be proactive about increasing security measures and preventing the spread of false information. 



TikTok is developing a new platform that could compete with Instagram and shake up the social media landscape. 

TikTok has been in the news frequently this year — US government officials have launched a bill requiring the app to divest from its Chinese parent company or face a nationwide ban. The bill has already been approved by the House of Representatives and could be fast-tracked through the Senate


Amid this political buzz, TikTok has started testing a new platform that could serve as a competitor to Instagram. This platform is called TikTok Notes, and early-stage testing is already available in Australia and Canada. While TikTok already allows users to post photos, this new platform would focus entirely on photos and text, rather than short-form videos. 

This development represents a significant change for TikTok. The platform has dramatically changed the way we interact with social media, shifting the focus from photos and text to short-form video. Many other platforms have launched short-form video features in an attempt to compete with TikTok. However, this new feature indicates that TikTok is exploring a wider range of features, which could pull some users away from Facebook and Instagram entirely. 


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Boston Dynamics recently launched an all-electric version of Atlas, its humanoid robot. 

Boston Dynamics is known for developing innovative — and occasionally creepy — robots, which are designed to assist with automation. One of its most iconic developments is Atlas, a humanoid robot initially announced in 2016. In mid-April, the company announced that they would be retiring the original hydraulic Atlas and replacing it with a new lightweight, all-electric version


One of the most notable features of this new robot is its ultra-flexible joints. Although Atlas may be human-shaped, it can contort itself into positions that would be impossible for humans to replicate. This means that the robot will be far more mobile than its predecessor. 

Since the official announcement only consisted of a 30-second video, we haven’t seen the full extent of what the new Atlas can do yet. With this new, lighter design, Boston Dynamics is working to make the robot commercially viable. The company already has two smaller, commercially available robots that are used to make manufacturing more efficient. While the new Atlas is unlikely to hit the market anytime soon, this is a promising development in the development of humanoid robots. There’s also the possibility that this robot could be paired with AI technology for even more functionality.  



The EU is taking steps to tighten cybersecurity restrictions. 

The European Union recently passed the Cyber Resilience Act, which will drastically change cybersecurity compliance for organizations operating in the region. This new legislation means that virtually any device or product connected to the internet will need to adhere to a strict set of security requirements. While this law has only been passed in the EU, it will affect companies around the world that have global operations. 

The European Data Protection Board is also taking steps to regulate large social media companies and protect consumer data. At the end of 2023, Meta forced Facebook and Instagram users in the EU to agree to ad tracking and targeting in order to use its platforms. However, the EDPB recently released an opinion condemning this approach. The organization is expected to release more detailed guidance in the coming months, which could lead to a shift in public policy. 

TikTok owner ByteDance has also come under fire in the UK recently for failing to comply with the EU’s Digital Services Act. The company is testing a new platform called TikTok Lite, which would allow users to earn points through the app and redeem them for rewards. The European Commission has stated that these features could violate the DSA due to being addictive and has given ByteDance just 24 hours to submit a risk assessment. 

These new legislative changes indicate that the EU is very serious about regulating social media and preventing cybersecurity threats. Changes to legislation could impact tech operations around the world, and could also set the stage for changing legislation in other countries. 



As AI technology becomes increasingly accessible, businesses are finding creative ways to implement it. 

AI technology is now fully mainstream, and companies around the world are racing to implement it in their operations. While concerns about the long-term effects of generative AI remain present, many businesses have found creative new ways to implement these tools in their work. The most successful approaches use AI as a supportive tool to help staff work more efficiently. 

For example, the National Guard has recently announced that they will use Google’s AI technology to enhance their disaster recovery efforts. This technology could help teams respond to disasters much more quickly. Cruise ships are also using AI to make their operations more efficient. Alfred Maritime recently announced a new energy management system that would help crews reduce fuel consumption while traveling. 

In one of the most exciting new AI developments recently, scientists have used AI to read ancient scrolls that were buried by Mount Vesuvius. This happened as part of a Silicon Valley-backed contest, with the winners receiving $700,000 for their work. 


On the consumer side, platforms like Slack are launching AI features to streamline communication. Slack’s new AI features are available to all paid users. They provide detailed communication summaries so users don’t miss important messages. Amazon Music has also recently announced an exciting new AI feature for its Maestro platform that curates playlists for users. These examples indicate that consumers are getting more comfortable using AI technology for both work and play. 

Final Thoughts: Questions to Stay One Step Ahead

It’s never been a more exciting time to be a tech consultant. With new technology emerging at such a rapid pace, there’s so much potential for innovation and development. However, cybersecurity threats remain ever-present, forcing organizations to step up their compliance efforts and remain hyper-vigilant. Understanding how these changes affect consumers can help you stay ahead of the competition. Questions to consider include: 

  • Political interference: How will foreign online interference in elections change consumer trust? 
  • AI developments: As AI becomes more mainstream, are customers comfortable using it? What types of AI tools are most appealing to consumers? 
  • Social media developments: Will short-form video remain dominant, or do customers prefer a mix of media options? How will cybersecurity regulations change the way we use social media? 

Interested in launching a study on these topics? Reach out to Potloc today to jumpstart a market research study for your strategic projects. 

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