Business

Multiple federal agencies hit by wave of possible Iran-linked cyberattacks

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

The Department of Homeland Security last week instructed all federal civilian agencies to take immediate actions to address “significant and imminent risks to agency information and information systems” resulting from an ongoing wave of cyberattacks.

In an emergency directive issued Jan. 22, DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it is aware of “multiple executive branch agency domains” impacted by the campaign and has notified the agencies that maintain them.

FireEye, a cybersecurity firm based in California, indicated it had identified attacks that affected at least 50 government, telecommunications and internet infrastructure entities globally on an “almost unprecedented scale,” according to a company blog post published Jan. 9.

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More international students in the U.S. ponder career prospects after graduation

By Lily Qi
Medill Reports

After receiving another job rejection, 22-year-old Dayan Paiewonsky posted an Instagram screenshot of the email with “thank u, next.”

Paiewonsky left the Dominican Republic four years ago to study international business and finance at the Loyola University Chicago.

With graduation approaching this summer, finding a job is becoming urgent for him. In Paiewonsky’s eyes, completing college in less than five months isn’t something to be excited about like fellow students, but a crucial stepping stone if he hopes to stay in the U.S.
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Break down silos to make Chicago an electric transit leader

By Xieyang Jessica Qiao
Medill Reports

As vehicle automation and electrification gain traction, they create a new mobility ecosystem for Chicago to tap into. Yet the city’s traditional residential infrastructure and limited connectivity could hinder Chicago and other metropolises in their ability to innovate.

Waymo, Google’s autonomous car subsidiary, announced last year they would purchase over 60,000 vehicles from Fiat Chrysler and 20,000 electric vehicles from Jaguar for the self-driving car fleet.

“According to Morgan Stanley’s estimate, the potential market cap of Waymo is $175 billion if they launch an initial public offering,” said Gary A. Silberg, the Americas head of automotive innovation at the audit firm KPMG. Continue reading

Local businesses assess the impact of the Lincoln Yards project

By Louis Ricard
Medill Reports

Developer Sterling Bay is working with the City of Chicago to bring a new recreational area in Lincoln Yards, a massive city-within-a-city proposed development

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After Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) gave his approval earlier this month to the third and latest proposal in his ward, the Chicago Plan Commission voted unanimously in favor of the project Thursday during its monthly meeting. The new project straddles 55 acres of the Chicago River on Chicago near North Side will cost up to $6 billion to develop, helping to reshape the entire area, according to Sterling Bay’s website.
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5G rollout brings to life the smart hospital

By Xieyang Jessica Qiao
Medill Reports

Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center partnered with AT&T to deploy a fifth-generation cellular network in hospital settings, capitalizing on 5G’s fast speeds to enhance access to care and improve efficiency.

5G is expected to operate in the millimeter wave band, which has a much higher frequency than current bands of spectrum, said Randall Berry, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern University.

“The millimeter wave communication is going to be over shorter distances,” Berry said. “Instead of having a big base station that serves a large area, you might have what are called small cells, or smaller base stations that spread out over different areas.”

By tapping into the millimeter waves, 5G could bring better capacity and ultra-high speeds to wireless networks, while offering lower latency or delays, as low as 10 milliseconds round-trip, said Rod Cruz, AT&T’s general manager of healthcare industry solutions.

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Two mayoral candidates propose city public bank

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

While 12 of Chicago’s mayoral candidates addressed issues of housing, immigration, policing, among other critical issues at a packed forum, two zeroed in on an emerging but untested idea for a municipal public bank.

“We need to create a municipal bank that is from the community, for the community, which will give us low-interest loans in those [low-investment] neighborhoods to help with economic development,” said candidate Garry McCarthy, the former superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, speaking at the recent forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Born from the soda pop tax repeal, independent commission to examine Cook County revenue

By Dwight A. Weingarten
Medill Reports

Balancing your family budget often starts with taking a hard look at available income before determining the expenses you can afford.

For Cook County, a new Independent Revenue Forecasting Commission will be mapping out the county’s projected revenue starting in April in response to widespread criticism that forced repeal of the soda pop tax little more than two months after the tax took effect in 2017.

“The goal of the commission is to inform the budget process,” said Victoria Moreno, director of legislation for former commissioner Jesús G. “Chuy” García, who was the chief sponsor of the revenue forecasting ordinance. Continue reading

Cleantech innovations in the Midwest need more venture capital money

By Cyan Zhong
Medill Reports

Though still an industrial metropolis, Chicago is actively becoming a clean energy innovation hub for microgrids, electric cars and next generation battery research.

But the startup momentum in the energy sector isn’t matched with enough venture capital enthusiasm.

“There are great founders working hard on great new inventions and new technologies, and there’s simply a lack of capital here,” said Ben Gaddy, chief technology officer at Clean Energy Trust, a not-for-profit providing venture capital for early-stage cleantech startups in the Midwest.

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Tracked and hacked: Why every internet user should care about cybersecurity and digital privacy

By Tyler Sonnemaker
Medill Reports

Consider all the digital devices you use. Smartphones and tablets. Smart TVs and speakers. Wi-Fi routers and cable boxes. Wearable technology and health trackers. Video game systems. Wireless connections to printers, refrigerators, thermostats, home security systems and other smart appliances. Even cars with onboard computers.

If it’s connected to a network  – and sometimes even if it’s not – your device can be hacked or monitored by anyone from advertisers to criminals to governments. The more devices you use, the more you’re at risk. And once data is collected or intercepted by a third party — whether or not you volunteered it — it can be used against you and you likely won’t be able to do much about it.

Concerned yet? If not, try entering your email into HaveIBeenPwned, a free service created by Microsoft Regional Director and security researcher Troy Hunt to assess whether your online accounts have been compromised. Just last week, Hunt added a collection of nearly 773 million unique email accounts exposed through breaches. By this point, most people have heard about — or been affected by — high-profile data breaches, cyber-attacks, or unwanted data collection. In the past few years, Facebook, Google, Uber, Equifax, Yahoo, Adult Friend Finder, Target, Under Armor and eBay had breaches involving tens and even hundreds of millions of accounts. People also voluntarily offer information without fully knowing what’s being collected or how it’s being used (think Google searches, location data, or car and home loans).

These products and services often offer us extreme convenience in exchange for our information.  In comparison, changing our cybersecurity practices may seem too inconvenient or confusing. And people might think they don’t have any data worth protecting.

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Evanston Adopts Climate Action and Resiliency Plan

Aaron Dorman
Medill Reports

Evanston  became the first Chicago-area city in almost a decade to adopt a formal climate action plan with an effective transition to renewable energy and resiliency to climate change.

The Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, approved unanimously by the City Council last week, calls for the city to meet 100 percent of electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, to reduce waste by 75 percent by 2035, and to reduce vehicle miles that cars travel in town by 35 percent that same year.

The plan was the culmination of over a year’s worth of discussion and coordination between the city government and the working group of 17 local residents who had been tasked with putting the document together. Kumar Jensen, Evanston’s sustainability coordinator, helped serve as liaison between them and the municipal government.

The plan passed the Human Services Committee 5-0 the week before.

“From our residents, to our businesses, to our schools and hospitals, Evanston is united in its efforts to mitigate the far-reaching effects of climate change through bold and immediate action,” said Mayor Stephen Hagerty in a press release. “While Evanston will likely undergo many changes on the way to 2050, this plan ensures that our longstanding commitment to climate action will remain.”

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