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[OC] Which front offices and agents are the 3 major newsbreakers connected to? I went through 6000+ tweets to find out!
If this sounds somewhat familiar, that's because I did a 2019-2020 version and posted it back in March. In terms of changes from that post:
I've expanded the timeline to tweets from September 27, 2018. This is the first official day where each of Shams, Woj and Haynes were at their own respective companies. Shams moved to the Athletic from Yahoo in August, and Haynes moved from ESPN to Yahoo in September.
I've also expanded the criteria on when a tweet could possibly be linked to an agent
TL;DR Tracked tweetsof Woj, Shams and Haynes from 2018-2020 to see whether any of them report on a certain team or a certain agent's players more than their counterparts.Here is the main graphconcerning a reporter's percentage of tweets per team separated into three periods (2019 season, 2020 offseason, 2020 season). Here is aseparate graphwith the Lakers and Warriors, because Haynes's percentages would skew the first graph. During times like the NBA trade deadline or the lifting of the NBA free-agency moratorium, it’s not uncommon to see Twitter replies to (or Reddit comments about) star reporters reference their performance relative to others. Woj is the preeminent scoop hound, but he is also notorious for writing hit pieces on LeBron (sources say it’s been widely rumoured that the reason for these is that Woj has always been unable to place a reliable source in LeBron’s camp). On the other end of the spectrum, it has been revealed that in exchange for exclusive intel on league memos and Pistons dealings, Woj wrote puff pieces on then-GM Joe Dumars (see above Kevin Draper link). Last summer, Woj was accused of being a Clippers shill on this very discussion board for noticeably driving the Kawhi Leonard free agency conversation towards the team. This is the reason I undertook this project: to see whether some reporters have more sources in certain teams (and certain agencies) than other reporters. First I’ll explain the methodology, then present the data with some initial comments.
To make this manageable on myself, I limited myself to tracking the 3 major national reporters: Shams Charania of the Athletic, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and the aforementioned Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
I didn’t use beat reporters, as most (if not all) of their sources would be concentrated on their local team
Others that I considered but ultimately decided not to track:
Brian Windhorst of ESPN (double-dipping in ESPN)
Zach Lowe of ESPN (I consider him more of an analyst)
Marc Spears of ESPN (harder to sift through Twitter feeds, as he posts a lot more unrelated/non-news-breaking content)
Marc Stein of the New York Times (same as Spears)
Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer (same as Lowe)
The time period I initially tracked for was from January 1, 2020 to the end of the regular season March, but after finding a Twitter scraping tool on GitHub called Twint, I was able to easily retrieve all tweets since September 27, 2018. However, a month ago, Twitter closed their old API endpoints, and Twint ceased to work. I used vicinitas.io but the data loading became more time-consuming. Therefore, the tweets are up to the date of October 15 2020. How I determined information was by manually parsing text tweets by the reporter (no retweets):
This means I did not include images or multimedia appearances such as television, radio or podcasts. The rationale for this is that I simply don’t have the time to listen/watch and record all the instances of providing information through sources on these mediums.
Now, I didn’t take every single text tweet:
I didn’t include direct statements, be they from players or front office folks
I separated them, along with podcast guests in another tab
I didn’t include the summary tweet that Woj & Shams love to do: “Story filed to/Story on [employer]:..” because it doesn’t add anything apart from a link to a story (also, I personally don’t want to be called an ESPN/Yahoo/Athletic shill)
If the tweet added a reporter’s own analysis to someone else’s tweet, it was not included
If it was new information, the tweet was retained
Tweets that related solely to retired players were not included: mainly Haynes reporting Dwyane Wade joining CAA, as well as the unfortunate passing of Kobe Bryant on January 26
I grouped multiple tweets about the same subject delivered around the same time frame (such as trades) into one, as doing otherwise would arbitrarily inflate totals
There’s no hard and fast rule for whether or not to group tweets
For example, the big 4-team trade that created the Pocket Rockets was grouped in full
On the other hand, the Miami-Memphis trade was split up because the full details came like a day later
Sometimes, I used my judgment to determine whether a tweet’s underlying information would have come from a source, and therefore whether I should include that tweet or not
For example, consider the All-Star tweets: Haynes and Shams both posted the All-Star starters, but looking at the time signatures led me to believe that this was simply relaying the information from the TNT reveal
On the other hand, both Shams and Haynes posted tweets disclosing the All-Star Reserves before the TNT reveal
Next, I had to assign possible teams to each tweet:
Items such as changes to the league calendar, the naming of All-Star Reserves and salary cap projections were immediately attached to an NBA source
Injuries and trades were fairly straightforward, assigning these tweets to the participating teams
Items such as league mandated fines/suspensions, invitations to All-Star competitions and game protests were credited to both a general NBA source, as well as the related team(s)
Direct sources from agents or mentions of specific agents were attributed as a catch-all “Agent”
In the former, team was not included: examples include Matisse Thybulle’s agent on not being selected for the Rising Stars Game or Royce O’Neale’s agents confirming his contract extension with the Jazz
In the latter, team was included: examples include two Knicks switching their agent to Rich Paul
New addition: anything related to a player's status with a team were also attributed to agents (qualifying offers, extensions, option decisions, waivers, and contracts/deals)
I then found which agents correspond to which players (big shoutout to realgm.com and the Wayback Machine)
Rumours were slightly more difficult
As we know very well, league sources is an exceedingly vague term
Instead of attempting to pinpoint a rival executive with a motive to make a comment, I took the “Occam’s Razor” approach and assumed that the teams involved had someone talk to the reporter
When it was impossible to even determine a participant team, it was the general “NBA” source to the rescue
Chris Haynes has the highest percentage of tweets relating to the Detroit Pistons in all three periods. He also reports on far more Portland news than Shams or Woj.
Shams' Brooklyn edge is evident. The Athletic was also the outlet that Kevin Durant felt comfortable talking to about his positive coronavirus test. As well, Shams reported on Spencer Dinwiddie's quest to tokenize his contract (similar to bitcoin).
Adrian Wojnarowski has increased his percentage of tweets regarding the LA Clippers period-over-period, but so have the other two reporters.
It's surprising that Dallas's numbers are so low, considering they're a good team with an international superstar.
My hypothesis from my previous post is that Shams and Woj each have capable Mavericks deputies in the Tims (Cato and MacMahon, respectively) and decide to leave that market alone
Shams does have the highest percentage of Mavericks tweets in all three seasons however.
Now, you'll notice that there's two teams missing from the above graph: the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's the graphs for those two teams. As you can see, they would skew the previous graph far too much. During the 2019 NBA season, 27% of Chris Haynes's qualifying tweets could be possibly linked to the Warriors, and 14% of his qualifying tweets could be possibly linked to the Lakers.
Here's the top 10 agents in terms of number of potential tweets concerning their clients.
Woj has the most tweets directly connected to agents by far. It wasn't uncommon to see "Player X signs deal with Team Y, Agent Z of Agency F tells ESPN." The agents that go to Woj (and some of their top clients):
Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports (Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, Gordon Hayward)
Jeff Schwartz and Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports (Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, CJ McCollum and Kevin Love)
Steven Heumann and Austin Brown of Creative Artists Agency (Andrew Wiggins, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell and Zion Williamson)
One thing I found very intriguing: 15/16 of tweets concerning an Aaron Turner client were reported on by Shams. Turner is the head of Verus Basketball, whose clients include Terry Rozier, Victor Oladipo and Kevin Knox. Shams also reported more than 50% of news relating to clients of Sam Permut of Roc Nation. Permut is the current agent of Kyrie Irving, after Irving fired Jeff Wechsler near the beginning of the 2019 offseason. Permut also reps the Morris brothers and Trey Burke. As for Chris Haynes, he doesn't really do much agent news (at least not at the level of Woj and Shams). However, he reported more than 50% of news relating to clients of Aaron Goodwin of Goodwin Sports Management, who reps Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan. Here are the top 10 free agents from Forbes, along with their agent and who I predict will be the first/only one to break the news.
Most Likely Reporter
Too close to call, leaning Shams
Too close to call, leaning Shams
Alexander Raskovic, Jason Ranne
Limited data, but part of Wasserman, whose players are predominantly reported on by Woj
Thanks for reading! As always with this type of work, human error is not completely eliminated. If you think a tweet was mistakenly removed, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to explain my thought process on that specific tweet! Hope y’all enjoyed the research!
Bitcoin mentioned around Reddit: Ben Hayward:Barcelona used to be different? When they had the players in their academy, yes, but on three occasions they have had the world's most expensive player (Cruyff, Maradona, Ronaldo). They h /r/soccer
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Convinced my dad to accept Bitcoin at his motor cycle shop: Hayward Cycle Salvage in Hayward, CA. They buy, sell, and trade bikes, parts, and accessories both new and used as well as service motorcycles. If you're in the area stop by, or if you need any parts they will ship worldwide! www.cyclesal.com
[OC] If the regular season ended today, who would make your All-NBA 1st team? And 2nd team? And 3rd team? And 4th team? And 5th team? And 6th team? And 7th -- uh oh -- I think I lost my marbles... but let's keep going... 8th team? 9th team? 10th team?
Getting named as an NBA All-Star is a high honor, but being named to an All-NBA team is even rarer air. After all, only 15 players in the entire league earn that distinction. The fact that it's such an exclusive club makes it so important, so the idea of adding more players to the list would devalue it by nature. It'd be a silly, fruitless exercise, and a complete waste of time. That said... it sure beats "reality" right now. And in the interest of escapism, let's entertain that hypothetical. Who would make your 1st team All-NBA? Your 2nd? Your 3rd? Your 4th? The challenge is get all the way up to the 10th if you can handle that test of your sanity. For my own, I include a few caveats: --- The NBA breaks down All-NBA spots more traditionally with frontcourt and backcourt, but I find that outdated. For mine, I'm going to include 1 "lead guard," 2 "wings," 1 "big," and 1 "flex" that can be any position. To me, that's reflective of the modern game. Most teams play with 1 guard, 3 wings, and 1 big, but there are teams that use 2 lead guards, or 2 bigs, etc. --- The nature of basketball statistics tends to break down by game, or by minute, or even by play/possession. In the process, we tend to overlook players who are durable and add aggravate value over the course of a season. Personally, I'm going to factor in "games played" more than most would. --- The advanced stats I'm listing are true shooting percentage and ESPN's estimated "wins added" based on their real plus/minus metric. With all that said, let's get to the madness.
GUARD: James Harden (HOU). 34.4 points, 7.4 assists, 62 TS%, +10.4 wins added You can tell when a player has reached an historic level of greatness when no one seems to care when they're averaging over 34 points per game (on awesome efficiency.) Ho hum. WING: LeBron James (LAL). 25.7 points, 10.6 assists, 58 TS%, +11.0 wins added After last year's disappointment, LeBron James has come back leaner and meaner, with much better effort on D. He hasn't been attacking the paint and drawing fouls quite as well as he did in his youth, but he's adjusted his playing style and racked up a career high in assists. WING: Giannis Antetounkmpo (MIL). 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 61 TS%, +11.2 wins added The Greek Freak's struggles at the free throw line (down to 63%) have lowered his efficiency from last year, but he's still clearly in contention for another MVP season. His point total nearly matches his minutes (30.9). BIG: Nikola Jokic (DEN). 20.2 points, 6.9 assists, 60 TS%, +6.0 wins added The Joker LOOKS like he should be a complete liability on defense, but the stats haven't born that out (he's +1.8 on that end in RPM.) And given that, his transcendent passing ability assists (get it???) his 1st team candidacy. FLEX: Anthony Davis (LAL). 26.7 points, 2.4 blocks, 61 TS%, +5.2 wins added The Lakers have vaulted into the top 3 in defense, largely due to Anthony Davis' ability to wreak havoc on that end. And keep in mind, he's leading his team in PPG as well.
GUARD: Damian Lillard (POR). 28.9 points, 7.8 assists, 62 TS%, +4.9 wins added If it wasn't for Steph Curry and James Harden, Dame would be looking at a lot more first-team All-NBA seasons. This hasn't been Portland's best by any stretch, but it's hard to fault him for that. WING: Luka Doncic (DAL). 28.7 points, 8.7 assists, 58 TS%, +5.9 wins added No doubt, Luka Doncic is our toughest exclusion from the 1st team and the one I figure will be the most unpopular pick (so far.) The reason he slipped off the 1st team for me is the injury; he's played 10 less games than Nikola Jokic. WING: Kawhi Leonard (LAC). 26.9 points, 5.0 assists, 59 TS%, +5.7 wins added Similarly, it's always going to be tough for me to justify Kawhi on a 1st team as long as he takes off games (he's missed 13/64 so far.) Still, he should be rested and ready to go for another title campaign. BIG: Rudy Gobert (UTA). 15.1 points, 13.7 rebounds, 70 TS%, +4.5 wins added I wonder if Rudy Gobert's coronavirus issues will hurt him in media votes in the future. Personally, I'm just going to keep rewarding him and recognizing him as one of the most impactful players in the league. FLEX: Jimmy Butler (MIA). 20.2 points, 6.1 assists, 58 TS%, +4.1 wins added Jimmy Butler's struggled to score from the field this year, but his ability to draw contact and get to the line (9.1 FTA) keeps his efficiency above average. And therein, his passing and defense help boost him into this range.
GUARD: Chris Paul (OKC). 17.7 points, 6.8 assists, 61 TS%, +5.5 wins added An incredible year all around for CP3, who has turned 35 years old this month. WING: Jayson Tatum (BOS). 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 56 TS%, +4.6 wins added We all know him as a deadly scorer, but Jayson Tatum's added strength has helped him hang at the 4 spot on defense, which is a boon for the Celtics' small-ball/wing-ball approach. WING: Khris Middleton (MIL). 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 62 TS%, +3.7 wins added Giannis is the engine that drives the Bucks, but having shooters like Middleton around him is key. BIG: Pascal Siakam (TOR). 23.6 points, 3.6 assists, 56 TS%, +4.8 wins added Without Kawhi Leonard soaking up attention, Pascal Siakam's not getting as many easy baskets (his 2-point FG% has dropped from 60.2% to 50.6%.) Still, he's a hugely valuable player on both ends of the floor. Is he a true “big?” No. But I think that term is broad enough to extend past centers and can include PFs as well for our purposes. FLEX: Russell Westbrook (HOU). 27.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 54 TS%, +6.0 wins added I've never been a big Westbrook fan, but I give him credit for keeping his activity level and productivity up in a new role. He's gotten better and better as the season has gone on as well.
GUARD: Ben Simmons (PHI). 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 61 TS%, +4.2 wins added Shooting? Still a problem. But fortunately, Ben Simmons does virtually everything else well. He can also step up his game when needed (like when Embiid is out.) WING: Donovan Mitchell (UTA). 24.2 points, 4.2 assists, 56 TS%, +2.1 wins added I don't know if Donovan Mitchell is truly any better than any high-scoring SGs like Devin Booker or Zach LaVine, but we have to reward him from being on a winner. WING: Brandon Ingram (NO). 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 59 TS%, +2.4 wins added A candidate for Most Improved, Brandon Ingram helped carry his team early in the season. He'll still have to figure out his chemistry with Zion Williamson, but it's safe to say he made himself a lot of money this year. BIG: Bam Adebayo (MIA). 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 61 TS%, +3.1 wins added Bam's ability to move the ball on offense (5+ assists) and move his feet on defense is key to the team. The scary part is: he may have another level to his game to reach. FLEX: Devin Booker (PHX). 26.1 points, 6.6 assists, 62 TS%, +3.5 wins added It's getting hard to blame Devin Booker for Phoenix's W-L record. He's just a flat-out stud scorer.
GUARD: Trae Young (ATL). 29.6 points, 9.3 assists, 60 TS%, +3.2 wins added Like Devin Booker, Trae Young is an offensive savant. Unfortunately, his defense is even more of an issue. He graded at -3.1 in RPM on that end, one of the worst in the entire NBA. WING: Bradley Beal (WAS). 30.5 points, 6.1 assists, 58 TS%, +1.8 wins added You expect Trae Young to be bad at defense, but Bradley Beal has graded surprisingly bad there as well (-2.8 RPM.) Of course, starting alongside Isaiah Thomas doesn't make that easy. Nevertheless, we had to downgrade him a few spots for the inconsistent effort there. WING: Jaylen Brown (BOS). 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 59 TS%, +3.3 wins added Coming out of Cal, some scouts questions Jaylen Brown's feel for the game. Right now, it's hard to find many things that he doesn't do well. BIG: Joel Embiid (PHI). 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 59 TS%, +2.8 wins added Embiid would rank higher at full strength, but he's missed about 1/3 of the season so far. FLEX: Kyle Lowry (TOR). 19.7 points, 7.7 assists, 59 TS%, +3.2 wins added Now age 34, Kyle Lowry continues to play very well on both ends. He's the little engine that could -- or perhaps more appropriately, the caboose.
GUARD: Eric Bledsoe (MIL). 15.4 points, 5.4 assists, 58 TS%, +2.9 wins added Eric Bledsoe gets more flak than credit, but he's still one of the best players on the best team in the league. WING: Zach LaVine (CHI). 25.5 points, 4.2 assists, 57 TS%, +4.3 wins added If the Bulls had a better record, Zach LaVine could have been a few spots higher. His defense isn't quite as bad as advertised either. WING: C.J. McCollum (POR). 22.5 points, 4.3 assists, 54 TS%, +3.7 wins added This must be the "all flak" team, because C.J. McCollum also gets blamed a lot for Portland's struggles to get over the hump. To me, Dame+CJ isn't the problem; the complete mess at the SF-PF position is to blame. BIG: Domatas Sabonis (IND). 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds, 59 TS%, +1.5 wins added Arvydas' kid also has some baby Joker to his game, as his 5.0 assists are a huge part of Indiana's offense. FLEX: Paul George (LAC). 21.0 points, 3.9 assists, 58 TS%, +2.5 wins added Again, I'm factoring in games played more than most, and Paul George (42 GP) has missed quite a bit of time.
GUARD: Kemba Walker (BOS). 21.2 points, 4.9 assists, 57 TS%, +2.5 wins added Kemba Walker doesn't have the same workload in Boston as he did in Charlotte, and the stats reflect that. Still, he's safely one of the top 10 PGs in the league. WING: Bojan Bogdanovic (UTA). 20.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 60 TS%, +2.6 wins added Here we're talking BOJAN (from Utah) and not BOGDAN (from Sacramento), although they're both good. Bogey's delivered on the three-point shooting for Utah, hitting 41.4% on 7+ attempts a game. WING: Danilo Gallinari (OKC). 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 61 TS%, +2.8 wins added Perpetually underrated, it may be time we stop acting shocked when Gallo's teams (LAC last year, OKC this year) are better than people expect. BIG: Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN). 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 64 TS%, +2.7 wins added KAT was among the hardest to rank for me. Offensively, he's historically great -- arguably the best shooting center of all time. The defense is an issue, of course, and the workload is what doomed him on my list. His 35 games played is our lowest total so far. FLEX: Jrue Holiday (NO). 19.6 points, 6.9 assists, 54 TS%, +3.5 wins added It's fitting that Jrue Holiday is listed at "flex," because he's gone from a pure point guard to a jack of all trades.
GUARD: Ja Morant (MEM). 17.6 points, 6.9 assists, 57 TS%, +1.6 wins added As the lead guard of a team, you expect Ja Morant to put up good raw stats. However, his efficiency and steadiness is remarkable for a rookie making the leap from Murray State. He also gets a boost for leading Memphis into playoff position (for now, until the NBA decides to snatch that away.) WING: Evan Fournier (ORL). 18.8 points, 3.2 assists, 60 TS%, +2.1 wins added Quietly, Evan Fournier is having a good season for Orlando. If you don't believe me, google it. WING: Robert Covington (HOU). 12.8 points, 1.5 steals, 57 TS%, +2.8 wins added Every team would love to have a low-usage 3+D forward like RoCo. Except for Philly and Minnesota, I guess. BIG: Hassan Whiteside (POR). 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, 64 TS%, +2.1 wins added This may be a controversial pick because Whiteside has become a punching bag for fans, but he may have made the rare transition from underrated to overrated (and overpaid) and back to underrated again. FLEX: Tobias Harris (PHI). 19.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 56 TS%, +2.1 wins added Speaking of overpaid... Tobias Harris hasn't lived up to his giant contract yet, but he's undoubtedly a good starter to have on your team.
GUARD: Spencer Dinwiddie (TOR). 20.6 points, 6.8 assists, 54 TS%, +3.0 wins added Nothing raises your bitcoin valuation more than that sweet, sweet All-NBA 9th team trophy. WING: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC). 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 57 TS%, +2.1 wins added Like Jrue Holiday, SGA is a point who can play "up" a position. In fact, he’s been working effectively at both SG and SF this year, as illustrated by that nice rebounding rate. WING: Duncan Robinson (MIA). 13.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 68 TS%, +3.0 wins added This may be high for a one-trick pony, but that trick happens to be quite a valuable one. The unknown Robinson is hitting 44.8% of his threes (at 8.4 attempts per game.) He's a huge part of Miami's offensive gameplan. BIG: Kristaps Porzingis (DAL). 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 54 TS%, +3.9 wins added Too high? Too low? I can't figure out Porzingis' season in Dallas so far. Still, any big who can block shots and hit threes has an inherent value. FLEX: Dennis Schroder (OKC). 19.0 points, 4.1 assists, 57 TS%, +5.4 wins added Perhaps the biggest surprise to OKC's success this season has been a career year for Dennis Schroder off the bench. He's even played well when paired with CP3 and SGA in the same lineup. The stats suggest that Schroder should rank even higher than this, but I'm still trying to wrap my mind around him becoming such an efficient player all of a sudden.
GUARD: Lou Williams (LAC). 18.7 points, 5.7 assists, 55 TS%, +3.6 wins added Sweet Lou has a little less to do now that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are in town, but he's still one of the best scorers off the bench. WING: Buddy Hield (SAC). 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 57 TS%, +3.0 wins added A NEW addition to the "scorer off the bench club," Buddy Hield deserves kudos for accepting that role as the Kings try to find a spark. He hasn't been as red-hot as he had been last season, but he's still one of the best SGs in the league. WING: Gordon Hayward (BOS). 17.3 points, 4.1 assists, 59 TS%, +1.9 wins added Gordon Hayward has quietly been working his way back into top form, with his ball movement and BBIQ two real feathers in his cap. He's dinged a few spots here based on missed time (he's only played 45 games.) BIG: Montrezl Harrell (LAC). 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 61 TS%, +3.6 wins added Fittingly, Montrezl Harrell will join Lou Williams' team here. It'll be interesting to see whether Doc Rivers rolls with the two of them in crunch time during the playoffs. FLEX: Nikola Vucevic (ORL): 19.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 54 TS%, +2.0 wins added It's debatable how valuable Vucevic's 20-10 seasons are because he's not a good defender and he's not a terribly efficient scorer. That said, I'm giving him credit for a high degree of difficulty here as the go-to scorer on a team that doesn't have a lot of weapons offensively.
just missed the cut
If you'd like to sub in any other players, here are some notable names: PG FredVanVleet (TOR), PG Devonte' Graham (CHA), PG Malcolm Brogdon (IND), PG Jamal Murray, PG Lonzo Ball, PG De'Aaron Fox (SAC), PG/SG Marcus Smart (BOS), PG/SG Kendrick Nunn (MIA), SF Joe Ingles (UTA), SF Will Barton (DEN), SF DeMar DeRozan (SA), SF/PF Davis Bertans (WAS), SF/PF Aaron Gordon (ORL), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (SA), C Myles Turner (IND), C Steven Adams (OKC), C Andre Drummond (CLE), C Jarrett Allen (BKN), C Derrick Favors (NO), C Jonas Valanciunas (MEM), C Brook Lopez (MIL). And of course, we need an obligatory Zion Williamson (NO) mention, although his 19 games played is a tough hurdle to overcome.
[ Bitcoin ] Since Creation, Holding Bitcoin has been Profitable
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[ Bitcoin ] "Bitcoin Is a Digital Gold" while XRP is a bridge currency solution for Fiat-to-Fiat transfers.
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Ransomware Crushes Another Manufacturing Industry Target
Another of the world’s major manufacturers was laid low recently by a ransomware attack. Production at ASCO, the giant Belgian airplane parts maker, has been halted for over a week with no end in sight. Nearly 1,000 employees have been sent home on paid leave while the company struggles to restore critical systems frozen by the malware assault. Unfortunately, the fate of ASCO has been shared by many organizations that are ill-prepared to combat the world’s deadliest malware threat. The incident reflects a number of major trends in the ongoing struggle between cybercriminals and their targets in the public and private sector.
Ransomware remains the top threat
Ransomware remains among the most popular and pervasive malware variants out there, as noted by numerous tech security research studies like the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2019. Usually introduced behind a company’s defenses when an unsuspecting user clicks on a malicious link or attachment in a phishing email, ransomware surreptitiously encrypts every file on the target system before presenting a note demanding payment for the key to unlock them. Many ransomware strains are capable of then spreading across the network to infect other systems, including backup servers, increasing the requested payout and reducing the target’s ability to recover from the attack.
The threat of lost production time
Manufacturing has become a popular target with ransomware gangsters. The high costs incurred when production lines come to a halt (estimated at $22,000/hour in a recent Ponemon study) puts great pressure on victims to pay up quickly to get back in operation. And the costs, between downtime, mop-up, contractual payouts, and stock price dents, can be huge. Some of the manufacturing sector’s high-profile ransomware victims include pharma giant Merck (reported losses: $870 million); American chemical maker Hexion; global automakers Nissan and Renault; American food and beverage producer Mondelez ($188 million); Taiwanese semiconductor maker TSMC ($250 million); Norsk Hydro ($52 million and counting), the Norwegian aluminum producer and manufacturer; C.E. Niehoff, an American auto-parts maker; and Hayward Tyler, the British maker of electric motors and pumps. The list goes on and on, with new victims being added daily. The downtime inflicted by a ransomware attack may be extended by one or more factors. Firstly, in many cases, the victims do not have complete, recent backups that have survived the attack. Secondly, law enforcement authorities generally advise victims not to pay the ransom, as the promised remedy either does not materialize or does not work more than half the time, leaving the victim to struggle with complex, manual recovery efforts.
Easy to get started
The continued success of ransomware as an extortion tactic in part derives from how easy it is to use. A criminal with almost no tech skills can shop for and lease a variety of ransomware products on the Dark Web and then quickly and cheaply start distributing them via phishing emails and other tactics. These ransomware-as-a-service offerings include features like 24/7 online chat to help victims source Bitcoin to pay the ransom, access to payment services, and consoles to help the criminal distributors to monitor their operations’ progress and profits.
New strains outwit old solutions
Traditional anti-malware measures like signature-based anti-virus solutions are struggling to keep up with the ransomware crime wave. The speed and frequency with which ransomware developers are churning out new variants essentially make most of them zero-day threats for which AV scanners have no matching fingerprints. Catching these freshly-minted ransomware iterations requires countermeasures that are capable of identifying and stopping malicious processes by their behavior, not a signature match. Machine learning and artificial intelligence have proven to be helpful new technologies on this particular front, making endpoint defenses more agile and adaptive in their identification and responses to new ransomware variants.
Expanding ransomware’s reach
Cybercriminals can be expected to continue using ransomware to assault a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, and government, where downtime can inflict high costs in profits, stock prices, human life, or political reputations. The crooks have shifted their attention from consumers to bigger, fatter fish: companies and institutions with money on hand and intense pressure to recover quickly.
Stopping ransomware before it starts
The good news is Acronis has been defending its customers for over three years against ransomware attacks like the one that crippled ASCO by helping them balance the Five Vectors of Cyber Protection. Also known by their acronym SAPAS, focusing on these five vectors means Acronis’ solutions ensure the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity and the security of data. The need to deliver security is why Acronis integrates the industry’s first AI-powered anti-malware defense into its backup solutions, such as the enterprise-grade Acronis Backup, used by businesses and government institutions, as well as its personal product, Acronis True Image. Known as Acronis Active Protection, it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically detect, terminate, and repair the damage from both known and zero-day ransomware variants, including 400,000 ransomware attacks last year.
Additional steps to prevent infection
While investing in an easy to use, effective and secure cyber protection solution goes a long way in countering the threat of ransomware, there are other steps you can take to fend off attacks. One of the simplest steps is to regular patch your operating systems and applications to make sure any known vulnerabilities are closed. Another straightforward measure is to frequently back up all your systems to multiple locations and different types of storage. That way you’ll know you have a safe, reliable copy that can be used to restore your system if an attack is ever successful.
If you’d like to keep your organization out of the headlines, learn how a SAPAS-based approach to cyber protection can shield you from ransomware and other modern-day malware threats. Consider a complimentary trial of Acronis Backup with Acronis Active Protection today. Original blog article is available here.
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