The earth is dying. It’s a morbid thought but it’s true. This is why many groups and individuals have been advocating for a shift to renewable energy. Apple is heeding this call with a commitment to bring its carbon footprint to net zero 10 years from now. It’s a tall task.
The idea is to become carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030. The company is already carbon neutral today for its global corporate operations.
This new commitment means that by 2030, every Apple device sold will have net zero climate impact. Naturally, Apple has a plan.
Apple is establishing an Impact Accelerator. This will focus on investing in minority-owned businesses that drive positive outcomes in its supply chain and in communities that are disproportionately affected by environmental hazards.
This accelerator is part of Apple’s recently announced US$100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. This is focused on efforts that address education, economic equality, and criminal justice reform.
The 10-year roadmap
Apple’s 10-year roadmap will lower emissions with a series of innovative actions. These are as follows.
Low carbon product design
Apple will continue to increase the use of low carbon and recycled materials in its products, innovate in product recycling, and design products to be as energy efficient as possible.
- Apple’s latest recycling innovation is a robot the company is calling “Dave.” It disassembles the Taptic Engine from iPhone to better recover key materials such as rare earth magnets and tungsten while also enabling recovery of steel, the next step following its line of “Daisy” iPhone disassembly robots.
- The company’s Material Recovery Lab in Austin, Texas is now partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to further develop engineering solutions. This lab is focused on innovative electronics recycling technology
- All iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch devices released in the past year are made with recycled content, including 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in the iPhone Taptic Engine — a first for Apple and for any smartphone.
- Apple decreased its carbon footprint by 4.3 million metric tons in 2019 through design and recycled content innovations in its products. Over the past 11 years, Apple has reduced the average energy needed for product use by 73 percent.
Expanding energy efficiency
Apple will identify new ways to lower energy use at its corporate facilities and help its supply chain make the same transition.
- Through a new partnership with Apple, the US-China Green Fund will invest $100 million in accelerated energy efficiency projects for Apple’s suppliers.
- The number of facilities participating in Apple’s Supplier Energy Efficiency Program grew to 92 in 2019; these facilities avoided over 779,000 annualized metric tons of supply chain carbon emissions.
- Last year, Apple invested in energy efficiency upgrades to over 6.4 million square feet of new and existing buildings, lowering electricity needs by nearly one-fifth and saving the company $27 million.
Apple will remain at 100 percent renewable energy for its operations — focusing on creating new projects and moving its entire supply chain to clean power.
- Apple now has commitments from over 70 suppliers to use 100 percent renewable energy for Apple production — equivalent to nearly 8 gigawatts in commitments to power the manufacturing of its products. Once completed, these commitments will avoid over 14.3 million metric tons of CO2e annually — the equivalent of taking more than 3 million cars off the road each year.
- New and completed projects in Arizona, Oregon, and Illinois bring Apple’s renewable capacity for its corporate operations to over 1 GW — equivalent to powering over 150,000 homes a year. Over 80 percent of the renewable energy that Apple sources for its facilities are now from Apple-created projects, benefiting communities and other businesses.
- Globally, Apple is launching one of the largest new solar arrays in Scandinavia, as well as two new projects providing power to under-served communities in the Philippines and Thailand.
Process and material innovations
Apple will tackle emissions through technological improvements to processes and materials needed for its products.
- Apple is supporting the development of the first-ever direct carbon-free aluminium smelting process through investments and collaboration with two of its aluminium suppliers.
- Today the company is announcing that the first batch of this low carbon aluminium is currently being used in production intended for use with the 16-inch MacBook Pro®.
- Through partnerships with its suppliers, Apple reduced emissions from fluorinated gases by more than 242,000 metric tons in 2019. Fluorinated gases are used in the manufacturing of some consumer electronics components and can contribute to global warming.
Apple is investing in forests and other nature-based solutions around the world to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Apple is announcing today a first-of-its-kind carbon solutions fund to invest in the restoration and protection of forests and natural ecosystems globally.
- In partnership with Conservation International, the company will invest in new projects, building on learnings from existing work like restoring degraded savannahs in Kenya and a vital mangrove ecosystem in Colombia. Mangroves not only protect the coasts and help support the livelihood of those communities where they grow, but they also can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land.
- Through its work with The Conservation Fund, the World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International, the company has protected and improved the management of over 1 million acres of forests and natural climate solutions in China, the US, Colombia, and Kenya.
Apple is working with governments, businesses, NGOs, and consumers around the world to make all of these possible. Check out the links below for more detailed information on these plans.
Cybersecurity threats to lookout for in 2021 and beyond
Threats to intelligent edge computing and 5G-enabled devices will increase
Researchers from Fortinet have identified several cybersecurity threats for 2021 that will greatly impact both the consumer and enterprise sector. By 2021, cybersecurity threats on intelligent edge computing and 5G-enabled devices will double as most companies continue to implement remote working schemes.
A new wave of cybersecurity threats will also arise due to advances in computing. These threats have the potential to disrupt a large number of businesses and consumers in the future. Thus, preparation and eventual mitigation are key to stemming the potential disruption by these threats.
Threats on the intelligent edge are on the rise
Intelligent edge computing is more popular than ever thanks to remote work with most employees making use of personal and interconnected devices to access the company network. However, intelligent edge computing presents new threats as cybercriminals exploit these “edges” (i.e. connected IoTs, personal devices) thanks to a decentralized approach by companies.
These threats can run the gamut from ransomware to malware. As intelligent edge computing booms, cybercriminals can specifically target edge devices with malware that could disrupt corporate networks. They can design malware that could understand usage patterns, adapt accordingly, and attack networks with little to no risk of suspicion. Moreover, sophisticated malware may spread through networks to propagate additional attack commands or disrupt more networks and devices.
Ransomware on the rise
This 2021, consumers and businesses should be more concerned with social engineering-based attacks and ransomware. One of the most common forms of social engineering-based attacks is phishing. In phishing, cybercriminals send fake emails supposedly from legitimate entities coercing users into sending their personal information. For example, a user may receive a fake bank email notice warning of impending account closure but contains malicious links instead.
These attacks may even lock users from their personal data, holding them hostage until they pay a hefty amount of cash. Ransomware attacks do just that, affecting not only consumers but also the enterprise sector. As more businesses rely on edge devices for critical operations, the potential for a future ransomware attack rises significantly posing more risks than ever before.
Human lives are also at stake with ransomware attacks that blow out of control. An example of this happened last year when several hospitals across the US were hit by a variant of the Ryuk ransomware. As a result, several hospitals have to transfer their patients to other facilities since their systems cannot perform patient monitoring and other critical operations.
Advances in crypto mining and attacks on satellite-based networks
Bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning could also open up advances in crypto mining. While not inherently bad, cybercriminals can infect consumer devices more easily and gain access to system resources. When abused, crypto mining could potentially impact any device and affect users’ experience.
Meanwhile, network operators should prepare for more advanced attacks as they become reliant on satellite-based systems. Cybercriminals could infect a satellite base station and propagate malware to connected devices. Satellite-based networks could become a conduit for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in this way.
As an example, a cybercriminal could hijack a base station and inject scripts into other devices. In turn, infected devices could run malicious commands that could disrupt the connection of other networks.
Quantum computing, preparing for present and future threats
Quantum computers are the next big thing in computing, relying on qubits instead of the traditional binary bit present in all devices today. Research in quantum computing has made significant progress over the years, with working quantum computers not too far on the horizon.
Quantum computers, however, could also pose a new problem in the future. In the future, these can break traditional encryption algorithms rendering encryption moot. Fortinet advises businesses to adapt accordingly by using the principles of crypto agility.
In the meantime, businesses can readily adapt to these threats through a careful combination of technology, people, training, and partnerships. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are also key technologies for preparing against and mitigating future cybersecurity threats. Businesses can train AI to spot attack patterns and identify threats even before they become a reality.
Partnerships are also vital in stemming the tide against cybercriminals. The enterprise sector, for example, could partner with law enforcement agencies for information sharing and dismantling of malicious networks.
Cybersecurity threats are here to stay
Connected devices have transformed society by enabling instant communication and richer user experiences. However, it also opens up new threats from cybercriminals willing to exploit and gather sensitive data.
There’s an old adage that says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same adage applies all the more in cybersecurity. Threats are here to stay, so consumers and businesses should prepare and mitigate potential impacts as much as possible. Thankfully, it is easy to stay safe and protected by following best practices.
Google completes acquisition of Fitbit despite antitrust probes
EU has approved the deal though
Fitbit is a household name in the fitness tracking segment, and Google is among the world’s most famous websites. The two giants are now closer than ever since Google has finished the acquisition of Fitbit for US$ 2.1 billion.
However, the acquisition is still under investigation from the US Department of Justice over anti-competition and anti-trust charges. The Department of Justice said, “it has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action.”
In response, Google says, “it complied with the DOJ’s extensive review for the past 14 months, and the agreed-upon waiting period expired without their objection.”
Thankfully, Google won an EU antitrust approval last month for its bid after agreeing to restrictions on using customers’ health-related data. The Fitbit deal could have potentially given Google access to a huge amount of data. But Google has agreed not to use users’ health and location data for advertising.
In a blog published this week, Google outlined how it would protect users’ data, saying its purchase was “about the devices, not the data.” Google has also agreed that Fitbit data will sit alone, virtually quarantined, away from the marketing business.
Fitbit users will be able to continue connecting to third party services. If they prefer another health app, they will still have an option to connect their Fitbit account.
Samsung boss has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison
For bribery charges four years ago
Despite its clout in the smartphone industry, Samsung certainly has one of the most controversial corporate structures out there. For years, the company’s heir apparent, Lee Jae-yong has been stuck in an endless controversy over bribery charges. Now, despite a huge public apology, the Samsung boss has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.
Almost four years ago, Lee was indicted for bribing the South Korean president’s office to facilitate his inheritance of the entirety of Samsung. At the time, Lee’s father was still alive and acting as the head of the business. He died in October 2020, leaving behind his company and a US$ 21 billion inheritance.
Lee left prison shortly pending a retrial. During the period, he issued a public apology for his charges. It wasn’t enough as the retrial found him guilty once again. This time, Lee is behind bars for two and a half years.
Though the move will surely cause a bit of disarray, Samsung is currently doing well on its own. The company recently launched the Galaxy S21 series, starting the year off with a bang. Still, the company is still finding a way to move forward without a potential head honcho waiting in the wings.
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