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A hacker espionage group is engaged in a flurry of activity in South America, largely focused on Venezuelan targets, especially the military, reports cybersecurity firm ESET.

The big picture: The group, known as Machete, isn't new, but the amount of new activity is noteworthy. ESET attribues the group to at least 50 attacks between March and May, stealing "gigabytes of information each week."

Machete has been active for at least 10 years. Its current campaign uses malware-laced documents in highly targeted phishing attacks.

The victims: Machete, as in the past, is targeting Latin America.

  • 75% of victims observed by ESET are in Venezuela, with other victims in Ecuador, Colombia and Nicaragua.
  • "More than half" of the targets are Venezuelan military groups.

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In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

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Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”