Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- March 29, 2021 3 MIN READ
Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews is leaving the portfolio, replaced by Christian Porter. Photo: Karen Andrews

Welcome to Monday and the latest tech news.


Nine cyberattack

TV and newspaper empire Nine Entertainment Co has called in the federal government’s global threats intelligence organisation, the Australian Signals Directorate, after an apparent cyber attack took down its broadcasting systems on Sunday. The hack stopped the Weekend Today program going to air.

The TV side of the business said it “brought network’s news production systems around the country to a grinding halt for more than 24 hours” after TV and digital production systems went offline early on Sunday.

Nine-owned newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald reported that security experts said they’d not seen an attack of that kind in Australia before and believed it was ransomware-like attack possibly by a state-based actor.

The Australian parliament’s email system also experienced an outage over the weekend.


Andrews out, Porter in

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reshuffled his ministry today, with Industry, Science and Technology minister Karen Andrews moved to the Home Affairs portfolio after to 2.5 years in the job.

Her time in science and tech was widely praised by many in the sector, especially women in tech.


Andrews said she was proud of what’s been achieved since she came into the role in August 2018.

“COVID-19 has shown the incredible capability of Australian industry, science and technology – from our manufacturers who worked with Government to start producing essential medical supplies to the scientists who’ve played a critical role in the development of a vaccine,” she said

“I’m also incredibly proud of what we have achieved in promoting Women in STEM, including the appointment of the first Women in STEM ambassador and our Boosting Female Founders Initiative.”

Her replacement is former attorney-general Christian Porter, who is currently on medical leave after revealing he was the cabinet minister behind historical rape allegations. Porter vehemently denies the allegations made by a woman who is now deceased.

The tech and science sector’s reaction to news of their new overlord was perhaps not as enthusiastic as the PM might hope.

Innovation Australia editorial director James Riley’s op ed began: “What does it say about this government’s attitude to science and technology that the Prime Minister ‘buries’ his two most controversial Cabinet members by giving them tech-heavy portfolios, regardless of their suitability for the roles?”

Others on the tech front line had similar views.


NY Times $733k column

When New York Times columnist Kevin Roose turned his column about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into an NFT, he “thought the stunt might attract a handful of bids from curious Times readers who had spare ether, the cryptocurrency being used for the auction, burning a hole in their digital wallets”.

He was hoping to raise a few hundred dollars for charity. When we mentioned it in this column last week with about 12 hours to go, bidding sat at $US33,000. In the last 60 minutes, after more than 30 bids, the winning bid was 350 ether around US$560,000 (A$733k).

After Foundation, the site that runs the auctions, took its cut, Roose had US$500k in his bank account within an hour. The proceeds are going to The New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund.

“I’ve had some strange experiences in my career as a journalist. But nothing even remotely prepared me for the experience of watching total strangers competing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a picture of my words,” he wrote.

More here.


Healthtech’s $17m raise

Disability and aged care health management platform Lumary has raised $17 million in a round led by OneVentures, along with Salesforce Ventures and the South Australian Venture Capital fund.

The healthtech startup began in 2017 as Enrite Care and hopes to use the funds to expand overseas.


Tweet of the Day:

Thanks to SNL for this explanation of NFTs.