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Author of uPanel phishing kit arrested in Ukraine

More than 50% of all phishing attacks that targeted Australia in 2019 were carried out using uPanel, officials said.



upanel-arrest.png Image: Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs

Ukrainian police arrested a 39-year-old man last week on accusations of developing and advertising one of the most advanced and widely used phishing toolkits of the underground hacking scene.

The suspect, whose name was not released to the public, was arrested last week, on Thursday, February 4, in the Ternopil region of Ukraine, following an international investigation between law enforcement agencies in Australia, the US, and Ukraine.

Suspect identified as uPanel author

Sources familiar with the investigation told ZDNet the suspect was the author of a phishing tool named uPanel, sometimes also referred to as U-Admin.

Fred HK, an independent malware security researcher who studied the toolkit in a report last year, described uPanel as the following:

“U-Admin is a control panel for receiving logs from phishing kits, and controlling victim interaction. U-Admin is also used with injections, which are snippets of code that are injected into a victims’ browser, enabling the attacker to gather more information from their victims. […] U-Admin is not sold on its own, it is included when you purchase one of their phishing pages/injects.”


Image of the uPanel store hosted on the dark web.

Image: Fred HK

According to information shared with ZDNet by threat intelligence firm Intel 471, uPanel was sold via a dedicated website hosted on the dark web and advertised on one a popular underground cybercrime forum, where the author went by the nickname of kaktys1010.

According to early versions of the author’s ads, the uPanel kit has been available for sale since 2015, with its price ranging from $80 to $800, depending on the features buyers wanted to have included in their panels.

uPanel had more than 200 customers

In a press release from the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs last week, officials said that uPanel had more than 200 active customers based on data they obtained after seizing computers, laptops, and smartphones from the suspect’s residence.

Officials believe the uPanel phishing toolkit was used in phishing operations that caused tens of millions of US dollars in losses to financial institutions in 11 countries, such as Australia, Spain, Italy, Chile, the Netherlands, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Germany, the US, and the UK.

Australian law enforcement said that more than 50% of all phishing attacks that targeted Australian users in 2019 were carried out using uPanel.

Investigators said the suspect didn’t just create the phishing kit and advertised but also spent a great deal of time and effort in providing tech support to its customers.

A video released by Ukrainian officials with footage from the suspect’s arrest is available below:

“U-Admin is a control panel for receiving logs from phishing kits, and controlling victim interaction. U-Admin is also used with injections, which are snippets of code that are injected into a victims’ browser, enabling the attacker to gather more information from their victims. […] U-Admin is not sold on its own, it is included when you purchase one of their phishing pages/injects.”



The biggest investment in database history, the biggest social network ever, and other graph stories from Neo4j

A $325 million Series F funding round, bringing Neo4j’s valuation to over $2 billion. A social network of 3 billion people, distributed across 1000 servers. The latter is a demo; the former is not. But both are real signs that the graph market and Neo4j are getting huge.



If you’re into the market and investment side of things, how does a Series F funding round as part of a $325 million investment led by Eurazeo and GV (formerly Google Ventures), bringing Neo4j’s valuation to over $2 billion sound? Pretty impressive, probably.

If you’re into the technology and applications side of things, how does a Neo4j demo of a social network application with 3 billion people, running queries designed to test the limits of graph query languages and databases across a 1000 node cluster sound? Equally impressive, probably.

Graph database vendor Neo4j CEO and co-founder Emil Eifrem is announcing the funding and showcasing the demo today at the company’s annual virtual conference NODES.

We caught up with Eifrem to get a taste of things to come.

Market affirmation: The biggest investment in database history

Truth be told, we were not entirely surprised to learn about Neo4j’s funding round. We’ve been keeping an eye on all things graph and covered recent funding rounds by TigerGraph and Katana Graph. Upstart Katana Graph scored a $28.5 million Series A, and TigerGraph scored a $105 million Series C, having exited stealth in 2017.

Neo4j is a graph database vendor founded in 2007, claiming to have popularized the term “graph database” and to be the leader in the graph database category. Its last funding round was $80 Million in Series E in 2018. With the competition beefing up their reserves, we were wondering whether Neo4j would follow suit.

Eifrem noted that while 2020 was broadly speaking a very bad year for obvious reasons, it was, in contrast, a very good year for Neo4j’s business. It all comes down to the world becoming increasingly interconnected and increasingly digital, something which Eifrem referred to as “the wind behind our back”.

That means, Eifrem added that Neo4j had lots of money in the bank and burning very little. So the funding was not really needed. It was a bit opportunistic, based on multiples in the market and the fact that there’s a lot of fundraising going on with very rich valuations. Sometimes as an entrepreneur, you have to be opportunistic, Eifrem noted. Eifrem believes there is a fundamental shift underway in databases.


Neo4j announces $325 million Series F investment, the largest in database history


As opposed to 20 years ago, when there was just a handful of relational databases to choose from, today, we might go as far as to say there is too much choice. Databases are the biggest segment of the enterprise software market, currently estimated at around $50 billion and projected to grow to $100 billion in the coming years. After a long period of stagnation in terms of database innovation, NoSQL databases opened the gates around a decade ago.

Today we also have time-series databases, NewSQL, and all sorts of exotic options. What’s going to happen over the next three to five years, Eifrem predicts, is that a few generational database companies are going to be crowned. Graph databases and Neo4j are a significant part of that future data landscape, and today’s funding round is a testament to this, Eifrem went on to add. Neo4j notes that this is the largest investment in a private database company up to date.

We could not help but notice that GV also participates in the round. Although GV makes its own decisions and has its own agenda, it’s still part of Alphabet – the mother company of Google. Unlike Amazon with AWS Neptune and Microsoft, which has Cosmos DB, Google does not have a horse in the graph database race. This, and the fact that Neo4j has a partnership with Google that Eifrem mentioned is going very well, could not possibly have hurt.

GV General Partners Erik Nordlander and Tom Hulme welcomed Neo4j to the GV portfolio. Existing investors One Peak Partners (an investor since 2018), Creandum (an investor since 2014), and Greenbridge Partners (an investor since 2016), as well as new investors DTCP (formerly Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners) and Lightrock, also participated. In addition, Nathalie Kornhoff-Brüls, a Managing Director in the growth team of Eurazeo, has been appointed to the Neo4j Board of Directors.

Developers, developers, developers: The biggest social network ever

For many years, we’ve kept an eye on Neo4j; it’s the first time the company refers to a valuation number, pegging it at $2 billion currently. When discussing this with Eifrem, he mentioned this could be seen as a proxy for the prospects of the graph market segment at large.

According to Gartner, by 2025, graph technologies will be used in 80% of data and analytics innovations, up from 10% in 2021, facilitating rapid decision making across the enterprise. Other emerging leaders in the database market, Eifrem went on to add, have a strong developer play but not much of a data scientist play.

Where Neo4j differs, according to Eifrem, is they are building their data scientist play, and they are doing it on graph-based data science. Indeed, this is an area Neo4j has been investing in. In addition, Neo4j has been expanding its offering to address data scientists, leveraging the fact that graphs have unique advantages to offer to data scientists, too. For example, graph-based machine learning models can leverage more information than others and see rapid growth.

Graph-based data science and machine learning is a topic in and of its own. However, it’s also one of the key areas of investment for Neo4j going forward. Continued investment in the cloud offering, market reach, and developer experience is the other key areas for Neo4j. In addition, the company is partnering with systems integrators and expanding in the APAC area.

Eifrem often attributes Neo4j’s success to the emphasis on developer experience. Case in point, NODES — Neo4j Online Developer Expo & Summit — which Neo4j has been organizing since 2019, aimed specifically at developers. Neo4j pays attention to its messaging for developers, and Eifrem’s keynote at NODES today is no exception.


Neo4j 4.0 introduced Fabric, its solution for horizontal scalability via sharding and federation. A demo to showcases real-time query performance against a graph with over 200 billion nodes and more than a trillion relationships, running on over 1000 thousand machines. Image: Neo4j


Historically, one of the main criticisms on Neo4j has been on its distribution model, which critics argue leads to suboptimal scalability for large graphs. In 2020, Neo4j 4.0 introduced Fabric, its solution for horizontal scalability via sharding and federation. In addition, Eifrem’s NODES 2021 keynote includes a demo to show real-time query performance against a graph with over 200 billion nodes and more than a trillion relationships running on over 1000 machines.

To put it into perspective, Neo4j notes, a graph of a trillion relationships could house a social graph detailing how every person on the planet is connected. Eifrem mentioned that the demo is based on the LDBC Social Network Benchmark. LDBC is a cross-industry initiative working on defining and executing benchmarks for graph database technologies.

Eifrem also mentioned that the setup and configuration of the demo would be made available on GitHub for anyone wishing to replicate this. Not that it will be very easy to do this at the scale Neo4j executed. Just generating the dataset takes considerable expertise and resources. As for running it, securing 1000 servers from AWS was not easy, and it cost over $96k per day. It took lots of effort by the engineering team, who put it together in under one month.

The idea, however, is to make things easier for developers, at least when they’re not running something as demanding. In that direction, Neo4j is also announcing a free tier for Aura, its managed database cloud service. Developers can sign up for free, get up and running at the free tier forever, and start building applications or play around Neo4j at zero cost, Eifrem said.

Making it easy to onboard and then scale up as needed sounds like the way to go. Both investors and developers seem to appreciate this.


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SSD market to reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025: IDC

The IDC is predicting that SSD unit shipments will increase with a CAGR of 7.8% in coming years.



The International Data Corporation is expecting an increase in worldwide solid state drive (SSD) revenue and shipments over the next four years, according to a newly published forecast of the market.

The IDC said SSD unit shipments are expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8% and revenues are slated to increase at a CAGR of 9.2% from now until 2025. The market will reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025, according to IDC.

IDC also predicted that SSD capacity shipments worldwide will expand further at a 2020–2025 CAGR of 33.0%.

Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC, explained that the worldwide demand for SSDs has increased because the pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation.

The steep increases are driven by growing demands for storage that expanded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as millions increasingly worked and schooled from home, using their own devices in many instances.

Demand for PCs has skyrocketed and the IDC said higher SSD demand is also reflected in the enterprise market, where companies are making investments in both cloud and traditional IT.

“IDC believes that most of the long-term trends remain intact, enabling broader SSD adoption over the forecast period, and worldwide SSD units and capacity shipped are higher than the prior forecast thanks to increasing demand from client devices, enterprise storage customers, and cloud service providers,” Janukowicz said.

The IDC added that there have been some key developments in the SSD market globally, including:

  • The pricing of SSDs is still volatile and elevated because of the increased demand.

  • Technological advancements, like NAND flash, will emerge in the next few years and “will continue to enable more cost-effective solutions helping to further increase demand for SSDs.”

  • Client SSDs are in higher demand because of permanent moves toward remote work and remote schooling.

  • Demand for SSDs among cloud and traditional IT market segments has continued to hold strong.

  • IDC believes lower prices will help “drive demand elasticity and system optimization around flash.”

The report also predicts similar growth in the HDD industry because of how COVID-19 has affected the markets for enterprise storage systems, PCs, personal and entry-level storage devices, video surveillance systems, and consumer electronics products. Worldwide HDD industry petabyte shipments are slated to see a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% through 2025, according to IDC.

Edward Burns, research director for IDC, noted that the client HDD market has had a long-term secular decline due to rising SSD attach rates. But the COVID-19 pandemic has over the near term increased the demand for certain types of HDDs, particularly mobile HDDs as well as capacity-optimized HDDs, Burns added.

The steep increases are driven by growing demands for storage that expanded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as millions increasingly worked and schooled from home, using their own devices in many instances.


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When is Prime Day 2021? Plus, best deals to expect

Amazon’s annual sale is around the corner. Here’s what you need to know, including when it is, the best deals to expect, and tips and tricks on how to master Prime Day 2021.




Prime Day is basically Amazon’s version of Black Friday.

ZDNet has detailed Amazon’s every move for years, including its insane growth and negative impact on retail as a whole. Doom and gloom aside, one of the more fun aspects of the company is its annual fire-sale event. Pitched as Amazon’s “holiday of savings,” it gives Black Friday a run for its money — while also likely making Walmart and other rivals wince with jealousy.

Here’s everything we know about Prime Day 2021 so far.

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015 by introducing a full day of sales on The company offered deep discounts on Amazon-branded products as well as tens of thousands of other items from third-party sellers. The entire event, called Prime Day, was a huge success, and so Amazon has turned it into an annual sales extravaganza.

When is Prime Day 2021?

Amazon has officially revealed Prime Day 2021 will run from Monday, June 21 to Tuesday, June 22. The company specifically said it kicks off at 12am PDT (or 3am EDT) and runs through June 22.

Keep in mind Amazon’s multi-day sales event usually happens in summer, though last year it was pushed to October. For reference, in past years, Prime Day occurred on the following dates:

  • July 15, 2015 (Wednesday): Lasted 24 hours
  • July 12, 2016 (Tuesday): Lasted 24 hours
  • July 11 (Tuesday) to July 12, 2017 (Wednesday): Lasted 30 hours
  • July 16 (Monday) to July 17, 2018 (Tuesday): Lasted 36 hours
  • July 15 (Monday) to July 16, 2019 (Tuesday): Lasted 48 hours
  • Oct. 13 (Tuesday) to Oct. 14, 2020 (Wednesday): Lasted 48 hours
  • Where will Prime Day 2021 be available?

    Prime Day is available to Prime members in the US, UK, UAE, Spain, Singapore, Netherlands, Mexico, Luxembourg, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada, Belgium, Austria, Australia, Turkey, and Brazil. Anyone can start a free 30-day Prime trial.

    What can you expect from Prime Day 2021?

    There will be thousands of deals this year — on not only Amazon’s own devices, such as the Amazon Echo, but also products across a range of categories, including business tech goodies. We anticipate deep cuts on Fire TVs, Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, and Echo devices, but you should look for Black Friday-style deals across the entire site.

    Expect some deals to last the full day, while others will be quick, limited-time deals.

    What are the best Prime Day 2021 deals?

    ZDNet plans to once again publish round-ups of all the best deals on Amazon by category, including “anti-Prime Day” deals from rival retailers. Amazon, obviously, has not yet announced any deals for Prime Day 2021. So, in lieu of that, here are some of the best deals that Amazon offered during Prime Day 2020 if you care to see what types of deals might be available again:

    Business Bargain Hunter’s top picks

    In this guide below from last year, we selected on-sale items that professionals, remote workers, and commuters might find interesting. This page will be updated for 2021, so bookmark it and check back throughout Prime Day this year.

    Early Prime Day 2021 deals

    Prime day deals start earlier and earlier every year. Once we have an official date from Amazon, we’ll begin to get some idea of when the early sales will kick-off, and we will update the page below with all those deals once they’re available.

    Can anyone shop Prime Day 2021?

    Prime Day, naturally, is aimed at Amazon Prime subscribers. The service costs $119 per year (or $12.99 per month), but students get half off and there’s a 30-day free trial. Prime gives Amazon shoppers a few distinct advantages, including free one- or two-day shipping on most items, as well as access to Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Pantry, Prime Now, etc.

    If you’ve never subscribed to Prime, you can get a free one-month trial. We recommend signing up as soon as possible in order to shop Prime Day early deals during your trial period. You can always cancel before the trial ends.

    How to find the best deals on Prime Day 2021

    Amazon Prime cardboard box delivery yellow background

    Here are our tips on how to take full advantage of Amazon’s sales event.

    Prime Day 2021 hub

    If you want to one-stop shop with all the best deals, visit the company’s Prime Day hub. It’ll have the lowest prices and sales across a range of categories. In past years, a new deal was posted every five minutes over Prime Day.

    Voice-shop with Amazon Alexa

    Amazon tends to give people a head start on deals if they voice-shop with Alexa. It did the same thing with Black Friday in the past — giving voice shoppers up to a seven-hour lead. To order something by voice, just say to your Alexa device, “Alexa, what are your deals” followed by “Alexa, add [the item] to my cart.” Alexa will confirm your order, but if you prefer, you can set up a 4-digit pin within the Alexa app to prevent unintended purchases.

    Amazon Assistant

    Amazon Assistant is a free browser plugin (for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Microsoft Edge) that lets you watch for product comparisons. It provides shortcuts to popular Amazon hubs and issues desktop notifications when deals that you’re watching go live.

    Deals of the day, Lighting deals, and Prime Early Access deals

    Amazon also has its regular “Gold Box Deals of the Day.” However, since it is Prime Day, these sales should be extra noteworthy. If Prime Day 2020 is like last year’s event, there will be new deals going live every five minutes, including “Lightning Deals”, which are limited-time and often end in minutes.

    And finally, there’s Prime Early Access deals, a type of Lightning Deal for Prime members. Amazon typically gives Prime members 30-minute early access to certain deals, though all deals are only available while supplies last. To stay on top of these different deals, use Amazon’s app, where you can view most deals 24 hours in advance and sign up for alerts.

    You can also go here to see deals you’re watching, and you can get the deals delivered to you via Amazon’s daily deals email.

    Amazon Coupons

    Did you know serves up coupons? There’s actually an entire hub on Amazon where you can find coupons for electronics, pet supplies, toys, and other items. Just go to, then click on the link at the top for “Today’s Deals,” and in the menu of categories at the top, click on “Coupons” (or use this link).

    When you find an item you want to buy, click on the “Clip this coupon” button near the price to clip the coupon. When you’re done shopping, go to your cart and check out. In the cart details, you will see the coupon amount deducted from your total.

    Price tracker and comparison tools

    If you want to check a deal’s price against what Amazon has charged in the past, try CamelCamelCamel. It’s a free Amazon price tracker that monitors millions of products and serves up their price history.

    Wikibuy is an extension for Chrome that lets you check to see if a deal is at its lowest price on the web. Another extension is Honey. It instantly informs you if any third-party sellers have the same product for a lower price. Also check out the site PriceGrabber or the extension PriceBlink, both of which let you see if an item is cheaper elsewhere.

    Check competitor sites

    Finally, be sure to check other shopping sites. Walmart, Best Buy, and other retailers have been known to roll out their own sales on Prime Day in an attempt to lure shoppers.

    Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015 by introducing a full day of sales on The company offered deep discounts on Amazon-branded products as well as tens of thousands of other items from third-party sellers. The entire event, called Prime Day, was a huge success, and so Amazon has turned it into an annual sales extravaganza.


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