G-7 haggles over strong U.S. push to counter China’s clout | China squeezes Cambodia for its Covid app data | Putin says Russia would accept conditional handover of cyber criminals to U.S.

Follow us on Twitter. The Daily Cyber Digest focuses on the topics we work on, including cyber, critical technologies & strategic issues like foreign interference.

  • Biden, along with Johnson, Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, pushed for plans more explicitly aimed at blunting China’s influence, the U.S. official said. Biden is asking the gathering to condemn what he calls China’s use of forced labor, including the treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in the western Xinjiang region.. According to one U.S. official, Saturday’s debut session also included a discussion of how to jointly address an increase in cyber crimes and ransomware, including on whether or not ransoms should be paid. Yahoo

  • Shortly after the official announcement of the “Stop Covid-19” app’s launch, Wang Wentian, the Chinese ambassador to Phnom Penh, met with Cambodian officials and requested access to the personal data collected via the new system, according to sources familiar with the request. The Chinese envoy reportedly said the data was needed to help Beijing monitor people traveling between the two countries, though China currently maintains strict quarantine measures for incoming travelers and the two sides do not share a common border. Asia Times

  • President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would be ready to hand over cyber criminals to the United States if Washington did the same for Moscow and the two powers reached an agreement to that effect. Putin made the comments in an interview aired in excerpts on state television on Sunday ahead of a June 16 summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva. Ties between the powers are badly strained over an array of issues. Reuters

ASPI ICPC

Dan Andrews broke his back – why is there such a frenzy of conspiracy around it?
The Guardian
@arielbogle
In Facebook groups and pages – some with a following of more than 73,000 – conspiracies about Andrews’ injury have been fomenting for months. On anti-lockdown Telegram channels with thousands of members, theories veered wildly from the moment his injury was announced on 9 March – from accusing the premier of not being injured at all to more sinister coverups. Each new photo issued of Andrews was rigorously dissected for evidence.

Victoria continued to use Uighur labour firm to avoid delays on $2.4b rail project
The Age
@paulsakkal @sumeyyailanbey
Victoria’s Transport department advised the Andrews government to continue with the purchase of train parts from a Chinese supplier linked to exploited Uighur workers because it would have cost too much to find a different contractor on the $2.4 billion train project…In February last year, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank published a world-leading study that found CRRC, along with 82 companies including Nike and BMW, was benefiting from the forced labour of Uighur people. The report found KTK employed about 40 Uighur workers in 2019.

CSIRO sinks China uni deal over sub fears
The Australian
@bennpackham
The CSIRO will terminate an oceans research collaboration with Chinas top marine science institute following an ASIO warning that it could help the Chinese navy to hunt down Australian submarines…According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s China Defence Universities Tracker, the laboratory has worked closely with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Submarine Academy – which is also located in Qingdao – on defence scientific research.

Amazon’s Partnership with Chinese Genome-Sequencing Firm Raises Eyebrows
National Review
@james_t_quinn
BGI’s influence, however, extends far beyond China, as the company has a global reach. A recent update to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s initiative on Chinese technology companies shows a BGI presence across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia, encompassing all manner of agreements to boost different countries’ COVID-testing efforts. In July 2020, for example, it donated 2,000 of its COVID-testing kits to the Philippines.

Twitter avatar for @DaniellesCaveDanielle Cave @DaniellesCave
Important to read @He_Shumei & Nathan Attrill’s just published @ASPI_ICPC policy report - Mapping China's Tech Giants: Supply Chains & the Global Data Collection Ecosystem - when considering the 🌏 implications of 🇨🇳’s new data security law:
aspi.org.au/report/mapping… @ASPI_org

Bloomberg Next China @next_china

China’s top legislative body has passed a data security law, strengthening Beijing’s control over digital information https://t.co/Xoe0HgfXuC

World

Russia, U.S. and other countries reach new agreement against cyber hacking, even as attacks continue
The Washington Post
@nakashimae ,@Joseph_Marks_
The embrace of U.N. norms comes as Biden prepares to raise cyber attacks when he meets Putin in Geneva.

Nato leaders seek to toughen response to new high-tech threats
Financial Times
Nato leaders are seeking how to best strengthen security in cyber space, outer space and emerging technologies as they gather to plot how to modernise the 72-year-old military alliance. US president Joe Biden’s first Nato summit on Monday will “sharpen” the 30-member grouping’s “technological edge”, said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general, and reinforce its response to potential threats from Russia and China.

Exporting Chinese surveillance: the security risks of ‘smart cities’
Financial Times
The controversy in Serbia is being repeated in different ways across the world as scores of countries — including several western democracies — install surveillance technology as part of “safe city” and “smart city” packages supplied by Chinese companies including Huawei, ZTE Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, Alibaba and others.. Evidence is now growing that a backlash towards Chinese surveillance technology is gathering momentum not only in the US but also in Europe and parts of Asia. The UK presents a prime example of this trend.

Ransomware attacks must be stopped — here’s how
Financial Times
It is easy to feel helpless in the face of a threat as amorphous and apparently random as ransomware. But, like all cyber security issues, it is not so much a technology problem as a human problem. And it is one that humans can solve. The recent ransomware attacks on the Colonial pipeline in the US and the Irish healthcare system should be a wake-up call. Things are bad and are going to get a lot worse because the incentives to mount such attacks are strong and growing.

G7

G-7 Haggles Over Strong U.S. Push to Counter China’s Clout
Yahoo
Josh Wingrove, Jennifer Jacobs, Justin Sink
Biden, along with Johnson, Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, pushed for plans more explicitly aimed at blunting China’s influence, the U.S. official said. Biden is asking the gathering to condemn what he calls China’s use of forced labor, including the treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in the western Xinjiang region.. According to one U.S. official, Saturday’s debut session also included a discussion of how to jointly address an increase in cyber crimes and ransomware, including on whether or not ransoms should be paid.

G-7 plans steps to defend academic research with eye on China
Nikkei Asia
Rieko Miki
The Group of Seven nations will agree on creating guidelines to prevent leaks of sensitive research data when leaders meet this week, Nikkei has learned, looking to protect joint projects amid growing concerns about the risk of theft by China.

Australia

Company ignored Australia’s cyber spy agency after hack
The Sydney Morning Herald
@Gallo_Ways
A major company in charge of critical infrastructure refused to comply with Australia’s cyber spy agency for weeks after it was hit by a significant cyber attack.

Address to Australian Strategic Policy Institute Conference, Canberra
Department of Defence Ministers
Today, our region – the Indo-Pacific – is far-more complex and far-less predictable than at any time since the Second World War. That’s due to a number of factors, including: Intensified strategic competition – particularly between major powers, China and the United States. Nations modernising and building up their militaries. The emergence of new and disruptive technologies which are changing the nature of warfare. And the increased prevalence of so-called ‘grey-zone’ activities, which fall short of armed conflict, but nonetheless, are designed to irritate, intimidate and injure other countries, including our own.

Global An0m operation was terminated as app’s popularity stretched police resources
The Sydney Morning Herald
@Laura_R_Chung ,@fergushunter
Before the takedown of another shadow encrypted app in March, there were 3000 active users of An0m. This surged to 9000 by May.

ACSC scanning is allowing Commonwealth entities to avoid being hacked
ZDNet
@dobes
Scanning for vulnerable kit is allowing Australian government organisations to avoid being hacked, sometimes only hours before malicious actors take advantage.

India and Australia to expand cyber security cooperation
The Economic Times
The two sides discussed a range of issues relating to emerging technologies in the cyber domain at the first meeting of the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on cyber security cooperation, according to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Australia needs to pick up the pace on innovation
The Strategist
@Gill Savage ,@Matthew Page
Now more than ever Australia needs to be innovative, and our science and technology base is the key to driving national innovation.

China

China’s New Power Play: More Control of Tech Companies’ Troves of Data
The Wall Street Journal
Lingling Wei
Beijing is calling on tech giants to share the huge amounts of personal information they collect—and asserting its authority over data held by U.S. companies operating there as well. The efforts are part of Xi Jinping’s push to rein in the country’s increasingly powerful technology sector and use it to his party’s advantage.

China’s New Data Law Gives Xi the Power to Shut Down Tech Firms
Bloomberg
China’s new data security regime gives President Xi Jinping the power to shut down or fine tech companies as part of his drive to wrest control of vast reams of data held by giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

China Still Buys American DNA Equipment for Xinjiang Despite Blocks
The New York Times
@suilee
The U.S. government has long tried to prevent the sales over concerns about rights abuses and surveillance. Documents show those efforts have failed.

Censored word lists 'proprietary assets' for Chinese big tech
Protocol
Shen Lu
Protocol chats with former censor Liu Lipeng.

Everything you need to know about the DiDi IPO
Protocol
Shen Lu, Zeyi Yang
Chinese ride-sharing behemoth DiDi Chuxing filed for its U.S. IPO on Thursday, leaving it poised to become one of the biggest tech public offerings of 2021.

China rushes through bill tightening ban on abiding by western sanctions
Financial Times
Parliament rushed through a new law on Thursday intended to counter sanctions imposed by foreign governments on Chinese officials and companies, escalating its continuing legal battles with the US and the EU. The law was passed in secret by the National People’s Congress standing committee after two readings rather than the usual three, and builds on earlier measures unveiled by China’s commerce ministry in January.

USA

In Leak Investigation, Tech Giants Are Caught Between Courts and Customers
The New York Times
@jacknicas ,@daiwaka ,@ktbenner
Apple, under fire for turning over the data of two lawmakers to the Trump Justice Dept., said it did so unknowingly, while Google fought a request for New York Times data because it related to a corporate client.

Lawmakers press Biden to give Putin ultimatum on ransomware gangs
POLITICO
@martinmatishak
Lawmakers of both parties want President Joe Biden to deliver a tough message when he meets face-to-face this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin: Stop the ransomware gangs, or we will.

The M.T.A. Is Breached by Hackers as Cyberattacks Surge
The New York Times
@cegoldbaum ,@WRashbaum
Hackers with suspected ties to China penetrated the New York transit agency’s computer systems in April, an M.T.A. document shows. Transit officials say the intrusion did not pose a risk to riders.

Factbox: Biden supply-chain review yields measures on China
Reuters
The Biden administration wrapped up an initial 100-day review into what it can do to secure access to critical goods from semiconductors to batteries, pharmaceuticals as well as strategic minerals like rare earth elements.

Fight Digital Authoritarianism by Giving People the Tools to Counter It
Defense One
Joshua Baron
The Defense Department has an opportunity to create fresh challenges for adversarial regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran, not by engaging or even preparing for armed conflict, but by investing in critical new technologies to enable global digital freedom.

Anti-vaxxers are weaponizing Yelp to punish bars that require vaccine proof
MIT Technology Review
@tanyabasu
Negative spam reviews are destroying bars and restaurants as they attempt to re-open safely.

US lawmakers launch bipartisan push to rein in Big Tech
Financial Times
Members of the US House of Representatives have introduced five different bills seeking to tame the power of the world’s largest technology companies, in the biggest legislative threat to Big Tech in years. If passed, the proposals would together constitute the biggest shake-up of US monopolies law in a generation, curbing tech industry takeovers of the kind that cemented Facebook’s dominance of social media and limiting the ability of Apple, Amazon and Google to use their platforms to favour their own products.

The New Atlantic Charter
The White House
Our revitalized Atlantic Charter, building on the commitments and aspirations set out eighty years ago, affirms our ongoing commitment to sustaining our enduring values and defending them against new and old challenges. We commit to working closely with all partners who share our democratic values and to countering the efforts of those who seek to undermine our alliances and institutions.

Revealed: rightwing firm posed as leftist group on Facebook to divide Democrats
The Guardian
@julliacarriew
A digital marketing firm closely linked to the pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA was responsible for a series of deceptive Facebook ads promoting Green party candidates during the 2018 US midterm elections, the Guardian can reveal. In an apparent attempt to split the Democratic vote in a number of close races, the ads purported to come from an organization called America Progress Now (APN) and used socialist memes and rhetoric to urge leftwing voters to support Green party candidates.

U.S. Supreme Court revives LinkedIn bid to shield personal data
Reuters
Andrew Chung
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) LinkedIn Corp another chance to try to stop rival hiQ Labs Inc from harvesting personal data from the professional networking platform’s public profiles - a practice that LinkedIn contends threatens the privacy of its users.

Apple Is Said to Have Turned Over Data on Trump’s White House Counsel in 2018
The New York Times
@NYTMike, @charlie_savage
The Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for information in February 2018 about an account that belonged to Donald F. McGahn II, President Donald J. Trump’s White House counsel at the time, and barred the company from telling him about it, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Ransomware attack hit Teamsters in 2019 — but they refused to pay
NBC News
@jonallendc, Kevin Collier
The FBI advised the union to "just pay" the ransom, according to sources. Union officials chose to rebuild their computer network instead.

U.S. Fight Against Chinese 5G Efforts Shifts From Threats to Incentives
The Wall Street Journal
@drewhinshaw ,@stuwoo
Washington is organizing workshops and offering a handbook to help governments avoid using Huawei, ZTE gear.

North-East Asia

TSMC considering first chip packaging plant in US
Nikkei Asia
Cheng Ting-Fang, Lauly Li
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is considering building another advanced plant in the U.S., Nikkei Asia has learned, as the world's biggest contract semiconductor supplier responds to Washington's desire to bring more of the tech supply chain onto home turf.

South-East Asia

China squeezes Cambodia for its Covid app data
Asia Times
Bertil Lintner
Shortly after the official announcement of the “Stop Covid-19” app’s launch, Wang Wentian, the Chinese ambassador to Phnom Penh, met with Cambodian officials and requested access to the personal data collected via the new system, according to sources familiar with the request. The Chinese envoy reportedly said the data was needed to help Beijing monitor people traveling between the two countries, though China currently maintains strict quarantine measures for incoming travelers and the two sides do not share a common border.

New Zealand & The Pacific

More data surveillance and less privacy? Spy chief says the public must decide
Stuff
Thomas Manch
In a rare interview, Rebecca Kitteridge talks about the fast-changing and challenging work of the intelligence agency.

South and Central Asia

Facebook Banned a Hindu Nationalist Group—Then Left Most of Its Pages Online for Months
Time
@billyperrigo
Facebook allowed a Hindu extremist group to operate openly on its platform for months, even after the company banned the group’s main pages for violating its policies. It was not until TIME pointed out a network of more than 30 pages linked to the Sanatan Sanstha—with more than 2.7 million total followers—that the social media giant followed through and purged them in April. The pages regularly shared hate speech and misinformation, largely targeting India’s Muslim minority, including Islamophobic depictions of Muslims as green monsters with long fingernails.

India And Tech Companies Clash Over Censorship, Privacy And 'Digital Colonialism'
NPR
@lfrayer ,@shannonpareil
India's new social media rules give the government broad powers to block some content and break encryption. It's the latest in a standoff with tech companies over censorship, privacy and free speech.

UK

China would have destroyed Covid lab leak evidence, says ex-MI6 chief
The Times
James Callery
Evidence of any lab leak that may have caused the coronavirus pandemic will have been destroyed by Chinese officials by now, a former MI6 chief has said.. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast, he also said that the West had been naive in trusting China, which had infiltrated scientific institutions and journals in the UK and elsewhere.

Huawei reveals impact of 5G ban
The Times
@jcollingridgeST
Britain’s blacklisting of Huawei has hammered profits and sales at the Chinese telecoms giant, new figures reveal.

Exclusive: Britain will lead global fightback against cyber attackers, says Dominic Raab
The Telegraph
Lucy Fisher
In an interview ahead of G7 summit, Foreign Secretary tells The Telegraph that UK and US will join forces to turn tables on online enemies.

UK to rein in online platforms’ power in effort to protect public broadcasters
Financial Times
@alexebarker
Google, Amazon and Samsung’s bargaining power with broadcasters is set to be reined in by the UK government under the world’s most far-reaching reforms to protect the position of public service media in a digital era.

Europe

Step one in repairing U.S.-EU relations: a data privacy deal
POLITICO
Mark Scott, @StevenOverly
U.S. and European officials are eager to start repairing transatlantic relations after four years of Trump-fueled tension. And according to digital trade experts, there’s one logical place to begin: digital privacy.

A Call to Arms — The U.S. and EU Must Confront Digital Authoritarianism
CEPA
Eileen Donahoe, Dr. Alina Polyakova
Europe and the United States must seize this moment to heal the transatlantic rift over technology policy.

Meet Big Tech’s Tormenter in Chief
The New York Times
Margrethe Vestager is the European regulator trying to do something audacious: get companies like Apple, Amazon and Facebook to play fair and pay taxes.

Romanian president signs bill into law to ban Huawei from 5G
Reuters
Romania's President Klaus Iohannis signed a Washington-backed bill on Friday that effectively bars China and Huawei from taking part in the development of its 5G telecommunication networks, on security concerns.

Russia

Putin says Russia would accept conditional handover of cyber criminals to U.S.
Reuters
President Vladimir Putin has said Russia would be ready to hand over cyber criminals to the United States if Washington did the same for Moscow and the two powers reached an agreement to that effect.

Putin denies Russia is behind cyberattacks ahead of Biden summit
Axios
@zacharybasu
In an exclusive interview with NBC's "Today," Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russia is waging cyber warfare against the United States and refused to guarantee opposition leader Alexei Navalny — whose name he would not say — will leave prison alive.

Africa

Nigeria's Twitter ban leaves some businesses in the lurch
Reuters
Nneka Chile
Lagos-based entrepreneur Ogechi Egemonu was selling more than 500,000 naira ($1,219) worth of watches, shoes and handbags on Twitter per week.

Misc

Journalists demanding more action against online harassment
AP News
David Bauder
The Associated Press' recent firing of a young reporter for what she said on Twitter has somewhat unexpectedly turned company and industry attention to the flip side of social media engagement — the online abuse that many journalists face routinely.

How Hackers Used Slack to Break into EA Games
VICE
Joseph Cox
A representative for the hackers explained to Motherboard how the group stole a wealth of data from the game publishing giant.

Scoop: YouTube to ban some ad verticals from buying masthead ads
Axios
@sarafischer
YouTube will stop accepting ads for its masthead ad unit from certain verticals, including alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads, Axios has learned.

Events

ASPI Presents - Mapping China’s Tech Giants: Covid-19, supply chains and strategic competition
ASPI ICPC
23 June 2021
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm AEST
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is delighted to invite you to the hybrid event re-launching our ‘Mapping China’s Technology Giants’ project on Wednesday 23 June at 5.30pm. Join us in-person or online via Livestorm. Join ASPI’s Dr Samantha Hoffman, Fergus Ryan, Jocelinn Kang and Danielle Cave as they discuss the how the Covid-19 pandemic, growing China–US strategic and technological competition, the PRC’s evolving data ecosystem, an unprecedented onslaught of sanctions from abroad, new supply chain issues and a regulatory storm at home is impacting the global ambitions of China’s technology giants.

Research

Invisible and Vital: Undersea Cables and Transatlantic Security
CSIS
Pierre Morcos, Colin Wall
After the October meeting of allied defense ministers, and in the months since, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) underscored the need for the alliance to monitor and protect this critical infrastructure. However, despite the proliferation of public statements underlining the importance of protecting them, collective action to enhance their security has so far been lacking. A number of measures could be taken by allies to effectively protect subsea cables harnessing the full potential of their bilateral cooperations, NATO, and the European Union, in close coordination with the private sector.

Jobs

ICPC Analyst or Senior Analyst - Cyber & technology
ASPI ICPC
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for an exceptional cyber-security or technology focused analyst or senior analyst to join its centre in 2021. Please note that interviews have commenced for this position and will continue until the end of June. This role will focus on policy relevant cybersecurity analysis, informed public commentary and either original data-heavy research and/or technical analysis. Analysts usually have around 7-15 years work experience. Senior analysts usually have a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience and tend to be involved in staff and project management, fundraising and stakeholder engagement.

Share

Loading more posts…