ASIO Director-General warns of Neo-Nazi threat I Vicky Xu on Q&A I Chinese government monitoring people on Twitter and WeChat over coronavirus information

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

  • ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess has warned that a terrorist attack on Australia was still "probable", with "violent Islamic extremism" a top concern. In a rare public address Mr Burgess said: "In Australia, the extreme right-wing threat is real and it is growing." ABC News

  • The deputy head of mission at Australia's Chinese embassy has accused the ABC of spreading fake news and Australia's Foreign Minister of being misinformed. Wang Xining said misinformation in the Western media was the problem, suggesting there was an "infodemic" at play. ABC News

  • The Chinese government is tracking down people on social platforms like Twitter and WeChat who share what officials consider to be negative information about the coronavirus outbreak. The Verge

ASPI ICPC

Foreign cyber security rules putting dampener on Aussie fintechs: DFAT
The Sydney Morning Herald
@JennieDuke
Asia-Pacific countries are introducing restrictive cyber-security rules that threaten Australia's technology exports, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned, suggesting trade terms could be used to bolster the fledgling fintech industry. Fergus Hanson, the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre, told this masthead there were a range of rules across the world that were "effectively barriers to trade" in the technology space. Countries such as Singapore had rules about correcting disinformation on social media and Europe had the relatively new General Data Protection Regulation regime, Mr Hanson said. In some cases, these restrictions "tend to favour the incumbent, established players".

Fake news, censorship, coronavirus and racism: the testy relationship between China and Australia fires up Q+A
ABC News
The deputy head of mission at Australia's Chinese embassy has accused the ABC of spreading fake news and Australia's Foreign Minister of being misinformed as the relationship between China and Australia was examined on the latest episode of Q+A. Wang Xining butted heads with audience members and fellow panellists including journalists Vicky Xu and Stan Grant.

Australia

Sleeper agent operated in Australia for years before ASIO caught him
The Sydney Morning Herald
@Gallo_Ways @Ageinvestigates
Mr Burgess warned Australia was currently the target of "sophisticated and persistent espionage and foreign interference activities from a range of nations". China has previously been blamed by security agencies for large-scale hacking in Australia. Mr Burgess said ASIO has also uncovered cases where foreign spies have travelled to Australia with the intention of setting up sophisticated hacking infrastructure targeting computers containing sensitive and classified information. Mr Burgess also spoke about the importance of the encryption laws that passed in late 2018, saying they have been used to protect Australians from serious harm.

  • Read the ASIO Director-General’s speech here.

Neo-Nazis among Australia's most challenging security threats, ASIO boss Mike Burgess warns
ABC News
@andrewbgreene
Neo-Nazis are emerging as one of Australia's most challenging security threats, according to the country's top intelligence chief. ASIO director general Mike Burgess said "small cells" of right-wing extremists were regularly gathering to salute Nazi flags, inspect weapons and to disperse their "hateful ideology". The director-general warned a terrorist attack on Australia was still "probable".

Queensland pre-social media stalking laws 'must be rewritten'
Brisbane Times
Queensland's stalking laws must be rewritten because they were shaped before social media and "intelligent" mobile phones, three domestic violence agencies agree. Womens Legal Service chief executive Angela Lynch, Di Mangan from the Red Rose Foundation and Karyn Walsh from Micah Projects say the legislation does not reflect how mobile phones and social media is used to track women and, sometimes, men.

China

China reportedly using WeChat and Twitter to find and silence people sharing coronavirus information
The Verge
@SocialKimLy
The Chinese government is reportedly using WeChat and Twitter to find and silence people sharing coronavirus information. People who have shared information about the virus describe relatively tame social media interactions that nonetheless resulted in both direct and indirect responses from the Chinese government.

USA

Apple, TikTok decline to testify at second congressional hearing probing tech’s ties to China
Washington Post
@TonyRomm
Apple and TikTok have each declined a request to testify at a March congressional hearing that would have probed their relationships with China, a move that threatens to ratchet up tensions with federal lawmakers who see Beijing as a privacy and security threat.

TSA bans employees from making TikTok videos
Engadget
@rachel_england
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) is the latest US government organization to ban the use of TikTok. The decision comes after New York Senator Chuck Schumer sent a letter to TSA administrator David Pekoske, in which he flagged a number of security concerns about China-owned app.

North Asia

Southeast Asia

Myanmar students face charges over internet shutdown protest: student union
Reuters
A Myanmar student union said on Monday police were seeking to press charges against nine of its members for organizing a protest against an eight-month-long internet shutdown in the restive west of the country. Around 100 students gathered in the commercial capital of Yangon on Sunday demanding an end to the internet cut-off in Rakhine and Chin states, where civilian casualties are mounting as government troops battle ethnic rebels.

Viettel's Cyber Security Unit Launches Managed Security Operation Center Service
The Fast Mode
@raysharma10
Viettel Cyber Security (VCS), a subsidiary of Viettel Group recently launched a Managed Security Operation Center (SOC) service on a global scale. VCS claims that it is the first information security company in Vietnam to have a complete security ecosystem researched and developed by Viettel's security experts.

South Asia

An Indian politician is using deepfake technology to win new voters
MIT Technology Review
@charlottejee
A deepfake of the president of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Manoj Tiwari, went viral on WhatsApp in the country earlier this month, ahead of legislative assembly elections in Delhi, according to Vice. It’s the first time a political party anywhere has used a deepfake for campaigning purposes.

Pakistan's new internet laws tighten control over social media
DW News
@crat074
The Pakistani government has passed a new set of laws it says targets "terrorism and fake news" on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Critics say the rules open the door to mass censorship.

UK

DAVID DAVIS: Huawei deal is the most devastating security blunder since MI6 hired Philby, Blunt and Burgess
Daily Mail
@DavidDavisMP
Allowing the Chinese firm Huawei to provide parts of our new national telecoms network is the worst intelligence decision since MI6’s recruitment of Kim Philby, writes Davis Davis, MP.

Europe

Cyber attack on PM’s office, state bodies attributed to foreign spies
ekathimerini.com
The Prime Minister's office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and the Hellenic Police (ELAS) were the targets of an international cyber espionage campaign in April 2019 code-named “Sea Turtle.” An official with knowledge of the events at that time, who spoke to Kathimerini on the condition of anonymity, said that from the very first moment their suspicions turned to Crete.

EU Commission to staff: Switch to Signal messaging app
Politico Pro
The European Commission has told its staff to start using Signal, an end-to-end-encrypted messaging app, in a push to increase the security of its communications. The app is favored by privacy activists because of its end-to-end encryption and open-source technology.

Africa

Sokowatch raises $14M to digitize Africa’s informal B2B supply-chain
Techcrunch
@JakeRBright
Kenya based B2B e-commerce startup Sokowatch has raised $14 million in Series A funding toward its mission of revamping supply-chain markets for Africa’s informal retailers. The company has created a platform that connects merchants directly to local and multinational suppliers — such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble — and digitizes orders, payments and delivery-logistics.

Misc

AI discovers antibiotic that kills even highly resistant bacteria
Engadget
@joefingas
The use of AI to discover medicine appears to be paying off. MIT scientists have revealed that their AI discovered an antibiotic compound, halicin (named after 2001's HAL 9000), that can not only kill many forms of resistant bacteria but do so in a novel way.

This Technique Uses AI to Fool Other AIs
Wired
@willknight
Artificial intelligence has made big strides recently in understanding language, but it can still suffer from an alarming, and potentially dangerous, kind of algorithmic myopia. Research shows how AI programs that parse and analyze text can be confused and deceived by carefully crafted phrases, which can be problematic as text-mining AI programs increasingly are used to judge job applicants, assess medical claims, or process legal documents.

Mapping Wikipedia
The Atlantic
@mandiberg
Wikipedia matters. In a time of extreme political polarization, algorithmically enforced filter bubbles, and fact patterns dismissed as fake news, Wikipedia has become one of the few places where we can meet to write a shared reality. But we know very little about who is writing the world’s encyclopedia. This article provides a set of maps that offer insight into where the millions of volunteer editors who build and maintain English Wikipedia’s 5 million pages are—and, maybe more important, where they aren’t.

Jobs

Analyst – Technical
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has an outstanding opportunity for a talented and passionate technically-focused analyst to join its growing centre. We are looking for a creative and passionate individual who can contribute unique technical skills to work across a range of projects in the centre. This individual may possess skills and experience in one or more of the following areas including malware analysis, reverse-engineering, data analysis and web scraping (for work on online disinformation for example) and/or a deep technical knowledge of critical technologies. The successful candidate will be offered a remuneration package at a level aligned with their demonstrated skills and expertise. This is a contract position for an initial 1 year term with the option of extension. At any one time ASPI has multiple people working at the institute who are on secondments or unpaid leave from the Australian Public Service (APS). Similar arrangements - including secondments - can be negotiated in this instance pending approval from the APS department/agency.

Researcher – Cyber, Technology, Asia-Pacific
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has an outstanding opportunity for an emerging researcher to join its growing centre and work directly with the ICPC Director. Staff in the centre have diverse backgrounds and are usually involved in several projects at once. We are looking for a team member with a flexible, entrepreneurial approach, who is a self-starter, has the ability to deliver to deadlines and enjoys working in a collaborative team environment. Foreign languages (particularly Asian languages) and social media analysis skills are desirable but not essential. We are looking for a creative and passionate individual who can work collaboratively in a team environment to support the centre’s program of work. This will include working with a variety of centre staff to conduct research on a range of priority projects, on project coordination and administration, working to facilitate international fellowships, supporting public and private events and engaging with key stakeholders.

Governments of the world just ramped up spying on reporters | White House plans 5G summit with global tech leaders amid Huawei battle | How the Coronavirus Revealed Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw

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

  • Journalists are increasingly under high-tech surveillance from governments. State actors seem to feel they can now act with impunity. One group of foreign correspondents, working on sensitive stories, were finding that their phone calls to some sources were automatically redirected. Columbia Journalism Review.

  • The Trump administration is planning a 5G summit at the White House in early April as part of its global effort to ensure that Chinese telecom giant Huawei does not become dominant in next generation communications technologies. CNBC.

  • Ironically, for all the talk of the technological side of Chinese authoritarianism, China’s use of technology to ratchet up surveillance and censorship may have made things worse, by making it less likely that Xi would even know what was going on in his own country. The Atlantic.

ASPI ICPC

Chinese Military Turns to U.S. University to Conduct Covert Research
WSJ
@Kate_OKeeffe
Despite commitment to open exchanges, universities should consider drawing the line at working with China’s People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, suggests a 2018 report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, an Australian government-backed, nonpartisan think tank. “Helping a rival military develop its expertise and technology isn’t in the national interest,” says the report by researcher Alex Joske. He found China’s military sponsored more than 2,500 scientists and engineers to study abroad over the prior decade, at times without their host schools’ knowledge of their military affiliation.

World

The man behind the global struggle to create digital taxes
Politico
Pascal Saint-Amans, a senior official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, has less than a year to find a deal.

Governments of the world just ramped up spying on reporters
Columbia Journalism Review
It has long been the case that state actors and big companies have sought to intimidate and attack journalists. But in my experience the incidence has spiked since the 2016 elections in Britain and America, when such efforts came off without consequence. State actors seem to feel they can now act with impunity. One group of foreign correspondents, working on sensitive stories, were finding that their phone calls to some sources were automatically redirected. That is not an easy thing to do—it suggested to me that those numbers, or people, were being watched at all times. Nobody but a nation state would have access to such capabilities.

Australia

Julian Assange and his Australian lawyers were secretly recorded in Ecuador's London embassy
ABC
@dylanwelch
While this may be typical surveillance at a secure diplomatic property, what Robertson did not know was he and a handful of other lawyers, were allegedly being targeted in a remarkable and deeply illegal surveillance operation possibly run at the request of the US Government.

PM heads to secret spy base
The Australian
Scott Morrison has flown to the remote US spy base at Pine Gap for a classified briefing from US and Australian intelligence officials.. The highly secretive base jointly operated by Australia and US agencies including the CIA and National Security Agency is a major hub for US global intelligence interception and satellite monitoring for military and nuclear missile threats in the region.

Knocking out Huawei doesn't solve the real problem
AFR
A row over banning Chinese hi-tech giant Huawei from involvement in Australia’s 5G network is distracting attention from the significant long-term threat of Australia being relegated to membership of a sort of US-led defence communications tag-along team.

China

How the Coronavirus Revealed Authoritarianism’s Fatal Flaw
The Atlantic
@zeynep
China’s use of surveillance and censorship makes it harder for Xi Jinping to know what’s going on in his own country.

New Rules for Chinese Military to Guard Against US Cyber Attacks
Defense World
New rules on confidentially will be introduced in the Chinese military to guard against cyber-attacks largely originating from the United States.

American Company Sold DNA Analysis Equipment to Security Officials in Xinjiang, Documents Show
China File
In 2015, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau announced it planned to purchase equipment from the U.S.-based biotechnology company Promega for the purpose of analyzing DNA and adding it to a national database, according to Chinese government procurement documents.

USA

Digital Edits, a Paid Army: Bloomberg Is ‘Destroying Norms’ on Social Media
NYT
@sheeraf
His campaign is testing the boundaries of what platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow in politics. They’re having trouble coming up with an answer.

Sanders informed that Russia is trying to help his campaign
CyberScoop
@Shanvav
U.S. officials have informed Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., that Russia is trying to boost his presidential campaign as part of a broader effort to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections and the crowded Democratic field.

Feds charge California man for 2018 DDoS attacks on congressional campaign
CyberScoop
Federal law enforcement officials have charged a California man for conducting cyberattacks on the website of California congressional candidate in 2018.

White House plans 5G summit with global tech leaders as battle with Huawei continues
CNBC
@EamonJavers
The Trump administration is planning a 5G summit at the White House in early April as part of its global effort to ensure that Chinese telecom giant Huawei does not become dominant in next generation communications technologies, officials told CNBC.

China Isn’t the Only Problem With 5G
Foreign Policy
@schneierblog
Security vulnerabilities in the standards—the protocols and software for 5G—ensure that vulnerabilities will remain, regardless of who provides the hardware and software. These insecurities are a result of market forces that prioritize costs over security and of governments, including the United States, that want to preserve the option of surveillance in 5G networks. If the United States is serious about tackling the national security threats related to an insecure 5G network, it needs to rethink the extent to which it values corporate profits and government espionage over security.

With information from China scarce, U.S. spies enlisted to track coronavirus
Yahoo News
@JennaMC_Laugh
In this instance of the coronavirus, the intelligence community has to figure out a way to quickly gather information about a rapidly progressing potential pandemic without risking human sources’ lives, losing track of other threats or getting in the way of the CDC and WHO, which take primary responsibility for response and outreach.

Coronavirus: US says Russia behind disinformation campaign
The Guardian
@JessicaGlenza
Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have launched a coordinated effort to spread misinformation and alarm about coronavirus, disrupting global efforts to fight the epidemic, US officials have said.

Apple Just Demanded Santander And A $50 Billion US Intelligence Contractor Reveal How They Use iPhone Hacking Tech
Forbes
@iblametom
Apple lawyers aren’t holding back in trying to learn more about Corellium, the cybersecurity startup it’s suing after the latter created tech producing “virtual” or software versions of iPhones for security and functionality testing.

Asia

Has IIT Madras been hit by ransomware that is holding all their research data hostage?
Edex Live
The students have been asked to send an email to a certain email ID, which will then quote a price to decrypt their data. Institute brushes it off as a mail server going down. What is the truth?

UK

Huawei shut out from scheme to see how 5G can link communities
The Guardian
@marksweney
Huawei has been banned from participating in a £65m government scheme to explore how next-generation 5G technology can drive businesses and connect communities across the UK.

Europe

First analysis of the EU Whitepaper on AI
Alliance on Artificial Intelligence
This week, Europe took a clear stance on AI; foster the uptake of AI technologies, underpinned by what it calls ‘an ecosystem of excellence’, while also ensuring their compliance with to European ethical norms, legal requirements and social values, ‘an ecosystem of trust’. While the Whitepaper on AI of the European Commission does not propose legislation yet, it announces some bold legislative measures, that will likely materialize by the end of 2020.

Canada

Burton: Why Canada can't let Huawei build a 5G network
Ottawa Citizen
The debate swings on whether it is possible to use Huawei technology on the periphery of 5G installations while keeping the core networks secure. But this is also a moral question.

Personal information of nearly 360,000 Quebec teachers exposed in data breach
Global News
The personal information of nearly 360,000 teachers in Quebec may have been stolen in a data theft, the Quebec government confirmed on Friday.

Africa

Safaricom Hits Back Accusing Petitioner Of Stealing Customer Data In The Ksh115 Trillion Lawsuit
Tech Trends
The telco accuses the petitioner of stealing personal data of millions of subscribers and demanding ransom.

Misc.

Bitcoin Whale Hacked, Losing $45 Million worth Of BTC And BCH To A SIM Swap Hacker
Coinpedia
Earlier today, bitcoin Whale suspected to be twitter user, @zhoujianfu took to Reddit to alert the community that both his bitcoin and bitcoin cash wallets had been hacked and funds worth millions of dollars had been stolen. During the act, bitcoin worth $15 million and bitcoin cash worth of $30 million were altogether stolen.

Google Is Letting People Find Invites to Some Private WhatsApp Groups
Vice
@josephfcox
Google is indexing invite links to WhatsApp group chats whose administrators may want to be private. This means with a simple search, random people can discover and join a wide range of WhatsApp group chats.

Events

Working smarter, not harder: Leveraging government procurement to improve cybersecurity
ASPI ICPC
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) is delighted to invite you to the launch of ASPI’s latest report, ‘Working smarter, not harder: Leveraging government procurement to improve cybersecurity’. The report will be launched by Secretary of Home Affairs, Michael Pezzullo, followed by a panel discussion with report author and ASPI Fellow, Rajiv Shah, AustCyber CEO Michelle Price, and Managing Director of Macquarie Government, Aidan Tudehope.

America’s China Strategy: Where is it going and what’s missing?
ASPI ICPC
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) is delighted to invite you to the attend an in-conversation on March 17th at 6:00pm with Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian to discuss America’s China strategy: Where is it going & what’s missing? Bethany will be joined by ICPC’s Alex Joske and Vicky Xiuzhong Xu for an in conversation to discuss and debate America’s China strategy, where they will compare this approach with Australia's.

US intel officials warned lawmakers of Russian meddling, angering Trump / US & allies blame Russia for cyberattack on Georgia / US defense agency personal data may have been 'compromised'

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

  • Russia is aiding President Trump in the 2020 election, intelligence officials told lawmakers. Trump complained Democrats might exploit the news. The New York Times

  • The United States and its key allies on Thursday accused Russia’s main military intelligence agency of a broad cyberattack against the republic of Georgia in October that took out websites and interrupted television broadcasts, in a coordinated effort to deter Moscow from intervening in the 2020 presidential election in the United States. The New York Times

  • The U.S. defense agency responsible for secure communications for the U.S. president and other high-level officials said social security numbers and other personal data in its network may have been “compromised”, in a letter seen by Reuters that was sent to potential victims. Reuters

ASPI ICPC

ICT for development in the Pacific islands
ASPI ICPC
@BartHoogeveen
This report finds that the potential of ICTs to enable stronger governance, effective public service delivery and better government services is there. In all countries that are part of this study, critical foundational infrastructure is in place. But there’s still a lot to be unlocked.

Huawei is a key player in Beijing’s anti-Muslim, Big Brother horrors
New York Post
@lukedepulford
As a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute put it: “Huawei works directly with the Chinese Government’s Public Security Bureau in Xinjiang on a range of projects.”

U.S. and Allies Blame Russia for Cyberattack on Republic of Georgia
The New York Times
@SangerNYT @MarcSantoraNYT
The United States and its key allies on Thursday accused Russia’s main military intelligence agency of a broad cyberattack against the republic of Georgia in October that took out websites and interrupted television broadcasts, in a coordinated effort to deter Moscow from intervening in the 2020 presidential election in the United States.

Czech MFA@CzechMFA
1/2 @CzechMFA condemns cyberattacks on #Georgia from October 28, 2019. While we do not have the primary forensic evidence in this case, we have no reason to doubt the attribution assessment made by our allies → 🇺🇸
bit.ly/2V8t3G0 🇬🇧https://t.co/Uf0AlzMSXVs

Czech MFA@CzechMFA

2/2 Attacks like the one on #Georgia are a clear violation of state sovereignty, undermine trust, and threaten the rules-based multilateral order. We stand ready to help our Georgian partners to build cyber-resilience to defend effectively from any future attacks.

Australia

The Australian behind technology that could 'end privacy as we know it' says it is being used here
ABC News
@alextighe_ @julia_andre7
The technology, developed by Australian Hoan Ton-That, uses a database of 3 billion pictures of people that have been harvested from websites across the internet.

Australia Has 17 Million Facebook Users And Seven Facebook Fact Checkers
BuzzFeed News
@cameronwilson
"It's incredible the sheer speed at which lies travel, particularly when they’re targeted at groups," one fact checker said.

Vodafone and Optus complain of 5G equipment 'duopoly'
AFR
@NGillezeau
Vodafone and Optus executives say they want more viable 5G network equipment suppliers beyond Sweden's Ericcson and Finland's Nokia now that Huawei has been knocked out of the Australian mix.

Encrypted messages favour the worst of the worst
The Australian
@rachael_falk
Imagine arriving in a new city to discover the police no longer patrol its streets. They don’t walk the beat or watch neighbourhoods from the safety of their cars. This city is home to the worst of the worst: child traffickers, child pornographers who groom children and share images, and terrorists who plot to kill and maim large numbers of Australians.

China

China finds a use abroad for Twitter, a medium it fears at home
The Economist
As the crisis deepened over the outbreak of covid-19, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, convened a meeting of the country’s most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee. One topic the seven men discussed on February 3rd was how to manage publicity. Officials, they agreed, must “tell the story of China’s fight against the epidemic, and show the Chinese people’s spirit of unity and togetherness”. In response, Chinese diplomats have been turning to a medium that most of them eschewed until just a year ago: Twitter. Blocked in China, it is fast becoming a favoured tool for the Communist Party as it tries to amplify its voice globally.

USA

Russia Backs Trump’s Re-election, and He Fears Democrats Will Exploit Its Support
The New York Times
@
adamgoldmanNYT @julianbarnes @maggieNYT @npfandos
A classified briefing to lawmakers angered the president, who complained that Democrats would “weaponize” the disclosure.

U.S. defense agency personal data may have been 'compromised': letter
Reuters
The U.S. defense agency responsible for secure communications for the U.S. president and other high-level officials said social security numbers and other personal data in its network may have been “compromised”, in a letter seen by Reuters that was sent to potential victims.

Attorney General Barr blasts Big Tech, raising prospect that firms could be held liable for dangerous, viral content online
The Washington Post
U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr on Wednesday questioned whether Silicon Valley companies for too long have dodged accountability for dangerous, harmful content posted on their sites and services

Details of 10.6 million MGM hotel guests posted on a hacking forum | ZDNet
ZDNet
@campuscodi
MGM Resorts said security incident took place last summer and notified impacted guests last year.

Navy, Beset by Aging Tech, Pushes for Rapid Modernization
The Wall Street Journal
@dnvolz @glubold
Aging and fragmented technology has left the U.S. Navy unable to fully defend itself from persistent cyberattacks from China and elsewhere, defense officials said, prompting an effort across the service to upgrade and secure computer networks.

Sanders implies Russia, not his supporters, may be to blame for online vitriol. Experts aren’t so sure.
Washington Post
@TonyRomm @isaacstanbecker
Sanders' language was indirect, offered on the debate stage here as his opponents faulted him for the behavior of his most strident fans. It quickly drew criticism from experts in disinformation, who said they had no evidence that the Kremlin had masqueraded as Sanders voters.

Twitter is testing new ways to fight misinformation — including a community-based points system
NBC News
@oneunderscore__
Twitter is experimenting with adding brightly colored labels directly beneath lies and misinformation posted by politicians and public figures, according to a leaked demo of new features sent to NBC News.

South Asia

India Is In The Middle Of A Coronavirus YouTube Frenzy, And It’s Going To Get People Killed
BuzzFeed News
@broderick @pranavdixit
The most popular YouTube video in the world about the coronavirus was created by a channel called Wonderful Secrets of the World, which typically publishes Hindi-language videos about sports and cars, as well as roundups like “Top 5 Secret Places Hidden in Famous Locations" or “30 Amazing Facts About Human Body." The channel, the logo of which looks uncannily like that of Volkswagen, hides its subscriber count, but 16 of its videos have been viewed over a million times — the most popular being the coronavirus explainer, which has been seen 13.6 million times as of Wednesday.

UK

Google users in UK to lose EU data protection - sources
Reuters
@josephmenn
Google is planning to move its British users’ accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead, sources said.

Europe

EU Proposes Rules for Artificial Intelligence to Limit Risks
AP
The European Union unveiled proposals Wednesday to regulate artificial intelligence that call for strict rules and safeguards on risky applications of the rapidly developing technology.

EU Commission to staff: Switch to Signal messaging app
Politico
The move is part of EU’s efforts to beef up cybersecurity, after several high-profile incidents shocked diplomats and officials.

  • Meanwhile, WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton has injected $50 million into Signal & joined the newly founded Signal Foundation as executive chairman. WIRED

Middle East

How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter
BuzzFeed News
From May 2015 until he was exposed that December, Alzabarah spied for the Saudi Arabian government inside Twitter, a criminal complaint from the FBI alleges. (Unless explicitly attributed to other sources, the details and allegations that follow are taken from the FBI’s criminal complaint.) Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, a colleague on Twitter’s global media team, regularly accessed and delivered information that could’ve led Saudi intelligence to identify anonymous dissidents.

Misc

Larry Tesler: Computer scientist behind cut, copy and paste dies aged 74
BBC
Larry Tesler, an icon of early computing, has died at the age of 74. Mr Tesler started working in Silicon Valley in the early 1960s, at a time when computers were inaccessible to the vast majority of people. It was thanks to his innovations - which included the "cut", "copy" and "paste" commands - that the personal computer became simple to learn and use.

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NEW PAPER: ICT for development in the Pacific islands | ASD to help in hunt for paedophiles | Claims Trump offered Assange pardon in exchange for cover-up.

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

  • New ASPI ICPC report released today highlighting e-government capabilities of Pacific Island nations. ASPI ICPC

  • Australia's premier foreign cyber intelligence agency would be enlisted to help track down online paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals under a proposal being developed by the Federal Government. ABC News

  • A lawyer for Julian Assange has claimed in court that President Donald Trump offered to pardon Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to help cover up Russia’s involvement in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. The Daily Beast

ASPI ICPC

ICT for development in the Pacific islands
ASPI ICPC
@BartHoogeveen
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) as an invisible driver of socio-economic change have long captured the imagination of politicians, policymakers and aid professionals alike. The internet, mobile devices and e-commerce have already penetrated the Pacific, configured to the political, economic and sociocultural context of the various island nations.

This report takes a step back and zooms in on one aspect of that digital revolution: e-government. E-Government is defined as a set of capabilities and activities that involves the use of ICTs by government to improve intragovernmental processes and to connect with citizens, businesses and industry. Fiji was the first island to get linked up to the global network of submarine communications cables in 2000. In 2020, all major islands in the region are connected through one or more domestic and international fibre-optic cables.

The region is connected. This report finds that the potential of ICTs to enable stronger governance, effective public service delivery and better government services is there. In all countries that are part of this study, critical foundational infrastructure is in place. But there’s still a lot to be unlocked. The report reaches five main conclusions for the implementation of e-government and digital government initiatives, and it concludes with four recommendations for future programming of international support in the area of ICTs and e-government.

Concerns over Chinese access to personal data gathered through TikTok
ABC 7.30
@GraceTobin @fryan
”Most people are used to thinking about their privacy issues as they relate to mainly US-based apps like Facebook, Twitter, but they haven't really considered how an app that comes from China is different.”

How memes are becoming the new frontier of information warfare
ASPI Strategist
Tom Ascott
Memes might appear as if they’re just little pranks kids play online, yet they’re anything but. In the 2016 US presidential election, many memes were made by a Russian troll farm to influence the outcome.

The World

DIY Cybersecurity for Domestic Violence
Hack Blossom
@ciakraa
A collection of resources for combating and preventing online domestic abuse.

Australia

Foreign spy powers could be brought onshore in bid to hunt paedophiles online
ABC News
@andrewprobyn @StephieBorys
Australia's premier foreign cyber intelligence agency would be enlisted to help track down online paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals under a proposal being developed by the Federal Government.

Australia Has 17 Million Facebook Users And Seven Facebook Fact Checkers
Buzzfeed News
@cameronwilson
Considering nearly a third of Australians get their news from Facebook, these fact checkers play an outsized role in determining what gets seen, and in what context, for the country's 17 million users. So just how many people are working on figuring out what's real or not on Facebook in Australia? Seven.

AFP chief Reece Kershaw could call out tech giants who block requests to identify paedophiles
The Australian
@rosieslewis
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw says he’s prepared to name and shame tech giants that block authorities from identifying insidious criminals on the dark web, in a bid to prevent the rape and torture of children.

US

Trump Offered Assange Pardon if He Covered Up Russian Hack, WikiLeaks Founder’s Lawyer Claims
The Daily Beast
@nicohines
Lawyers acting for the WikiLeaks founder said Dana Rohrabacher, a former Republican congressman, had brought the message to London from Trump.

U.S. judge rejects Huawei challenge to federal law restricting its business
Reuters
A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday rejected Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s constitutional challenge to a U.S. law that restricted its ability to do business with federal agencies and their contractors.

Navy, Beset by Aging Tech, Pushes for Rapid Modernization
The Wall Street Journal
@dnvolz @glubold
Aging and fragmented technology has left the U.S. Navy unable to fully defend itself from persistent cyberattacks from China and elsewhere, defense officials said, prompting an effort across the service to upgrade and secure computer networks.

Bloomberg Bankrolls a Social-Media Army to Push Message
The Wall Street Journal
@georgia_wells
Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is hiring hundreds of workers in California to post regularly on their personal social-media accounts in support of the candidate and send text messages to their friends about him.

Joshua Schulte's defense asks for a mistrial in the Vault 7 case
Cyber Scoop
@jeffstone500
A former CIA employee accused of being responsible for the largest leak in agency history thinks his case should be thrown out of court.

Did Twitter Help Vox Media Steal a Clippers Twitter Account From a Sports Blogger?
Vice
@laurawags
On Feb. 14, a senior executive from Vox Media managed to break into a sports blogger’s Twitter account and change the login credentials, effectively stealing it from the 23-year-old sports blogger who created the account. He got an email saying that his two-factor authentication had been disabled and he could no longer access his account.

What is the 'boogaloo'? How online calls for a violent uprising are hitting the mainstream
NBC News
@BrandyZadrozny
Boogaloo extremists have used social media to “strategize, share instructions for explosives and 3-D printed firearms, distribute illegal firearm modifications, and siphon users into encrypted messaging boards en mass,”

Why Rudy Giuliani's Twitter typos are a security fail
CNet
@alfredwkng
Sometimes, typing the wrong letter for a website address means sending visitors to a 404 page. When you're Rudy Giuliani, it means potentially sending hundreds of thousands of followers straight to a virus.

Southeast Asia

Cambodia: PM’s threats against women Facebook users irresponsible and dangerous
Amnesty International
During a speech to the Cambodian National Council for Women on 17 February 2020, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the authorities to take immediate action against women who allegedly wear “revealing” clothing while selling products in Facebook Live streams. The Ministry will ask Facebook to block the profiles of women alleged to be engaging in these practices.

UK

Inside Huawei’s powerful network of UK lobbyists and influencers
The Telegraph
Huawei has been engulfed by a global crisis that last week led to US allegations racketeering and theft on a grand scale, however, it has made more aggressive efforts to make friends and influence policy. Huawei has spent heavily to recruit a phalanx of consultants to help underpin its case and argue it more forcefully. For instance, The Telegraph can reveal Huawei has been working with Flint Global, a consulting firm founded by Ed Richards, former Ofcom chief and Sir Simon Fraser, the former head of the Foreign Office that has been providing advice to Huawei on key government matters.

Europe

Europe, Overrun by Foreign Tech Giants, Wants to Grow Its Own
The New York Times
@satariano
The European Union outlined proposals to bolster its digital economy and keep it from being overly reliant on foreign companies, while cracking down on those companies.

(Draft law to combat right-wing extremism and hate crime - in German)

Middle East

How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter
Buzzfeed News
@Kantrowitz
Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, a colleague on Twitter’s global media team, regularly accessed and delivered information that could’ve led Saudi intelligence to identify anonymous dissidents.

Misc

Wikipedia Is the Last Best Place on the Internet
Wired
@rgcooke
People used to think the crowdsourced encyclopedia represented all that was wrong with the web. Now it's a beacon of so much that's right.

Behind that teenage TikTok star, there's probably a very confused parent
CNN
@kyurieff
Tik Tok introduced a new normal where teens can achieve online stardom almost overnight. While that creates an opportunity for a generation of internet users, it also poses a new challenge for a generation of parents.

Twitter Is Real Life
The New York Times
@cwarzel
For politics, Twitter is a living nightmare. It’s overly simplistic, and too prone to flattened discourse and protracted, useless fights. It’s full of in-jokes and cliques and factions and a small number of people who are too loud and too rude. It’s messy as hell with glaring problems that don’t have a whole lot of good fixes. Sounds a lot like real life.

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Deepfakes in an Indian Election Campaign | US Labels China’s Official Media as Operatives of the Communist State | Ransomware Attack on US Pipeline Operator

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  • AI-generated fake videos that are notoriously rampant in porn are now infiltrating politics. On February 7, a day ahead of the Legislative Assembly elections in Delhi, two videos of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Manoj Tiwari criticising the incumbent Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal went viral on WhatsApp. While one video had Tiwari speak in English, the other was him speaking in the Hindi dialect of Haryanvi. Vice

  • U.S. has designated China’s official media as operatives of the communist state. The move is the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to counter Beijing’s influence and intelligence operations in the United States. NYT

  • The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency recently responded to a ransomware attack on a natural gas compression facility that led the organization to shut down its operations for two days. Cyber Scoop

ASPI ICPC

It's time to talk about TikTok and what it's doing with our kids' data
ABC
@GraceTobin
Fergus Ryan, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), warned parents of young users not to be fooled by TikTok's similarities to US-owned platforms like Facebook and Instagram. “The key difference between Facebook and Instagram and TikTok is that there really isn't much of a firewall between Chinese tech companies and the Chinese state.”


The World

(Facebook has launched a new Whitepaper on Online Content Regulation)

Australia

The Toll hack is a warning to every Australian business
AFR
@rachael_falk
The recent cyber attack on Toll Holdings has been described as "crippling" and the "most significant in Australian corporate history". The lesson for anyone who operates a business reliant on connectivity is that cyber resilience must be treated like the key business risk it is.

China cries discrimination as Abbott urges UK to think again on Huawei
The Australian
@RichAFerguson
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has slammed Great Britain’s decision to allow Huwaei into its 5G network, after China’s Ambassador to Canberra labelled the decision to keep the Chinese tech giant out of Australia “discrimination”.

Huawei threats action on ‘smear campaign’
The Australian
@penbo @RichAFerguson
Chinese telco Huawei has been subjected to “an unprecedented and malicious campaign of smear and innuendo” and reserved the right to take legal action against organisations that “falsely” attacked the company as a state-owned security risk, its Australian lawyer Nick Xenophon said on Tuesday.

WA Huawei rail radio project's CCTV, body cam and live-tracking potential revealed
SMH
@nathanhondros
A mobile data network under construction for Perth's public trains by Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei could be used to support body-worn cameras, CCTV and live tracking of personnel.

Huawei's soft sell won't change Australian hard heads
FR
@jennifer_hewett
Huawei Australia has announced a public relations campaign to persuade Australians to give it 'a fair go', but the Morrison government - and Labor - will remain deaf to such pleas.

China

China Turns to Health-Rating Apps to Control Movements During Coronavirus Outbreak
WSJ
@liz_in_shanghai
Tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent tapped to develop color-coded systems to classify people based on their health conditions and travel history.

(Tweet for the official account of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the US of hypocrisy in cyberspace. )

US

U.S. Designates China’s Official Media as Operatives of the Communist State
NYT
@jakesNYT
The move is the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to counter Beijing’s influence and intelligence operations in the United States.

Trump Effort to Keep U.S. Tech Out of China Alarms American Firms
NYT
@dmccabe @AnaSwanson
The administration wants to protect national security by restricting the flow of technology to China. But technology companies worry it could undermine them instead.

DHS’s cyber wing responds to ransomware attack on the pipeline operator
Cyber Scoop
@snlyngaas
The Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency recently responded to a ransomware attack on a natural gas compression facility that led the organization to shut down its operations for two days, the agency said Tuesday. The hackers were able to encrypt data on the organization’s IT and “operational technology” network, a broad term for a network that oversees industrial processes. No longer able to read data coming from across its enterprise, the facility shut down its various assets, including its pipelines, for two days.

George Soros: Remove Zuckerberg and Sandberg from their posts
FT
Letter to FT calls for Facebook to stop accepting political advertising.

Apple to Fall Short of Projected Revenue Due to Coronavirus
WSJ
@trippmickle
Apple Inc. became the first major U.S. company to say it won’t meet its revenue projections for the current quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak, which it said had limited iPhone production for world-wide sales and curtailed demand for its products in China.

Kickstarter workers vote to form first union in tech industry
NBC News
@aprilaser
The historic vote comes amid growing discontent among employees at technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, who have started to organize.

North Asia

North Korea-linked group hacked Thae Yong-ho’s smartphone: security expert
Nknews
@nknewsorg
Thae Yong Ho, a prominent defector and former North Korean diplomat, was targeted by hackers suspected to have links to North Korea, according to a security specialist in Seoul. The news comes days after Thae announced his intention to run for office in South Korea's upcoming legislative elections this April

South Korea Commits $16M to Training Future Digital Finance Experts
Coin Telegraph
The South Korean government is going to invest $16 million in training more digital finance experts in the coming four years.


Southeast Asia

States Times Review Facebook page barred from receiving any financial benefit under Pofma
The Straits Times
The States Times Review (STR) Facebook page has become the first online site to be barred from receiving any financial benefit under Singapore's laws against fake news, after it refused to put up corrections to falsehoods it published. The page, owned by Singaporean Alex Tan Zhi Xiang, was designated as a declared online location (DOL) on Saturday (Feb 15) by Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran. This comes after STR received correction directions on three separate occasions for publishing falsehoods on various issues, including on the coronavirus situation in Singapore.

(Among the false claims the page was issued correction directions for were that Singapore has not been able to trace the source infections in any of the Covid-19 cases and that Singapore had run out of surgical masks.)

South Asia

We've Just Seen the First Use of Deepfakes in an Indian Election Campaign
Vice
@NilChristopher
AI-generated fake videos that are notoriously rampant in porn are now infiltrating politics. On February 7, a day ahead of the Legislative Assembly elections in Delhi, two videos of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Manoj Tiwari criticising the incumbent Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal went viral on WhatsApp. While one video had Tiwari speak in English, the other was him speaking in the Hindi dialect of Haryanvi.

(Deep Fake of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Manoj Tiwari criticising the incumbent Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal went viral on WhatsApp. a day ahead of the Legislative Assembly elections.)

Europe

Huawei Is Winning the Argument in Europe, as the U.S. Fumbles to Develop Alternatives
NYT
@dmccabe @SangerNYT
Germany seems poised to follow Britain in letting the Chinese maker build next-generation networks, despite last appeals from the United States.

Middle East

Google removes alleged spying app ToTok from the Play Store for a second time
The Verge
@Verge
Google has removed the chat app ToTok, which is allegedly an espionage tool for the United Arab Emirates, from the Play Store for a second time. The app was previously pulled from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in December, shortly before The New York Times published a report about it. Google quietly reinstated the app in January. The app appears to have remained unavailable on the App Store.

Misc

The messy, secretive reality behind OpenAI’s bid to save the world
MIT Technology Review
The AI moonshot was founded in the spirit of transparency. This is the inside story of how competitive pressure eroded that idealism.

Carnival Cruises, Delta, and 70 Countries Use a Facial Recognition Company You’ve Never Heard Of
One Zero
Over the past 10 years, NEC has quietly emerged as perhaps the world’s largest purveyor of the technology. NEC has 1,000+ biometrics contracts with agencies around the world.

AI systems claiming to 'read' emotions pose discrimination risks
The Guardian
@hannahdev
Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that companies claim can “read” facial expressions are based on outdated science and risks being unreliable and discriminatory, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of emotion has warned.

Research

ASEAN Cyberthreat Assessment 2020: Key Insights from The ASEAN Cybercrime Operations Desk
Interpol
Driven by the increasing use of digital technologies, INTERPOL member countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are rapidly transforming into digital economies. With more businesses shifting to digitalization, more individuals are performing daily transactions online in ASEAN countries. This Report covers the key insights from the ASEAN cybercrime operations dest.

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