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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  • 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.

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