Huawei data centre built to spy on PNG | Belarus trying to block parts of the internet amid historic protests | QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show

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  • Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei built a data centre in Papua New Guinea, which exposed secret government files to being stolen, according to a report that catalogues Beijing's efforts to spy on the Pacific nation. The Australian Financial Review

  • On Sunday, thousands of people poured onto the streets of cities in Belarus to protest the result of the presidential election, which saw the long-time president Alexander Lukashenko win with 80 percent of the vote. The government has responded by arresting protesters, and attempting to block parts of the internet. Vice

  • An internal investigation by Facebook has uncovered thousands of groups and pages, with millions of members and followers, that support the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to internal company documents reviewed by NBC News. NBC News

ASPI ICPC

Huawei data centre built to spy on PNG
The Australian Financial Review
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei built a data centre in Papua New Guinea, which exposed secret government files to being stolen, according to a report that catalogues Beijing's efforts to spy on the Pacific nation. The report, provided to the Australian government, noted outdated encryption software was deployed by Huawei, while firewall settings were insufficient for a centre designed to store the entire data archive of the PNG government..A report completed this year by think tank The Australian Strategic Policy Institute found China had provided $US147 million for digital projects in PNG including the national data centre, the national broadband network and a biometric identity card.

Australia is cracking down on foreign interference in research. Is the system working?
Nature
In 2019, Joske and his colleagues developed the China Defence Universities Tracker, which places Chinese institutions on a risk scale according to how closely they are associated with the military and whether they have been accused of or engaged in espionage and intellectual-property theft. Ninety-two institutions — including 60 run by the People’s Liberation Army or security and intelligence agencies, and 20 civilian universities — are rated very high risk. A further 23 civilian universities are graded high risk. Joske is concerned about collaborations with universities in China that have military ties — and how these should be policed. In his view, the Australian government should provide universities with information about which foreign institutions deserve more scrutiny, and should establish a national research-integrity office that can enforce existing national-security and export-control laws.

The World

QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show
NBC News
The preliminary results of an investigation by Facebook shed new light on the scope of activity and content from the QAnon community on the platform.

Australia

We have no strategy for tackling the dark side of digital
The Australian Financial Review
@lesleyseebeck
Last week’s release of the government’s latest Cyber Security Strategy shows just what a difficult area this is for policymakers. Officials in the Department of Home Affairs had been tasked to prepare a strategy addressing a phenomenon that affects every facet of Australian society, economy and national security – and to do so at a time when our dependency on digital technologies is increasing sharply. The tasking, moreover, comes from a government with a preference for action over theory.

Foreign forces ‘spying on diaspora’, says ASIO
The Australian
The nation’s top spy agency has warned foreign governments are targeting and exploiting diaspora communities, using threats of harm and intimidation against individuals and their families in Australia and overseas.

Cyber criminals targeted Australian government nearly 450 times in one year
Global Government Forum
The ASCS responded to more than 2,000 cyber security incidents in the 12 months to 30 June 2020. Nearly 450 of these targeted Australia’s central government, while more than 350 were against state and territory governments, according to ASCS figures contained in the strategy. Around 35% of incidents impacted critical infrastructure providers delivering essential services, including healthcare, education, banking, water, communications, transport and energy. Those responsible for attacks included nation states or state-sponsored actors, financially-motivated criminals, issue-motivated groups and individuals, and terrorists or extremists, the government said.

IGIS still calling for more staff to provide oversight of ASIO's encryption-busting powers
ZDNet
Australia's Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), currently Margaret Stone, has told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) that additional resources are still required to conduct its current remit.

Craig Kelly's compulsory vaccination claims ignored by Prime Minister
The Daily Telegraph
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to address federal backbencher and ex-furniture salesman Craig Kelly’s increasingly alarming online behaviour as the MP posted notorious conspiracy theories about Microsoft founder Bill Gates enforcing mandatory vaccinations.

China

Peering into the future of Sino-Russian cyber security cooperation
War on the Rocks
Over the next decade, China and Russia are likely to continue close technical and diplomatic cooperation. Beijing now appears more willing to adopt information operations techniques historically associated with Russian actors to shape the narrative on the responsibility for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the two sides are unlikely to coordinate on offensive cyber operations.

‘It’s not something I stand behind’: Swedish singer Zara Larsson cuts ties with Huawei
South China Morning Post
Zara Larsson, one of Sweden’s best known international singers, made a deal last year to market a new smartphone from the Chinese telecoms giant She said she felt ‘hindered’ by the collaboration to take a stand on what China ‘was doing’ in regards to the Uygurs, TikTok and Hong Kong.

US

BlueLeaks Reveals What TikTok Shares with U.S. Authorities
The Intercept
A glimpse at what the social media platform does in the U.S. underscores that data privacy issues extend beyond China.

Twitter 'looking' at a possible TikTok tie-up
BBC
Twitter has approached TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance to express an interest in buying its US operations, according to reports.

America’s 5G Capabilities Are About to Get a Big Boost
Defense One
The Defense Department is opening large areas of mid-band spectrum to help the United States compete with China in 5G. But is it too little, too late?

Europe

Belarus Is Trying to Block Parts of the Internet Amid Historic Protests
Vice
On Sunday, thousands of people poured onto the streets of cities in Belarus to protest the result of the presidential election, which saw the long-time president Alexander Lukashenko win with 80 percent of the vote. The government has responded by arresting protesters, and attempting to block parts of the internet.

Misc

Killer robots' and AI could wipe out humanity, report warns
The Telegraph
An increasing number of countries want to introduce a ban on fully autonomous weapons in order to prevent the creation of "killer robots", a new report says.

Why Do Solar Farms Kill Birds? Call in the AI Bird Watcher
Wired
America's solar farms have a bird problem. Utility companies have been finding bird carcasses littering the ground at their facilities for years, a strange and unexpected consequence of the national solar boom. No one was quite sure why this was happening, but it was clearly a problem for a type of energy that was billed as being environmentally friendly. So in 2013, a group of utilities, academics, and environmental organizations came together to form the Avian Solar Working Group to develop strategies to mitigate avian deaths at solar facilities around the US.

How the International Space Station Enables Cybersecurity
InfoSecurity
Like any other IT environment, there are potential cyber-risks to the International Space Station (ISS), though the station is quite literally like no environment on Earth.

Connecting your smart devices with confidence
National Cyber Security Centre
From Bluetooth speakers to Wi-Fi enabled toothbrushes, there's a growing army of 'connected devices' in all of our homes. Unfortunately, the speed and quality of manufacturer responses to security issues in 'Internet of Things' (IoT) products has been extremely varied. In fact, many still lack basic security features.

Is a successful contact tracing app possible? These countries think so.
MIT Technology Review
If contact tracing apps are following Gartner’s famous hype cycle, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion they are now firmly in the “trough of disillusionment.” Initial excitement that they could be a crucial part of the arsenal against covid-19 has given way to fears it could all come to nothing, despite large investments of money and time. Country after country has seen low take-up, and in the case of Norway and the UK, apps were even abandoned.

Events

Webinar Launch - 'Spy vs Spy: The New Age of Espionage'
ASPI and Foreign Policy
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Australian Foreign Affairs is delighted to invite you to a panel discussion on the new issue of Australian Foreign Affairs: Spy vs Spy: The New Age of Espionage. This issue of Australian Foreign Affairs explores the threat facing Australia as changes in technology enable malign actors to target individuals, officials, businesses and infrastructure – challenges that have only sharpened due to Covid-19. Speakers: Professor Anne-Marie Brady, Danielle Cave, Andrew Davies, Kim McGrath, Jonathan Pearlman and Penny Wong.

Working smarter, not harder: Leveraging government procurement to improve cybersecurity and supply chains
ASPI
ASPI's International Cyber Policy Centre is delighted to invite you to the virtual launch of our latest report, 'Working smarter, not harder: Leveraging government procurement to improve cybersecurity and supply chains', with the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP on 18 August. The report, Working smarter, not harder looks at how Australian governments - as the nation's largest spenders on ICT - can maximise the leverage that market power gives them to drive improved cybersecurity, more secure supply chains, and build local industry. The launch by the Minister will be followed by a panel discussion with and Q&A.

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