A New Global Technology Initiative - The Sydney Dialogue | Swedish court upholds 5G ban for Huawei | Four massive tech companies join legal battle against Israeli hacking firm NSO
Welcome to the final Cyber Digest of 2020. The team at the International Cyber Policy Centre are taking a break over the holidays and will return with daily updates on January 11th.
As announced today by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, ASPI will host The Sydney Dialogue—which we aim to make the world’s premier summit for emerging, critical and cyber technologies—in the second half of 2021. This annual dialogue will bring together political, business and government leaders with the world’s best strategic thinkers to debate, generate new ideas and work towards common understandings of the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging and critical technologies. We have ambitious plans for The Sydney Dialogue, and getting this onto the government’s agenda didn’t happen overnight. The Strategist
Sweden will push ahead with building its 5G network without Huawei, despite protests from the company and the Chinese government… after an appeals court upheld an October decision to ban Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from its networks on security grounds. South China Morning Post
Tech giants including Microsoft and Google on Monday joined Facebook’s legal battle against hacking company NSO, filing an amicus brief in federal court that warned that the Israeli firm’s tools were “powerful, and dangerous.” Reuters
Introducing a new global technology initiative from Australia: The Sydney Dialogue
As announced today by Foreign Minister Marise Payne, ASPI will host The Sydney Dialogue—which we aim to make the world’s premier summit for emerging, critical and cyber technologies—in the second half of 2021. This annual dialogue will bring together political, business and government leaders with the world’s best strategic thinkers to debate, generate new ideas and work towards common understandings of the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging and critical technologies. We have ambitious plans for The Sydney Dialogue, and getting this onto the government’s agenda didn’t happen overnight.
Read the press release from Australia’s Foreign Minister here: Australia strengthens global discussion on cyber and critical technology.
Australia, UK and UN dragged into information operations targeting West Papua
On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, a network of accounts is targeting the West Papua independence movement with memes and messages designed to shape international and domestic narratives about the separatist movement. The region has been beset by a series of well-documented online information operations, but some of the content posted in late 2020 claims to represent the views on West Papua of Australian officials, as well as of the United Nations and the UK government, and have reportedly been called out by the Australian Government..Our analysis of accounts posting the images on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram revealed signs of coordinated or automated posting.
WeChat Becomes a Powerful Surveillance Tool Everywhere in China
The Wall Street Journal
WeChat uses client-to-server encryption, which grants Tencent full access to data between senders and recipients, as opposed to end-to-end encryption, said Fergus Ryan, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank created by the Australian government “Chatting over WeChat is like writing a letter to your contact [and] giving it to WeChat to transport in a securely locked opaque box, which they take back to their office,” he said. Then they “open up the box, read your letter and modify/redact as they see fit, then put it in another secure, opaque-colored locked box and transport to your contact.”
Dealing with China on High Tech Issues
@BartHoogeveen @BrigitteDekker_ @MaaikeOh
Australia is seen as a testbed for the CCP’s approach to dealing with liberal economies, and leaders in the US and Europe are carefully watching Australia’s balancing act with Beijing.
Partnership for Countering Influence Operations
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The community working to counter influence operations is disparate, and few common standards exist to guide and assess investigators’ work. The Influence Operations Researchers’ Guild attempts to address these challenges by supporting the development of a more cohesive community around the investigation of these issues. It is our hope that the Guild will serve as a place to define and share best practices, to improve research standards, and to strengthen the research community’s response to influence operations on the basis of shared values and norms. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is please to be a founding member of Carnegie’s Influence Operations Researcher’s Guild.
NBN caught in the middle of a geopolitical storm
Australian Financial Review
In Australia, there is no better place to see these disparate forces at work than in the recent disruptions to the global supply chain of the government-owned wholesale broadband supplier NBN Co. Its supply chain problems started early this year when the COVID-19 infection started spreading through the Chinese city of Wuhan. It so happened, a factory near Wuhan was supplying NBN a specialist engineering product.. NBN got caught in the middle of this US-China tech war about a month ago when its US supplier of network termination devices for its hybrid coaxial cable (HFC) said it could not supply products in a timely manner.
Quantum leap puts rogue states on notice
The first encryption technology designed to stop rogue states stealing national and business secrets by exploiting the next generation of super computers has been developed by Australian experts.
#IStandWithDan vs #DictatorDan: how fringe accounts gamed Twitter during Melbourne's lockdown
During the height of Melbourne's lockdown, as the city struggled to contain the virus, a separate battle was being fought online.
Treasury Department’s Senior Leaders Were Targeted by Hacking
The New York Times
The Russian hackers who penetrated United States government agencies broke into the email system used by the Treasury Department’s most senior leadership.
Barr Says Russia Likely to Blame in Hacking, Breaking With Trump
Attorney General William Barr said a massive cyber-attack on the U.S. government was likely carried out by Russia after President Donald Trump suggested China may have been responsible. Barr on Monday joined other administration officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, in pointing to Russia.
Why the Russian hack is so significant, and why it's close to a worst-case scenario
Experts say it's potentially the largest spying operation against the U.S. in history — and it ran without being noticed for nine months.
Chinese Communist Party think tank staffer offered to pay for sources
A person on LinkedIn claiming to work for a think tank run by a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party department recently offered financial compensation for the names of my sources and for reports about the incoming Biden's administration's views on China.
As Trump meets with QAnon influencers, the conspiracy theory’s adherents beg for dictatorship
With Trump's days in office dwindling, QAnon influencers have become increasingly restless and militant, urging the president to “#crosstherubicon.”
Google Promised Not To To Use Its AI In Weapons, So Why Is It Investing In Startups Straight Out Of “Star Wars”?
More than two years ago, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai promised to no longer use his company’s artificial intelligence expertise to develop weapons. But that hasn’t stopped Google’s parent company, Alphabet, where Pichai is also CEO, from investing in a couple of companies that are getting into the business of war.
An Analysis of Indonesia and the Philippines’ Government-launched COVID-19 Apps
The Citizen Lab
As part of the Citizen Lab’s research into the security and privacy of applications, we report on issues we discovered with three COVID-related applications in Indonesia and the Philippines.
New Zealand & The Pacific
Pacific Cyber Security Operational Network
Three years after its inception, the Pacific Cyber Security Operational Network launches its website. PacSON is the premium network of government cyber incident responders in the South Pacific region.
NZX admits cyber security standards were not met ahead of attacks as industry reports surge in Kiwi tech systems targeted
New Zealand's stock exchange (NZX) has admitted its cyber-security wasn't up to scratch when it fell victim to a spate of cyberattacks this year.
South and Central Asia
Opinion: Frequent Attacks on Government IT systems calls for officials' training in Cyber Security
The Economic Times
It is time that a comprehensive and systematized cyber security training programme be conducted for the entire government machinery including all the Central and state government officials.
Would banning Chinese Telecom Companies make 5g secure in India?
The Center for Internet and Society
Speaking on the status of 5g in India at a virtual summit, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant noted the country is set to go all out in its adoption, but that there exist security concerns with the technology. He also pointed out that India is yet to make a decision on the participation of Chinese telecom companies in its 5g infrastructure.
Huawei and China frozen out in Sweden after appeals court upholds 5G ban
South China Morning Post
Sweden will push ahead with building its 5G network without Huawei, despite protests from the company and the Chinese government, as the icy relations between Beijing and Stockholm showed little sign of thawing. The decision is in line with the latest public opinion polls in Sweden, which holds some of the most negative views of China in Europe. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said on Friday it would resume its next-generation telecoms auctions next month, after an appeals court upheld an October decision to ban Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from its networks on security grounds.
Italian data regulator opens formal procedure against TikTok
The agency said that its investigation has found that TikTok's ban on enrolment to people under 13 is easily circumvented and that information for users is too generic and not specific enough for children.
Michiel van Hulten @mvanhultenSo here's the thread on Huawei I promised yesterday. It seems Huawei is using social media black ops tactics to try to convince policy-makers in Belgium that it can be trusted to build 5G networks. 🤨 https://t.co/noZKM13RuD
Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Dell join legal battle against hacking company NSO
Tech giants including Microsoft and Google on Monday joined Facebook’s legal battle against hacking company NSO, filing an amicus brief in federal court that warned that the Israeli firm’s tools were “powerful, and dangerous.”
Coronavirus apps were supposed to be the answer to COVID-19. They are not.
Coronavirus cases are again on the rise. Governments are scratching their heads about what to do next. Many are relying on digital apps to track the spread of the pandemic. They shouldn't get their hopes up.
ICPC Senior Analyst or Analyst - China
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for an exceptional and experienced China-focused senior analyst or analyst to join its centre in 2021. This role will focus on original research and analysis centred around the (growing) range of topics which our ICPC China team work on. Our China team produces some of the most impactful and well-read policy-relevant research in the world, with our experts often being called upon by politicians, governments, corporates and civil society actors to provide briefings and advice.
ICPC Analyst - Information operations & disinformation
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has an outstanding opportunity for a talented and proactive analyst to join its centre. The successful candidate will work with a small, high-performing team to produce original research and analysis centred around policy responses to information operations and disinformation by state and non-state actors. They will also work with senior staff in the centre to engage globally with governments, social media and Internet companies.
ICPC - Strategic engagement & program coordinator
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has an outstanding early career role for a talented and proactive individual to support senior centre staff on strategic engagement, program and research coordination.
For more information and to apply for these roles go to the ASPI Jobs Page.