Australia announces $10 billion plan to bolster cybersecurity | China makes genetic data a national resource | New report: Understanding global disinformation and information operations
Almost $10 billion over the next decade will be pumped into helping Australia compete in cyber warfare with adversaries such as Russia and China in a major funding boost that will nearly double the size of the nation’s leading cyber security agency. The Sydney Morning Herald
The Chinese government has identified genetic data as a national strategic resource and is strengthening state control over the country's gene banks and other repositories of genetic information. Axios
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has launched the Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations website alongside a companion paper. The site provides a visual breakdown of the publically-available data from state-linked information operations on social media. ASPI ICPC
Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations
Ingram Niblock, Jacob Wallis and Albert Zhang
Our analysis demonstrates that there is a proliferation of state actors willing to deploy information operations targeting their own domestic populations, as well as those of their adversaries. We find that Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and Venezuela are the most prolific perpetrators. By making these complex data sets available in accessible form ASPI is broadening meaningful engagement on the challenge of state actor information operations and disinformation campaigns for policymakers, civil society and the international research community.
View the project project database website here.
Ukraine - Russia
How Ukraine’s Internet is still working despite Russian bombs and cyberattacks
The Washington Post
Gerrit De Vynck, Rachel Lerman and Cat Zakrzewski
Most of Ukraine is still connected to the Internet, especially in major cities. Outages occur every day, but the overall infrastructure that powers the Internet has proven resilient, with the help of engineers and backup plans.
Open source intelligence observers gain growing role in how war is viewed
Stars and Stripes
Citizen intelligence analysts are spotlighting the Russian navy’s role in its war on Ukraine, using publicly available information to report on missile launches, blockades and other actions in the Black and Mediterranean seas. The information gathered using open-source intelligence, or OSINT, offers a glimpse into Russia’s maritime war activities and sometimes challenges information released by government sources.
Why Russian radios in Ukraine are getting spammed with heavy metal
Modern military-grade radios encrypt signals and change the frequency on which they operate many times a second, making their transmissions impossible to intercept. But many Russian forces are communicating on unencrypted high-frequency (HF) channels that allow anyone with a ham radio to eavesdrop. The Russian army does have some modern tech. But there are not enough radios to go around.
Using Russian tech? It's time to look at the risks again, says cybersecurity chief
The NCSC said that Russian law already contains legal obligations on companies to assist the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and the pressure to do so may increase in a time of war. And while it said there was no evidence that the Russian state intends to suborn Russian commercial products and services to cause damage to UK interests, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Redspice: budget ushers in Australia’s ‘biggest ever’ cybersecurity spend
Australia’s electronic spy agency will double in size and ramp up its ability to launch its own offensive cyber operations as part of a $10bn national security budget pledge curiously dubbed Redspice. But the funding is spread over 10 years and only $4.2bn will be spent in the first four-year budget cycle. Given the government is partly offsetting the package with savings from other parts of the defence portfolio, the cyber pledge is worth only $588.7m in new money in the first four years. The money would allow the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to “keep pace with the rapid growth of cyber capabilities of potential adversaries”, the government said.
Australia announces $10 billion plan to bolster cyber security in response to China threat
Fears over China and instability in Ukraine will see Australia double its cyber security spending, with a $10 billion boost in the next decade. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described the 10-year, $9.9 billion plan as a way to boost “Australia’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities’ as “the biggest ever investment in Australia’s cyber preparedness”. “The lesson of history is that weakness invites aggression,” he said.
Cyber defence bolstered by $10 billion via Project REDSPICE
The Sydney Morning Herald
Almost $10 billion over the next decade will be pumped into helping Australia compete in cyber warfare with adversaries such as Russia and China in a major funding boost that will nearly double the size of the nation’s leading cyber security agency. In its centrepiece defence budget announcement, the government will make the largest single investment in the 75-year history of the Australian Signals Directorate, the country’s powerful and highly secretive electronic intelligence agency.
Small business gets $1 billion to go digital
The Sydney Morning Herald
Small business owners will receive up to $1 billion in tax breaks for digital spending, including upgrades to cybersecurity systems or online sales platforms, as the government pushes more firms to embrace the online economy.
Forget state surveillance—it’s advertisers who know you best
The Australian government is working to modernise and simplify outdated laws governing how Australian agencies conduct electronic surveillance. However, this reform effort is not examining surveillance by companies—so called surveillance capitalism. This is a problem because, despite concerns about all-seeing Orwellian agencies, most electronic surveillance is undertaken by corporations harvesting data from people’s digital interactions.
Information, disinformation and democracy in a volatile world
As we approach another election in Australia, it’s timely to reconsider the relationship between agencies of cybersecurity, diplomacy and political communication, including multiplatform international broadcasting. Although the Australian people face no imminent existential crisis, unlike the people of Ukraine (or Afghanistan or Yemen), the West’s ‘holiday from history’ is a fast-receding memory and, as the government argues, sharp power and grey-zone threats multiply with greater complexity and proximity.
China makes genetic data a national resource
The Chinese government has identified genetic data as a national strategic resource and is strengthening state control over the country's gene banks and other repositories of genetic information. Newly released draft guidelines prohibit the genetic information of Chinese nationals from being sent abroad and mandate the cataloging of human genetic databases, including data at academic institutions, to be carried out every five years.
Huawei 'more united' in face of U.S. pressure, says repatriated CFO
U.S. pressure on Huawei Technologies has served to strengthen the resolve of the Chinese telecoms giant, finance chief Meng Wanzhou said on Monday after its first set of results since her return from nearly three years' detention in Canada.
Intrusion Truth - Five Years of Naming and Shaming China’s Spies
Zero Day (Substack)
In 2017, a mysterious person or group going by the name Intrusion Truth began to systematically expose the real identities of hackers behind some of China’s most egregious spying operations. They don’t expose just any hackers on their anonymous blog, but focus on teams that pilfer intellectual property from western companies and scientific institutions for the purpose of enriching China’s industries — a violation of what the U.S. deems acceptable espionage practices.
New Tech Budget Request is the Defense Department’s Largest Ever
The Biden administration is requesting $130 billion for the department’s research, engineering, development, and testing for 2023, nearly 10 percent up from last year’s request. Of that, $16.5 billion will go toward emerging science and technology. “And we make other significant investments in more mature artificial intelligence and 5G programs,” said Hicks.
The hard truth behind Biden’s cyber warnings
The Biden administration has offered ominous warnings about looming Russian cyberattacks. But another reality is equally foreboding: The U.S. may have too many targets to defend them all.
Pro-Russia Sentiment on Indian Twitter Draws Scrutiny
The New York Times
Kate Conger and Suhasini Raj
The prevalence of accounts claiming to be from Indian users indicates that India’s social media landscape has become an important destination in the effort to influence public opinion of the war in Ukraine. Users who said they were from India made up nearly 11 percent of the hashtag trend in the two weeks after the invasion. Just 0.3 percent were from Russia and 1.6 percent from the United States during that time.
Sea e-commerce unit Shopee to shut India operations
Fanny Potkin and Aditya Kalra
E-commerce and gaming firm Sea Ltd said on Monday it is withdrawing from India's retail market just months after starting operations there, the second pullback this month in an overseas expansion drive, as the loss-making firm faces a weak growth outlook.
One Strategy Democracies Should Use to Counter Disinformation
Authoritarian governments are leading the push at the UN to develop international norms. Democracies should deploy existing UN codes to provide alternatives.
Does Social Media Make Teens Unhappy? It May Depend on Their Age
The New York Times
Analyzing survey responses of more than 84,000 people of all ages in Britain, the researchers identified two distinct periods of adolescence when heavy use of social media spurred lower ratings of “life satisfaction”: first around puberty — ages 11 to 13 for girls, and 14 to 15 for boys — and then again for both sexes around age 19.
The Future of Digital Cash Is Not on the Blockchain
Governments around the world, spooked by the rise of privately issued cryptocurrencies, have been exploring so-called central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs. Imagine a government version of PayPal or Venmo. This could solve the unbanked problem by creating a public banking option for low-income people, but it would not replace cash. As the economy shifts inexorably toward all-digital transactions, a future where our only options are payment apps, banks, crypto, or CBDCs means a future in which every financial transaction is potentially subject to surveillance by the government or private companies.
That smiling LinkedIn profile face might be a computer-generated fake
Social media accounts using computer-generated faces have pushed Chinese disinformation; harassed activists; and masqueraded as Americans supporting former President Donald Trump and independent news outlets spreading pro-Kremlin propaganda.
The Sydney Dialogue - Director
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is currently recruiting for a Director to lead the second iteration of ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue - the world’s premier summit on emerging, critical and cyber technologies.
The Sydney Dialogue - Senior Events Coordinator
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is currently recruiting for an experienced events professional to coordinate the planning and logistics of the second iteration of ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue - the world’s premier summit on emerging, critical and cyber technologies.
ICPC Senior Analyst or Analyst - China
ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) has a unique opportunity for exceptional and experienced China-focused senior analysts or analysts to join its centre. 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.
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