Russia spreading coronavirus disinfo aimed at West, say US officials / Tech CEOs From Amazon, Apple, Facebook & Google to Testify Before Congress / Hackers ‘based in China’ targeted MP Tom Tugendhat
Russian intelligence operatives are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, US officials said Tuesday. AP
The captains of the New Gilded Age — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google — are set to appear together before Congress for the first time to justify their business practices. The New York Times
Chinese cyberagents are suspected of being behind a campaign against senior Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat involving hacking attempts and online impersonations. The Times
TikTok and Facebook among social media companies asked to front inquiry into foreign interference in Australia
Australian Strategic Policy Institute senior analyst Jake Wallis said there are a number of recent examples that demonstrate how social media misuse can impact democracy, such as Russian interference in the 2016 US election. “We know that there are vulnerabilities and risks and this is what the committee is endeavouring to investigate," he told SBS News. “There are malign actors willing to exploit that potential and those vulnerabilities...we know that state actors can use these techniques to influence elections." Dr Wallis said clampdowns on cyber foreign interference and social media misinformation in Australia might not be too far away. "There are responses to these concerns that have been implemented in other parts of the world,” he said. “We may see a voluntary code with some sort of enforcement mechanism that drives transparency across the platforms.”
Huawei ban is just the start of the great decoupling
The Australian Financial Review
Australia now faces uncomfortable decisions as the world rushes toward substantial decoupling of technology. After years of inching toward a partial separation of the tech systems in China and the US, both sides hastened the tempo in the last few months.. As Simon Lacey, the former vice-president of trade facilitation and market access at Huawei, writes, “In China, it [Huawei] had to demonstrate unwavering loyalty to the goals of the Communist Party leadership. Outside China, it had to argue that it had little or nothing to do with the Chinese state.” This is proving untenable in developed democracies.
NSW runs AI over legislation to find reform opportunities
The NSW government has run an artificial intelligence tool from Deloitte over all 89,000 sections of legislation across the state to identify opportunities for reform.
Chinese supplier of Australian train parts accused of using Uighur labour vows to fight US blacklisting
A Chinese train company with major government clients in Australia that has been accused of using Uighur labour has engaged lawyers to fight a US blacklisting. The company is named in a major and damning report on Uighur forced labour, published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute this year. The report says that in July last year, 41 Uighur workers were transferred to KTK Group in Changzhou, citing a local media report.
Cyber security: why it's time to coexist with China - not cancel it
The Financial Times
We need to face Chinese tech with scrutiny and safeguards — not with disengagement.
Tencent steals Facebook’s social media crown with 44 per cent rally in 2020
South China Morning Post
Tencent is now the world’s seventh most valuable company, ahead of Facebook, with one analyst expecting the shares to continuing rising over the next 12 months.
Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google Prepare for Their ‘Big Tobacco Moment’
The New York Times
The captains of the New Gilded Age — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google — will appear together before Congress for the first time to justify their business practices. Members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee have investigated the internet giants for more than a year on accusations that they stifled rivals and harmed consumers. The hearing is the government’s most aggressive show against tech power since the pursuit to break up Microsoft two decades ago.
Misleading Virus Video, Pushed by the Trumps, Spreads Online
The New York Times
Social media companies took down the video with hours. But by then, it had already been viewed tens of millions of times.
Dark money and PAC’s coordinated 'reopen' push are behind doctors’ viral hydroxychloroquine video
The virality of the video underscores the difficulty in moderating misinformation surrounding the coronavirus, when treatments and public health responses have become increasingly political.
Ex-Twitter Workers Win U.S. Case Dismissal Over Saudi Hacks
The U.S. sought to dismiss charges it brought late last year against two former Twitter Inc. employees and a Saudi national for allegedly helping Riyadh spy on dissidents who use the social network.
Ransomware attack on Garmin thought to be the work of 'Evil Corp'
A ransomware attack that took the GPS and smartwatch business Garmin entirely offline for more than three days is believed to have been carried out by a Russian cybercriminal gang which calls itself “Evil Corp”. Garmin began to restore services to customers on Monday morning, after being held hostage for a reported ransom of $10m, although some services were still operating with limited functionality.
Election Officials Are Vulnerable to Email Attacks, Report Shows
A report reveals weaknesses in the country’s diverse, locally administered election system, which attracted state-sponsored hackers four years ago.
San Francisco Police Accessed Business District Camera Network to Spy on Protestors
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) conducted mass surveillance of protesters at the end of May and in early June using a downtown business district's camera network, according to new records obtained by EFF.
NZ and Pacific Islands
Auckland experts changing the face of cyber security technology in New Zealand
Some of the world’s leading cyber security experts will meet in Auckland next year to discuss advancement within the field as the risks of leaked data, phishing and exposure to inappropriate content pose increasing harm to economies across the globe.
South and Central Asia
What is Silicon Valley’s plan in India?
The Financial Times
Silicon Valley has poured billions into India since the start of the year, with Facebook and Google leading the charge with investments of $5.7bn and $4.5bn respectively. Chipmakers Qualcomm and Intel also struck deals in the country, along with a string of leading US tech-focused private equity firms. All of these investments went to one company: Jio Platforms.
Hackers ‘based in China’ targeted MP Tom Tugendhat with campaign of lies
Chinese cyberagents are suspected of being behind a campaign against a senior Conservative MP involving hacking attempts and online impersonations. Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said last night that he had been subjected to concerted efforts to access his email account and discredit him professionally and personally. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a division of GCHQ, the government listening post, was called in to examine attacks on his communications and attempts to impersonate him online. Google’s security team also investigated the origins of “spoof” email accounts set up to mimic him and found that the ultimate users were based in China.
WhatsApp confirms Catalan politician's phone was target of 2019 attack
In a letter to Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, WhatsApp confirmed that his personal WhatsApp account was “targeted in an attempt to gain unauthorised access to data and communications on the device”. The letter also confirmed that the targeting was part of an attack against WhatsApp’s users by operators of spyware made by NSO Group.
The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire
The New Yorker
An eccentric Dutchman began living in a giant underground facility built by the German military—and ran a server farm beloved by cybercriminals.
Russia spreading coronavirus disinfo aimed at West, say US officials
The Sydney Morning Herald
Russian intelligence operatives are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, US officials said Tuesday. Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort directed at American and Western audiences, US government officials said.
A growing group of journalists has cut back on Twitter, or abandoned it entirely
For all the value journalists can extract from Twitter, they can also fall victim to its less savory aspects: engaging in petty squabbles over esoteric issues; fielding bigotry and bad-faith attacks from anonymous users and bots; enduring relentless brain stimulation that can distort perception and distract from more pressing responsibilities.
Repress/redress: what the "war on terror" can teach us about fighting misinformation
Misinformation, like terrorism, thrives where trust in conventional authorities has eroded. An informed policy response must therefore complement efforts to repress misinformation with efforts to redress loss of trust. At present, however, we are repeating the mistakes of the war on terror, prioritizing repressive, technologically deterministic solutions while failing to redress the root sociopolitical grievances that cultivate our receptivity to misinformation in the first place.
How Well Can Algorithms Recognize Your Masked Face?
Facial recognition has become more widespread and accurate in recent years, as an artificial intelligence technology called deep learning made computers much better at interpreting images. Now the facial-recognition industry is trying to adapt to a world where many people keep their faces covered to avoid spreading disease.
Google is building a new private subsea cable between Europe and the U.S.
Google today announced its plans to build a new subsea cable with landing points in New York in the U.S. and Bude, UK and Bilbao, Spain in Europe. The new cable, named after the pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, will join Google’s various other private subsea cables like Curie between the U.S. and South America, Dunant between the U.S. and France, and Equiano between Europe and Africa. The new cable is scheduled to go online in 2022 and will be built by SubCom.
Algorithms drive online discrimination, academic warns
The Financial Times
Existing laws are failing to protect the public from discrimination by algorithms that influence decision-making on everything from employment to housing, according to new research from the Oxford Internet Institute. Sandra Wachter, the academic behind the study, found algorithms are drawing inferences about sensitive personal traits such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religious beliefs based on our browsing behaviour.
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. Register now.