The potential cyber-security costs of the Taliban's Afghan takeover | Facebook's most popular Q1 2021 post: COVID misinformation | US State Department hit by cyber attack
Among the many long-term costs of the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the swift withdrawal of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel, count this one: Troves of sensitive U.S. government data are surely being left behind in the nation now under Taliban control. The Washington Post
Facebook said Saturday evening that an article raising concerns that the coronavirus vaccine could lead to death was the top performing link on its platform from January through March of this year, acknowledging the widespread reach of such material for the first time. The Washington Post
The U.S. State Department was recently hit by a cyber attack, and notifications of a possible serious breach were made by the Department of Defense Cyber Command, a Fox News reporter tweeted on Saturday. Reuters
Big tech exploited by violent extremists
Australian Financial Review
The Department of Home Affairs and AUSTRAC have issued a warning to the world’s biggest technology companies including Amazon and Google, demanding they do more to ensure they are not being unwittingly used by terrorists to raise money. A joint submission to a Senate committee named the Google-owned YouTube, e-commerce giant Amazon, fund-raising platform Patreon and the Australian-based Redbubble as companies that have been exploited by bad actors and warns them to lift their game. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says right-wing extremists such as Thomas Sewell are using technology platforms such as YouTube, PayPal and other lesser known names including gaming websites to send and receive funds.
Read our report “Buying and selling extremism: New funding opportunities in the right-wing extremist online ecosystem” here.
How Australian far-right extremists fundraise online
As the Australian parliament continues its inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism, it’s vital that attention be paid to the ways online funding mechanisms can be exploited by individuals and groups promoting right-wing extremist (RWE) ideologies in Australia. In general, these platforms weren’t built for RWE content. But while mainstream fundraising services such as PayPal and Patreon were found in the sample, the increased scrutiny paid to RWE content by mainstream social media companies appears to have encouraged these groups to move to a range of alternative online platforms that provide additional ways to earn money. In fact, even if accounts have been stripped of their ability to earn money on DLive and YouTube, for example, new services such as Entropy encourage users to port a livestream from those sites and continue to receive paid ‘chats’.
UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner grills Hikvision on China human rights abuses
The China-based surveillance equipment manufacturer accused of being linked to the human rights abuse of the Uyghur ethnic minority in Xinjiang has denied any wrongdoing in a heated exchange with the UK's Surveillance Camera Commissioner. "Cameras made by the Chinese firm Hikvision have been deployed throughout Xinjiang, and provide the primary camera technology used in the internment camps," claimed the Foreign Affairs Committee in a July report. It went on to quote Dr Samantha Hoffman of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Dr Radomir Tylecote of Civitas, whom they said "shared their concern that facial recognition cameras made by companies such as Hikvision operating in the UK are collecting facial recognition data, which can then be used by the Chinese government."
Climate change will disrupt supply chains much more than Covid — here's how businesses can prepare
“Whether you’re in the agricultural sector or the forestry sector, or in the tech sector, there is really no particular sector that is immune from climate change,” said Christy Slay, senior director of science and research applications at The Sustainability Consortium.
Will digital money belong to democrats or despots?
The Atlantic Council
The outcome of this monetary competition has geopolitical implications and significant societal risks. On one hand, digital currencies could reap the benefits of underpinning the financial system, extend services to the underbanked, and increase the efficiency and security of payments. But on the other hand, these technologies can also be used for state surveillance, to undermine critical financial institutions, and to evade sanctions and law enforcement.
Social media: A tool for peace or conflict?
Human rights activists have used social media technology to organize peaceful protests and defend democracy for more than a decade. More recently, peacebuilders have discovered it can be a tool to understand conflict dynamics and counter extremism better. Yet the potential of social media as a megaphone for promoting human rights, democracy and peace is overshadowed by its dismal record of being used to drive radicalization and violence through disinformation campaigns. This ‘online frontline’ will continue to be the case, unless regulators, social media firms and citizens revisit current policies and practices.
Global chipmakers build record inventories in push to end shortage
Total inventory at the world's nine leading chipmakers hit a record high of $64.7 billion as of the end of June, as companies quickly move to ramp up production to alleviate a protracted shortage that has disrupted supply chains in the auto industry and beyond.
Why Tim Cook thinks Australia is a perfect tech breeding ground
Australian Financial Review
Having reinvented personal computers, tablets and phones, Apple has arguably done more than any other company to shape the present. Its CEO is now trying to reframe how you engage with the internet.
Home quarantine trial to be launched in South Australia, Premier Steven Marshall announces
People returning from New South Wales and Victoria will be the first to take part in the trial, which seeks to quarantine people in homes rather than medi-hotels. South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said geo-location and facial recognition software would be used to track people who were quarantining.
‘Vaccine passports’ to combine jab records with QR check-ins for more freedoms
Millions of vaccinated Australians will be able to use their mobile phones to gain exemptions to lockdown rules at cafes, restaurants and public events under a national cabinet plan to use digital records to verify vaccine status. A federal vaccine record will be combined with state check-in systems to expand the use of QR codes at public venues to be sure those who gain entry have been immunised against COVID-19.
Only three vendors cleared for sensitive Government data
The federal government has tightened sovereignty requirements for data hosting vendors and service providers due to security and supply chain concerns. But nearly six months on, only three vendors have been certified while the department responsible for some of Australia’s most sensitive data declined to say how it will approach the new scheme.
China’s Warm Welcome for Taliban Sparks Backlash at Home
The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, posted a brief video history of the Taliban on Monday without mentioning its links to terrorism. The 60-second clip said the group was formed during Afghanistan’s civil war by “students in refugee camps” and expanded with the “support from the poor,” adding that it “has been in a war with the U.S. for 20 years since the Sept. 11 event. The post, which was later deleted, became the fifth-ranked trending top on Weibo, after prompting a huge backlash from users questioning why party newspaper tried to whitewash the group. Some cited its violent past, including beheading people in the streets, destroying the famed Bamiyan Buddhas and banning women from work and study.
Jack Ma’s Costliest Business Lesson: China Has Only One Leader
The Wall Street Journal
@qizhai @lingling_wei @jingyanghk
Brainy and ambitious, Jack Ma built one of China’s largest business empires from scratch, creating billions of dollars in wealth and introducing digital innovations to hundreds of millions of people. He wasn’t China’s Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk or Bill Gates. He was their peer. Technological disruption, once seen as a useful prod for China to catch up with the West, has been recast as a threat to the ruling Communist Party. As a result, Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, is rewriting the rules of business for the world’s second-largest economy. Mr. Ma failed to keep pace with Beijing’s shifting views and lost an appreciation for the risks of falling out of step, according to people who know him. He tuned out warnings for years, they said. He behaved too much like an American entrepreneur.
China Inc braces for fallout from Didi data probe
The Financial Times
When Chinese regulators announced an investigation into data security at Didi Chuxing last month, one-fifth of the New York-listed ride-hailing group’s market value was immediately wiped out. Beijing-based Didi, the entire Chinese technology sector and global investors are now braced for the results of the unprecedented probe.
Genetic papers containing data from China’s ethnic minorities draw fire
Springer Nature, its publisher, launched an investigation that is still ongoing. So last month, Moreau stepped up the pressure: He wrote to the journal’s entire editorial board to complain about the lack of progress. For Moreau, the paper is just one of many studies, primarily in forensic genetics, that deserve scrutiny because of consent problems in China and the potential for abuse of the data. He says he has flagged about 28 papers at six journals over the past couple of years.
Read our report “Genomic Surveillance: Inside China's DNA dragnet” here.
China Closes U.S. Auditor as Tensions Mount Over Forced Labor Allegations
The Wall Street Journal
@lingling_wei @wsjeva @Trefor1
Chinese authorities have shut down a U.S. labor auditor’s local China partner, escalating Beijing’s campaign to counter forced-labor allegations in its northwest Xinjiang region and potentially complicating efforts by multinationals to certify supply chains in the country.
Read our report “Uyghurs for Sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang” here.
Facebook says post that cast doubt on COVID-19 vaccine was most popular on the platform from January through March
The Washington Post
Facebook said Saturday evening that an article raising concerns that the coronavirus vaccine could lead to death was the top performing link on its platform from January through March of this year, acknowledging the widespread reach of such material for the first time.
Build a More Effective Cyber Force, Not More Bureaucracy
War on the Rocks
America’s existing cyber force structure — consisting of Cyber Command and its current service-level components — provides a strong foundation for effectively carrying out the cyber mission. The United States should make this force structure work better, not undermine its progress with the creation of a new independent service.
U.S. State Department recently hit by a cyber attack
The U.S. State Department was recently hit by a cyber attack, and notifications of a possible serious breach were made by the Department of Defense Cyber Command, a Fox News reporter tweeted on Saturday.
FBI finds scant evidence U.S. Capitol attack was coordinated - sources
The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result, according to four current and former law enforcement officials. Though federal officials have arrested more than 570 alleged participants, the FBI at this point believes the violence was not centrally coordinated by far-right groups or prominent supporters of then-President Donald Trump, according to the sources, who have been either directly involved in or briefed regularly on the wide-ranging investigations.
Anti-Vaxxers Are Using Twitter to Manipulate a Vaccine Bill
A small group of vocal anti-vaxxers is fighting hard to make sure a vaccine bill doesn't pass.
Half of APAC firms bypass processes to accommodate remote work
Some 56% of Asia-Pacific businesses admit to sidestepping digital processes to accommodate remote or flexible work arrangements. This despite 48% expressing increased concern about their company’s ability to manage security threats. The latter figure was higher than their counterparts in the Americas, 41% of whom were similarly more concerned than before about their organisation’s ability to mitigate cyber threats, revealed EY’s 2021 Global Information Security Survey.
The Cybersecurity 202: Sensitive government data could be another casualty of Afghan pullout
The Washington Post
Among the many long-term costs of the rapid fall of the Afghan government and the swift withdrawal of U.S. diplomatic and military personnel, count this one: Troves of sensitive U.S. government data are surely being left behind in the nation now under Taliban control.
Taliban websites operating in five languages go dark
The Washington Post
Five Taliban websites that were key to how the militant group delivered its official messages to those inside and outside Afghanistan abruptly went offline Friday, a sign that moves to limit the Taliban’s online reach were gaining traction. It was not immediately clear who or what took the Taliban sites offline, though all five previously had protection from CloudFlare, a San Francisco-based company that helps websites deliver content and defend against cyberattacks.
How the Taliban Turned Social Media Into a Tool for Control
The New York Times
In the 1990s, they banned the internet. Now they use it to threaten and cajole the Afghan people, in a sign of how they might use technology to build power.
Taliban violence drives Afghans to wipe social media profiles
Human rights groups are rushing to help people remove any content that might connect them to Westerners.
As the Taliban offensive gained momentum, so did its Twitter propaganda campaign
Accounts flooded Twitter with copy-pasted messages from the Taliban’s spokesperson as the insurgency overtook Kabul.
Big Tech Thought It Had A Billion Users In The Bag. Now It Might Be Forced To Make Hard Choices To Get Them.
Years ago, seeing a quick path to exponential growth in India’s millions, the US tech industry rushed in, hired thousands of people, poured in billions of dollars, and became inextricably intertwined with the story of a modern, ascendant nation. But as muscular nationalism coursed ever faster through India’s veins, criticism of the powerful became increasingly difficult. Journalists were jailed, activists imprisoned, and the internet, dominated almost entirely by American social media platforms and streaming companies and one of the last remaining spaces for dissent, is now in the crosshairs. Tech companies thought they had a billion users in the bag. But the new rules mean they might be forced to make a choice between standing up for democratic values and the rights of their users, and continuing to operate in a market crucial to growth and market dominance.
Security fears for Hongkongers as alleged Beijing sympathiser joins rehoming taskforce
Pek-San Tan has not expressed pro-Beijing views personally, but has been professionally associated with support for the security crackdown.
‘Our Goal Is to Keep the Regime on Its Toes’: Inside Belarus’s Underground Opposition
The New York Times
Despite public assertions of unity and a campaign of arbitrary arrests and government terror, thousands of activists are working clandestinely to spread dissent and undermine the government. “Our goal is to keep the regime on its toes,” said Maksim, who declined to give his last name for fear of arrest. Despite the harsh and often arbitrary repression meted out by security agencies, thousands of people are organizing anonymously to register their anger. Maksim’s group, which he says consists of up to 100 people, is just one of many that have sprung up in cities and towns across the country.
Facebook, Fearing Public Outcry, Shelved Earlier Report on Popular Posts
The New York Times
When Facebook this week released its first quarterly report about the most viewed posts in the United States, Guy Rosen, its vice president of integrity, said the social network had undertaken “a long journey” to be “by far the most transparent platform on the internet.” The list showed that the posts with the most reach tended to be innocuous content like recipes and cute animals. Facebook had prepared a similar report for the first three months of the year, but executives never shared it with the public because of concerns that it would look bad for the company, according to internal emails sent by executives and shared with The New York Times.
ASPI Webinar: Cybersecurity, critical technologies and energy: Japan and its role in the Indo-Pacific
Join the Director of ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre Fergus Hanson, for an online panel discussion on Japan's approach to cyber issues, technology, digital innovation and energy transition. This webinar will begin with an address by His Excellency Mr. Shingo Yamagami, Ambassador of Japan to Australia. Following his address, Fergus Hanson will be joined by Dr. Yuko Harayama (RIKEN), Mihoko Matsubara (NTT Corporation) and Mr. Shutaro Omura (Embassy of Japan) to discuss the various challenges and national security threats Japan is likely to face, and the opportunities that many of these emerging issues bring. The webinar will also explore opportunities for Japan and Australia to collaborate more closely across these policy areas, and whether that includes both countries taking a greater leadership role in the Indo-Pacific, including through mechanisms such as the Quad.
Finding China's Edge: Engineering Influence Operations within the Limits of Social Media Platform Rules
Against the backdrop of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China has made a concerted endeavor to control the narratives about its own domestic crisis response and create an image as a reliable international partner. Analyzing China’s influence efforts through the lens of narrative control, this report cuts through questions of factual accuracy and seeks to focus on the longer-term interests and priorities that shape Beijing’s messaging.
Logically Identifies GhostEzra, Florida Man Behind World’s ‘Largest Antisemitic Internet Forum’
@nickbackovic @jordanwildon @TheOndrakGuy
One element of that research program is working to uncover the identities of those who leverage online anonymity to avoid accountability for spreading misinformation and hate speech. GhostEzra is the most extreme, and arguably the most influential such figure that the investigative team has uncovered to date.
Cross-platform Information Operations: Mobilizing Narratives and Building Resilience Through Both ‘Big’ and ‘Alt’ Tech
Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington
Tom Wilson @katestarbird
In this paper we use mixed methods, including digital trace ethnography, to look beyond a single social media platform to the broader information ecosystem. We aim to understand how multiple social media platforms are used, in parallel and complementary ways, to achieve the strategic goals of online information operations
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. Analysts usually have at least 5 years, often 7-10 years’ of work experience. Senior analysts usually have a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience and, in addition to research, they take on a leadership role in the centre and tend to be involved in staff and project management, fundraising and stakeholder engagement.
Are you a China nerd? Do you love reading Chinese policy documents? Do you really love explaining those documents to a broad audience of businesspeople, investors, government officials, and academics?