Ukraine's tech diaspora races to mobilize Silicon Valley | Geofenced searches on Twitter: a case study detailing South Asia’s Covid crisis | Unpacking the first true cyberwar
Ukrainians working at Western tech companies are banding together to help their besieged homeland, aiming to knock down disinformation websites, encourage Russians to turn against their government, and speed delivery of medical supplies. Reuters
By using the results of many geocoded queries, Bellingcat was able to make an approximate map of the geographic distribution of tweets looking for urgent assistance across India and its South Asian neighbours, many of which are experiencing their own coronavirus crises. Bellingcat
The first true cyberwar has begun, says Karly Winkler from the International Cyber Policy Centre. The conflict in Ukraine goes beyond tanks and soldiers - in the 21st century we also see a struggle for control over information and data security. ausbiz
Unpacking the first true cyberwar
The first true cyberwar has begun, says Karly Winkler from the International Cyber Policy Centre. The conflict in Ukraine goes beyond tanks and soldiers - in the 21st century we also see a struggle for control over information and data security.
Read our report on the geopolitics of climate and security in the Indo-Pacific here
The surgeon general calls on Big Tech to turn over Covid-19 misinformation data
The New York Times
President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday formally requested that the major tech platforms submit information about the scale of Covid-19 misinformation on social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems.
Ukraine - Russia
Ukraine's tech diaspora races to mobilize Silicon Valley in war with Russia
Paresh Dave and Jeffrey Dastin
Ukrainians working at Western tech companies are banding together to help their besieged homeland, aiming to knock down disinformation websites, encourage Russians to turn against their government, and speed delivery of medical supplies.
The Ukrainian leader who is pushing Silicon Valley to stand up to Russia
The Washington Post
Cat Zakrzewski and Gerrit De Vynck
As Russian missiles rain down on Ukraine, Fedorov has launched his own pressure campaign, tweeting at some of the world’s most powerful tech companies to take action to shut down Russian propaganda and disconnect Russia from the rest of the world.
The gory online campaign Ukraine hopes will sow anti-Putin dissent probably violates the Geneva Conventions
The Washington Post
Drew Harwell and Mary Ilyushina
A besieged Ukraine has adopted a gruesome tactic in hopes of stoking anti-government rage inside Russia: posting photos and videos of captured and killed Russian soldiers on the Web for anyone to see. On Telegram, Twitter and YouTube, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs since Sunday has posted a constant stream of extremely graphic images showcasing the horrors of war and inviting Russians to examine them to determine whether the images feature a missing loved one.
Fact and mythmaking blend in Ukraine’s information war
The New York Times
Sutart A. Thompson and Davey Alba
In the information war over the invasion of Ukraine, some of the country’s official accounts have pushed stories with questionable veracity, spreading anecdotes, gripping on-the-ground accounts and even some unverified information that was later proved false, in a rapid jumble of fact and myth.
The propaganda war has eclipsed cyberwar in Ukraine
MIT Technology Review
Patrick Howell O'Neill
On February 26, Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov launched the “IT Army of Ukraine”—an unprecedented invitation to the world’s hackers to go on the offensive against Russia for his country. The IT Army is the most highly visible force in what’s become a byzantine cyber conflict marked by a chaotic mix of players, impossible-to-verify claims of sabotage, and a scant number of visible hacks. In fact, hacking has remained mostly on the margins in the first week of the war. Instead, Ukraine’s IT Army and all the other groups now declaring their intent to launch such cyberattacks have all played into a roiling propaganda war touching not just Ukraine and Russia but the entire world.
Ukraine conflict spurs questions of how to define cyberwar
Legal scholars and cybersecurity experts are closely watching events in Ukraine with an eye on how the Russian invasion may redefine the laws of war for the cyber era. Many agree that Ukraine’s conflict with Russia — an established cyber superpower that isn’t hesitant about flexing its muscle aggressively — could test the rules of war in new and unexpected ways.
Attack on Ukrainian Government Websites Linked to GRU Hackers
Independent threat researcher Snorre Fagerland, working in cooperation with Bellingcat and The Insider, has identified a web service, apparently serving as a command and control centre, which has played a role in past cyber-attacks linked to Russian state interests. The same website also hosted cloned copies of a number of Ukrainian government websites, including the main webpage of the Office of the President. Other cloned (and modified) websites found on the service include those of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and of a government-run petition portal. These cloned websites were created no earlier than November 2021, around the time when Russia’s latest round of escalations against Ukraine began.
Follow the Russia-Ukraine monitor map
The Russia-Ukraine Monitor Map is a crowdsourced effort by Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) and the wider open source community to map, document and verify significant incidents during the conflict in Ukraine. Its aim is to provide reliable information for policymakers, journalists as well as justice and accountability bodies about the evolving situations both on-the-ground and online.
Documenting and debunking dubious footage from Ukraine’s frontlines
Bellingcat Investigation Team
As Russia’s military escalation in and around Ukraine continues apace, a number of questionable videos and claims have appeared on social media and in Russian state media outlets. All appear to suggest Ukrainian aggression near the country’s border with Russia and two self-declared republics (occupied regions controversially recognised by Russia earlier this week) in the east of the country. Yet as many researchers and journalists have pointed out, there has been little solid evidence to support many of the claims that have been made thus far. In some cases, open source information even appears to contradict what has been stated.
BBC revives shortwave radio dispatches in Ukraine, and draws ire of Russia
The New York Times
As Russia is trying to cut off the flow of information in Ukraine by attacking its communications infrastructure, the British news outlet BBC is revisiting a broadcasting tactic popularized during World War II: shortwave radio. The BBC said this week that it would use radio frequencies that can travel for long distances and be accessible on portable radios to broadcast its World Service news in English for four hours a day in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and in parts of Russia.
Oracle suspends operations in Russia, SAP pauses sales
Paresh Dave and Sheila Dang
Business software giant Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) said on Wednesday it has suspended all operations in Russia, while rival SAP SE (SAPG.DE) later announced it would pause all sales in the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Pine Gap in Alice Springs likely gathering intelligence about Russia's next moves in Ukraine
Stewart Brash and Emma Haskin
A highly secretive defence intelligence facility, on the outskirts of Alice Springs, is likely gathering information about the escalating situation in Ukraine. The work of the jointly run US and Australian base known as Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is vital after Russian President Vladimir Putin put his country's nuclear deterrent forces on "high alert". Political expert Richard Tanter said the base would be playing a crucial role in gathering intelligence through covert communications from the Ukraine and border regions.
Government demands tech giants pull Russian state media
The Sydney Morning Herald
Nick Bonyhady and Zoe Samios
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has told some of the world’s most powerful technology companies to immediately remove Russian state media organisations from their platforms in Australia over concerns they are facilitating the spread of disinformation and promoting violence over the invasion of Ukraine. Mr Fletcher issued a warning to the social media platforms in comments to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age earlier this week, urging the sites to remove posts from the Russian state-owned news outlets. He has now sent letters to platforms including TikTok; Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram; and Google requesting the immediate removal of the content.
Top comments on Chinese social media criticize the West while supporting Putin
General sentiment on Weibo did not significantly shift once the invasion commenced. Users predominately expressed either a pro-Russia or ambivalent stance, though some raised concerns about the war’s human cost. Users also contemplated what the invasion meant for China’s strategic competition with the United States.
In fast-changing Europe, rage against Russia fuels suspicion of China
South China Morning Post
A team of people in Brussels charged with studying disinformation noticed an uptick in “information manipulation that is related to Chinese actors” in the run-up to the invasion. Rather than directly spreading fake news, these often official government social media accounts “opportunistically reinforce the same message about the corruptness or the weakness of Western society”, said an official involved in the monitoring.
The secret police: Cops built a shadowy surveillance machine in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder
MIT Technology Review
Tate Ryan-Mosley and Sam Richards
Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have been carrying out a secretive, long-running surveillance program targeting civil rights activists and journalists in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Run under a consortium known as Operation Safety Net, the program was set up a year ago, ostensibly to maintain public order as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin went on trial for Floyd’s murder.
The cyber social contract
Chris Inglis and Harry Krejsa
In the spring of 2021, a Russia-based cybercrime group launched a ransomware attack against the largest fuel pipeline in the United States. According to the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, the subsequent shutdown and gas shortage across the East Coast likely originated from a single compromised password. Although most participants in the cyber-ecosystem are aware of these growing risks, the responsibility for mitigating systemic hazards is poorly distributed.
South & Central Asia
Geofenced searches on Twitter: a case study detailing south Asia’s Covid crisis
By using the results of many geocoded queries, Bellingcat was able to make an approximate map of the geographic distribution of tweets looking for urgent assistance across India and its South Asian neighbours, many of which are experiencing their own coronavirus crises.
Is climate change heating up central Asia’s border disputes? Clues from satellite imagery
Line of Actual Control
In late April, dozens were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands of civilians fled their homes during border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It was not the first land dispute between the two Central Asian neighbours over their often poorly demarcated border, though it was the most serious in years. This time, the spark was reportedly a disagreement over the installation of security cameras at the Golovnaya water distribution point in the border area between Tajikistan’s Sughd Region and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken Region. The unrest then spread to other areas, some situated well over a hundred kilometres away.
Facebook Content Moderators in Kenya to Receive Pay Rise Following TIME Investigation
Facebook content moderators based in Kenya will receive a salary increase of between 30% and 50%, in a move announced two weeks after a TIME investigation drew attention to low pay, poor working conditions and alleged union-busting by Sama, the outsourcing company that is their direct employer.
Twitch says it will bar chronic spreaders of misinformation
The New York Times
Twitch, the livestreaming site beloved by video gamers that has become a key internet communications service, said on Thursday that it had created new rules aimed at clamping down on egregious purveyors of misinformation. The company, acknowledging the real-world harms that could come with its rapidly expanding influence, said it would prohibit “harmful misinformation superspreaders who persistently share misinformation on or off of Twitch.”
Twitter wants to reinvent itself, by merging the old with the new
The New York Times
Blaine Cook envisioned Twitter as a backbone for online chatter, one that would allow its users to freely exchange messages with people on other social media platforms instead of locking them into conversations among themselves.
Why the World Must Resist Calls to Undermine the Internet
It seems that every time there is a large political event in the world, someone calls for someone else to be excluded from the Internet. The latest call to cut people off comes in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Internet Society must resist these calls, no matter how tempting. The Internet remains our best hope to communicate among the peoples of the world.
Events and Podcasts
The Sydney Dialogue: Who Works? The Crisis of Automation in the Indo-Pacific
The Sydney Dialogue
The world is undergoing the largest workforce transition since the industrial revolution, and the Indo-Pacific is at the epicentre of this shift. Post pandemic, public and private sector enterprises of all sizes are capitalising on improvements in productivity, efficiency, and profitability by accelerating the rate at which they are applying technology to automate and augment work with more machines doing the work once done by people.
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.
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.
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.
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