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Press review EX - 9 February

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference, disinformation, international law, national security.


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  • An audit has uncovered more than 900 units of surveillance equipment built by companies linked to the Chinese government within Commonwealth government buildings. The government has been urged to rip out cameras and security gear made by Hikvision and Dahua in the wake of them being banned in the United States and United Kingdom due to fears they may contain spyware. ABC News

  • China’s first-ever set of provisions to regulate the use of deep fake technology officially take effect on Tuesday, intending to prevent the misuse of this technology while adapting to the rapid development of the artificial intelligence industry. Introduced jointly by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Public Security, the regulations stress that synthetic videos and photos made using deep synthesis technology, commonly known as “deep fake,” must be “clearly labeled” to prevent public confusion. TechJuice

  • Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba told CNBC Wednesday that it is working on a rival to ChatGPT, joining the flurry of tech firms to jump on board the chatbot hype. A company spokesperson said the company is working on a ChatGPT-style of technology and it is currently being tested internally at the firm. CNBC


ASPI

Tech standard setting cannot be left to companies or lone nations NikkeiAsia Justin Bassi and Bec Shrimpton It is time for the global community to act. Standards and norms based on values that protect essential human rights such as privacy and freedom from persecution urgently need to be built anew for the 21st century through an international effort, which should be led by democratic nations..Governments, corporations, technology CEOs and innovators, strategists and experts must work harder together to establish strategies to harness the good that technology offers while mitigating the risks through forums such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's new annual technology policy summit, The Sydney Dialogue. There is a key opportunity this year. With Japan chairing the Group of Seven, the issue of tech standards, and their importance to economic security, will likely be front and center in discussions.

World

Florida state court system, US, EU universities hit by ransomware outbreak Reuters James Pearson and Raphael Satter A global ransomware outbreak has scrambled servers belonging to Florida's Supreme Court and several universities in the United States and Central Europe, according to a Reuters analysis of ransom notes posted online to stricken servers. Those organizations are among more than 3,800 victims of a fast-spreading digital extortion campaign that locked up thousands of servers in Europe over the weekend, according to figures tallied by Ransomwhere, a crowdsourced platform that tracks digital extortion attempts and online ransom payments and whose figures are drawn from internet scans.

Australia

Commonwealth offices 'riddled' with security cameras linked to Chinese government ABC News Jake Evans An audit has uncovered more than 900 units of surveillance equipment built by companies linked to the Chinese government within Commonwealth government buildings. The government has been urged to rip out cameras and security gear made by Hikvision and Dahua in the wake of them being banned in the United States and United Kingdom due to fears they may contain spyware.

Australian driverless car start-up Baraja worth $300m sacks 75 per cent of staff News.com.au Sarah Sharples An Australian self-driving technology start-up that was valued at $300 million has slashed around 75 per cent of its workforce, despite a recent cash injection in January. Staff have been devastated by the cuts – with entire teams laid off and others losing their job after joining mere months ago – as a result of the “drastic” downsizing. [Other] Australian start-ups and tech companies have also had to shed their staff to survive turbulent market conditions. The latest company to announce a “restructuring” was comparison website Finder, which laid off 15 per cent of staff across its global operations including in Australia.

Perth-founded Nearmap axes jobs three months after private equity Thoma Bravo takeover The West Australian Adrian Lowe Australia's tech sector is likely to follow the US industry's lead in cutting jobs and streamlining operations, new Nearmap executive Andy Watt says.

Sydney man sentenced over data breach SMS scam Australian Federal Police A Sydney man has been sentenced to an 18 month Community Correction Order, 100 hours of community service and conviction recorded by the Sydney Downing Centre District Court today (7 February, 2023) for attempting to blackmail Optus customers whose stolen records he found online.

China

China takes strict steps to regulate deep fake technology TechJuice Muhammad Muneeb Ur Rehman China’s first-ever set of provisions to regulate the use of deep fake technology officially take effect on Tuesday, intending to prevent the misuse of this technology while adapting to the rapid development of the artificial intelligence industry. Introduced jointly by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Public Security, the regulations stress that synthetic videos and photos made using deep synthesis technology, commonly known as “deep fake,” must be “clearly labeled” to prevent public confusion.

We Are Social targets China's tech brand with launch of Shenzhen office The Drum Danielle Long We Are Social, the global social agency, has set its sights on China's significant tech sector, opening an office in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen, often referred to as China's Silicon Valley, is home to the nation's tech brands including Tencent, Huawei, DJI and BYD. The city houses more than 100 listed companies and 1,000+ high-tech businesses. We Are Social, which already has offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, said the move aimed to align the brand with the city's entrepreneurial culture and provide "more opportunity to work with fast-moving, forward-thinking companies."

Hong Kong stocks slip as Meituan slumps amid competition while traders reassess Fed view on higher rates South China Morning Post Hong Kong stocks declined as Chinese tech companies languished amid worries about corporate earnings and fund outflows, while investors reassess rate outlook after the Federal Reserve said borrowing costs would need to keep rising to put a lid on inflation.

North Asia

Competition intensifies in Japan's surgical robot market The Japan Times The surgical robot market in Japan is starting to heat up as domestic products begin to compete with U.S. makers that have dominated the space in the past. While surgical robots have been introduced mainly to large hospitals, smaller hospitals in regional areas may also start procuring such robots if prices go down, industry sources said.

Can you feel that? Japan researchers use haptic tech to share sensations The Japan Times Kathleen Benoza What if you could share the texture of fabric, the sensation of plucking a guitar string or shaping clay with another person thousands of kilometers away? Japanese researchers at NTT Docomo, Keio University and the Nagoya Institute of Technology have made this a reality.

Southeast Asia

Vietnam backtracks after touting $3.3 billion Intel investment Bloomberg Mai Ngoc Chau and Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen Vietnam’s commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City announced an effort to court a $3.3 billion investment from Intel Corp., only to amend much of its original statement to remove mentions of the US chipmaker.

South & Central Asia

India bans 200-plus Chinese mobile apps in boon for Paytm Hindustan Times India has issued orders to block a further 232 apps and websites, most of which were linked to China, in a sign that relations remain fraught between Asia's two largers countries years after a deadly border skirmish.

Ukraine - Russia

Estonian intelligence: Russia underestimated Ukraine’s cyber resilience The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Russia’s expectation that it would occupy Kyiv and overthrow the Ukrainian government during the first few weeks of the invasion last February may have caused the Kremlin initially to forgo cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, according to the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service. And when the cyberattacks did come, Ukraine’s resistance was surprising to Russia, according to the annual report published Wednesday by the Välisluureamet.

Russian 'WhisperGate' hackers are using new data-stealing malware to target Ukraine Yahoo! News Carly Page Security researchers say they have recently observed a Russian hacking crew, who were behind the destructive WhisperGate malware cyberattacks, targeting Ukrainian entities with a new information-stealing malware. Symantec’s Threat Hunter Team has attributed this campaign to a Russia-linked cyber threat actor, widely known as TA471 (or UAC-0056), which has been active since early 2021. The group is known to support Russian government interests, and while it primarily targets Ukraine, the group has also been active against NATO member states in North America and Europe.

Europe

Ransomware attack may have caused IT breach that shut all four Cork MTU campuses Irish Examiner Liz Dunphy Munster Technological University (MTU) is working with gardaí and the National Cyber Security Centre to establish if a major IT breach that led to the closure of its four Cork campuses is linked to an international ransomware attack on hundreds of organisations. MTU’s four Cork campuses will remain closed today and an update is expected later on whether students can return to campus tomorrow as planned. Other Irish universities are also on high alert to the potential cybersecurity threat.

ECB’s Director General Information Systems to lead German Federal Office for Information Security ECB The Director General Information Systems of the European Central Bank (ECB), Claudia Plattner, will leave the central bank to join the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Ms Plattner will take up her role as President of the BSI as of 1 July 2023.

Russia conducting 'hybrid war' in Moldova with protests and cyber attacks: Prime Minister Euronews Efi Koutsokosta Russia is trying to destabilise Moldova by sponsoring protests and conducting cyber attacks, the country's prime minister told Euronews on Tuesday. "We are seeing elements of hybrid war. We are seeing, for example, pro-Russian forces trying to destabilise the country politically through paid protests which quickly subsided when the oligarchs that fled Moldova were put on the sanctions lists and their money flows were restricted," Natalia Gavrilița said.

Germany gives ZTE’s 5G kit the all-clear Telecoms Nick Wood ZTE on Tuesday said its 5G new radio (NR) gNodeB product has been approved under the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI)’s NESAS (network equipment security assurance scheme) certification programme. ZTE said it is the first 5G NR product to obtain this particular rubber stamp, and demonstrates the company has complied fully with all process requirements and security specifications set out by BSI’s certification process.

Africa

Uganda: A tech solution for making public transport less ‘hectic’ How we made it in Africa Margaret Mandeya In most cases, a simple commute in a matatu, the local name for 14-seat public minibuses in Uganda’s capital of Kampala, isn’t actually simple or pleasant. Getting from point A to point B involves long queues and delays which can cost commuters hours of their time. Easy Matatu is one of investment firm Renew Capital’s portfolio companies that is working to solve this urban mobility challenge through a tech-enabled solution. The Easy Matatu app allows commuters to book and pay for a seat in advance, reducing wait time and minimising delays.

Middle East

Tech Mahindra to open data, AI cloud center in Saudi Arabia The Hindu Tech Mahindra has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, Saudi Arabia, to establish a Data & AI and a Cloud Centre of Excellence in Riyadh. Data & AI and Cloud CoE would combine academic and socio-economic goals to build national high-tech talent capacity, create high quality jobs, promote digital innovation, and upscale small and medium enterprises, the tech firm said.

Saudi Arabia says tech giants to invest more than $9 billion in kingdom AzerNews Saudi Arabia has attracted more than $9 billion in investments in future technologies, including by U.S. giants Microsoft and Oracle Corp, which are building cloud regions in the kingdom, a government minister said on Monday, Reuters reports. Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said Microsoft will invest $2.1 billion in a global super-scaler cloud, while Oracle has committed $1.5 billion to build a new cloud region in Riyadh.

Twitter restricted in Turkey two days after quake, says NetBlocks Reuters Twitter has been restricted in Turkey on Wednesday, the Netblocks internet observatory sad, two days after a major earthquake that has killed more than 11,500 people in southern Turkey and northern Syria.

Gender & Women in Tech

NAB advances chase for women in tech with new program NAB News A new wave of women seeking to upskill in digital technology is sweeping across NAB with more than 500 female employees signed up to be part of the first NAB in-house certification cohort in cloud technology. NAB is the first company in the world to adopt and run the globally recognised Amazon Web Services (AWS) ‘She Builds CloudUp’ program in-house, offering colleagues the opportunity to gain foundational cloud skills for securing an AWS certification.

How tech companies are failing women workers and social media users – and what to do about it The Conversation Lilia Giugni From Elon Musk’s erratic start as Twitter’s new owner to Meta’s recent decision to layoff more than 11,000 employees, and an ongoing downturn for tech stocks, the social media sector is once again in turmoil. Big tech companies are failing women on both sides of the screen: their employees and the users of their services. This is why recent moves to regulate social media firms should include specific protections for women.

One in four women in tech don’t feel valued TechRepublic Megan Crouse Of women in tech, one in four don’t feel valued at work, according to a study sponsored by ARRIS Composites of 1,000 workers in America. With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way many of us work, remote and hybrid schedules have offered more freedom and more uncertainty for many U.S. tech workers. Competitive company culture helps drive talented people to hard-to-fill tech jobs regardless of gender, but what exactly are employees looking for?

Big Tech

Some Twitter users are unable to post, told they're 'over daily limit' Bloomberg Kurt Wagner Some Twitter Inc. users were unable to send tweets on Wednesday afternoon, instead getting an automated message saying they were “over the daily limit for sending Tweets,” even for users who hadn’t posted yet for the day. The limit for tweets per day is currently set to 2,400, according to Twitter’s Help Center.

Meta asks many mangagers to get back to making things or leave Bloomberg Sarah Frier and Kurt Wagner Meta Platforms Inc. is asking many of its managers and directors to transition to individual contributor jobs or leave the company as it tries to become more efficient, according to people familiar with the matter.

Newly empowered Republicans are coming for Big Tech, alleging collusion Cat Zakrzewski and Cristiano Lima Soon after Elon Musk took over Twitter, he began promoting screenshots of internal company documents that he said exposed 'free speech suppression' on the social media platform during the 2020 election. Republicans were thrilled.

Twitter launches subscription service Blue in India, Indonesia and Brazil TechCrunch Manish Singh Twitter has rolled out its subscription service, Twitter Blue, to users in India, Brazil and Indonesia, it said on Wednesday, tapping large key overseas markets where it has amassed over 100 million users. Elon Musk, the owner and chief executive of Twitter, had previously suggested that he will lower the price of the subscription service in emerging markets, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Twitter Blue’s monthly cost is $10.9 on iOS and Android in India, and about $7.8 for users paying through the web, for instance.

Artificial Intelligence

Chinese tech giant Alibaba working on a ChatGPT rival; shares jump CNBC Arjun Kharpal Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba told CNBC Wednesday that it is working on a rival to ChatGPT, joining the flurry of tech firms to jump on board the chatbot hype. A company spokesperson said the company is working on a ChatGPT-style of technology and it is currently being tested internally at the firm.

NATO starts work on Artificial Intelligence certification standard NATO NATO’s Data and Artificial Intelligence Review Board (DARB) met on Tuesday (7 February 2023) to start the development of a user-friendly and responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI) certification standard to help industries and institutions across the Alliance make sure that new AI and data projects are in line with international law, as well as NATO’s norms and values.

ChatGPT’s ‘jailbreak’ tries to make the A.I. break its own rules, or die CNBC Rohan Goswami ChatGPT debuted in November 2022, garnering worldwide attention almost instantaneously. The artificial intelligence is capable of answering questions on anything from historical facts to generating computer code, and has dazzled the world, sparking a wave of AI investment. Now users have found a way to tap into its dark side, using coercive methods to force the AI to violate its own rules and provide users the content — whatever content — they want.

Baidu to finish testing ChatGPT-style project 'Ernie Bot' in March; shares rally Reuters Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh China's Baidu Inc (9888.HK) said on Tuesday it would complete internal testing of a ChatGPT-style project called "Ernie Bot" in March, as interest in generative artificial intelligence (AI) gathers steam. The search engine giant's Hong Kong-listed shares closed up 15.3% on Tuesday, while its U.S shares climbed 11.2% in morning trade.



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