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Press review on 31 January

Extrema Ratio focuses on the topics we work on, including cybersecurity, critical technologies, foreign interference & disinformation. Have feedback?


Russian foreign ministry claims to be the target of ‘coordinated’ cyber aggression | Washington halts licences for US companies to export to Huawei | Hackers attack 12 Australian companies


  • Russia’s deputy foreign minister claimed this weekend that the country has been the target of “coordinated aggression” in cyberspace conducted by “intelligence agencies, transnational IT corporations, and hacktivists.” The Record by Recorded Future

  • The Biden administration has stopped providing US companies with licences to export to Huawei as it moves towards imposing a total ban on the sale of American technology to the Chinese telecom equipment giant. Financial Times

  • Hackers have broken into at least 12 Australian companies using a sophisticated campaign that compromised an online education provider then impersonated it to gain access to other firms’ systems. Australian Financial Review

World

US-Japan-Netherlands alliance triggers debate over scale of its possible impact on China’s semiconductor industry South China Morning Post Che Pan and Bien Perez An agreement between the United States, Japan and the Netherlands to restrict exports of “some” advanced chip-making equipment to China has triggered debate over the scale of damage that this could inflict on Beijing’s semiconductor self-sufficiency drive, with billions of dollars of investments at stake.


Australia

Hackers attack 12 Australian companies with education phishing scam Australian Financial Review Max Mason Hackers have broken into at least 12 Australian companies using a sophisticated campaign that compromised an online education provider then impersonated it to gain access to other firms’ systems.

APRA warns companies to lift their game on cyber security The Australian Joyce Moullakis The prudential regulator says its standard on cyber attacks and information security will be “rigorously applied”, as it put companies on notice to up their game following high-profile data breaches last year.

ChatGPT AI allowed in SA classrooms Sydney Morning Herald Controversial artificial intelligence program be allowed in South Australian classrooms despite bans across rest of country.

China

The 5x5 - China’s cyber operations The Atlantic Simon Handler On October 6, 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and National Security Agency released a joint cybersecurity advisory outlining the top Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures that Chinese state-linked hacking groups have been actively exploiting since 2020 to target US and allied networks. Public reporting indicates that, for the better part of the past two decades, China has consistently engaged in offensive cyber operations, and as the scope of the country’s economic and political ambitions expanded, so has its cyber footprint. The number of China-sponsored and aligned hacking teams are growing, as they develop and deploy offensive cyber capabilities to serve the state’s interests—from economic to national security.

USA

Washington halts licences for US companies to export to Huawei Financial Times Demetri Sevastopulo The Biden administration has stopped providing US companies with licences to export to Huawei as it moves towards imposing a total ban on the sale of American technology to the Chinese telecom equipment giant.

TikTok CEO to testify before U.S. Congress over security concerns Reuters Maria Ponnezhath and David Shepardson TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew will appear before the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee in March, as lawmakers scrutinize the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.

Ransomware attack on Indianapolis Housing Agency leaks sensitive info on 200,000 residents The Record by Recorded Future Jonathan Greig The Indianapolis Housing Agency is notifying more than 200,000 people that their information, including Social Security numbers and more, was leaked during a ransomware attack in that began in September.

North Asia

Japan's chip equipment makers in the dark about new China export restrictions Reuters Tim Kelly, Mayu Sakoda, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mariko Katsumura Japanese makers of semiconductor manufacturing machinery and materials used to make chips said on Monday they had yet to hear from Japan's government about export restrictions that could directly or indirectly affect their business in China.

Taiwan, South Korea will remain key chip hubs, says MKS chief Nikkei Asia Ching Ting-Fang South Korea and Taiwan will still be key semiconductor hubs in years to come, even as pressure to diversify supply chains leads to new competition from places like the U.S. and Germany, according to the CEO of U.S. chipmaking equipment supplier MKS Instruments.

Will the metaverse be entertaining? Ask South Korea. The New York Times Jin Yu Young and Matt Stevens In the metaverse — whatever that is, exactly — the normal rules don’t apply. And the Korean entertainment industry is delving into the possibilities, confident that fans will happily follow.

Ukraine - Russia

Russian foreign ministry claims to be the target of ‘coordinated’ cyber aggression The Record by Recorded Future Alexander Martin Russia’s deputy foreign minister claimed this weekend that the country has been the target of “coordinated aggression” in cyberspace conducted by “intelligence agencies, transnational IT corporations, and hacktivists.”

Europe

Europe’s crackdown on Big Tech omitted TikTok — but now that’s set to change NBC News Evelyn Cheng and Ryan Browne TikTok is beginning to feel the sting of political and regulatory pressure in Europe, where the Chinese-owned app has largely evaded the scrutiny it’s faced in the U.S. E.U. Commissioner of the Internal Market Thierry Breton warned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in a meeting this month the bloc could ban the app if it didn’t comply with new rules on digital content well ahead of a Sep. 1 deadline.

UK

JD Sports hit by cyber-attack that leaked 10m customers’ data The Guardian Mark Sweney The fashion retailer JD Sports said the personal and financial information of 10 million customers was potentially accessed by hackers in a cyber-attack. The company said incident, which affected some online orders made by customers between November 2018 and October 2020, targeted purchases of products of its JD, Size?, Millets, Blacks, Scotts and Millets Sport brands.

Facebook seeks to block $3.7 billion UK mass action over market dominance Reuters Sam Tobin Facebook on Monday asked a London tribunal to block a collective lawsuit valued at up to 3 billion pounds ($3.7 billion) over allegations the social media giant abused its dominant position to monetise users’ personal data.

The untold story of a crippling ransomware attack WIRED Matt Burgess A WIRED analysis of dozens of council meetings, minutes, and documents reveals the scale of disruption the ransomware caused to Hackney Council in 2020 and, crucially, the thousands of people it serves. People’s health, housing situations, and finances suffered as a result of the insidious criminal group’s attack.

Misc

The autocrat in your iPhone: How mercenary spyware threatens democracy Foreign Affairs Ronald J. Deibert The use of spyware is hardly limited to the world’s authoritarians. As researchers have revealed, over the past decade many democracies, including Spain and Mexico, have begun using spyware, as well, in ways that violate well-established norms of human rights and public accountability.

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