China sends unbreakable code from outer space; hackers post pro-India content on Pakistan's state websites; Chinese social media under probe.

Satellite dish

By Harriet Ellis, Research Analyst and Administrative Assistant, Future Conflict and Cyber Security, and Samantha Hoffman, Research Consultant, Future Conflict and Cyber Security and Defence and Military Analysis.

GOVERNMENT

National law and policy

  • China conducted the first successful test of space-to-ground quantum key distribution technology, sending an unbreakable code from an outer space satellite to Earth.
  • The United States announced an investigation into China’s intellectual property policies, including how Beijing’s new cyber security legislation impacts US companies operating in China.
  • The US State Department launched the Cyber and Technology Security directorate on 28 May. The office does not have a mandate to coordinate international cyber policy, but will be responsible for coordinating cyber security measures across the department.
  • The Russian Quantum Center said it successfully developed and tested quantum blockchain technology.
  • Vietnam announced they would soon launch an internet censorship system using software that identifies and blocks misleading information. New cybercrime legislation will also be produced.
  • Pakistan’s high court recommended banning Facebook entirely unless the company abides by national regulations, in a ruling on the country’s blasphemy laws. The court also directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to create a firewall to block offensive social media content.
  • Draft legislation for a new cybercrime act in Zimbabwe will criminalise revenge pornography, following a period of public consultation.
  • Somalia’s legislature passed a new telecommunications bill, which creates a National Telecommunications Authority to regulate telecoms, internet and broadcast services.

International policy

  • The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Russia agreed to strengthen cooperation on cyber security and counterterrorism.
  • Eastern and southern African countries will establish a joint office in Rwanda to tackle cybercrime.
  • The US and Japan are expected to agree to strengthen cyber defence against North Korea and China in bilateral security talks this week.
  • Israel and the Organization of American States signed a joint declaration on cooperation in cyber defence.
  • Officials from Armenia and Iraq discussed opportunities for partnership in telecommunications, including establishing a national data centre and cooperating on a joint satellite programme.

Military

  • The Estonian Defence Forces and the Maryland Army National Guard took part in Baltic Jungle, a joint cyber defence exercise.
  • The Australian Armed Forces is recruiting military reservists to bolster its cyber defence capability.
  • The United Kingdom’s armed forces held a cyber exercise that saw geo-tracking technology used by soldiers hacked and communication systems hijacked.
  • US Maj. General John Morrison, commander of Fort Gordon and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, said the US is ‘outgunned’ when it comes to electronic warfare.

Private sector

  • The Cyberspace Administration of China is investigating social media and messaging platforms Tencent, Baidu and Sina Weibo for allowing users to spread content that ‘endangers state security, public safety and social order’.
  • Facebook will increase the number of staff who monitor online content in Germany, following new laws that could see companies fined for failing to remove hate speech.
  • Facebook launched a photo-sharing app in China, separate from the main platform and which relies on users’ contacts in messaging service WeChat.
  • The UK’s National Health Service signed a cyber security agreement with Microsoft after falling victim to the WannaCry ransomware attack in May.

Pakistani soldiers during a ceremony on Independence Day

NATIONAL SECURITY

Government breaches

  • The email accounts of Scottish parliamentarians were targeted by hackers who attempted to crack passwords. This was similar to a recent attack against Westminster IT accounts by hackers with reported links to Russia.
  • Former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga, who lost the recent presidential election, claimed the country’s voter database had been hacked and the results of the election manipulated. Election officials insisted the system was secure.
  • The website of Bhutan’s embassy in New Delhi was inaccessible from India for two days, sparking concerns of a Chinese cyber attack.
  • On Independence Day in Pakistan, the websites for several government ministries were hacked by a group who posted pro-India content on the sites.
  • An investigation revealed that over 1700 messages from Italy’s European Union office and the Italian Foreign Ministry were hacked between 2013 and 2016. Perpetrators are suspected to be Russian group APT28 and groups linked to the Chinese government.
  • A hacking group called The Binary Guardians targeted government websites in Venezuela, hijacking the pages to show support for anti-government protesters.

Critical infrastructure

  • Security researchers discovered new evidence of a cyber espionage campaign against US defense contractors, stating the attackers were using similar tools to those used previously by North Korean actors.
  • Ukraine’s postal service Ukrposhta reported a 48-hour long denial-of-service attack on its website.

DIGITAL RIGHTS

  • Palestine’s new electronic crime law, which could sentence individuals to 15 years of hard labour for posting content that disturbs ‘social harmony’, was criticised by rights activists as an infringement on freedom of expression.
  • A series of internet shutdowns occurred in parts of Kashmir, India, after several militants and civilians were killed in clashes with government forces. Mobile and internet services across the region were also shut down for the country’s Independence Day.
  • A tech company in the US is fighting a federal order to provide the IP addresses of visitors to a website used to coordinate protests on President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
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