Russia to deploy information warfare unit in military exercise with Belarus; Chinese scientists conduct underwater quantum communication; social media offenders could face ten years in jail in new draft bill in Zimbabwe.

President Putin attends Russian Navy Day Parade in St Petersburg

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

  • The United States Intelligence Authorization Act for 2018 includes several measures aimed at defending national electoral processes from foreign interference.
  • The US Justice Department charged a Chinese national for selling malware used in the 2015 Office of Personnel Management data breach.
  • The State Department’s cyber office will be folded into the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau.
  • China will launch an investigation into the enforcement of the country’s cyber security laws in several regions.
  • The Chinese government announced that, in accordance with the national cyber security law, internet service providers must authenticate users’ identities from October.
  • A senior government official in China stated that big data and artificial intelligence must be used to fight ‘terrorism’ in Xinjiang.
  • Chinese scientists have conducted a successful test of quantum communication underwater.
  • India is expected to mandate stricter security and privacy standards for mobile companies to prevent consumer data being stored on foreign servers.
  • India’s Supreme Court ruled that individual privacy is a fundamental right protected by the country’s constitution, complicating government plans for mandatory biometric identity cards.
  • The Danish government has allocated DKK 100 million (US$16m) for the development of a new national cyber security strategy covering 2018–2020.
  • Somalia established a Network Operations Centre aimed at providing free internet services to 26 federal agencies. Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire also banned cabinet ministers from using social media to communicate about sensitive issues.
  • A cyber security and cybercrime bill being drafted in Zimbabwe would jail people for up to ten years for crimes committed online.

International policy

  • Representatives from the US and China met to discuss preparations for the upcoming bilateral dialogue on law enforcement and cyber security.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new cybercrime cooperation mechanism between member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
  • Qatar’s attorney general announced that Turkey has detained five people suspected of involvement in a hacking of Qatar’s state news agency in May, which sparked a regional crisis.

US Africa Command training exercise

Military

  • Russia’s information operations troops are expected to take part in Zapad 2017, a joint military drill between Russia and Belarus, from 14–20 September.
  • United States Africa Command hosted the 2017 Africa Endeavour in Malawi, a training and information sharing exercise focused on the interoperability of pan-African communications, including issues related to cyber security and cyber defence.
  • Chinese drone maker DJI launched a bug bounty programme, following the recent ban of its products by the US Army.

Private sector

  • Google is rolling out two initiatives in Indonesia to improve internet access.
  • Iran’s telecommunications minister criticised Apple for removing applications originating in Iran from its App Store. A spokesperson for the company stated that the policy was in line with US sanctions against Iran.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Government breaches

  • The Russian government expects the US to interfere in its upcoming presidential election, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.
  • Security researchers identified a Russian-language hacking group targeting individuals linked to a G20 Digital Economy task force, which is due to meet in late October.
  • Symantec announced the discovery of a cyber espionage campaign against Indian and Pakistani security establishments dating back to October 2016.

Critical infrastructure

  • Kenya’s central bank issued a directive to the country’s financial institutions, ordering them to meet a set of cyber security and incident reporting standards.
  • Eight members of the US National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a cyber security council focused on critical infrastructure, resigned, citing President Donald Trump’s ‘disregard for the security of American communities’ as well as his lack of attention to the cyber threats that the country’s physical infrastructure faces.
  • An accounting software developer in Ukraine was hacked, and its servers used to spread malware.
  • North Korean hackers are reportedly targeting the employees of startups, financial technology companies and a major bitcoin exchange in South Korea with a phishing campaign.
  • Japan faced a widespread internet outage that disrupted the country’s finance, transportation and government sectors, following a routing protocol error made by Google.

DIGITAL RIGHTS

  • Several demonstrators were arrested at a government-sanctioned internet freedom rally in Moscow.
  • Mobile internet services in parts of India were shut down for 72 hours ahead of the verdict in a high-profile sexual exploitation case. Earlier this month, India’s Ministry of Communications released guidelines for shutting down mobile and internet services.
  • A Nigerian NGO sent an open letter to the country’s leader calling for the armed forces to stop monitoring citizens on social media. Nigeria’s Director of Defence Information stated earlier this month that online activity was being monitored for security reasons. 
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