China trains youths in counter-intelligence; encryption protects Texas shooter’s phone; US ‘hack back’ legislation could lead to cyber war, warns expert.

Chinese school children

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.

POLICY

National law and policy

  • The United States Department of Justice reportedly have enough evidence to charge six Russian officials with hacking Democratic National Committee computers.
  • US President Donald Trump signed a bill to help state and local law enforcements tackle cybercrimes.
  • US Governor Rick Snyder approved legislation to expand the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, a volunteer cyber security group that could be activated during an emergency.
  • The US National Science Foundation announced it would invest US$74.5 million into ‘foundational research and education’ in cyber security.
  • The Cyberspace Administration of China said it would create a database of online reporters who publish ‘fake news’, and establish a way for the public to report such content.
  • China launched a new type of satellite, in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on the US global positioning system (GPS).
  • In China, a video campaign designed for primary and secondary school students to counter espionage included a focus on breaches of cyber security protocols.
  • China's fourth World Internet Conference will take place on 3–5 December in Wuzhen, Zhejiang.
  • A Chinese hacking group is reportedly targeting Western corporations with espionage malware.
  • China’s central bank is developing a digital currency, shortly after China banned other cryptocurrencies.
  • The Philippines launched an investigation into allegations that North Korean hackers compromised government websites in the country.
  • The Vietnamese government is considering a draft law on cyber security. The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry contends that some proposed regulations are not reasonable.
  • Ukraine's security service said Russian hackers associated with APT28 were responsible for the ‘BadRabbit’ ransomware attack.
  • A senate committee in Nigeria advocated for the government to review and update its cybercrime laws.
  • The electoral commission of Somaliland recommended that internet services are turned off on the day of the country’s presidential election to prevent violence.
  • Barbados announced plans to develop a national cyber security strategy and to revise national legislation to address cybercrime.
  • Pakistan established a regulator body charged with monitoring and blocking blasphemous content on the internet.

International policy

  • The United Kingdom offered to support the development of cyber security measures for Qatar’s financial sector.
  • China, South Korea and Japan held their second Track Two dialogue on cyber security. The meetings covered national legislation, protecting key infrastructure and responding to cyber incidents.
  • US President Trump met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his Asia tour, and reaffirmed commitment to strengthen cyber security cooperation between the two countries.
  • The European Court of Human Rights is hearing three separate cases against the surveillance practices of UK intelligence agencies.

US Navy seaman

Military

  • US Army and US Navy cyber mission teams reached full operating capacity, approximately a year ahead of schedule.
  • Officials from the Royal Australian Navy visited a US aircraft carrier to learn more about how the US Navy conducts information warfare operations.

Private sector

  • Chinese cyber security firm Qihoo 360 announced it would delist from the US stock market and return to China. Founder Zhou Hongyi said the move would enable the company to play a role in China’s cyber security strategy.
  • Keith Alexander, the previous director of the US signals intelligence agency, said that proposed legislation giving private companies the ability to ‘hack back’ in response to cyber attacks could lead to war.
  • Kaspersky Labs CEO Eugene Kaspersky acknowledged that his company’s anti-virus software does download files that do not threaten the security of the computer in question, but only in very rare cases. Kaspersky was explaining how files from the personal device of an NSA contractor ended up in the hands of Russian intelligence agencies.

NATIONAL SECURITY THREATS

Government breaches

  • A group of hackers linked to the Vietnamese government allegedly compromised over 100 websites, including government sites in the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia, to spread malware.
  • Hackers hijacked at least 195 websites associated with the Trump Organization and the US president’s family members in 2013. The hijacked websites directed visitors to a server in St Petersburg, Russia which contained malicious cyber espionage software. It is unclear who was behind the attack.
  • A new cyber espionage campaign is targeting governments in South America and Southeast Asia, according to a cyber security research firm.
  • The US Office of Personnel Management, which suffered a massive data breach in 2015, has not made ‘substantial progress’ in improving cyber security practices, an independent review found.
  • An Israeli military official stated that state-sponsored Iranian hackers try to breach Israeli military networks thousands of times each day.

Critical infrastructure

  • The central bank in the Philippines released cyber security rules for financial institutions.
  • EPB, a public energy and telecommunications company in the US, became the first power company to stop using Kaspersky Lab anti-virus products.
  • The Texas church shooter’s phone could not be unlocked by the FBI, highlighting law enforcement concerns about encryption hampering investigations.
  • A bank in Nepal recovered most of the money stolen last month by hackers who compromised the SWIFT messaging system.
  • Financial institutions across the world are concerned about future cyber threats from North Korea.

DIGITAL RIGHTS

  • The Citizen Lab published a report on WeChat censorship around China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, which found that relevant keywords were censored up to a year before the congress and that even neutral references to party policies and officials were blocked.
  • Internet trolls shut down an anti-harassment hotline established in France.
  • Mobile internet services were suspended in Kashmir, following intercessional violence.
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