Apple sets up first data centre in China; Donald Trump discusses cyber security with President Putin at G20; NATO to equip Ukraine with new cyber capability.

Trump meets Putin at G20 in Hamburg

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

  • Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed allegations that Russia was behind the ‘NotPetya’ cyber attacks against Ukrainian organisations.
  • Russian and Ukrainian companies can offset their corporate tax against payments made to hackers, according to a Bloomberg BNA report.
  • The Cyberspace Administration of China published draft regulations on the protection of critical information infrastructure.
  • A newly declassified report from the European Union found that Ireland has failed to implement laws to deal with cybercrime and relies on University College Dublin to break encryption.
  • The Australian Signals Directorate – a division of the Defence Department responsible for military and cyber intelligence – is reportedly expanding into an independent agency.
  • Singapore’s ministry for communications and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore jointly issued a draft Cybersecurity Bill, and are seeking public feedback.
  • Singapore Police’s new Alliance of Public-Private Cybercrime Stakeholders initiative will focus on raising awareness and improving collaboration to prevent private sector cybercrime.
  • The president of the Seoul-based Korea Internet and Security Agency called for enhanced information sharing and increased authority to cut off internet networks in response to cyber attacks.
  • The Armed Forces of the Philippines removed 64 websites for spreading terrorist content, and are monitoring 300 social media accounts for links to the Islamic State group in the Philippines. A spokesperson stated that they had done so with the help of social media companies.
  • Bangladesh’s draft Digital Security Act reportedly empowers law-enforcement agencies to search, arrest and confiscate property without a warrant if a person publishes content damaging the image of the state or religious beliefs.
  • A report by Privacy International on the implementation of Kenya’s national cyber security strategy raised questions about the prominent role of the National Intelligence Service.
  • Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani signed the Cyber Crime Law, which criminalises activity such as inciting ethnic hatred, defamatory speech, exposing government secrets and cyber-terrorism.

International policy

  • At the G20 summit in Hamburg, Trump reportedly ‘pressed’ Putin about potential Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and Putin denied involvement. Representatives from both country indicated that the discussion had included setting up a potential ‘working-level group’ on cyber security issues. Trump later tweeted that they had discussed establishing a Russia–US ‘Cyber Security Unit’. After receiving strong criticism, including from within the Republican Party, Trump clarified that a joint effort ‘can’t’ happen.
  • G20 leaders released a statement calling for technology companies to continue efforts to detect and take down terrorist content, and encouraged them to provide governments with ‘lawful and non-arbitrary access’ to information.
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO is in the process of providing Ukraine with equipment to protect its government networks from cyber attacks. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said the country would aim to complete necessary political, military and economic reforms by 2020 in order to join NATO.
  • India and Israel released a joint statement following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent state visit to Israel. The statement includes a commitment to ‘promote security and stability in cyberspace’.
  • Interpol president and former deputy head of China’s Ministry of Public Security Meng Hongwei stated that international multi-stakeholder collaboration is required to tackle global cybercrime.
  • The International Telecommunication Union found that 38% of countries have a published cyber security strategy and a further 12% are in the process of developing one.

Military

  • The Armed Forces of the Philippines announced a ‘cyber workforce’ that will secure and defend the military’s networks and systems. A spokesperson also stated that a ‘Cyberspace Strategic Plan’ is in development and will provide a roadmap to a ‘fully cyberspace-capable organisation’.
  • Kaspersky Lab noted similarities between recent cyber attacks on South Korea’s military and ATMs, and previous attacks believed to have been carried out by North Korea-based Lazarus Group.

Apple in China

Private sector

  • Apple is setting up its first data centre in China to comply with the country’s new cyber security legislation.
  • Network provider Safaricom voiced concerns over the Kenyan government’s plan to provide third party access to user data. The change is intended to reduce mobile phone thefts and counterfeits.
  • Facebook revised its mission statement from ‘make the world more open and connected’, to focus on giving ‘people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’.
  • Google is testing a new data-saving feature in the Philippines to help users with limited mobile data. The app, however, raises concerns about net neutrality as it offers incentives for using certain apps.
  • A court ruling in the US is allowing Twitter to proceed with a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the FBI to make public the number of government surveillance requests the company receives.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Government breaches

  • WikiLeaks published documents on two cyber tools – ‘BothanSpy’ and ‘Gyrfalcon’ – which enable hackers to intercept usernames and passwords.
  • Reuters quoted European government sources who said it is not likely that a state-sponsored hacker was behind the cyber attack against the UK Parliament.
  • China has successfully tested its first commercial quantum communication network that would prevent government data from being leaked or hacked. The network will enter into service by the end of August 2017.
  • The Trump administration removed Kaspersky Lab from its lists of approved government vendors due to national security concerns. The Kremlin described the decision as ‘politicised’.

Critical infrastructure

  • The New York Times reported that a US Department of Homeland Security and FBI investigation found that since May hackers have penetrated computer networks of nuclear power stations, other energy facility operators and manufacturing plants in the US and other countries. It is unclear whether the attacks are associated with espionage or a plan to cause a destructive attack. US officials told reporters that Russian government hackers were behind the intrusions.  
  • South Korea’s largest Ethereum exchange — Bithumb — was hacked after an employee’s home computer was compromised. It is unclear how much money was stolen but the exchange has a daily trading volume of over US$600 million.

DIGITAL RIGHTS

  • Blogger Paul Odhiambo was arrested by Kenyan police for offensive Facebook posts ‘aimed at propagating animosity between some communities in Busia’. The government said it is working to prevent ‘incitement’ on digital platforms. An official spokesperson stated the government would not shut down the internet during polls.
  • In parts of West Bengal, Indian internet services were blocked following communal violence reportedly prompted by a Facebook post.
  • Mobile internet services and social media sites were blocked for two days in Kashmir ahead of the anniversary of the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Internet services were blocked again on 10 July.
  • Citizen Lab released a report on an intrusion campaign targeting overseas-based Chinese language news sites that publish content deemed sensitive by China’s ruling party.
  • Turkish police seized equipment and arrested ten people, including the Director of Amnesty International Turkey, during a raid on a digital security training session.
  • Somalia’s government stated that an internet outage that has lasted for two weeks is costing the country US$10m a day.
  • Citizen Lab said spyware developed by an Israeli ‘cyber warfare’ company was likely used by the Mexican government to target opposition politicians, journalists and rights lawyers, and the international investigation into the 2014 Iguala mass disappearance.
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