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[Updated] US Attorney General Bill Barr encourages Americans to invest in Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericcson to counter China’s Huawei

Nokia and Ericsson shares got a boost. So someone made a profit on that stock tip.

Bill Barr was previously a lawyer for US phone carrier Verizon.

Meanwhile, much of Ericsson and Nokia hardware is built in China.

Reuters »

“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power, or their staying power,” Barr said in a speech to a Washington think tank conference on China.

“We and our closest allies certainly need to be actively considering this approach,” Barr said.

The United States alleges that the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment for espionage, which Huawei denies.

More » Financial Times

Updated Feb 7, 2020 » Reuters » ‘No concrete proposition’ from U.S. to back Huawei rival Ericsson: Swedish minister

US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok » The app is considered a “cyber threat”

 Justine Calma, The Verge »

United States Army soldiers can no longer use TikTok on government-owned phones following a decision to ban the app. The move comes amidst ongoing worries that the video app owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance could compromise national security or be used to influence or surveil Americans.

“It is considered a cyber threat,” Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa told Military.com, which broke the news on December 30th. The army reportedly used TikTok to recruit members prior to the ban.

Both the Navy and Defense Department sounded alarms on TikTok earlier this month. The Navy previously told its members not to add the app, and to delete it from government-issued devices if it was already installed. The Defense Department also instructed employees to “be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information,” according to military.com.

More » CNN

Related » US Navy Bans TikTok From Military Devices » Security Boulevard (Dec 27, 2019)

More » BoingBoing, The Next Web, SecurityAngle

Related » TikTok eyes global headquarters outside of China as US scrutiny mounts – Tech in Asia (Dec 24, 2019)

More » WSJ

Russia, China, Iran start joint naval drills in Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman

Reuters »

Iran, China and Russia began joint naval drills on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, in what Moscow said was an unprecedented exercise in naval cooperation and training.

Waters around Iran have become a focus for international tensions, with the United States exerting pressure for Iranian crude oil sales and other trade ties to be cut off.

[…]

The Gulf of Oman is a particularly sensitive waterway as it connects to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s oil passes and which in turn connects to the Gulf.

More » Associated Press, The Hill, Agence France Press

Chinese government-linked hacker group has been hacking and bypassing two-factor authentication

Cyber security researchers at Dutch firm Fox-IT has found evidence showing a Chinese government sponsored hacking group APT20 has been bypassing two-factor authentication (2FA) in a recent wave of attacks against government entities and managed service providers.

Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet »

According to researchers, the hackers used web servers as the initial point of entry into a target’s systems, with a particular focus on JBoss, an enterprise application platform often found in large corporate and government networks.

APT20 used vulnerabilities to gain access to these servers, install web shells, and then spread laterally through a victim’s internal systems.

While on the inside, Fox-IT said the group dumped passwords and looked for administrator accounts, in order to maximize their access. A primary concern was obtaining VPN credentials, so hackers could escalate access to more secure areas of a victim’s infrastructure, or use the VPN accounts as more stable backdoors.

Chinese criminal gangs use drones to spread African swine fever

The swine fever epidemic has cut the country’s herds by more than 40 per cent. Photo: AFP

Pork prices have spiked as a result.

Liu Zhen, South China Morning Post »

Chinese criminals have been exploiting the country’s African swine fever crisis by intentionally spreading the disease to force farmers to sell their pigs for a low price before smuggling the meat and selling it on as healthy stock, state media has reported.

Sometimes the gangs spread rumours about the virus, which is fatal to pigs, but in more extreme cases they are using drones to drop infected items into farms, according to an investigation by the magazine China Comment, which is affiliated to state news agency Xinhua,

The disease has reduced the country’s pig herds by over 40 per cent because of mass culls designed to stop it spreading further.

The resulting shortages have seen pork prices more than double, providing opportunities for the criminals to exploit.

Aggressive GPS spoofing at Chinese ports

  Dana A. Goward, The Maritime Executive »

Analyst Bjorn Bergman discovered at least 20 locations near the Chinese coast where similar spoofing had taken place in 2019.

14 of these “spoofing circle” locations were oil terminals. The most frequent occurrences, by far were at the port of Dalian in northern China, close to the border with North Korea.

The timing of the spoofing, imposition of sanctions on purchase of Iranian oil by the United States, and observations by others of Iranian oil being received by China, suggests that some of the spoofing may be designed to help conceal these transactions.

Of the locations not associated with oil terminals, three were government offices and one was the headquarters of the Qingjian industrial group, a huge engineering and construction conglomerate. These infrequent and irregular events may be related to visits by important government officials. A C4ADS report earlier this year demonstrated Russia uses GPS spoofing extensively for government VIP protection.

Read the whole story at The Maritime Executive »

US Navy bans TikTok from government-issued mobile devices

M.B. Pell and Echo Wang, writing for Reuters »

Earlier this week the United States Navy banned the social media app TikTok from government-issued mobile devices, saying the popular short video app represented a “cybersecurity threat.

A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The Navy would not describe in detail what dangers the app presents, but Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats”.

Read the whole article in Reuters »

Chinese regulations now require buyers of SIM cards have their faces scanned, in addition to providing an official ID

Constant surveillance in an effort to control the population.

Lily Kuo, writing for The Guardian »

All mobile phone users in China registering new SIM cards must submit to facial recognition scans, according to a new rule that went into effect across the country on Sunday.

[…]

The measure, described by the ministry of industry and information as a way to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace”, makes Chinese mobile phone and internet users easier to track.

Already, mobile phone users are required to register SIM cards with their identity cards or passports and many telecoms had begun scanning customers’ faces since last year. Many social media platforms also require users to sign up with their “real-name identities” via their phone numbers.

Read the whole article in The Guardian »

More » Reuters, BBC, Engadget, Bloomberg, The Next Web, SlashGear, Taiwan News, Android Authority

Another China controversy for Apple » Safari on iPhone shares IP addresses with a Chinese tech giant (UPDATED)

Alan Martin, via The Inquirer »

It’s emerged that by default, Safari shares some user IP addresses with Chinese conglomerate Tencent. To be entirely fair to Apple, it’s done as part of the Fraudulent Website Warning setting which protects against phishing scams, in the same way it does with Google Safe Browsing. But that might not be of much comfort to Chinese citizens. Tencent is, after all, a company that’s so buddy-buddy with the ruling Communist party that it literally made a game where you applaud a Xi Jinping speech.

Has Apple been transparent about this? Well, it depends on your definition of transparent. If you’re the kind of person that digs deep into iPhone settings and then feels obliged to click the “About Safari & Privacy” link then you will see the following line in the text: “Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These safe browsing providers may also log your IP address.”

Read more at The Inquirer »

More via Twitter » Matthew Green

More » Matthew Green’s blog, 9to5Mac, SlashGear, The Hacker News, MacRumors, Engadget,

Apple’s response » We’re not handing over Safari URLs to Tencent – just people’s IP addresses

Apple TV+ show developers told not to make China look bad

Further evidence that China has some measure of control over Apple.

Alex Kantrowitz and John Paczkowski, writing for BuzzFeed.News »

In early 2018 as development on Apple’s slate of exclusive Apple TV+ programming was underway, the company’s leadership gave guidance to the creators of some of those shows to avoid portraying China in a poor light, BuzzFeed News has learned. Sources in position to know said the instruction was communicated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, and Morgan Wandell, its head of international content development. It was part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to remain in China’s good graces after a 2016 incident in which Beijing shut down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies six months after they debuted in the country.

John Gruber, writing on Daring Fireball »

Apple’s far from alone here. Making big-budget movies and TV shows China-friendly is de rigueur in Hollywood today, and Apple TV+ is now a player in Hollywood. But how is this not a victory for the stifling of free speech?

Megan McArdle, writing in the Washington Post » These spineless weaklings have shamed themselves and their country »

The NBA-wide genuflecting to China is just one disturbing example of a much larger problem as U.S. companies have wiped Taiwan off their maps, erased Tibetan characters from American films, and expelled or cut ties with anyone who dared suggest that democracy is better than China’s one-party rule, and that liberty is better than living in an authoritarian surveillance state. These corporate chicken-hearts include: Apple, American Airlines, Blizzard Entertainment, Coach, Delta Air Lines, Disney, ESPN, Gap, Marriott, Nike, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Vans, and Viacom…

Those business “leaders” who have tacitly endorsed Chinese policy are too afraid of losing their access to China’s 1.4 billion consumers, or its marvelously cheap and efficient supply chains, to bother about any of that. And in fairness, they do have a duty to protect shareholders’ investments and to increase their value if possible, and therefore arguably have no moral obligation to stand up for liberty.

That may be a fundamental indictment of American capitalism, as many have suggested over the past few days. But one can never indict “markets” without implicating millions of co-conspirators: the shareholders and consumers who will keep buying the companies’ shoes and watching their movies and attending their games no matter how eagerly they parrot the Chinese Communist Party line.

The rich world is still a much more valuable market for these companies than even 1.4 billion consumers with low to moderate incomes. If the public had ever demanded that they stand up for liberty, they’d have quickly become champions of freedom. But we won’t, so they don’t.

 

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