China Jumps the Gun on Cybersecurity Talks
Today in international tech news: Chinese state-run media launches the opening salvo of this weekend's cybersecurity talks. Also: A British comedian leads an Irish-themed flash mob into Apple's flagship London store; malware hits high-profile targets around the world; and an Australian agency accidentally blocks 250,000 websites.
This coming weekend's cybersecurity talks may have already started.
The state-run People's Daily ran an article claiming that China has "mountains of data" proving that it has been the victim of cyberespionage at the hands of the United States.
The report precedes the upcoming landmark meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and President Obama; cybersecurity is expected to be a key talking point.
China's claim to victimhood is not in itself new. However, the rhetoric of the People's Daily article is instructive.
It would be "technically irresponsible" to blame Washington or the Pentagon, said experts quoted in the article, and "it's not helpful in solving the problem" to loft accusations. "Cybersecurity concerns can only be settled through communication, not confrontation," the article asserts.
Such talking points are noteworthy because the United States has been none too shy about pointing the finger at the Chinese government and Chinese military.
China, the article seems to say, is too mature for such accusations, despite the assertion that attacks on China are "as grave as" the attacks the U.S. purports to have suffered at the hands of Chinese hackers.
Chinese officials claim that more than 13,000 "Trojan horses" or bot control servers were targeted at mainframes in China, and that more than 4,000 were from the U.S. -- the most from any one country.
Not that China is calling out the U.S. or anything.
[Source: People's Daily]
Comedian Goads Apple With In-Store Shindig
Mark Thomas, a British comedian and activist, spearheaded a flash mob protest/party of about 50 people in Apple's flagship London store.
The impetus for the get-together was to rib Apple for its avoidance of British taxes, a practice that utilizes subsidiaries in Ireland. Hence, Thomas opted for an Irish theme, and people dressed in traditional Irish clothing, sang an Irish folk song (complete with fiddler) and waved signs, including one that read, "You are now entering Irish territory."
While Apple has taken flak from British lawmakers for its minute tax payments, Thomas' party/protest is the first of its kind.
The goings-on, predictably, have made their way to YouTube.
[Source: The Register]
High-Level Malware Hits Governments
More than 350 high-profile targets in 40 countries have been compromised by malware known as "NetTraveler," according to security firm Kaspersky Lab.
Targets include government institutions, embassies, military contractors, oil industry companies and more. Space exploration, nanotechnology, energy production and nuclear power were some of the sought-after topics.
One outlier on the list of targets included Tibetan and Uyghur activists, both of which are minority groups in western China.
In a blog post, Kaspersky hypothesized that the group responsible for the malware included about 50 people, most of whom speak Chinese but have a "working knowledge of English."
The earliest known sample of the malware is from 2005, with the largest samples having originated from 2010 to 2013.
A Big Whoops in Aussie Website Block
Australia's corporate watchdog said that it inadvertently blocked access to roughly 250,000 websites.
It could have been worse: Of the 250,000 blocked sites, only about 1,000 were still active. The rest had "no substantive content" or were merely domain sales offers.
The mistake occurred when the group attempted to block a single site. Instead of blocking a single domain, the watchdog asked Internet service providers to block an IP address. Thus, thousands of other sites, hosted on the shared IP address, were also blocked.
A similar mistake had previously caused 1,200 sites to be blocked.
[Source: The Age]