Posts with «singapore international news» label

Canada is reportedly banning TikTok from government-issued devices

Canada is reportedly the latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok from government-issued devices. The US federal government, multiple states and the European Union have previously prohibited their workers from using the app on official devices.

According to a note sent to Global Affairs Canada employees that was obtained by the National Post, TikTok "will be automatically removed and blocked from use on all government-issued mobile devices." The report suggests that the government will announce the policy, which is expected to be effective March 1st, on Tuesday. Engadget has contacted TikTok and the Canadian government for comment.

"A review of the mobile application’s behavior in relation to the Policy on Service and Digital found that TikTok’s data collection methods may leave users vulnerable to cyber attacks," the note purportedly reads. It may be the case that, similar to their counterparts in the US and EU, officials are concerned about the Chinese government gaining access to the data TikTok holds on Canadian citizens and residents. TikTok parent ByteDance is located in China, which has laws that force companies to share data with authorities when requested.

ByteDance has refuted suggestions that the Chinese government can access such data. It has claimed that Canadian user data is stored in the US and Singapore. However, it said that former employees in China and the US accessed data on American journalists, seemingly in an attempt to detect the sources of leaks from the company.

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment warned earlier this month that “adversary states can influence their domestic vendors to compromise products to advance their national interest, counter to Canadian clients’ interests and the interests of Canada,” but the report didn't explicitly mention TikTok or China. The Canadian government, meanwhile, is facing scrutiny over possible Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, as the National Post notes.

North Korean hackers targeted nearly 1,000 South Korean foreign policy experts

South Korean authorities believe North Korean hackers, working for the government, have targeted at least 892 foreign policy experts in the country. The efforts focused on members of think tanks and academics, dating back to April. The attacks began with spear phishing emails, often claiming to be from figures in South Koreas political system. These usually included either links to fake sites or viruses as attachments. The ploy, while not particularly sophisticated, was enough to fool at least a handful of victims.

The result was that several prominent experts had their personal data stolen, email lists compromised (exposing more people to the hackers), and 13 companies (primarily online retailers) were victims of ransomware. Although police believe only 49 recipients actually handed credentials over to the fakes sites and only two companies paid the 2.5 million won ($1,980) ransom, it's difficult to judge the full scale of the fallout.

It's unclear what non-financial resources the North Korean hackers may have gained from this latest campaign. But it's certain this will not be the last cyber attack on its souther neighbor. The county has previously targeted security researchers to discover unpatched vulnerabilities, and even used the tragedy on Halloween in Itaewon as a tool to target South Korean citizens. 

Cyber warfare has been a major focus of North Korea for years, even as it seeks to deter foreign militaries with more traditional methods, like building nuclear weapons. It has also been a major source of revenue for the country which is in perpetual financial crisis and largely cut off from the world's markets. It's estimated that North Korean hackers have stolen $1.72 billion worth of cryptocurrency since 2017. And it doesn't appear that it's letting the recent crypto crash scare it off, as the recent ransoms were also paid in BitCoin.

Though the hackers covered their tracks reasonably well, the targets, tactics and IP addresses have led police to believe this is the same group that hacked the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in 2014. They also believe that the hackers will not cease their activity just because their efforts have been discovered. Authorities have urged people, especially those who work in sensitive areas like technology and government, to step up their security measures and be extra vigilant against fishing and human engineering attacks.

Apple reportedly tells suppliers to avoid 'Made in Taiwan' labels on shipments to China

Apple has reportedly warned Taiwanese suppliers to ensure shipments to China comply with a longstanding labeling regulation following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taipei. According to Nikkei (via The Guardian), the company recently told manufacturers on the island that parts bound for the mainland must list “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China” as their source. 

That’s in line with a policy China has had in place for years but only began enforcing after tensions with the US flared up following Pelosi’s visit last week. Under the policy, officials can delay and even reject shipments that say “Made in Taiwan.” The self-governing island has its own set of labeling rules. Shipments must list “Taiwan” or “Republic of China” as the point of origin.

Apple did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. The tech giant and many other American companies have a complicated relationship with China. If the report is accurate, it wouldn’t be the first time Apple has sought to appease the Chinese Communist Party. In 2019, the company removed the Taiwan flag emoji from iOS in Hong Kong amid the pro-democracy protests that occurred in the city that year. 

In this instance, Apple may have felt it had no choice but to comply with China’s policy on Taiwanese shipments. In April, Tim Cook said semiconductor shortages significantly impacted the company’s iPad business. Ahead of its iPhone 14 launch later this year, additional delays due to a customs dispute would likely be disastrous for Apple.

Taiwan's presidential website hit by cyberattack ahead of Nancy Pelosi's visit

As more than 300,000 people anxiously watched the flight path of SPAR19, the US Air Force plane carrying Nancy Pelosi on her tour of Asia, Taiwan’s presidential website went down to an apparent cyberattack, reports Reuters. In a Facebook post spotted by Gizmodo, Taiwanese presidential spokesperson Chang Tun-Han said a distributed denial-of-service attack took down the website early Tuesday evening.

According to Tun-Han, the attack originated outside of Taiwan and saw the website bombarded with more than 200 times the amount of traffic it normally sees. They claim the website was back to normal operation “within 20 minutes.” However, when Engadget went to visit, there was only a single line to be seen stating, “OK.”

Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honors America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy.

Our discussions with Taiwan leadership reaffirm our support for our partner & promote our shared interests, including advancing a free & open Indo-Pacific region.

— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 2, 2022

Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan late Tuesday evening Taipei Standard Time, reports The Associated Press. According to local news outlets, she is expected to stay the night. As Speaker of the House, Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Ahead of Tuesday’s visit, China warned there would be “resolute and strong measures” if Pelosi went ahead with the trip.

“There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. “The one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations.”

The US maintains a so-called policy of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to Taiwan. In 1972, former President Richard Nixon visited mainland China. During Nixon’s visit, the US agreed “that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China.” China views visits by foreign government officials to Taiwan as recognition of its sovereignty – though members of Congress have routinely traveled to the self-governing island over the years.

“America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” Pelosi said on Twitter. “Our visit is one of several Congressional delegations to Taiwan – and it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, US-China Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances.”

Debris from an out-of-control Chinese rocket fell over the Indian Ocean

After carrying the latest piece of the country’s Tiangong space station to orbit on July 24th, a Chinese Long March 5B rocket reentered Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday, creating a dazzling (albeit somewhat unsettling) display as it crashed down in the Indian Ocean. A Twitter user named Nazri Sulaiman captured a 27-second clip of the rocket’s first stage breaking up in the skies above Kuching, Malaysia. Sulaiman and others initially confused the spacecraft with a meteor shower until astronomers correctly identified the debris as the remains of a Chinese rocket.

On Saturday afternoon, US Space Command confirmed the Long March 5B re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at 12:45PM ET. China said most of the debris burned up in re-entry over the Sulu Sea between the Philippines and Malaysia. Unlike many modern rockets, including the SpaceX Falcon 9, the Long March 5B can’t reignite its engine to complete a controlled atmospheric re-entry. That has led to worry about where the rocket would land every time China has launched one. On a test flight in 2020, remnants of a Long March 5B fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, leading to property damage.

Reentry looks to have been observed from Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia. Debris would land downrange in northern Borneo, possbily Brunei. [corrected]

— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) July 30, 2022

Following Saturday's re-entry, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticized China for lack of transparency. “The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” he said on Twitter. “All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles, like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property.”

China plans to employ the Long March 5B at least two more times. In October, the rocket will carry the third and final part of Tiangong to space. Next year, it will do the same with the country’s Xuntian space telescope.

Canada is banning the sale, production and import of some single-use plastics

Canada is banning companies from producing and importing a handful of single-use plastics by the end of the year, Reuters reports. Among the items the country won’t allow the production of include plastic shopping bags, takeout containers and six-pack rings for holding cans and bottles together.

We promised to ban harmful single-use plastics, and we’re keeping that promise. The ban on the making and importing of plastic bags, cutlery, straws and other items comes into effect in December 2022 – and selling these items is prohibited as of December 2023.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2022

The federal government will subsequently prohibit the sale of those same items in 2023, with an export ban to follow in 2025. The one-year gap between the initial ban and the one that follows is designed to give businesses in Canada enough time to transition their stock of the listed items. Over the next ten years, the federal government estimates the new regulation will eliminate approximately 1.3 tonnes of plastic waste, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.

Not targeted by Canada’s new regulations are plastic fishing nets and lines, which can be far more problematic than single-use plastics like straws and shopping bags. Discarded fishing gear leads to ghost fishing, a phenomenon where those tools continue to trap and kill marine life. With more than 640,000 tons worth of fishing nets discarded every year, it’s a problem that’s only getting worse and one Canada’s plastics ban doesn’t address.

"It's a drop in the bucket," Sarah King, the head of Greenpeace Canada's oceans and plastics campaign, told the CBC. "Until the government gets serious about overall reductions of plastic production, we're not going to see the impact we need to see in the environment or in our waste streams."

The ban follows a similar one enacted by France last year and is part of a broader move by governments across the world to curb the production of single-use plastics. In March, the United Nations agreed to begin work on a first-ever global plastic pollution treaty. While the agreement won’t be complete until 2024 at the earliest, it could be among the most significant efforts to curb climate change since the Paris agreement in 2015.

Microsoft will 'scale down' its operations in Russia

Microsoft previously halted sales in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, and now it's shrinking its presence in the country. The company told Bloomberg in a statement that it will "significantly scale down" its Russian operations in response to a bleaker economic forecast stemming from the war. Microsoft will still honor its contracts in the country, but the reduced footprint will affect over 400 employees.

The Windows creator said it was "working closely" with affected staff to provide support. There was no mention of which segments would be impacted. It was also unclear how many people the company employed in Russia before the announcement. We've asked Microsoft for comment.

This isn't the first major tech company to withdraw at least some of its business in Russia in response to the war. IBM is now winding down its operations after suspending them in March, while software giant SAP said in April that it would exit the country entirely. Other firms, such as Amazon and Apple, have limited some or all of their sales.

This isn't a huge sacrifice for Microsoft. The developer said in March that Russia accounted for less than one percent of its revenue, and its local business had been in a steady decline over the past few years. Even so, it wouldn't be surprising if the cutback prompted similar moves from tech peers either showing support for Ukraine or concerned about their Russian sales prospects.

Russia's war on Ukraine began with a satellite internet cyberattack

Russia's alleged cyberattack campaign against Ukraine appears to have continued up to the very minutes before the invasion. Reutersreports the US, UK and European Union have formally blamed Russia for a large-scale cyberattack that disrupted Viasat's satellite internet service an hour ahead of the February 24th assault. The hacking efforts permanently destroyed "tens of thousands" of satellite terminals, Viasat said, while the UK noted that the attack affected central European internet users and wind farms in addition to the Ukranian military and some civilian customers.

The accusations come in response to "new UK and US intelligence" linking Russia to the cyberattack, according to the UK's Foreign Office. Russia hadn't responded to the claims as of this writing, but has historically denied cyberattacks regardless of evidence.

The hack targeting Viasat likely had its intended effect. Ukraine cybersecurity official Victor Zhora disclosed in March that the anti-satellite effort led to a "huge loss" in communications at the very start of the war. With that said, Ukraine has been better-prepared in at least some instances. It claims to have fended off an attack against an energy provider in April, for example. While this latest attribution won't dissuade Russia from conducting more attacks, it might signal that Ukraine and its allies are more aware of how to defend themselves online.

Hackers deface Russian platforms and smart TVs to display anti-war messages

On the same day Russia celebrated its role in defeating Nazi Germany, many of the country’s online platforms were defaced in protest of the war in Ukraine. The Washington Post reported on Monday that Russians with smart TVs saw channel listings replaced with a message implicating them in the ongoing conflict. “The blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of murdered children is on your hands,” the message read, according to the outlet. “TV and authorities are lying. No to war.”

In addition to smart TVs, the apparent hack targetted some of the country’s largest internet companies, including Yandex. Hackers also went after Rutube, Russia’s alternative to YouTube. “Our video hosting has undergone a powerful cyberattack. At the moment, it is not possible to access the platform,” the service said in a statement it posted on its Telegram channel. Rutube later stated it had isolated the attack and that its content library wasn’t accessed in the incident.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, the country has come under consistent attack from hackers. In the early days of the conflict, Anonymous claimed responsibility for a series of DDoS attacks that left several official government websites, including one belonging to the Ministry of Defence, inaccessible. It’s believed Anonymous was also responsible for an incident that saw several Russian state TV channels play the Ukranian national anthem. At the same time, Ukraine, with help from Microsoft and other western companies, recently managed to prevent Russian military hackers from disrupting one of the country’s energy providers.

India seizes $725 million from Xiaomi

India has seized assets worth approximately $725 million from Xiaomi India after the country’s anti-money laundering agency found the subsidiary had broken local foreign exchange laws. According to Reuters, India’s Enforcement Directorate announced Saturday it recently determined Xiaomi had made illegal remittances when it attempted to pass off some transfers as royalty payments.

That money went to three foreign companies, including one under the wider Xiaomi banner. The Enforcement Directorate found Xiaomi designed the payments to benefit itself. "Such huge amounts in the name of royalties were remitted on the instructions of their Chinese parent group entities," the agency said. The Indian Enforcement Directorate began investigating the subsidiary, among a handful of other local Chinese firms, last December. It accused Xiaomi of providing “misleading information to the banks while remitting the money abroad.”

— Xiaomi India (@XiaomiIndia) April 30, 2022

On Twitter, Xiaomi said it believes its payments were legitimate. "These royalty payments that Xiaomi India made were for the in-licensed technologies and IPs used in our Indian version products,” the company stated. “We are committed to working closely with government authorities to clarify any misunderstandings." We’ve reached out to the company for additional information and comment.

As of last year, Xiaomi was India’s leading smartphone manufacturer, with a dominant 24 percent share of the market. But like many Chinese firms in India, it has recently been forced to navigate a regulatory regime that has become less welcoming of Chinese business interests. In 2021, India temporarily banned TikTok following the country’s border dispute with China and later reportedly withheld WiFi device approvals to encourage domestic production.