China

Did China Hack The CIA In A Massive Intelligence Breach From 2010 To 2012? (ibtimes.com) 105

schwit1 quotes the International Business Times: Both the CIA and the FBI declined to comment on reports saying the Chinese government killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012 and dismantled the agency's spying operations in the country. It is described as one of the worst intelligence breaches in decades, current and former American officials told the New York Times.

Investigators were uncertain whether the breach was a result of a double agent within the CIA who had betrayed the U.S. or whether the Chinese had hacked the communications system used by the agency to be in contact with foreign sources. The Times reported Saturday citing former American officials from the final weeks of 2010 till the end of 2012, the Chinese killed up to 20 CIA sources.

IBM

Ex-IBM Employee Guilty of Stealing Secrets For China (fortune.com) 70

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: A former developer for IBM pled guilty on Friday to economic espionage and to stealing trade secrets related to a type of software known as a clustered file system, which IBM sells to customers around the world. Xu Jiaqiang stole the secrets during his stint at IBM from 2010 to 2014 "to benefit the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People's Republic of China," according to the U.S. Justice Department. In a press release describing the criminal charges, the Justice Department also stated that Xu tried to sell secret IBM source code to undercover FBI agents posing as tech investors. (The agency does not explain if Xu's scheme to sell to tech investors was to benefit China or to line his own pockets).

Part of the sting involved Xu demonstrating the stolen software, which speeds computer performance by distributing works across multiple servers, on a sample network. The former employee acknowledged that others would know the software had been taken from IBM, but said he could create extra computer scripts to help mask its origins.

At one point 31-year-old Xu even showed undercover FBI agents the part of the source code that identified it as coming from IBM "as well as the date on which it had been copyrighted."
China

A Tip for Apple in China: Your Hunger for Revenue May Cost You (wsj.com) 57

Li Yuan, writing for the WSJ: Apple's latest predicament centers on its App Store. Last month, Apple told several Chinese social-networking apps, including the wildly popular messaging platform WeChat, to disable their "tip" functions to comply with App Store rules (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), according to executives at WeChat and other companies. That function allows users to send authors and other content creators tips, from a few yuan to hundreds, via transfers from mobile-wallet accounts. Those transfers are offered by the social-networking apps free of charge, as a way to inspire user engagement. Now, those tips will be considered in-app purchases, just like buying games, music and videos, entitling Apple to a 30% cut. For Apple, which has been observing slowing growth in mature markets, China is increasingly becoming important. But the company's my way or high-way approach might hurt the company's image in China. And that image as well as fortunes of local companies, is what the Chinese authorities deeply care about. As Yuan adds, "while it's understandable that Apple wants to tap the App Store for more money, its pressure on the app platforms risks alienating powerful Chinese companies, turning off Chinese iPhone users and drawing unnecessary attention from the regulators." Executives of these IM messaging apps tell WSJ that Apple has threatened that it would kick their apps out of the App Store if they don't comply. The problem is, WeChat is way more popular in China than Apple -- or its iPhones or its services or both combined, analysts say. WeChat is insanely popular in China, and people love to use the app to pay for things they purchase and send money to friends. Apple's greed could end up resulting in millions of new Android users, analysts said.
China

China Successfully Mines Gas From Methane Hydrate In Production Run (oilprice.com) 132

hackingbear writes from a report via OilPrice.com: In a world's first, China has successfully extracted gas from gas hydrates in production run in the northern part of the South China Sea. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), global estimates vary, but the energy content of methane in hydrates, also known as "fire ice" or "flammable ice," is "immense, possibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuels." But no methane production other than small-scale field experiments has been documented so far. The China Geographical Survey said that it managed to collect samples from the Shenhu area in the South China Sea in a test that started last Wednesday. Every day some 16,000 cubic meters (565,000 cubic feet) of gas, almost all of which was methane, were extracted from the test field, exceeding goals for production mining. This is expected to help cut down China's coal-induced pollution greatly and reduce reliance on politically sensitive petroleum imports controlled by the US. "The production of gas hydrate will play a significant role in upgrading China's energy mixture and securing its energy security," Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming said on Thursday.
China

Drone Pilots In China Have to Register With the Government (engadget.com) 58

China's Civil Aviation Authority has announced that drone pilots will be required to register any unmanned aerial vehicle heavier than 0.55 pounds with the government starting on June 1st. "Online registration will open up on May 18th, and the government will start publishing no-fly zone data for civilian airports on the same day," reports Engadget. From the report: The initiative will also see regulators working with local government and police to curb drone interference, and will eventually standardize commercial drone use with four main categories: aerial photography, agricultural use, aviation photography and license training. The country already recognizes over 200 training outlets that have issued over 14,000 certificates so far, so some of this standardization would really just expand on what's already happening. It's hard to escape concerns that this will help the government crack down on drone pilots for spurious reasons, such as when they record protests or questionable government activities. However, the registration officially comes as a response to a mounting number of safety incidents involving drones at airports. Authorities note that Chengdu alone saw eight examples of drone interference since April, six of which grounded 138 flights. If those sorts of figures are applicable elsewhere, that's a lot hassle and potential danger.
Iphone

Apple Starts Assembling iPhones In India (techcrunch.com) 56

Apple has successfully completed its first trial run assembly of the iPhone SE in India, reports The Wall Street Journal. "We are beginning initial production of a small number of iPhone SE in Bengaluru," Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch. "iPhone SE is the most popular and powerful phone with a four-inch display in the world and we'll begin shipping to domestic customers this month." From the report: The four-inch SE is Apple's least expensive model, running $399 in the States. Some retailers in the country have managed to undercut the cost, lower the entry level price of the handset by around $80 -- but even at that price, it's still substantially more expensive than most. In spite of its relatively low pricing, the SE doesn't appear to have made quite the splash Apple was initially anticipating in the country. Apple has long been working to move production to the country, hoping, in part, to retake some of the market it has lost in China in recent years, as domestic handset sales have grown. Locals are hoping that such a move could reduce the retail cost of the SE even further, by as much as $100. But while $220 is certainly a lot more palatable, that still marks a substantial premium over the average handset price. It's the world's fastest growing market, having recently surpassed the U.S. to claim the number. The Indian market is expected to generate somewhere in the neighborhood of one billion smartphone sales over the next half-decade.
China

Chinese State Media Says US Should Take Some Blame For Cyberattack (cnbc.com) 82

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Chinese state media on Wednesday criticized the United States for hindering efforts to stop global cyber threats in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide in recent days. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) should shoulder some blame for the attack, which targets vulnerabilities in Microsoft systems and has infected some 30,000 Chinese organisations as of Saturday, the China Daily said. "Concerted efforts to tackle cyber crimes have been hindered by the actions of the United States," it said, adding that Washington had "no credible evidence" to support bans on Chinese tech firms in the United States following the attack. The malware attack, which began on Friday and has been linked by some researchers to previous hits by a North Korean-run hacking operation, leveraged a tool built by the NSA that leaked online in April, Microsoft says.
China

Many Nations Pin Climate Hopes On China, India As Hopes For Trump Fade (reuters.com) 333

Twelve readers share a Reuters report: Many countries are pinning their hopes on China and India to lead efforts to slow climate change amid a growing sense of resignation that U.S. President Donald Trump will either withdraw from a global pact or stay and play a minimal role. Delegates at the May 8-18 negotiations in Bonn on a detailed "rule book" for the 2015 Paris Agreement, the first U.N. talks since Trump took office, say there is less foreboding than when Washington last broke with global climate efforts in 2001. Trump doubts global warming has a human cause and says he will decide on a campaign threat to "cancel" the Paris Agreement, the first to bind all nations to set goals to curb emissions, after a group of Seven summit in Italy on May 26-27. "The time when one big player could affect the whole game is past," said Ronald Jumeau, climate ambassador for the Seychelles. "There would be a void without the U.S., but China and India seem to be increasing their effort." Big emitters led by China, the European Union and India have reaffirmed their commitment to Paris, which seeks to phase out greenhouse gas emissions this century by shifting to clean energies. By contrast, Trump wants to favor U.S. coal.
The Almighty Buck

Big Banks Will Fall First To AI, China's Most Famous VC Predicts (qz.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes: Wall Street will be one of the first and largest industries to be automated by artificial intelligence, predicts Kai-Fu Lee, China's most famous venture capitalist and former Microsoft and Google executive. Lenders, money managers, and analysts -- any jobs that involve crunching numbers to estimate a return -- are at risk. "Banks have the curse of the baggage they have, like Kodak letting go of film," Lee says. "Their DNA is all wrong." [...] The big banks that dominate now, the venture capitalist predicts they will be outmaneuvered by smaller startups able to deploy new technology much faster.
Security

Hackers Aligned With Vietnam Government Are Attacking Foreign Companies (cnbc.com) 19

A hacker group "aligned with Vietnamese government interests" carried out attacks on corporate companies, journalists and overseas governments over the past three years, according to a report from cyber security firm FireEye. FireEye, which works with large companies to secure their assets from cyber threats, said it has tracked at least 10 separate attacks from the group -- referred to as OceanLotus, or APT32 -- since 2014. Targets included members of the media, and private and public sector organizations from across Germany, China, the U.S., the Philippines, the UK and Vietnam itself, according to the report. From an article: APT refers to advanced persistent threat -- one that involves a continuous hacking process using sophisticated techniques that exploit vulnerabilities within a network. Nick Carr, a senior manager at FireEye's Mandiant team that responds to threats and incidents, told CNBC what set APT32 apart from other groups was the kind of information the hackers were looking for within a company's breached network. "Several cases here, it appears APT32 was conducting intrusions to investigate the victims' operations and assess their adherence to regulations," Carr said. "That's where it starts to be really unusual and is a significant departure from the wide-scale intellectual property theft and espionage that you see from a Chinese group, or political espionage or information operations from a Russian group." To be clear, the attacks carried out by APT32 are unrelated to the WannaCry ransomware that has hit 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries since Friday.
Medicine

38,000 People a Year Die Early Because of Diesel Emissions Testing Failures (theverge.com) 194

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Diesel cars, trucks, and other vehicles in more than 10 countries around the world produce 50 percent more nitrogen oxide emissions than lab tests show, according to a new study. The extra pollution is thought to have contributed to about 38,000 premature deaths in 2015 globally. In the study, published today in Nature, researchers compared emissions from diesel tailpipes on the road with the results of lab tests for nitrogen oxides (NOx). The countries where diesel vehicles were tested are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the U.S., where more than 80 percent of new diesel vehicle sales occurred in 2015. The researchers found that 5 million more tons of NOx were emitted than the lab-based 9.4 million tons, according to the Associated Press. Nitrogen oxides are released into the air from motor vehicle exhaust or the burning of coal and fossil fuels, producing tiny soot particles and smog. Breathing in all this is linked to heart and lung diseases, including lung cancer, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation, which took part in the research. Governments routinely test new diesel vehicles to check whether they meet pollution limits. The problem is that these tests fail to mimic real-life driving situations, and so they underestimate actual pollution levels. The researchers estimate that the extra pollution is linked to about 38,000 premature deaths worldwide in 2015 -- mostly in the European Union, China, and India. (The U.S. saw an estimated 1,100 deaths from excess NOx.)
Government

Nuclear Experts Form International 'Nuclear Crisis Group' (teenvogue.com) 63

Slashdot reader Dan Drollette shares an article by the executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:On Friday, an elite group of the world's nuclear experts and advisers launched a Nuclear Crisis Group, to help manage the growing risk of nuclear conflict. The group includes leading diplomats with decades of experience, and retired military officers who were once responsible for launching nuclear weapons if given the order to do so. China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States, all countries that have nuclear weapons, are represented. The group intends to create a "shadow security council," or an expert group capable of providing advice to world leaders on nuclear matters...

Building on grass-roots support, the Nuclear Crisis Group could serve as a brake on nuclear escalation and be an early step in reversing the downward nuclear security spiral. Not only will they be able to offer expertise to inexperienced leaders who are dabbling in nuclear security, but they will be able to develop and endorse proposals that could make the world safer such as expanding the decision time that leaders have to respond to a nuclear threat, further protecting nuclear systems against cyber attacks and unintended escalations, reenergizing the appetite for arms control negotiations, and questioning global nuclear upgrade programs.

China

China Is On Track To Fully Phase Out Cash (vice.com) 212

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Motherboard: Experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, becomes the first to go totally cashless. In a poky sex toy shop in Sanlitun shopping district in central Beijing, a placard with a QR code is strategically placed next to a pink, vein-knobbled dildo called the Super Emperor, and a clitoral pump. Just scan your phone, and walk out with your purchase. The cigarette vendor across the street accepts smartphone payments too. A fast-moving queue of customers purchase smokes by scanning their phones over a tatty cardboard QR code. All the bars in Sanlitun, equal parts seedy and swish, still take cash, but have likewise implemented cashless pay, largely through the ubiquitous WeChat and Alipay app, as primary payment platforms. Beijing taxi drivers accept smartphone payments too. No one in the area uses physical money, for sex toys or otherwise. Largely due to China's vibrant fintech landscape, the recent rise of phone payments in the country has shunted cash onto the endangered list, perhaps somewhere alongside the pangolin. Many experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless. But when will this moment come?
Businesses

Blocked From US Tech Investing, China Goes To Israel Instead (cnet.com) 73

Struggling to seal deals in the United States as regulatory scrutiny tightens, Chinese companies looking to invest in promising technology are finding a warmer welcome for their cash in Israel. From a report: Unfazed by this change, which was brought on in part by a new administration focused on US protectionism, Chinese investors are putting their money in Israeli companies instead. Last year, Chinese investment in Israel surged tenfold to $16.5 billion, a record, with money going to Israeli internet, cybersecurity and medical device companies. In contrast, Chinese investors scrapped a record $26.3 billion in previously announced US deals.
Communications

Cyberattack Hits England's National Health Service With Ransom Demands (theguardian.com) 200

Hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack, the NHS has confirmed, which has locked staff out of their computers and forced many trusts to divert emergency patients. The IT systems of NHS sites across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the PCs. NHS Digital said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon. Details of patient records and appointment schedules, as well as internal phone lines and emails, have all been rendered inaccessible. From a report: "The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this. NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations. "This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors. "Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available." NPR adds: The problem erupted around 12:30 p.m. local time, the IT worker says, with a number of email servers crashing. Other services soon went down -- and then, the unidentified NHS worker says, "A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs. You cannot get past this screen." The attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors, it appears. The report adds: Images that were posted online of the NHS pop-up look nearly identical to pop-up ransomware windows that hit Spain's Telefonica, a powerful attack that forced the large telecom to order employees to disconnect their computers from its network -- resorting to an intercom system to relay messages. Telefonica, Spain's largest ISP, has told its employees to shut down their computers.

Update
: BBC is reporting that similar attacks are being reported in the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Taiwan today.
Security

Director of National Intelligence Warns of IoT Security Threats (engadget.com) 36

According to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, IoT devices may be used to shut down US intelligence operations in the future. From a report: At an open hearing today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) heard testimony on the worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community. Coats' opening statements included a warning of the dangers of poor smart device security as well as the continued inevitability of Russian cyber threats. Coat's testimony lists these concerns first, with Russia topping the list of enemy actors. Coats says that the Kremlin has taken a much more aggressive "cyber posture," which "was evident in Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 US election." Coats' report (PDF) also says that Russian actors have conducted attacks on critical infrastructure networks, even going so far as to pretend to be third parties hiding behind false online personas. "Russia is a full-scope cyber actor that will remain a major threat to US Government, military, diplomatic, commercial, and critical infrastructure," says Coats in the written version of his statement. The document notes that China, Iran and North Korea, as well as terrorists and criminals, are also threats. Coats also spoke at length about "smart" devices, which have increased the number of vectors that hostile actors can attack. The denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that we already see will only become more prevalent. These botnets use weakly-protected IoT devices to overwhelm websites and other networks. "In the future," Coats says in his report, "state and non-state actors will likely use IoT devices to support intelligence operations or domestic security or to access or attack targeted computer networks."
Botnet

New IoT Malware Targets 100,000 IP Cameras Via Known Flaw (csoonline.com) 60

Researcher Pierre Kim has found a new malware, called Persirai, that has been infecting over 100,000 Chinese-made, internet-connected cameras. According to Trend Micro, the malware has been active since last month and works by exploiting flaws in the cameras that Kim reported back in March. CSO Online reports: At least 1,250 camera models produced by a Chinese manufacturer possess the bugs, the researcher went on to claim. Over a month later in April, Trend Micro noticed a new malware that spreads by exploiting the same products via the recently disclosed flaws. The security firm estimates that about 120,000 cameras are vulnerable to the malware, based on Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected hardware. The Persirai malware is infecting the cameras to form a botnet, or an army of enslaved computers. These botnets can launch DDoS attacks, which can overwhelm websites with internet traffic, forcing them offline. Once Persirai infects, it'll also block anyone else from exploiting the same vulnerabilities on the device. Security firm Qihoo 360 has also noticed the malware and estimated finding 43,621 devices in China infected with it. Interestingly, Persirai borrows some computer code from a notorious malware known as Mirai, which has also been infecting IoT devices, such as DVRs, internet routers, and CCTV cameras, but by guessing the passwords protecting them.
ISS

Buzz Aldrin To NASA: Retire the International Space Station ASAP To Reach Mars (space.com) 349

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Space.com: If NASA and its partner agencies are serious about putting boots on Mars in the near future, they should pull the plug on the International Space Station (ISS) at the earliest opportunity, Buzz Aldrin said. "We must retire the ISS as soon as possible," the former Apollo 11 moonwalker said Tuesday (May 9) during a presentation at the 2017 Humans to Mars conference in Washington, D.C. "We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost." Instead, Aldrin said, NASA should continue to hand over activities in low Earth orbit (LEO) to private industry partners. Indeed, the space agency has been encouraging that move by awarding contracts to companies such as SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Boeing to ferry cargo and crew to and from the ISS. Bigelow Aerospace, Axiom Space or other companies should build and operate LEO space stations that are independent of the ISS, he added. Ideally, the first of these commercial outposts would share key orbital parameters with the station that China plans to have up and running by the early 2020s, to encourage cooperation with the Chinese, Aldrin said. Establishing private outposts in LEO is just the first step in Aldrin's plan for Mars colonization, which depends heavily on "cyclers" -- spacecraft that move continuously between two cosmic destinations, efficiently delivering people and cargo back and forth.
AI

Chinese Startup Infervision Emerges From Stealth With An AI Tool For Diagnosing Lung Cancer (techcrunch.com) 45

Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch writes of a Chinese company called Infervision that aims to help lower the number of people in China who die from lung cancer ever year. The company has created a tool that uses machine learning and computer vision to help diagnose cancers. From the report: The company is taking advantage of a digital infrastructure that's been in place in Chinese hospitals since the SARS outbreak in 2003. It is using training data from images stored in digital health records in China and coupling them with data the company's technology is collecting in real time from its deployment in 20 hospitals around China (including Peking Union Medical College Hospital and Shanghai Changzheng Hospital). Infervision is also working with GE Healthcare, Cisco and Nvidia to develop and refine its technology. The company has processed roughly 100,000 CT scans and 100,000 x-rays since its initial installation last year. Infervision installs its software on-premise at hospitals and updates its image recognition and diagnostics tools based on the data coming in from its training hospitals, Chen Kuan, founder and CEO of Infervision, said. Training procedures are divided into two separate components, according to Kuan. The first is the the actual training system, where annotated data is collected from radiologists and incorporated into the company's training data. Then an updated version of the software (including the latest training data) is distributed to the network of hospitals.
AMD

AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China (pcgamesn.com) 103

According to a report on DigiTimes, a former TSMC engineer has been accused of stealing the secrets of their 28nm manufacturing process and taking them across the Taiwan Straits to Chinese rival, HLMC. "The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produce the chips for the great and the good of the PC hardware market, specifically Nvidia and latterly AMD," reports PCGamesN. From the report: The report claims the former engineer, known only as Hsu, has been accused of taking details and materials relating to TSMC's 28nm manufacturing process and handing them over to Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC) after being offered a job there. The engineer was arrested before he even had a chance to start his new job on mainland China. This isn't the first reported instance of potentially shady dealings involving HLMC. DigiTimes previously reported that the Chinese foundry had headhunted a team of up to 50 research and development engineers from Taiwan's first semiconductor company, United Microelectronics (UMC), to help them get their 28nm production process up to speed. DigiTimes also alleges that some Chinese memory manufacturers have been doing the same thing, headhunting Taiwanese talent to get their own fabs off the ground, and that Micron are taking legal action against some of their Taiwan partners for allegedly nicking their tech and handing it over to China-based RAM companies.

Slashdot Top Deals