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Taiwan Plagued by Cyberattacks on Convenience Stores, Train Stations Over Nancy Pelosi Visit

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By Reuters | Updated: 5 August 2022

As US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a brief visit to Taiwan this week that enraged Beijing, the welcome she received from government officials and the public was in sharp contrast with a different sort of message that began popping up elsewhere on the island.

On Wednesday, in some branches of 7-11 convenience stores in Taiwan, the television screens behind cashiers suddenly switched to display the words: “Warmonger Pelosi, get out of Taiwan!”

The largest 24-hour convenience store chain on the island was the victim of what Taiwanese authorities are calling an unprecedented amount of cyberattacks on government websites belonging to the presidential office, foreign and defence ministries as well as infrastructure such as screens at railway stations, in protest against Pelosi’s visit.

Taipei has not directly blamed the attacks on the Chinese government but has said that the attacks on government websites — which paralysed the sites’ operations — originated from addresses in China and Russia. It also said the firms whose displays were changed had used Chinese software that could have contained backdoors or Trojan horse malware.

Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang said the volume of cyberattacks on Taiwan government units on Tuesday, before and during Pelosi’s arrival, surpassed 15,000 gigabits, 23 times higher than the previous daily record.

Lo Ping-cheng, Taiwan Cabinet spokesman, said on Wednesday that the government had stepped up security at key infrastructure including power plants and airports and increased the cyber security alertness level across government offices. On Thursday, he said no related damage had been detected so far.

“Government departments have been very careful. In these past few days, in terms of public security, we have set up a three-tier government security and communication mechanism, it is already tough and defensive enough, so these adaptations have been beneficial,” he told a briefing.

Theatre, rather than threat

Pelosi’s visit triggered furious responses from the Chinese public and Beijing, who said the trip to the self-ruled island it regards as its territory infringed its sovereignty. On Thursday, China fired missiles around Taiwan as part of a series of unprecedented military drills.

A cybersecurity research organisation said the attacks against Taiwanese government websites before Pelosi’s visit were likely launched by Chinese activist hackers rather than the Chinese government.

Hacker group APT 27, which has been accused by Western authorities of being a Chinese state-sponsored group, claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks on Taiwan on Wednesday, saying on YouTube that they were done to protest how Pelosi had defied China’s warnings with her visit. It also claimed it had shut down 60,000 internet-connected devices in Taiwan.

Asked about the cyberattacks in Taiwan on Thursday at a regular Chinese foreign ministry briefing, a spokesperson declined to comment. The Cyberspace Administration of China, which regulates the country’s internet, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts said that the cyberattacks, combined with China’s live firing exercises, provide Taiwan’s leaders with a preview of what an invasion from China would look like.

In recent years, several reports from think tanks in Taiwan and the United States have emphasised the high likelihood that, in the event of a military assault of Taiwan, China would first launch a debilitating cybersecurity attack on Taiwan’s key infrastructure, such as its power grid.

Still, Eryk Waligora, a cyber threat intelligence specialist at Accenture, said the latest ones appeared to be “more theatre than threat” so far. He said past attacks, like a campaign between November last year to February that forced several financial institutions in Taiwan to suspend online transactions, were more sophisticated technically, and damaging.

“There have certainly been far worse cyber-attacks,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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TRAI Seeks Public Comment on Caller ID Display for Mobile Phones to Detect Fraudulent Callers, Spam

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 30 November 2022

In a move to check pesky and fraud calls, telecom regulator TRAI has started a public consultation to put in place a mechanism to display the name of the caller on mobile phones, an official statement said on Tuesday.

At present, there are apps like Truecaller and Bharat Caller ID & Anti-spam which provide calling party name identification and spam identification facilities, but the names are based on crowd sources which may not be reliable, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in the consultation paper on “Introduction of Calling Name Presentation (CNAP) in Telecommunication Networks”.

TRAI said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in its reference on CNAP has mentioned that the facility will empower telephone consumers in taking informed decision while receiving calls, and this mechanism reduces the harassment of consumers from unknown or spam callers.

“Further, DoT has requested TRAI to explore the telecom network readiness and feasibility of providing CNAP facility to all telephone subscribers (smartphone and feature-phone owners),” TRAI said.

The regulator has sought public comments on the paper by December 27 and counter comments by January 10, 2023.

For implementation of the CNAP service in the telecom networks, it would be necessary that the service providers have access to a database which contains the correct name identity information of each telephone subscriber.

In the consultation paper, TRAI is also exploring different business models for providing CNAP facilities.

To curb the menace of pesky calls and messages, TRAI issued the Telecom Commercial Communications Customer Preference Regulations, 2018 that created an ecosystem based on blockchain (Distributed Ledger Technology-DLT). The regulation mandates registration of all commercial promoters and telemarketers to register on the DLT platform and seek customer consent for receiving various kinds of promotional messages at time and day of their choice.

Under the framework, about 2.5 lakh principal entities have been registered with more than 6 lakh headers and approximately 55 lakh approved message templates which are being pushed to consumers through registered telemarketers and TSPs using DLT platforms. The regulator had earlier said that the framework has resulted in substantial reduction of customer complaints to the extent of 60 percent for the registered telemarketers.

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Elon Musk Says Twitter Will Add Encrypted DMs, Payments; Claims Signups at All-Time High as Advertisers Leave

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By Reuters | Updated: 28 November 2022

Twitter Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of November 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of November 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.

Twitter Chief Executive Elon Musk says new user signups to the social media platform are at an “all-time high”, as he struggles with a mass exodus of advertisers and users fleeing to other platforms over concerns about verification and hate speech.

Signups were averaging over two million per day in the last seven days as of November 16, up 66 percent compared to the same week in 2021, Musk said in a tweet late on Saturday.

He also said that user active minutes were at a record high, averaging nearly 8 billion active minutes per day in the last seven days as of November 15, an increase of 30 percent in comparison to the same week last year.

Musk’s “Twitter 2.0 The Everything App” will have features like encrypted direct messages (DMs), longform tweets and payments, according to the tweet.

Slides from my Twitter company talk pic.twitter.com/8LLXrwylta— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 27, 2022

In another tweet early on Sunday, Musk said he sees a “path to Twitter exceeding a billion monthly users in 12 to 18 months.”

Advertisers on Twitter, including big companies such as General Motors, Mondelez International, Volkswagen AG, have paused advertising on the platform, as they grapple with the new boss.

Musk has said that Twitter was experiencing a “massive drop in revenue” from the advertiser retreat, blaming a coalition of civil rights groups that has been pressing the platform’s top advertisers to take action if he did not protect content moderation.

Activists are urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the social media platform after Musk lifted the ban on tweets by former US president Donald Trump.

Hundreds of Twitter employees are believed to have quit the beleaguered company, following an ultimatum by Musk that staffers sign up for “long hours at high intensity,” or leave.

The company earlier in November laid off half its workforce, with teams responsible for communications, content curation, human rights and machine learning ethics being gutted, as well as some product and engineering teams.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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PSLV to Launch Pixxel’s Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite Anand on November 26

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 21 November 2022

Spacetech startup Pixxel is set to launch its third hyperspectral satellite – Anand – onboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Sriharikota spaceport on Saturday.

Anand is a hyperspectral microsatellite weighing less than 15 kg but having more than 150 wavelengths that will enable it to capture images of the earth in greater detail than today’s non-hyperspectral satellites that have not more than 10 wavelengths.

The imagery from the satellite can be used to detect pest infestation, map forest fires, identify soil stress and oil slicks amongst other things, a statement from Pixxel said on Monday.

“After more than 18 months of delay, many many retests, and more than two years of sweat and hard work by the team, we are finally launching this week,” Awais Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Pixxel said on Twitter.

Founded by Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, Pixxel became the first Indian company ever to launch a commercial satellite – Shakuntala – in April using Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket.

Pixxel’s hyperspectral satellites are unique in their ability to provide hundreds of bands of information with global coverage at a very high frequency, making them ideal for disaster relief, agricultural monitoring, energy monitoring and urban planning applications, the company said.

The satellites are equipped to beam down up to 50 times more information with unprecedented detail, compared with other conventional satellites in orbit.

Pixxel has already inked partnerships with Rio Tinto and Data Farming which will use hyperspectral datasets to identify mineral resources and monitoring active and determining crop issues respectively.

The imagery from this will provide the team targeted inputs to improve the form factor and imaging capabilities of the next batch of commercial-grade satellites.

With this launch, Pixxel moves closer to achieving its vision of building a health monitor for the planet through a constellation of cutting-edge hyperspectral small satellites in space.

Pixxel is backed by Lightspeed, Radical Ventures, Relativity’s Jordan Noone, Seraphim Capital, Ryan Johnson and Accenture among others.

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Oracle to Pay About $23 Million to Resolve Another SEC Bribery Case Involving India Unit

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By Reuters | Updated: 27 September 2022

Oracle will pay about $23 million (nearly Rs. 190 crore) to resolve charges that its units in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and India used slush funds to bribe foreign officials in order to win business, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said on Tuesday.

The case covered alleged wrongdoing from 2014 to 2019, and is the second time the SEC charged Oracle with violating the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery law.

According to the regulator, Oracle’s Turkey and UAE units also used slush funds to pay for foreign officials to attend technology conferences in violation of Oracle policies.

Employees of the Turkey unit also used the funds to pay for the officials’ spouses and children to accompany them, or take side trips to Los Angeles and Napa Valley, California, the SEC said.

“The creation of off-book slush funds inherently gives rise to the risk those funds will be used improperly, which is exactly what happened here,” Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC’s FCPA unit, said in a statement.

Oracle, based in Austin, Texas, agreed to pay a $15 million (nearly Rs. 120 crore) civil fine and about $7.9 million (nearly Rs. 60 crore) of disgorgement and interest. It did not admit or deny wrongdoing in agreeing to settle.

“The conduct outlined by the SEC is contrary to our core values and clear policies, and if we identify such behavior, we will take appropriate action,” Oracle spokesman Michael Egbert said.

In 2012, Oracle agreed to pay a $2 million (nearly Rs. 16 crore) fine to settle SEC charges concerning the creation of millions of dollars of unauthorised side funds by Oracle India from 2005 to 2007.

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U.S. begins antitrust review of Amazon’s takeover of vacuum maker iRobot – Politico

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By Reuters, September 3, 2022

Sept 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun a review of Amazon.com’s $1.7 billion takeover of robot vacuum maker iRobot Corp (IRBT.O) to decide if the deal violates antitrust law, Politico reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. anti-trust body’s iRobot review is wide-ranging and would include both head-to-head competition and whether the deal would illegally boost Amazon’s market share in both the connected device market and the retail market in general, the report added.

Amazon logo at the company’s logistics center in Bretigny-sur-Orge

The logo of Amazon is seen at the company’s logistics center in Bretigny-sur-Orge, near Paris, France, December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

Sept 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun a review of Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) $1.7 billion takeover of robot vacuum maker iRobot Corp (IRBT.O) to decide if the deal violates antitrust law, Politico reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. anti-trust body’s iRobot review is wide-ranging and would include both head-to-head competition and whether the deal would illegally boost Amazon’s market share in both the connected device market and the retail market in general, the report added. (https://politi.co/3emgp1t)
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Amazon declined to comment, while iRobot and the FTC did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.

The e-commerce giant has steadily expanded its devices lineup with more speakers showcasing its Alexa voice assistant and with home security doorbells and cameras from Ring, which it acquired in 2018.

Amazon in August announced its all-cash deal of $61 per share to acquire iRobot, maker of the robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba.

The world’s largest online retailer is pushing to expand its stable of smart home devices as well as expanding the e-commerce giant’s virtual healthcare and adding brick-and-mortar doctors’ offices for the first time.

The online retailer in July had agreed to buy primary care provider One Medical.

One Medical on Friday said the U.S. anti-trust body had sought more information from the company and Amazon about the primary care provider’s $3.49 billion acquisition by the online retailer.

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Japan’s Rakuten Mobile says service restored after 2-1/2 hour system failure

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By Reuters, September 4, 2022

TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Japan’s Rakuten Mobile Inc said on Sunday that its service for users on Rakuten UN-LIMIT VII plans had been restored, after a system failure caused difficulties making calls and sending data for over two hours.

The mobile carrier, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten Group Inc (4755.T), did not say how many users were affected by the issue, which lasted about 2-1/2 hours after starting shortly before 11:00 a.m. local time.

Nussey

TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Japan’s Rakuten Mobile Inc said on Sunday that its service for users on Rakuten UN-LIMIT VII plans had been restored, after a system failure caused difficulties making calls and sending data for over two hours.

The mobile carrier, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rakuten Group Inc (4755.T), did not say how many users were affected by the issue, which lasted about 2-1/2 hours after starting shortly before 11:00 a.m. local time.
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It said in a statement that service was restored at around 1:26 p.m. on Sunday (0426 GMT Sunday).

Japan’s internal affairs ministry in August issued rare administrative guidance to rival wireless carrier KDDI Corp after tens of millions of users were affected by network troubles in early July.

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