Author: AFP

US and German intelligence services raked in the top secret communications of governments around the world for decades through their hidden control of a top encryption company, Crypto AG, US, German and Swiss media reported Tuesday. The Swiss company was a top supplier of devices for encoding communications to some 120 countries from after World War II to the beginning of this century, including Iran, South American governments, and India and Pakistan. Unknown to those governments, Crypto was secretly owned by the US Central Intelligence Agency together with Germany’s BND Federal Intelligence Service. Together they rigged Crypto’s equipment to be…

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Beijing said Tuesday it “never engages” in cybertheft, following US indictments of four Chinese army members for alleged involvement in the massive 2017 hacking of credit rating agency Equifax. The US Justice Department on Monday accused the hackers of stealing the sensitive personal information of some 145 million Americans, in one of the world’s largest-ever data breaches. Four members of the Chinese army’s 54th Research Institute were charged with multiple counts of hacking, computer fraud, economic espionage and wire fraud. US officials said it took well over a year to track them through the 34 servers in 20 countries they…

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Iran repelled a cyberattack on Saturday that disrupted the country’s internet services for an hour, a telecommunications ministry official said. “At 11:44 (0814 GMT) a distributed denial-of-service attack disrupted the internet services of some mobile and fixed operators for an hour,” tweeted Sajad Bonabi. A DDoS attack involves overwhelming a target’s servers by making a massive number of junk requests. “Connections have returned to normal following the intervention of Dejfa shield,” Bonabi added, referring to Iran’s so-called digital fortress against cyberattacks. He did not elaborate on the source of the attack. Bonabi is a board member at the ministry’s Telecommunications…

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Europe’s physics lab CERN on Wednesday said it had stopped using a Facebook team-chat application because of concerns about handing over data to the US tech giant. CERN said it had wound up its Facebook Workplace account on January 31 after the US firm gave it the choice of either paying to use the service or sharing data. “Losing control of our data was unacceptable,” CERN said in a blog on January 28, confirmed to AFP by spokeswoman Anais Rassat on Wednesday. But a Facebook spokeswoman said the company had offered new pricing tiers “with different features and terms, all…

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US officials and cyber experts warned Tuesday that the voting debacle in the Democratic caucuses in Iowa underscored the vulnerabilities in the country’s election infrastructure in everything from hacking to trust-eroding conspiracy theories. The technology problems which have prevented a complete vote count in the first test for the 2020 election were founded on what experts described as a poorly-tested, poorly performing vote reporting smartphone app. “We have every indication that our systems were secure and there was not a cyber security intrusion,” the Iowa Democratic Party said in a statement. But specialists said that the episode has shown how…

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Twitter unveiled a plan Tuesday to curb the spread of manipulated content including “deepfake” videos as part of a move to fight misinformation which could result in violence or other harm. The policy was announced after Twitter asked for comments last year on ways to reduce “synthetic and manipulated media” on the online platform that could deceive people during election campaigns or provoke violence or physical harm. Twitter, which along with other social platforms has been struggling to respond to concerns over misinformation, said its new policy calls for a mix of warning “labels” for tweets that include manipulated images…

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The United States on Thursday welcomed the European Union’s new rules on fifth-generation internet but pressed them to go further after the bloc resisted Washington’s pressure to ban China’s Huawei directly. The European Union, setting guidelines that mirror those announced a day earlier by Britain, said Wednesday that countries should ban telecoms operators deemed to be a security risk. But it stopped short of banning Huawei, which Washington says is an arm of China’s communist regime, and left the decision to each country. “We call on our European allies and partners to implement the EU recommendations by adopting strong, risk-based…

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Russia has blocked a second encrypted email provider, Swiss-based ProtonMail, in efforts to halt a prolonged series of anonymous bomb threats, the security service said Wednesday. The FSB security service said Russia acted against Geneva-based ProtonMail after blocking another social network, Netherlands-based Smartmail, for the same reason last week. ProtonMail, a free encrypted email service, was used to send messages falsely claiming bombs had been planted in more than 800 public places in four regions, the FSB said. “We have received reports that ProtonMail and ProtonVPN are currently partially blocked in Russia,” a spokesperson for the Geneva-based provider said. “We…

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Facebook said Tuesday a new tool allowing users of the social network to view and delete data it collects from third parties is rolling out to the estimated two billion members of the leading social network worldwide. The new feature, part of a stepped-up effort to improve privacy practices, allows users to see and clear “off Facebook activity” used for targeted advertising. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the tool offers “a new level of transparency and control” for the social network, which has been roiled by revelations in the past few years on how it collects and uses data.…

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Britain on Tuesday greenlighted a limited role for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in the country’s 5G network, but underscored that “high risk vendors” would be excluded from “sensitive” core infrastructure. London’s decision, following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, came shortly after Brussels said it would allow Huawei a limited 5G role in the European Union. “We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security,” Britain’s Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said in reference to high-speed fifth generation networks that offer almost instantaneous…

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