Displaying items by tag: Threat
Chinese telecommunication vendors ZTE and Huawei have both endured a difficult number of years in the US marketplace – and their issues have multiplied during the Trump administration.
ZTE were momentarily crippled and almost went out of business following a decision by the US Department of Commerce to ban US companies from using their equipment and products for 7 years. However, following an intervention from US President Donald Trump, the ban was overturned and the vendor was instead hit with a $1bn fine and has to adhere to a number of strict rules and regulations.
Huawei have also been subjected to sharp criticism and have been deemed by US intelligence as a serious threat to national security due to their close ties to the Chinese government. Observers believe that the aggression from the US towards the Chinese telecommunication vendors is part of Trump’s plan to use them as pawns in his trade war with China.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated when ZTE were initially banned, and it sparked an angry backlash from China. The rest of the world looked on anxiously as the two economic superpowers clashed head-on, it has since deescalated, but the high-profile arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver has once again put diplomatic relations between the two countries under the microscope.
However, the situation in the US for both ZTE and Huawei is set to worsen following reports that US President Donald Trump is set to issue an executive order that would effectively ban operators in the country from using the Chinese manufacturer’s equipment and products.
Reuters has reported that the Trump administration has been mulling over the order for eight months, but it expected to formally enact it later this month. It is said the order would not name Huawei or its compatriot ZTE by name but would give the US Department of Commerce scope to ban any supplier it suspects of being a threat to national security.
Cybersecurity is once again under intense scrutiny and focus following a spate of recent hacking scandals and crises which have engulfed the ICT sector. The global ransomware attacks served only to show that many nations are still extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks which can completely destabilize major organizations and institutions, such as the NHS in the UK, which is a high-profile victim of the recent ransomware attack.
However, a survey conducted by the ITU on cybersecurity has once again unearthed some worrying statistics over the practices and defenses some of the world’s leading countries have in place to combat the on-going cyber-threat.
The UN revealed that Singapore has a near-perfect approach to cybersecurity, but alarming many other economically prosperous countries have holes in their defenses, and some poorer countries are showing them what approach they should adopt when it comes to cybersecurity. According to the ITU, wealth breeds cybercrime, but it does not necessarily generate cybersecurity, so it has insisted that governments must ensure they are prepared for attacks at any time.
A spokesman for the ITU survey said, “There is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities and programs.”
Singapore came out on top of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Index survey, and whilst the United States was ranked second, many other high profile and influential countries were rated poorly, lagging behind many developing nations and economies.
The rest of the top 10 were Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Russia ranked 11th. India was 25th, one place ahead of Germany, and China was 34th. It was disclosed that ranking was based on each countries’ legal, technical and organizational institutions and their research and educational capabilities. In addition to this, their cooperation in information-sharing networks was also examined.
The ITU added, "Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective. The degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised."
The ITU also stressed the critical importance of adopting and implementing a national security strategy, but added that 50% of countries have none. Amongst some of the countries that placed higher than their economic development was 57th placed North Korea; however, it’s been suggested they were let down by its cooperation score, but still ranked three spots ahead of the much-richer Spain.
The smallest rich countries also scored badly - Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey. But no country did worse than Equatorial Guinea, which scored zero.
Vodafone UK and O2 UK have engaged in negotiations on new terms in relation to an existing infrastructure sharing agreement between the two companies in an effort to curb and keep pace with the aggressive expansion by its rival BT.
The deal was first brokered in 2012 and was agreed ahead of the UK’s 4G roll-out campaign. It has been reported both are now renegotiating the terms of that 2012 deal via a joint-venture known as Cornerstone. Part of the deal enabled Telefonica-owned O2 responsibility for building and maintaining new masts in the east of the country and Vodafone in the west.
However, BT’s aggressive expansion through EE is now a grave concern for both companies, and the deal agreed between the two operators in 2012 is now proving to be a source of tension. It has been speculated that O2 has faced accusations of being too slow to maintain its side of the shared network, while Vodafone is keen to secure more autonomy in major cities to speed improvements to its own capacity and coverage.
Vodafone has already disclosed its plans to spend more than £2 billion in the next three years to improve both its domestic and network services. It is believed that the current deal brokered between Vodafone and O2 that the pair only have autonomy to improve their own networks in London, and Vodafone followed up with investments in the capital.
A revision of the terms with O2 could grant Vodafone more autonomy in key areas, while also securing more long-term certainty for Cornerstone itself. Following its failure to merge with CK Hutchison’s 3 UK, Telefonica’s plans for O2, and indeed its presence in the UK, have been somewhat up in the air.
Telefonica previously said it was considering floating the operator in 2017 in a bid to reduce its debt load. A more secure Cornerstone agreement could be key in discussions between Telefonica and potential institution investors.
American global security company Intel, are predicting that ‘Drone-jacking’ is set to become the next major cyber threat. There has been a significant increase in the use of drones – which security experts have warned that is likely to lead to a new wave of ‘Drone-jacking.’ A report published by Intel’s McAfee Labs indicated that hackers will start targeting drones used for deliveries, law enforcement or camera crews, in addition to hobbyists.
A spokesman for Intel Security, Bruce Snell outlined the potential dangers of ‘Drone-jacking’ in the company’s annual threat report – and said there were fearful because so many drones on the market lacked adequate security which makes it easy for outsider hackers to take control of the drones. The concept of ‘Drone-jacking’ was demonstrated at a security conference last year, where researchers showed how someone could easily take control of a toy drone.
Snell said: “Drones are well on the way to becoming a major tool for shippers, law enforcement agencies, photographers, farmers, the news media, and more. Although taking over a kid's drone may seem amusing and not that big of an issue, once we look at the increase in drone usage potential problems starts to arise.”
Companies like Amazon and UPS are expected to use drones for its package deliveries - becoming potential targets for criminals in the process, the report also stated.
The dangers were outlined in the annual report by Intel, the report read: "Someone looking to 'drone-jack' deliveries could find a location with regular drone traffic and wait for the targets to appear. Once a package delivery drone is overhead, the drone could be sent to the ground, allowing the criminal to steal the package.”
The researchers said criminals may also look to steal expensive photographic equipment carried by drones, to knock out surveillance cameras used by law enforcement. Intel said it expects to see ‘Drone-jacking "toolkits" traded on "dark web" marketplaces in 2017.They’ve warned that once these toolkits start making the rounds, it is just a matter of time before we start seeing stories of hijacked drones showing up in the evening news.
Other predictions in the report included a decrease in so-called "ransomware" attacks as defences improve, but a rise in mobile attacks that enable cyber thieves to steal bank account or credit card information. The report also noted that cybercriminals will begin using more sophisticated artificial intelligence or "machine learning" techniques and employ fake online ads.