At a glance.
- US measures aim to sever Huawei from its supplies of semiconductors.
- Oracle may be interested in acquiring TikTok by the US-imposed deadline.
- Pyongyang's cyber tactics.
- Patriotic hacktivism and regional conflicts.
US measures aim to cut off Shenzhen's access to semiconductors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, new US measures are making it harder for Huawei to get chips made with American technology. The Washington Post notes the difficulties in stopping complex trade. Huawei has continued acquiring chips that contain US technology despite increasingly tight restrictions, and the US Government seems determined to stop this. The Commerce Department’s restrictions announced yesterday are thought to be broad enough to cut Huawei off from these workarounds. The Post cites an anonymous industry executive as saying, “This kills Huawei. Any chip made anywhere in the world by anyone is subject to this.”
The US continues to work on friendly countries to get them to restrict Huawei and other Chinese companies from their forthcoming 5G infrastructure. Mobile World Live says that Israel is the latest country to show signs of moving toward a ban on vendors the US and others have deemed security threats.
ByteDance gets more suitors for TikTok.
As the US establishes a deadline for ByteDance to divest itself of TikTok, other companies besides Microsoft and Twitter are showing signs of interest in an acquisition. Computing reports that Oracle is the latest company to sniff at TikTok, and that Oracle probably amounts to Microsoft's most serious rival.
Pyongyang's cyber tactics.
North Korean hackers are believed to be operating from countries outside the peninsula. A US Army assessment holds that North Korea’s Cyber Warfare Guidance Unit, also known as “Bureau 121,” had more than six-thousand members in 2015, up from one-thousand in 2010. The Army believes the number is probably much higher than six thousand by now. Many of these personnel are believed to work from Belarus, China, India, Malaysia, and Russia, perhaps from other countries as well.
Bureau 121 has four subdivisions: three focused on cyber warfare, the fourth responsible for traditional electronic warfare. The three cyber-focused subdivisions are known in the industry as the Andariel Group, the Bluenoroff Group, and the Lazarus Group. Andariel is made up of approximately sixteen-hundred members and conducts reconnaissance of targeted networks to identify exploitable vulnerabilities. Bluenoroff consists of around seventeen-hundred members who carry out “financial cybercrime by concentrating on long-term assessment and exploiting enemy network vulnerabilities.” Lazarus, properly speaking, consists of an unknown number of operators. Lazarus “create[s] social chaos by weaponizing enemy network vulnerabilities and delivering a payload if directed to do so by the regime.”
"Lazarus Group" also serves, more loosely, as a security industry umbrella name to refer to any North Korean hacking effort. It's in this sense that NK News identifies a new Lazarus Group approach to ransomware: set the ransom below the cost of backup and restoration. Doing that makes it more likely that underwriters' cost-benefit calculation will lead them to pay.
Patriotic hacktivism in the service of regional conflict?
It’s difficult to distinguish spontaneous hacktivism from government-run cyberattacks, but two current campaigns look more like patriotic hacktivism than espionage. The Greek Reporter says that government websites in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace have been defaced with “Blue Homeland” messaging that evidently came from Turkish operators. And Zee News trumpets the activities of the “Indian Cyber Troops” who’ve “hoisted the Indian tricolor” on some eighty Pakistani websites.