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FT Chinese: China Asked Chinese Hackers not to Participate in Competitions

Financial Times Chinese recently reported that the Chinese government has asked Chinese hackers not to participate in global hackers’ competitions. Instead, the Chinese hackers are required to report the bugs they have discovered to China’s national security government branches or to the original technology vendors. China has been tightening up its control of technology and information. Experts expressed their belief that China wants to expand its technical intelligence “reserve.” Some said China could see the bugs as opportunities to explore back doors to systems. This recent move is in line with other new requirements, such as requiring foreign vendors to store domestically collected data locally in China. Another effect of asking the Chinese hackers not to join the global events is to ensure that some important (Chinese) technicians be absent from many international gatherings that are typically considered an important venue to root out dangerous technical vulnerabilities. Chinese hackers have discovered many known system vulnerabilities. Although the Chinese government has not publicly announced anything yet, no Chinese hacker showed up at the Black Hat global conference held in Singapore a few weeks back. This largest global hackers’ conference used to be packed with Chinese hackers.

Source: FT Chinese, March 28, 2018
http://www.ftchinese.com/story/001076933

Best Buy Plans to Stop Carrying Huawei Handsets

Well-known Chinese news site Sina recently reported that America’s largest electronic product retailer Best Buy has stopped ordering smart phones from Huawei. In the very near future, Best Buy will discontinue selling Huawei handsets in its stores. Neither Best Buy’s nor Huawei’s spokespersons confirmed this news. Multiple international media pointed out that Best Buy’s move could be a very big loss for Huawei and it was unclear whether this was the result of political pressure from the U.S. government or not. As the world’s third largest smart phone vendor (after Apple and Samsung), Huawei has been struggling to gain a foothold in the U.S. market. Best Buy has been one of Huawei’s largest partners. Its stores are among the very rare places where one can actually see Huawei smart phones. None of the U.S. cellular carriers resells Huawei handsets, and most Americans buy their smart phones from their mobile carriers.

Source: Sina, March 22, 2018
http://finance.sina.com.cn/chanjing/gsnews/2018-03-22/doc-ifysnevk4735544.shtml

VOA Chinese: Australian Department of Defense Banned WeChat

Voice of America (VOA) Chinese recently reported that the Australian Department of Defense has decided to ban the use of Chinese instant messaging app WeChat across all of the Department’s mobile devices. In the Department’s announcement, WeChat was described as “unauthorized software.” However, in the same announcement, the Department allowed limited use of the U.S. social app Facebook. It is also evaluating the security profile of WhatsApp. The  U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing in which the U.S. CIA Director explained that he was very much concerned about the communications products from countries with a different social value system. Apparently, the Australian Department of Defense shares the same concern. Australian network security experts have expressed their observation that the Department not only worries about the close relationship between WeChat vendor Tencent and the Chinese government, but also believes apps like WeChat have very strong capabilities of collecting and monitoring information. Since last December, the Indian Department of Defense has also banned all Chinese communication software.

Source: VOA Chinese, March 13, 2018
https://www.voachinese.com/a/wechat-20180312/4296068.html

Global Times: Huawei Bought Fake Review Posts on Best Buy

Global Times recently reported that top Chinese smart phone manufacturer Huawei admitted to the U.S. media Android Authority that an earlier report on Huawei buying fake user reviews was true. The incident started with the U.S., when some media sites found a large number of buyers’ reviews on the Best Buy website praising the latest Huawei smart phone model, which, at the time, had not even been released. It turned out that Huawei went through a promotion campaign using a Facebook group offering “trial opportunities” under the condition that participants post five-star reviews on the Best Buy site. Huawei explained this was a “misunderstanding” that the promotion intent was to ask fans to post positive comments on Facebook. However, the Huawei social media manager “incorrectly” asked for reviews on Best Buy’s site. A total of 108 5-star Best Buy reviews were posted even before the product release time and only a few people had actually tested the phone. Since then, Best Buy has deleted 105 reviews.

Source: Global Times, February 14, 2018
http://tech.huanqiu.com/diginews/2018-02/11608021.html

Chinese Companies Dominate Top 2018 German Awards for Plagiarism

Radio Free Asia reported on Aktion Plagiarius, a German organization, that publishes the Plagiarius Award list each year to recognize those companies that produce counterfeit products that are “deceptively similar to the original product and that show absolutely no creative or constructive personal contribution.” It just published its 42nd Plagiarius Award list in which Chinese companies dominated the top three spots. A company from Zhejiang Province won the top prize for plagiarizing a kitchen cutting device “Nicer Dicer Plus,” that a German company had actually made. The other two companies also plagiarized products that a German company made. The second prize winner plagiarized an inflatable water Park “Wibit Sports Park XL” and the third prize winner plagiarized PUKY Racer.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 12, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/cantonese/news/counterfeit-02122018061421.html

Apple Hands over Its iCloud Accounts to Chinese Servicer

Apple announced that, starting on February 28, it will hand over its iCloud service for Chinese customers to a Chinese company. The company taking over the service is one that the Guizhou Provincial government owns called Guizhou Cloud Big Data (GCBD). GCBD will be responsible for the iCloud operations serving customers in China and also responsible for legal and financial relations with those customers.

This has triggered many concerns over data privacy. Chinese companies are known to share customer data with the government, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

Apple has given China-based users the option of deleting their data, but no option to store their data any other place.

The company TechCrunch found that, when the iCloud setting is set to China, the accounts to be handed over will also include “iCloud accounts that were opened in the U.S., are paid for using U.S. dollars and/or are connected to U.S.-based App Store accounts.”

“One user did find an apparent way to opt-out. It requires such users to switch their iCloud account back to China, then sign out of all devices. They then switch their phone and iCloud settings to the U.S. Then, upon signing back into iCloud, their account will (supposedly) not be part of the migration.”

Sources:

1. People’s Daily, January 10, 2018
http://media.people.com.cn/n1/2018/0110/c40606-29755229.html
2. TechCruch.com, January 11, 2018
Apple’s China iCloud data migration sweeps up international user accounts

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