News you may have missed #714

Tjostolv Moland and Joshua FrenchBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►British PM urged to intervene in Congo spy case. The mother of Joshua French, who has dual British and Norwegian nationality, and is facing execution in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to ask Congolese authorities to pardon him. French, and his Norwegian friend Tjostolv Moland, were sentenced to death for murder and spying in the vast central African country in 2009. A prison official claimed in August last year that the pair had tried to escape, but their lawyer denies this.
►►Computers of Syrian activists infected with Trojan. Since the beginning of the year, pro-Syrian-government hackers have steadily escalated the frequency and sophistication of their attacks on Syrian opposition activists. Many of these attacks are carried out through Trojans, which covertly install spying software onto infected computers, as well as phishing attacks which steal YouTube and Facebook login credentials. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the latest surveillance malware comes in the form of an extracting file which is made to look like a PDF if users have their file extensions turned off. The PDF purports to be a document concerning the formation of the leadership council of the Syrian revolution and is delivered via Skype message from a known friend.
►►Report claims Australian government spied on anti-coal activists. The leader of the Australian Greens, Bob Brown, says he is outraged at reports that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is spying on mining protesters, and says such action is a misuse of the spy agency’s resources. The revelations were reported in Australian newspapers yesterday, and are based on a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism that was reportedly rejected because it involved “an intelligence agency document”. The ASIO says it cannot confirm whether it has conducted surveillance of anti-coal protesters, but it says it does not target particular groups or individuals unless there is a security-related reason to do so.

Analysis: The meaning of China’s cyber-attack on Google



Google’s recent decision to close down its venture business in China, after its operations there repeatedly came under cyber-attack, has received plenty of media attention. But most non-experts find it difficult to understand why these cyber-attacks were important enough to cause Google to abandon what is admittedly one of the world’s most lucrative online user markets. An excellent analysis in The New York Times explains the significance and meaning of the cyber-attacks. It turns out that, traditionally, cyber-rogues have been interested in detecting or building back doors (known as Trojan Horses) in commercial software, such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Word, in order to replicate them, and make money selling pirate copies. But the types of attacks that caused Google’s flight from China were different. The instigators of these attacks, which were very sophisticated, seemed to want to gain access to widely used Google applications so that they could spy on their users. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0259

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