CISA Believes China Hacked US Government Systems

· Andrew Orr · Link

Generic image displaying the word hacked.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Chinese-affiliated hackers have compromised U.S. government computer systems.

“This beaconing is a result of cyber threat actors successfully completing cyber operations that are often designed around emergent vulnerabilities and reliant on existing exploitation tools,” the advisory states. “CISA observed activity from a Federal Government IP address beaconing out to the threat actors’ [command and control] server.”

Get we just get it together for 10 seconds, please?

China Would Rather TikTok Be Shut Down Than Sold

· Andrew Orr · Link

Walmart Enters the TikTok Purchase War - article

A report on Friday says that China would rather TikTok be shut down instead of being sold to a U.S. company.

However, Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

ByteDance said in a statement to Reuters that the Chinese government had never suggested to it that it should shut down TikTok in the United States or in any other markets.

Here’s what I think this means. China is all about the AI, and based on reports its algorithms seem to be more advanced than even invasive Facebook. China doesn’t want the U.S. to know just how more advanced it’s algorithms are. Read: China export ban of such technology.

Trump’s China App Ban Will Affect Apple Due to WeChat

· Andrew Orr · Link

President Trump’s ban on Chinese apps, in particular WeChat, is going to affect Apple, writes Michael Kan.

Forty-five days from now, the White House can begin punishing US companies and individuals for making “transactions” that are related to WeChat. That means Apple will likely need to pull the product from the iOS app store.

“For Apple, it would be all iPhone sales in China will go to zero because no one in China will buy a WeChatless phone,” tweeted podcaster Carl Zha.

As I understand it, WeChat is THE most popular app in China. It’s what Facebook aspires to be with Messenger. It’s used for everything like messaging, mobile payments, a hub for businesses, etc. Like Mr. Kan notes, it won’t affect Google because apps can be sideloaded on Android. But the App Store is the single repository of iOS apps.

U.S. Lawmakers Ask Zoom About its Ties to China

· Andrew Orr · News

Zoom logo

Three lawmakers in the U.S. have asked Zoom to clarify its relationship with China after the company suspended user accounts at its request.

White House in Talks With Intel, TSMC to Build U.S. Chip Foundries

· Andrew Orr · Link

The white house

Officials at the White House are reportedly in talks with Intel and TSMC to build semiconductor facilities in the United States.

U.S. tech companies and the government have been trying to reduce the country’s dependence on chip factories in Asia for years, underscored by national security concerns […]

In an April 28 letter obtained by the WSJ, Intel CEO Bob Swan told Defense Department that the company is willing to build a commercial foundry in partnership with the Pentagon “given the uncertainty created by the current geopolitical situation.”

The newspaper reports that TSMC has been in talks with Commerce and Defense department officials and Apple, one of the biggest clients, about building a semiconductor factory in the U.S.

Corporations have spent the last 30 or so years moving manufacturing to China in search of cheap labor. Did they not expect China to start competing with them?

Zoom: Don’t Want to Get Routed Through Chinese Servers? Fork Over Your Cash

· Andrew Orr · Link

Zoom logo

One of Zoom’s controversies is how it routes some of its network traffic through China’s servers. If you’re privacy conscious, you can opt out of specific data center regions starting April 18. But this is only for paying customers.

This feature gives our customers more control over their data and their interaction with our global network when using Zoom’s industry-leading video communication services.

I can’t say I agree. It’s not about making privacy a paid feature, it’s that Zoom is exploiting its own insecurity to create a paid feature. Next step: Making end-to-end encryption a paid feature, and leaving free users to fend for themselves.

“Mexico is the China of the Americas”

· Andrew Orr · Link

Apple Mexican flag logo

Here’s another thing to put on your technology watch lists. Due to a combination of the economic consequences of the coronavirus and the trade war between the U.S. and China, many U.S. companies are moving their manufacturing out of China. Consulting firm Kearney publishes its Reshoring Index [PDF].

Kearney predicts companies “will be compelled to go much further in rethinking their sourcing strategies, (and) their entire supply chains.”

Amid other companies, Mexican manufacturing is one possible fork in Apple’s road, along with Vietnam. As Forbes states, the U.S. can’t compete with China on labor costs, and I bet few Western countries can. I don’t know what the cost is to manufacture in Mexico, but the country likely carries less risk than China.

Zoom’s Encryption is Linked to Chinese Servers

· Andrew Orr · Link

Chinese flag

Researchers found that Zoom uses its own encryption scheme, sometimes using keys issued by China.

Some of the key management systems — 5 out of 73, in a Citizen Lab scan — seem to be located in China, with the rest in the United States. Interestingly, the Chinese servers are at least sometimes used for Zoom chats that have no nexus in China. The two Citizen Lab researchers, Bill Marczak and John Scott-Railton, live in the United States and Canada. During a test call between the two, the shared meeting encryption key “was sent to one of the participants over TLS from a Zoom server apparently located in Beijing,” according to the report.

I don’t have further commentary on Zoom, other than asking, “How will this end?”

Government Excludes Apple Watch From Tariffs

· Andrew Orr · News

The U.S. Trade Representative approved Apple’s request to exclude the Apple Watch from U.S. tariffs on imported Chinese goods.