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Cyber Week in Review: April 10, 2015

by Adam Segal
April 10, 2015

Baidu CFR Net Politics Cyber The homepage of Baidu, the Chinese search engine, in 2012. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters).

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Here is a quick round-up of this week’s technology headlines and related stories you may have missed:

  • The Citizen Lab and the International Computer Science Institute released a report which attributes the DDOS attack that took down GitHub and Greatfire.org last week to China. According the report, China has developed a tool that allows it to highjack foreign web traffic that flows to websites that use Baidu’s advertising network and repurpose the traffic as China sees fit. The Great Cannon, as the researchers are calling the tool, not only allows China to launch DDOS attacks against websites that are banned in China. It also could be used to deliver malware to targeted individuals that communicate with “any Chinese server not employing cryptographic protections.” According to the researchers, this represents a significant improvement in China’s offensive cyber capabilities, on par with the NSA’s QUANTUM program, which was revealed as a result of the Snowden disclosures.
  • CNN reported that Russia had gained access to the White House’s unclassified computer network last year. According to anonymous officials, Russian hackers—presumed to be state actors—used a network breach at the State Department to compromise the White House’s systems. White House officials refused to confirm whether Russia was behind the incident. For its part, Russia dismissed the allegations, saying that “blaming Russia for everything” has “become some kind of sport.”
  • The European Commission is considering developing an appeals mechanism that would allow individuals to petition Internet service providers to unblock a blocked website. Several EU countries, including the United Kingdom and France, have adopted national-level filtering schemes that ban websites that host illicit content, such as pornography or websites that facilitate access to copyrighted content. These filtering schemes, however, have been known to flag false positives, blocking everything from sex education resources to gossip websites.
  • French television network TV5 was the victim of a cyber incident that required it to interrupt its broadcasting for a few hours on Thursday, and that took down its website and defaced social media accounts. Individuals claiming to be affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State took credit for the incident, though French cybersecurity officials have not attributed the incident. French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin called the incident an “act of terrorism.” French newspaper Le Monde has the details here, in French. 
  • In case you missed it, CFR’s Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program launched its first Cyber Brief this week. Cyber Briefs are short memos that offer concrete recommendations on cybersecurity, Internet governance, online privacy, and the trade of digital goods and services. The Brief, entitled Promoting Norms for Cyberspace, was written by Henry Farrell, associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, and can be found here

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