Tag Archives: China

Chinese Smartphones Sold with Spyware Installed

German security firm, G Data Software has revealed that they have found that a cheap brand of Chinese-made smartphones have been sold with spyware software preinstalled.

The security firm confirmed that they had found malicious code hidden deep in the software of the Star N9500. G Data software decided to order the phone last month after they had received a number of complaints from its customers.

Thorsten Urbanski who is a spokesman for G Data Software confirmed that there is no trace of who manufactured the phone.

Urbanski stated, “The manufacturer is not mentioned. Not in the phone, not in the documentation, nothing else.”

G Data Software confirmed that the spyware could allow hackers to steal personal information, place rogue calls and turn on the phone’s camera and microphone. They also confirmed that any stolen information was sent to a server in China.

The smartphone Star N9500 is currently being sold by several major retail websites and by several companies that are listed in Shenzhen, southern China.

Bjoern Rupp who is the chief executive of GSMK believes that the frequency of such incidents is going to increase for a variety of reasons.

Rupp stated, “We have to assume that such incidents will increasingly occur, for different commercial and other reasons.”

Christian Geschkat who is a product manager at G Data Software believes that people need to start becoming very suspicious of supposedly great deals.

Geschkat stated, “In general, particularly cheap offers online that seem tempting should make buyers suspicious. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Cybercriminals are developing more sophisticated ways of obtaining confidential data so it is now imperative that confidential data isn’t stored on devices where it isn’t needed.

It is also critical that all companies ensure that they have the best security plan in place and regularly test it to help protect themselves against the threat of cyber hackers and cyber thieves. This should be supported with a robust backup solution to ensure that data can always be recovered no matter what action a hacker or cyber thieves takes such as modifying or deleting the data.

China counters US claims with own charges of cyber-espionage

On Tuesday China’s state controlled media released a report that stated that the Americans had hacked into over 1 million Chinese computers. The report said that during the past 2 months, 1.2 million computers had been hacked into by the Americans.

The report was released after America’s allegations on Monday, that five Chinese officials had stolen trade secrets from American companies. This is the first time America has tried to charge state funded hackers.

China said that the “fabricated” allegations are damaging their two countries relations. US officials have said that “the country will not tolerate the alleged sabotage of its companies.” China was very quick to deny the claims, saying that the Americans were being hypocritical.

Chinese government officials said that “China is a victim of severe U.S. Cyber Theft, wire tapping and surveillance activities.”

Many of the claimed targets of the American cyber attacks include: Chinese government departments, universities and major companies.

To ease tensions between the two nations and to resolve the security issues, the two nations have established a Chinese and US working group. But china’s foreign minister said that the group had been suspended due to “the US’s lack of sincerity.” China now demands a withdrawal of the US’s claims.

Tensions have been high between the two countries after Edward Snowdon’s claims that the US had been hacking into schools and companies based in mainland china, in his damaging report on the NSA. Many experts believe that this is to bring the alleged hacking, back into the spotlight and American officials believe that the cyber espionage preformed by the Chinese government will result in major job losses and have a damaging effect on the US economy. No official agreement has been made between the two countries to resolve the issue. This dispute is expected to go on into the future.

Chinese Government Continue Using Windows XP

The Chinese government is attempting to patch potential security flaws in the Windows XP operating system after it reached its end of life on 8th April 2014.

As the end of life has been reached for this operating system which is 13 years old, no new security updates are released by Microsoft which leaves those that are still using the operating system vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Senior official Yan Xiaohong stated, “Security problems could arise because of a lack of technical support after Microsoft stopped providing services, making computers with XP vulnerable to hackers.”

The reason why the Chinese government is attempting to create its own patches is because they deem the price to upgrade the machines using the XP operating system to Windows 8 as being too expensive.

At the moment, Windows 8 costs 888 yuan (£84) in China. The Chinese government is keen to avoid the increased procurement costs and therefore want to continue to use Windows XP.

Chinese security providers have already released patches for the XP operating system which are currently being appraised by the Chinese government.

Yan Xiaohong stated, “The government is conducting appraisal of related security products and will promote use of such products to safeguard users’ information security”

At the moment, it is reported that nearly 70% of all computers in China use the Windows XP operating system whilst this figure is as little as 18% in the US.

This means that there are a huge number of computers that are still running on XP and leaves the users more vulnerable to cyber-attacks which could have unprecedented results.

Regardless of what operating system you use, it is vital that data is protected by utilising a robust backup solution. By having the latest security updates downloaded and applied to your machine does reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a cyber-attack but doesn’t rule it out completely. Therefore, by having a robust backup solution in place, you can be sure that you can recover your data in the desired state, no matter what happens.

Have you upgraded from Windows XP? Do you think Microsoft should have continued to support Windows XP?

Global Smartphone Shipments Set New Records for 2013

Recent statistics show that there has been a huge surge in the number of smartphones that were shipped during 2013.

According to statistics that were released from International Data Corporation (IDC), 1.004 billion smartphones were shipped in 2013. This is an increase of 38.4% from 2012 where a total of 725.3 million smartphones were shipped.

Therefore, the sales of smartphones accounted for more than half of the overall total of mobile phones sold in 2013 which totaled 1.8 billion.

Ryan Reith who is the program director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker stated, “Among the top trends driving smartphone growth are large screen devices and low cost. Of the two, I have to say that low cost is the key difference-maker. “

Reith added, “Cheap devices are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume. Markets like China and India are quickly moving toward a point where sub-$150 smartphones are the majority of shipments, bringing a solid computing experience to the hands of many.”

Samsung led the way by capturing 32.3% of global smartphone sales in 2013 with Apple achieving 15.5%.

Neil Mawston who is an Executive Director at Strategy Analytics stated, “Apple grew a sluggish 13 percent annually and shipped 153.4 million smartphones worldwide for 15 percent market share in 2013, dipping from the 19 percent level recorded in 2012. Apple remains strong in the high-end smartphone segment, but a lack of presence in the low-end category is costing it lost volumes in fast-growing emerging markets such as India.”

Smartphones have become more popular over the years due to the multifunctional features they provide as they can be used for both business and personal purposes. As a result of this, there has been a large increase in the amount of data that is being stored on them. It is therefore vital that the owner of the smartphone takes responsibility to ensure that the device is properly protected and that a secure backup of the data on the phone is taken regularly.

By taking a regular backup of the data, the owner can be assured that the data on their phone will not be lost regardless if it is lost, stolen or becomes damaged.

Stricter Data Controls in China: Microblogging

An online announcement in China has ordered all microblog companies registered in Beijing to enforce real name registration within three months. The tightening rules are a bid to control the microblogs gaining influence and the speed at which they share information.

The latest summer figures have identified almost 500 million internet users in China, more than any other country in the world. Government officials have warned that further, tighter new guidelines are on their way for October 2012.

Attempts by UK Prime Minister David Cameron to place tighter controls and even shut down social media platform Twitter during the summer riots had failed. But Chinese officials are determined to implement the new rules with growing concern about the number of people using the internet to spread lies, rumours and mobilise potentially destabilising protest movements. Social media sites particularly worry Chinas Communist leadership with the ability of users to challenge the partys existing internet censorship tools. In 2009, Facebook and Twitter were banned in China after their instrumental use in anti-government protests in Iran.

Since then, China has cultivated home grown alternatives believing that they would be more pliable to the governments agenda such as Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo has 250 million users and China has increased the punishment for internet users who spread allegedly false or harmful content. As a result, user activity on Sina Weibo has declined.

The new rules were jointly issued by the government, police and internet management office. Regulations follow the past pattern that China has always used to regulate the internet industry. Allow new services to establish, observe their impact and then set up a regulatory structure.

(Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/63cef782-27d0-11e1-9433-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1gifFhEOw)

Cyber Attacks Traced to China

The security company Symantec have revealed that at least 29 firms in the chemicals industry have been targeted by a series of cyber-attacks which have been traced back to China. Symantec has also revealed that they have evidence that another 19 companies, including defence specialists have been affected.

It is believed that the attacks took place from late July and lasted until mid- September. Symantecs report revealed that at least 12 companies in the US, five in the UK and two in Denmark have been affected by the attacks. The names of the companies that are thought to have been affected have not been disclosed, but the report did reveal that companies ranked within Fortune 100 firms had been targeted. It was also recognised that several of the firms targeted are involved in developing materials for military vehicles.

Symantec believe that the campaign was focused on obtaining intellectual property such as formulas and design processes.

The US company Dow Chemicals has confirmed that they have been a target as staff received unusual emails. A spokesman for the company added Dow engaged internal and external response teams, including law enforcement, to address the situation. As a result, we have no reason to believe our operations were compromised.”

Symantec have confirmed that workers at the organisations were sent emails asking them to open attachments. In some cases, the hackers attempted to deceive workers by claiming that the attachment contained important security updates or that it was an invitation from business partners.

Those who opened the attachment ended up installing a Trojan horse (a piece of code) which enabled hackers to obtain details of the targets computer networks. Once the Trojan was installed, the attackers used the information to locate and copy files to another part of the targets system. Once the desired files had been copied, the attackers could then commence with extracting the data with the company being none the wiser.

The Trojan used has been identified as PoisonIvy, which was developed by a Chinese speaker. Symantec have traced the attacks back to a “20-something male located in the Hebei region of China” who funnelled the process through a US computer server.

When Symantec contacted the potential hacker and prompted him to leave them contact details, he replied with details for someone who would “perform hacking for hire”. The only problem is that the company couldnt determine whether this was the same person who had been involved in the attacks.

With the number of cyber-attacks increasing, Symantecs chief technology officer, Greg Day stated This is unfortunately becoming a new normal behaviour. We had at least a decade of cybercrime which generally targeted anybody. Then we had the emergence of very skilled techniques involving a lot of time and effort to target global organisations. What we have now is almost the commercialisation of those techniques, using elements such as advanced persistent threats to pursue espionage and intellectual property theft, whether that is for their own gain or resale.

With the number of cyber-attacks set to increase, employees of companies need to remain vigilant and remain cautious when such as in this case, receive suspicious emails. Attachments should only be opened if the user knows that it has come from a trusteed source as opening attachments from untrustworthy sources can result in sensitive data being compromised.

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