Australia’s Department of Defence has banned employees from using one of the world’s largest social media apps, WeChat. This is done after they have “Phased out” of chinese phone brands like Huawei and ZTE.
The ban was first reported in the Australian Financial Review, with the Australian Defence Department confirming it did allow “limited use of Facebook, but not WeChat.” The messaging app with more than 1 billion users, is undergoing a security assessment. Until it is cleared, it is not allowed on any official’s mobile device.
There is no clear reason as to why this ban was implemented. However, it’s easy to assume that WeChat has been considered an unsafe application. In the end, WeChat has been known for being unsafe before.
Considering this course of action follows up an October report from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that warned Australia was the target of “espionage and foreign interference.” The reason might be something regarding WeChat being used for espionage.
“Foreign intelligence services sought access to privileged and/or classified information,” the report said, “on Australia’s alliances and partnerships, our position on international diplomatic, economic and military issues, our energy and mineral resources, and our innovations in science and technology.”
Since 2011, WeChat has been known for its low-security policies. The app is infamous for how its location-reporting and anonimity features can be easily abused by anyone. As such, it’s been speculated that the Chinese authorities have had access to user accounts.
Of course, this also means that WhatsApp is also in the middle of a security assessment as well. This app could fare better considering that the issue people have with it is that it’s sometimes considered “Too Secure”.
The reason for this being the fact that the messages are encrypted. Not even the people who handle the app have access to these messages. However, anything that poses a security threat to Australia might be banned for now.
Telegram launches a global self-custodial crypto wallet, excluding the US
Telegram, with 800 million monthly users, is launching a self-custodial crypto wallet. The move will solidify its presence in the vibrant crypto community that has grown from its chat platform and may attract more people to crypto.
Telegram and TON Foundation announced TON Space, a self-custodial wallet, on Wednesday at Singapore’s Token2049 crypto conference, which draws over 10,000 attendees.
Telegram has a complicated blockchain relationship. After the SEC sued Telegram over a massive initial coin offering, the chat app abandoned its Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain project in 2020. The Open Network Foundation (TON Foundation), founded by open-source developers and blockchain enthusiasts, supports the development of The Open Network (TON), the blockchain powering a growing number of Telegram applications, including the wallet.
The Open Platform (TOP) and TOP Labs, a venture-building division, created the TON-based wallet.
TON Space will be available to Telegram users worldwide without wallet registration in November. The U.S., which has cracked down on the crypto industry and promoted many crypto apps to geofence users, is currently excluded from the feature.
Google’s massive antitrust trial begins, with bigger implications
The Justice Department’s landmark antitrust case against Google began in court today, setting off a months-long trial that could upend the tech world.
At issue is Google’s search business. The Justice Department claims that Google has violated antitrust laws to maintain its search title, but the company claims that it does so by providing a superior product.
The Justice Department sued Google for civil antitrust in late 2020 after a year-long investigation.
“If the government does not enforce the antitrust laws to enable competition, we will lose the next wave of innovation,” said then-Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. “If that happens, Americans may never see the ‘next Google.’”
A large coalition of state attorneys general filed their own parallel suit against Google, but Judge Amit Mehta ruled that the states did not meet the bar to go to trial with their search ranking complaints.
The search business case against Google is separate from a federal antitrust lawsuit filed earlier this year. The Justice Department claims Google used “anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful means” to neutralize threats to its digital advertising empire in that lawsuit.
Justice Department attorney Kenneth Dintzer set the stakes for the first major tech antitrust trial since Microsoft’s late 1990s reckoning on Tuesday. “This case is about the future of the internet, and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” Dintzer said.
Beginning the trial, the government focused on Google’s deals with phone makers, most notably Apple, that give its search product top billing on new devices. Dintzer claimed that Google maintains and grows its search engine dominance by paying $10 billion annually for those arrangements.
“This feedback loop, this wheel, has been turning for more than 12 years,” he said. “And it always benefits Google.”
Google lawyer John Schmidtlein refuted that claim, hinting at the company’s legal defense in the coming weeks.
“Users today have more search options and more ways to access information online than ever before,” Schmidtlein said. Google will argue that it competes with Amazon, Expedia, and DoorDash, as well as Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Google planted the seeds for this defense. According to internal research, Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said last year that more young people are using TikTok to search for information than Google Search.
In our studies, almost 40% of young people don’t use Google Maps or Search to find lunch, Raghavan said. “They use TikTok or Instagram.”
Google will be decided by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in the coming months. We’re far from that decision, but the company could be fined heavily or ordered to sell parts of its business.
The trial could change Google’s digital empire if the Justice Department wins. Other tech companies that dominated online markets in the last decade are also watching. If the government fails to hold an iconic Silicon Valley giant accountable, big tech will likely continue its aggressive growth trajectory.
If the Justice Department succeeds, the next decade could be different. The industry-wide reckoning could cripple incumbents and allow upstarts to define the next era of the internet, wresting the future from tech titans.
India warns of Android malware threats
India has warned its residents of an advanced Android malware that can access sensitive data and give hackers control over affected devices.
Indian Defence Ministry’s Controller General of Defence Accounts issued an advice on DogeRAT, a Remote Access Trojan discovered by cybersecurity company CloudSEK. The letter added the malware, which targets Android users in India, is spread via social networking and messaging platforms like ChatGPT, Opera Mini, and “premium versions” of YouTube, Netflix, and Instagram.
“Once installed on a victim’s device, the malware gains unauthorized access to sensitive data including contacts, messages and banking credentials,” the August 24 advisory stated.
The statement added the malware can hijack affected devices and send spam, make illicit payments, change files, take images and keystrokes, track the user’s location, and record audio.
The advisory notes that fraudsters recently utilized Telegram to spread fraudulent versions of ChatGPT, Instagram, Opera Mini, and YouTube. The threat’s origin is unknown.
The Defense Ministry advises its agencies and officials to avoid downloading apps from unknown third-party platforms and clicking on links from unknown senders. Install an antivirus program and update handsets with the newest software and security updates.
In late May, CloudSEK blogged that Java-based open-source Android spyware targeted banking and entertainment users. The startup also emphasized that while much of the marketing initially targeted Indian people, it is designed to be worldwide.
CloudSEK researchers said DogeRAT’s author demonstrated on GitHub that a Telegram bot and an open-source NodeJS app hosting platform could begin the malware campaign.
Local news outlet Moneycontrol reported the advisory’s emergency.
Cybersecurity breaches have increased in India, the world’s second-largest internet market after China, due to digitization. The Indian IT ministry recorded 192,439 government department cybersecurity incidents in 2022, up 171% from 70,798 in 2018.
Last year, a major cybersecurity breach hit India’s largest public medical facility, AIIMS in New Delhi. The administration told lawmakers in December that the ransomware attack affected five servers with 1.3 gigabytes of data.
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