A bittersweet reunion in a Rohingya refugee camp

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Zobaer Ahmed Rana reunion with his family after 11 years
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Abu toyob and Anowara Begum's finally got a little chance to sit under a roof after 14 days of their life saving journey from Buchidong, Myanmar.
Updated 21 October 2017
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A bittersweet reunion in a Rohingya refugee camp

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Zobaer Ahmed Rana left his parents at the age of 6 and came to Bangladesh with his uncle in search of a better life.

But the Rohingya family was reunited this week as the remaining members fled the ongoing atrocities in Myanmar.

“I haven’t seen my son for 11 years. He’s a grownup now,” Rana’s mother Anowara Begum, who entered Bangladesh as a refugee four days ago, told Arab News.

“This is the first time I see my daughter-in-law. It’s a very happy moment for our family, but we can’t celebrate at this time of crisis.”

The family and 20,000 other refugees had to wait for four days at the border to enter Bangladesh.

The family got clearance from Bangladeshi authorities on Thursday to enter the Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia Thana.

Recent drone footage from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows thousands of Rohingya refugees lined up for kilometers near the border.

The UNHCR has expressed grave concern over the condition of the stranded refugees, who have little to no food, water or shelter, and are weakened by days of travelling on foot.

“We’re advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence and increasingly difficult conditions back home. Every minute counts given the fragile condition they’re arriving in,” said UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic.

“They’re waiting for permission to move away from the border, where the sound of gunfire continues to be heard every night from the Myanmar side.”

Rana told Arab News: “My 25-member family started the journey toward Bangladesh on Oct. 9. It took them four days to reach the border, during which time I was in contact with them via a cellular phone.”

He visited his family the day they arrived at the camp, giving them dried food. He said no visitors were allowed on the second day, but on the third day he was able to give them rice.

Rana has been living with his uncle in Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong since 2004. He completed his higher secondary education, and works as an assistant at a men’s hair salon.

Rana’s father Abu Toyob told Arab News: “We lived in Buthidaung town in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for many generations. I had a grocery shop in the local market and around 5 acres of land that I inherited from my father. But now I’m penniless and faced with uncertainty regarding my family of five sons and three daughters.”

Although the international community is urging Myanmar’s military to stop its abuses in Rakhine, there is no sign of improvement in the situation.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently reported that 582,000 Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in Bangladesh since the influx began on Aug. 25.

But unofficial sources put the figure at more than 600,000, and aid agencies are seeking more support from the international community to cope with increasing demand for humanitarian aid.


Russian hackers used US online infrastructure against itself

A man walks past the building of the Russian military intelligence service in Moscow, Russia, in this July 14, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 44 min 24 sec ago
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Russian hackers used US online infrastructure against itself

  • The Russians are accused of exploiting their access to inexpensive, powerful servers worldwide
  • The hackers accessed DNC data in September 2016 by breaking into DNC computers hosted on the Amazon Web Services’ cloud

WASHINGTON: Exactly seven months before the 2016 presidential election, Russian government hackers made it onto a Democratic committee’s network.
One of their carefully crafted fraudulent emails had hit pay dirt, enticing an employee to click a link and enter her password.
That breach of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was the first significant step in gaining access to the Democratic National Committee network.
To steal politically sensitive information, prosecutors say, the hackers exploited some of the United States’ own computer infrastructure against it, using servers they leased in Arizona and Illinois. The details were included in an indictment released Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, who accused the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, of taking part in a wide-ranging conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The companies operating the servers were not identified in the court papers.
The Russians are accused of exploiting their access to inexpensive, powerful servers worldwide — conveniently available for rental — that can be used to commit crimes with impunity. Reaching across oceans and into networks without borders can obfuscate their origins.
The indictment painstakingly reconstructs the hackers’ movements using web servers and a complex bitcoin financing operation.
Two Russian hacking units were charged with tasks, including the creation and management of a hacking tool called “X-agent” that was implanted onto computers. The software allowed them to monitor activity on computers by individuals, steal passwords and maintain access to hacked networks. It captured each keystroke on infected computers and took screenshots of activity displayed on computer screens, including an employee viewing the DCCC’s online banking information.
From April to June 2016, the hackers installed updated versions of their software on at least 10 Democratic computers. The software transmitted information from the infected computers to a GRU-leased server in Arizona, the indictment said. The hackers also created an overseas computer to act as a “middle server” to obscure the connection between the DCCC and the hackers’ Arizona-based server.
Once hackers gained access to the DCCC network, it searched one computer for terms that included “hillary,” “cruz,” and “trump” and copied select folders, including “Benghazi Investigations.”
In emails, the hackers embedded a link that purported to be a spreadsheet of Clinton’s favorability ratings, but instead it directed the computers to send its data to a GRU-created website.
Meanwhile, around the same time, the hackers broke into 33 DNC computers and installed their software on their network. Captured keystrokes and screenshots from the DCCC and DNC computers, including an employee viewing the DCCC’s banking information, were sent back to the Arizona server.
The Russian hackers used other software they developed called X-Tunnel to move stolen documents through encrypted channels to another computer the GRU leased in Illinois.
Despite the use of US-based servers, such vendors typically aren’t legally liable for criminal activities unless it can be proved in federal court that the operator was party to the criminal activity.
A 1996 federal statute protects Internet vendors from being held liable for how customers use their service, and except for a few exceptions, provides immunity to the providers. The law is considered a key part of the legal infrastructure of the Internet, preventing providers from being saddled with the behemoth task of monitoring activity on their servers.
“The fact that someone provided equipment and or connectivity that was used to engage in data theft is not going to be attributed to the vendor in that circumstance,” Eric Goldman, a professor of law and co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law, said. A notable exception, however, is if federal prosecutors are bringing a criminal charge for violations of a federal criminal law.
In that case, “we’re going to require a high level of knowledge of their activity or intent,” Goldman said.
When the DNC and DCCC became aware they had been hacked, they hired a cybersecurity firm, Crowdstrike, to determine the extent of the intrusions. Crowdstrike, referred to as “Company 1” in the indictment, took steps to kick the hackers off the networks around June 2016. But for months the Russians eluded their investigators and a version of the malware remained on the network through October — programed to communicate back to a GRU-registered Internet address.
“We do not have any information to suggest that it successfully communicated,” said Adrienne Watson, the DNC’s deputy communications director.
As the company worked to kick them off, GRU officials allegedly searched online for information on Company 1 and what it had reported about its use of X-Agent malware and tried to delete their traces on the DCCC network by using commercial software known as CCleaner. Though Crowdstrike disabled X-agent on the DCCC network, the hackers spent seven hours unsuccessfully trying to connect to their malware and tried using previously stolen credentials to access the network on June 20, 2016.
The indictment also shows the reliance of Russian government hackers on American technology companies such as Twitter, to spread its stolen documents.
The hackers also accessed DNC data in September 2016 by breaking into DNC computers hosted on the Amazon Web Services’ cloud. The hackers used Amazon Web Services’ backup feature to create “snapshots” that they moved onto their own Amazon cloud accounts. Amazon also provides cloud computing services for various government agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency.