China firm develops ‘laser gun’

A visitor tries out a laser toy gun at an international toy exhibition in Shanghai. A Chinese firm has developed a laser gun designed for police use from a range of almost one kilometer. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2018
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China firm develops ‘laser gun’

BEIJING: A Chinese firm has developed a laser gun designed for police use that can set fire to protesters’ hair or banners from a range of almost one kilometer.
The general manager of the ZKZM fiber laser company, who asked to remain anonymous, said the weapon would “immediately” produce a “strong pain response” in the target but stressed it was designed to be “non-lethal.”
“The weapon is designed to do things such as setting fire to illegal banners at a protest or setting fire to the hair or clothing of a protester,” he said.
“It is not designed explicitly for killing like a gun that uses bullets and cannot cause the ‘instant carbonization’ of human skin and tissues,” he added.
The 15-mm caliber weapon weighs three kilograms (6.6 pounds), has a range of 800 meters (2,600 feet) and can pass through glass and other transparent obstacles.
It can be mounted on cars, boats and planes, the firm said, adding that it was “seeking a partner that has a weapons production license or a partner in the security or defense industry to start large-scale production.”
It is “mainly expected to be for Chinese police use,” the manager said.
He said it would need to be upgraded to a “laser cannon” — with increased power — to become lethal and confirmed his firm was working on such a weapon.
But he noted there was an international agreement not to develop killer lasers and said any such weapons would be “inhumane... the pain would be unimaginable.”
Some experts were skeptical of the unveiling, saying laser weaponry was still a matter of science fiction.
Specialist website Techcrunch noted that “laser weaponry capable of real harm has eluded the eager boffins of the world’s militaries for several reasons.”
“The power required to set a person aflame instantly from half a mile away is truly huge,” the website stressed.
“The idea of one that weighs a handful of pounds and fires hundreds of instantly skin-searing shots is just infeasible today.”
Development of such laser weapons is not limited to China, with all the big defense players in the US working on prototypes for the Pentagon.
Last year, Lockheed Martin announced a 60-kilowatt laser weapon that is invisible to the naked eye and will be deployed against mortars and small drones.


Hackers hit global telcos in espionage campaign: cyber research firm

Updated 25 June 2019
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Hackers hit global telcos in espionage campaign: cyber research firm

  • Attackers compromised companies in more than 30 countries
  • Multiple tools used by the attackers had previously been used by a Chinese hacking group known as APT10

TEL AVIV: Hackers have broken into the systems of more than a dozen global telecoms companies and taken large amounts of personal and corporate data, researchers from a cybersecurity company said on Tuesday, identifying links to previous Chinese cyber-espionage campaigns.
Investigators at US-Israeli cybersecurity firm Cybereason said the attackers compromised companies in more than 30 countries and aimed to gather information on individuals in government, law-enforcement and politics.
The hackers also used tools linked to other attacks attributed to Beijing by the United States and its Western allies, said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason.
“For this level of sophistication, it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” he told Reuters.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the report, but added “we would never allow anyone to engage in such activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure.”
Cybereason declined to name the companies affected or the countries they operate in, but people familiar with Chinese hacking operations said Beijing was increasingly targeting telcos in Western Europe.
Western countries have moved to call out Beijing for its actions in cyberspace, warning that Chinese hackers have compromised companies and government agencies around the world to steal valuable commercial secrets and personal data for espionage purposes.
Div said this latest campaign, which his team uncovered over the last nine months, compromised the internal IT network of some of those targeted, allowing the attackers to customize the infrastructure and steal vast amounts of data.
In some instances, they managed to compromise a target’s entire active directory, giving them access to every username and password in the organization. They also got hold of personal data, including billing information and call records, Cybereason said in a blog post.
“They built a perfect espionage environment,” said Div, a former commander in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200. “They could grab information as they please on the targets that they are interested in.”
Cybereason said multiple tools used by the attackers had previously been used by a Chinese hacking group known as APT10.
The United States indicted two alleged members of APT10 in December and joined other Western countries in denouncing the group’s attacks on global technology service providers to steal intellectual property from their clients.
The company said on previous occasions it had identified attacks it suspected had come from China or Iran but it was never certain enough to name these countries.
Cybereason said: “This time as opposed to in the past we are sure enough to say that the attack originated in China.”
“We managed to find not just one piece of software, we managed to find more than five different tools that this specific group used,” Div said.