Chinese hackers reportedly target India’s power grid

Chinese hackers reportedly target India’s power grid
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the report had been noted by Beijing, but China firmly opposes and combats any form of cyberattacks. (AP)
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Updated 07 April 2022

Chinese hackers reportedly target India’s power grid

Chinese hackers reportedly target India’s power grid
  • China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday the report had been “noted” by Beijing
  • Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India hasn’t discussed the issue with China

BANGKOK: India’s power sector has been targeted by hackers in a long-term operation thought to have been carried out by a state-sponsored Chinese group, a US-based private cybersecurity company detailed in a new report.
Over the last several months, the Insikt Group, the threat research division of Massachusetts-based Recorded Future, said it has collected evidence that hackers targeted seven Indian state centers responsible for carrying out electrical dispatch and grid control near a border area disputed by the two nuclear neighbors.
The group primarily used the Trojan ShadowPad, which is believed to have been developed by contractors for China’s Ministry of State Security, leading to the conclusion that this was a state-sponsored hacking effort, the group reported.
“ShadowPad continues to be employed by an ever–increasing number of People’s Liberation Army and Ministry of State Security-linked groups, with its origins linked to known MSS contractors first using the tool in their own operations and later likely acting as a digital quartermaster,” Recorded Future said in the report late Wednesday.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Thursday the report had been “noted” by Beijing, but that China “firmly opposes and combats any form of cyberattacks, and will not encourage, support or condone any cyberattacks.”
“I would like to advise the company concerned that if they really care about global cybersecurity, they should pay more attention to the cyberattacks by the US government hackers on China and other countries, and do more to help promote dialogue and cooperation among countries, instead of using the cyberattack issue to stir up trouble and throw mud at China,” he told reporters.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India hasn’t discussed the issue with China.
“We have seen reports. There is a mechanism to safeguard our critical infrastructure to keep it resilient. We haven’t raised this issue with China,” he said.
Indian Minister of Power R.K. Singh said the report was not a cause for concern.
“We are always prepared,” he said. “We have a very robust security system. We are always alert.”
Insikt Group already detected and reported a suspected Chinese-sponsored hack of 10 Indian power sector organizations in February 2021 by a group known as RedEcho. The more recent hack “displays targeting and capability consistencies” with RedEcho, but there are also “notable distinctions” between the two so the group has been given the working name of Threat Activity Group 38, or TAG-38, as more information is gathered.
Following a short lull after its first report, Recorded Future said the Insikt Group again started tracking hacking attempts on India’s power grid organizations. Over the last several months, through late March, it identified likely network intrusions targeting at least seven of India’s so-called “State Load Dispatch Centers” — all in proximity to the disputed border in Ladakh, where Chinese and Indian troops clashed in June 2020, leaving 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese dead.
“Recorded Future continues to track Chinese state-sponsored activity groups targeting a wide variety of sectors globally — a large majority of this conforms to longstanding cyber espionage efforts, such as targeting of foreign governments, surveillance of dissident and minority groups, and economic espionage,” the report said.
“However, the coordinated effort to target Indian power grid assets in recent years is notably distinct from our perspective and, given the continued heightened tension and border disputes between the two countries, we believe is a cause for concern,” it added.
Hackers are thought to have gained access through third-party devices connected to the Internet, like IP cameras, which had been compromised, the company said.
Investigators have not yet determined how they had been compromised, but Recorded Future suggested they may have originally been installed using default credentials, leaving them vulnerable.
Because the prolonged targeting of India’s power grid “offers limited economic espionage or traditional intelligence-gathering opportunities,” Recorded Future said it seems more likely the goal is to enable information gathering around surrounding critical infrastructure systems, or to be pre-positioned for future activity.
“The objective for intrusions may include gaining an increased understanding into these complex systems in order to facilitate capability development for future use or gaining sufficient access across the system in preparation for future contingency operations,” Recorded Future said.


Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
Updated 20 sec ago

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
  • Incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda the deadliest in years
  • Mobile phone footage showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over
BODA, Bangladesh: Rescuers and navy divers recovered 10 bodies Tuesday after a boat overloaded with religious pilgrims capsized in Bangladesh, police said, taking the death toll to 61 as anxious relatives waited for news of several people who were still missing.
The incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda was the deadliest in years in the South Asian country, which is crisscrossed by rivers where overcrowding on aged vessels is common.
Seventeen of those killed were children, authorities said, with video footage suggesting some were as young as around four years old.
The small vessel on its way to a popular temple flipped over in a river as onlookers screamed from the shore, in horrific scenes captured on cellphones.
Boda police chief Sujay Kumar Roy said rescue workers including firefighters, navy divers and villagers were searching for miles downstream on the Karotoa River, where the tragedy occurred.
The boat was carrying around 90 people, of whom around 50 were pilgrims on their way to the centuries-old Hindu temple for a major festival, according to police.
“We resumed the search this morning and rescuers found a few more bodies downstream and also under the water... Still a few more people are missing,” Roy said.
Abdur Razzaque, a police inspector, said at least 30 of the dead were women.
“A committee has been formed to probe the incident,” he said.
Dozens of relatives of the missing people were still crowding the riverbank on Tuesday, although most had left after authorities handed over their family members’ bodies.
“Three women of my family were missing since the boat capsized,” said one distraught relative, Bikash Chandra, late on Monday.
“We found one in the morning around 10:00 am, who was rescued earlier. But I couldn’t find the other two yet.”
District police chief Sirajul Huda said Monday the boat was carrying three times its permitted capacity.
“The boatman asked some people to disembark in an effort to ease the weight-load. But no one listened,” he said.
Mobile phone footage aired by TV station Channel 24 showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over, spilling the passengers into the muddy brown river.
Dozens of people watching from the shore started shouting and screaming. The weather was calm at the time.
Thousands of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh visit the famous Bodeshwari Temple every year.
Sunday marked the start of Durga Puja, a major Hindu festival drawing large crowds at the temple.
Last December, around 40 people perished when a packed three-story ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh.
A ferry sank in Dhaka in June 2020 after a collision with another vessel, killing at least 32 people.
And at least 78 people perished in 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term
Updated 27 September 2022

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term
  • Ukrainians who were forced to vote would not be punished
  • Moscow hopes to annex the provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia

KYIV, Ukraine: Ukrainians who help Russian-backed referendums to annex large swathes of the country will face treason charges and at least five years in jail, Ukraine’s presidential adviser said, as voting in four regions entered its last day.
“We have lists of names of people who have been involved in some way,” presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick.
“We are talking about hundreds of collaborators. They will be prosecuted for treason. They face prison sentences of at least five years.”
Podolyak said Ukrainians who were forced to vote would not be punished. Ukrainians officials have reported ballot boxes being taken door to door and residents being coerced into voting in front of Russian-backed security.
Moscow hopes to annex the provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, in the east and south, which make up about 15 percent of Ukraine.
None of the provinces are fully under Moscow’s control and fighting has been under way along the entire front line, with Ukrainian forces reporting more advances since they routed Russian troops in a fifth province, Kharkiv, earlier this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian soil, which would include the four provinces if annexed.
Voting on whether to join Russia began on Friday in the regions and is due to end on Tuesday, with the Russian parliament possibly approving the annexation within days.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Putin is likely to announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation during his address to parliament on Sept. 30.
Kyiv and the West have dismissed the referendums as a sham and pledged not to recognize the results.


Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway
Updated 27 September 2022

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway
  • More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders are expected at the state funeral today

DUBAI/TOKYO: Japan began a controversial state funeral for assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, with his widow Akie carrying his ashes into a Tokyo hall where thousands of mourners gathered.

Dressed in a black kimono, Akie carried the ashes in a box covered with a decorative fabric into the Budokan venue as a 19-gun salute sounded in honour of the slain ex-premier.

More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders were expected at the state funeral today. 

Dignitaries include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, US Vice President Kamala Harris, India’s PM Narendra Modi, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Philippines Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Indonesia Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, and European Council President Charles Michel.

The streets of Budokan where the state funeral will take place have been closed since early morning, and according to sources, many police officers from other parts of Japan are present. 

Mourners have already started queuing pay their respects to Abe, at a sectioned area that has been set up near the Budokan funeral hall venue for members of the public to leave flowers and tributes.

The funeral is stated to have cost 1.65 billion yen (or about $11.4 million) with many Japanese opposed to the state event.

On Monday, around 10,000 protestors marched through the streets of Tokyo demanding the funeral be called off.

– with AFP

This article originally appeared on Arab Jews Japan.


Women in power across Europe

(From L to R) Danish Prime Minster Mette Frederiksen, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
(From L to R) Danish Prime Minster Mette Frederiksen, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Updated 27 September 2022

Women in power across Europe

(From L to R) Danish Prime Minster Mette Frederiksen, British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
  • Truss is Britain’s third woman prime minister after “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, who was in charge from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who governed from 2016 to 2019 — all Conservatives

PARIS: Italy’s far-right leader Giorgia Meloni looks set to join a group of over a dozen European women who hold the top political jobs in their country following her party’s victory in Sunday’s general election.
Here is the list of women presidents and prime ministers, which does not include Ursula von der Leyen, who became the first woman president of the European Commission in December 2019:

(From L to R) Estonia’s President Kersti Kaljulaid, Giorgia Meloni of Italy and Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani. (Agencies)

In Britain, which is part of Europe but no longer part of the EU, Liz Truss became the new prime minister on September 6. Truss had won the leadership race of the ruling Conservative Party, automatically making her leader of the country after Boris Johnson’s resignation in July.
Truss is Britain’s third woman prime minister after “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, who was in charge from 1979 to 1990, and Theresa May, who governed from 2016 to 2019 — all Conservatives.

Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen became her country’s youngest-ever prime minister in June 2019 when she was elected premier at the age of 41.
Denmark’s first woman prime minister was Helle Thorning-Schmidt, also from the Social Democrats, who served from 2011 to 2015.

Former EU auditor Kersti Kaljulaid, 52, became the first female president of the Baltic state of Estonia in October 2016. The position is a largely ceremonial one.
Kaja Kallas in January 2021 became Estonia’s first woman prime minister. Her father Siim Kallas was prime minister from 2002-2004.

In December 2019, Sanna Marin, a Social Democrat, became the youngest sitting prime minister in the world at the age of 34.
Finland’s third female prime minister has been in the headlines recently over pictures of her dancing and partying with friends.

Elisabeth Borne, a 61-year-old engineer, was named French prime minister in May, becoming only the second woman to hold the position after Edith Cresson, a Socialist, who held the job for less than a year in the early 1990s.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, a trailblazing lawyer, was elected Greece’s first female president in January 2020.
While the presidency is a mainly ceremonial role in Greece, Sakellaropoulou had already broken new ground in the judiciary by becoming president of the country’s top court in 2018.

Katalin Novak, a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and former minister for family policy, was elected Hungary’s first ever woman president in March 2022.
The presidency is a largely ceremonial role.

Lithuanian former finance minister Ingrida Simonyte, a 47-year-old rock and ice hockey fan, was appointed prime minister of a center-right government in December 2020.
Lithuania has a strong tradition of female leadership, with “Baltic Iron Lady” Dalia Grybauskaite spending a decade in power from 2009 to 2019.

Liberal lawyer and anti-graft campaigner Zuzana Caputova, 48, took office in June 2019 as Slovakia’s first woman president.
A political novice, she had comfortably beaten the ruling party’s candidate in elections. In Slovakia, the president has less power than the prime minister but can veto laws and appointments of senior judges.

Despite being a country that champions gender equality, Sweden never had a woman as prime minister before Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat, who won the top job in November 2021.
She resigned on September 14, 2022 after an unprecedented right-wing and far-right bloc narrowly won the election.

Elsewhere in Europe, outside the EU, other women currently in power are: Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Kosovo’s president Vjosa Osmani, Moldova’s president and prime minister Maia Sandu and Natalia Gavrilita, Serbia’s openly-gay prime minister Ana Brnabic, and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

 


‘Dozen’ dead in suspected Burkina Faso militant attack

‘Dozen’ dead in suspected Burkina Faso militant attack
Updated 27 September 2022

‘Dozen’ dead in suspected Burkina Faso militant attack

‘Dozen’ dead in suspected Burkina Faso militant attack
  • Violence has raged in the landlocked west African country after Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a January coup

OUAGADOUGOU: A suspected militant attack in the north of Burkina Faso has killed around a dozen people, mostly soldiers, security sources said on Monday.

Violence has raged in the landlocked west African country after Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba seized power in a January coup, ousting Burkina’s elected leader and promising to rein in militants.

But as in neighboring countries, insurgents affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group have stoked the unrest.

In the latest attack, a convoy carrying supplies to local residents and escorted by a military unit “was the target of a terrorist attack” near Gaskinde in the Sahel region, an army statement said.

“The attack unfortunately caused human and material losses,” and a full toll would be established “as soon as possible,” it said.

A security source said that a preliminary toll indicated “about a dozen dead among elements of the unit. There were also a number of seriously wounded.”

The source added that reinforcements had been sent to the area, both to secure it and to aid the victims.

On Sunday an improvised explosive device that targeted another army-escorted resupply convoy in the Sahel wounded four people, security sources said.

These attacks followed one on Saturday in the country’s east near the borders with Niger and Benin. The army said at least two soldiers and two civilian auxiliaries were killed in an ambush on their patrol.

Thousands have died and about two million people have been displaced by the fighting since 2015 when the insurgency spread into Burkina Faso.

Earlier this month Damiba sacked his defense minister and assumed the role himself after a series of militant attacks.