As a follow-up of a ransomware attack against the largest U.S. pipeline, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it has seized 63.7 bitcoins currently valued at approximately $2.3 million from a bitcoin wallet that ransomware actors used to collect a cyber ransom payment from a victim. The DOJ says following the money remains one of the most basic, yet powerful tools they have.
Ransom payments are the fuel that propels the digital extortion engine. The announcement demonstrates that the U.S. will use all available tools to make these attacks more costly and less profitable for criminal enterprises.
The DOJ will continue to target the entire ransomware ecosystem to disrupt and deter these attacks. This announcement also demonstrates the value of early notification to law enforcement as the pipeline company quickly notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about the ransomware attack.
The FBI stated that there is no place beyond the reach of the FBI to conceal illicit funds that will prevent them from imposing risk and consequences upon malicious cyber actors. They will continue to use all of their available resources and leverage their domestic and international partnerships to disrupt ransomware attacks and protect private sector partners and the American public.
Cybercriminals are employing ever more elaborate schemes to convert technology into tools of digital extortion. The U.S. government needs to continue improving the cyber resiliency of its critical infrastructure across the nation. They will also continue developing advanced methods to improve their ability to track and recover digital ransom payments.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the largest U.S. Gasoline Pipeline was the victim of a highly publicised ransomware attack resulting in the company took certain systems offline to contain the threat. These actions temporarily halted all pipeline operations and affected some of their IT systems, which they are actively in the process of restoring. The company reported to the FBI that its computer network was accessed by a cybercriminal organisation it had received and paid a ransom demand for approximately 75 bitcoins.
Law enforcement was able to track multiple transfers of bitcoin and identify that approximately 63.7 bitcoins, representing the proceeds of the victim’s ransom payment, had been transferred to a specific address. The FBI has the “private key” or the rough equivalent of a password needed to access assets accessible from the specific Bitcoin address. This bitcoin represents proceeds traceable to a computer intrusion and property involved in money laundering and may be seized pursuant to criminal and civil forfeiture statutes.
The Task Force prioritises the disruption, investigation, and prosecution of ransomware and digital extortion activity by tracking and dismantling the development and deployment of malware, identifying the cybercriminals responsible, and holding those individuals accountable for their crimes. The Task Force also strategically targets the ransomware criminal ecosystem as a whole and collaborates with domestic and foreign government agencies as well as private sector partners to combat this significant criminal threat.
Due to the ongoing cybersecurity threat to pipeline systems and associated infrastructure, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued the first cybersecurity regulation for the pipeline sector, as reported by OpenGov Asia. The regulation aims to better identify, protect against, and respond to threats to critical companies. The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving therefore public and private sectors must adapt to address new and emerging threats.
The Security Directive will require critical pipeline owners and operators to report confirmed and potential cybersecurity incidents to the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and to designate a Cybersecurity Coordinator, to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will also require critical pipeline owners and operators to review their current practices as well as to identify any gaps and related remediation measures to address cyber-related risks and report the results to TSA and CISA within 30 days.
This fresh TSA security directive highlights the critical role that CISA plays as the country’s national cyber defence centre. Last December, Congress, through the National Defense Authorisation Act, empowered CISA to execute its mission to secure federal civilian government networks and the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) recently kicked off the “vHK Grand Tour” AR Design Competition (the Competition), officially launching a series of activities which aim to encourage Hong Kong secondary academia to combine augmented reality (AR) technology with famous landmarks in Hong Kong, thus creating their ideal Green and Smart City landscape and enhancing their sense of belonging to the city.
Students and the general public were also introduced, via a seminar, to the Government’s “Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0” (Blueprint 2.0), the latest development in immersive technologies and their applications in STEM education, thereby enabling the new generation to master new digital technologies and promote Hong Kong as a green and smart city.
Funded by the General Support Programme of the Innovation and Technology Fund under the Innovation and Technology Commission, the Competition is also supported by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Education Bureau, and several innovation and technology (I&T) enterprises and education organisations and the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers.
The Chairman of HKPC stated that as the super-connector among the government, the I&T sector and the education sector, HKPC has been committed to promoting I&T education and talent training, and advocates equipping young people with ‘FutureSkills’ to expand the local I&T talent pool.
Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR, HKPC hopes the competition will enable students to experience the application of AR technology and increase their interest in immersive technologies; and concurrently alight young peoples’ vision of Hong Kong becoming a smart city and enhance their awareness of green living and sustainable development, thereby strengthening their sense of belonging to Hong Kong.
In the future, HKPC will continue to leverage its advantages in the field of I&T, and combine its rich experience in talent training to lay a solid foundation for nurturing talents for the I&T development of Hong Kong.
In her opening address, the Commissioner for Innovation and Technology noted that with the development of technology, the application of innovation and technology is emphasised, especially on the benefits brought about by I&T in our daily life, and through which we have a fresh understanding and feeling towards Hong Kong’s history, culture, art and other aspects.
The Commissioner also pointed out that in promoting I&T, the Government has unprecedentedly invested more than $150 billion in the past 5 years. Currently, the I&T industry in Hong Kong is flourishing. She encouraged fellow students to explore the world of science and technology and acquire the skills they will need for careers in the I&T industry.
The Competition will be held in different stages across a period of about 9 months, covering first-round assessment, training workshops, final round assessment, an award ceremony and an exhibition. Participants will be required to design and produce the AR works based on the theme of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the HKSAR and the vision and goals of Blueprint 2.0 to showcase a brand new image of a green and smart Hong Kong to the public.
In addition, as the COVID-19 epidemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the city, participants are required to integrate anti-epidemic elements into their works to demonstrate the impacts and benefits of innovative technologies on public hygiene and daily life.
Ultimately, the AR works of the top 25 finalist teams will be available for public viewing online and offline, while people from all over the world will be able to participate in the “vHK Grand Tour” without being restricted by time, space and region.
An international team of researchers has developed a scanning tool to make websites less vulnerable to hacking and cyberattacks. The black box security assessment prototype, tested by engineers in Australia, Pakistan and the UAE, is more effective than existing web scanners which collectively fail to detect the top 10 weaknesses in web applications.
UniSA mechanical and systems engineer Dr Yousef Amer is one of the co-authors of a new international paper that describes the development of the tool in the wake of escalating global cyberattacks.
Cybercrime cost the world US$ 6 trillion in 2021, reflecting a 300% hike in online criminal activity in the past two years. Remote working, cloud-based platforms, malware and phishing scams have led to skyrocketing data breaches, while the rollout of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) devices has made us more connected – and vulnerable – than ever.
Dr Yousef Amer and colleagues from Pakistan, the UAE and Western Sydney University highlight numerous security weaknesses in website applications and how these are costing organisations dearly. Due to the widespread adoption of eCommerce, iBanking and eGovernment sites, web applications have become a prime target of cybercriminals who want to steal individual and company information and disrupt business activities.
Despite a projected US$ 170 billion global outlay on internet security in 2022 against a backdrop of escalating and more severe cyberattacks, existing web scanners are falling way short when it comes to assessing vulnerabilities, according to Dr Amer.
The team identified that most of the publicly available scanners have weaknesses and are not doing the job they should. Nearly 72% of organisations have suffered at least one serious security breach on their website, with vulnerabilities tripling since 2017. A world leader in web application security estimates that 86% of scanned web pages have on average 56% vulnerabilities. Among these, at least one is classified as critical. The researchers compared 11 publicly available web application scanners against the top 10 vulnerabilities.
The team found that no single scanner is capable of countering all these vulnerabilities, but the prototype tool caters to all these challenges and is a one-stop guide to ensure 100 per cent website security. There is an urgent need to audit websites and ensure they are secure if these breaches are to be curbed and companies and governments can save millions of dollars. The researchers are now seeking to commercialise their prototype.
The global cyber security market was valued at US$ 139.77 billion in 2021. The market is expected to grow to US$ 376.32 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 13.4% during the forecast period. The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and overwhelming, with security solutions undergoing higher-than-anticipated demand across the world compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The key drivers of the cyber security market are the emerging online e-commerce platforms and the advent of core technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), cloud security, and others. Key market players focus on developing internet security solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI) platforms.
The growing demand for solutions is anticipated to gain traction with cumulative investments from Germany, France, India, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Canada, and Qatar, among others. The growing adoption of enterprise security solutions from manufacturing, banking, financial services, insurance (BFSI) and healthcare is expected to drive market growth in the future.
To conduct a proof-of-concept on the use of space-based Very High Frequency (VHF) voice for communication between pilots and air traffic controllers for air traffic management, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board’s Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with partner companies.
The novel technology’s viability and advantages over ground-based VHF voice communications will be shown in the proof of concept, and the data will be gathered for international review, standards creation, and acceptance.
As global and regional air traffic continues to grow, CAAS is committed to leveraging new technologies to enhance air traffic management to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, and to being a pathfinder and convenor of the public-private partnership needed to drive development and global adoption of such technologies.
– Han Kok Juan, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
The Director-General added that the space-based VHF communications technology has the potential to revolutionise aviation, improving safety, effectiveness, and sustainability while expanding capacity to handle the growing demand for air travel. If this proof of concept is effective, it will be a big step toward acceptance and adoption around the world.
Pilots and air traffic controllers currently communicate with one another via VHF voice communications. For instance, pilots can ask for clearance to ascend or descend, and air traffic controllers can adjust a flight path in reaction to weather or turbulence.
The communication must be trustworthy, direct, and immediate to ensure safe and effective air traffic management, particularly in congested airspaces and during abnormal and emergency situations.
Moreover, due to the ground-based nature of present VHF stations, there is little to no coverage for VHF voice communications in maritime, hilly, or remote places that are outside the range of ground-based stations, which poses operational challenges. Air traffic control will be safer and more effective because of the expanded coverage provided by space-based VHF voice communications.
Before they may be used for safe operations, space-based VHF voice communications must first undergo technical feasibility studies, evaluation, and standardisation by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies’ proof of concept is the first technical research where a specially manufactured satellite will be launched into orbit to contain VHF communications gear for such a trial, even though there have been earlier technical studies in this area.
The trial’s goal is to show that space-based communications are compatible with aircraft technology and already-existing ground radio stations, with equivalent speech quality, latency, and other standards to ground-based voice communications.
The trial will specifically show that space-based voice communications are feasible for the equatorial region, where the scintillation effect that degrades the quality of VHF audio communications is known to be particularly severe. Beginning in 2023, the proof of concept will take a year to complete. After that, CAAS will present the findings and data to the ICAO and ITU for review and discussion.
Between CAAS-OSTIn and partner companies, the program delivers strong complementary skills. The testbed for the trial will be provided by CAAS, a prominent provider of air navigation services that is at the forefront of technological development and adoption.
The development and application of space capabilities to aviation as well as the creation of a space eco-system will be examined by OSTIn, Singapore’s national space office, to support the endeavour. Moreover, joint ventures will put the satellite into orbit and supply the hardware and communications infrastructure.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and a global tech giant recently jointly announced a request for proposals (RFP) for the company’s AR/VR Policy Research in the Asia Pacific region. This research initiative invites the region’s academic community to develop solutions-focused research to support the responsible development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies.
This includes identifying positive approaches to address policy issues and challenges, as well as opportunities in the metaverse and augmented and virtual reality, ultimately giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
With the metaverse becoming the next chapter of the internet, Meta’s vision is to have a billion people accessing the metaverse as part of their daily lives within ten years. That relies on people being in control of their experiences and feeling safe and secure. This RFP reaffirms the tech giant’s commitment to ensuring the responsible development and use of AR/VR technologies and building strong collaborations with policymakers, experts and industry partners to bring the metaverse to life.
The Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance stated that the RFP forms part of the Tech for Good Initiative that aims to bring scholars and practitioners together to catch up with the latest development of technologies and explore how the interplay between emerging technologies and public policy works. The Centre is committed to the attainment of a sustainable society and advanced technologies will help address some of the most critical sustainability challenges we are facing today.
The Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the company are inviting faculty to respond to this call for research proposals on the following topics:
- Economic opportunity: people can be given more choice, how competition can be encouraged, how a thriving digital economy can be maintained
- Privacy: how the amount of data used can be minimised, how to build technology to enable privacy-protective data uses, and give people transparency and control over their data
- Safety and integrity: how people can be kept safe online and be given tools to take action or get help if they see something they’re not comfortable with
- Equity and inclusion: ensuring these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible
- New Use Cases: what are new applications of immersive technology that create substantial value for people and communities
The research initiative targets to award a total of 6 awards, each in the US$100,000 range funded by the firm’s XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year US$50 million investment in programmes and independent external research to help in the effort of building the metaverse responsibly. The submission deadline is 25 July 2022, and the results will be announced on 5 September 2022.
The global augmented reality and virtual reality market, in the current year (2022), is expected to have a market size of US$37.0 billion and grow up to US$114.5 billion by 2027 within a 5-year forecast period at a market growth rate of 25.3%.
The driving factors behind this growth include increased healthcare applications of augmented reality, increased applications of augmented reality and virtual reality in retail and e-commerce, strong government funding for the facilitation of growth of the AR and VR market, partnerships between augmented reality device manufacturers and various service industries, the rise in the usage and demand for virtual reality in e-learning, medical training, increased demand of virtual reality in manufacturing divisions.
The Government of Queensland has launched the third of its state-wide regional science and innovation hubs in Cairns, boosting research opportunities in Far North Queensland. Under the Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network, the hubs aim to provide people living in regional Queensland with more opportunities to engage with science and innovation in a meaningful way.
The Member for Cairns stated that the hub in Cairns will enable Far North individuals and community groups to participate in a range of STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and innovation-related activities and events. He noted that the events will be developed by the hub and by local science and innovation champions within the community and will include mentoring, networking and collaboration opportunities; the engagement of youth in the design, implementation, product pitching and entrepreneurship; and engagement with researchers, technologies experts, business and First Nations mentors.
The network will provide opportunities for skills development and establish local networks that will drive growth and development in the science sector and innovation economy throughout regional Queensland. This will result in enhancing how businesses, research organisations and industries can meet the changing scientific and innovation needs of the community.
The region’s Science Minister stated that Cairns joined Gladstone and Toowoomba as locations, with each regional hub being provided with funding of up to $70,000 over 12 months to employ a regional coordinator to support events, activities and projects that encourage Queenslanders’ participation and awareness of science and innovation within their region.
She noted that science and innovation are helping to drive the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan – whether that’s through renewable energy, advanced manufacturing or our education and research sector. Recent research commissioned by the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist showed that 83% of Queenslanders believe science is critical for the Queensland economy, she said.
Survey results from the 3M State of Science Index show that 9 in 10 Australians back more investment in science. The findings indicated that during the pandemic, almost two in three Australians thought that scientists and medical professionals are inspiring a new generation to pursue a science-based career.
This is the reason the hubs are being delivered, together with major investments like the additional $35.5 million to ramp up the development and manufacture of locally-based vaccines that build on last’s announcement of $20 million as part of our flagship Queensland Jobs fund.
The Partner Up Queensland Regional Science and Innovation Network is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment and Science and the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport. The region’s Innovation Minister said the hubs would help to supercharge regional Queensland science and innovation.
For local entrepreneurs and business leaders, the hubs aim to deliver support and partnerships to identify and develop real-world opportunities. Be it robots, hydrogen or medical technology, the government understands that science and innovation will be critical to building regional Queensland’s industries and jobs of the future.
The Far North Queensland Hub will be led by James Cook University and will be supported by Cairns Regional Council, Gulf Savannah NRM, Y(E)P Entrepreneurship Facilitators Cairns, Regional Development Australia and Cairns Chamber of Commerce.
James Cook University Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor welcomed the initiative and said that the hub will strengthen linkages between the region’s very active science and innovation community, the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.
Having the Hub here in Cairns will boost connectivity between important state government programs and those working on research and innovation in our region, and will support projects that encourage community awareness of science and innovation.
The establishment of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Multi-Modal Distribution and Connectivity Centre or DC Centre aims to improve both countries’ transportation and logistics ecosystems, as well as strengthen supply chain resilience and accelerate trade digitalisation.
The partnership, according to Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications, and Information, is an important step in the continued development of Singapore’s and Chongqing’s roles as mutual hubs of Southeast Asia and Western China, respectively.
As a key project of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity (CCI) and logistics priority area, the DC Centre will be a physical location for multimodal operations in Chongqing and help build the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.
With this new facility in place, there will be greater opportunities for collaboration between Singapore, Chongqing, and other international partners in some areas.
– Josephine Teo, Minister of Communications and Information
Minister Teo emphasised first the improving logistics and transportation systems on both sides. To better integrate Chongqing’s key road, rail, and river logistics nodes and give logistics participants a smooth experience, the DC Centre will complement current and planned facilities including the Guoyuan Port and Yuzui Terminal South Yard.
In 2017, Minister Teo recalls the inauguration of the two joint venture companies of Singapore and China -the Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) Connectivity Solutions Company Limited or S1 and Sino-Singapore (Chongqing) DC Multimodal Logistics Company Limited or S2. Now, a training and placement programme will be formed between S1 and the Chongqing Finance and Economics College, with specialised training taking place within the DC Centre itself, to expand the talent pool of Chongqing’s logistics business.
Second, the Minister highlighted the improved supply chain resilience. In an era of global supply chain disruption, the CCI-New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor can determine its value by linking land and sea routes to provide the flow of essential goods, specifically perishable and time-sensitive supplies. To that end, she encourages all interested parties to join the Corridor by utilising key nodes such as the DC Centre and improving connectivity and trade flows between regions.
Minister Teo also stressed the hastening of trade digitalisation. In response to the growing importance of the digital economy, Singapore and Chongqing are encouraging the exchange of digital data and documents to improve supply chain visibility and facilitate seamless cross-border cargo movement. She welcomes more companies to join them in these endeavours, including those from adjacent sectors such as trade financing.
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that 17 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed among Singapore and Chongqing businesses in 2020 on the side-lines of the Smart China Expo (SCE) Online, as enterprises continue to explore opportunities despite pandemic restrictions. The MoUs included collaborations in the built environment and manufacturing, as well as logistics and tourism for markets in Chongqing, Western China, and Singapore.
On the other hand, at the annual Smart China Expo in Chongqing in 2019, Singapore and Chinese companies signed 13 agreements for collaborative efforts to use digital technologies in education, manufacturing, and telecommunications.
In the same year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore, and the Chongqing Application Development Administration Bureau launched the Joint Innovation Development Fund (JIDF), an RMB$ 40 million initiative to promote the joint development of innovative products and solutions, which may include research and development and pilots to promote innovative technologies such as robotics, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. The fund’s goal is to catalyse projects that have the potential to generate significant economic benefits for the companies and countries involved.
Vietnam is keen to promote local innovation and the creation of digital solutions and platforms. The aim is to have products that address national issues and that can be used easily in the local context. Since 2020, Make in Vietnam has turned towards a focus on digital orientation.
Minister Nguyen Manh Hung of the Ministry of Information and Communication was quoted as saying, ‘The Make in Vietnam represents technology products created in Vietnam, designed in Vietnam, made in Vietnam!’ In laying out the government’s ambitions, he called it a ‘…slogan of action and promotes the spirit of design, innovation and production in Vietnam. Instead of just assembling, production is encouraged to help solve the problems of Vietnam itself and aid export to other international markets.’
A landmark decision was taken to enable open-source technology combined with an open approach to data to enable the realisation of the country’s vision. It is expected that the information, electronics and telecommunications industry will master or develop technologies to produce cover more than 45% of relevant content by 2025. The country is expected to have 100,000 digital technology enterprises by then, with at least 10 internationally competitive unicorns playing a major role.
Moreover, the government is keen to encourage and acknowledge people and organisations that show exemplary progress in this area. One of the key ways the government motivates and recognises these contributions has been the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards.
The Ministry of Information and Communications launched the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards 2022. Held since 2020 and in its third year, these awards recognise contextualised solutions to solving problems the country is facing. Clarifying that eligible enterprises as those which are at least 51% owned by Vietnamese investors, the Deputy Minister said, ‘There are products that have contributed to changing lives in many remote villages, difficulties that we previously thought would take a long time to solve.’
To facilitate international collaborations and domestic innovation, the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Vietnam recently launched a portal to provide information and support services to local businesses, especially SMEs.
As reported by OpenGov Asia, the portal is built on an open platform and the government is inviting stakeholders to participate in creating a smooth, multi-dimensional information system. The portal will be a source of research and reports on various topics from leading agencies, research units, and consulting organisations, helping local businesses quickly and easily access relevant information about the industry and market.
In early 2021, Minister Hung said that people live in both a fast-changing and unpredictable world where they move from the real world to the digital world. As they transition to an increasingly online realm there are both great challenges and great opportunities.
The ICT sector has never had as important a role as it has now. It offers a rare opportunity for the industry to reposition, reinvent and reimagine itself, realise challenges and identify new living spaces that are decisive for development.
Digital technology, digital transformation and the media play a particularly important role in this transformation. This, therefore, requires the ICT sector to grasp opportunities and effectively address challenges to meet the ambitions set out in the “Make-in-Vietnam” strategy.
“Make in Vietnam” is an expression to emphasise the initiative in the creation and design of high-tech products by the Vietnamese.
Pham Duc Long, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications said that the Ministry of Information and Communication will facilitate winners of the ‘Make in Vietnam’ Digital Technology Product Awards to access a wider market thus promoting the flagship ‘Make in Vietnam’ agenda to benefit Vietnamese citizens at large.