Trade tensions between China and the US continuously escalate. Despite rescue efforts by the Trump administration, the US still doesn’t trust the intentions of Chinese telcos and phone makers.
Previously, the US government had imposed heavy sanctions on Huawei and ZTE over national cybersecurity concerns. Among others, the sanctions prevent both companies from selling their devices freely on American soil.
Between the two, ZTE is suffering the harsher end of punishments. Following a breach of trade agreements, the company is banned from engaging any American company on business. The ban has ceased production of ZTE phones, which rely heavily on American components.
For reasons of his own, President Trump attempted to save the company from extinction, but to no avail. Since then, the issue has seesawed between the two conflicting parties.
Now, the US is temporarily lifting the sanctions to allow the continuation of ZTE’s service. The gesture of goodwill, however, isn’t a rescue mission. The move intends to support the plethora of companies that ZTE has agreements with, prior to the April ban.
Additionally, the temporary reprieve allows ZTE to release vital security updates to their current stock of phones. Put simply, the move supports ZTE’s existing phones, but doesn’t allow the company from making new ones.
The reprieve will expire on August 1. Afterwards, ZTE’s future is at the mercy of US lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the US is making regulatory headway on another front. Similar to ZTE’s case, the government has banned the world’s third biggest telco, China Mobile, from operating on American soil.
According to the US, China Mobile poses significant threats to national security over China’s stakes on the company. Lawmakers decree that companies with more than a 10 percent stake from a foreign country are unnecessary risks for the US. Supposedly, these companies are highly suggestible from their respective country’s influence.
Regardless, the bans underlie the political unrest between the two countries. If you plan on buying Chinese phones, purchase them away from US soil.
SIM card vulnerability puts your sensitive information at risk
It’s called the SIMjacker
SIM cards are very important. However, a new SIM card vulnerability found out by AdaptiveMobile Security might be putting our information at risk. The Simjacker exploit, which was recently found out and still being investigated on, allows malicious hackers to steal sensitive information from your phone through a SIM card.
Mechanism of attack
How does the Simjacker vulnerability work?
First, a hacker sends a malicious code to your phone through SMS. Then, the malicious code is read directly by your SIM card. The code then causes the [email protected] browser to send sensitive information to an accomplice device through SMS.
According to the report pulished by AdaptiveMobile Security regarding the vulnerability, the [email protected] browser is found on most SIM cards even though its development was abandoned many years ago. [email protected] browser was never updated, so it carries the risk of sending sensitive information to hackers when exploited successfully.
Sensitive information retrieved and transmitted by the [email protected] browser include location and the IMEI of an exploited device. The IMEI is a shorthand for International Mobile Equipment Identity, which is a 15 digit number unique to your smartphone that has some information about your device including its brand and model. As such, hackers can determine your exact location if you have a compromised SIM card, regardless of what device you have.
And the worst part of the attack is that you have no way of knowing that it has already been done since it all happens within the SIM card.
Origin and scope of the attack
The purpose for carrying an attack varies. However, the report traces the origin to an unspecified private company that works with governments to monitor individuals. So, there is a real possibility that it has been used to spy on us. And rightly so, since specific individuals were targeted in a certain country.
The report also warned that over one billion smartphones across all continents could be at risk to the vulnerability — and you could be one of them.
Response to the attack
In response to the discovered vulnerability, industry association SIMalliance has already put up recommendations for network providers to secure their networks. At this point in time, you can’t do anything to secure yourself from the vulnerability, unless you decided to go SIM-free.
But as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t just give your smartphone number like a free lunch. It also pays to update your smartphone once in a while, since some updates are designed to secure your phone from these kind of vulnerabilities and attacks.
Huawei thinks about selling its 5G business
Will hopefully appease Western tensions
Once again, Huawei is weighing all its options. As time rolls by, the company is slowly losing its grip on the Western market. Even after a temporary wave of full support, the US government has gone cold turkey. Huawei is still on the blacklist. In the meantime, the company’s temporary operating license is merely receiving extensions. Unfortunately, extensions don’t mean much without a definitive end.
Huawei is in dire straits. According to a recent interview with The Economist, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is mulling over a drastic move: selling its 5G business to the highest bidder.
Throughout the entire controversy, Huawei’s detractors have often decried the company’s 5G technology as a potential security threat. According to the detractors, the Chinese government can seize control of the company at any time.
Hence, a potential sale can alleviate geopolitical pressures. If a sale is concluded, the purchasing customer will have access to the technology’s inner workings. The customer can check if the network does have a Chinese backdoor built into it. Further, they can tailor the technology in any way they want.
Since plans are plans, the Huawei boss still doesn’t have any potential customers in mind. Likewise, the company has not announced a price yet. If you’re eyeing your wallet for a huge purchase, you’ll have to wait for when Huawei announces the sale.
Razer CEO goes all-in for gaming and esports in Singapore
A whopping SG$ 10 million over one full year
The world of gaming and esports is rapidly growing within Southeast Asia. So much so, that one of its biggest victories for recognition on the world stage is its inclusion in the 30th Southeast Asian Games later this year. Not only is esports part of the list of sports each SEA country will participate in, but it is also a medalled sport in the competition.
For Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, it is time to take esports in Singapore to the next level. Earlier today, he announced through his Facebook account that he is committing SG$ 10 million to fund gaming and esports programs in Singapore. He plans to fund all gaming and esports activities — including its esports athletes over the next 12 months. Citing his gratitude for the continuous support from the Singaporean government, he wants to “give back and do more” for the gaming community in Singapore.
Razer, the official esports partner for the 30th SEA Games will also dedicate a portion of its investment to gaming companies in Singapore. In addition, Tan plans to continually fund Singapore’s esports team — Team X that will be participating in the upcoming SEA Games.
The company launched initial efforts earlier this month in preparation for the SEA Games with the Razer SEA Games esports Bootcamp. Partnering with one of the world’s top DotA 2 teams in Evil Geniuses, they hosted and trained over five eSports teams across SEA countries. Apart from that, they also opened a new RazerStore in Las Vegas, one of the major hot spots for esports in the United States.
The company hopes to fully transition their initiatives by 2020, when they will officially move operations to their new Southeast Asia headquarters in Singapore.
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