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US says Chinese hackers targeted global Coronavirus research

They often helped the Chinese government

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Chinese

The US Justice Department has accused China of backing hackers who are targeting labs developing Coronavirus vaccines. The spies are also charged for stealing trade secrets and other precious corporate data from companies all over the world.

The prosecutor says the hacker cum spies got help from state agents for other thefts. Last week, the US accused Russia of trying to steal research related to the Coronavirus vaccine.

Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi have been charged and are said to be active since 2009. The former is also known by his handle Oro01xy. The duo came under the searchlight when computers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford site were compromised.

They’re also being charged for infiltrating a plethora of software, defense, gaming, as well as biotech companies. The internal trade secrets are extremely valuable and there’s also one instance when they tried to extort a company.

Officials called the men private hackers who occasionally received support from Chinese intelligence agents. Countries where firms were targeted include Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

They’re reported to have stolen military data and provided the Chinese government with the passwords of a democracy activist in Hong Kong and a former Tiananmen Square protester.

China’s reputation on the global stage has taken a massive hit since the outbreak of Coronavirus. Adding to this, Chinese telecom giant Huawei is losing trust from key markets like the US, UK, Australia, Japan, as well as India. Cyberwarfare and data protection concerns have prompted governments to bar Huawei equipment from critical infrastructure components.

The recent security law amendment in Hong Kong and a border skirmish with India solidify China’s expansionist strategy. However, the muscle-flexing may end up costing the country more in the long run since international companies no longer trust the government.

Enterprise

TikTok owner accuses Facebook of stealing and smearing

Could it be about Instagram Reels?

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Just when you thought you’ve heard enough about TikTok for the day, the company attacks an entirely separate issue happening in the States. Recently, TikTok’s owner, ByteDance issued a few inflammatory comments against a social media rival. In a post on one of its other properties, the TikTok owner accuses Facebook of stealing and smearing.

Reported by Reuters, ByteDance issued the comments on Jinri Toutiao, a Beijing-based news aggregator that it also owns.

“ByteDance has always been committed to becoming a global company. During this process, we have faced all kinds of complex and unimaginable difficulties, including the tense international political environment, collision and conflict of different cultures and plagiarism and smears from competitor Facebook,” the company said. [Emphasis ours.]

Though the company is currently deliberating on an acquisition deal with Microsoft, ByteDance’s recent comments are attacking another issue entirely. Last week, Facebook and a few other big tech companies entered a hearing against alleged antitrust practices in the industry. Among other things, Facebook apparently lied about copying rivals in a threat to acquire them.

ByteDance did not name any specific feature or property that Facebook owns. However, the company is likely talking about the upcoming Instagram Reels, a similar video-editing app to take on TikTok. Currently, Instagram is still testing the new app in preparation for a wider release.

The timing of the comments is, of course, interesting. Trump has currently issued a 45-day limit for TikTok to reach a deal with Microsoft’s acquisition plans.

SEE ALSO: US wants to buy TikTok from China

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Microsoft confirms TikTok acquisition plans

In four countries

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Last Friday, Trump announced a decisive TikTok ban coming within the next few days. At the same time, Microsoft proposed an acquisition, taking the popular platform away from China. However, as the weekend finally wound down, neither a ban nor a deal has surfaced. If anything, Microsoft has further committed to achieving a deal for TikTok. Through a few recent comments, Microsoft confirms TikTok acquisition plans, covering at least four countries.

In an official Microsoft blog, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella finally engaged in discussions with Trump for the buyout plan. Microsoft expects a conclusion “in a matter of weeks” with a closeout happening no later than September 15. In the meantime, Trump confirms the plans as well, giving TikTok only up to 45 days to accept.

Further, the deal is apparently larger than previously reported. Besides TikTok’s US operations, Microsoft plans to acquire the platform’s operations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Perhaps as a response to the ongoing big tech antitrust scandal, the company is also considering letting other investors in on a minority stake for TikTok.

Naturally, a Microsoft acquisition will snag the platform’s Chinese servers and place them safe and sound in their respective markets. It addresses a major concern surrounding TikTok’s current state in the US — cybersecurity. Since TikTok’s owner ByteDance was a Chinese company, the US government feared for potential attacks against American data. Further, TikTok’s massive global popularity will bolster Microsoft’s presence in the social media industry. Potentially, the buyout is a win-win decision for both parties. All that’s left is to wait for TikTok’s reply to the whole situation.

SEE ALSO: US looking to ban Chinese apps like TikTok

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Google Doodle honors the first Fil-Am woman to win Olympic gold

On August 3, 1948, she won two gold medals for diving

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Google Doodle featuring the first Fil-Am woman to win Olympic gold
Image source: Google

Though subtle, Google’s regular Doodles are special ways to celebrate important figures in history. The Google Doodles often debut on important milestones in their lives. As of late, Google increased several Filipino-themed Doodles in quick succession starting with Dolphy on his 92nd birthday last July 25. Following the recent influx, today’s Google Doodle honors the first Fil-Am woman to win Olympic gold, Vicki Draves.

On August 2, 1948, Vicki Draves, a Filipino American diver, won two gold medals in the women’s 3-meter springboard event and the 10-meter platform event at the London Summer Olympics. Two days later, in the men’s competition, Sammy Lee, an Asian American diver of Korean descent, won a bronze and a gold medal. Draves and Lee became the first Asian Americans to capture gold at the Olympics.

Born in 1924, Draves faced a lot of antagonism from the US. At the time of her diving career, the Second World War still raged on. Because of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Americans feared and oppressed Japanese Americans in a fit of unparalleled racism, going so far as setting up internment camps in the US itself. Despite her Filipino ethnicity, Draves fell under the same toxic category in the eyes of Americans. As such, she faced a hard time practicing for the Olympics before winning the gold regardless.

Besides the nod to Filipino pride, Draves’ Google Doodle is a powerful statement against the ongoing anti-Asian racism in the States as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A few days earlier, Google also honored Pacita Abad, a Filipino artist who used her artwork to inspire activism around the world.

SEE ALSO: Google lists 2019’s most-searched women in the Philippines

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