Geopolitical and Cybersecurity Weekly Brief – 24 May 2021

In the Americas, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Winter Olympics due to be held in February 2022.

The FBI recently issued an advisory concerning a spear-phishing campaign masquerading as financial institutions to push fake Windows apps containing remote access Trojans (RATs). The most recent attack impersonated a US-based financial institution to target a US-based renewable energy company.

In Asia, a deal between Guizhou-Cloud Big Data and state-owned telecommunications firm China Telecom to move iCloud data belonging to Apple’s China-based users to the latter’s servers has given the Chinese government potential access to millions of Chinese users’ personal information.  In Taiwan, there are concerns that a worsening COVID-19 outbreak will adversely impact Taiwan’s ability to meet growing chip demand amid worldwide shortages.

Multiple AXA Partners offices in Asia have been hit by the Avaddon ransomware group. In a public statement, AXA Partners acknowledged that operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines had been disrupted. The Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information has confirmed a leak of social security data belonging to 270 million Indonesian citizens. Government authorities have launched an investigation into the leak.

In Europe, Ireland’s Department of Health was targeted in what police said was a financially motivated cyberattack days after the Health Service Executive (HSE) was targeted in a similar incident. Legislation reintroduced known as the Transatlantic Telecommunications Security Act in the US Congress aims to increase funding for telecommunications and digital infrastructure development in Eastern European countries.

A joint report has been released by Russia’s Rostelecom-Solar and the National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTsKI), the equivalent of a CERT organisation in Russia. According to the report, foreign threat actors have breached and stolen information from Russian government organisations.

In the Middle East and Central Asia, a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip came into force, ending the latest round of deadly conflict. Kuwait summoned the ambassador of the Czech Republic in response to a social media post in support of Israel, highlighting the need to exercise caution and sensitivity around contentious issues including geopolitical ones.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Mali’s Prime Minister Moctar Ouane’s re-appointment to the role and vow to form a more representative government to fuel opposition. In Sudan, Western donors cleared IMF arrears, opening the way for debt relief.

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