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Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W20Y20): Internet in COVID-19 era (Vaccine research hack controversy; Tracing Tools Interoperability…), Merkel’s Email hack; Facebook’s Africa undersea cable; European Council extends cyber sanctions regime.

Internet Governance Weekly Brief (W20Y20): Internet in COVID-19 era (Vaccine research hack controversy; Tracing Tools Interoperability…), Merkel’s Email hack; Facebook’s Africa undersea cable; European Council extends cyber sanctions regime.





US: FBI-CISA PSA PRC Targeting of COVID-19 Research Organizations

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are issuing this announcement to raise awareness of the threat to COVID-19-related research….”

China calls U.S. accusation of hacking in COVID-19 research “slander”

“China’s foreign ministry, asked about China-linked hackers breaking into U.S. COVID-19 research, said China opposed what it called slander from the United States….”


COVID-19: Interoperability guidelines for approved contact tracing mobile applications in the EU

“This document addresses the first follow-up action envisaged by the eHealth Network’s ‘Mobile applications to support contact tracing in the EU’s fight against COVID-19, Common EU Toolbox for Member States Version 1.0’ (‘the Toolbox’), namely, ‘developing further the interoperability framework’ for mobile contact tracing apps….”

Vint Cerf suggests GDPR could hurt coronavirus vaccine development

“TCP-IP-co-developer Vint Cerf, revered as a critical contributor to the foundations of the internet, has floated the notion that privacy legislation might hinder the development of a vaccination for the COVID-19 coronavirus….”


Africa’s responses to COVID-19 must be gender responsive

“…Vera Songwe also spoke about the importance of technology in empowering women on the continent.

“We talk about technology but only 27% of our women in Africa have access to internet and only 15% of them actually afford the cost to use the internet. This also means our young girls are mostly left out of online learning. We need to be able to respond to that,” said Ms. Songwe, adding having no access to technology and connectivity meant many women were losing their jobs…”


Africa: Electronic trade rekindling sales for African businesses during COVID-19

“The UN Economic Commission for Africa is helping to bring unique African products and their promoters to the platform in a practical COVID-19 response move….”


COVID-19: Revamping Africa’s telecoms infrastructure crucial for digital health services

“Africa’s telecoms infrastructure services need to be revamped if the continent is to effectively deliver digital health services, a new paper from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) notes…”


UN agencies launch Tech Access Partnership in joint effort to scale up local production of life-saving health technologies for COVID-19

“The United Nations Technology Bank, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the Tech Access Partnership (TAP) as part of a coordinated approach to strengthen developing countries’ responses to COVID-19 and increase access to lifesaving health technologies….”


Europe’s Largest Private Hospital Operator Fresenius Hit by Ransomware

“Fresenius, Europe’s largest private hospital operator and a major provider of dialysis products and services that are in such high demand thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been hit in a ransomware cyber attack on its technology systems…”



Russian hackers accessed emails from Merkel’s constituency office: Der Spiegel

“Russia’s GRU military intelligence service appears to have got hold of many emails from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s constituency office in a 2015 hack attack on Germany’s parliament, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Friday, without citing its sources….”

Angela Merkel says she is ‘pained’ by Russian hacking

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that she was targeted by hackers thought to be Russian military intelligence (GRU)….”

Moscow Says No Proof Russian Hackers Spied on Merkel

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday rejected allegations by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Russian hackers had spied on her….”

US Exposes New North Korean Malware Tools

“The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense released a series of joint malware analysis reports on individual tools the agencies refer to as Copperhedge, Taintedscribe, and Pebbledash….”

Ghana jails 3 ex-government officials for spyware deal with Israel’s NSO Group

“A court in Ghana on Tuesday sentenced three former senior government officials to jail terms for purchasing spyware products from the controversial Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, local media reported….”


French parliament passes law requiring social media companies delete certain content within an hour

“The French parliament passed a controversial hate speech law on Wednesday that would fine social media companies if they fail to remove certain illegal content within 24 hours — and in some cases, as little as one hour…”

Twitter in French court accused of leniency on hate speech

“Four anti-discrimination organisations in France have taken legal action against Twitter for not respecting the obligation to remove hate speech from its platform, which they say rose by 43 percent during the lockdown. It coincided with the parliament’s vote on Wednesday to tighten laws against offensive online content…”


Facebook to build $1 billion undersea Internet cable for faster Internet in Africa

“Facebook, through its ‘2Africa’ project is building a 37,000-kilometer undersea internet cable, to connect 23 countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East….”

US’ DHS to advise telecom firms on how to prevent 5G cell tower attacks

“The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to advise the U.S. telecom industry on steps it can take to prevent attacks on 5G cell towers following a rash of incidents in Western Europe fueled by the false claim that the technology spreads the pathogen causing covid-19….”


Europe: Council extends cyber sanctions regime until 18 May 2021

“The Council today adopted a decision extending for one more year, until 18 May 2021, the restrictive measures framework against cyber-attacks which threaten the EU or its member states….”

Securing the United States Bulk-Power System

“I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in the United States bulk-power system, which provides the electricity that supports our national defense, vital emergency services, critical infrastructure, economy, and way of life….”

ENISA – Power Sector Dependency on Time Service: attacks against time sensitive services

“This publication describes the threats against energy providers’ services which depend on the availability of precise timing and communication networks. It provides a typical architecture which supports the time measurement service…..”

Taiwan’s state-owned energy company suffers ransomware attack

“Ransomware has struck the computer systems of Taiwan’s state-owned energy company, CPC Corp., according to local media and private forensic reports reviewed by CyberScoop….”

Cyber Attack On U.K. Electricity Market Confirmed

“The company that facilitates payments on the U.K. electricity market, tracking the trade between those who produce electricity and those who supply it and resolving the differences, has fallen victim to a cyber-attack….”

INTERPOL Declares “Anti-Ransomware Day”

“International crime-fighting organization INTERPOL has teamed up with cybersecurity firm Kaspersky to declare WannaCry’s third anniversary “Anti-Ransomware Day.”


France to push ahead with tax on internet giants despite US anger

“France will push ahead with its tax on internet giants this year, its finance minister said..

In January France offered to suspend its tax on big digital companies’ income in until the end of the year while an international agreement on cross-border taxation was negotiated this year….”


European Digital Rights (EDRi) released its position paper on Biometric surveillance

“As the European Commission consults the public  as part of its consultation on the White Paper on Artificial Intelligence (AI), EDRi – a network of 44 civil society organisations – calls on EU bodies including the European Commission, the European Parliament, plus all EU Member States, to ensure that such technologies are comprehensively and indefinitely banned in both law and practice…”

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