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Data of 500 million Facebook users may be leaked

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(Last Updated On: April 5, 2021)

The private information of more than 500 million Facebook users may have been compromised, and an unidentified leaker says they are offering the data for sale for virtually nothing, Reuters reported.

Alon Gal, the co-founder of an Israeli cybersecurity firm called Hudson Rock, says that the information appears to be the same set of Facebook-linked telephone numbers that has been circulating in hacker circles since January.

It’s being sold for a few dollars’ worth of digital credit on a well-known site for low-level hackers.

Reuters hasn’t been able to verify the information, but Gal and some journalists who have seen the data dump say they have been able to match phone numbers of people they know. He warns that Facebook users should be on the lookout for possible “social engineering attacks” in the coming months.

In a statement, Facebook said that the data was “very old” and related to an issue that it had fixed in August 2019.

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China vows “necessary measures” after US blacklists Chinese supercomputing companies

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(Last Updated On: April 9, 2021)

China’s foreign ministry said Friday it would take necessary measures to protect the legal rights of Chinese companies after the United States added Chinese supercomputing entities to an economic blacklist, Reuters reported.

This comes as the U.S. Commerce Department said Thursday that it was adding seven Chinese supercomputing entities to a U.S. economic blacklist for assisting Chinese military efforts.

The Commerce Department said the seven were “involved with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.”

The department is adding Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou to its blacklist.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing will take “necessary measures” to protect its companies’ rights and interests.

“U.S. containment and suppression cannot hold back the march of China’s scientific and technological development,” he said at a daily news conference in Beijing on Friday.

Companies or others listed on the U.S. Entity List are required to apply for licenses from the Commerce Department that face tough scrutiny when they seek permission to receive items from U.S. suppliers.

“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

The new rules take effect immediately but do not apply to goods from U.S. suppliers already en route.

During the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. added dozens of Chinese companies to its economic blacklist, including the country’s top smartphone maker Huawei Technologies, top chipmaker SMIC and the largest drone manufacturer, SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd.

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Russia fines Twitter $117,000 for not removing banned content

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(Last Updated On: April 2, 2021)

A Russian court fined Twitter a total of 8.9 million roubles ($116,800) on Friday over accusations that the service had failed to delete banned content.

Moscow said last month it had slowed the speed of Twitter inside Russia, and on March 16 threatened to ban the U.S. social media service outright over content that it said ranged from child pornography to drug abuse.

Twitter declined to comment on Friday. Last month it said it was worried about the Russian action’s impact on free speech, and denied that it allowed its platform to be used to promote any illegal behavior.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow said in a series of statements that it had issued three separate fines against Google of 3.2 million roubles, 3.3 million roubles, and 2.4 million roubles.

It said the fines related to offenses committed on Jan. 22-24 this year, including “violating the procedure for removing information”, all under Russia’s Administrative Offences Code.

Those dates coincided with the build-up to an eruption of protests across Russia by crowds demanding the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Ahead of those protests, Russia had asked some social networks to stop the spread of posts encouraging minors to take part in unsanctioned rallies.

Russia has in recent months taken steps to exert more influence over foreign social media platforms.

Bills passed by the lower house of parliament in December last year allowed Russia to impose large fines on platforms that do not delete banned content and even to restrict access to U.S. social media giants if they “discriminate” against Russian media.

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UAE launches COVID-19 vaccine production with China’s Sinopharm

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(Last Updated On: March 29, 2021)

A new factory in Abu Dhabi will start manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm later this year under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 (G42).

The project is an expansion of Chinese diplomacy in the Gulf region and helps the United Arab Emirates’ quest to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon production.

The plant, which is being built in the Khalifa Industrial Zone of Abu Dhabi (KIZAD), will have a production capacity of 200 million doses a year with three filling lines and five automated packaging lines, a statement from the joint venture said on Monday.

The vaccine will be called Hayat-Vax when manufactured in the UAE, but is the same inactivated vaccine from the Beijing Institute of Biological Product (BiBP), a unit of Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), that the UAE approved for general use in December.

As part of the joint venture, interim production of Hayat-Vax has already begun in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah under a deal between G42 and Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries PSC, the statement said.

That interim production line has an initial capacity of 2 million doses per month and no details were given about how long production will continue there.

The UAE, through G42, hosted Phase III clinical trials of the Sinopharm vaccine from July, which later expanded to other countries in the region including Bahrain. The UAE approved the vaccine for frontline workers in September before making it available to the general public in December.

G42 has previously said it has distribution and manufacturing agreements with Sinopharm and hopes to provide the UAE and other states in the region with the vaccine.

The deal was launched during a two-day visit to the UAE by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi which ended on Sunday.

The joint venture also includes a purpose-built research and development hub for life sciences, biotechnology and vaccine production in KIZAD.

“Our joint venture is also actively looking to bring our capabilities to new markets around the world,” G42 CEO Peng Xiao said.

The UAE has said its trials showed the vaccine has 86% efficacy, while Sinopharm reports 79.34% efficacy based on interim results.

Some people in the UAE failed to develop sufficient antibodies after a second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine and were given a third dose, the UAE health ministry said this month. It said the number was “minimal” compared to the number of vaccines administered.

On Sunday, a Sinopharm executive said the company will need to assess results from overseas Phase III clinical trials to decide whether its two-shot vaccine should be followed by a booster shot.

“Thanks to the close collaboration with the UAE, Sinopharm’s vaccine has been now administered to millions of people in the country, the region, and the world,” Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen said at a virtual launch also attended by UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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