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Mishandled CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents

New report has described how a catastrophic failure on the part of the Central Intelligence Agency, combined with the Chinese government’s steadily more sophisticated internet monitoring capabilities, led to the dramatic collapse of an American intelligence network in China and the executions of dozens of spies and their associates. The incident is just one example of how authorities in Beijing are overseeing the creation of an ever more effective police state, complete with technology and tactics straight out of a certain genre of near-future science fiction movie.

It is considered as one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically broke up the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.

Foreign Policy revealed how Chinese state security officials were able to completely demolish a CIA-run intelligence operation over the course of two years, beginning in 2010.  The New York Times first broke the news of the debacle in 2017, but its sources either did not disclose or did not know exactly what had happened or the true scale of China’s response. In May 2018, U.S. officials charged former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee with conspiracy to commit espionage over the affair, nearly five months after indicting him for retaining classified information.

The CIA turned to the FBI to help uncover the source of the leak, according to the report. That investigation helped turn up Lee, who allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars to deliver information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, which oversees both foreign and internal intelligence operations.

Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a non-Chinese Turkic ethnic group that is predominantly Muslim, make up the bulk of the population, has been an ideal setting to test out new equipment and concepts of operation far from both Han Chinese and outside observers.

To help exercise social control, China has put into place one of the most elaborate surveillance architectures in the world, complete with omnipresent cameras connected to monitoring stations running advanced facial recognition software, checkpoints with paramilitary police, and a system of systems all tied to a government-issued identification card that includes a “score” of how much a threat an individual poses to the state. Authorities have also begun implementing mass biometric data collection, including blood and DNA samples, to go along with other official information on file. All this can limit a person’s ability to buy goods and services or get a job.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

An archway with no less than seven cameras in front of the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgarin in Xinjiang.

After a spate of knife attacks in Xinjiang by alleged separatists, Chinese officials instituted a policy where cutlery vendors must physically laser-etch a QR code linked the buyer’s ID into the blade.

In July 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that some 11,500 Uighurs that the Chinese government had approved to go on the Hajj, the sacred Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, had to carry special cards with a GPS tracker inside on a lanyard around their necks. Ostensibly for their own safety in the event of some sort of crisis, this system would obviously be able to monitor their every movement and it seems likely that anyone who decided to leave it behind would, if nothing else, take a serious hit on their social scorecard.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

A security guards man a checkpoint with a metal detector and an ID scanning system in a shopping mall in Xinjiang’s Kashgarin.

 Recently added in Xinjiang itself are small drones shaped like birds with realistically flapping wings, according to a June 2018 report from the South China Morning Post. These “Doves” can fly for thirty minutes and carry a small, color video camera and an ability to transmit the feed down to an individual on the ground. It reportedly has a GPS antenna and could be able to fly a pre-programmed route or operate under line-of-sight control.

The Chinese are “applying a very, very broad attempted solution to what they see as an ideological danger,” James Millward, who teaches Chinese history at The Georgetown University, told The Atlantic earlier in August 2018. “In Xinjiang, the definition of extremism has expanded so far as to incorporate.

Northwestern Polytechnical University

China’s “Dove” drone, a product of the country’s Northwestern Polytechnical University.

 

Imaginechina via AP

Chinese police officers and dogs, all with cameras, in Tiananmen Square.

China’s Police are now wearing Google Glass-style headsets with similar recognition capabilities to spot repeat offenders for crimes as minor as jaywalking. In the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, public restrooms use facial recognition software to give out only a specific amount of toilet paper per person. Even the police dogs have cameras.

 

 

Chinese Bust Online Cryptocurrency Betting Ring

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Chinese police have broken up an illegal World Cup gambling ring hosting more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) worth of cryptocurrency bets, in the first major sports betting crime involving digital money in the country. The gambling platform ran on the dark web, which isn’t indexed by traditional search engines. During the eight months of the gambling platform’s operation, the site attracted 330,000 registered users from numerous countries, and built an army of over 8,000 agents who earned commissions for recruiting new members through a pyramid scheme.

AI Is Changing The Economy & The Way We Do Business

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Artificial intelligence can help researchers identify diseases before they happen, reducing treatment costs. Whether it is advanced data analytics or an increased use of robots in surgery, AI can be a set of tools that can assist or help doctors provide care. AI tools can also help to halt the rise of healthcare costs in several ways: they can assist surgeons in complicated surgeries; and reduce human errors by assisting in diagnoses. The predictive capabilities of AI can also help to manage re-admissions – and even the spread of epidemics – more efficiently.

Artificial intelligence, in particular machine learning, can also help in the back office with insurance claims. Using past claim data, the algorithms can quickly work through claims. The technology is not only being tested in Japan, but is also being trialed by the private sector – for example, insurance provider Prudential Singapore.

China is the leading nation when it comes to deploying AI in the context of city planning and management. Hangzhou, a city of nine million people, has built a “city brain” which ‘runs’ the government on a huge amount of data collected from sensors and cameras.

 

Phone Scammers Stealings Millions From Chinese Community

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 Since December, 21 members of New York City’s Chinese community have lost a total of $2.5 million, according to the New York Police Department, with individuals reporting losses ranging from $1,800 to $1.4 million, according to Voices of NY. Some have lost their life savings.

The caller IDs make it seem like it’s coming from a local number, but investigators say it’s actually coming from a location in China.
The FTC reminded people never to send money to anyone who asks you to do so over the phone.

“Never give your Social Security number, your bank or credit card number, or other sensitive information to anyone who calls and asks for it,” the commission said.

80 Million Dollars Worth of iPhones Smuggled via Drones To China

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A smuggling ring has been using DJI drones to enable the transport of refurbished iPhones into Shenzhen, China. According to customs officials in the city, those responsible were caught after flying 500 million yuan ($79.8 million) worth of smartphones from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.

Chinese authorities have arrested 26 people who were part of an iPhone smuggling operation between Hong Kong and the mainland city of Shenzhen. The criminals used aerial drones to connect two 660-foot cables between two high-rise buildings, and then passed as many as 15,000 iPhones per night across the border.

More here

Toddler In China ‘Disables/Locks iPhone For 47 Years

 A mother in China is furious after her toddler managed to lock her iPhone for 47 years. The two-year-old boy in Shanghai disabled his mother’s iPhone for the equivalent of 47 years after playing with it and repeatedly entering the wrong passcode, according to a Chinese media report. The phone was given to the child to watch educational videos online. The mother returned home one day and when she checked the phone found it had been disabled for 25 million minutes, equivalent to 47 years. 

Apple store technician in Shanghai was quoted as saying that the woman could either wait years to try to input her passcode again or wipe the contents of the handset clean and then reinstall files. The woman decided to erase all the phone data and do a factory reset. The woman has been waiting for two months and the problem has not been rectified.

The report sparked a debate online in China. Some parents said the mother should never have allowed her child to play with the phone alone. Others said she should have backed up the data stored on her phone elsewhere so that if something went wrong she could easily retrieve it.

 

Woman Climbs In X-Ray machine To watch Her Bag

The Dongguan Railway Station in southern China last weekend had bags and other items passed through the X-ray machine, when the operator suddenly noticed the unmistakable shape of a person on the monitor, the BBC reported.

Looking like something out of a sci-fi movie, the woman can be seen in the X-ray image as she trundles along on the conveyor belt.

China’s state-run People’s Daily news outlet obtained a security video taken at the machine. It appears to show the moment a security officer told the woman put her handbag on the belt, and then cuts to footage of her emerging from the machine. The security officer can be seen laughing as she comes out.

The odd incident occurred during the Lunar New Year travel rush last weekend.

It’s not clear if she was carrying something special inside her handbag, or if she was simply curious about what the inside of an X-ray machine looks like. There’s also a chance that she mistook the instructions of the security officer, though again, it’s hard to tell.

Some reports have suggested she may have had a large amount of cash inside the bag and so didn’t want to be separated from it even for a brief moment. Many Chinese who work far from their home cities are known to take some of their earnings back with them on holiday visits. It’s really not a good idea to take a ride on an X-ray machine as the radiation it emits is unlikely to do you any good.

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