Cybersecurity News that Matters

Cybersecurity News that Matters

[Weekend Briefing] China’s fake news factory, technology leaks, AI for social good

by Dain Oh, Areum Hwang, Arthur Gregory Willers

Nov. 17, 2023
10:40 AM GMT+9

“Weekend Briefing” is a weekly newsletter sent to subscribers of The Readable every Friday. Our journalists select important news items from the previous week on topics ranging from privacy to policy development in cybersecurity, all to help you stay abreast of the latest breaking issues. And not only is this provided free of cost to our subscribers, but the briefing contains new content exclusive to subscribers, such as our insightful industrial reports.

Hello! This is Dain Oh reporting from South Korea. The cybersecurity industry has been embracing the challenge of tackling fake news, which threatens to undermine healthy conversations and stifle social progress. This week numerous fake news websites were uncovered and exposed to the public by the National Intelligence Services, the national security watchdog. It was uncovered that all of them had links to a single Chinese company. The websites were being used to manipulate public opinion in South Korea by spreading pro-Beijing stories and anti-Americanism. Kuksung Nam covered the news.

Technology leaks are a major problem. In order to put technology thieves in jail, the South Korean police have implemented a nationwide operation in which they have, so far, apprehended twenty-one criminals. On the flip side of the coin, a South Korean company that was the victim of intellectual property theft was denied restitution in a South Korean courtroom due to its alleged “poor security posture.” The court ruled that information that is not properly protected cannot be classified as being “trade secrets.” You can check out both news articles in this briefing.

I have added a few more stories, including one on an accomplishment achieved through the use of artificial intelligence and another on the appointment of a new chief officer at the National Security Research Institute. Enjoy our stories, and we wish you a wonderful weekend!

1. Chinese firms spread propaganda through fake South Korean news sites

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

A Chinese marketing firm created more than a dozen fake news websites and conducted propaganda campaigns against South Koreans, according to the South Korean intelligence agency on Monday.

In a report, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) stated that they discovered eighteen fake news sites created by a Chinese press relations company, Shenzhen Haimai Yunxiang Medi Co., Ltd, which goes by the name Haimai.

The intelligence agency explained that the Chinese company leveraged its newswire distribution service to post pro-Beijing stories and anti-United States news content on their self-made websites. They discovered a total of forty-two posts that were simultaneously published at all of the fake sites from January of 2021 to October of 2023. The contents included stories that stated that South Korea has more to gain than lose from participating in the Summit for Democracy, which was hosted by the U.S. in March of this year. In comparison, they posted news articles that covered the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics last year. READ MORE

2. Sly manufacturer found not guilty of stealing trade secrets, given the victim’s shabby security

Designed by Sangseon Kim, The Readable

A manufacturing company that used a rival company’s core intellectual property in its own production was found not guilty of stealing trade secrets by a South Korean court. Information that is not protected with minimum security measures cannot be considered trade secrets, the court ruled.

According to a local news report by The Herald Business on Tuesday, Suwon District Court ruled in favor of the corporate defendant accused of violating the nation’s unfair competition law. The case involved competing manufacturers whose rivalry had recently been exacerbated due to a technical manager from the plaintiff’s company switching sides to join the defendant while taking along with him the plaintiff’s contended “business secrets.”

In June 2016, the manager, who oversaw a technical department and was about to transfer to the other company, copied four files onto a USB flash drive regarding data on a specific dye mixing ratio essential to the painting of electric cars. With the files provided by the crossover employee, the rival company was able to apply colors to their own products, colors which had been requested by their customers. READ MORE

3. More than 20 cases of trade secret theft discovered in nationwide crackdown

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

The South Korean police conducted a nationwide operation to capture criminals who passed trading secrets overseas, discovering more than twenty cases of alleged technology theft, according to the Korean National Police Agency on Wednesday.

In a press release, the National Office of Investigation of the KNPA revealed the result of their nine-month investigation aimed at cracking down on criminals accused of stealing trade secrets. During the massive operation — from February to October — the “Special Probe against Criminal Activities that Threaten Economic Security” investigators discovered twenty-one cases of alleged violations of the country’s trade secret and industrial technology protection law. This marks the highest prevalence of this type of crime in the past ten years and a 75% increase compared to last year’s rate, police explained. READ MORE

4. AI assists in detecting abusive online images in 22 seconds

Designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

The Seoul Metropolitan Government successively removed explicit images and videos of a teenage victim with the help of artificial intelligence. The AI detected the materials within 22 seconds of their being uploaded, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday.

In the press release, the Seoul Metropolitan Government described its seven-month progress in adopting an AI model to monitor social media platforms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, searching for abusive materials. The Seoul Metropolitan Government started working with the Seoul Institute in July of last year. Their aim was to train an AI model that is able to identify illegal video, audio, and text related to sex crimes quickly and efficiently. The new technology, which is the first of its kind in the country, was put to work in the capital’s support center for victims of digital sex crimes in March of this year. Before the adoption of the AI model, eleven skillful human investigators manually investigated for explicit images using search tools such as Google. READ MORE

5. [People] Hwang Soo-hoon assumes office as new chief of National Security Research Institute

Hwang Soo-hoon, the head of the National Security Research Institute. Photo provided by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute. Image designed by Areum Hwang, The Readable

Hwang Soo-hoon, a former director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), took office at the National Security Research Institute (NSR) as the new chief on Wednesday, beginning a three-year term.

In a press release on November 15, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced that it appointed Hwang to the head of the NSR. The NSR is an affiliate of the ETRI that specializes in information security. READ MORE

6. Press Release: AhnLab completes MITRE Engenuity ATT&CK Evaluations Round 5

Ahnlab’s office building in Pangyo, South Korea. Source: AhnLab

AhnLab, a leader in cybersecurity, today announced that it has completed this year’s MITRE Engenuity ATT&CK® Evaluations Round 5 with AhnLab EPP and AhnLab EDR, underscoring their competence to detect and respond to sophisticated cyber threat techniques. READ MORE

7. [US State Department] 46 nations endorsed declaration on responsible AI in military

On November 13, the United States joined 45 endorsing states to launch the implementation of the Political Declaration on Responsible Military Use of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy. This initiative contains ten concrete measures to guide the responsible development and use of military applications of AI and autonomy.  The Declaration, and the measures it outlines, are an important step in building an international framework of responsibility to allow states to harness the benefits of AI while mitigating the risks. GO TO ORIGINAL STATEMENT


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  • Dain Oh
    : Author

    Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expe...

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  • Areum Hwang
  • Arthur Gregory Willers

    Arthur Gregory Willers is a copyeditor at The Readable, where he works to make complex cybersecurity news accessible and engaging for readers. With over 20 years in education and publishing, his exper...

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