GEOPOLITICAL AND CYBERSECURITY RISK WEEKLY BRIEF 29 MARCH 2021
In the Americas, the US and Canada, alongside the EU and UK, announced sanctions against high-ranking Chinese officials and entities over Beijing’s alleged abusive treatment of its ethnic Uyghur population in the western region of Xinjiang. In Brazil, seven automakers announced temporary production suspensions amid a worsening of the coronavirus pandemic and shortages of vehicle parts, particularly computer chips.
The FBI issued a Flash Alert regarding a new wave of attacks leveraging the Mamba ransomware family. US authorities say Mamba has been recently deployed against local governments, public transportation agencies, legal services, technology services, industrial, commercial, manufacturing, and construction businesses.
Also this week, Facebook disrupted a network of Chinese threat actors using the social media platform to push malware to the Uyghur community, including activists, journalists, and dissidents living outside China. China claims that these allegations of human rights violations are baseless, and are "nothing but lies and disinformation", and has recently sanctioned numerous high-profile individuals in the UK.
As noted above, a number of Western brands have faced backlash in the Chinese media for statements made regarding alleged forced labour in Xinjiang. Elsewhere in Asia, the Singapore and Malaysia governments agreed to develop protocols that will allow the neighbouring countries to recognise each other's coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine certificates, enabling a return to large-scale cross-border travel.
In Europe, a local court in Ukraine ruled to seize the assets belonging to Ukraine-based strategic aerospace firm. In the Czech Republic, security services warned against involving a Russian energy firm in a nuclear project tender.
The UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Defence Academy has reportedly been hit with a cyberattack. A foreign adversary took the Defence Academy's IT network and website offline with one newspaper claiming that Russia and China are suspected. Russian operatives are also believed to have perpetrated spear-phishing attacks against the German Parliament.
In the Middle East and Central Asia, a Haifa-owned cargo ship was struck in a missile attack amid escalating tensions between Iran and Israel. Meanwhile, the fourth Israeli elections in two years produced no majority, prolonging the likelihood for political instability.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the roll-out of the first 5G network in Kenya by Huawei may fuel Western scrutiny. Authorities in South Africa are intensifying preparations for the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) on 1 July, which will raise the compliance burden.