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Daily Drop (509): AI Chip Basics, China's Decreasing US Imports, CIA Chief's Covert China Visit, Yevgeny Prigozhin: Putin's Successor, Chinese APT Evades Indonesian Antivirus, North Korea's SE
What Are AI Chips?
Analyst Comments: The market for AI chips is expected to grow substantially as more industries adopt AI technology. Nvidia's strong position in the market, combined with its innovative product line, sets it up for significant potential gains. The high cost of advanced chips like the H100 GPU could limit its market reach. Cloud computing service providers will continue to be key consumers, contributing to the overall growth of the AI chip market. This could also democratize AI technology by making it more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.
FROM THE MEDIA: AI chips, specialized computer chips used in AI systems, have gained significant attention as part of the ongoing AI revolution. Nvidia, a leader in graphics chips, is also a major player in AI chip design. The sudden interest in AI chips is driven by their potential to make AI systems faster and more affordable. These chips, similar to graphics chips used in video games, utilize parallel processing to enhance performance. Nvidia's stock value surged after predicting increased revenue, reaching a valuation of over $1 trillion. AI chips are tailored for AI workloads and find applications in training AI systems. Nvidia remains a key supplier of AI chips, with their latest product, the H100 GPU, offering advanced capabilities, albeit at a high cost. Cloud computing services are major buyers of AI chips, allowing companies to leverage AI systems without significant infrastructure investments.
READ THE STORY: VOA
China is set to account for less than half of the US’s low-cost imports from Asia
Analyst Comments: The diminishing reliance on China for low-cost imports signifies a pivotal shift in the global trade landscape. Countries like Vietnam, India, Taiwan, and Malaysia are seeing an increase in their shares of products consumed by Americans. This migration away from China is likely to have significant economic implications for the involved nations. While China may face challenges, it may also present an opportunity for the country to pivot towards higher-end products and improve services. The other nations benefiting from this shift, like Vietnam and India, will need to ensure they can sustainably handle the increase in production demand.
FROM THE MEDIA: New data has indicated that for the first time in over a decade, China will account for less than half of the US's low-cost imports from Asia. The annual reshoring index from Kearney, a management consulting firm, shows that this shift is due to US attempts to decrease reliance on China and American buyers opting for cheaper alternatives in Asia. By the end of 2023, China's share of US imports from low-cost Asian countries, excluding Japan and South Korea, is expected to fall below 50%. This trend has been initiated by previous Trump-era tariffs and labor shortages in China and has further accelerated under the Biden administration, which pursues economic security amid geopolitical tensions.
READ THE STORY: FT
Meet Yevgeny Prigozhin — the man who may succeed Vladimir Putin
Analyst Comments: The prospect of Yevgeny Prigozhin as a potential successor to Putin adds an element of uncertainty to Russian politics. His leadership of the Wagner Group and his hardline stance on military issues suggest that he would continue Russia's aggressive foreign policy if he were to become president. Given his close relationship with Putin, there is also a possibility that Putin would still hold some form of influence, even if he steps down as president.
FROM THE MEDIA: As the United States begins its 2024 presidential campaign, Russia is preparing for its own election scheduled for March of next year. Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't yet announced whether he will seek another term. Still, according to the Russian business daily Kommersant, it's assumed within Kremlin circles that Putin will be running. Russian presidential elections have been historically predictable, with Putin winning consistently. However, there are speculations that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the secretive mercenary group, the Wagner Group, might be Putin's choice if he decides not to run. Known for his direct access to Putin and his strong stances, Prigozhin has hinted at presidential ambitions in his public appearances.
READ THE STORY: New York Post
CIA chief made secret trip to China in bid to thaw relations
Analyst Comments: Given Burns' diplomatic background and role as a trusted official under President Biden, his visit to China indicates a serious attempt by the Biden administration to engage with Chinese officials and stabilize the tense relationship. However, the success of this effort remains uncertain, with China so far refusing to give a green light for a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that was canceled over the spy balloon incident. Furthermore, Chinese defense minister Li Shangfu declined to meet US defense secretary Lloyd Austin due to the US's refusal to lift sanctions on him.
FROM THE MEDIA: In a clandestine visit last month, CIA director Bill Burns traveled to China, marking one of the most high-level engagements between the two nations amidst escalating tensions. Burns' visit to China is the most senior one from the Biden administration since deputy secretary of State Wendy Sherman's trip to Tianjin in July 2021. The trip occurred in the same month that US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official, in Vienna. The timing suggests a concerted effort by the US to stabilize the relationship with China. This comes after a turbulent period that began with an incident in February, when a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over North America, straining the relationship.
READ THE STORY: FT
Nuclear Energy & Pakistan’s Economic Development
Analyst Comments: Pakistan's economy is negatively affected by energy shortages. These shortages have forced factories to shut down and reduced profitability and productivity, leading to unemployment and balance of payment issues. Additionally, it discourages foreign direct investment, worsening the economic situation. By investing in nuclear energy, Pakistan could ensure a stable, affordable energy supply, thereby improving business competitiveness and overall economic stability. The small modular nuclear reactors could transform the nuclear energy landscape, making it a viable solution for the country's energy crisis.
FROM THE MEDIA: With Pakistan experiencing significant economic hardship, experts suggest that turning to nuclear energy could offer a potential solution. As a sustainable, affordable, and clean source of energy, nuclear power could help stabilize Pakistan's economy and ensure long-term economic security. The country already has several Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) contributing to its energy supply. From July 2020 to March 2021, these generated 2350 megawatts of energy, and their capacity increased to 3550 megawatts from July 2021 to March 2022. Moreover, these plants covered 12% of the country's electricity needs. By 2030, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission aims to produce 8000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear power.
READ THE STORY: Modern Diplomacy
Chinese APT Backdoor Bypasses Indonesian Antivirus
Analyst Comments: Camaro Dragon's successful exploitation of Smadav underscores the sophisticated tactics employed by state-sponsored cyber threat groups to bypass security checks and infiltrate targeted systems. The ability to bypass antivirus software highlights the need for constant updating and reinforcement of cybersecurity measures, particularly for sensitive entities such as embassies. The group's familiarity with the victim's environments and security solutions indicates a highly targeted approach, necessitating increased vigilance and proactive cybersecurity strategies.
FROM THE MEDIA: Chinese espionage threat group Camaro Dragon, also known as Mustang Panda, is reportedly employing a novel backdoor named TinyNote to bypass Smadav, an Indonesian antivirus software popular in Southeast Asian countries. TinyNote, identified by Check Point researchers, is a basic remote shell with limited capabilities. It allows the attackers to establish persistence and execute commands from a command-and-control server. TinyNote bypasses Smadav's security check by opening a window that remains invisible to users, effectively continuing its backdoor execution without interruption. This is not the first instance of Camaro Dragon exploiting Smadav. Swedish nonprofit Qurium linked Mustang Panda to an attack in 2021 that used a Trojanized version of Smadav. The threat actor's recent targets reportedly include European embassies in Southeast and East Asia.
READ THE STORY: GovInfoSec
North Korea denounces UN over satellite, 'gangster-like' US demand
Analyst Comments: North Korea's latest statement underscores the country's persistent defiance against international pressure and sanctions over its missile and nuclear programs. It also indicates a deep-seated resentment towards perceived US influence over the UNSC. The stance taken by North Korea raises tensions in the region and could potentially lead to further provocation and unrest. The agreement between South Korea and Japan to strengthen security cooperation shows regional concern about North Korea's actions and indicates their desire to present a united front against the perceived threat.
FROM THE MEDIA: North Korea has criticized the UN Security Council (UNSC) for discussing its recent satellite launch following a US request. Kim Yo Jong, sister of Kim Jong Un, and a high-ranking party official, described the UNSC as a political appendage of the US, denouncing its bias and interference in North Korea's affairs. The country's recent attempt to put its first spy satellite in orbit was unsuccessful, with the booster and payload falling into the sea. Despite the UNSC meeting and the international backlash, North Korea remains steadfast in its rejection of the sanctions and in its intention to defend itself against perceived threats.
READ THE STORY: Reuters
Chinese hackers attacked the Kenyan government as debt strains grew
Analyst Comments: These allegations highlight potential cybersecurity risks associated with China's expanding global influence, particularly within developing nations that have benefited from Beijing's investment initiatives. While China has denied any involvement, the reports could potentially impact Sino-African relations and increase tension between China and the international community.
FROM THE MEDIA: According to multiple sources and cybersecurity research reports, Chinese hackers have targeted the Kenyan government in a widespread and years-long series of digital intrusions against vital state institutions. Some of these hacks were reportedly aimed at gaining information on Kenya's debt to China, aligning with Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure network plan. Cybersecurity researchers have identified the Chinese state-linked hacking team known as "BackdoorDiplomacy" as responsible for these attacks, using identical tools and techniques seen in other hacking campaigns. These allegations follow China's considerable financial influence in Africa over the past two decades, with nearly $160 billion committed in loans to African countries from 2000 to 2020.
READ THE STORY: Vanguard
Russia, a country of perpetual war
Analyst Comments: The proposition that Russia inherently relies on war as an essential part of governance is particularly thought-provoking, portraying it not merely as a strategic tool but as a mechanism of societal regulation and political domination. The postulation may overemphasize Russia's dependency on warfare. While the conflict has undoubtedly been a major part of Russian history and political landscape, attributing the duration of Putin's tenure entirely to constant militaristic engagements might not paint the full picture. Additional aspects, such as control over national media, manipulation of election processes, and silencing of political opposition, also significantly factor into his enduring authority.
FROM THE MEDIA: The post provides a historical analysis of Russian governance, highlighting its long-standing issues of corruption, ineffective state service, and poor resource management. This perspective views the adoption of the "feeding" system from Byzantium as the root of endemic corruption. Despite these challenges, Russia's history of dominating the globe is seen as a testament to its strength and effectiveness, supported by its successful mobilization of resources during times of conflict. The post asserts that Russia has historically depended on war, not only as a means of defense or expansion but as a fundamental component of its society and governance. This concept is manifested in the policies of Russia's current president, Vladimir Putin, who has been involved in several military conflicts throughout his time in power, including Chechnya, Georgia, Syria, and Ukraine.
READ THE STORY: Modern Diplomacy
North Korea hacks thinktanks, academia, and media through social engineering
Analyst Comments: The advisory provides crucial information about North Korea's state-sponsored cyber attacks and highlights the need for increased cybersecurity measures. It alerts targeted entities to the sophisticated social engineering tactics employed by North Korean cyber actors and emphasizes the potential risks of compromising sensitive research and communications. The advisory offers detailed insights into Kimsuky's operations and provides recommendations for mitigating their cyber espionage efforts. The collaboration between US and South Korean agencies strengthens international efforts to address the cyber threats posed by North Korea.
FROM THE MEDIA: The FBI, US Department of State, and NSA, along with the Republic of Korea's NIS, NPA, and MOFA, have revealed that North Korea is conducting state-sponsored cyber attacks targeting research centers, think tanks, academic institutions, and news media organizations. Using social engineering tactics, cyber actors from North Korea pose as journalists, academics, and individuals with credible links to North Korean policy circles. Their goal is to collect intelligence on geopolitical events and foreign policy strategies. The Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) of North Korea's military intelligence is primarily responsible for these activities.
READ THE STORY: Blitz
How One Think Tank Defied Washington And Is Winning The Policy Debates
Analyst Comments: The SWAC's departure from traditional congressional-directed studies demonstrates a more effective and focused approach to addressing space-related challenges. By conducting in-depth analysis and prioritizing resiliency, the SWAC is able to stay ahead of rapidly evolving threats and make informed decisions. The collaboration with the SDA further enhances the Space Force's ability to acquire cutting-edge capabilities and respond to the growing Chinese threat. Andrew Cox's leadership and the SWAC's disciplined and free-thinking culture have proven their value in shaping the future of space warfare.
FROM THE MEDIA: The Space Warfare Analysis Center (SWAC), led by Andrew Cox in the US Space Force, takes a unique approach to policy issues by conducting deep analysis away from political influences. With a focus on resiliency in the face of China's aggressiveness, the SWAC works closely with the Space Development Agency (SDA) to acquire commercially available capabilities quickly. The disciplined and unbiased analysis conducted by the SWAC has proven valuable in solving complex problems and influencing policy decisions.
READ THE STORY: Forbes
Former Chinese ambassador says US must halt military deployments near China
Analyst Comments: Cui Tiankai's call for the United States to reduce military deployments near China reflects the ongoing tensions between the two countries. The statement highlights China's concerns over its territorial sovereignty and suggests that a show of goodwill from the U.S. could help create a conducive environment for dialogue. However, it remains to be seen whether the U.S. will be willing to adjust its military posture in response to these demands. The strained relations between the two superpowers, particularly over issues such as Taiwan and the South China Sea, pose significant challenges to the resumption of high-level defense talks.
FROM THE MEDIA: Retired Chinese diplomat Cui Tiankai has urged the United States to ease off military deployments near China as a gesture of goodwill in order to resume high-level defense talks between the two countries. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting in Singapore, Cui questioned the political will to prevent conflicts and expressed concern over U.S. naval and air force deployments close to China. He emphasized the need for effective communication and goodwill to resolve tensions. Cui's comments followed a speech by Chinese Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu, who warned of the disastrous consequences of a conflict between China and the United States.
READ THE STORY: Reuters
China defends buzzing American warship in Taiwan Strait, accuses US of provoking Beijing
Analyst Comments: Li Shangfu's remarks reflect China's stance on territorial sovereignty and its opposition to a perceived provocation by the U.S. and its allies. The defense minister's statements highlight the ongoing tensions between China and the U.S., particularly in areas such as the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Li emphasized the need for mutual respect and productive communication to improve relations between the two countries. However, the differences in their positions on issues such as freedom of navigation and China's territorial claims pose significant challenges to finding common ground.
FROM THE MEDIA: Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu defended China's actions of sailing a warship across the path of an American destroyer and Canadian frigate in the Taiwan Strait, stating that such "freedom of navigation" patrols are a provocation to China. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Li criticized the U.S. and its allies for meddling in China's internal affairs and urged them to focus on their own territorial airspace and waters. He called for mutual respect and cooperation between China and the U.S., stating that severe conflict or confrontation would be a disaster for the world.
READ THE STORY: AP
Items of interest
Wagner boss says Kremlin faction destroying Russian state, sowing discord between him and Chechen fighters
Analyst Comments: The public spat between Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Chechen fighters, along with his accusations against factions within the Kremlin, highlights internal divisions and power struggles within the Russian establishment. Prigozhin's comments suggest that there are conflicting interests and rivalries at play, which can impact the state's operations and create instability. The dispute underscores the complex dynamics within the Russian military and security apparatus, potentially impacting their actions in conflicts such as Ukraine.
FROM THE MEDIA: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, accused factions within the Kremlin of causing harm to the state by creating divisions between him and Chechen fighters involved in the conflict in Ukraine. Prigozhin referred to these factions as "Kremlin towers" and claimed that their manipulative actions had led to discord. He warned that if their attempts to sow discord continued, there would be severe consequences. The dispute between Prigozhin and the Chechen forces was publicly criticized by a close associate of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, sparking a strong response from a high-ranking Wagner fighter.
READ THE STORY: WION
Exploit Engineering – Attacking the Linux Kernel (Video)
FROM THE MEDIA: The talk titled "Exploit Engineering – Attacking the Linux Kernel" was given by Alex Plaskett and Cedric Halbronn at OffensiveCon23. They introduced themselves as part of the exploit development group at NCC, responsible for developing exploits for consultants and engagements. They discussed their focus on finding bugs in the Linux kernel related to file systems, networking stack, and socket layer, which are potential attack surfaces for privilege escalation.
How Dangerous is ChatGPT Generated Code? (Video)
FROM THE MEDIA: The world we live in is slowly being taken over by AI. OpenAI, and its child product ChatGPT, is one of those ventures. I've heard rumors that ChatGPT is going to replace programmers entirely. But, can ChatGPT even produce code that is safe? In this video, I'll prompt ChatGPT to solve three problems, and see if there are security vulnerabilities in them.
These open-source products are reviewed by analysts at InfoDom Securities, providing possible context about current media trends related to the realm of cyber security. The stories selected cover a broad array of cyber threats and are intended to aid readers in framing key publicly discussed threats and overall situational awareness. InfoDom Securities does not endorse any third-party claims made in their original material or related links on their sites; the opinions expressed by third parties are theirs alone. For further questions, please contact InfoDom Securities at email@example.com.