China appears to be employing a two-track response to its recent COVID lockdown protests. The first track is the removal of many of the policies protesters were fighting. The second track is the removal of many of the protesters themselves. China is cracking down on the protesters, despite giving in to some of their demands. Maybe the state is making sure these particular people won’t be problems in the future. Dhruv Mehrotra reports in WIRED:
IT WAS ANOTHER busy week in security that saw big news about protests, surveillance, spyware, data breaches, and more. In the US, recent court filings detail how the FBI’s use of a controversial warrant yielded a trove of Google’s location data from thousands of devices in and around the Capitol on January 6. Meanwhile, in Iran, videos of antigovernment protests shared on social media highlight the importance of Twitter’s role in documenting human rights abuses and the consequences if the social media platform breaks.
On November 30, Google’s Threat Analysis Group moved to block a Spanish hacking framework that targets desktop computers. The exploitation framework, dubbed Heliconia, came to Google’s attention after a series of anonymous submissions to the Chrome bug reporting program. While Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have all patched the Heliconia vulnerabilities, it’s a good reminder to keep your devices updated. Here’s what you need to know about all the important security updates released in the past month.
Google researchers also found this week that the encryption keys phone-makers use to verify software on their devices are genuine—including the Android operating system itself—were stolen and used in malware.
Finally, we published part six of WIRED reporter Andy Greenberg’s series, “The Hunt for the Dark Web’s Biggest Kingpin,” which chronicles the downfall of AlphaBay, the world’s largest dark-web marketplace. Read the final installment here, and check out the full book from which the series was excerpted, Tracers in the Dark: The Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency, available now from wherever you buy books.
And there’s more. Each week, we highlight the news we didn’t cover in-depth ourselves. Click on the headlines below to read the full stories.
A deadly fire in an apartment building sparked massive demonstrations in China where thousands of protestors in major cities have taken to the streets in defiance of the nation’s zero-Covid policy. The current wave of protests—the scale of which has not been seen in the country since the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square protests—has been met with the massive surveillance and censorship apparatus that the state has been refining for decades. Authorities are using facial recognition, phone searches, and informants to identify, intimidate, and detain those who attended protests.
The protests are stress-testing China’s sophisticated censorship apparatus, and experts say that the sheer volume of video clips has likely overwhelmed China’s armies of censors. Leaked documents from China’s Cyberspace Administration called the protests a “Level I Internet Emergency Response,” and authorities ordered ecommerce platforms to limit the availability of VPNs and firewall-circumventing routers. On Sunday, Chinese-language Twitter accounts spammed the service with links to escort services alongside city names where protests were occurring to drown out information about the protests.
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