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China backs security services after spy deaths report

Beijing – China on Monday defended its right to investigate actions threatening national security but declined to comment on a report that authorities killed or jailed up to 20 CIA sources. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Beijing had systematically dismantled CIA spying operations in China beginning in late 2010, in one of the worst US intelligence breaches in decades. At least a dozen Central Intelligence Agency sources were killed between late 2010 and the end of 2012, including one who was shot in front of colleagues in a clear warning to anyone else who might be spying, the Times reported, citing 10 current and former US officials.

In all, 18 to 20 CIA sources in China were either killed or imprisoned, according to two former senior American officials quoted.

China Backs Security Services After Spy Deaths Report

The paper called it a grave setback to a network that, up to then, had been working at its highest level for years.

“As for as the situation mentioned in the New York Times report, I’m not aware of that but I can tell you that Chinese security authorities are following their legal mandate to carry out investigations about organisations, personnel and actions that harm Chinese national security and interests,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

“For these normal discharges of official duties by Chinese security organisations we have no comment on that,” she said. The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said the authenticity of the Times report “remains unknown”. But it added, “if this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China’s anti-espionage activities”.

“Not only was the CIA’s spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong. It can be taken as a sweeping victory,” the nationalist daily said.

A user-controlled file security scheme for cloud services

A User-controlled File Security Scheme For Cloud Services Cloud storage services make data storage and sharing more efficient and cost-effective, but their use requires trust in the cloud s security. Credit: Wavebreak Media Ltd/123rf

By securing data files with a ‘need-to-know’ decryption key, researchers at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have developed a way to control access to cloud-hosted data in real time, adding an extra layer of security for data sharing via the Internet. Cloud-based file storage has rapidly become one of the most popular uses of the Internet, allowing files to be safely saved in a virtual drive that is often replicated on numerous [1] around the world. Cloud storage theoretically provides near-seamless backup and data redundancy, preventing data loss and also enabling files to be shared among users almost anywhere. However, proper treatment of sensitive or confidential information stored on the cloud cannot be taken for granted: the security of the cloud environment is not immune to hacker attacks or misuse by a cloud provider.

“Cloud storage services make data storage and sharing more efficient and cost-effective, but their use requires trust in the cloud’s security,” explains Jianying Zhou from the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research. “We wanted to find a way to ease the security concerns by creating a system that does not require the data owner to trust the cloud service or assume perfect protection against hacking.”

The scheme Zhou and his team developed allows access to an individual file hosted on a [2] to be issued or revoked in [3], and eliminates the possibility that files can be taken offline and accessed without authorization. Zhou explains the process. “The file owner, Alice, generates the proxy keys, which define who can decrypt the file, for example Bob, and gives them to the cloud server. When Bob wants to access the encrypted file in the cloud, the cloud server needs to first decrypt the file for Bob using the proxy key as well as the cloud server’s private key. This results in an intermediate decryption that the cloud server passes to Bob. He then uses his private key to decrypt the file to get the plaintext file. If Alice wants to revoke Bob’s access, she simply informs the cloud server to remove his proxy key.”

The scheme allows the data owner to retain control over file access while making use of all the other benefits of cloud hosting. Importantly, it is applicable at the per-file and per-user level, and has ‘lightweight’ user decryption, meaning that files can be opened quickly even on mobile devices such as smart phones.

“Our technology could be used to provide scalable and fine-grained access control to various bodies of data collected by different organizations and shared via the cloud, with applications in areas such as healthcare, finance and data-centric cloud applications,” says Zhou.

A User-controlled File Security Scheme For Cloud Services Explore further: User-controlled system makes it possible to instantly revoke access to files hosted on internet cloud servers[4]

Provided by: Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore[5]

References

  1. ^ (phys.org)
  2. ^ (phys.org)
  3. ^ (phys.org)
  4. ^ User-controlled system makes it possible to instantly revoke access to files hosted on internet cloud servers (phys.org)
  5. ^ Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore (phys.org)

What’s next for Iran after President Hassan Rouhani’s win?

After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s electoral victory Saturday, what’s next for the Islamic Republic? Here’s some things to watch for:

HARD-LINERS’ REACTION

Those backing President Ebrahim Raisi will accept the results. However, hard-liners within Iran’s judiciary and security services will continue to pressure Rouhani in different ways. Even before the vote, hard-line elements routinely detained dual nationals, likely seeking concessions from the West. Artists, journalists, models and others have been targeted in crackdowns on expression. Hard-liners probably will challenge Rouhani in the country’s parliament, especially over social issues or any measure that appears to be accepting or promoting Western culture. The paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will continue to launch ballistic missiles and have close encounters with U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf. THE ECONOMY

The nuclear deal with world powers allowed Iran to start selling its crude oil everywhere and the country quickly re-entered Europe and other key markets. However, their re-entry comes as global crude prices remain stuck around $50 a barrel, about half the price when major sanctions began to bite. Airbus and Boeing Co. have signed multi-billion-dollar deals with Iran since the accord as well. Iran was also reconnected to the international banking system. Even so, many other international firms remain hesitant to re-enter the Iranian market for fear of changing political winds that may usher in new sanctions, jeopardizing their profits and any nascent ventures.

RELATIONS WITH THE U.S. Donald Trump long threatened to renegotiate the nuclear deal while on the campaign trail. His administration said it put Iran “on notice” in February after issuing a series of sanctions following ballistic missile tests. But since then, Trump’s administration has taken a key step toward preserving the accord. Rouhani’s win may ease some of the tensions between the two nations, as a hard-line victory could have further imperiled the deal. It’s unlikely relations will ever be as warm as they were between former President Barack Obama and Rouhani, as the two even once shared a telephone call amid the nuclear negotiations, the highest-level direct communication since the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran. RELATIONS WITH SAUDI ARABIA

Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday is not going unnoticed by Iran. The Sunni kingdom and Shiite power Iran haven’t had diplomatic relations since early 2016. That’s when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and protesters in Iran attacked two of the kingdom’s diplomatic posts. Saudi Arabia immediately cut diplomatic ties and other Sunni Arab countries in the Gulf have taken a harder line on Iran since. Many of those countries worry about Iran’s regional intentions. Iran backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, supports Shiite militias battling the Islamic State group in Iraq and has aided Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, holding Yemen’s capital. Iran and Saudi Arabia have held talks on allowing Iranians to attend the annual hajj pilgrimage in the Sunni kingdom, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their lives. However, tensions remain.

THE SUPREME LEADER

Khamenei, 77, is only the second supreme leader in Iran’s history. There have been concerns about his health over the last few years. He underwent prostate surgery in 2014. Iran’s president is one of three members on a temporary council that takes over the supreme leader’s duties should his post become vacant until a successor is named by the panel known as the Assembly of Experts. Rouhani and Raisi both sit in that assembly.

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