World first Quantum communication satellite to be launced in China against hackers


China is poised to become the first country to send encoded information from space that cannot be hacked. Scientists are making final adjustments to China’s first quantum communication satellite. The project chief describes it as a revolution in communications.

China will launch its first experimental quantum communication satellite in July, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

 

China is poised to become the first country to send encoded information from space that cannot be hacked. Scientists are making final adjustments to China’s first quantum communication satellite. The project chief describes it as a revolution in communications.

A quantum photon cannot be separated or duplicated, which means if someone tried to decode information, the encryption would change, and the receiver would know that his letter was opened by someone.

Scientists hope the new technology will protect China from future cyber issues. In 2015, cases involving information technology in China rose by more than 120 percent, according to survey by a non-profit cybersecurity institution. China plans to use its quantum satellite system to cover the planet by 2030.

On the ground, China is also building its own quantum information sharing network for use in national defense and security. At some point, China plans to connect the ground network to the quantum satellite system.

It has taken five years for Chinese scientists to develop and manufacture the first quantum satellite. In June, it will be transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in southwest China for final preparation and launch in July., 2016

China wins space race to launch world’s first ‘quantum communication’ satellite in fight against hackers

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No room for an Islamic State (IS) and the racists in multiracial Malaysia


Let not the first brick be laid

THREE issues that have surfaced over the past week have terribly disturbed me and I am sure many Malaysians who are rational, reasonable and fair-minded feel the same way. More than that, these actions are slowly eroding the Malaysia that we know.

Minister in charge of Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom told Parliament that unilateral conversions are lawful and gua­ranteed under the Federal Constitution.

This writer does not know if Jamil understood what he was reading out, which was presumably prepared by an official, or if he had referred to the Cabinet papers or read up on the Federal Constitution.

There is a 2009 Cabinet directive on uni­lateral conversion and early this year, a five-member Cabinet committee on unilateral conversion also decided that no child can be converted to another religion without the consent of both parents.

The 2009 Cabinet directive also stipulated that children must follow the practised religion of the parents at the time of marriage in the event that one of them converts.

Surely Jamil must be aware of the committee because he is also a member. Among the others in the panel are Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.

The other members of the committee are Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri, and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Jamil and his officials cannot read the Federal Constitution – specifically the provision for conversion – in isolation.

The argument of the singular meaning for “parent” does not hold water as the Interpretation Act 1948 & 1967 clearly indicates otherwise; the term “parent” in Article 12 (4) must necessarily mean both the father and mother.

To construe otherwise would mean depriving, for example, a mother of her rights as a parent to choose the religion of her infant under Article 12 (4), if the father alone decides. In simple English, the Interpretation Act stipulates “parent” to mean plural, not singular.

The Interpretation Acts of 1948 and 1967, which generally apply to all Acts of Parliament, state that words in the singular shall include the plural. Therefore, the Constitution ought to be interpreted in like manner.

Jamil should also put himself in the shoes of other Malaysians, especially non-Muslims. He may be in charge of Islamic Affairs but he is also a leader of all Malaysians.

I don’t think Jamil will be a happy man if his spouse makes a decision without telling him, and we are not even talking about religious issues.

Lest we forget, the Federal Court has ruled that Hindu mother M. Indira Gandhi is allowed to challenge the validity of the unilateral conversion of her three children by her Muslim-convert ex-husband Muhammad Riduan.

The ruling is the culmination of the interfaith custody battle between Indira and Muhammad Riduan that began in 2009. They were married as Hindus and today, no one has been able to trace the whereabouts of Muhammad Riduan (formerly K. Pathmanathan), who had converted the couple’s three children – then aged 12, 11 and 11 months – to Islam without their presence or Indira’s knowledge, just six days before he obtained a custody order for all three in the Syariah Court on April 8, 2009.

Another big surprise last week was the Government’s decision to allow PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to table a Private Member’s Bill in the Dewan Rakyat to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965.

On Thursday, it was at the bottom of the day’s agenda but it was prioritized by two Federal Ministers. It came as a surprise because PAS has brought the Private Member’s Bill four times since 1995, and has never succeeded. On Thurday, Hadi got this first step.

We can be sure that Hadi will repeat his mantra that the Bill only seeks to empower the Syariah Courts and it only involves Muslims.

When tabling the Bill, he said it seeks to amend Section 2 of the Act to state that the Syariah Courts will have jurisdiction over Muslims, and in the case of offences on matters listed in Item 1 of the State List under the Ninth Schedule of Federal Laws.

He said it is also to include Section 2A, which states that in the conduct of criminal law under Section 2A, the Syariah Courts have the right to impose penalties allowed by Syariah laws related to offences listed in the said section, in addition to the death penalty.

What Hadi is pushing for is unacceptable. We live in a plural society. Those who argue that the Syariah law is only for Muslims may have missed this point – can anyone in Malaysia guarantee that crimes would only involve Muslim criminals and victims?

Many kinds of criminal acts affect non-Muslims, including rape. If we follow what Hadi is preaching – we will have to find four male witnesses of repute to testify in a rape case. Women witnesses are not accepted and we wonder where we are going to find four men of good reputation in relation to a rape case.

If non-Muslims already find that judges in civil courts are reluctant to adopt a firm stand on the civil rights of the aggrieved non-Muslim party, we wonder how the Syariah Courts can defend the interest of non-Muslims.

There cannot be a parallel criminal justice system with Muslims and non-Muslims subjected to two different laws. This is not about Islam, as advocated by Hadi and PAS, but simple common sense. But of course, common sense is not that common in PAS but we hope there will be a sense of fair play from Umno, and not the agenda dictated by the likes of Jamil. Sometimes we wonder if Jamil is really from Umno or PAS.

The third disappointment must be a speech made by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, the controversial Rural and Regional Development Minister, who is well known for his communal remarks.

Last week, he reminded his listeners that Malays must unite to prevent non-Muslims from becoming Prime Minister because the Federal Constitution is silent on the racial origin of the top boss.

First of all, I cannot imagine any non-Malay aspiring to be the PM because, accept it, realistically it is not going to happen in my lifetime. It took 200 years in the United States for a black man to become president, even when the whites and blacks are mainly Christians and speak English.

But it is sad that in this age and time, Ismail is still looking inward and seeing things through his racist lens. Surely, he must have applauded when a Muslim became the first mayor of London, and for that matter, the first mayor in a big Western city.

Even in Jakarta, the capital of the world’s largest Muslim country, a Christian Chinese has been voted in as the city’s governor.

The non-Malays, especially the Chinese, are aware of their position as a minority in Malaysia. Politicians like Ismail should stop using phrases like “they” and “us” in his speeches, because we are all Malaysians.

What he has said serves little purpose, except to hurt feelings unnecessarily. A true mature Malaysian leader will talk about the strength of all Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, coming together and not going separate ways.

As one lawyer put it aptly in his article, Malaysia is represented by at least 45% of the population who have faiths other than Islam. The important question one needs to address is the line between maintaining social stability and securing individual rights of religious practice and freedom of religion.

He further added, “this needs to be re-evaluated – where the politicisation of the Muslim rights over the non-Muslim citizens and fear mongering has had considerable effect in defining the parameters of the fundamental rights afforded to the citizen by the Constitution.”

Three months from now, Malaysia will celebrate its National Day. As we replay the old visual of Tunku Abdul Rahman raising his hand at Stadium Merdeka, let us not forget that the Alliance created Malaysia as a secular democracy.

Tunku would have been horrified at the thought of what Hadi and his PAS theolo­gians want to do with Malaysia.

He would have also reminded a few Umno leaders, who have no sense of history, that our Independence was made possible because of the unity of Umno, MCA and MIC, and that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia.

So please think carefully of the hearts and minds of the rest of Malaysians who do not live in Kelantan and do not want to see Malaysia turned into an Islamic State. Let not the first brick be laid.

By Wong Chun Wai The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

 

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Free trade in rhetoric, not in practice by Western countries


WESTERN countries commonly proclaim the great benefits of free trade and the evils of protectionism.

In reality, many developed countries practise double standards, insisting on free trade in areas where they are strong, whilst using protectionist measures in sectors where they are weak.

In the worst case, within the same sector they have designed rules that impose liberalisation on developing countries but allow themselves to maintain high protectionism.

An outstanding example is in agriculture, in which the rich counties are not competitive.

If “free trade” were to be practised, a large part of global agricultural trade would be dominated by the more efficient developing countries.

But until today, agricultural trade is dominated instead by the major developed countries.

For many decades they got an exemption for agriculture from trade liberalisation rules.

This exemption ended when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was crea­ted in 1995 and the rich countries were expected to open their agriculture to global competition.

But in reality, WTO’s agriculture agreement allowed them to have both high tariffs and high subsidies.

The subsidies have enabled far­mers to sell their products at low prices, often below production cost, yet allowed them to get adequate revenues (which include the subsidies) that keep them in business.

This has four negative effects on developing countries.

Firstly, those countries that are agri­­culturally competitive cannot pe­­netrate the rich countries’ markets.

Secondly, the developing countries are deprived of other markets because the United States and Europe can export the same farm products at artificially cheap prices. This is a complaint of African cotton-producing countries.

Thirdly, by exporting a product cheaply, the developed country reduces the demand for a competitor substitute product. If the US did not subsidise its soybean, enabling soybean oil to be cheaper, Malaysian or Indonesian palm oil would have a bigger market.

Fourthly, these cheap products (such as chicken from US and Europe) have entered many deve­loping countries, damaging the livelihoods of their local farmers.

In 2001, the WTO launched a Doha development agenda whose chief goal was to liberalise the agriculture of developed countries.

Much energy was spent over many years to devise methods and formulae to liberalise agricultural trade, and a high degree of consensus was reached.

However, the US, backed by Europe, has now made it clear they do not intend to conclude the Doha Round.

Future WTO negotiations have to be on a new basis, and not based on existing texts.

An article by Chris Horseman in the bulletin Agra Europe (May 12) analysed why the US now cannot accept the existing text.

A reduction in the maximum limit of one type of allowed subsidies (called de minimis) would have pushed the US to increase by 58% another type of disallowed subsidies (known as AMS).

This partly explains “why the US is keen to move away from the formulae on the table and to negotiate a fresh approach,” said the article.

Due to its powerful farm lobbies, the US will not change its domestic policies (embodied in its 2014 Farm Bill) to meet the Doha agenda’s new limits on the allowed amounts of domestic subsidies.

The same article also shows how the European Union has meanwhile changed the types of subsidies it provides, in order to better comply with WTO rules. This also allowed the EU countries to maintain their total domestic subsidies at around €80bil (RM356bil) annually from 2004 to 2013.

Two decades after the WTO was set up, the rich countries have continued the high level of their agricultural protection.

There is little prospect that they will agree to changes in the trading system that will effectively eliminate or reduce the massive subsidies that keep their farming systems afloat.

The poorer countries simply do not have the money to match the subsidies of the rich.

If they want to defend their far­mers and their food security, they can only put up tariffs to levels that keep out the cheap subsidised pro­ducts.

But those developing countries that sign free trade agreements with the US and the EU have to cut their agriculture tariffs to zero or very low levels.

At the same time, at the insistence of developed countries, agricultural subsidies are kept off the FTA agenda. Thus, the rich countries can keep their subsidies and swamp developing countries with their farm products.

The US and EU are also taking protectionist measures in other areas against developing countries.

For example, the US successfully filed a case against India at the WTO, that the latter’s National Solar Mission favours local firms through its domestic content requirements for solar cells and modules.

This kind of objection makes it extra difficult for India or other developing countries to take action against climate change.

The European Parliament recently voted to refuse giving China the status of a market economy in the WTO, although WTO members are obliged to recognise China as a market economy by December 2016, 15 years after it joined the WTO in 2001.

By denying China this status, it is easier for other countries to suc­­­­­­c­e­ed when taking anti-dumping cases against China, and thus to place extra tariffs on Chinese exports.

China and India are fighting back.

India last week announced it will file 16 cases against the US for violating WTO rules when providing subsidies under its renewable energy programmes.

China won a case against the US in the WTO for wrongly imposing countervailing duties against 15 Chinese products including solar panels, steel sinks and thermal paper.

However, the US has not complied with the panel decision to withdraw the duties, and China is now starting action at the WTO to get the US to comply.

It seems impossible to prevent or reduce the rich countries’ high protection of their agriculture. And it also seems they will continue using protectionist measures against products or policies of developing countries.

There is indeed a big gap between the rhetoric and practice of free trade.

By Martin Khor Global trends

Martin Khor (director@ southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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Landed residential properties much sought after with resilent demand, Market insights


CBRE|WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen (pic) said that in spite of confidence issues among property buyers, there was still good demand for “the right products,” especially for landed units.

PETALING JAYA: Demand for landed residential units is still promising despite the current property glut, said an official from a local real estate services provider.

CBRE|WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen (pic) said that in spite of confidence issues among property buyers, there was still good demand for “the right products,” especially for landed units.

“Despite the issue with the confidence levels, some developers are still registering good sales for landed and affordable homes. High rise developers meanwhile are having to offer a lot more freebies, with some even offering their own financing.

“But you don’t see that for landed property as the demand is still there,” he said at a press conference announcing the joint venture (JV) between real estate agencies CH Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd (WTW) and CBRE last week.

He emphasised that one of the biggest issues facing the current property sector is not oversupply, but instead a mismatch of supply and demand.

“Developers are putting the wrong products in the market and this is not what the masses want. The demand is there but it’s not the correct product. So the question is, how long will the market take to absorb (these products)?”

As an example of a mismatch between demand and supply, Foo cited low-cost housing in areas that were not accessible to the proper target audience.

“For instance, there are low-cost properties built in Bukit Beruntung. But the daily toll and fuel cost of travelling to Kuala Lumpur for work is heavy for the type of people living in such homes.

“Also, there are so many high-end shoebox units now and Malaysia is unlike Singapore or Hong Kong. We still have plenty of land. If you’re putting the right property in the right location – you’ll still see a long queue of people attending the launches.”

CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm and a Fortune 500 company, announced yesterday that it had acquired a significant interest in Malaysia’s largest real estate service provider, WTW, WTW Real Estate Sdn Bhd and WTW Property Services Sdn Bhd.

The business will rebrand as CBRE|WTW effective immediately, with WTW holding a 51% stake in the JV. WTW network of 13 offices in Peninsula Malaysia.

CBRE Asia Pacific chief executive officer Steve Swerdlow said the collaboration was consistent with the firm’s strategy to grow in South-East Asia.

“At a time when planning is underway to link Malaysia and Singapore via high speed rail and with the Asean Economic Community and the Trans Pacific Partnership facilitating greater collaboration for both countries and their wider partner countries, this offers many opportunities for cross border activities when they arise.”

With CBRE as a strategic partner, Foo said the firm can now help its clients expand their activities beyond Malaysia, providing them with more options through a diverse means of expertise. “Conversely we can be a party to help bring greater meaningful inbound investments into the Malaysian market via the CBRE global network.”

By Eugene Mahalingam The Star

Top Story -market insights
An outlook on Malaysia’s property market

May 26, 2016
According to PropertyGuru’s Malaysia Property Market Sentiment
Survey Report H1 2016, things are expected to improve in 2016 as people
are warming up to the idea of purchasing properties.  

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Parents opt for daycare centres with no live-in maids now


The decline in the number – and the rising cost – of domestic maids has forced more young, working parents to send their children to daycare centres.

Daycare Centre

Chris Hong, who runs two kindergartens-cum-daycare centres in Subang Jaya, said she and her staff looked after 40 to 50 children from 8am to 7pm daily.

The centres, which only cater for two-month-old babies to children aged six, provide lunch, homework coaching and other activities in the afternoon after the kindergarten session.

“There are even parents-to-be who register at the centre even when they are in the early stages of pregnancy.

“There is very high demand now and parents are looking for safe and trustable daycare centres,” said Hong, adding that she did not plan to set up more daycare centres as she wanted sufficient quality time with her three children.

A daycare centre operator on Penang island, who wanted to be known only as Sarah, said she and her partner were planning to set up two more centres on the mainland.

She added that she had received many enquiries for her services in Butterworth.

“We’re now working out the extra costs we have to bear for hiring more people and rental,” she said.

Technical services manager M. Manimaran felt that increasing the number of daycare centres was an effective alternative for the shortage of maids.

“After all, parents are looking for a safe and good daycare centre which can work around our working hours.

“The place I send my son to even provides transportation from his school to the centre.He gets proper meals and time to do some reading or his homework.

“We have no worries, even during the school holidays,” Manimaran said, adding that he received constant updates about the whereabouts and condition of his 10-year-old son from the daycare centre through WhatsApp.

Working mum Lim Lee, 46, said she would opt to send her child to a daycare centre and hire a part-time maid if her Indonesian maid could not multi-task.

“There is no way I can afford to get two maids,” she said.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein urged the Government to encourage more nurseries or daycare centres run by properly trained and certified Malaysians.

Such facilities, he said, would not only ease the burden of having to pay for maids but would also give parents peace of mind while they were at work.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said the expense of using these centres should be tax deductible, adding that it was the Government’s responsibility to solve over-reliance on foreign workers.

These centres, he added, would also provide the local workforce with jobs, ensuring less capital flight from the country.

Ny Royce Tan The Star

Working mums ‘maid’ to pay sky-high fees for childcare

 

Back-up plan: With maids becoming a scarce commodity, more are turning to childcare centres

PETALING JAYA: Dr Subhashini Jahanath is highly educated, hard-­working and does 11 calls a month.

Like many other working mothers, she is now facing the added frustration of sky-high fees for domestic help.

“It’s the childcare that’s difficult – what happens if I get called up in the middle of the night? At the same time, I just cannot afford the fees for a new maid,” she said.

Even then, Dr Subhashini, 35, is one of the lucky ones as she can call on her family for help.

The Miri-based doctor’s father has flown in from Selangor to help take care of her four-year-old son Harraen.

“On days he has to go back to Selangor, I have to send Harraen along with him, which means increased cost and Harraen missing school. But it’s the only way.”

Lawyer V. Shoba, 37, is also blessed with parents who help look after her seven-year-old twins, but still needs a maid to help them.

“My parents are both in their early 70s and need some help with the kids. Having domestic help is not a luxury,” she said.

In 2009, she paid RM6,000 in agency fees and a monthly salary of RM650 for her first Sri Lankan helper.

“In 2011, I got another Sri Lankan maid. The agency fee was RM7,500 and monthly salary was RM850. In 2013, I got a Filipino maid. The agency fee was RM9,900 and the monthly salary was RM1,200,” she said.

The agency fee, she added, has now gone up to RM12,000 and the monthly salary to RM1,500.

“I also have to pay for her toiletries, food and utilities used. That is a chunk of money that could be used for education or even holidays.

For those who are away from their families, babysitters and part-time house help provide alternatives.

Not everyone can call in the grandparent squad, and some parents feel that childcare options out there are not good enough to make them viable alternatives to live-in domestic help.

Corporate communications manager Sonia Gomez, 30, said she could not find any childcare options that were both good and affordable.

“Independent babysitters aren’t regulated, so it would be very tough to cope without my helper, Lia. She is reliable and has a very strong bond with my son,” she said.

Some mothers are opting out of the workforce entirely to take care of their kids.

Stay-at-home mum Evelyn Thong, 37, said she had heard too many daycare horror stories to consider it.

“It’s also too much money to risk. If your maid runs away, you cannot recover your money,” she said.

By Suzanne Lazaroo The Star

Maids for specific tasks only 

 

PETALING JAYA: The days of having a multi-tasking maid who does everything from cooking and washing to caring for the baby and the elderly and even washing the car is as good as gone.

Malaysians must now be prepared to pay more for specialised help.

Source countries such as Indo­nesia want to send upskilled helpers for specific jobs like caregiver, babysitter or nanny, and not the traditional domestic maid.

Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said all that was needed now was a mechanism to ensure these helpers were properly trained and certified.

Foo said Papa was ready to work with the source countries to create a win-win situation.

“Local employers will be satisfied if they get what they are paying for, which are skilled helpers who can do the task they are hired for,” he said.

The Star reported yesterday that Malaysia is in a fix because neighbouring countries are not in favour of sending domestic help here.

Foo said Indonesia, where most of the foreign maids are from, is not closing the door entirely.

Instead, it is adopting a more professional approach with its policy to stop sending live-in maids from next year.

A possible solution, according to Foo, is for the Government to license companies to supply part-time domestic maids to households who need them.

These companies could take care of the maids’ lodging and food but this would require a shift in government policy.

Foo pointed out that foreign workers brought in as cleaners were not supposed to be sent to work as domestic maids at individual homes.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein pointed out that the current system of having maids stay under the same roof as their employers for two years was not always ideal.

“If you’re lucky, there’s harmony. Otherwise, you get two years of disharmony,” he said.

He echoed the view for local agencies to be allowed a supply of part-time maids.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said there were currently different expectations between local employers and source countries such as Indonesia.

In Indonesia, helpers are hired and trained as caregivers to take care of infants, children and the elderly or as domestic workers who cook, clean and tidy.

M. Sarkuna, a 40-year-old Indonesian maid working here, said those who took care of babies, children and the elderly earned at least RM800 in Jakarta, while those who cooked could take home about RM700.

“The starting pay for those who do household work is only RM500,” she said.

In Malaysia, Engku Ahmad Fauzi said employers often took for granted that maids had to multi-task.

He said the best and most well-trained helpers were not sent here, yet “Malaysian employers want to pay the lowest for the best”.

The way forward, at least in the short term, was to hire maids from cheaper and better source countries besides Indonesia and Philippines, he said.

“But Malaysians need to stop depending on domestic maids in the long run,” he added.

By Neville Spykerman The Star

Hackers in your heads, Cybercriminals preying on gullible


 

Cyberscammers tapping into minds – Conmen get personal data from social media

<< You’ve been had: A user checking an SMS alert about an unauthorised credit card transaction.

PETALING JAYA: Cybercriminals are getting into your head.

Realising that victims are no longer falling for the ‘I’m a Prince who wants to deposit US$50mil (RM199mil) into your account’ e-mail, these syndicates have enlisted psychologists and behavioural experts to launch targetted attacks on companies, groups and individuals.

By going through their victims’ social media accounts, they learn more about their targets and are able to craft attractive e-mail, prompting them to respond.

Clicking on the link in the e-mail will download malware that encrypts your device. Computers, smartphones, smartwatches and any other network-connected device, can be locked by cybercriminals who will only release it for a fee, or “ransom”.

Such ransomware has reached our shores, with a total of 5,069 attacks in Malaysia last year, according to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation.

“The new modus operandi uses social engineering, with the e-mail being crafted by Malaysians who know the local scenario and how to trigger emotional reactions,” Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes told Sunday Star.

For example, if they find out from Facebook that you went shopping, you could get an official-looking e-mail from a trusted source like a government body or postal department saying: ‘You’ve received a free gift from shopping at our KL outlet. Click this link to trace your parcel’.

“Or if they see you at a cycling event, the e-mail could say: ‘Thank you for participating. Click on the link for photos and videos of the ride’,” he said.

“To decrypt your device, they’ll ask for about US$200 (RM782) in virtual currency like Bitcoin, to bypass the banks,” Sparkes added.

Acknowledging this new threat, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) strategic communication head Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman urged the public to be more alert.

He said one of the most commonly used social engineering techniques was phishing attacks targetting online banking customers.

Such cases would be investigated by the police under the Computer Crimes Act 1997 or the Penal Code.

A total of 1,311 phishing websites have been blocked by the MCMC between last year and March 8.

This includes fake pages created to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, banking information and credit card details by masquerading as a trusted entity in an electronic communication.

CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the number of incidents reported to the CSM indicates the growing threat of ransomware here.

Revealing that local businesses are also targeted, he said the CSM will work together with international communities to share current information on ransomware threats and disseminate them to the public.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their approach by enlisting psychologists.

“But whichever methods they use, there is an underlying modus operandi of appealing to human emotions of fear, greed, curiosity, loneliness, compassion or even spirituality,” he said.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

Cybercriminals preying on gullible

Users beware! With cybercriminals leveling up, ransomware attacks are expected to spike here. Malaysians shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to personal information and should be on the lookout for online scams.

HE wasn’t the fastest, but Eugene (not his real name) feels like a champion after finishing his first marathon.

Posting a selfie he made public on his Facebook account, the 28-year-old later receives an e-mail congratulating him on the feat. “Click on this link to see more pictures and videos of the event,” says the e-mail, which appears to be sent from the organiser of the run.

Curious and hoping to see images of himself, Eugene clicks open the link on his laptop but instead, gets a message telling him his device is now locked. All his files have been encrypted and he can’t access them, including his work document to be submitted on Monday.

The only way he can retrieve them is to pay a hacker a ransom of US$300 (RM1,181) in Bitcoin currency. Such an incident, known as a ransomware attack, could very well happen to you if you are not careful.

To top it all off, these cases are expected to increase this year, with “very specific ransomware targeted very specifically at Malaysians” being detected, says Symantec (Asia Pacific and Japan) cyber security services senior director Peter Sparkes.

According to cybersecurity company Symantec Corporation, Malaysia ranks 47th globally, and 12th in the Asia Pacific and Japan region, in terms of ransomware attacks.

Last year, there were 5,069 ransomware attacks or 14 per day in Malaysia. But Sparkes foresees that these numbers will surge.

“Ransomware is very attractive because it makes lots of money. It’ll be big here in the coming months, probably averaging 20 attacks per day.

“We’ve seen a lot of smartphone attacks recently. They love WhatsApp because the best way to get someone to click on a link is if it comes from someone you know,” he says.

Sparkes describes such crypto ransomware as the latest, and most dangerous malware threat because it’s near impossible to get rid of.

He adds that the experience is very emotional because many people do not back up their data.

“For individuals, losing personal data like photos and videos is traumatic so most victims will pay. Some will even tell you how to infect your friends to decrease your ransom,” he reveals.

Ransomware hackers are also using help from psychologists and behavioural experts to study their victims on social media before sending them personalised messages to trigger a response.

But it is not just ransomware that needs to be taken seriously as Malaysians need to be vigilant over social media scams, with these two being named as key trends in the country now by Symantec Malaysia systems engineering director David Rajoo.

He says cybercrime is extremely widespread with one in three Malaysians surveyed having experienced it in the past year and 83% know of someone else who was a victim.

“Consumers here lost an average of 27 hours and about RM8.9bil over the past year, dealing with the fallout of online crime.

“The amount of personal data stored online continues to grow, and while this free flow of data creates immense opportunities, it also opens the doors to new risks,” he warns.

Cybercriminals preying on personal data are also a cause for concern here and globally.

Sparkes points out that personal assistants and those in human resources are popular targets because that’s how cybercriminals gain access into an organisation’s database.

“Take a hotel for example. I’d target the CEO’s personal assistant. All I need is 200,000 of their best guests. If I sold the details at US$50 (RM197), it’s pretty good money for a day’s work. HR staff’s another good one because they look at CVs,” he says.

Last year, 500 million personal information was breached globally. That, he says, is a conservative estimate.

Someone checks out your Facebook activities, creates a personalised e-mail to get you to click on a link, and that’s it.

Everytime you download an app on social media, you could be giving access to your life, he cautions.

Of 10.8 million apps analysed in 2015, three million were collecting way more information than necessary, Sparkes says.

“Cyber scammers are also making you call them to hand over your cash,” he adds.

They send fake warning messages to devices like smartphones, driving users to attacker-run call centers to dupe them into buying useless services.

The services industry is the most vulnerable sector in the country, attracting 72.4% of spear phishing attacks.

There was also a significant spam increase with Malaysia jumping up the global ranking from 44 in 2014 to 23 last year, he adds, lamenting how many still don’t realise that cybercrime is an industry.

Cybercriminals are professionals using very sophisticated tools and techniques.

“They work like any other legit organisation – it’s a 9am to 5pm job with weekends off, holidays and proper offices. A lot of users still think it’s 18-year-olds in the garage fooling around. Nothing could be further from truth. The guys sell info to the underground economy,” Sparkes says.

Syndicates only need three things – cheap broadband, a cyber-savvy workforce they can hire, and countries where cyber laws are weak. Asia Pacific and Japan has invested significantly to give their population access to the Internet, he adds, explaining the shocking rise of cybercrime.

“I’m particularly concerned about the senior citizens as many are just discovering the Internet. They’re very trusting and will download without questioning. People stress on being streetsmart, but it’s just as crucial to be cybersmart,” he feels.

By Christina Chin Yuen Meikeng The Star

Related story:

M’sians still giving away sensitive info

The arbitration decision on South China Sea could ‘change the world’


Chinese J-11 fighter jets intercepted the U.S. EP-3 spy aircraft

THE ruling on an international arbitration case, brought by the Philippines against China on rival claims to the South China Sea, is expected soon.

With the decision widely predicted to favour the Philippines, China – which has refused to participate in the proceedings – has revved up its efforts to influence public opinion at home and abroad.

State-owned media outlets, such as China Radio International’s WeChat account “Watch Asean”, began posting materials provided by the Chinese Foreign Ministry in late April to prove that China lays historical claim to the territory.

Turning to age-old manuscripts like the Book of Han and Record of Foreign Matters written during the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD), China said its people were the first to discover, name and administer va­­rious South China Sea islands and therefore enjoy priority rights to own and use the features.

“History has irrefutably proved that China is the sole owner of the South China Sea islands,” it said.

China also cited foreign publications, such as The China Sea Directory by United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office in 1868 and a 1933 French magazine Le Monde Colonial Illustré, as evidence that Chinese fishermen did live on the islands.

As for other South-East Asian nations that border the South China Sea, China claimed they did not challenge its sovereignty until rich deposits of oil and natural gas were discovered there in the 20th century.

“Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc, then ‘occupied’ parts of Nansha (Spratly Islands) and hence the territorial spat ensued,” said Li Guoqing, research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told local and international journalists in Beijing.

The conflicts brewed for decades and heightened over the past two years with China’s massive expansion and construction activities in the area, adding airfields, ports and lighthouses to seven islands and reefs.

Its explanation that these facilities were intended for civilian use was not too convin­cing, especially for the United States, which criticised China for “militarising” the disputed waters.

On the international front, China appeared as an aggressive claimant who insists that historical evidence can substantiate its assertion over the territory.

It uses the “nine-dash line” to demarcate its boundary on maps, covering most of the South China Sea and overlapping the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Malaysia, Bru­nei, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indo­nesia.

If China is so confident of its sovereignty over the South China Sea, why is it reluctant to appear before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague?

China said territorial sovereignty is beyond the purview of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It added that both countries have agreed in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to settle disputes through bilateral channels, which means the Philippines’ arbitration has thus breached its obligation under international law.

But the Philippines has emphasised to the five-person tribunal that it is not asking for a ruling on territorial sovereignty, but to clarify its maritime entitlements in the South China Sea.

The tribunal decided in October last year that it has the authority to consider the Philippines’ submissions, adding that the DOC was only a political agreement, which is not legally binding.

The tribunal will rule on whether China’s “nine-dash line” violates UNCLOS, whether the maritime features claimed by both parties should be characterised as “islands, rocks, low-tide elevations or submerged banks” (to determine the maritime zones they are entitled to), and whether “certain Chinese activities” in the South China Sea have violated UNCLOS.

China is adamant that it would not entertain the decision.

“No matter what verdict the arbitration case will be, it is unlawful and invalid. China will neither accept nor recognise it,” Ouyang Yujing, director-general of the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a press conference in early May.

Li said it is foreseeable that the disputes over the South China Sea would continue to exist for a long time after the verdict is delivered.

He downplayed the significance of the arbitration, saying that it has been hyped up to appear as if it could “change the world”.

“While China is the most experienced country in the world in solving boundary disputes (through bilateral negotiations), it is also the least experienced when it comes to dealing with territorial claims through international arbitration, so I think China has made the right decision to stay away from the arbitration,” he said.

As China slammed countries outside of the region, such as the US and Japan, for meddling in the maritime row, it is actively lobbying for international support on its stance.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his three-nation visit to South-East Asia in April, said that Brunei, Cambodia and Laos reached a consensus with China to, among others, agree that countries can choose their own ways to solve disputes and oppose unilateral attempts to impose an agenda on others.

National news agency Xinhua reported that Fiji supported China’s position in a meeting between their foreign ministers in Beijing last month (although the Fijian government quickly clarified that it did not, according to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation).

Last week, a Doha Declaration was signed by China and 21 countries of the Arab League to support peaceful settlement of disputes through negotiation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that Gabon, Mauritania and Venezuela have also voiced their support for China.

“We highly commend these countries and regional organisations for their calling for justice,” he said in a daily press briefing.

Judging from China’s behaviour, it is very likely that it will follow up with another publicity blitz to denounce the tribunal’s verdict, if the latter does indeed rule in favour of the Philippines.

The disputes, meanwhile, will be far from over.

By Tho Xin Yi

Check-in China

Related: 

Manila’s move shows it is the real provocateur

China has always opposed the Philippines for its illegal occupation
of its islands, and any construction projects on them will not
consolidate Manila’s illegal claim to sovereignty.

 

China’s rejection of South China Sea arbitration is reasonable

The Hague-based arbitration tribunal will soon announce the final results of its arbitration on the [Read it]

Hague-based arbitration panel oversteps in the South China Sea issue

As a founder, vindicator and constructor of the international law that is now being violated, China [Read it]

Western speculation will never shake China’s determination in the South China Sea

In recent days, more than 10 countries have shown their support for China’s proposition of peaceful [Read it]

China’s stance on S.C. Sea arbitration is to defend rather than disobey int’l law

BEIJING, May 13 — China’s position of neither participating in nor accepting the results of the for [Read it]

US military snooping is more than impolite

[2016-05-20 07:02]

To peep into other’s courtyard uninvited is at best impolite; to criticize the host for objecting to such behavior compounds the injury.

 

Pentagon raises risk of midair collision over South China Sea

Once the tensions are lit up, both sides will have to raise the stakes and the situation could spiral out of control at anytime.

Source: Global Times | 2016-5-19 20:40:13

 

US economic hegemony against world reality

The balanced and sustainable development of the global economy
depends on a more equal and fair world economic order, which requires
the participation of all major economies in its governance, not just the
developed nations.

 

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