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Huawei-built data centre a ‘failed investment,’ Papua New Guinea says – The Globe and Mail

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A surveillance camera is seen in front of a Huawei logo in Belgrade, Serbia on Aug. 11, 2020.

MARKO DJURICA/Reuters

A Huawei-built data centre in Papua New Guinea is a “failed investment,” that country’s government says, after a technical review found serious security vulnerabilities in what was designed to be an important piece of the country’s digital infrastructure.

Dated encryption technology and the placement of some devices in the centre meant that “data flows could be easily intercepted,” according to a review commissioned by Papua New Guinea’s National Cyber Security Centre and obtained by The Globe and Mail. The security centre receives funding from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Canberra was given a copy of the report, whose findings were first reported by the Australian Financial Review.

The report details numerous technical deficiencies in the National Data Centre, including firewall devices “with basic settings for defence”; the use of 3DES, a 1995-era encryption standard “considered openly broken since 2016”; and the installation of core switches outside firewalls, which means “remote access would not be detected.” The physical configuration of the data centre was different from the schematics for its design, and the differences made it more vulnerable to hacking.

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The data centre was financed by a US$53-million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China and designed by engineers from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Its deficiencies have renewed questions about the trustworthiness of Huawei technology at a time when Ottawa and other Western capitals are mulling whether to allow equipment from the Chinese company in 5G networks.

“To some extent, we can conclude that it truly is a failed investment,” Timothy Masiu, Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Information and Communication Technology, said in a statement on Thursday. He suggested looking instead to cloud storage from companies like Amazon.comInc. and Microsoft Corp., before cautioning against geopolitical point-scoring over digital infrastructure. “Our national issues are our business, and must not be used to fit any other narrative,” he said.

Outside Papua New Guinea, however, the problems with the data centre add to concerns about the security of technology made by a company headquartered in China, where the law compels organizations and citizens to “support, assist and co-operate” with the country’s intelligence apparatus.

The United States, the U.K. and Australia have to varying degrees banned Huawei’s 5G technology.

Last year, the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre oversight board faulted Huawei more broadly for problems with “basic engineering competence and cyber security hygiene that give rise to vulnerabilities that are capable of being exploited by a range of actors.” In April, 2019, Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre in the U.K., told the BBC that “the security in Huawei is like nothing else – it’s engineering like it’s back in the year 2000 – it’s very, very shoddy.”

Huawei was also the main digital supplier to the Chinese-built African Union headquarters, where, for five years, data were transferred to servers in Shanghai, according to reports in Le Monde Afrique and The Financial Times. Officials have denied such problems existed, and Huawei has said that if any data leaked, it wasn’t from the company’s equipment.

Still, such problems point to “a relatively immature … security culture in the company,” said Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at The Citizen Lab, which specializes in communications and security studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

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In Papua New Guinea, “some of the issues being raised are not particularly advanced problems to have identified and then remediated,” Mr. Parsons said. “The fact they weren’t is unfortunate, and speaks poorly of the security culture that Huawei has.”

Huawei did not offer an on-record response to detailed questions about the Papua New Guinea data centre from The Globe. It told the Australian Financial Review: “This project complies with appropriate industry standards and the requirements of the customer.”

Huawei has a deep foothold in Papua New Guinea. The company built 4G networks for the country, a high-speed broadband network, and a network of submarine cables to connect coastal settlements. At least one local community complained that excavators used to lay underwater cable broke reefs.

Huawei was also the contractor for a national identity project that includes an electronic identification (e-ID) system backed by a database. That database, service for which has occasionally been interrupted for days, is at the National Data Centre.

The company’s importance to Papua New Guinea means trouble with the data centre is “a very sensitive issue,” the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology said in a chat message.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the “Chinese government always requires Chinese companies, in their overseas operations, to strictly follow international regulations.” But, he said, the Chinese government firmly opposes “some foreign media’s malicious discussions about the data centre.”

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In Papua New Guinea, security vulnerabilities have become less of a concern than disrepair. The data centre has a slow internet connection, and some of its components – including backup batteries and an e-mail server – are broken. Software licences have expired, and the report says local authorities do not have enough funds to properly maintain the centre.

As a result, it “is not currently used by a significant portion of the government of PNG,” the report found. “It is assessed that a full rebuild would need to occur to modernize the facility.”

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Letter: Why should Port Moody taxpayers 'owe' developer return on investment? – The Tri-City News

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The Editor,

Re. “Time is running out for Ioco townsite says Port Moody heritage advocate,” (Trip-City News, Sept. 16)

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As a fairly long resident of Port Moody (since 1986) I’m having difficulty understanding why the taxpayers of Port Moody “owe” any developer a return on its investment. 

Gilic (name changed for some reason) bought the land expecting to get approval for a huge development and in the process make millions of dollars. If they made a mistake — just like any investor in real estate or stocks and bonds — why should we bail them out? No one bails other types of investors out who made a mistake. Why does Coun. Royer feel we owe them a return on their investment? 

I understand the potential for tax income from a development for the city but if Port Moody basically says “buy any land you want with limited access and egress,” as is Gilic’s due to the Ioco Road problem, then why have zoning regulations or a community plan? 

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Rod Archibald, Port Moody

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump’s Blessing: Deal at a Glance – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump’s Blessing: Deal at a Glance

(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp.’s agreement to take a stake in TikTok has won the long-awaited blessing of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The proposal, which would give Oracle and other investors minority ownership of a new company called TikTok Global, still needs approval from regulators in China, where TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd. is based.

Trump’s praise for the agreement suggests that weeks-long deliberations over the fate of a popular music and video-sharing app are nearing completion. ByteDance began holding discussions with investors in its U.S. operations after the Trump administration threatened to shutter the business, saying that it poses a threat to national security.

While some of the terms remain undetermined, here’s what’s known about the deal, based on public statements and people with knowledge of the matter:

What We Know

Who’s in and who’s outOracle plans to take a 12.5% stake in a round of financing that would precede an IPOTikTok also said that together, Oracle and Walmart Inc. could end up with as much as 20%The new company, called TikTok Global, will seek a U.S. IPO and raise a pre-IPO round of financingExisting Bytedance investors that could participate in the pre-IPO round include Sequoia Capital, General Altantic and Coatue CapitalA host of other companies made proposals or considered bidding. Microsoft Corp. was rebuffed because it wanted to control all of TikTok in the U.S., a condition that didn’t sit well with BeijingWhat the deal looks likeOracle will be TikTok’s “trusted technology provider,” meaning Oracle will house the entity’s data in its U.S. servers — a boon to a cloud computing business that has lagged behind those of Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft. It will also get access to monitor TikTok’s source code and algorithmsWalmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon will sit on Tiktok Global’s board and is discussing a commercial partnership with TikTokTikTok Global will likely be headquartered in Texas and will hire at least 25,000 people, Trump said, without mentioning a timeline for those hiresByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s assets and control the closely guarded algorithm that determines what clips users seeThe new company will hold an initial public offering in about a yearHow the parties are addressing security concernsOracle will review TikTok’s full source code and updates to make sure there are no back doors that could be used by ByteDance to gather data or spy on the app’s 100 million or so American usersOracle will be able to continue to review the technology as updates come in to make sure there are no new points of access to the dataTikTok was able to convince the U.S. government that TikTok Global would be controlled by American investors by counting the passive stakes of existing shareholders in TikTok’s Chinese parent, people familiar with the matter said. Although Bytedance will retain an 80% stake in the new company, because existing U.S. investors hold a 40% stake in ByteDance, the math works out to 53% ownership by U.S. companies and investorsWhether Trump will get a payoutTikTok Global will use proceeds of the IPO to create a $5 billion education fund“They’re going to be setting up a very large fund,” Trump said Saturday. “That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for”

What We Don’t Know

What China thinksThe Chinese government will also have to approve ByteDance’s plans under new restrictions Beijing imposed on the export of artificial intelligence technologies, Bloomberg News reported earlierAs of earlier this week, ByteDance was growing increasingly confident that the proposal would pass muster with Chinese regulators, people familiar with the matter told BloombergEarly reaction from Chinese state media appeared positive. “This scheme is still unfair, but it avoids the worst result that TikTok is shut down or sold to a US company completely,” wrote Hu Xijin, the influential editor in chief of China’s state-owned Global Times

Fate of the Commerce Department’s ban

The Commerce Department said Saturday it will push a ban back by one week that would bar TikTok from the Apple Inc. and Android app stores, extending the Sept. 20 deadline set by President Trump

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Oracle TikTok Investment Wins Trump's Blessing: Deal at a Glance – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Oracle Corp.’s agreement to take a stake in TikTok has won the long-awaited blessing of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The proposal, which would give Oracle and other investors minority ownership of a new company called TikTok Global, still needs approval from regulators in China, where TikTok’s parent ByteDance Ltd. is based.

Trump’s praise for the agreement suggests that weeks-long deliberations over the fate of a popular music and video-sharing app are nearing completion. ByteDance began holding discussions with investors in its U.S. operations after the Trump administration threatened to shutter the business, saying that it poses a threat to national security.

While some of the terms remain undetermined, here’s what’s known about the deal, based on public statements and people with knowledge of the matter:

What We Know

  • Who’s in and who’s out
    • Oracle plans to take a 12.5% stake in a round of financing that would precede an IPO
    • TikTok also said that together, Oracle and Walmart Inc. could end up with as much as 20%
    • The new company, called TikTok Global, will seek a U.S. IPO and raise a pre-IPO round of financing
    • Existing Bytedance investors that could participate in the pre-IPO round include Sequoia Capital, General Altantic and Coatue Capital
    • A host of other companies made proposals or considered bidding. Microsoft Corp. was rebuffed because it wanted to control all of TikTok in the U.S., a condition that didn’t sit well with Beijing
  • What the deal looks like
    • Oracle will be TikTok’s “trusted technology provider,” meaning Oracle will house the entity’s data in its U.S. servers — a boon to a cloud computing business that has lagged behind those of Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft. It will also get access to monitor TikTok’s source code and algorithms
    • Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon will sit on Tiktok Global’s board and is discussing a commercial partnership with TikTok
    • TikTok Global will likely be headquartered in Texas and will hire at least 25,000 people, Trump said, without mentioning a timeline for those hires
    • ByteDance would retain a majority stake in TikTok’s assets and control the closely guarded algorithm that determines what clips users see
    • The new company will hold an initial public offering in about a year
  • How the parties are addressing security concerns
    • Oracle will review TikTok’s full source code and updates to make sure there are no back doors that could be used by ByteDance to gather data or spy on the app’s 100 million or so American users
    • Oracle will be able to continue to review the technology as updates come in to make sure there are no new points of access to the data
    • TikTok was able to convince the U.S. government that TikTok Global would be controlled by American investors by counting the passive stakes of existing shareholders in TikTok’s Chinese parent, people familiar with the matter said. Although Bytedance will retain an 80% stake in the new company, because existing U.S. investors hold a 40% stake in ByteDance, the math works out to 53% ownership by U.S. companies and investors
  • Whether Trump will get a payout
    • TikTok Global will use proceeds of the IPO to create a $5 billion education fund
    • “They’re going to be setting up a very large fund,” Trump said Saturday. “That’s their contribution that I’ve been asking for”

What We Don’t Know

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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