Microsoft reviews M365 resilience after Indian outage

Plus: Amazon and Alibaba risk Indonesia ban; Pegasus in Thailand; South Korea's semiconductor education surge; and more

Asia In Brief Microsoft has ordered a review of its resilience regime for Microsoft 365 after finding an outage to the service in India was caused by "a physical fiber networking event" at a partner's edge datacenter location.

The outage took place on July 15. In a preliminary incident report [PDF] Microsoft explained that the problem arose because cloud services use "an Edge computing architecture with localized Data Centers (Edge sites)."

"By design, a user's connection will be routed by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) to their local Edge site, where it is then is passed to high speed fiber data center links (pathways) into the Microsoft network," the report reads. Within Microsoft's network, user connection requests are then distributed amongst processing components governed by the services and features to which the user is attempting to connect.

"Microsoft has multiple Edge sites in Chennai (South India), managed by different local ISP third-party partners," the document adds. The site involved in this incident is managed by a local ISP third-party partner. When that partner experienced "a physical fiber networking event on the devices which manage the connection pathways from their Chennai Edge site to Microsoft's Data Centers," things went pear-shaped.

Or, as Microsoft put it: "This resulted in this specific Chennai Edge site becoming isolated from the wider Microsoft network, and caused impact to any user request which had been routed to this specific ISP's Chennai Edge site, as the request could not be passed into the wider Microsoft network."

Microsoft has given itself three jobs after the incident:

  • Working with the third-party partner to build better resilience against this type of fiber event to stop this issue reoccurring;
  • Investigating the existing automated failover process to confirm that the logic, which quickly fails over public internet traffic to alternate Edge sites when a specific Edge site becomes isolated, worked as expected;
  • Reviewing options to optimize Edge site failovers to reduce potential impact times.

The incident report was made available to Microsoft 365 subscribers.

- Simon Sharwood

Amazon, Alibaba, risk ban in Indonesia after missing filing deadline

A deadline issued by the Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics that requires internet companies to file details of their security and privacy arrangements has passed, and Amazon and Alibaba appear to have missed it.

The deadline to register for for Private Scope Electronic System Operators (PSE) status ended last week on July 21, 2022. Entities that don't secure PSE registration face penalties that can include bans on local operations.

"For PSEs that have not registered until the final deadline, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics will monitor the traffic of each digital platform from the largest level in Indonesia," said the Ministry, adding that the sites with the biggest traffic would be the first to be reprimanded.

"The [first] stage is a written reprimand (warning), then there are fines and the last one is a temporary termination of access," said Ministry director general, Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan. He added that cutoff companies could regain access after compliance.

As Indonesia's deadline for registration approached, netizens noticed that the register of PSE holders omitted several global web giants and speculated Indonesia could be forced to block a chunk of the internet.

At the time of writing, Google and YouTube were not listed as having registered, but The Register understands the ad and video giant has filed its paperwork.

But over the weekend Pangerapan said Amazon and Alibaba had not registered, extended the deadline to do so for a few days, and warned that Indonesia will not hesitate to exercise its powers.

South Korea tweaks uni standards to grow semiconductor workforce

South Korea will designate twenty universities as specializing in semiconductor research and ease university admission requirements to find 150,000 new folks trained to work in the chip industry over the next decade, according to education minister Park Soon-ae.

Qualifications for professors will also be lowered. The Ministry predicted this action will expand student places for chip-related higher education by 5,7000 places per year. Total talent under this plan would rise from 177,000 to around 304,000 by 2032.

The increased talent pool coincides with an aim for South Korea to increase the amount of homegrown semiconductor materials, components and equipment from 30 percent to 50 percent by 2030.

The Ministry said the government and private sector together would invest $230 million in small business as well as mergers and acquisitions of chip design firms beginning next year. Additional financial investments are being made into power development feasibility studies, and automotive and AI chips.

AWS SaaS Portal comes to APAC

Amazon Web Services has brought its WorkSpaces Web portal to four regions in the Asia Pacific.

WorkSpaces Web provides browser-based access to internal web sites and SaaS services, and handles authentication to multiple sites without requiring users to log on to each.

The service went live in the Asia Pacific (Mumbai), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) regions last week.

The four additions mean WorkSpaces Web now operates in seven AWS regions, making it one of the few services that has a larger footprint in APAC than the rest of the Amazonian realm.

- Simon Sharwood

India reveals bulk content bans

India's minister of information and broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, last week announced his Ministry has required blocks of 94 YouTube channels, 19 social media accounts and 747 URLs. The minister said the blocks were needed to curb the spread of fake news and anti-India propaganda.

- Simon Sharwood

Thailand deployed Pegasus spyware

Cybersecurity watchdog Citizen Lab last week reported the NSO Group's Pegasus spyware was used widely against Thai pro-democracy protestors and activists between October 2020 and November 2021. Speaking in parliament last Tuesday, a Thai minister admitted to use of the surveillance software, but said it was used in a limited format and only for national security or drug matters.

The official, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, who serves as minister of digital economy and society, did not name Pegasus, but instead referred to spyware that infiltrates mobile phones. His Ministry has previously denied using the tool.

By Friday, the minister backtracked and said his comments were only general observations.

"I said I knew of the system that is used on security and drug (suppression) but I did not say that it existed in the Thai government," Chiawat reportedly said.

A declaration on NSO's website states: "We would like to emphasize that NSO sells its technologies solely to law enforcement and intelligence agencies of vetted governments for the sole purpose of saving lives through preventing crime and terror acts. NSO does not operate the system and has no visibility to the data." ®

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