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Blazing South Korean datacenter operator raided by cops, blames its own batteries

PLUS: Australia boosts data breach fines; India outlet drops Meta allegations; AWS spices up Thailand's cloud; and more

Asia In Brief South Korean police have reportedly raided the premises of SK C&C, the operator of the datacenter that caught fire on the weekend of October 15 and disrupted the operations of local web giants Naver and Kakao.

Local media report that local police visited the company late last week, inspected the site of the fire, and left with company documents.

SK C&C, meanwhile, has apologized for the incident and admitted that uninterruptible power supplies appear to have caught fire. Which is embarrassing, because parent company SK Group is thought to be the manufacturer of the batteries.

The fire disrupted the operations of local web giants Naver and Kakao, with the latter particularly affected and unable to operate services for several days. The incident drew attention to the fact South Korea has become dependent on Kakao for services now considered de facto public utilities.

The nation's government therefore last week moved to establish a "Digital Crisis Management Headquarters" to ensure better resilience and response to future incidents of this nature.

– Simon Sharwood

Australia hikes data breach fines

The region's other recent rolling tech mess – Australia's rash of high-profile data breaches – has drawn a response from the nation's government in the form of massively increased fines for organizations that leak info.

"When Australians are asked to hand over their personal data they have a right to expect it will be protected," stated attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, adding that fines under Australia's Privacy Act will rise from the current AU$2.2 million ($1.4 million) to AU$50 million ($32 million); or to either three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information, or 30 percent of a company's adjusted turnover in the relevant period – whichever is greater.

The change comes as Australia reels from major data breaches at telco Optus, health insurer Medibank, retailer Woolworths, and an online booze retailer with the delightful name Vinomofo.

– Simon Sharwood

The Wire retracts allegations Meta assisted Indian government censors

Indian media outlet The Wire has retracted a series of stories in which it alleged that Meta allowed India's government to block some content posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Meta vehemently denied the stories but The Wire responded with what it said was evidence of their veracity, before later announcing it had doubts about some elements of its reporting when sources quoted in the stories disputed their conversations with journalists.

On Sunday The Wire retracted its reporting.

"Our investigation, which is ongoing, does not as yet allow us to take a conclusive view about the authenticity and bona fides of the sources with whom a member of our reporting team says he has been in touch over an extended period of time," the outlet states, adding: "However, certain discrepancies have emerged in the material used."

The outlet concluded it was therefore "appropriate to retract the stories."

The Register reports this matter because debate about social media companies' conduct and rights remains a hot topic in India's technology community, and in no way to discredit a rival.

– Simon Sharwood

Indian PM calls for renewed international cyber crimefighting collaboration

Indian prime minster Narendra Modi last week called on Interpol and its member states to develop strategies to fight crime and terrorism.

"It is no longer enough that terrorism is fought only in the physical space," the PM said at the opening of Interpol's general assembly in New Delhi. "It is now spreading its presence through online radicalization and cyber threats. At the click of a button, an attack can be executed or systems can be brought to their knees."

"Each nation is working on strategies against them. But what we do within our borders is no longer enough," he added. "There is a need to further develop international strategies. Establishment of early detection and warning systems, protecting transportation services, security for communication infrastructure, security for critical infrastructure, technical and technological assistance, intelligence exchange – many of these things need to be taken to a new level."

He also called for improved efforts to combat financial crime.

"This dirty money funds many destructive enterprises," he said, adding "Yes, there are diverse legal and procedural frameworks to deal with them. However, there is a need for the global community to work even faster to eliminate safe havens."

– Simon Sharwood

AWS announces Thailand region

Amazon Web Services last week announced it will build a region in Thailand – complete with three availability zones.

The build will be one component of what AWS proclaimed is a 15-year plan to invest more than $5 billion in the nation.

AWS spruiked the forthcoming facility as a fine idea for customers subject to data residency constraints that require their info to stay within Thai borders. The latency-sensitive are another market the cloud colossus feels will appreciate the facility … whenever it opens. AWS hasn't set date for that to happen.

– Simon Sharwood

India satellite launch success

India's space research organization (ISRO) announced a successful Sunday launch of its home grown LVM3 launch vehicle, which carried 36 satellites into orbit for satellite broadband outfit OneWeb.

The mission was the first time ISRO had participated in the launch of a large broadband constellation's satellites, and makes the agency a stronger candidate to carry the thousands of satellites planned for launch by the likes of Amazon's Kuiper program.

Singaporean blockchain-fuelled payment platform expands

Singaporean cross-border payments startup Partior has expanded into Australia and New Zealand, and has many other nations in its sights.

Partior has built a blockchain-powered payments platform that allows users to transfer funds across borders at speeds that handily beat established systems like SWIFT. The company does not target payments of cryptocurrencies, but provides a set of rails for institutions to use in the hope that speed and other features help them develop new products for their clients.

Partior started life as a project of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Singaporean Singaporean investment house Temasek and J.P. Morgan and DBS are stakeholders in the entity.

Chief operating officer Stella Lim told The Register Partior is currently targeting foreign exchange and B2B transfers.

The company is trying to build a network of users, as participants in transactions using its platform must employ Partior's wares at both ends.

– Simon Sharwood

In other news …

The Register's regional coverage from last week included news of Indian media outlet The Wire stood by allegations that Meta let Indian politicians block content was rebuked by the company, despite Meta’s insistence such stories were untrue. The outlet later walked back that position, saying it would review its reporting on the matter after expert sources mentioned in some stories said they had not been contacted by the newspaper.

Infosys clarified its moonlighting policy to employees. Workers are permitted to take outside work after securing approval.

US president Joe Biden pressed ahead with cyber security labels on smartphone devices amid multilateral discussions in Singapore on standardizing such schemes.

A meeting of cyber ministers from around the world – including Russia, the US, UK and China – convened in Singapore and shared opinions on how best to secure and govern cyberspace. Unsurprisingly, the meeting saw a lot of accusations that geopolitical foes are the real source of attacks and instability.

Foxcconn expanded its range of electric vehicles, and now offers five models it is happy for rival automakers to brand and sell – an extension of the business model it offers to electronics and computing brands.

India's Competition Commission announced it is issuing Google a $161.5 million fine after the company allegedly abused its market position.

Hong Kong outlined plans to attract strategic enterprises in the fields of "life and health technology, artificial intelligence and data science, financial technology, and advanced manufacturing and new energy technology" and "trawl" relevant talent to the Special Administrative Region of China.

The CEO of South Korean super-app Kakao resigned after messaging, ridesharing, e-commerce and other services were made unavailable thanks to the datacenter fire.

Lenovo revealed rollable OLED screens that shrink and expand as needed at its annual Tech World conference.

India is expected to push for multilateral regulation of cryptocurrency, using its G20 presidency to advance the issue.

Two Japanese giants, NTT Communications Corporation and Denso Corporation, will join forces to offer security-as-a-service to fight auto cyber security threats.

Russian state media claimed 40 percent of semiconductors sent to Russia from China failed when used, further complicating supply chain woes. ®

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