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India probes medical info 'leak' to Telegram

PLUS: Vietnam's free domain names for youngsters; China's Cuba spy base; Hyundai and Samsung team for car chips; and more

Asia In Brief India's government has denied its Co-WIN COVID-19 vaccination management platform has leaked data, but ordered an investigation into the program's security.

The matter erupted on Monday when political activist Saket Gokhale shared what he said were images depicting personal data from Co-WIN, and describing prominent Indian figures, on an un-named Telegram channel.

Gokhale, who is aligned with India's opposition parties, claimed the platform had leaked and tried to pin that failure on the national government. If he's right it's a colossal scandal, because over a billion Indian citizens are thought to have used Co-WIN.

India's tech minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar confirmed "A Telegram Bot was throwing up Co-WIN app details upon entry of phone numbers," but claimed the data came from a previous breach unrelated to Co-WIN.

India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare later denied any breach, writing "It is clarified that all such reports are without any basis and mischievous in nature."

The Ministry also pointed out that Co-WIN is well-secured, that its APIs that could conceivably share data to Telegram require one-time passwords and that such logins are recorded.

But the Ministry did not state if it had checked that recent logins were authorized.

"Union Health Ministry has requested the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to look into this issue and submit a report. In addition, an internal exercise has been initiated to review the existing security measures of Co-WIN," states a Ministerial announcement. "CERT-In in its initial report has pointed out that backend database for Telegram bot was not directly accessing the APIs of Co-WIN database."

- Simon Sharwood

White House official reportedly says China has been using Cuba as spy base for years

A White House official has reportedly confirmed China's use of Cuba as a base from which to spy on the United States. Such efforts evidently commenced in 2019, after reports Beijing had a new facility on the island to conduct espionage were by downplayed National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

The original report stated that Cuba had plans to host a facility on China's behalf for the purpose of spying on the United States. That facility was yet to be built and would target electronic communications from military bases in the southeastern part of the US, according to a the Wall Street Journal report from last Thursday.

Last Friday, in an interview with MSNBC, Kirby stated "I've seen that press report. It's not accurate." Kirby said the Biden administration was concerned about China's interference in the region.

The next day, according to reports, an anonymous White House official said that China was indeed using Cuba-based facilities to collect intelligence on the US and had upgraded facilities in 2019.

The official stated that in the past, the Biden administration had addressed China's Cuba-based espionage efforts with positive results.

"We think the PRC isn't quite where they had hoped to be," the official reportedly said.

A statement released by Cuba's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Carlos Fernández de Cossio, called the story "untrue and unfounded."

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin also did not confirm the reports during his Friday press conference.

Facebook takes verified account tests to India at a price few can afford

Meta has extended its tests of verified accounts for Facebook and Instagram users to the world's most populous nation: India.

A Wednesday post revealed The Social Network plans to charge ₹699 ($8.50) for users who pay through its apps, and ₹599 ($7.25) once it gets a web store up and running.

That's about two thirds of the prices it's charged elsewhere. But those prices are huge in India, where dominant carrier Jio offers 28 days of mobile connectivity and 2GB of data for ₹299.00 ($3.60).

Those seeking Meta's verified badge need to prove their ID with a government credential and can tap a dedicated customer support line. Only English is supported for now, but Meta has promised the service "will be extended to include Hindi as well in the coming months."

Meta's verified accounts are aimed at content creators, influencers, and others who profit from its platforms. – Simon Sharwood

Vietnam gives away domain names to youngsters

Vietnam opened registration of domain names on June 1 in three second-level domains:,, and is intended for AI-related businesses, is for personal websites, and is suggested for tech businesses.

Registrants aged 18–23 will not have to pay for or domains until 2026, to encourage the youth to start businesses.

– Simon Sharwood

Hyundai to put Samsung's Exynos SoC inside autos

Samsung last week announced it will supply Hyundai its latest automotive processor – the Exynos Auto V920 – for use in its in-vehicle infotainment systems.

The V920 CPU contains ten of Arm's latest cores customized for autonomous driving. According to Samsung, it can manage up to six high-resolution displays – for dashboard, infotainment and rear seat entertainment systems – and up to 12 camera sensors.

Exynos-infused vehicles are scheduled to roll out by 2025.

The deal is the first collaboration between the two South Korean giants.

Equinix announces Kuala Lumpur datacenter

Global datacenter and colocation provider Equinix announced on Sunday it plans to open a datacenter in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The datacenter is slated to be operational in Q1 2024 and follows Equinix's first Malaysian datacenter in Johor. It will prove an initial capacity of 450 cabinets and 1,300 square meters of colocation space with plans to expand to 900 cabinets and 2,630 square meters of colocation space.

"Spurred by strong cloud growth and e-commerce adoption, as well as its continued investment in 5G, Malaysia is one of the fastest growing datacenter markets in the ASEAN region, with much of the development attributed to Johor and Kuala Lumpur," an Equinix spokesperson said.

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included a post-Computex dive into some of the wackiest items found in the gadget halls, including a water-cooled shoe PC. We also had a profile of Taiwanese infosec outfit TeamT5 and its efforts to provide intelligence services while countering attacks coming from Beijing.

Jensen Huang's appearance at Computex 2023 was avatar-esque.

Singaporean infosec outfit Group-IB reported that credit card theft in Asia is on the wane.

Beijing announced proposed regulations on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in China, targeting info-sharing over AirDrop and other peer-to-peer networks.

Comparisons of AI to cars was inescapable at Singapore's ATxSG conference, where pundits argued that the emerging tech should be regulated by an ecosystem of organizations.

Also at ATxSG, the Netherlands digital minister clashed with the president of Microsoft Asia over AI regulations and whether Big Tech is taking enough responsibility for the dangers AI does and could present.

Singapore announced it will double its submarine cable landing sites by 2023 as part of a wider plan to expand its digital connectivity.

Chinese vendor Baode Group denied that its new CPU is a rebadged Intel Core i3.

The UK government said it will set a deadline for the removal of Chinese surveillance cameras from "sensitive areas." Australian software company Atlassian debuted a new security flaws tab in its Jira issue-tracker.

Australia will phase out checks as payment methods by 2030.

Australia's Signals Directorate, the nation's intelligence organization, revealed it rickrolled the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Hong Kong has sought an injunction to prevent the protest song "Glory to Hong Kong" being performed or distributed as its national anthem, including online. The song is often mistaken for the national anthem, partly thanks to the incorrect inference of search engine results.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) leadership voiced optimism that semiconductor demand will rebound in the second half of 2023, but warned that revenues would first slip by as much as ten percent year on year.

Dell's Australian arm has committed to paying over 4,250 refunds after Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found it had promoted bundled monitors but then sold them above regular prices. ®

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