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Prague Security Studies Institute is pleased to introduce its fifth issue of TIDS Newsletter, 
which will provide you with the latest updates and analysis on Technology, Infrastructure, Data & Security in the context of the Czech Republic and Central Europe with a particular focus on cyber, economic & financial security.


OVERVIEW
Update on cybersecurity in the Czech Republic
» Czech government appointed the new director of the NCISA (NÚKIB)
» Czech government passed an amendment to the law on Military intelligence making the agency responsible for cyber defence
» The daily Mladá fronta Dnes revealed that the internal systems of the Prague Castle have been hacked
» Kaspersky Lab announced that it will provide its products for free to medical organizations in the Czech Republic
» Leading IT companies joined in fighting COVID-19 in the Czech Republic
» ESET reports a massive wave of malware attacks using coronavirus-themed emails, with the Czech Republic being one of the most heavily targeted countries
» The Czech Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats will focus on disinformation campaigns related to COVID-19
» A hospital in Brno was hit by a major cyber-attack, causing a shutdown of its computer systems
» Masaryk University in Brno is about to open a new program on cybersecurity studies
» The University of Defense in Brno promotes its Cybersecurity Studies program in the Faculty of Military Technologies
» A new IT training center for high school students was opened in Brno


Technology, Infrastructure, Data & Security in Europe and Overseas
» Six EU countries agreed on a new cyber rapid response team (CRRT)
» EU Commission urges its staffers to use the Signal messaging app
» The organization responsible for managing the European electrical grid reported that it had found “evidence of a successful cyber intrusion into its office network”
» Maze ransomware group attached a British medical research company, which had previously done testing on an ebola vaccine
» Israel’s Cyber Directorate recently warned that hackers will increase their capabilities with AI tools
» A Russian-led troll farm was discovered in Africa
» US Health agency came under cyber-attack as coronavirus spread around the world
» Alleged Russian hacker Evgeny Nikulin, arrested in Prague in 2016 and later extradited to the US to face criminal charges, began trial in San Francisco
» US State Department has announced the allocation of $8M in funding to Ukraine to help the country improve its own cybersecurity

Spotlight
» Germany set to further expand and strengthen foreign investment screening
» Trump administration released a "National Strategy to Secure 5G of the United States"
» Four US senators introduced the "Protecting America from Foreign Investors Compromised by the CCP Act"

        
UPDATE ON CYBER SECURITY IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
» The Czech government appointed the new director of the NCISA (NÚKIB), the national agency responsible for cybersecurity. Appointed general Karel Řehka is a military officer with wide experience – for many years he has worked for the 601. special forces group of the Czech Armed Forces. In past years, he acted as deputy commander of NATO´s North East multinational division, which supervises NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) units in Poland and the Baltic countries. His appointment was approved by a parliamentary committee. Heads of all three Czech intelligence services participated in the selection process.
» The government of the Czech Republic passed an amendment to the law on Military intelligence making the agency responsible for cyber defence. The legislative change had already been discussed in the previous session of parliament, but some critics have repeatedly called for reassurance that newly gained powers will not be taken advantage of. If the parliament passes the amendment, the agency will be able to analyze data anomalies on communication networks and thus ensure a greater level of cyber security (though not manage the content of data itself). In the uttermost extreme, it will be permitted to counterattack in cyberspace with approval of the Ministry of Defense.
» The daily Mladá fronta Dnes revealed that the internal systems of the Prague Castle have been hacked for several months. According to the daily, data was transferred to IP addresses located outside of the Czech Republic.
» Kaspersky Lab announced that it will provide its products for free to medical organizations in the Czech Republic, so that their networks and users are secured from cyber threats. Nevertheless, in 2017 the U.S. National Intelligence Council released a classified report to NATO allies, concluding that Russia’s FSB had “probable access” to Kaspersky customer databases and source code. Since 2019, U.S. government agencies are prohibited from using products provided by or using software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.
» Leading IT companies joined in fighting COVID-19 in the Czech Republic. Their common effort will help to find contacts of infected persons. Thanks to mobile operators' data, hygiene stations will be able to get information about an affected persons’ movement over previous days. If a patient gives the service permission to access his personal data, it is expected to help the patient to remember with whom he came into contact with, so that hygiene stations can trace them and take appropriate health measures.
» Slovak cybersecurity company ESET reports a massive wave of malware attacks using coronavirus-themed emails, with more than 2,500 successful computer infections on March 16th alone. The Czech Republic was one of the five most heavily targeted countries, along with Germany, Malaysia, Portugal and Spain.
» The Czech Centre Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats will focus on disinformation campaigns related to COVID-19. Until now, journalists and non-profit organizations led the fight against the spread of online disinformation. Now, government officials will meet this challenge as well. Due to the work overload of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior will help to rebut lies or misleading information. Since COVID-19 is a public health affair, employees of the centre will consult relevant medical and scientific experts.
» A hospital in Brno was hit by a major cyber-attack, causing a shutdown of its computer systems. This affected ongoing COVID-19 testing and forced a shutdown in operations and relocation of patients to other hospitals. The source of the attack remains unknown.
» Masaryk University in Brno is about to open a new program on cybersecurity studies. The aim is to help fill in the lack of cybersecurity experts on the job market. New studies promise to be interdisciplinary - beside IT-focused subjects, courses on the legal aspects of cybersecurity or security studies will also be compulsory. The Faculty of Informatics offers a wide range of experts in the field, including the former director of NCISA Dušan Navrátil.
» The University of Defense in Brno organized an Open House. This year, it also promoted three new study programs to potential newcomers. One of these is Cybersecurity Studies in the Faculty of Military Technologies. The master course has been opened for the first time for the academic year 2019/2020.
» A new training center for high school pupils was opened in Brno. IT students will receive training in cybersecurity and defending systems against hackers in real-life situations. The unique system in the Czech Republic could be accessible to other schools via remote access.

TECHNOLOGY, INFRASTRUCTURE, DATA & SECURITY IN EUROPE AND OVERSEAS

» Six EU countries agreed on a new cyber rapid response team (CRRT). The Cyber Rapid Response Team (CRRT) of EU countries will be led by Lithuania, with Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, Croatia, and Estonia also taking part.
» The EU Commission urges its staffers to use the Signal messaging app. For anything work-related staffers are recommended not to use WhatsApp. Moreover, the European External Action Service (EEAS) is working on its own secure messaging app.

» ENTSO-E, the organization responsible for managing the European electrical grid, reported that it had found “evidence of a successful cyber intrusion into its office network”. The attack raises concerns about the vulnerability of electricity providers in Europe, and ENTSO-E has taken steps to reduce the risk of further attacks.
» Iranian hackers have successfully hacked VPN companies. According to a report from cyber-security firm ClearSky, Iranian hackers have made a priority of exploiting VPN bugs as soon as they became public in order to infiltrate and plant backdoors targeting corporations.
» The Maze ransomware group launched an attack on British medical research company Hammersmith Medicines Research. The company had previously done testing on an Ebola vaccine and is set to test a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available.

» Israel’s Cyber Directorate recently warned that hackers will increase their capabilities with AI tools. For example, using new AI-based technology hackers have managed to imitate the voices of a number of senior company officials around the world and thereby give instructions to perform transactions for them, such as money transfers. The software can perfectly imitate a voice after just 20 mins of listening to it. This has enormous implications for sectors such like finance and insurance. 
» A Russian-led troll farm was discovered in Africa. It was outsourced to Ghanian and Nigerian operatives, according to Facebook and Twitter. It was disrupted in the early stages of building its audience, but what is important is the fact that it marked the first time that a Russian information operation targeting the US has been found operating from Africa.
» The U.S. Health agency came under cyber-attack as coronavirus spread around the world. However, its spokesman denied that any penetration into its internal systems took place. The U.S. federal government reacted by ramping up cybersecurity of national health agencies.
» Alleged Russian hacker Evgeny Nikulin, arrested in Prague in 2016 and later extradited to the US to face criminal charges, began trial in San Francisco on March 10th. Nikulin is accused of hacking and cybertheft involving several US social media companies, but is also suspected of having ties to Russian state intelligence. The trial has since been delayed until May but is expected to shed light on the relationship between the Russian government and the cyberhacker community.
» The US State Department has announced the allocation of $8M in funding to Ukraine to help the country improve its own cybersecurity situation. With Ukraine a frequent testing ground for Russian hackers, the US seeks to improve cooperation with Ukraine to the two countries’ mutual benefit

SPOTLIGHT: GERMANY IS SET TO FURTHER EXPAND FOREIGN INVESTMENT SCREENING AND THE US OUTLINES ITS 5G STRATEGY

Germany
For the third time in the last three years, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) has decided to reform its foreign investment screening regulations
, which apply to all investments originating outside of the EU. These reforms will significantly widen the scope of cases facing possible BMWi regulatory scrutiny, require firms to meet stricter standards in their review processes, and increase the number of transactions facing “Stand-Still Obligations”. The primary effects of the new legislation will be to:
     
» Change the scope of investments facing government review from those directly affecting Germany to those with potential effects on the security of any EU member (this change reflects the terms of the April 2019 EU-wide investment screening agreement)
     » Raise the standard of review from those investments deemed an actual, direct threat to national security to those “likely to affect public order or security”
     » Significantly expand the number of economic areas subject to “Stand-Still Obligations”, meaning that transactions in these areas are legally invalid until they have met with government approval, rather than retroactively scrutinized
In addition, further legislation defining an expanded list of “critical industries” in which foreign investments will face mandatory government reviews is expected later this year.

Germany’s screening reforms are set to come into place in October 2020, coinciding with the full implementation date of the new EU-wide investment screening mechanism. Germany’s continued strengthening of investment controls after the EU-wide mechanism was agreed to serves as a reminder that while all EU members will be bound by common regulations on investment screening, these regulations constitute a minimum standard rather than a uniformly applied policy position, and individual member states are in no way prevented from going beyond that minimum.

United States
The Trump administration released a “National Strategy to Secure 5G of the United States”, outlining planned government actions to ensure network security domestically and abroad. Nextgov.org reports that the strategy document aims to “facilitate the domestic rollout of 5G; assess the risks and identify the core security principles of 5G infrastructure; assess the risks to United States economic and national security during development and deployment of 5G infrastructure worldwide, and promote responsible global development and deployment of 5G”.
 
In addition, this March four US Senators introduced the “Protecting America from Foreign Investors Compromised by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] Act”. The Senate bill mandates that any of the countries “whitelisted” from new US foreign investment screening requirements (currently the UK, Canada and Australia) that use Huawei in development of their national 5G networks are obliged to have their whitelist status subject to another round of US government review and possibly revoked. If passed, the bill could jeopardize the UK’s whitelist status.

 
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