An anonymous reader writes: Google famously withdrew from mainland China in 2010 after fending off a series of cyberattacks from local sources. Now, according to a (paywalled) report from The Information, the company is working on plans to return. "As part of the deal Google is looking to strike, Google would follow the country's laws and block apps that the government objects to, one person told The Information." They're also seeking approval for a Chinese version of Google Play.
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers from G DATA have published research (PDF) into Android phones produced in China, which found that a large number of devices ship with pre-installed malware and spyware. Affected models include the Xiaomi MI3, Huawei G510, Lenovo S860, Alps A24, Alps 809T, Alps H9001, Alps 2206, Alps PrimuxZeta, Alps N3, Alps ZP100, Alps 709, Alps GQ2002, Alps N9389, Android P8, ConCorde SmartPhone6500, DJC touchtalk, ITOUCH, NoName S806i, SESONN N9500, SESONN P8, Xido X1111, Star N9500, Star N8000 and IceFox Razor. The researchers do not believe the manufacturers are responsible for the malware; rather, they suspect middlemen within distribution channels. "According to G DATA, the contamination of these smartphones is done by hiding malware as add-on code in legitimate apps. Since users don't usually interact with the malware and the add-on runs in the app's background, unless using a mobile antivirus solution, these infections are rarely discovered."
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that ZTE and its cheap Android smartphones have been grabbing more and more of the market in the U.S. It's not that the phones are particularly good — it's that they're "good enough" for the $60 price tag. The company has moved up to fourth among smartphone makers, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. That puts them ahead of a lot of companies making premium devices: HTC, Motorola, and BlackBerry, to name a few. ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, seems to be better at playing the U.S. markets than competitors like Xiaomi and Huawei, and they're getting access to big carriers and big retailers. "Its phone sales are all the more surprising because it's been frozen out of the more lucrative telecom networking market since 2012. That year, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report warning that China's intelligence services could potentially use ZTE's equipment, and those of rival Huawei Technologies, for spying. Huawei then dismissed the allegations as 'little more than an exercise in China bashing.'"
MarkWhittington writes: China has not sent people into space since the mission of the Shenzhou 10 to the prototype space station Tiangong 1 in June 2013. Since then the Chinese have accomplished the landing of the Chang'e 3 on the lunar surface. According to a story in Space Daily, the hiatus in Chinese crewed spaceflight is about to end with the launch of the Tiangong-2 prototype space station in 2016 with the subsequent visit by a crew of Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 11. The mission will be a prelude to the construction of a larger Chinese space station, slated to be completed by 2022.
New submitter lvbees7 writes with news that U.S. officials have warned that the government may impose sanctions against Russia and China following cyber attacks to commercial targets. According to the Reuters story: The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no final decision had been made on imposing sanctions, which could strain relations with Russia further and, if they came soon, cast a pall over a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September. The Washington Post first reported the Obama administration was considering sanctioning Chinese targets, possibly within the next few weeks, and said that individuals and firms from other nations could also be targeted. It did not mention Russia.
An anonymous reader writes: IBM is testing a new way to help fix Beijing's air pollution problem with artificial intelligence. Like many other cities across the country, the capital is surrounded by many coal burning factories. However, the air quality on a day-to-day basis can vary because of a number of reasons like industrial activity, traffic congestion, and the weather. IBM is testing a computer system capable of learning to predict the severity of air pollution several days in advance using large quantities of data from several different models. "We have built a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time," says Xiaowei Shen, director of IBM Research China. "Our researchers are currently expanding the capability of the system to provide medium- and long-term (up to 10 days ahead) as well as pollutant source tracking, 'what-if' scenario analysis, and decision support on emission reduction actions."
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Palo Alto Networks and WeipTech have unearthed a scheme that resulted in the largest known Apple account theft caused by malware. All in all, some 225,000 valid Apple accounts have been compromised. The theft is executed via variants of the KeyRaider iOS malware, which targets jailbroken iOS devices. Most of the victims are Chinese — the malware is distributed through third-party Cydia repositories in China — but users in other countries have also been affected (European countries, the U.S., Australia, South Korea, and so on). "The malware hooks system processes through MobileSubstrate, and steals Apple account usernames, passwords and device GUID by intercepting iTunes traffic on the device," Palo Alto researcher Claud Xiao explained. "KeyRaider steals Apple push notification service certificates and private keys, steals and shares App Store purchasing information, and disables local and remote unlocking functionalities on iPhones and iPads."
An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Nerval's Lobster writes: It's been quite a ride for the stock market this week. In China, markets cratered; in the U.S., stocks dove for two days, only to rebound on Wednesday. That made many tech firms nervous, both about the Chinese economy (which some of them depend upon) and the continuing flow of money from VCs and investors. While the economic jitters don't seem to be affecting some tech firms' ability to implode themselves, more than one pundit is wondering whether the tech industry will shift into 'fear mode,' which could be bad for the so-called 'unicorns' that need funders to keep partying like it's 1999. Are we going to see money start drying up for startups?
hackingbear writes: On August 21st, the research team led by Prof. Yigong Shi from School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University in China published two side-by-side research articles in Science, reporting the long-sought-after structure of a yeast spliceosome at 3.6 angstrom resolution determined by single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and the molecular mechanism of pre-messenger RNA splicing. Until now, decades of genetic and biochemical experiments have identified almost all proteins in spliceosome and uncovered some functions. Yet, the structure remained a mystery for a long time. The works, primarily performed by Dr. Chuangye Yan, and Ph.D students Jing Hang and Ruixue Wan under Prof. Yigong Shi's supervision, settled this Holy Grail question and established the structural basis for the related area. This work was supported by funds from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
iONiUM writes: The Economist has a story about how bad the air quality is in Beijing. Due to public outcry the Chinese government has created almost 1,000 air quality monitoring stations, and the findings aren't good. They report: "Pollution is sky-high everywhere in China. Some 83% of Chinese are exposed to air that, in America, would be deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency either to be unhealthy or unhealthy for sensitive groups. Almost half the population of China experiences levels of PM2.5 that are above America's highest threshold. That is even worse than the satellite data had suggested. Berkeley Earth's scientific director, Richard Muller, says breathing Beijing's air is the equivalent of smoking almost 40 cigarettes a day and calculates that air pollution causes 1.6m deaths a year in China, or 17% of the total. A previous estimate, based on a study of pollution in the Huai river basin (which lies between the Yellow and Yangzi rivers), put the toll at 1.2m deaths a year—still high."
savuporo writes: Defensetech.org posted a story relaying a report from National Security Network titled "Thunder without Lightning: The High Costs and Limited Benefits of the F-35 Program". According to the story, F-35 is outperformed or showing only slight advantages in simulations and limited real-life tests by decades old 4th-generation fighters like F-16 and F18, but also MiG-29 Fulcrum and Su-27 Flanker, that are of course made by Russia and latter also produced in China. The story also refers back to earlier report last month of F-35 performing poorly in dogfights. "In one simulation subcontracted by the RAND Corporation, the F-35 incurred a loss exchange ratio of 2.4–1 against Chinese Su-35s. That is, more than two F-35s were lost for each Su-35 shot down."
nickweller writes: John Cridland is the leader of the Confederation of British Industry, a group that represents over 100,000 UK businesses. In a recent interview, he spoke about his enthusiasm for adding arts education to more traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. Here's how he chose to express that: "One of the biggest growth industries in Britain today is the computer games industry. We need extra coders — dozens and dozens of them but nobody is going to play a game designed by a spotty nerd. We need people with artistic flair." Cridland also expressed support for an increased emphasis on foreign language education: "If we’re not capable of speaking other people’s languages, we’re going to be in difficulties. However, there is far too much emphasis placed on teaching French and German. The language we most need going forward is Spanish (the second most frequently spoken language in the world). That and a certain percentage need to learn Mandarin to develop relations with China."
An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton's lawyer has surrendered three thumb drives with copies of emails from her server to the Justice Department, which is also where the controversial Clinton personal email server is destined as well. The FBI determined that Clinton's lawyer could no longer retain the thumb drives after two emails from a small sample were found to contain information classified as "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information," which would also taint the server. There is no evidence that encryption was used to protect the emails. From the limited reviews to date, Secretary Clinton and her aides exchanged emails containing classified information with at least six people with private email addresses. So far four of Clinton's top aides have turned over emails to the State Department, and there are demands that six more do so. The State Department's inspector general has stated that his office is reviewing "the use of personal communications hardware and software by five secretaries of state and their immediate staffs." Current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated, "it is very likely" that China and Russia are reading his emails.
The Stack reports that local police have raided Uber's Hong Kong office, "after several officers posed as Uber customers and arrested drivers on Tuesday morning in an attempt to put an end to illegal taxi services. Five drivers who had offered their services across the taxi-hailing app were arrested on suspicion of illegally carrying passengers and driving without third-party insurance. The men are being held for further investigation." Are local police quite this concerned in your city with car-sharing dispatch services?
jfruh writes: Over the past two decades, China's relatively high skill, low cost workforce made the country a powerhouse of tech and electronics manufacturing. But in a sign that things might be changing, several large Chinese companies, including Foxconn and Huawei, are investing billions to start manufacturing in India. Xiaomi is expected to announce its first India-made phone today, as well. The article says that Foxconn's planned factory in Maharashtra "would create employment for at least 50,000 people, state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said after the signing of the agreement at which Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was present."
jan_jes writes: A new "yolk-and-shell" nanoparticle created by researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University in China could boost the capacity and power of lithium-ion batteries. The researchers have created an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a "yolk" inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell. The new findings, which use aluminum as the key material for the lithium-ion battery's negative electrode, or anode, are reported in the journal Nature Communications. The use of nanoparticles with an aluminum yolk and a titanium dioxide shell has proven to be "the high-rate champion among high-capacity anodes." The linked article goes into much more detail about the (serendipitous) discovery.
itwbennett writes: Websites based in China already have to abide by strict provisions for online censorship, and will often delete any content deemed offensive by government censors. But under a new plan announced Tuesday by the Ministry of Public Security security forces will be placed at the offices of the country's major websites, so that they can quickly respond to suspected online crimes. No specific companies were mentioned in the statement put out by the Ministry, but the country's biggest Internet firms include Alibaba Group, Baidu and Tencent.
MarkWhittington writes: The Houston Chronicle's Eric Berger reports that for the first time a Chinese experiment will fly on the International Space Station, thanks to an arrangement between a research group based at the Beijing Institute of Technology and a private firm in Houston called NanoRacks. The deal seems to have been designed to avoid the prohibition against space cooperation between the Chinese regime and NASA, since the space agency is not directly involved. The experiment, which involves the effects that space radiation has on DNA, will be carried to the ISS by another private firm, SpaceX. Presumably the experiment would be run by a non NASA crew member to avoid any direct involvement with the space agency.