Daily Digest (7/31)

EU Hits Russian, Chinese, NKorean Firms With First-Ever Sanctions for Cyberattacks; Facebook Sues EU Antitrust Regulator for ‘Excessive’ Data Requests; Canada’s LifeLabs Sues to Block Results of Probe Into Last Year’s Privacy Breach; Rival Triller Sues TikTok for Patent Infringement. Click “Continue reading” below.

EU Hits Russian, Chinese, NKorean Firms With First-Ever Sanctions for Cyberattacks

The European Union on Thursday imposed its first-ever sanctions over cyberattacks, slapping them on alleged Russian military agents, Chinese cyberspies and organizations that included a North Korean firm.

The six people and three groups hit with sanctions include Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, The Associated Press reports.

In a statement, EU officials blamed the Russian agency for the 2017 “WannaCry” ransomware and “NotPetya” malware attacks and the “Cloud Hopper” cyberespionage campaign.

The sanctions “are a travel ban and asset freeze to natural persons and an asset freeze to entities or bodies,” said EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell. “It is also prohibited to directly or indirectly make funds available to listed individuals and entities or bodies.”

Four Russians identified as GRU members were accused of trying to hack the Wi-Fi network of the Netherlands-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has probed the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The 2018 attack was foiled by Dutch authorities.

The GRU also was sanctioned for NotPetya, which targeted companies that conduct business with Ukraine and caused billions of dollars in damages globally, as well as cyberattacks on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and 2016.

The two sanctioned Chinese nationals were accused of having a role in “Operation Cloud Hopper,” which the EU said hit companies on six continents, including Europe, through cloud-services providers and “gained unauthorized access to commercially sensitive data, resulting in significant economic loss.”

One of the two, Zhang Shilong, was indicted in the U.S. in December 2018 for his alleged role in the operation, which American authorities said targeted a wide array of industries, including aviation, biotechnology and satellite and maritime technology.

Also sanctioned was the Chinese company Huaying Haitai, listed as Zhang’s employer.

The North Korean firm sanctioned was Chosun Expo, which the EU said backed cyberattacks including WannaCry, the hacking of Sony Pictures and cyberrobberies of Vietnamese and Bangladeshi banks, AP reports.

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Facebook Sues EU Antitrust Regulator for ‘Excessive’ Data Requests

Facebook has sued EU antitrust regulators for seeking information beyond what it said was necessary, including highly personal details, for their investigations into the company’s data and marketplace activities.

Facebook has been under EU officials’ scrutiny since last year, when one investigation focused on a trove of data, and another centered on its online marketplace that had been launched in 2016 and now is used to buy and sell items by 800 million users in 70 countries, Reuters reports.

The company said Monday that it since had provided 315,000 documents, equivalent to 1.7 million pages, to EU officials.

“The exceptionally broad nature of the commission’s requests means we would be required to turn over predominantly irrelevant documents that have nothing to do with the commission’s investigations, including highly sensitive personal information such as employees’ medical information, personal financial documents and private information about family members of employees,” said Tim Lamb, Facebook’s associate general counsel.

“We think such requests should be reviewed by the EU courts.”

The commission said it would defend its case in court, Reuters reports.

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Canada’s LifeLabs Sues to Block Results of Probe Into Last Year’s Privacy Breach

Two of Canada’s provincial privacy officers say they still are unable to release a full report about last year’s security breach at LifeLabs because the company has gone to court to stop the release of information obtained during the investigation into the breach.

The privacy commissioners for Ontario and British Columbia said in a joint statement that the Toronto-based chain of medical labs had agreed to comply with their orders and recommendations, The Canadian Press reports.

LifeLabs, they said, had sought a court order preventing the public release of some of the report, claiming it contained information that was privileged or otherwise confidential.

But two privacy commissioners, Patricia Kosseim of Ontario and Michael McEvoy of British Columbia, said their bringing to light the underlying causes of a privacy breach was vital, since it involved the information of up to 15 million customers.

The commissioners reported last month that LifeLabs had failed to provide reasonable safeguards and that it had broken Ontario and B.C.’s information-protection laws.

LifeLabs said then that it had taken many steps to accelerate its cybersecurity strategy and practices to strengthen its information-security system, the Canadian Press reports.

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Rival Triller Sues TikTok for Patent Infringement

TikTok, the short-form video app, has been sued by rival Triller, which accused it of infringing its patent by stitching together multiple music videos with a single audio track. 

In a complaint filed Wednesday in federal district court in Texas, Triller said that TikTok and its Chinese-owned parent, ByteDance Ltd., willfully infringed the June 2017 patent by importing and selling its app for iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

The complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, which includes Austin. It focuses on “green screen video,” a feature TikTok rolled out in December that allows users to shoot multiple videos and synchronize them with an audio track.

Triller, based in Los Angeles, has become known for its focus on hip-hop music.

The company is seeking an injunction against further infringements plus unspecified damages from TikTok, which has offices in Austin, Reuters reports.

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— By DPN Staff