Google to Close China Search Engine Project

Dragonfly project is closed due to employees' protests
20 December 2018   854

The Intercept site reports that Google abandoned the project called Dragonfly, a search engine for China with the censorship feature. The reason - protests from the Google team responsible for data privacy.

The Intercept found out that Dragonfly’s search algorithm was based on a large database of Chinese user requests that Google collected through 265.com. It is owned by a Google subsidiary registered in Beijing. The site shows news, horoscopes, allows you to search for photos, videos and other resources, however, it does not process requests, but redirects them to Baidu. The company's engineers used the collected data to tune the search algorithm.

Usually, the question of analyzing search queries is considered by the Google team responsible for data privacy. It is necessary that the company does not violate the rights of users. However, employees learned about collecting information through 265.com only after the publication of The Intercept. They went into conflict with the leadership, and after a series of discussions, it was decided to abandon data collection through this resource. According to insiders, this imposed a serious restriction on the developers.

Over the past few weeks, engineers have tried to use data that Google normally collects in other countries. However, requests for Mandarin Chinese people are different from those entered into the search in the same language residents, for example, the United States or Malaysia. This, according to insiders, has made the development of the project virtually impossible.

The publication noted that Google has recently completely transferred several development teams from Dragonfly to products related to other countries.

The closure of the project was hit hard by Google's top managers, including the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai. According to insiders, Pichai put the development of Dragonfly in priority for two years.

Rumors about the Dragonfly project first appeared in August and immediately caused protests from the public and Google employees. Outrage caused a possible change in Google’s freedom of speech policy. In 2013, it left the Chinese market, because the censorship required by the state was contrary to the principles of the company, and after a few years she wanted to return with a finished product fully compliant with Chinese law.

Ledger to Discover HSM Vulnerability

HSM is an external device designed to store public and private keys used to generate digital signatures and to encrypt data, used by banks, exchanges, etc
10 June 2019   972

A group of researchers from Ledger identified several vulnerabilities in the Hardware Security Module (HSM) devices, which can be used to extract keys or perform a remote attack to replace the firmware of an HSM device. The problem report is currently available only in French, the English-language report is scheduled to be published in August during the Blackhat USA 2019 conference. HSM is a specialized external device designed to store public and private keys used to generate digital signatures and to encrypt data.

HSM allows you to significantly increase protection, as it completely isolates keys from the system and applications, only by providing an API to perform basic cryptographic primitives implemented on the device side. Typically, HSM is used in areas where you need to provide the highest protection, for example, in banks, cryptocurrency exchanges, certification centers for checking and generating certificates and digital signatures.

The proposed attack methods allow an unauthenticated user to gain complete control over the contents of the HSM, including extracting all the cryptographic keys and administrative credentials stored on the device. The problems are caused by a buffer overflow in the internal PKCS # 11 command handler and an error in the implementation of the cryptographic protection of the firmware, which bypasses the firmware check using the PKCS # 1v1.5 digital signature and initiates loading the own firmware in the HSM.

The name of the manufacturer, the HSM devices of which have vulnerabilities, has not yet been disclosed, but it is argued that the problem devices are used by some large banks and cloud service providers. At the same time it is reported that information about the problems was previously sent to the manufacturer and it has already eliminated vulnerabilities in the fresh firmware update. Independent researchers suggest that the problem may be in the devices of the company Gemalto, which in May released an update to Sentinel LDK with the elimination of vulnerabilities, access to information about which is still closed.