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Chinese hackers stole at least 1,100 EU diplomatic cables, U.S. cybersecurity firm says

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Chinese hackers have spent years eavesdropping on the diplomatic communications of European Union officials, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said Wednesday, an operation disrupted only after researchers discovered hundreds of intercepted documents lying around on the internet.

The documents were discovered a few months ago after a malicious email was caught by the California-based Area 1 Security firm, according to company co-founder Blake Darche.

He said the firm followed forensic clues in the message back to an unsecured server that had some 1,100 EU diplomatic cables. Darche said he believed that tens of thousands more such documents have been stolen.

“We estimate that the ones we found are a small fraction of the overall operation,” he said. “From what we can see, the EU has a significant problem on their hands.”

Darche said the hackers are working for China’s People’s Liberation Army, a judgment he said was based on eight years spent observing the group. He declined to provide further details, saying technical data would be provided in a report released later Wednesday.

Little EU reaction

EU officials are taking the report “extremely seriously,” but it is “impossible to comment on leaks,” European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Brussels.

“All communication systems have vulnerabilities, so we’re constantly dealing with this challenge,” he said.

Dombrovskis identified the system hit by the leaks as one managed by the European Council’s secretariat, which represents EU member states in Brussels, rather than the commission itself. In an email, the council acknowledged what it described as “a potential leak of sensitive information” and said it was investigating. It offered no further comment.

The New York Times, which first reported on the breach, published excerpts of the diplomatic cables after obtaining them from Area 1 ahead of time.

Some of the messages appeared to capture European officials struggling to deal with the erratic movements of U.S. President Donald Trump.

One such document appeared to capture a senior European official in Washington recommending that envoys from the EU’s member nations work around Trump by dealing directly with Congress.

In another apparent message, European diplomats described a recent summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, as “successful (at least for Putin).”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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