Venezuela signs deal with ZTE to create ‘fatherland cards’ to track citizens

19 Nov 2018

Venezuela flag flying outside buildings. Image: jkraft5/Depositphotos

Venezuela’s government is getting Chinese help to track all of its citizens with a national identity card referred to as the ‘fatherland card’.

In a country struggling to keep itself together in the midst of economic turmoil, Venezuela’s government is attempting to find new ways of securing greater control over its citizens.

According to Reuters, a decade ago, delegates of the government travelled to China to help develop a national ID card system that would give official documentation to its citizens.

Now, all these years later, it is working with ZTE to develop a much more advanced ID card system that pushes the limits of privacy, with it being able to track a citizen’s spending habits and how they voted. The so-called ‘fatherland card’ developed by ZTE includes a mobile payment system, with employees of the Chinese company now based in a special unit of Venezuela’s state communications company, Cantv.

Official government statements have shied away from mentioning ZTE’s involvement, except for one passing reference in a press release.

Speaking of the power of the card, a founder of the ruling Socialist Party, Héctor Navarro, said: “It’s blackmail. Venezuelans with the cards now have more rights than those without.”

Google Cloud’s Diane Greene to step down

One of Google’s highest-ranking women executives, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, has announced she is to step down. According to Bloomberg, she will be replaced by former Oracle executive Thoman Kurian when her tenure finishes at the end of January.

Explaining that she now wants to focus on mentoring and education, Greene’s time at Google saw her expand Google Cloud significantly, but she also drew criticism for attempting to woo the US military as a client.

Alex Jones’ website hit with card skimming malware

After being deplatformed from much of social media, the website Infowars – founded and run by Alex Jones – was recently hit with card skimming malware.

According to ZDNet, the discovery was made by Dutch security researcher Willem de Groot using a scanner that found the malware in a modified block of Google Analytics code. After scraping all content from the site’s checkout form every 1.5 seconds, the malware then sent the collected data to a remote server hosted in Lithuania.

While Jones wrote in a statement that “only 1,600 customers were affected” in the 24-hour period it was in place, much of the rest of his statement followed his conspiratorial style, as he claimed it to have been “an act of industrial and political sabotage”.

He continued: “America is under attack by globalist forces, and anyone standing up for our republic will be attacked mercilessly by the corporate press, Antifa and rogue intelligence operatives. Infowars will never surrender!”

Midlands Regional Hospital hit by ransomware

The HSE is investigating the origin of a ransomware attack against Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly, that affected its library information systems.

According to the Irish Independent, the HSE said the attack was an isolated incident, with no sign of it having affected the wider healthcare network. “There has been no impact on patient care, and business continuity plans are in operation until the full system is restored,” the statement read, adding that it is working with the Data Protection Commissioner on a “cautionary basis”.

In May of last year, the HSE cautiously reopened its servers to the outside world after the hugely damaging WannaCry ransomware attacks spread globally. The HSE was lucky in that its systems were almost completely unaffected. However, fearing a similar situation to our nearest neighbour, it cut its systems off from the wider internet as a safety measure.

Facebook bug let websites read users’ private info

Facebook is once again in the midst of a PR nightmare, but it might have been missed last week that a bug found in its social network allowed websites to read the private information of users and their friends.

According to The Next Web, the discovery was made by security research firm Imperva in May and it has now been patched. Imperva said that in order to tap into the data, a website could embed an iframe to siphon off data from the user. When the Facebook user visited a website with the malicious code, the tool activated and began sending queries to Facebook to find out more personal information about the user.

Having been discovered when Imperva was looking for Chrome vulnerabilities, Facebook said it has “made recommendations to browser makers and relevant web standards groups to encourage them to take steps to prevent this type of issue from occurring in other web applications”.

Venezuela flag flying outside buildings. Image: jkraft5/Depositphotos

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic