NTC Volcano + more stuff

7 minutes estimated reading time

NTC Volcano erupting?

NTC Volcano or NTC Vulkan in westernised Russian is an information security firm (think Crowdstrike, HackerOne, Mandiant or the part of BAE Systems formerly known as Detica). Information leaked from the company show that NTC Volcano has played a major role in Russian state sponsored cyber attacks.


NTC Volcano also work on protecting large corporates and include Sberbank and Aeroflot. NTC Volcano has partnered with IBM up to last year.

Like the Panama Papers before it, it looks as if there is going to be a succession of NTC Volcano related stories over the next few weeks coming out by the participating media outlets collaborating on the reporting.

More security related content here.


Alibaba Reorg – by Kevin Xu – Interconnected – so many motivations wrapped up in this from conglomerate discount to dissipating market power that made them such a high profile target for Chinese government attention


TikTok CEO on spying allegations: ‘I don’t think spying is the right way to describe it’ | BGR – while there was a lot of politicians grandstanding, TikTok came across as dishonest in their answers. Only a lawyer could love some of these answers

On National Humiliation, Don’t Mention the Russians – China Media Project – China is curiously reticent about pushing its Russian land claims. That might change if they see Russia getting skinned alive in the Ukraine conflict

The Search for the Origins of SARS-CoV-2: “The Results on My Screen Were: Raccoon Dog, Raccoon Dog, Raccoon Dog!” – DER SPIEGEL – it currently looks like the Chinese scientists, at the very least, slowed down the search for the origins of the pandemic, if not actively hindered it. More questions than answers on this, given the current low level of trust, is the data faked?

Fighting Beijing’s long arm of repression — Radio Free Asia 

Current state of US-China relationship. This doesn’t take into account the dumpster fire of China’s relationships with the likes of the European Union.

How China’s Spies Fooled an America That Wanted to be Fooled – LawfareRather than untangle the ways in which the MSS seeks to gather U.S. government or corporate secrets, Joske argues that the MSS’s greatest intelligence strength is its massively successful influence operation against U.S. political and business elites – reinforces a lot of the findings in The Hidden Hand by Hamilton & Ohlberg.

US charges Sam Bankman-Fried with bribing Chinese officials | Financial Times


Brooks: The Cold War with China is changing everything | San Jose Mercury News

World Bank warns global economy at risk of lost decade of growth | Financial Times read with China grants billions in bailouts as Belt and Road Initiative falters | Financial Times and How China may keep subverting sovereign debt workouts | Financial TimesChina is a rich bilateral creditor acting like a developing country. (There was a different but also obvious mismatch in incentives, by the way, when the Europe-dominated IMF started bailing out EU governments in 2010 during the eurozone sovereign debt crisis.)


Saudi Aramco strengthens China ties with two refinery deals | Financial Times 


TIER: How The Labor Market’s “Double Disruption” Impacts Your Talent Strategy – this feels quite ageist in its recommendations

Hong Kong

Breakingviews – Hong Kong sharpens fine art edge over Singapore – Reuters – last bastion of capital flight in Hong Kong as it pulls towards the Greater Bay Area

Indebted Chinese developer Shimao Group to sell Hong Kong airport-area Sheraton hotel property for US$828 million – not sure if this is Shimao Group’s lack of confidence in Hong Kong or if its part of the wider Chinese real estate sector looking to slowly unwind their over-leveraged balance sheet

‘We were like a family’: Hong Kong’s traditional shops are fading as ageing owners struggle to keep businesses alive | South China Morning Post – continued unwinding of Hong Kong’s economy leaving more in the hands of the oligopolies attached to the ‘big four families’, yet no growth engine


Why Americans fear the AI future – by Noah Smith 


Levi’s to Use AI-Generated Models to ‘Increase Diversity’ | PetaPixel – Related to this story I saw the following post on LinkedIn by Jodi-Ann Burey.

The lengths some companies will go… the amount of money, time and effort they will spend… just to avoid paying women of color.

Jodi-Ann Burey

The reality its that AI-generated models aren’t about systemic racism; but the creative class equivalent of John Henry vs. the steam drill, or the Luddites against textile manufacturing machinery. At a systemic view: when capital and labour come into conflict, capital wins.

The only stakeholder group actually being considered is the company’s shareholders. They are usually put in place for efficiency gains that are traded off against ‘just good enough effectiveness’. The need has probably been accelerated by the inflation in influencers prices and the need for a faster turnaround time.

Finally you don’t have to worry about breach of good behaviour clauses which might occur with working models or photographers. It started with virtual influencers pioneered in Japan notably Imma who first appeared in 2018.

China’s fake science industry: how ‘paper mills’ threaten progress | Financial Times 


Japan’s Uniqlo, Asahi and Lexus brands profit from warmer ties with South Korea | South China Morning Post – all of which shows the complex relationship between Japan and Korean consumers 

South Korea to Surpass China in Chip Machine Spending Next Year – Bloomberg 

State of Grocery Retail 2023 South Korea | Retail | McKinsey & Company 


Russians reluctantly embrace Chinese cars after Western brands depart | Reuters – I wonder how Geely and Great Wall etc are getting around sanctions given their exposure to western markets?


Disney’s first round of layoffs knocked the metaverse off its priority list 


Pinduoduo App Malware Detailed by Cybersecurity Researchers at Kaspersky – Bloomberg 


European ammunition maker says plant expansion hit by energy-guzzling TikTok site | Financial Times 

Putin is a rest stop on the road of post-Soviet collapse | Noahopinion 

How the security strategy of European countries has changed in recent years. TL;DR – the peace dividend is over.


How to Save Android | Digits to DollarsAndroid is not in good shape. After 16 years on the market, Android remains heavily fragmented. This requires developers to build hundreds (thousands?) of versions of their app, and consumers face a bewildering array of user interfaces. Developers are deeply frustrated by this. We know many software developers who insist on using an Android phone out of principal, but their green message bubbles stand out as exceptions. Consumers, especially young consumers (aka customers of the future) prefer iOS by wide margins – the problem is testing rather than developing lots of versions

Baidu cancels launch event for cloud services integrated with Ernie Bot | South China Morning Post 


Beyoncé and Adidas mutually agree to call it quitsA Wall Street Journal report states that this development comes a couple of months after Ivy Park witnessed a 50 per cent decline in sales. The label pooled USD 40 million in 2022, however, the news outlet showed a projection of USD 250 million. This is a massive shrink from USD 93 million in sales in 2021. – the latest collection looked more like high vis workwear than stylish activewear.


‘The Plan to Destroy Taiwan’ – The Wire China – Want Want Media is owned by a fifth columnist

Inside North Korea’s oil smuggling: triads, ghost ships and underground banks – I was a little bit surprised by the Taiwanese leg of this enterprise


We are all secretaries now | Financial Times