Belarus internet watch. Vol 8

Important

What happened in the second half of the month with technology, the internet, and security – we tell you in the news review for April 16-30.

Legislation

In April, Belarusian experts discussed key issues related to citizens’ personal data within the framework of the “Country Speaks” project. What has changed and what are the priorities of work after the adoption of the Law on Personal Data Protection No. 99-Z “On Personal Data Protection” (which was adopted by the House of Representatives on April 2, 2021, and approved by the Council of the Republic on April 21, 2021).

Andrei Gaeu, Director of the National Center for Personal Data Protection, noted:

  • The center actively works on issues related to cross-border transfer of personal information to minimize cases of illegal use of personal data.
  • Changes to the Civil Code are being developed to regulate video surveillance issues. At the same time, it is necessary to maintain a reasonable balance between the collection of personal information and privacy.
  • Issues related to collecting information about minors are also within the center’s focus.
  • Additionally, the center is working on the issue of processing and storing data of Belarusian users in Belarus.

The maximum fine for a legal entity for the personal data leak is currently 50 base values.

Changes to the Civil Code that will regulate video surveillance, among other things, are being prepared for the second reading in parliament.

Numbers of the day

According to the National Statistical Committee (Belstat) of the Republic of Belarus, which published the data from the survey of households for the year 2022, the digital inequality between urban and rural areas persists at 12.8% (92.5% vs 79.7%).

Infographic on the use of information and communication technologies in the Republic of Belarus, prepared for the annual TIBO exhibition-congress.

One petabyte is equal to 1,000,000 gigabytes, or 106 gigabytes in the decimal system. For reference, a standard computer hard drive starts at 256 gigabytes, while most smartphones start at 64 gigabytes.

Conclusions:

It is possible to fully control foreign internet traffic in Belarus through state gateways.

Subscribers are not individuals, so the number exceeds the population.

Security

The Operational and Analytical Center under the President of the Republic of Belarus reported that over 320 million cyber attacks were carried out on Belarusian information resources in 2022.

New malware for MacOS

Cyble Research has reported on new malware called Atomic macOS Stealer (AMOS), which targets MacOS users and can steal personal data, system information, banking information, and the contents of crypto wallets. The virus is spread through certain Telegram channels, where it can be purchased for $1,000 per month. To protect against this threat, experts recommend only downloading apps from official sources, using strong passwords and two-factor authentication, and avoiding clicking on suspicious links.

Access restrictions to information and domain name seizure.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists reported that another independent media outlet has been deprived of its domain in the Belarusian segment of the Internet. This time, it concerns the news website ex-press.by, which covers events in Borisov and Zhodino. The owner of the domain received a letter from the Operative Analytical Center, which notified him of the suspension of the domain delegation based on the owner’s failure to provide documents confirming the accuracy of the information in the database. Journalists remind that such actions undermine freedom of speech and access to information, and in this case, it is a measure of extrajudicial deprivation of the domain.

Propaganda and strategic communication.

Russian player buys up local VK communities to promote their narratives, renaming them in the format of “city name. Main” and publishing local events, national news, and justifying the invasion of Ukraine.

“For example, ‘This is Gomel, baby!’ is transformed into ‘Gomelskaya. Main!’ and other communities such as ‘Vitebsk. Main’, ‘Mogilev. Main!’, ‘Orsha. Main!’ and others are also transformed. Moreover, old communities are bought up and renamed, creating the illusion that these communities have existed for 5-10 years already.”

Bot farms using AI


According to the “Cyberpartisans”, in May 2023, Roskomnadzor launched bots on social media that infiltrated groups of Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians. The goal was to obtain information even from closed communities and create influence groups to convey specific thoughts and attitudes. Russian bots have acted against Belarusians before, but now we are talking about an artificial intelligence-based system. The bots will behave like real people, including adding friends, giving likes, and sending personal messages. The goal of these bot farms is to promote their own narratives and create an image that most of society thinks that way. The best way to counteract the bots is to switch to native languages, as their sentence constructions will seem strange to them.

Services

The developer and translator Alexander Klyuev has made Belarusian IT terminology publicly available. Devby.io has collected several interesting or non-standard examples.

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