US bans eight Chinese apps including Alipay
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning eight prominent chinese apps.
The apps include a number of heavy hitters, such as Alibaba’s payment app Alipay. The full list reads: Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office.
The rationale for the ban was given as security, and is part of long running tension between the US and China.
reads: “By accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information. This data collection threatens to provide the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information”.
Technology has recently become the primary battlefield for the two superpowers, as with the uncertain status of Chinese companies ByteDance and Huawei.
ByteDance, the owner of popular short-form video sharing app TikTok, has been targeted by to ban TikTok or alter its corporate structure, again in the name of a threat to national security and the possibility of data on US citizens being accessed by the Chinese government.
Huawei, meanwhile, has been banned from the 5G networks of many Western nations, thanks to pressure from the US - again in the name of national security.
The ban is set to take effect in 45 days, during Joe Biden’s presidency. The order continued to say: “The United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security.”
The move comes after similar bans amid worsening global relations with China. In November, for instance, India banned 43 Chinese mobile apps, building on a previous ban of 177 others, as part of continuing fallout from in June.
Fastly's CDN Reportedly to Blame for Global Internet Outage
A huge outage has brought down a number of major websites around the world. Among those affected are gov.uk, Hulu, PayPal, Vimeo, and news outlets such as CNN, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC, and Financial Times.
It is thought a glitch at Fastly ─ a popular CDN provider ─ is causing the worldwide issue. Fastly has confirmed it’s facing an outage on its status website but fails to specify a reason for the fault ─ only that the problem isn’t limited to a single data centre and, instead, is a “global CDN disruption” that is potentially affecting the company’s global network.
“We’re currently investigating potential impact to performance with our CDN services,” the firm said.
What is Fastly?
Fastly is a content delivery network (CDN) company that helps users view digital content more quickly. The company also provides security, video delivery, and so-called edge computing services. They use strategically distributed, highly performant POPs to help move data and applications closer to users and deliver up-to-date content quickly.
The firm has been proving increasingly popular among leading media websites. After going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019, shares rose exponentially in price, but after today’s outages, Fastly’s value has taken a sharp 5.21% fall and are currently trading at US$48.06.
What are CDNs?
Content delivery networks (CDNs) are a web of small computers, or servers, that link together to collaborate as a single computer. CDNs improve the performance of internet-connected devices by placing these servers as close as possible to the people using those devices in different locations, creating hundreds of points of presence, otherwise known as POPs.
They help minimise delays in loading web page content by reducing the physical distance between the server and the user. This helps users around the world view the same high-quality content without slow loading times.
Without a CDN, content origin servers must respond to every single end-user request. This results in significant traffic to the origin and subsequent load, thereby increasing the chances for origin failure if the traffic spikes are exceedingly high or if the load is persistent.
The Risk of CDNs
Over time, developers have attempted to protect users from the dangers of overreliance through the implementation of load balancing, DDoS (Denial of Service) protection, web application firewalls, and a myriad of other security features.
Clearly, by the state of today’s major website outage, these measures aren’t enough. Evidently, CDNs present a risk factor that is widely underestimated ─ which needs to be rectified with haste. Content delivery networks have become a key part of the global infrastructure, and so it’s imperative that organisations start to figure out risk mitigation strategies to protect companies reliant on the interconnected service from further disruption and disarray.