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Vietnam to inspect use of Chinese technology following cyberattacks on airports

Thursday, August 04, 2016, 15:52 GMT+7

Vietnamese authorities will carry out a comprehensive check on Chinese devices and technology to ensure information security following cyberattacks on its major airports allegedly mounted by hackers from China.

During a press conference organized by the government on Tuesday, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung and Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan addressed the hacking and other major issues in the country.

On Friday last week, flight information and loudspeaker systems at international airports Noi Bai in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City were compromised, displaying offensive messages about Vietnam and the Philippines.

At the same time, the VIP membership database of national carrier Vietnam Airlines was also stolen and leaked online.

The Chinese hacker group 1937cn is believed to be responsible for the attacks.

Replying to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper questions, Minister Tuan stated that 1937cn first claimed responsibility for the hacking but later denied it.

Investigation is still underway and evidence is being collected to bring the culprits to justice, the official asserted.

“Until then, I call on Internet users in Vietnam to remain calm and comply with the law, avoiding provocations or seeking revenge. Such actions would compromise socio-economic development and national security,” he said.

Information security in the country has been restored and ensured, Minister Tuan stated, adding that measures must be taken to prepare for potential attacks in the future.

Answering a question from a Ho Chi Minh City-based newspaper regarding possible data leaks caused by Chinese devices and technology, Minister Tuan remarked that no equipment could be fully trusted.

He admitted that many major telecommunications operators in Vietnam are utilizing Chinese technology, posing a high threat of a data breach.

There are several reasons why machinery from China has been widely used in the Southeast Asian country, including historical backgrounds, limited procurement laws, and flexible approaches by Chinese businesses, according to the official.

The Vietnamese law does not have bias against any individual, Minister Tuan affirmed, adding that competent agencies would comprehensively inspect the usage of all important devices and technologies.

During the meeting, Minister Dung mentioned a topical issue that Mobifone, one of the country’s leading mobile network operators, had acquired a 95 percent stake in Audio Visual Global (AVG), a local pay TV firm.

The state inspectorate has been required to “launch an urgent and complete inspection” of Mobifone’s shareholding purchase.

Details on the inspection and its result will be publicized as soon as it is finished, Minister Dung said.

AVG is the operator of the An Vien Television payment television service, the operation of which has been transferred to Mobifone following a deal announced in January.

However, both AVG and state-run Mobifone refused to disclose the value of the deal.

The mobile network operator did say in a statement at the time that the acquisition was done as part of its bid to enter the pay TV sector.

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