A Chinese espionage group appears to have hacked 10 international cellphone providers to track calling data on 20 dissidents, military officials, spies and law enforcement agents, according to a report from the cybersecurity firm Cybereason reported on in the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: Though we don't have any details on who the victims are or exactly why they were targeted, China could potentially use tracked phone records to tell if a highly placed individual was another country's intelligence asset or follow the movements of an activist.

Details: The campaign, which Cybereason has dubbed "Operation Soft Cell," did not appear to have targeted any U.S. carriers.

  • Cybereason believes this to be the work of a group known as APT10 due to the hackers following that group's playbook and using the same tools as the group has in the past.
  • While APT10 — also known as Cloud Hopper — had an overwhelming amount of access to carrier networks, the goal appears to have been to steal data.

Context: Cybereason became aware of the campaign in 2018, when it helped a carrier fend off multiple waves of hacking from the group.

  • China is no stranger to monitoring communications providers to harvest details on individuals it sees as a risk. In 2010, the country is believed to have hacked Google to monitor the activity of human rights activists on the platform.

Go deeper: Cracking a Chinese spy case

Go deeper

58 mins ago - Technology

Congress' next moves to rein in Big Tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

After grilling the CEOs of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple last week, members of Congress are grappling with whether to accuse any of the firms of illegal anticompetitive behavior, to propose updating federal antitrust laws — or both.

The big picture: Congress is just one arm of government making the case against these companies. Google is expected to be the first of the firms to face possible antitrust litigation from the Justice Department before summer's end, but all four face a full-court press of investigations by DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

The next wave to hit Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Call it the great retail wash. A wave of defaults, bankruptcies and evictions expected in cities across the U.S. is poised to remake the retail landscape across the country, but there may be some upside for consumers and small businesses.

Why it matters: Rather than an overnight descent into a collection of urban wastelands full of Starbucks, Amazon fulfillment centers, Chase bank branches and nothing else, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting retail apocalypse may just mean that, in major U.S. cities, less is more.