2016 saw a significant drop-off in cyber-espionage by China in the wake of a 2015 agreement between US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jingping. But over the course of 2017, espionage-focused breach attempts by Chinese hackers have once again been on the rise, according to researchers at CrowdStrike. Those attempts were capped off by a series of attacks in October and November on organizations involved in research on Chinese economic policy, US-China relations, defense, and international finance. The attackers were likely companies contracted by the Chinese military, according to Adam Myers, vice president of intelligence at CrowdStrike.
The drop in Chinese cyber-espionage may have been influenced by the 2015 agreement, reached as the US considered imposing sanctions against China. The US did so in the wake of the massive breach at the Office of Management and Budget—an operation attributed to China—and a vast economic espionage campaign in which Chinese hackers were alleged to have breached more than 600 organizations in the US over a five-year period.
But Myers told Ars that the drop may also have been because of a reorganization of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in which “they did a rightsizing and reduced 300 positions out of PLA’s cyber-operations units,” Myers said.
On Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrated 100 years of playing in the National Hockey League with a special afternoon game and players wearing jerseys of the Toronto Arenas, the name of the original team.
A few kilometers northeast of the Air Canada Centre lies another connection to the Leafs: the Arenas, played the first game in the Mutual Street Arena, which eventually morphed into the Terrace roller skating rink.
When the Terrace was being redeveloped, the roller-skating rink moved to another location slightly to the west, which was also set to be redeveloped. That ground-level facility, which sits below space owned by Toronto Community Housing, was not redeveloped and the 42,000 square foot area has sat dormant since 1989.
That all changed in April 2016, when the MLSE Foundation along with government, corporate and individual partners launched plans to develop the site and offer programs — a mix of sports and life skills — for kids and not-so-young kids in the area. More than $4 million in donations was received from provincial and city governments, from banks (BMO and Scotia) and from individuals (Aris Kaplanis and Vijay Kanwar). This week Rogers agreed to provide $500,000 over five years.
The space is known as LaunchPad — it defines itself as “a place where youth facing barriers use sport to recognize and reach their potential” — and it is nothing short of wonderful. LaunchPad says it’s the first “collaborative space in North America to leverage sport, education and research to promote social change.” There is a heavy emphasis on research.
Programming focuses on four pillars: healthy body, healthy mind, ready for school and ready for work. The facility also includes a commercial kitchen that provides both meals and courses to help youth find part-time jobs.
For the MLSE Foundation, LaunchPad is a different venture from what it normally does — providing assistance to improve community rinks and basketball courts.
Michael Whitcombe, a senior partner at MacMillan LLP, is a LaunchPad director. He calls the facility and the thinking behind it “at a different level,” as it will help affect children’s lives on an ongoing basis, not just once a year.
“It’s an amazing place. It’s not just another gym,” he said.
And there is a cost to play he says. “For every 30 minutes of shooting hoops, you have to go to a class room and talk about stuff,” that will hopefully provide the kids “the tools they need to be successful.”
But despite its impressiveness, Chip Pitfield, a Bay Street veteran now with CGOV Asset Management, thought something was missing, a need also recognized by LaunchPad.
Earlier this year, LaunchPad contacted Oolagen Community Services, an organization of which Pitfield chairs, about setting up a kids’ mental health facility within the space. To complicate matters Oolagen (which operated on a site near LaunchPad) was merging with Delisle Youth Services to become Skylark Children.
Another complication: to move into the space, Skylark had to raise more than $450,000 — enough to cover the costs for the first three years of operation.
At a recent lunch Pitfield just found out he got support from a donor that put them over that target. He was beaming. Skylark is now the kids’ mental health partner with MLSE at the site.
This week Pitfield said LaunchPad offers the potential to change kids’ lives forever.
“LaunchPad’s programs are evidence-based. They’re collecting data on every kids’ interactions with LaunchPad’s programs, and as a consequence they will intelligently refine and adjust programs to maximize the benefits accruing to kids.”
West Brom captain Jonny Evans is set to leave next month after the club failed to persuade the Northern Ireland defender to sign a new contract.