The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018


In a major strategic shift, the Defense Department is taking a “far more aggressive approach” to countering U.S. enemies in the digital domain, according to the New York Times. Under the new strategy, which the Pentagon quietly issued this spring, U.S. cyber warriors are permitted to make daily forays into foreign computer systems and engage in regular “short of war” operations.


The change in tack is reportedly a reflection of the greater autonomy President Trump is giving military commanders, and a recognition that the United States thus far has poorly defended the digital battlespace. Defense experts say the more aggressive U.S. posture could raise the risk of conflict with nuclear-armed adversaries like Russia, China, and North Korea. (NYT)


World Cup: Experts are warning Americans and others traveling to Russia for the international tournament to safeguard their data against would-be thieves. In particular, they advised against taking personal devices into the country and said public wifi networks should be avoided. (Hill)


Dixons Carphone: The British mobile phone company said it had fallen victim to hackers for the second time in three years. Investigators say thieves attempted to make off with data on nearly 6 million payment cards, but no evidence of fraud on the cards has been found. (Reuters)


Bitcoin Bubble: A new paper by researchers at the University of Texas found that a few large holders of digital currencies may have artificially boosted their price last year. (NYT)


Intel: Another flaw was discovered in the company’s processors that could allow sophisticated hackers to steal data from victims’ computers. However, analysts say that the vulnerability was “hard to exploit and easy to fix.” (ZDNet)


Email Scam: In a six-month campaign known as Operation Wire Wire, federal authorities arrested more than 70 people in the United States and Nigeria accused of participating in a sophisticated email scam that took millions of dollars from U.S. businesses just this year.   (WSJ)


Silk Road: Federal prosecutors in New York extradited a Canadian man from Thailand to face charges for his role in the notorious online black market. Roger Clark, an alleged accomplice of imprisoned Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht, is accused of crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking to money laundering. (Wired)

  ON THE HILL                                    

ZTE: The U.S. Senate is poised to pass defense legislation this evening that would block the Trump administration's settlement with the Chinese telecom, despite fierce pushback from the White House. The Commerce Department had agreed to lift penalties against ZTE in exchange for a $1 billion fine and compliance measures. (Hill)


Crypto Regs: A top official at the Securities and Exchange Commission said that Ether, the second-most valuable cryptocurrency, is not an investment that should be regulated like stocks and bonds. Cryptocurrency prices rallied on the remark. (WSJ)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Apple: The tech giant said it was working to alter its iPhone settings in an effort to thwart the ability of law enforcement agencies, criminals, spies, and others to crack the devices. Meanwhile, Apple said it’s partnering with RapidSOS to help police locate 911 callers using their mobile phones. (Reuters, WSJ)


Google: As part of a low-profile strategy to make inroads into the world’s second largest market, Google is taking a $550 million stake in the Chinese ecommerce group (Bloomberg)

  THE WORLD                                     

Australia: The government of Malcolm Turnbull has agreed to finance underwater internet cables and a cybersecurity center for the Solomon Islands. Until Australia stepped in, Chinese telecom giant Huawei had planned to lay the cables. (Reuters)


Canada: The government unveiled a new national cybersecurity strategy, which includes the creation of a cyber operations center and a cyber crime coordination unit. (Fifth Domain)


Why Hackers Aren’t Afraid of Us: “We have spent so much time worrying about a “cyber Pearl Harbor,’’ the attack that takes out the power grid, that we have focused far too little on the subtle manipulation of data that can mean that no election, medical record or self-driving car can be truly trusted. And ultimately that absence of trust will destroy the glue of American society the way the Stuxnet computer worm destroyed those Iranian centrifuges,” writes David Sanger in the New York Times.


WhatsApp Is Upending Brazilian Politics: “Nearly two-thirds of Brazil’s 200 million people use WhatsApp to share memes, set up meetings and, increasingly, vent about politics. Now, the messaging app is helping Brazilians undermine established power structures, injecting a level of unpredictability and radicalization into a country beset by economic and political crises,” writes Marina Lopes in the Washington Post.


Why Do We Care So Much About Privacy: “People are inconsistent about the kind of exposure they’ll tolerate. We don’t like to be fingerprinted by government agencies, a practice we associate with mug shots and state surveillance, but we happily hand our thumbprints over to Apple, which does God knows what with them. A requirement that every citizen carry an I.D. card seems un-American, but we all memorize our Social Security numbers and recite the last four digits pretty much any time we’re asked,” writes Louis Menand in the New Yorker.


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