The Stroz Friedbery Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



President-Elect Donald Trump in an interview on Sunday denounced the CIA’s recent findings that Russian hackers likely meddled in the U.S. election to help the Republican win. “I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse,” he said on Fox News, suggesting the reports were pushed by Democrats embarrassed about losing to him. Trump has regularly dismissed the intelligence community’s findings about Russian hacking. In a written response, a U.S. intelligence official said it was “concerning” that the incoming president was dismissing the report “out of hand as false or politically partisan.”


Meanwhile, senior lawmakers of both parties have pledged to investigate the extent of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, on Sunday urged Trump to accept the intelligence agencies’ conclusions and said he would like to see a select committee formed to look into the CIA’s report. However, some Republicans on Capitol Hill questioned the CIA’s work. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a Trump adviser, said lawmakers had not been given evidence supporting claims of Russian interference on behalf of Trump.

On Friday, President Obama ordered intelligence agencies to conduct a complete review of cyberattacks and foreign intervention into the 2016 election and deliver a report before he leaves office in January. (NYT, WaPo, WSJ, Reuters)

ThyssenKrupp: The German industrial conglomerate said hackers in Southeast Asia stole technical trade secrets from its steel production and manufacturing plant design divisions. However, the company said it could not estimate the scale of the intellectual property losses. (Reuters)

Dailymotion: In a massive breach, a hacker extracted more than 85 million email addresses and usernames from the video-sharing site’s systems. Reports indicate that most passwords were protected, but some 18 million were exposed in the dump. (Forbes)


Warrantless Wiretaps: A federal appellate court in California upheld the 2013 conviction of Mohamed Mohamud, rejecting his arguments that the FBI entrapped him and violated his rights by intercepting his emails without a warrant. In 2010, the Somali-American man attempted to detonate a bomb at a Portland Christmas tree lighting. (NYT)

Cybercrime: In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell highlighted the record of U.S. cybercrime enforcement. Among other things, she discussed why it was necessary to update a rule to allow judges to grant the FBI search warrants to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction. (DOJ)

  ON THE HILL                                    

Trump Cabinet: President-Elect Donald Trump early today announced his intention to nominate retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Kelly oversaw U.S. military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean as commander of U.S. Southern Command. (The Hill)


U.S.-China: The third round of the U.S.-China cyber dialogue took place in Washington, DC, with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Loretta Lynch representing the U.S. The next round is expected to take place in China in 2017. (NextGov)

Clinton: In only her second high-profile public appearance since the election, the former Democratic presidential candidate challenged Congress to fight misleading news online. She said the “epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media” posed a danger to both the nation’s politics and the safety of its citizens. (WaPo)


NSA: Former NSA director Keith Alexander said a combination of economic and social factors, including negative press coverage, are pushing some of the agency’s most talented people to leave for private sector jobs. (Cyberscoop)

NATO: The European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization approved an agreement aimed at strengthening their ability to defend allies from hybrid or cyberattacks. Analysts say it’s an important step but note that limits remain on the sharing of classified intelligence between them. (WSJ)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Trump Meeting: Many prominent executives from Silicon Valley are expected to attend a meeting with the president-elect this week. The meeting’s agenda has not been made public, but tech leaders are concerned about Trump’s plans for immigration, antitrust enforcement, and digital privacy. (WSJ)

  THE WORLD                                     

Germany: The country’s domestic intelligence agency reported a striking increase in Russian propaganda and disinformation campaigns aimed at destabilizing German society, as well as targeted cyberattacks against political parties. (Reuters)

UK: In rare public comments, MI6 chief Alex Younger said that to protect itself and allied nations, the UK must expose the magnitude of cyberwarfare and propaganda operations that subvert democracy. His comments come as Western governments warn of Russian meddling in U.S. and European politics. (WSJ)

Russian Hackers and American Hacks: “Mr. Putin is an authoritarian who came of age as a Soviet spy and wants to damage U.S. interests around the world. Rather than dismiss evidence of Russian hacking, Mr. Trump ought to point out that Mr. Obama has done nothing to make Russia pay a price for it. He should also call for the entire story to come out, not merely alleged facts from anonymous sources,” write editors of the Wall Street Journal.


Russia’s Hand in America’s Election: “Mr. Trump should be leading the call for a thorough investigation, since it would be the only way to remove this darkening cloud from his presidency. Failing to resolve the questions about Russia would feed suspicion among millions of Americans that a dominant theme of his candidacy turned out to be true: The election was indeed rigged,” write editors of the New York Times.

The FBI’s Expanded Surveillance Powers: “With Jeff Sessions as Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, it’s all but certain that the FBI will unfurl its surveillance wings wider, and in a more politicized direction, than any time since the days of J. Edgar Hoover. As a Republican senator from Alabama, Sessions called for more domestic surveillance, strict limits on encryption, requirements for firms to turn over all data without a warrant, and the defeat of all the post-Snowden National Security Agency reforms—including one, involving the remote storage of metadata files, that was endorsed by the NSA director,” writes Fred Kaplan for Slate.


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