The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

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U.S. and European Union negotiators are scrambling ahead of a Tuesday deadline to forge a new deal on commercial data transfers. If they are unable to come together on the issue, European regulators could impose tight restrictions on how thousands of multinational companies move information across the Atlantic.

Both the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission claim they are close to an accord, but many following the talks are not so sure. Sticking points reportedly remained over how Europeans’ data would be protected from U.S. surveillance and how Europeans could seek legal remedies in U.S. courts. The talks began last October after Europe’s highest court invalidated a 15-year-old data-transfer pact, a so-called safe harbor agreement, ruling that the data of Europeans was not sufficiently protected when being transferred to the United States. (NYT, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Hill)
Surveillance Debate: A new study by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard says U.S. government claims of “going dark” with regard to surveillance are exaggerated, finding that a range of emerging technologies like web-connected cars will offer monitors ample opportunity to keep tracking suspects. (NYT)

HSBC: Europe’s largest bank said it is working with law enforcement to catch those behind a distributed denial-of-service attack that forced its personal banking websites in the UK to shut down. It was the second major service outage this month. (Reuters)

Police Tech: A police department in southern California acknowledged using controversial surveillance technology that impersonates cell phone towers to trick mobile phones and other devices into connecting to them and revealing their unique ID and location. Meanwhile, a police department in southern Texas has been using license plate recognition software to go after residents with unpaid traffic tickets. (Wired, BuzzFeed)

Baby Monitors: New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into the baby monitor industry, sending subpoenas to four unnamed companies demanding information about their cybersecurity practices. If the companies are not living up to the promises of security they have made in their marketing to consumers, the agencies could be hit with civil fines. (Wired)
Blackshades: Arizona man Michael Hogue, who co-created malware distributed by an organization called Blackshades that was used to hack into a million computers worldwide, was sentenced to five years probation. Hogue pleaded guilty to distributing malware and conspiring to commit computer hacking in 2013. (Reuters)

FBI Hacking: In recent days two federal judges have found that the government’s hacking of child-porn websites to identify users is constitutional. In one, the judge denied the defendant’s motion that FBI violated the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that a warrant “particularly” describe the place to be searched. (WashPost)

ISIS: The first hacker arrested for allegedly helping the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was extradited to the United States. Ardit Ferizi, a 20-year-old Kosovo citizen, made his first appearance in court last Wednesday afternoon in the Eastern District of Virginia. He is accused of hacking a U.S. company to steal data on over 1,300 U.S. military and government employees. (The Hill)
Warrantless Wiretaps: The District of Columbia bar is pursuing ethics charges against a former Department of Justice lawyer, Thomas M. Tamm, who said he was one of the sources for a 2005 article about the NSA’s program of wiretapping without warrants. (NYT)

White House: The Obama administration denied a security clearance to a member of its technology team who previously helped report on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Ashkan Soltani recently began working with the White House on privacy, data ethics, and technical outreach. (Guardian)

Hillary Clinton: The Obama administration said that 22 emails in the former secretary of state’s private account are top secret, heightening public scrutiny on Clinton just days before she competes in the Iowa caucuses. Her presidential campaign dismissed the news as “overclassification run amok.”(The Hill)
Microsoft: Company researchers believe the future of data centers may be undersea and are testing a prototype of a self-contained data center that can operate hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. The experiment could help eliminate one of the technology industry’s most expensive problems: the air-conditioning bill. (NYT)

Facebook: The social media giant is banning private sales of guns on its flagship social network and its Instagram photo-sharing service, a move intended to clamp down on unlicensed gun transactions. The ban applies to private, person-to-person sales of guns. (NPR)

Apple: The company has assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality and built prototypes of headsets that could one day rival Facebook's Oculus Rift or Microsoft's Hololens. (FT)
Israel: Israel’s Electricity Authority was hit with what officials described as a “severe cyberattack” that disabled many of the computers at the agency. But some analysts say because the power grid was not affected the story was largely overblown. (The Hill, Motherboard)

Germany: A six-month cyberattack against the German parliament in 2015 was organized by the Russian government, according to a report in the newsweekly Der Spiegel. The attack shut down the network for several days and compromised a large amount of German government data. (RFE)

Must Reads
Fake Online Locksmiths Picking Pockets: “It is a classic bait-and-switch. And it has quietly become an epidemic in America, among the fastest-growing sources of consumer complaints, according to the Consumer Federation of America. [Lead generators] have their deepest roots in locksmithing, but the model has migrated to an array of services, including garage door repair, carpet cleaning, moving and home security. Basically, they surface in any business where consumers need someone in the vicinity to swing by and clean, fix, relocate or install something,” writes David Segal in the New York Times.

Domestic Drones: “Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), often referred to as “drones,” have become commonplace over the past few years. As UAS technology develops rapidly, the United States faces significant challenges in balancing safety requirements, privacy concerns, and economic interests,” writes Bart Elias for the Congressional Research Service.

How to Foil the NSA: “If you really want to make the NSA’s life hard, [Rob Joyce] ticked off a list of things to do: limit access privileges for important systems to those who really need them; segment networks and important data to make it harder for hackers to reach your jewels; patch systems and implement application whitelisting; remove hardcoded passwords and legacy protocols that transmit passwords in the clear,” writes Kim Zetter in Wired.
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