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The Cyber Brief
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Software engineers at the tech company are under a great deal of pressure to uncover how the FBI cracked the security of the iPhone belonging to a gunman in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. Federal officials have thus far refused to identify the person, or organization, who helped them break into the device, and have declined to provide details on how they did it. There are unconfirmed reports that an Israeli company may have assisted the FBI. Meanwhile, Apple cannot obtain the device to reverse-engineer the problem.

Although the Department of Justice withdrew its case against Apple on Monday after it said it was able to unlock the suspect’s iPhone, analysts say the battle over encryption is far from over. Apple and other tech firms will likely move even more quickly to bolster the encryption of their devices, forcing the government to keep up with any new security measures in order to maintain access. (NYT, AP, Wired, WaPo, WSJ)
Iran: The U.S. government indicted seven Iranian hackers for conducting a coordinated cyberattack on dozens of U.S. banks, causing millions of dollars in lost business, and trying to shut down a New York dam. The accused are believed to have been working on behalf of Iran's government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. (Reuters)

Syria: The Obama administration has brought criminal charges against three alleged members of the Syrian Electronic Army, a group of hackers that supports the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Two of the accused were charged with a criminal conspiracy in relation to a string of attacks targeting media companies as well as various government agencies. (WaPo)

Apple: The company asked a New York Judge to delay a briefing scheduled in a case involving the phone of a convicted drug trafficker until the Justice Department files a status report on its ability to hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. (The Hill)
Medical Network: A computer virus infected the network of MedStar Health, forcing the Washington, DC, healthcare giant to shut down its email and vast records database. The incident has raised additional concerns about the security of hospitals nationwide. (WaPo)

Ransomware: The FBI is asking businesses and cybersecurity experts for emergency assistance in its investigation of a pernicious new type of virus used by hackers for extortion, known as MSIL/Samas.A. (Reuters)

Racist Fliers: Well-known hacker Andrew Auernheimer, who goes by the name of “Weev,” said he was behind a wave of anti-Semitic fliers that appeared on printers at more than a dozen college campuses last week. He said free speech concerns were behind his printing spree. (NYT)

Dark Web: Roughly seven in ten people polled in more than two dozen countries favor shutting down the so-called dark Web — an anonymous online network used by activists, dissidents, and criminals. (The Hill)
Foxconn: The Taiwanese company that assembles Apple’s iPhones has agreed to buy control of the financially struggling Sharp Corp. for $3.5 billion. The deal marks the first foreign takeover of a major Japanese electronics producer. (WaPo)

Ethereum: A rival virtual currency to Bitcoin— known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the last three months, and attracted the attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and IBM. (NYT)
Global: A new study shows that knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. The report, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, studied the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects. (WaPo)

China: A draft law from one of the country’s tech regulators said that websites in China would have to register domain names with local service providers and with the authorities. It was not clear whether the rule would apply to all websites or only to those hosted on servers in China. (NYT)

Must Reads
Consensus Is a Must for Encryption: “What is needed now is for all parties in this row to re-engage on a constructive basis for the common good. US tech companies, including Apple, have previously worked closely with the authorities on law enforcement issues. Their shared interests far outweigh their public divisions,” write the editors of the Financial Times.

FBI vs. Apple Isn’t Over: “The first round of FBI vs. Apple has handed the key question to Congress: Either the Fourth Amendment permits reasonable, warranted searches in the digital era or Internet companies can design systems to defeat court orders, putting themselves—and criminals, including terrorists—above the law,” writes L. Gordon Crovitz in the Wall Street Journal.

Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War: “All terrorist groups seek to cultivate this kind of image, of course, because their power derives from their ability to inspire dread out of proportion to the threats they actually pose. But the Islamic State has been singularly successful at that task, thanks to its mastery of modern digital tools, which have transformed the dark arts of making and disseminating propaganda. Never before in history have terrorists had such easy access to the minds and eyeballs of millions,” writes Brendan I. Koerner in Wired.
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