The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

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The Cyber Brief
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MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2016
The Justice Department late Friday dropped a court case in Brooklyn, NY, that was attempting to force Apple to help federal investigators open a locked iPhone. The suspect involved in the 2014 case reportedly provided his passcode. It’s the second time in weeks that the government said it couldn’t access a suspect’s iPhone without the tech company’s help, but then suddenly announced it could. Some experts say the news undermines the government’s overall argument that encryption is a major burden for law enforcement. The Brooklyn drug dealer’s iPhone was one of reportedly thousands of devices that police in the United States have said they can’t legally access.

On Thursday, FBI Director James Comey suggested that his agency paid more than $1 million to an undisclosed group to help hack into the encrypted iPhone used by the attacker in the mass shooting in San Bernardino. Analysts say this sum appears in line with what many companies charge for identifying iOS vulnerabilities. (WSJ, Bloomberg, FT, NYT)
Bank Heist: The criminals who stole $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank probably hacked into software from the SWIFT financial platform that is at the heart of the global financial system, said security researchers. (Reuters)

AI Platform: An artificial intelligence system developed by MIT is able to review data from tens of millions of log lines each day and pinpoint anything suspicious. A human operator can then take it from there, checking for signs of a breach. The two-tiered system reportedly identifies 86 percent of cyberattacks while sparing analysts the tedium of chasing bogus leads. (Wired)
Ashley Madison: A Missouri federal judge ruled that plaintiffs suing the once popular online dating service over a cyber breach that allowed hackers to steal their personal data will have to be publicly identified to proceed with the case. (NYT)

Drones: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit dismissed a long-running ACLU lawsuit against the CIA, ruling that the government can continue to withhold certain information about drone strikes because the details “could reasonably be expected to damage national security.” (WaPo)

IRS: A husband-and-wife team, Anthony and Sonia Alika, has pleaded guilty to their involvement in the recent data breach that exposed the sensitive information of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, while she faces a maximum of 10 years. (The Hill)
Encryption: A working group led by the leaders of the House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce committees says it plans to deliver recommendations for encryption legislation by January. However, a bill to establish a rival commission in the House to study the topic is gaining additional support. (The Hill)

Defense: House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry is expected to offer an amendment as soon as this week to the annual defense policy bill that would, among other things, elevate the profile of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command and give Congress more oversight over the National Security Council. (WaPo)
ISIS: Cyber Command is for the first time mounting computer-network attacks against the Islamic State terrorist group. The goal of the new campaign is reportedly to disrupt the ability of the group to spread its message, attract new recruits, circulate orders, and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. (NYT)

Army: A review conducted by Johns Hopkins University and the Army Research Laboratory has found that a $12 billion mobile Internet network that the Army is using in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa has significant cybersecurity vulnerabilities. (Bloomberg)

Air Force: In what analysts say is a gesture of transparency, a new Air Force directive “provides policy guidelines for planning and conducting AF cyberspace operations to support the warfighter and achieve national security objectives.” (FAS)
Lexmark: The printing and software company has agreed to be sold to a consortium led by Apex Technology of China and PAG Asia Capital, a private equity firm, for $3.6 billion. Lexmark said that it intended to keep its company headquarters in Lexington, KY. (NYT)
Italy: The Italian government has stripped controversial cybersecurity company Hacking Team of its license to export outside the EU amid growing scrutiny of its sales of surveillance software to repressive regimes such as Egypt. (FT)

Germany: More than two-thirds of German industrial companies have been victims of digital crime in the past two years, according to a new survey. The crimes are estimated to cost the German manufacturing industry more than $25 billion a year. (Reuters)

Australia: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a far-reaching cybersecurity strategy that calls for spending $230 million (Australian) on more than 30 cybersecurity measures involving 100 new jobs, including extra resources for the government's Computer Emergency Response Team. (Reuters)
Must Reads
Apple Has Advocates in Ex-National Security Officials: “In white papers, op-ed articles, conferences, newspaper and television interviews and elsewhere, the former officials have made their support for Apple clear. While their former jobs in the government are always featured prominently in their public appearances, their current business affiliations often go unmentioned.
The barrage of support has given Apple a public relations boost in a fight it once seemed destined to lose, but it has surprised and angered some law enforcement officials,” writes Eric Lichtblau in the New York Times.

Who’s Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?: “The sense of urgency to find clear answers to this and other self-driving vehicle questions is growing. Automakers and policy experts have worried that a lack of consistent national regulation would make rolling out these cars across all 50 states nearly impossible,” writes Corinne Iozzio in Scientific American.

How Iranians Beam in Banned Internet: “By broadcasting on its own satellite TV channel and distributing a piece of Windows desktop software that can decode that satellite video stream, the Toosheh project sends thousands of Iranians a daily digital bundle of news articles, videos, and audio—everything from Persian music videos to critical news coverage of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard,” explains Andy Greenberg in Wired.
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