The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

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The Cyber Brief
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TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2016
FireEye, the U.S. cybersecurity company investigating the $81 million heist at Bangladesh’s central bank, is also reportedly looking into suspicious digital activity at several more undisclosed banks in Asia. While there is no report yet that money was stolen from these institutions, SWIFT, the global payments network, has warned that there may have been more breaches than the three that have come to light in recent weeks, including those in Vietnam and Ecuador. Previously unreported legal documents show that the thieves who stole $12 million from the Ecuadorian bank in 2015 routed their plunder through a web of companies registered in Hong Kong, some of them with no clear business activity. (Bloomberg, WSJ, Reuters)
Spyware Spread: Governments around the world are purchasing commercial spyware or hiring and training programmers to develop their own hacking and surveillance tools. Some are using them to monitor dissidents, while others use them to aggressively silence and punish their critics. (NYT)

ATM Scam: A group of criminals in Japan stole millions of dollars from automatic teller machines using fake credit cards from South Africa's Standard Bank. The gang reportedly made 14,000 withdrawals in just three hours from machines at 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country. (Reuters)
Guccifer: The Romanian hacker whose activities revealed that Hillary Clinton used a private email address while she was secretary of state pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access to a protected computer. Marcel Lehel Lazar admitted that he was responsible for a series of high-profile intrusions, including breaching the accounts of former secretary of state Colin Powell and family members of former president George W. Bush. (WashPost)
Encryption Bill: Much of the political backing for legislation that would require tech companies to give law enforcement a "back door" to encrypted communications and electronic devices has reportedly petered out. A lack of White House support was pivotal, analysts say. (Reuters)
Whistleblowers: Edward Snowden has called for an overhaul of U.S. whistleblower protections after a new source from inside the Pentagon came forward with an account of how the system became a “trap” for those seeking to expose wrongdoing. (Guardian)

Supergun Tech: Pentagon officials say hackers in China and Russia are keen to set their sites on a powerful railgun being developed by the U.S. Navy. The weapon can fire a conventional projectile 4,500 mph, with a range of 125 miles. (WSJ)
Microsoft: The Wall Street Journal talked with Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, who is the architect of the company’s strategy to challenge the U.S. government’s ban on tech firms telling customers when federal agents have examined their digital files. (WSJ)

Apple: The iPhone maker has rehired a top expert in cryptography, Jon Callas, to bring more powerful security features to a wide range of its consumer products. Callas had worked at Apple in the 1990s and again between 2009 and 2011, when he designed an encryption system to protect data stored on a Macintosh computer. (Reuters)

U.S. Tech: Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft agreed with the European Union to remove from their websites information that incites hatred or acts of terror. The tech giants vowed to review complaints on user’s behavior within 24 hours. (WSJ)
Brazil: Companies based in Brazil scored “significantly poorer” in aggregate on a variety of cybersecurity indicators than those based in other major world economies, such as the United States and China, according to a new report. (Reuters)

Holland: A Dutch firm is training birds of prey to intercept small, off-the-shelf drones that can pose risks to aircraft, drop contraband into jails, conduct surveillance, or fly dangerously over public events. (NYT)

Philippines: Large amounts of untraceable cash can wash through a Filipino casino without operators having to identify its source or report it to financial regulators. This loophole was reportedly exploited in February, investigators say, when cyber thieves stole millions from Bangladesh’s central bank and bought large volumes of chips used in high-stakes rooms. (WSJ)
Must Reads
U.S.-EU Data Privacy: “Both the United States and the European Union maintain that they are committed to upholding individual privacy rights and ensuring the protection of personal data. Nevertheless, data privacy and protection issues have long been sticking points in U.S.-EU economic and security relations, in part because of differences in U.S. and EU data privacy approaches and legal regimes,” write authors for the Congressional Research Service.

How the Pentagon Punished Whistleblowers: “In their zeal to punish [Thomas] Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught [Edward] Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself. Snowden was unaware of the hidden machinations inside the Pentagon that undid Drake, but the outcome of those machinations – Drake’s arrest, indictment and persecution – sent an unmistakable message: raising concerns within the system promised doom,” writes Mark Hertsgaard in the Guardian.

The Chilling Effect of Peter Thiel’s Gawker Battle: “For better or worse, Gawker is entitled to the same freedom as any other news outlet. If it crosses the line, as it likely did with wrestler Hulk Hogan, the courts should deal with it. Silicon Valley’s power brokers should not get involved because they have access to resources that rival those of governments. They can outspend any other entity and manipulate public opinion,” writes Vivek Wadhwa in the Washington Post.
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