The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

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The Cyber Brief
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MONDAY, JULY 25, 2016
Some cybersecurity researchers say that Russian intelligence agencies are likely to have orchestrated last month’s hack of the Democratic National Committee and facilitated the leak of some 20,000 embarrassing emails. The communications, made public by WikiLeaks on Friday, illustrate how some high-ranking Democrats favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the party’s primary, and prompted the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC chairwoman, on the eve of the convention.

Leaders of Clinton’s presidential campaign claim the breach is part of a Russian plot to aid the candidacy of Donald Trump, who has questioned the benefit of some U.S. military alliances, particularly NATO. The Trump campaign said the claims are absurd. Analysts say that if the accusations are true, it would be the first time that the Kremlin has actively tried to influence an election in this manner. (NYT, WaPo, Bloomberg)
Snowden: Oliver Stone was in San Diego promoting “Snowden,” his soon-to-be-released film about the former contractor’s decision to leak classified National Security Agency documents. Meanwhile, Snowden unveiled plans for a phone case that could notify users when their device is secretly sending signals that could allow them to be tracked. (NYT, WaPo)

Library of Congress: The research institution’s computer systems have reportedly returned to normal after facing a days-long distributed denial-of-service attack. Library officials did not comment about the origin of the attack. (The Hill)

Smart Home Security: The non-profit Guardian Project, a partner of the Tor Project that maintains the Tor anonymity network, announced a new technique that will help defend so-called “Internet of things” or “smart home” devices from hackers. (Wired)
Baseball Scout: A Texas federal judge sentenced the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals, Christopher Correa, to nearly four years in prison for hacking the Houston Astros’ player personnel database. Correa pleaded guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer. (Guardian)

Russian Exporter: A Brooklyn federal judge sentenced the former owner of a Houston company, Alexander Fishenko, to ten years in prison for illegally exporting sensitive microelectronics to the Russian military. Fishenko pleaded guilty in September to engaging in a scheme that resulted in over $30 million in sales to Russian firms. (Reuters)

File-Sharing Founder: Artem Vaulin, the alleged mastermind of one of the most popular illegal file-sharing sites, was arrested in Poland. The thirty-year-old Ukrainian faces conspiracy, copyright infringement, and money laundering charges in the United States. (WaPo)
Self-Driving Cars: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said at a conference that the federal government will not halt efforts to facilitate the development of autonomous vehicles, despite a fatal accident in May involving a Tesla Model S operating on an autopilot system. Meanwhile, a trio of Michigan lawmakers is pushing for a federally-supported testing center that would enable automakers and regulators to collaborate on the development of autonomous vehicles. (Reuters, NYT)

Cell Routing: The FCC decided to make a New Jersey subsidiary of a Swedish company the clearinghouse for routing billions of cellphone calls and text messages across the United States, despite claims by critics that the plan poses national security risks. (NYT)
Verizon: The telecom giant has agreed to pay $4.8 billion to acquire Yahoo, ending a drawn-out auction process for the beleaguered internet firm. Verizon plans to keep the Yahoo brand, according to a person familiar with its plans. (WSJ)

Google: The company has fallen well behind Amazon and Microsoft in the race to control the next generation of cloud-computing data centers. Google Cloud Platform does not even figure in the earnings reports of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. (NYT)
China: The Asian country is reportedly in the midst of a robot craze. The machines are popping up in banks, temples, restaurants, and even weddings. (WSJ)

UK: The sale of Cambridge’s Arm to Japan’s SoftBank has reinforced the fears of some that the UK, despite having a thriving start-up scene, cannot translate its companies into multibillion dollar firms to rival those in Silicon Valley. (FT)

Brazil: The judge overseeing the investigation that led to the arrest last week of suspected Islamist militants said Facebook and Twitter helped provide information about the suspects' use of both social networks. (Reuters)

Must Reads
Envisioning the Hack That Could Take Down NYC: “No one had pulled off an attack of this magnitude, but it was possible to piece together a plan from various hacks that had been executed before, which, taken together, were a sort of open-source blueprint available to anyone with an interest in remote-control terrorism (and the time and manpower it required). This group was small, relatively speaking, and benign, relatively speaking. ISIS, for instance, might have a more pronounced bloodlust but not (yet) the technical capabilities; Chinese or Russian hacking operations would have many more resources and a much more sophisticated strategy that could bring even more targets, like nuclear-power plants, into play,” writes Reeves Wiedeman in New York magazine.

They Promised Us Jetpacks: “X, formerly called Google X, cheekily refers to itself as ‘the moonshot factory.’ They are the people behind Google’s self-driving car, along with various out-there projects like Loon, an attempt to beam internet access from stratospheric balloons, and Wing, a drone delivery service. Those efforts sit atop dozens of aborted projects — some just ideas, others that consumed years — like a never built jet pack and giant blimps that would haul cargo with the same efficiency as an ocean liner. What all these efforts have in common, besides imaginative power, is that they do not make any money,” writes Conor Dougherty in the New York Times.

Police Robots Around the World: “Law enforcement across the globe use semi-autonomous technology to do what humans find too dangerous, boring, or just can’t...We wanted to find out just how many of these things are in use around the world. But law enforcement isn’t exactly forthcoming about the topic, so this list is not exhaustive. Here’s what we found,” writes April Glaser for Wired.
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