The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

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The Cyber Brief
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The “Shadow Brokers” leak of what appears to be computer code that the National Security Agency may have used to hack into foreign networks has raised pointed questions about the U.S. government’s practice of keeping so-called zero-day exploits secret. Some business leaders and security experts have criticized the intelligence agency for stockpiling these potent hacking tools and thereby making the internet far less secure. Last Wednesday, networking equipment companies Cisco and Fortinet urgently warned customers about vulnerabilities revealed in the leaked data.

The Obama administration said in 2014 that it ordered the NSA to report the cybersecurity flaws it discovers in most cases, but to withhold flaws when they can be used to serve “a clear national security or law enforcement need.” (Wired, NYT, WaPo, Reuters)
Ransomware: Once thought of as primarily a consumer problem, ransomware has evolved to target entire computer networks at hospitals, universities, and businesses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, ransomware attacks have quadrupled this year from a year ago, averaging 4,000 a day. (WSJ)

Hotels: A data breach at 20 U.S. hotels operated by HEI Hotels & Resorts for Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, and Intercontinental may have divulged payment card information from tens of thousands of transactions. (Reuters)
Spyware: The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a man can sue the software firm Awareness Technologies for illegally intercepting his communications with a female friend. (BBC)

Uber: A U.S. District Judge in San Francisco ruled that the $100 million settlement between Uber and its drivers in California and Massachusetts isn’t fair, accurate, or reasonable for the drivers. The suits representing about 385,000 current and former drivers contend Uber should treat them as employees, rather than contractors. The ruling sends attorneys for both sides back to the drawing board. (WSJ)

Bangladesh Heist: Bangladesh's central bank said it has reversed its plans to sue the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the SWIFT money transfer network, and instead intends to seek their help recovering $81 million stolen by cyber thieves in February. (Reuters)
Internet Governance: The Obama administration confirmed that it is finally ready to cede power over the domain naming system, effectively ending the almost 20-year process to hand over a crucial part of the internet's governance. Washington is handing all the reins of power over to ICANN - the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - a non-profit organization. (BBC)

Election Security: Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told state officials in a phone call that federal cybersecurity experts could scan for vulnerabilities in voting systems and provide other resources to help protect against infiltration. (Reuters)

Trade Sanctions: The U.S. government extended a lifting of sanctions against ZTE Corp. for the second time, as the Chinese maker of telecommunications equipment works to repair its reputation after allegedly violating U.S. trade rules. (WSJ)
Twitter: The social media giant said that it has suspended 235,000 terrorist-related accounts over the last six months, nearly double as many as in the previous period, reflecting stepped up efforts to curb the proliferation of extremist content. (WSJ)

Uber: The ride-hailing company signed a $300 million agreement with Volvo to co-develop autonomous sport-utility vehicles that will either be used as self-driving taxis or sold to consumers. (NYT)

Renesas Electronics: The Japanese chipmaker said it is in talks to buy U.S.-based Intersil Corp., a move that analysts say could strengthen the Japanese company’s business of making semiconductor components for cars. (WSJ)

Industry Employment: Analysts say that Cisco’s plans to lay off 5,500 employees is unlikely to be the last round of Silicon Valley labor cuts as hardware companies struggle to keep up with rapid technology shifts. (Reuters)
UK: A government review of controversial counterterrorism legislation said that Britain's spies should be allowed to continue harvesting large amounts of data from emails. (BBC)

Global: A new tool designed to help prevent overfishing will allow users to track commercial fishing trawlers all over the world. Oceana, an international conservation organization, together with Google and SkyTruth, a nonprofit group that uses aerial and satellite images to track changes in the landscape, are due to launch the Global Fishing Tracker within weeks. (Reuters)

Must Reads
The Billionaires Racing to Space: “Nearly five decades after the United States beat the Soviet Union to the moon, another space race is emerging, this time among a class of hugely wealthy entrepreneurs who have grown frustrated that space travel is in many ways still as difficult, and as expensive, as ever. Driven by ego, outsize ambition and opportunity, they are investing hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money in an attempt to open up space to the masses and push human space travel far past where governments have gone,” writes Christian Davenport in the Washington Post.

Humans: Unsafe at Any Speed: “Google and Ford need “permissionless innovation,” a concept popularized by George Mason University’s Adam Thierer, which means allowing new technologies and business models to develop by default, with regulations following as needed. This approach explains the success of the internet, where websites and services were launched without having to ask bureaucrats for permission until the Obama administration imposed regulations on prices and practices,” writes L. Gordon Crovitz in the Wall Street Journal.

German Angst Over Chinese M&A: “The idea of a Chinese entity owning one of the nation’s great innovators is a cause for widespread angst in Germany. The hand-wringing started soon after Midea revealed its bid. 'Kuka is a successful company in a strategic sector that is important for the digital future of European industry,' said Günther Oettinger, the EU’s digital commissioner and a close political ally of Ms Merkel. He called on other European companies to make a counter offer, but no one came forward,” writes Guy Chazan in the Financial Times.
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FT Cyber Security Summit Asia Pacific: Singapore, October 26, 2016
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