The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are reportedly investigating a wide-ranging campaign by the Russian government to stir public distrust in the 2016 presidential election. Federal officials are particularly wary of Russian attempts to infiltrate electronic voting systems following the Kremlin’s alleged involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. President Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow had a hand in the incidents, and the Obama administration has yet to blame him publicly.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has offered local and state election officials help to prevent or mitigate any digital disruptions in November, including vulnerability scans, regular intelligence alerts, and access to other tools for improving cybersecurity. The department will also have a team ready at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center to alert authorities in the event of problems. (WaPo, Bloomberg, Politico)


Dropbox: A hack in 2012 of the popular cloud storage service exposed over 68 million users’ email addresses and passwords. The company had previously only reported that customers’ emails had been leaked. (Guardian)


Hotel Chain: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, owned by the InterContinental Group, said it discovered malware on its systems designed to track payment card numbers, cardholder names, and other guest information. The company launched an investigation after it was told in July of unauthorized charges on some customers’ cards. (Reuters)

Financial Network: The global financial messaging system SWIFT disclosed new hacking on member banks as it pushed them to comply with security policies instituted after February's $81 million heist at Bangladesh Bank. (Reuters)


Gag Order Suit: Technology, media, and other companies have filed amicus briefs in support of Microsoft’s lawsuit aiming to strike down a law preventing companies from notifying customers that the government is seeking their data. The software giant says the secrecy orders violate the Fourth and First Amendments. (Reuters, NYT)

Guccifer: Marcel Lehel Lazar, the Romanian hacker who helped expose Hillary Clinton's use of private email when she was U.S. secretary of state, was sentenced by a Virginia federal court to 52 months in prison in connection to an admission that he broke into about 100 Americans' email accounts. (Ars Technica)


  ON THE HILL                                    

CIA: In-Q-Tel, a venture-capital firm in Virginia that is funded by the Central Intelligence Agency and operates largely in the shadows, helps spur the development of new surveillance technology. Analysts say that trustees of the publicly-funded group may have conflicts of interest. (WSJ)

FBI: The federal law enforcement agency is reportedly working hard to recruit the next generation of computer security experts, but its button-down culture and hiring rules often make this difficult, analysts say. (WaPo)


Defense Science Board: A new report attempts to identify the science, engineering, and policy problems that the government must solve to allow greater operational use of autonomous systems across warfighting domains. (DOD)

Air Force: The service is having to rely more on private contractors to pilot its reconnaissance drones. The Pentagon has added four drones flown by contractors to the roughly 60 that are flown every day by Air Force personnel. Over the next two years, it plans to add six more operated by contractors. (NYT)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

nuTonomy: The U.S. startup surprised many by beating the likes of Uber and other competitors to put driverless taxis on the road. CEO Karl Iagnemma explains that his company's robotics prowess helps give nuTonomy an edge in the industry. (FT)


Samsung: In one of the biggest global recalls of smartphones, the Korean company said it would replace millions of Galaxy Note 7 devices because of battery fires. The recall comes just ahead of Apple’s planned introduction of its newest smartphones on Wednesday. (WSJ)


LG: The Korean firm is preparing to enter the robotics industry with the aim to develop products that will work closely with home appliances such as refrigerators, washers, and air conditioning units. (Reuters)


Nvidia: The U.S. chipmaker is forming a partnership with Chinese internet giant Baidu to develop a self-driving, artificially intelligent car. (WSJ)

Amazon: The online retailer reportedly poached artificial-intelligence expert Hassan Sawaf from rival eBay in its latest move to bolster its ability to quickly determine what users want. (WSJ)

  THE WORLD                                     

China: The government of Hangzhou has built an incubator hub called Dream Town where it lavishes resources on hundreds of start-ups. Some economists are concerned that Beijing policies are helping fuel a bubble that might ultimately result in failed businesses and wasted resources. (NYT)

UK: More than 200 people have been prosecuted since a new revenge porn law came into force in England and Wales last year, an official report on crimes against women shows. (BBC)


U.S. Election Legitimacy at Risk: “These separate concerns – that machines can be hacked to alter voting records, leaving no way to verify or recount and that Russia has the motive, means and opportunity to meddle in the November election – combine to raise a warning that Russian hackers might be able to tilt the election to a candidate who would act favorably toward Russian interests...But the much more likely threat to democracy is sore losers who cast doubt on the integrity of the voting process,” writes Herbert Lin for UPI.


How Spy Tech Firms Let Governments Hack Smartphones: “The cyberarms industry typified by the NSO Group operates in a legal gray area, and it is often left to the companies to decide how far they are willing to dig into a target’s personal life and what governments they will do business with. Israel has strict export controls for digital weaponry, but the country has never barred the sale of NSO Group technology,” writes Nicole Perlroth in the New York Times.


The Human Obstacle to the Driverless Revolution: "No matter how hard the technology proves, it may be the easier part of the puzzle. A stiffer challenge remains the human. Even when manufacturers and software engineers develop fully autonomous cars in which they have total trust, it will still take many years, if not decades, for them to be freely embraced by governments and consumers," writes John Thornhill in the Financial Times.

Snowden’s Strange Journey to Hollywood: “Oliver Stone wanted a hit — and the chance to put America’s most iconic dissident onscreen. The subject wanted veto power. The Russian lawyer wanted someone to option the novel he’d written. The American lawyer just wanted the whole insane project to go away. Somehow a film got made,” writes Irina Aleksander in the New York Times Magazine.


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