The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



The top U.S. court has agreed to hear a major digital privacy case that pits federal investigators against Microsoft and many other technology firms. The Trump administration successfully petitioned justices to review a lower court’s ruling last year that said emails stored in servers overseas are beyond the reach of U.S. search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act (1986). Microsoft has said it is up to U.S. Congress to revise the thirty-year-old law and noted that both chambers have recently held hearings to consider reforms.

The Supreme Court will also hear next month a case hinging on whether police need a warrant to access cellphone location data held by wireless service providers. Rulings in both cases are due by the end of June. (Reuters, NYT, WaPo, SCOTUSBlog)


Critical Infrastructure: The Department of Homeland Security issued a rare public warning that the nuclear, energy, aviation, water, and critical manufacturing industries have been targeted by hackers dating back to at least May. Their objective is to compromise networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain login credentials, the report said. (Reuters)


Whole Foods: The supermarket chain said that a data breach involving credit-card charges made at its taprooms and restaurants affected about 100 venues in its stores over a six-month period. The hack may have included the copying of cardholder names, account numbers and verification codes. (WSJ)

Wi-Fi: Cybersecurity researchers found a flaw in the security technology commonly used on wireless networks, known as Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 or “WPA2,” that could allow hackers to read, steal, or manipulate data. A person needs to be physically in range of a particular Wi-Fi network to carry out the attacks. (Wired)

  ON THE HILL                                    

Surveillance: The Senate Intelligence Committee is reportedly planning this week to debate in secret a bill that would reauthorize a powerful government surveillance authority without imposing any new restraints. The legislation is aimed at revising Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amended in 2008. (WaPo)


Online Ads: Senior U.S. lawmakers, including John McCain (R-AZ), are pushing for Facebook, Google, and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising. The move follow revelations that Russian-linked operatives bought deceptive ads in the run-up to the 2016 election. (NYT)


Tech Lawyers: Facebook, Google, and Twitter are putting their general counsels in the hot seats in front of lawmakers on Nov. 1. The New York Times introduces the three attorneys. (NYT)

Data Pact: The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, an agreement underpinning billions of dollars of transatlantic data transfers, won a green light from the European Union after its first annual review. (Reuters)


Cyber Defense: In a letter to lawmakers, Secretary Mattis voiced his opposition to pending legislation that would compel the United States to alert foreign governments when the Pentagon has decided to combat certain cyberattacks. (Reuters)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Softbank: The Japanese telecommunication giant, which runs what is already the world’s biggest technology investment fund, is planning to create a second fund that could be even larger, about $200 billion in size. (WSJ)


Merck: Insurers could reportedly pay $275 million to cover the insured portion of the drugmaker’s loss from a cyberattack in June. Merck, however, has not disclosed the magnitude of its uninsured losses from the “NotPetya” attack. (Reuters)

Lyft: The ride-hailing firm may go public in 2018 and is trying to strengthen its position by raising more capital, including $1 billion in new financing led by an investment arm of Google’s parent company. (NYT)

  THE WORLD                                     

Czech Republic: In the country’s parliamentary elections last weekend, anti-establishment parties got a major boost from websites sharing sensationalized content. Some of the sites traffic in fake or misleading information. (Atlantic)

China: Some in China see a great affirmation of the country’s vision for the Internet as the United States and other western powers consider new restrictions in the wake of so-called fake news and foreign meddling. (NYT)


How Fiction Becomes Fact on Social Media: “For all the suspicions about social media companies’ motives and ethics, it is the interaction of the technology with our common, often subconscious psychological biases that makes so many of us vulnerable to misinformation, and this has largely escaped notice,” writes Benedict Carey for the New York Times.


The Push to Personalize News Is a Seismic Shift: “While news personalization can help people manage information overload by making individuals’ news diets unique, it also threatens to incite filter bubbles and, in turn, bias...As data tracking becomes more sophisticated, voice-recognition software advances, and tech companies leverage personalization for profit, personalization will only become more acute. This is potentially alarming given the growth of websites—news-oriented and otherwise—inhabiting the political extremes, which on Facebook are easy to mistake for valid sources of news,” writes Adrienne LaFrance in the Atlantic.

Facebook’s Master Algorithm: “If telling us what to look at next is Facebook’s raison d’être, then the AI that enables that endless spoon-feeding of content is the company’s most important, and sometimes most controversial, intellectual property. A sorted, curated feed tuned for engagement is the product of a device that may someday be viewed by historians as a milestone on par with the steam engine,” writes Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal.


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