The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former associate of Mr. Manafort, Rick Gates, were instructed to surrender to federal authorities this morning. Manafort was reportedly indicted under seal on Friday and is planning to turn himself in. The charges are the first to come in a months-long special counsel investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.


Manafort was under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering, and undisclosed foreign lobbying. In particular, Manafort’s work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych attracted scrutiny from federal investigators, but over the years he has denied financial wrongdoing regarding his Ukraine-related payments. The FBI executed a search warrant at Manafort’s Virginia home at the end of July.

Rick Gates is a longtime protégé of Manafort. His name reportedly appears on documents linked to companies that Manafort set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe. (NYT, CNN, ABC, WSJ, Lawfare)


Maritime Infrastructure: Researchers have found flaws in the electronic platforms that ships use to access the internet that could expose extensive operational and personal data, and potentially undermine other critical systems on a ship. (Wired)


Ransomware: Researchers have linked the so-called BadRabbit attack that struck Russia, Ukraine, and a few other countries last week with the NotPetya malware that crippled businesses worldwide earlier this year. (Reuters)

Cryptocurrencies: Hackers are reportedly taking over unwitting victims’ systems to secretly generate cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. In recent months, currency-mining software has been found on cloud-based servers operated by the British insurer Aviva and Times Publishing Co., owner of the Tampa Bay Times, security companies say. (WSJ)


Equifax: Attorneys general in several states are looking into why the credit-reporting firm didn’t tell the public for nearly six weeks about the data breach that potentially compromised the information of 146 million Americans. (WSJ)

Intelligence: The Department of Defense has broadened an interpretation of which U.S. citizens can be subject to surveillance to include “homegrown violent extremists.” However, it was not clear what practical effect the expanded definition might have on how the U.S. government gathers intelligence, analysts say. (Reuters)

  ON THE HILL                                    

Drones: President Trump signed an executive memo loosening some rules for commercial drones, including for package deliveries, by allowing broader testing by companies like Amazon. (NYT)

Driverless Cars: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is looking for input on how it can remove regulatory roadblocks to self-driving cars. The agency plans to issue a formal notice in the “near future requesting comment” on the hurdles, and hopes to make the notice public by the end of November. (Reuters)


Drones: Militaries around the world from the United States to Australia to Israel are racing to develop various unmanned systems for the battlefield. (WSJ)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Twitter: The social media company has banned two Russian government-affiliated news sites, Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, from advertising on its platform. The decision stemmed from the conclusion of the U.S. national intelligence report in January that said that the Kremlin used the sites to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (WaPo)


Facebook: The company says it will launch a publicly searchable archive next year containing details about the advertisements it runs related to U.S. federal elections. This week, general counsels for Facebook, Google, and Twitter will testify before public hearings of three U.S. congressional committees. (Reuters)

YouTube: Analysts say that world’s most-visited video site, which is owned by Google, one of the most powerful and influential corporations in America, played a crucial role in helping build and expand Russia Today. (NYT)

  THE WORLD                                     

UK: Authorities in Britain said they believe North Korea was behind the “WannaCry” cyberattack in May that disrupted businesses and government services worldwide. (Reuters)


What Are Initial Coin Offerings? “Coin offerings are a way for start-ups or online projects to raise money without selling stock or going to venture capitalists — essentially a new form of crowdfunding. The programmers raise money by creating and selling their own virtual currency, generally with rules similar to well-known virtual currencies like Bitcoin,” writes Nathaniel Popper in the New York Times.


Time for Feds to Tell About Kaspersky: “In the vacuum of any official statement from the U.S. government to sort out those narratives, everyone else is left to make our decisions about whether to exile Kaspersky from their PCs with incomplete information. But as unfair as it may seem, better to treat Kaspersky as guilty until proven innocent,” writes Andy Greenberg in Wired.

Crypto-Fool’s Gold? “Is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin the biggest bubble in the world today, or a great investment bet on the cutting edge of new-age financial technology? My best guess is that in the long run, the technology will thrive, but that the price of Bitcoin will collapse,” writes Kenneth Rogoff for Project Syndicate.


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