The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief, June 12, 2017
  FEATURED STORY            
MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2017

Reality Winner, the 25-year-old NSA contractor accused of leaking a top-secret document to The Intercept, was denied bail on Thursday after she pleaded not guilty. During the detention hearing, a federal prosecutor said that Winner might have stolen or exposed other secrets before her arrest last month. It was not clear whether Winner had distributed classified information beyond a single NSA report related to Russian hacking activities. But prosecutors said the authorities were concerned because Winner referred to “documents” during a telephone call with her mother. “I screwed up,” Winner, 25, allegedly said during the call.
Prosecutors successfully argued that Winner remains a flight risk and a threat to the public after presenting a notebook in which she wrote, “I want to burn the White House Down ... find somewhere in Kurdistan to live. Ha-ha!” Winner, who worked for Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia at the time she is alleged to have removed material from a U.S. government facility, is the first person charged with leaking classified information during the Trump administration.

According to prosecutors, Winner also plugged a peculiar query into an internet search engine last year: “Do top secret computers detect when flash drives are inserted?” She later placed such a device, which has not been recovered, into one such computer. Washington Post, Associated Press, New York Times, Slate

Doubleswitch Twitter attacks: The security research group Access Now has discovered a new kind of attack being used against influential social media users as a means of disseminating fake news. The “Doubleswitch” involves hijacking verified accounts and cloning them to spread misinformation. It also makes it extremely difficult for the legitimate owner to regain control of his or her handle. Gizmodo, Independent

  ON THE HILL                                    

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and director of the National Security Agency Admiral Michael S. Rogers testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, where they told the committee that Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows for the collection of digital communications of foreigners overseas and is set to expire at the end of the year, should be permanently reauthorized. Coats said Section 702 is necessary to keep the United States safe from national security threats. Rogers said the NSA would not have been able to “produce the insights” on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election without Section 702. Washington Post, Reuters, Politico
JustSecurity: We Have Good Reason to Be Concerned about the Impact of Section 702 on the Criminal Justice System
Drone bill: A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed the Drone Federalism Act as a way for local governments, including Native American tribal authorities, to create drone rules specific to their regions as they see fit. Fortune, Popular Science


AI and intelligence analysis: The director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said at a conference last week that artificial intelligence is poised to transform image analysis. He hopes that robots will soon perform 75 percent of the tasks currently done by American intelligence analysts who collect, analyze, and interpret images beamed from drones, satellites, and other feeds around the globe. Foreign Policy

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Microsoft buys cyber firm Hexadite: Microsoft announced last week that it has agreed to acquire Hexadite, a U.S.-Israeli provider of technology designed to automate responses to cyber attacks. Reuters

  THE WORLD                                     

Al Jazeera hit by massive cyberattack: Pan-Arab satellite network Al Jazeera said last week that it was combating a large-scale cyber attack on all of its systems, including its websites and social media platforms. The attack came several days after  a handful of Muslim-majority countries cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, which is home to the channel. Foreign Policy, Reuters
Russian hackers behind Qatar crisis? The Qatari government claims that a May 23 news report — in which the Qatari ruler purportedly criticized the Saudis while praising Iran and Israel — was actually a fake story planted by Russian hackers. The report was said to have been a factor in the diplomatic crisis now roiling the region. CNN reported last week that U.S. intelligence officials also believe Russian hackers planted the fake story. Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Guardian
Gulf states say “pro-Qatar” speech is a cybercrime: Amid a diplomatic crisis in the region, government officials in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have issued warnings that any citizen who expresses sympathy or support for Qatar via social media could face jail time or exorbitant fines. Slate
Merkel says digital world needs global rules: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that the digital world needs regulations like those that exist for financial markets in the G20 and for trade under the World Trade Organization. Reuters
Expedited police request for data: The European Union wants to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to get electronic evidence directly from tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, even when stored in another European country. Reuters
Blaming the internet for terrorism misses the point: “When Theresa May and other politicians call for encryption-busting protocols, what they really hope to do is turn back the clock to a time when the internet didn't connecting everyone and everything and underpin how the world works,” writes Emily Dreyfuss in Wired. “They need to realize that time is past. Regulation, fines, pleading—nothing will return the world to the pre-internet era.”
Reality Winner isn’t a whistleblower - or a victim of Trump’s war on leaks: “Put aside Trump’s vows to crack down on leakers amid a steady stream of embarrassing revelations,” said Mark Zaid in the Washington Post. “There is nothing surprising or unusual about the criminal charges against Reality Winner. Nor is there any indication that the White House had any involvement in this matter. The fact that Trump wants to silence leakers does not turn Winner into a whistleblower or a martyr of ‘the resistance,’ no matter how much some may wish to applaud her actions.”
Why U.S. surveillance bothers me - and should bother you: “As the Trump Administration comes out swinging in favor of one of the United States’ most controversial surveillance laws and Congress debates them with top intelligence and Department of Justice officials, everyone in the country should be thinking about why being watched by the government makes us queasy,” writes Sarah St. Vincent in The Hill.



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