The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief, June 26, 2017
  FEATURED STORY            
MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2017

Russian government-linked hackers potentially targeted the election systems of up to 21 states during the 2016 presidential race, DHS official Samuel Liles said last week. Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Liles said the intelligence community concluded by late September of last year that 21 states “were potentially targeted by Russian government-linked cyber actors” with scanning of Internet-connected election systems. The department’s Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Cyber Security, Jeanette Manfra, said there was no evidence that any votes were manipulated. CNN

Meanwhile, Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that to his knowledge, Russia neither altered vote tallies nor ballots in the 2016 election. Johnson said his department had issued warnings about hacking into voter registration databases. Asked why the Obama administration did not do more to warn the public, he said, “We were very concerned that we would not be perceived as taking sides in the election, injecting ourselves into a very heated campaign.” Reuters, CNN, CBS News
Washington Post: The Simple Reason Intelligence Officials Keep Talking About Russian Hacking? Trump.
CNN: Everything Trump Has Said About Who Tried to Hack the U.S. Election
The British Parliament was the target of a cyberattack this weekend that left many legislators unable to connect to their email. Around 90 email accounts belonging to parliamentarians were believed to have been hacked, but amid fears that the breach could lead to blackmail attempts, officials were forced to lock MPs out of their own email accounts as they scrambled to minimize the damage from the incident.
The “sustained” hack began on Friday night, prompting officials to disable remote access to the emails of MPs, peers, and their staff as a safeguard. The parliamentary authorities said hackers had mounted a “determined attack” on all user accounts “in an attempt to identify weak passwords.”
Last week, there were reports in The Times of London that the passwords of British cabinet ministers, ambassadors and senior police officers were being sold online after Russian hacking groups gained access. The Guardian reports that although the investigation is at an early stage, Moscow has been deemed the most likely culprit. Guardian, BBC News, Reuters, Independent, Wall Street Journal

Government websites, including that of the Ohio governor’s site, were hacked Sunday with a message that purports to be supportive of ISIS. Visitors to were greeted with a black background and an Arabic symbol while an Islamic call to prayer played in the background. A message said, “You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries.” A group calling itself Team System DZ apparently hacked numerous state websites, including that of first lady Karen Kasich’s website and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. CNN, Associated Press
A cyberattack ‘the world isn’t ready for’: Golan Ben-Oni, the CIO of IDT Corporation, has been warning the U.S. government and cybersecurity companies for months about a cyber attack that struck his company and went undetected by antivirus systems -- and may still be invisibly striking victims undetected around the world. New York Times
Ransomware payout: South Korean Web host, Nayana, has agreed to pay $1 million to a ransomware operation that encrypted data stored on 153 Linux servers and 3,400 customer websites. The payout has been called potentially record breaking for a ransomware attack. Ars Technica


The Department of Justice petitioned the Supreme Court last week to weigh in on a long-running legal battle with Microsoft over access to emails stored on foreign servers. The case concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on servers in Dublin, Ireland. After Microsoft balked at a warrant for the data as part of a drug investigation, an appeals court ruled in favor of Microsoft, finding that the Justice Department couldn’t use a warrant to obtain messages from one of the company’s overseas data centers and would have to request the data through an international treaty process instead. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the case, its decision will have wide-ranging effects on the way the tech industry stores user data and the way law enforcement accesses it, both in the U.S. and abroad. Gizmodo, Ars Technica
Reuters: Google Pushes Framework for Law Enforcement Access to Overseas Data

  ON THE HILL                                    

DHS scans Americans’ faces at airport: For certain international flights from Atlanta and New York, DHS has partnered with Delta to bring mandatory face recognition scans to the boarding gate. The initiative, part of the first phase of DHS’s “Biometric Exit” program, scans even Americans’ faces. Slate
Trump meets with wireless, drone executives: President Trump offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T and General Electric and other business leaders. Reuters
Threat of Russian grid hacking: Nineteen senators called on the White House last week to direct the Department of Energy to conduct a new analysis of the Russian government’s capabilities to disrupt America's power grid. Wired

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found. Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country. The requests, which have increased since 2014, are ostensibly done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any “backdoors” that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems, and a number of U.S. firms are agreeing. Reuters
Google to stop scanning Gmail for ads: Google said on Friday it would stop scanning Gmail content for creating personalized ads starting later this year. The practice has been criticized on privacy concerns. Reuters

  THE WORLD                                     

Two top Australian government officials said Sunday that they will push for “thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging” during a meeting next week of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing group. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, will meet in the Canadian city of Ottawa next week, where they will discuss tactics to combat terrorism and border protection. Australia has made it clear it wants tech companies to do much more to give intelligence and law enforcement agencies access to encrypted communications. Ars Technica, Reuters
Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault: “In political terms, Russia’s interference in the election was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy,” write Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous in the Washington Post. “It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences.”
How an entire nation became Russia’s test lab for cyberwar: “In Ukraine, the quintessential cyberwar scenario has come to life. Twice,” writes Andy Greenberg in Wired. “On separate occasions, invisible saboteurs have turned off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. Each blackout lasted a matter of hours, only as long as it took for scrambling engineers to manually switch the power on again. But as proofs of concept, the attacks set a new precedent: In Russia’s shadow, the decades-old nightmare of hackers stopping the gears of modern society has become a reality.”
The Kremlin’s newest hybrid warfare asset: gangsters: “Russia and other states have taken to hiring street gangs and thugs to do the sort of dirty work that even spies don't want to touch,” writes Mark Galeotti in Foreign Policy.


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