The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



Several major technology companies, including Facebook, Google, and Cloudflare, are cracking down on right-wing extremist groups following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The moves come amid a public outcry shaming Silicon Valley companies for providing services to websites like The Daily Stormer, which espouses hateful and inflammatory rhetoric. The Daily Stormer has reportedly moved onto the so-called dark web in an attempt to stay operational.

While the restrictions will make it far more difficult for these groups to reach a mass audience, some civil liberties groups question whether a handful of corporations should use their considerable power over the internet to censor. “Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group. “We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.” (WSJ, Guardian, NYT, WaPo, The Hill)


GOP: A group affiliated with the Anonymous hacking collective posted what it says are the private phone numbers and email addresses for 22 Republican members of Congress. The goal of publishing the information is reportedly to get the public to call on these lawmakers to more forcefully condemn President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. (WaPo)


HBO: A group that identified itself as OurMine gained illicit access to HBO’s main Twitter account and accounts for some of its TV shows, and wrote “we are just testing your security.” Earlier this month, an unidentified hacker released unaired episodes of shows like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Ballers,” and “Insecure.” (NYT)

Insider Trading: The FBI is growing concerned that Wall Street traders are using encrypted apps like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram to hide illicit communications from internal compliance programs and regulators. (FT)


Daily Stormer: The Southern Poverty Law Center has tried for months to track down the founder of the neo-Nazi website, Andrew Anglin, for a lawsuit alleging he inflicted emotional distress on a Jewish real estate agent in Montana. Legal analysts say the search for him highlights the challenges that online harassment cases sometimes encounter. (NYT)


Anti-Trump Site: Federal prosecutors served a web-hosting company, DreamHost, with a search warrant for every piece of information it has related to a website used to coordinate protests during Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been advising the company, characterized the warrant as “unconstitutional” and “a fishing expedition.” (Guardian)

Uber: The ride-hailing company has agreed to twenty years of privacy and security audits to settle federal accusations that it did not protect customer data. The charges relate to God View, a software program that enabled Uber to monitor real-time locations of customers and drivers. (BBC)


Cyber Command: President Trump ordered that the Pentagon’s offensive cyber-force become its own unified military command, putting it on par with the main combatant commands, such as Central Command. However, it is expected that the head of the command and the NSA director, currently Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, will be the same person for at least another year. (WaPo)

  THE WORLD                                     

Global: Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of more than a hundred specialists from 26 countries calling for the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons. “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” they write. The UN recently voted to begin formal discussions on such weapons which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. (Guardian)


Russia Probe: A Ukrainian hacker has reportedly turned himself in and become a witness for the FBI as part of its investigation into Russia’s hacking of the U.S. presidential election. Analysts say Russia likely outsourced malware coding to private individuals like the Ukrainian man. (NYT)


France: President Emmanuel Macron is looking to create in France a group of internationally successful, billion-dollar technology companies. Analysts note that within the tech sector, the country’s advantage lies in areas such as software, healthcare, and artificial intelligence. (FT)

Scotland: Hackers have reportedly mounted a “brute force” cyberattack on the Scottish parliament’s computer systems, attempting to access numerous email accounts by systematically and repeatedly trying to crack their passwords. Officials said they were not aware of any compromised email accounts. (Guardian)


Biggest Tech Firms Are No Longer Just American: “Their rise is emblematic of a rebalancing of global technological influence. In recent years, places from Paris to Seoul have claimed the mantle of the next Silicon Valley. Yet the cluster of fast-growing start-ups and internet behemoths coming out of China has emerged as the one true rival in scale, value and technology to the West Coast homes of the American technology renaissance,” writes Paul Mozur in the New York Times.


Tech Companies Have the Tools to Confront White Supremacy: “As the tech industry walks the narrow path between free speech and hate speech, it allows people with extremist ideologies to promote brands and beliefs on their platforms, as long as the violent rhetoric is swapped out for dog whistles and obfuscating language. All the while, social media platforms allow these groups to amass and recruit followers under the guise of peaceful protest,” writes Issie Lapowsky in Wired.

The Driverless Future: “In converting the drivers of today into the passengers of tomorrow, autonomous vehicles hold the potential to transform civilization on a scale not seen since the automobile supplanted the horse as the primary mode of human transport. Everything from where people live and work and what they eat to where they vacation and how they go to war could change dramatically as driverless technology emerges. The disruption will touch nearly every individual, industry, and nation, but there will be winners and losers,” writes Jonathan Masters in Foreign Affairs.



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