The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



The Trump administration is prohibiting U.S. government agencies from using software designed by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian business headquartered in Moscow, amid concerns the company is closely linked to the Kremlin and presents a cyberespionage threat.


“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

Kaspersky Lab has repeatedly denied that it has ties to any government and said it would not engage in cyberespionage. Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, has reportedly accepted an invitation to testify on Capitol Hill later this month about the security of his company’s products. (WaPo, Reuters, NYT)


Optimizing Software: Piriform, a British company that develops free software to improve computer performance, said hackers breached its systems last month, potentially allowing them to control the devices of more than two million users. (Reuters)

Hackable Cars: Security analysts say that as vehicles are equipped with more digital controls and internet-connected devices, they are becoming more vulnerable to cybercriminals. More than 50 percent of a car’s value today is defined by software, and that is continuing to increase. (WSJ)


Equifax: More than three dozen U.S. states have joined a probe of Equifax’s handling of the massive data breach, according to the Illinois attorney general’s office, which is leading the investigation. (Reuters)


Border Searches: Eleven people whose electronic devices were searched by agents without a warrant at U.S. ports of entry are suing the Department of Homeland Security, claiming their First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated. U.S. border authorities have thus far been permitted to search and confiscate digital devices as easily as they can your luggage, analysts say. (NYT)

Dark Web Vendors: Legal analysts say the Eastern District of California has quietly become a hub for cases against drug dealers who operated on Silk Road, AlphaBay, and other now-shuttered Dark Web marketplaces. (Ars Technica)

  ON THE HILL                                    

WikiLeaks: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) reportedly contacted the White House last week in an effort to broker a deal that would end Julian Assange’s U.S. legal problems in exchange for “proof” that Russia was not the source of hacked emails published by WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign. (WSJ)


Russia Probe: Facebook has reportedly provided special counsel Robert Mueller detailed records about Russian ad purchases on its platform that go beyond what the social media company shared with Congress last week. (WSJ)

Data Pact: The U.S.-EU Privacy Shield pact that underpins billions of dollars of transatlantic data transfers will undergo its first annual review early this week. Analysts say it’s an opportunity for the European Commission to ensure the pact is functioning well and that the United States is keeping its part of the deal. (Reuters)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Equifax: Two technology and security executives, Susan Mauldin and David Webb, are retiring from the embattled company after the recent cybersecurity breach. The credit agency also confirmed that Mandiant, the threat intelligence arm of FireEye, has been brought on to help investigate the breach. (NBC)


Tesla: Federal regulators said that a fatal 2016 crash involving a Tesla was caused by the driver’s over-reliance on the vehicle’s Autopilot system and by a truck driver’s failure to yield. “Tesla allowed the driver to use the [Autopilot] system outside of the environment for which it was designed,” they said. (LATimes)

Google/Facebook: The world’s top sellers of online ads have drawn sharp criticism for allowing advertisers to target users who searched for or expressed an interest in racist sentiments and hate speech. (NYT)

  THE WORLD                                     

Global: The Bank for International Settlements, based in Switzerland, said it is too soon to decide whether central banks should issue their own cryptocurrencies, as the risks could not yet be fully assessed (Reuters)


An Internet Fractured by Government Controls: “As nations try to grab back power online, a clash is brewing between governments and companies. Some of the biggest companies in the world — Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba among them — are finding they need to play by an entirely new set of rules on the once-anarchic internet,” write several authors at the New York Times.


Inside the Equifax Hack: “The Equifax hack has stunned many consumers, who are suddenly aware of their own vulnerability to what was long considered a necessary but largely opaque part of the country’s financial plumbing,” write a team of authors at the Wall Street Journal.

Silicon Valley’s Cryptocurrency Boom: “Just as the dotcom craze was stirred up by extravagant hopes for the world wide web, the [Initial Coin Offering] boom is the product of another supposedly transformative technology: the blockchain. First used as the backbone for processing bitcoin transfers, blockchains are open, distributed ledgers where transactions between any two parties on a network are authenticated and recorded,” writes Richard Waters in the Financial Times.


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