The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            



China’s central bank declared initial coin offerings (ICOs) to be illegal and ordered an immediate prohibition against all related fundraising activity. ICOs have been described as a cross between crowdfunding and an initial public offering, where instead of buying stock purchasers receive a coin that can conceivably be used at some future date to pay for a good or service from the company issuing the token.

Beijing’s decision, which analysts described as the strongest regulatory challenge so far to the burgeoning digital currency market, sent the prices of the two leading cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ether, tumbling double digits. Meanwhile, questions still linger about just what an ICO is, with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently warning that it may regulate some tokens as securities. (Bloomberg, WSJ)


Doxxing: Since the violence in Charlottesville, analysts say the practice of obtaining and posting private documents about an individual has emerged from subculture websites like 4Chan and Reddit to become something of a mainstream phenomenon. (NYT)

Pacemakers: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to 465,000 people with cardiac pacemakers saying they should update the firmware that runs their life-sustaining devices or risk falling victim to potentially fatal hacks. (Ars Technica)


Yahoo: A federal judge in San Jose ruled that victims of the historic cyberattack on the internet company, which was sold to Verizon earlier this year, have standing to sue and could pursue some breach of contract and unfair competition claims against Yahoo. (Reuters)


Uber: The company has confirmed that the Department of Justice is investigating whether its managers broke U.S. laws prohibiting bribery of foreign officials. Uber recently pulled out of China and Russia in the face of brutal competition from local companies. (WaPo)

Data Requests: The U.S. and UK governments have almost doubled their requests to obtain data from technology, media, and telecom companies over the past three years, according to an analysis by Deloitte. Governments may ask for data through legal means such as court orders and search warrants, but companies have frequently resisted these requests. (FT)


  ON THE HILL                                    

Cyber Office: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave formal notice to Congress last week that he plans to shutter his department’s cyber coordinator office and roll some of its responsibilities into the economics bureau. Tillerson described the reorganization, which has its critics, as an effort to streamline State Department operations. (NextGov)


Autonomous Vehicles: The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars. Among other things, the bill would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. (Reuters)

Think Tank: The New America Foundation’s firing of Barry Lynn, a scholar who had been critical of Google, has exposed a rift in Democratic Party politics. Many Democrats are reportedly considering breaking their alliance with tech giants and becoming part of an antimonopoly movement within the party. (WaPo)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Time Warner Cable: More than four million records of users of the company’s MyTWC app were found unsecured on an Amazon server last month, according to a digital security research center. The information was removed immediately after the discovery, and the incident is reportedly being investigated. (Reuters)

Qadium: The cybersecurity startup has raised $40 million in second-round funding. Every hour, Qadium indexes devices connected to the internet, allowing a global company to see when any device is added in any office across the world. (FT)

  THE WORLD                                     

South Korea: Political analysts say that public pressure could mount to free Lee Jae-yong, the third-generation de facto leader of Samsung, if the giant company stumbles while he is serving out his prison term for bribery and other crimes. (NYT)

EU: The European Court of Human Rights ruled that companies must tell employees in advance if their work email accounts are being monitored, and said such checks must not unduly infringe workers’ privacy. (Reuters)


Russian Hacking Draws Little Scrutiny: “After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists,” write several journalists for the New York Times.


Striking a Balance With Privacy: “Alan Westin, perhaps the most influential privacy scholar of the 20th century, admitted in a 2003 interview that while he appreciates the role of privacy advocates who push for a “total privacy solution,” he would “never want to live under their regimes.” The goal, for reasonable minds at least, is balance. The competing values of privacy and law enforcement, in the end, “need to be brought into some kind of harmony.” That all parties involved in the DreamHost case are debating that balance is a step in the right direction,” writes Lawrence Capello in the Wall Street Journal.


How Tech Companies Dominate DC: “A Washington Post analysis shows just how broad tech companies’ interests have become in the nation’s capital. According to corporate disclosures that were submitted to the Senate Office of Public Records and screened by the Center for Responsive Politics, some of these tech giants are regularly setting records in their spending on lobbying and are pushing as many as 100 issues — or more — every year. The proliferation of issues in Silicon Valley's lobbying portfolio helps illustrate the industry's growing influence on everyday consumer life,” write Brian Fung and Hamza Shaban in the Washington Post.

Testing Tech-Driven Bail Reform: “As states across the country look to tech tools to reform their jail and prison systems, New Jersey’s experiment illustrates both the promises and pitfalls of using technology to determine who does and doesn’t remain behind bars,” writes Issie Lapowsky in Wired.


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