The Stroz Friedberg Cyber Brief

  FEATURED STORY            

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018


Amid flaring trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies, the Trump administration zeroed in last week on two of China’s top technology companies. On Monday, regulators in Washington restricted U.S. companies from selling equipment to ZTE Corp. for seven years, saying the Shenzen-based telecom giant ran afoul of a sanctions violations settlement deal last year.

Then on Tuesday the Trump administration pushed forward with a plan that would prevent federally-subsidized telecom carriers from using suppliers that pose a national security risk. Analysts say the decision was directed at Huawei, another of China’s leading tech makers. However, Huawei has largely been locked out of the U.S. market since it and ZTE were the subject of a 2012 congressional report that warned U.S. operators against doing business with them. (WSJ, NYT, Reuters, Bloomberg)


Zelle: Hackers and con artists are reportedly using the popular personal payment platform to steal from victims — some of whom have never used Zelle. Security experts say that aspects of Zelle’s design, like not always notifying customers when money is transferred, have contributed to the system’s vulnerability. (NYT)

LinkedIn: A flaw in how the professional networking platform autofills data on other websites could have allowed hackers to steal user profile data. LinkedIn fixed the bug, and said it had seen no signs of abuse. (ZDNet)


DNC Hack: The Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court alleging a broad illegal conspiracy between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. If allowed to proceed, the suit would give Democrats a chance to seek documents and testimony from the Trump campaign. (WaPo)

Microsoft Case: The U.S. Supreme Court said it will not rule on whether federal prosecutors can force Microsoft to hand over data stored outside the United States. The decision followed enactment of a new federal law that both the government and Microsoft said made the case moot. (NYT)

  ON THE HILL                                    

Russian Hackers: The Department of Homeland Security, the White House, the FBI, and the UK's National Cyber Security Center issued a joint alert warning that hackers linked to the Russian government have attempted to compromise millions of routers and firewalls across the internet. (Wired)


Drones: President Trump signed a memo revising rules for the export of military drones, including big target and long-range reconnaissance drones such as the Predator and Reaper. The change is intended to counter China's growing global market share for drones. (FCW)

AI: The Defense Department is setting up a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, whose main mission will be to listen to service requests, gather talent, and deliver AI-infused solutions, according to two observers. (DefenseOne)

  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

Facebook: The media giant updated and expanded its data policy for the first time since late 2016, adding more specifics about how user data is collected, why it is stored, and when it is deleted. (WSJ)


Crypto: Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs led by Andreessen Horowitz are lobbying regulators in Washington to protect some virtual currencies from being categorized as securities, which would carry significantly more oversight. (NYT)

Twitter: The social media platform banned ads from Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, saying the company’s business model conflicts with advertising rules. The move follows charges by Washington that Kaspersky Lab has close ties to intelligence agencies in Moscow. (Reuters)

  THE WORLD                                     

Australia: The Turnbull government announced that it would build an undersea high-speed internet cable to the Solomon Islands, in a move that officially shuts out China’s Huawei. The new cable should be completed by the end of 2019, officials say. (WSJ)


Gabon: The west African country will invest $277 million over three years to expand its fiber optic telecoms network to improve digital connections. Officials say the first step of the project is already complete, linking the seaside capital Libreville to Franceville. (Reuters)


Palantir Knows Everything About You: “Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears,” write Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman, and Jordan Robertson in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.


Regulating Big Tech Is Just the Start: “In an ideal world, the structural shift from a tangible to an intangible economy would trigger deep thinking about digital property rights, trade regulations, civil liberties and so on. Policymakers would have robust conversations with experts from a broad range of disciplines about what the new framework for growth in the digital economy should look like. We do not live in that world,” writes Rana Foroohar in the Financial Times.

How North Korea’s Hackers Became So Good: “For years, cybersecurity experts viewed North Korea as a second-rate hacking force whose attacks were disruptive but reasonably easy to decode. Researchers rated its operational skills well behind countries such as Russia, Israel and the U.S. Those days appear to be over, with Pyongyang flashing levels of originality in its coding and techniques that have surprised researchers,” writes Timothy Martin in the Wall Street Journal.



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