The Stroz Freidberg Cyber Brief


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  FEATURED STORY            

MONDAY, JUNE 4, 2018

GOOGLE STEPS AWAY FROM PENTAGON AI WORK

Responding to a backlash by many of its employees, Google has decided not to renew a contract for artificial intelligence work with the U.S. military when a current deal expires next year. The tech giant’s work on the Pentagon’s “Project Maven” program, which uses AI to interpret images and could be used in drone strike targeting, had sparked outrage among some of the company’s workforce, including top AI researchers. Some 4,000 employees signed a petition demanding “a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

 

It’s unclear if Google’s decision regarding Project Maven is part of a broader strategy not to pursue military work. The company is reportedly planning to publish an ethical framework to guide its use of AI this week. If Google does pull back from some or all of the competition to sell such software, analysts say the Pentagon is likely to find plenty of other companies keen to take that business. (Gizmodo, NYT, WSJ, FT)

  HACKERS                                          

Ticketfly: The San Francisco-based concert ticketing service is working to restore its online systems after a data breach leaked users' personal information and disrupted services at music venues. A website that tracks such incidents says the breach affected more than 26 million accounts. (CBS)

 

Atlanta Police: Hackers that broke into the city of Atlanta’s digital network compromised years of dashcam videos, which are often used as key evidence at trials. In March, hackers held for ransom much of the city’s network, which disrupted public services. (AJC)


  COURTS                                          

Kaspersky: A Washington, DC, federal judge threw out a pair of lawsuits alleging that the U.S. government acted unlawfully in banning products developed by the Russian-based cybersecurity firm. Last year the Department of Homeland Security blacklisted Kaspersky software over concerns about its ties to the Russian government. (Hill)

 
  ON THE HILL                                    

Federal Cybersecurity: A new report from the White House's Office of Management and Budget assessed nearly 100 government agencies and found that close to three quarters were either “at risk” or “high risk.” (Wired)

 

DC Stingrays: The Department of Homeland Security found that devices known as Stingrays, which are used to intercept cell phone calls and texts, were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year. Experts say that Stingrays are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services. (WaPo)

 

China: Sources say the Trump administration may soon claim as much as $1.7 billion in fines from ZTE, as it looks to punish the Chinese telecom giant before allowing it back into business. The company has been crippled by a ban imposed in April on buying U.S. technology components for seven years. (Reuters)


  DOD                                                

Cloud Proposal: In an effort to avoid a “rush to failure,” the Defense Department has delayed indefinitely its final request for proposals that will spell out requirements for a multibillion-dollar cloud contract. Some companies had objected to the Pentagon’s plans for a winner-take-all award that they say would favor Amazon. (Bloomberg)


  PRIVATE SECTOR                             

SenseTime: The Chinese developer of facial recognition technology raised $620 million in a second round of funding in just two months. SenseTime specializes in systems that analyze faces and images on an enormous scale and works with policing bodies across China. (Bloomberg)

 

Facebook: The social media company has come under fire from privacy advocates again amid a report that it struck agreements allowing device makers, including Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and others, access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information. (NYT)

 

Telegram: Apple approved an updated version of the encrypted messaging IOS app, after the company’s chief executive complained that the iPhone maker was blocking global updates due to Russia’s banning of Telegram several weeks ago. (Verge)

 

Fusion: The Singapore-based crypto-finance start-up has secured $12.3 billion in financial assets from strategic partners. The funds come from companies operating in asset management, car financing, and restaurant supply chain management. (Reuters)

MUST READS

China Challenges U.S. Dominance in Science: “After decades of American dominance, Chinese science is ascendant, and it is luring scientists like [Jose] Pastor-Pareja away from the United States. Even more China-born scientists are returning from abroad to a land of new scientific opportunity. The United States spends half a trillion dollars a year on scientific research — more than any other nation on Earth — but China has pulled into second place, with the European Union third and Japan a distant fourth. China is on track to surpass the United States by the end of this year,” write Ben Guarino, Emily Rauhala, and William Wan in the Washington Post.

 

How a Hacker Foiled His Trackers: “[Daniel] Rigmaiden eventually pieced together the story of his capture. Police found him by tracking his Internet Protocol (IP) address online first, and then taking it to Verizon Wireless, the Internet service provider connected with the account. Verizon provided records that showed that the AirCard associated with the IP address was transmitting through certain cell towers in certain parts of Santa Clara. Likely by using a stingray, the police found the exact block of apartments where Rigmaiden lived,” writes Cyrus Farivar for Politico.

 

Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore: “In the last couple years, there is a more specific reason for eyeing my phone’s ring warily. Perhaps 80 or even 90 percent of the calls coming into my phone are spam of one kind or another. Now, if I hear my phone buzzing from across the room, at first I’m excited if I think it’s a text, but when it keeps going, and I realize it’s a call, I won’t even bother to walk over. My phone only rings one or two times a day, which means that I can go a whole week without a single phone call coming in that I (or Apple’s software) can even identify, let alone want to pick up,” writes Alexis C. Madrigal in the Atlantic.







 

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