Further Reading (March 2)

  • Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected” – Washington Post and “Lawmakers Are Warned That Russia Is Meddling to Re-elect Trump” – New York Times. According to these accounts of a briefing provided to the House Intelligence Committee by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the status report on ongoing, mutating Russian efforts to interfere with the 2020 election may both result in the acting DNI being denied the job permanently and an impairment of federal efforts to fend off Russian interference. Reportedly, the conclusion that Russia favors Trump over Democratic candidates angered both committee Republicans and the White House. With the departure of former acting DNI Joseph Maguire and the tapping of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist with no intelligence experience, the Intelligence Community (IC) may limit the information it shares with Congress and the public.
  • Pay Up, Or We’ll Make Google Ban Your Ads” — Krebs on Security. A variation of ransomware has surfaced in which the purveyors threaten to overwhelm a website’s advertising through Google’s AdSense with bot traffic, causing Google to take down the ad, unless bitcoin is turned over. Another mutation of the seemingly lucrative ransomware trade.
  • 2014 Bloomberg Hoped the NSA Was “’Reading Every Email’” – The Intercept. The website unearthed a live event with Katie Couric at which former New York City Mayor and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President Mike Bloomberg endorsed National Security Agency surveillance and a notice and comment approach to privacy regarding private sector practices. However, these views are contrary to many in the Democratic party, and Bloomberg has taken other privacy and surveillance stances that may prove unacceptable to Democratic voters.
  • Retail Customer Data Exposure Spotlights Cloud Security Risk” – Bloomberg Law. Failing to properly set up the security for consumer data stored in the cloud resulted in a security firm being able to easily access information on millions of American households. A market analytics company did not configure security settings correctly and consequently the data on consumers being stored on Amazon’s cloud was accessible to anyone with credentials to log into AWS.
  • Hacker Eva Galperin Has a Plan to Eradicate Stalkerware” – WIRED. A security researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has convinced Kaspersky to treat spyware used by stalkers and estranged spouses as malware and hopes to talk the other antivirus companies into doing the same.
  • At Facebook, One Million Takedowns Per Day is Evidence of Failure, Not Success” – Council on Foreign Relations. In this piece, a cybersecurity expert argues that even if Facebook’s numbers on takedowns of fake accounts are accurate, there are still millions of fake accounts from which users may sow discord and disinformation. A case is made for Facebook to introduce validated accounts to ensure the person opening the account is an actual person and not a mischief maker.
  • Corporations are working with the Trump administration to control online speech” – Washington Post. In an opinion piece, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) defended Section 230 the same week the Department of Justice held a workshop on this provision of federal law that protects online platforms from legal liability for what its users post online. Following months of Trump Administration and Republican pushback on Section 230, Attorney General William Barr called for a reexamination of the legal shield. Wyden claimed the Administration and Republicans are looking to revise Section 230 with the foreseeable results that smaller platforms and those expressing disfavored viewpoints would be either litigated out of existence or silenced.
  • Lawyer: Assange was offered US pardon if he cleared Russia” – AP News and “Rohrabacher confirms he offered Trump pardon to Assange for proof Russia didn’t hack DNC email” – Yahoo News. Despite differing rationales as to why a U.S. pardon was being offered, both an attorney for Julian Assange and former Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) agree that a pardon was offered to Assange if he disclosed the source of the Democratic National Committee emails provided to Wikileaks. Assange’s lawyer claimed the pardon would be in exchange for stating Russia was not involved whereas Rohrabacher claimed the purpose was to confirm that deceased DNC staffer Seth Rich was the source. The White House denied any involvement.
  • How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter” – BuzzFeed News. This piece details the lack of internal security at Twitter that made the social media platform ripe to be infiltrated. Allegedly, two Saudis working for Twitter were recruited to inform the Saudi government about the Twitter accounts of Saudi dissidents throughout the world. One employee has been indicted and is being held in the U.S. while the other fled to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the article suggests the U.S. and Israeli governments tried to get Twitter to turn over account information, but the company declined to do so.

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