Tech Brief: Clinton Foundation Hired FireEye to Probe Possible Hack

Today’s Washington Brief

  • The Clinton Foundation hired cybersecurity firm FireEye after noticing signs that their computer networks were hacked. The charitable organization, which was run in part by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton until she stepped down in April 2015, was targeted through “spear phishing” techniques — the same approach used by hackers who targeted several Democratic organizations. (Reuters)
  • Firewall makers Cisco Systems Inc. and Fortinet Inc. confirmed that the security of their products were at risk from a sophisticated malware delivery system posted online by hackers, who claim they stole the code from NSA-linked spy organization the Equation Group. The companies’ admissions lend credence to the notion that the Equation Group was in fact hacked, and suggest that the NSA or NSA-linked organizations were attacking American manufacturers’ security products without informing the companies. (Forbes)
  • Cybersecurity and foreign policy experts are beginning to suspect Russian involvement in the possible leak of a powerful malware code stolen from an NSA-linked spy organization. Some cybersecurity experts say there are few actors other than Russia capable of such a sophisticated attack. (The Verge)

Today’s Business Brief

  • Cisco Systems Inc. said it will lay off 5,500 employees, part of a long-term realignment away from the manufacture of routers and switches and toward areas such as security, the internet of things and cloud computing. The job cuts represent 7 percent of its worldwide workforce. (Bloomberg News)
  • Facebook Inc. continues to struggle in its push to diversify its predominantly white-male workforce, even after the “points” system of rewarding recruiters for hiring women and minority engineers was strengthened last year. The company said 4 percent of its employees are Hispanic and 2 percent are black — the same as the last two years — while the percentage of women employees increased from 31 percent in 2014 to 33 percent this year. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Oracle Corp. wants a federal judge to throw out a copyright trial loss the company suffered against Google Inc. earlier this year, saying key evidence about the launch of Google Play’s desktop app was kept from the jury. Oracle had sought $9 billion in damages over Google’s use of its Java programming language to develop the Android operating system, and it argued that Google Play’s launch on desktops and laptops nullified the “transformative” nature of Google’s work. (Ars Technica)

Today’s Chart Review

Lackluster Progress
The Wall Street Journal

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

Thursday
RAND cybersecurity workshop 11 a.m.
Friday
FCC meeting of Robocall Strike Force 10:30 a.m.

 

General

Cisco Cuts Workforce by 7% to Speed Transition to Software
Ian King, Bloomberg News

Cisco Systems Inc., the biggest maker of equipment that runs the internet, plans to cut about 7 percent of its workforce, trying to recast itself as a provider of software-based systems and services. The company will eliminate 5,500 positions from its workforce of more than 73,700, Cisco said Wednesday in a statement.

Intel Unveils Plans for Artificial-Intelligence Chips
Don Clark, The Wall Street Journal

Intel Corp. signaled it wants a bigger role in artificial intelligence, revealing plans to modify a line of chips to target a fast-growing market turning into a battleground for technology suppliers. The company told technology developers Wednesday that it plans next year to deliver a new version of the Xeon Phi processor—a product line previously targeted at scientific applications—with added features designed to accelerate tasks associated with what Silicon Valley calls artificial intelligence.

French Mayor Bans ‘Anarchical’ Pokemon Settlement in Village
Phillipe Soto, The Associated Press

A French mayor has denounced the “anarchical settlement” of “Pokemon Go” characters on the “territory” of his eastern village and has ordered the game’s creator to remove the virtual creatures. Bressolles Mayor Fabrice Beauvois said Tuesday that he has mailed a decree to California-based Niantic Inc. and The Pokemon Company to make sure they stop setting up Pokemons in the village of about 800 inhabitants northeast of Lyon.

European Stocks Rise as Fed Outlook Sinks Dollar; Brent Near $50
James Regan and Kelly Gilblom, Bloomberg News

European shares rose for the first time in a week and emerging markets advanced as a gauge of commodities climbed for the sixth straight day and minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting damped prospects for a U.S. interest-rate hike. Miners led gains on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index and energy producers also rallied after Brent crude traded above $50 a barrel, while an MSCI index of emerging-market equities advanced to a one-year high.

Intellectual Property

Oracle says trial wasn’t fair, it should have known about Google Play for Chrome
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Oracle lawyers argued in federal court today that their copyright trial loss against Google should be thrown out because they were denied key evidence in discovery. Oracle attorney Annette Hurst said that the launch of Google Play on Chrome OS, which happened in the middle of the trial, showed that Google was trying to break into the market for Java SE on desktops.

Telecommunications, Broadcast & Cable

Round Two: $9.038 Billion Bid in FCC’s Spectrum Auction
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

With two rounds finished in the forward part of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum incentive auction, a total of $9.038 billion has been bid on the available 416 geographic markets where licenses are being offered. That is up from the $8,490,410,000 bid in round one, which began Aug. 16.

CenturyLink, Frontier criticize latest Incompas-Verizon BDS rate proposal, saying it’s flawed
Sean Buckley, FierceTelecom

CenturyLink and other independent telcos, including Frontier, Consolidated and FairPoint are not wasting time taking aim at the latest business data services (BDS) proposal made by Incompas and Verizon, calling it another flawed effort that merely reflects changes in Verizon’s business structure. “Far from offering a middle ground that accounts for the viewpoints of all stakeholders, the CLEC-oriented framework proposed at the eleventh hour by Verizon and INCOMPAS reflects the mutual worldview of entities whose business interests have recently come into alignment,” said CenturyLink in an FCC filing.

Mobile & Social

Facebook’s Point System Fails to Close Diversity Gap
Deepa Seetharaman and Georgia Wells, The Wall Street Journal

Two years ago, Facebook Inc. offered its in-house recruiters an incentive to help diversify its largely white, largely male workforce. Previously, recruiters were awarded one point for every new hire.

Pinterest Follows Rivals Into Selling Video Ads
Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times

Pinterest is finally taking the plunge that many other tech companies already have: It has started selling video advertising. Video ads from brands like Kate Spade and bareMinerals will start appearing in the virtual scrapbook-like Pinterest feed on Wednesday and into the coming weeks, and Pinterest is hopeful that ads from other brands will soon follow.

Airbnb Trips, a test version of company’s travel services app, pulled from Google Play
Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Airbnb’s ambitions to expand into the travel services market were outed ahead of plans this week, when an “Airbnb Trips” app was briefly available on the Google Play Store for download. The app which offered travelers the ability to book restaurant reservations and city tours, has since been pulled down by the company following news reports detailing its availability and feature set.

How Uber Rival’s Founder Won Friends and Influenced Beijing
Eva Dou and Juro Osawa, The Wall Street Journal

In the weeks before founding Uber Technologies Co. in 2009, Travis Kalanick, then 32, tweeted about rubbing elbows with entrepreneurs and celebrities, and posted pictures of a party he threw with $100 bottles of wine. The founder of Uber’s nemesis in China appeared to be preoccupied with far less glamorous activities.

Data & Privacy

Stealing bitcoins with badges: How Silk Road’s dirty cops got caught
Cyrus Farivar and Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

DEA Special Agent Carl Force wanted his money—real cash, not just numbers on a screen—and he wanted it fast. It was October 2013, and Force had spent the past couple of years working on a Baltimore-based task force investigating the darknet’s biggest drug site, Silk Road.

Forget copper: Intel turns to light for fast data transfers
Agam Shah, Computerworld

Intel believes the days of using copper wires for data transfers, both between computers and inside of them, are numbered because optical communications are on the horizon. The chipmaker has started shipping silicon photonics modules, which use light and lasers to speed up data transfers between computers.

Potential FCC Probe of Police Cellphone Trackers Could Serve as Proxy for Congressional Battle
Amir Nasr, Morning Consult

A complaint filed with the Federal Communications Commission says the Baltimore Police Department violated the Communications Act by using cell-site simulators to locate and track individuals through cellphone location data. “For far too long, the Baltimore City Police Department has made a frequent habit out of flouting federal spectrum law and disrupting availability of the cellular network to Black communities in Baltimore,” Laura Moy, the complainants’ counsel and a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown Law, said in a Tuesday statement.

Cybersecurity

Clinton Foundation hired cyber firm after suspected hacking
Mark Hosenball et al., Reuters

Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable foundation hired the security firm FireEye to examine its data systems after seeing indications they might have been hacked, according to two sources familiar with the matter. So far, no message or document hacked from the New York-based Clinton Foundation has surfaced in public, the sources said.

Cisco And Fortinet Confirm Flaws Exposed By Self-Proclaimed NSA Hackers
Thomas Fox-Brewster, Forbes

American firewall providers Cisco and Fortinet have issued warnings and fixes for bugs exposed by the Shadow Brokers, who claimed this weekend to have breached the Equation Group, believed to be an NSA operation. Cisco and Fortinet had initially determined there was little of concern in the leak, but after researchers showed how the respective technologies could be exploited, the tech firms have taken action to protect customers.

The Shadow Brokers hack is starting to look like Russia vs. NSA
Russell Brandom, The Verge

On Saturday, someone started leaking the NSA’s secrets. A pop-up Twitter account called “theshadowbrokers” posted a link to a pastebin, which in turn led to more than 300 MB of exploits and scripts. According to the Shadow Brokers, the data came from the Equation Group, an advanced malware threat long linked to the NSA.

We asked experts to compare Trump’s and Clinton’s cybersecurity policies. Here’s what they said.
Andrea Peterson, The Washington Post

Cybersecurity is now a top national security problem — some officials even call it a bigger threat than terrorism. But both major presidential candidates have hit hurdles on the campaign trail that raised questions about how they would try to keep U.S. computers safe if elected.

Assange Says More Clinton Leaks Are Coming — Here’s What We Know
Hamza Shaban, BuzzFeed News

Does WikiLeaks have dirt on Hillary Clinton? And will it publish more damaging internal documents from the Democratic National Committee?

China says cyber rules no cause for foreign business concern
Michael Martina, Reuters

China’s pending cyber security law will not create obstacles for foreign business, China’s Foreign Ministry said, responding to concerns by international business lobbies over the planned rules. More than 40 global business groups last week petitioned Premier Li Keqiang, according to a copy of a letter seen by Reuters, urging China to revise draft cyber rules they believe are vague and discriminate against foreign enterprises.

Experts Slam DNC Cybersecurity Board For Lack Of Cyber Experts
Kevin Collier, Vocativ

There’s one problem with Democratic National Committee’s new plan to keep it safe from future hacks. None of the four members of its newly created Cybersecurity Advisory Board is considered an expert in cybersecurity.

The missing hours of murdered DNC staffer
Alana Goodman, The Daily Mail

The Democratic National Committee staffer who was mysteriously gunned down a block from his home on July 10 had been drinking heavily at a bar and was depressed over an argument with his girlfriend on the night of his death – which could have made him a prime target for violence in the high-crime northwest Washington, D.C. neighborhood where he was killed. Patrolling police, responding to the sound of multiple gunshots, found Seth Rich, 27, lying on the street with bullet wounds at around 4:19 a.m.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

$2 BILLION! That’s how much theft from gas station skimmers cost consumers in 2014. The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) has tips to help you protect yourself when you’re filling up at home or traveling far and wide this summer.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

Skynet Is Not Coming: The Myths and Realities of Artificial Intelligence
Tim Day, Morning Consult

With the summer blockbuster movie season in full swing, it is tempting to give in to the fantasies that Hollywood produces – whether it be ghosts running wild in New York City, taking the Enterprise to the neutral zone at warp speed or the rise of malevolent machines. The reality of artificial intelligence (AI) is much more mundane, but holds out great hope for providing technologies and applications that can save lives, improve productivity and make our nation more energy efficient.

The Shadow Brokers Mess Is What Happens When the NSA Hoards Zero-Days
Andy Greenberg, Wired

When the NSA discovers a new method of hacking into a piece of software or hardware, it faces a dilemma. Report the security flaw it exploits to the product’s manufacturer so it gets fixed, or keep that vulnerability secret—what’s known in the security industry as a “zero day”—and use it to hack its targets, gathering valuable intelligence.

Trump Misses the Point on Tech Visas
Jason L. Riley, The Wall Street Journal

It was an example of what Rush Limbaugh calls “drive-by media” coverage—the sensational and superficial reporting of a story while skimping on context. In June of last year, the New York Times wrote on its front page that the Disney World resort in Orlando, Fla., had furloughed about 250 tech workers.

Our robot panic is overblown
Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington Post

We are such an anxiety-ridden society that we worry about problems that haven’t happened, and, almost certainly, won’t. Robots are an apt example.

How Tiny Wireless Tech Makes Workers More Productive
Mark Roberti, The Wall Street Journal

The numbers don’t look good: Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that worker productivity dropped 0.5% in the second quarter of 2016—the third quarterly decline in a row. Productivity growth, a key driver of improved living standards, has averaged only 1.3% a year over the past decade, compared with 2.9% from mid-1995 through the end of 2005.

A Message from the Electronic Payments Coalition:

The EMV transition is heating up this summer! Millions of Americans now have chip cards to better protect their information, but only 37 percent of retailers accept these more secure cards. Learn more about the future of card security from EPC.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

The Economics of Data Caps and Free Data Services in Mobile Broadband
William P. Rogerson, CTIA

This paper provides an analysis of the economic effects of two related pricing practices commonly employed by providers of mobile broadband services that are often referred to as data caps and free data services. For reasons explained below, I believe that these practices largely represent efficient carrier responses to competitive pressures, technical realities, and consumer preferences, and should be trusted over the predictive judgements of regulators when it comes to maximizing consumer welfare.

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