Tech Brief: Equifax Data Breach Could Affect 143 Million People

Government Brief

  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he expects officials from Twitter Inc. to brief the panel on any election-related Russian activity that occurred on the social media site leading up to the 2016 presidential contest. The committee is probing Kremlin-directed interference that may have occurred during the campaign. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • A report from the Government Accountability Office found that many federal agencies aren’t trying to meet a 2016 Office of Management and Budget mandate for using data centers more effectively. The mandate called for agencies to review their data center strategies to look for ways to save money, increase cybersecurity measures and transition to cloud data storage if appropriate, but 17 of 22 agencies aren’t planning to meet OMB’s September 2018 goal for data center optimization. (Nextgov)
  • The Senate Appropriations Committee provided $445 million in level funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the 2020 fiscal year, after President Donald Trump suggested phasing out funding for the CPB in his proposed budget. The committee also provided funding for the 2018 fiscal year toward a Department of Education program that supports the public creation of children’s educational media. (Broadcasting and Cable)

Business Brief

  • Equifax Inc., a credit reporting firm, said that a data breach potentially affected 143 million consumers across the United States. Equifax said the data breach, which it discovered on July 29, included names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver’s license numbers. (The Associated Press)
  • Germany’s competition regulator plans to reveal its initial findings from the investigation of Facebook Inc. over potential market abuse by the end of the year. The German cartel office began an investigation of Facebook  in March 2016, after concerns were raised about whether the social media company was complying with German data protection laws regarding how websites treat users’ personal data. (Reuters)
  • Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults get at least some of their news through social media, according to survey data released by the Pew Research Center — up from 62 percent of adults in 2016. Facebook was the top social media source for news, with 45 percent of Americans saying they got at least some of their news on the social media site. (Recode)

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Watchdog: Agencies Aren’t Even Trying to Meet Data Center Optimization Goals
Mohana Ravindranath, Nextgov

Most agencies aren’t even trying to meet White House goals for using data centers more efficiently, a watchdog report concludes. A 2016 Office of Management and Budget mandate requires federal agencies to revisit their data center strategies and look for ways to save money, fortify their cybersecurity, and, when appropriate, transition data to the cloud.

The Fake Americans Russia Created to Influence the Election
Scott Shane, The New York Times

Sometimes an international offensive begins with a few shots that draw little notice. So it was last year when Melvin Redick of Harrisburg, Pa., a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter, posted on Facebook a link to a brand-new website.

SpaceX successfully launches the X-37B, the Pentagon’s secretive autonomous space drone
Christian Davenport, The Washington Post

In the Pentagon’s vast arsenal there is little quite like it: a super-secret space drone that looks like a miniature version of the space shuttle, but orbits the Earth for months, even years, at a time. Doing what?

Amazon’s pursuit of tax credits to build a new corporate headquarters is getting early pushback
Tony Romm, Recode

Amazon is hoping to snag some sweet tax credits wherever it decides to construct its newly announced plans for a second corporate headquarters. But one of Silicon Valley’s leading representatives in the U.S. Congress doesn’t think the e-commerce company actually deserves them — in his California district or anywhere else.

Dollar Tumbles as Yen, Euro Rally on Irma, ECB: Markets Wrap
Eddie Van Der Walt, Bloomberg

The dollar tumbled to its weakest level since the start of 2015 amid fading expectations of another U.S. rate increase this year. Havens including gold and the yen rallied as North Korea tensions and natural disasters unsettled investors.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

German competition watchdog to announce Facebook findings by year-end
Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

The initial findings of Germany’s investigation of U.S. social network company Facebook over possible market abuse will be announced by the end of the year, the country’s cartel office said on Friday. The competition watchdog’s investigation, which kicked off in March last year, was triggered by concerns that users were not properly informed about how Facebook used personal data and that this could violate Germany’s data protection laws.

Amazon files for arbitration against Kindle Direct authors and publishers
Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch

Amazon has accused several book publishers, marketers and authors of using the Kindle Direct Publishing system to artificially inflate their sales numbers and has now filed for arbitration against them.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

Senate Appropriations Approves Level Funding for CPB
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The Senate Appropriations Committee has provided level funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, including for the Ready to Learn early childhood education program, and even $20 million in interconnection funds, according to a relieved CPB. Interconnection funding was not included in the House version of the appropriations bill, so that is a net gain, and one CPB had pushed for. President Donald Trump proposed phasing out funding for CPB, which distributes the approximately 15% of noncommercial TV and radio budgets supported by government funds, but Congress has shown no interest in doing so.

FCC Proposes Eliminating Rules Copy Requirement
John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is continuing his tradition of packing FCC meetings with action items, including ones that will reduce paperwork for broadcasters and cable operators and update cable signal testing for a digital world. Among the items teed up for a vote, and almost certain to pass, would save media outlets time and preserve a few more trees in the process.

FCC’s O’Rielly proposes federal agencies free up spectrum in exchange for budgetary relief
Monica Alleven, Fierce Wireless

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly is not giving up on his earlier idea for federal spectrum, but he is proposing a new idea: the option of allowing agencies to free up some of their spectrum holdings in exchange for budgetary relief. “While I still believe the imposition of Agency Spectrum Fees is the best course of action, this new proposal represents a compromise between differing carrot and stick approaches,” he said in a blog post.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Twitter Is Expected to Brief Senate Panel on Activity by Russians
Byron Tau, The Wall Street Journal

The top Democrat on the Senate committee probing Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election said Thursday that he expects Twitter Inc. to brief the panel soon on any Russian activity on its social-media platform during the campaign. “The American people deserve to know both the content and the source of information that is trying to be used to affect their votes,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Thursday.

Two-thirds of Americans are now getting news from social media
Kurt Wagner, Recode

With a social media-obsessed president in the White House, more Americans than ever are getting news from social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat. More than two-thirds of American adults — 67 percent, to be exact — “get at least some of their news on social media,” according to new data released Thursday by Pew Research Center.

Here’s how Alphabet’s self-driving cars learn to navigate a tricky intersection
Johana Bhuiyan, Recode

In Chandler, Ariz., where Alphabet is testing its autonomous cars, its software came across something it had never encountered before. It was a flashing yellow left-turn signal.

Lyft to offer rides in self-driving cars in San Francisco area
Heather Somerville, Reuters

A self-driving car will soon be one ride option available from Lyft in the San Francisco Bay Area, as the ride-services company ramps up its efforts to become a serious player in autonomous vehicle technology. Lyft said on Thursday that self-driving cars will soon be dispatched to certain passengers who request a ride through the app in the area.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Equifax Breach Exposes 143 Million People to Identity Theft
Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press

Credit monitoring company Equifax has been hit by a high-tech heist that exposed the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information about 143 million Americans. Now the unwitting victims have to worry about the threat of having their identities stolen.

CISOs debate the need for cyber shared services
Carten Cordell, FedScoop

As the federal government grapples with the twin challenges of upgrading its IT systems and improving its cybersecurity posture, shared services could be an answer to both, some information security officials say. A recent survey showed that stronger cybersecurity is the top benefit that federal IT professionals see in their modernization efforts.

Yet another deadline: Congress faces 702 reauthorization
Derek B. Johnson and Adam Mazmanian, FCW

Congress faces a looming deadline to reauthorize a key spying authority that permits collection of communications data on people outside the U.S. for intelligence purposes. The authority, contained in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, expires at the end of the year.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Moving Beyond the Why: How to Implement the NIST Cybersecurity Framework
Richard P. Tracy, Nextgov

It’s been three months since President Donald Trump issued his cybersecurity executive order. When I chat with agency leaders about embracing the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework, mandated by the order, it’s clear that they have accepted the “why,” but are still struggling with the “how.”

Liberal mayors will struggle to win Amazon’s $5 billion new headquarters
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Amazon announced Thursday that it will build a new headquarters to supplement its existing base in Seattle. The new headquarters, which Amazon calls HQ2, will be located in an American city and is expected to cost $5 billion to build.

How to hurricane-proof a Web server
Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica

I had enough to worry about as Hurricane Harvey plowed into the Texas Gulf Coast on the night of August 25 and delivered a category 4 punch to the nearby city of Rockport. But I simultaneously faced a different kind of storm: an unexpected surge of traffic hitting the Space City Weather Web server.

Research Reports

Air Traffic Control Modernization: Progress and Challenges in Implementing Nextgen
Government Accountability Office

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) incrementally and has taken actions to address challenges to implementation. NextGen has enhanced surface traffic operations at 39 of the 40 busiest airports in the United States by providing electronic communications to clear planes for departure, technology that can expedite clearances and reduce errors.