Tech Brief: Hack on DNC Extended to NATO, Soros

Today’s Washington Brief

  • After reviewing emails and documents posted on the little-known website, experts now say that suspected Russian cyberattacks on American political and military targets were more widespread and effective than earlier believed. The leaked documents — many of which bear the fingerprints of the Russian state — include the private emails of a 4-star NATO general and documents from billionaire George Soros’ philanthropy. (Bloomberg News)
  • U.S. intelligence officials told top congressional leaders a year ago that the Democratic National Committee was being hacked by the Russian government. The eight lawmakers who attended the briefing last summer were sworn to secrecy and unable to notify targets of the ongoing cyberattack since that would have revealed that U.S. intelligence was monitoring Russian activity. (Reuters)
  • Dick Costolo secretly directed Twitter Inc. employees to deploy an algorithm and manual media-censorship teams to filter out hateful and abusive responses to President Obama’s May 2015 question-and-answer session on the social media platform, back when Costolo was chief executive. Senior company employees were kept in the dark about the move in order to avoid objections — allegations Costolo rejected as “laughably false” and “absurd.” (BuzzFeed News)

Today’s Business Brief

  • Russia’s antitrust watchdog fined Google Inc. $6.8 million after the company lost an initial appeal in March over charges that it illegally forced smartphone manufacturers to pre-install Google products on their devices and bar rival apps. A further hearing on the case, which began after a complaint by Russian tech company Yandex, is scheduled for next week. (Financial Times)
  • Researchers at a German engineering firm and the University of Birmingham discovered a hack that can unlock almost every Volkswagen automobile sold since 1995. The cyber intrusion uses a low-cost, easily available piece of radio hardware to intercept the victim’s key-ring fob and clone the electronic key. (Wired)
  • Facebook Inc.’s recent plan to make it harder for ad blockers to function on its social media platform has already hit a snag, with Adblock Plus saying it’s discovered a way to strip ads even under the new anti-ad-blocker format. Facebook said that method would also removes regular post, and that Adblock Plus is “punishing people on Facebook.” (The Verge)

Today’s Chart Review

Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern)

CompTIA state environment committee conference call 2 p.m.



Russia fines Google over Android restrictions
Max Seddon, The Financial Times

Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog fined Google Rbs438m ($6.8m) on Thursday for violating competition regulations with its Android software on mobile phones. The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service ruled last year that Google had illegally forced smartphone manufacturers to bar certain rival apps and pre-install Google products on their devices, giving apps like the Play store, its maps, and its search engine prominence over those from other manufacturers.

Groups Say Transitioning Internet Naming Agency Would Break Law
Amir Nasr, Morning Consult

Twenty-five advocacy groups want the Commerce Department to hold off on plans to cede its control over the body that governs internet domain names. But the United States shows no signs of halting plans to end its leadership of the body by the end of next month.

Delta Problems Included a Fire at Data Center
Scott Mayerowitz, The Associated Press

As flight cancelations and delays move into their fourth day, Delta Air Lines isn’t providing details on a “small fire” Monday at its data center and whether that fire — or attempts to extinguish it — compounded the airline’s troubles. Delta’s problems started early Monday morning when a piece of electrical component at its Atlanta headquarters failed, CEO Ed Bastian told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Wal-Mart Deal Could Jeopardize’s Sales-Tax Advantage
Rolfe Winkler and Sarah Nassauer, The Wall Street Journal Inc. pitches itself as a lower-priced alternative to Inc., partly by not tacking on sales taxes in most states. But tax experts say Jet’s proposed $3.3 billion sale to retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. could jeopardize that price advantage by forcing it to collect taxes nationwide.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is reportedly getting more sensors
Jordan Golson, The Verge

Tesla’s next-generation Autopilot platform will have more radar and camera sensors according to a report from Electrek. It’s not known when the new suite will arrive, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said recently that autonomous driving is coming “sooner than people think.”

How drones can qualify as a tax deduction for the construction industry
Tim Ernesti, Kansas City Business Journal

Drone use is taking off in the construction industry and showing no signs of slowing down. Recently, the unmanned air vehicles (“UAVs”) cleared a big hurdle as the Federal Aviation Administration issued the first set of regulations for commercial use.

U.S. Index Futures Little Changed After Equities Surge to Record
Justin Villamil, Bloomberg News

S&P 500 contracts expiring in September added less than 0.1 percent to 2,183 at 10:24 a.m. in London, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures added 11 points to 18,576. The two gauges, along with the Nasdaq Composite Index, advanced on Thursday after earnings from Kohl’s Corp. and Macy’s Inc. topped estimates, the first time since 1999 that the benchmarks reached simultaneous records.

Intellectual Property

Next up in Yahoo’s closing down sale: The patent auction
Graeme Burton, Computing

Following the $4.8bn sale of Yahoo’s core business to US telecoms company Verizon at the end of July, Yahoo is now preparing to sell off the patents portfolio that it has accrued in its 20 years of business, covering everything from e-commerce to search. The so-called non-core patents have been grouped together in an entity called ‘Excalibur’, which is being auctioned off by US investment bank Blackstone.

Q&A: Director of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Michelle Lee on fostering innovation
Queenie Wong, The Mercury News

Growing up in Silicon Valley, amid the apricot orchards and nascent semiconductor companies, Michelle Lee saw the hard work that comes with creating something new. The daughter of an engineer, Lee said it wasn’t uncommon to see others in her neighborhood invent something, file a patent to secure more venture capital funding and then start a company.

Telecommunications, Broadcast & Cable

National Association of Broadcasters Condemns FCC Vote to Keep Cross-Ownership Rules
Brendan Bordelon, Morning Consult

The National Association of Broadcasters condemned the FCC’s Wednesday vote to retain existing rules limiting the cross-ownership of TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in the same market. “NAB strongly disagrees with the FCC’s decision to cling to long-outdated media ownership rules that no longer serve their purpose,” NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said in a statement released Thursday.

Google FCC filing hints at high-speed wireless plans
Joshua Goldman, CNET

It looks like Google Fiber’s next step for high-speed internet supremacy will be wireless. Charlotte, N.C. Google In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, the company outlines plans to experiment with the 3.5 GHz band, spectrum that could “help relieve Wi-Fi congestion — improving the experience of consumers accessing the Internet over wireless broadband.”

Mobile & Social

Sources: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Secretly Censored Abusive Responses To President Obama
Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed News

In 2015, then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo secretly ordered employees to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama during a Q&A session, sources tell BuzzFeed News. According to these sources, the May 2015 #AskPOTUS town hall came out of Twitter senior leadership’s frustration with the fact that platforms like Reddit had become home to celebrity Q&As.

Adblock Plus has already defeated Facebook’s new ad blocking restrictions
Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge

Facebook’s plan to stop ad blockers has already been foiled. Adblock Plus has found a way to strip ads from Facebook, even when they’re served up in Facebook’s new ad blocker-proof format.

Data & Privacy

FCC Hasn’t Closed Door on Regulating ‘Pay for Privacy’ Internet Pricing Model
David Lazarus, The Los Angeles Times

It seems a simple enough proposition: Would you agree to receive marketing pitches in return for a discount on your high-speed internet service? Telecom heavyweight Comcast made just such a case last week in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

Bitcoin Traders Made 700% Returns Before Losing Millions in Hack Attack
Yuji Nakamura and Lulu Yilun Chen, Bloomberg News

For years, Tian Jia made the kind of returns on his money that investors in the rest of the world could only dream of. The 29-year-old Beijing-based programmer had $440,000 on deposit at the Hong Kong bitcoin exchange Bitfinex until last week and, on good days, would wake up to find a couple thousand more dollars in his account than when he went to sleep.


Russian Hackers of DNC Said to Nab Secrets From NATO, Soros
Michael Riley, Bloomberg News

Weeks before the Democratic convention was upended by 20,000 leaked e-mails released through WikiLeaks, another little-known website began posting the secrets of a top NATO general, billionaire George Soros’ philanthropy and a Chicago-based Clinton campaign volunteer. Security experts now say that site,, with its spiffy capitol-dome logo, shows the marks of the same Russian intelligence outfit that targeted the Democratic political organizations.

Congressional leaders were briefed a year ago on hacking of Democrats – sources
Mark Hosenball and John Walcott, Reuters

U.S. intelligence officials told top congressional leaders a year ago that Russian hackers were attacking the Democratic Party, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday, but the lawmakers were unable to tell the targets about the hacking because the information was so secret. The disclosure of the Top Secret information would have revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies were continuing to monitor the hacking, as well as the sensitive intelligence sources and the methods they were using to do it.

Pelosi Calls Suspected Russian Cyberattack an ‘Electronic Watergate’
Jon Reid, Morning Consult

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday likened the suspected Russian cyberattack on the Democratic Party’s campaign operations to an “electronic Watergate.” “This is an electronic Watergate. This is a break-in,” the California Democrat said at a news conference on Capitol Hill with other top House Democrats.

DNC creates cybersecurity advisory board following hack
Nolan D. McCaskill, Politico

The Democratic National Committee is creating a four-member cybersecurity advisory board, according to a memo obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. The advisory board is a response to the recent DNC hack and subsequent email leak that led to the resignation of former Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other top DNC officials.

A New Wireless Hack Can Unlock 100 Million Volkswagens
Andy Greenberg, Wired

In 2013, when University of Birmingham computer scientist Flavio Garcia and a team of researchers were preparing to reveal a vulnerability that allowed them to start the ignition of millions of Volkswagen cars and drive them off without a key, they were hit with a lawsuit that delayed the publication of their research for two years. But that experience doesn’t seem to have deterred Garcia and his colleagues from probing more of VW’s flaws: Now, a year after that hack was finally publicized, Garcia and a new team of researchers are back with another paper that shows how Volkswagen left not only its ignition vulnerable but the keyless entry system that unlocks the vehicle’s doors, too.

An ATM hack and a PIN-pad hack show chip cards aren’t impervious to fraud
Megan Geuss, Ars Technica

Security researchers are eager to poke holes in the chip-embedded credit and debit cards that have arrived in Americans’ mailboxes over the last year and a half. Although the cards have been in use for a decade around the world, more brains trying to break things are bound to come up with new and inventive hacks.

Audit finds Missouri courts’ record system lacks cybersecurity safeguards
Marshall Griffin, KBIA

A state audit released Wednesday finds that court records in Missouri are not being thoroughly shielded from hackers and other unauthorized users. The audit identifies potential weaknesses in the Judicial Information System, which is operated by the Office of State Courts Administrator.

A Message from Invest in Broadband for America:

The FCC is considering new business broadband regulations that would wrench hundreds of millions of dollars out of the marketplace.
Those are funds that could otherwise be plowed into investment in fiber networks that will help grow the economy and jobs… set rural communities on a path to more broadband connectivity… give small businesses more opportunity to compete on the global stage.

Join with us. Tell the FCC not to stifle investment in broadband.

Opinions, Editorials & Perspectives

The mistake that made the DNC hack possible
Aaron Sankin, The Daily Dot

If Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, many will undoubtedly point their regular-sized fingers at the leak of nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee as the precise moment things went south for Hillary Clinton. The emails, obtained by a hacker going by the moniker Guccifer 2.0 and put online in a searchable database by the radical transparency organization WikiLeaks, showed party officials actively working to promote the Clinton campaign as the expense of the insurgent effort mounted by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Business groups given little time to respond to government cybersecurity report
Charlie Mitchell, The Washington Examiner

A presidential cybersecurity commission is expected to produce a first draft of its findings in just over a month, and is asking the business community and others for input on how to tackle the most important cybersecurity challenges that will confront the next administration. That’s an extremely short turnaround time for industry groups to craft responses to a so-called request for information (RFI) from the government, which was published on Aug. 10 in the Federal Register.

To Evade The ‘Wheeler Tax,’ Capital Is Fleeing Digital Infrastructure
Hal Singer, Forbes

Casting broadband providers as enemies of the state was thought to be good politics. It also makes for lousy economics.

The EU Privacy Shield one week in: A privacy exec’s perspective
Sheila Colclasure, Venture Beat 

The privacy community was abuzz this past week, as the new Privacy Shield Framework opened for business. On August 1, companies could begin self-certifying under this new program, which replaced the 15-year-old EU Safe Harbor Framework governing transfer of personal data between the EU and U.S.

After China, India looms as Uber’s next battleground
Ajay Chopra, TechCrunch

Earlier this month the ride-sharing world faced its first major shakeup when Uber announced that it would sell its China business to primary competitor Didi for an ownership stake of 18% in the combined China entity, valued at $35 billion, with Didi also buying a $1 billion stake in Uber. While some may focus on the terms of the deal, the crux is that Uber was in a no-win situation in probably the largest ride-sharing market in the world, and now it can maintain a stake in that market without the continued financial bleeding it was experiencing ($1 billion in losses per year is nothing to sneeze at when you’re prepping for an initial public offering).

Tech Leader Senator Ronald Wyden
Consumer Technology Association

As the senior senator from Oregon since 1996, and before that serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1996, he also is known as a champion for the open internet. For more than 20 years, he has fought to protect the internet, expand America’s digital economy and urged the FCC to create strong rules to preserve net neutrality.

A Message from Invest in Broadband for America:

The FCC is considering new business broadband regulations that would wrench hundreds of millions of dollars out of the marketplace.
Those are funds that could otherwise be plowed into investment in fiber networks that will help grow the economy and jobs… set rural communities on a path to more broadband connectivity… give small businesses more opportunity to compete on the global stage.

Join with us. Tell the FCC not to stifle investment in broadband.

Research Reports, Issue Briefs & Case Studies

Response to the FCC Further Notice: Regulation of DS1 and DS3 Services
Mark Schankerman, London School of Economics

A report authored by Dr. Mark Schankerman of the London School of Economics in response to the FCC’s use of price cap regulation of BDS rates. The report states that the result of the FCC getting the rate structure wrong could reduce adoption of advanced services as well as restrict deployment of meaningful competition.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!