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Latest news postings on CircleID

Updated: 2017-01-12T21:04:00-08:00


Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani Appointed to "Chair" Cyber Task Force


(image) Transition spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters today that former New York City Mayo, Rudy Giuliani will "chair" the cyber task force that Trump announced last Friday. The task force is given three months from Trump's inauguration to deliver a cybersecurity plan.

— Giuliani from the Trump Tower in Manhattan on Thursday: "Over the course of the last 20 years, our ability to use modern technology has evolved in ways we couldn't possibly imagine — really fast, very quick, we can do things we never could do before. Our ability to defend that has lagged behind."

— "Giuliani, who has done private cybersecurity work since he left government, will be convening groups of private sector experts and executives who will meet with Trump on the issue," Rebecca Savransky and ben Kamisar reporting in The Hill

— Giuliani on Fox & Friends: "It's his [Trump's] belief, which I share, that a lot of the solutions are out there, we're just not sharing them. It's like cancer. You know, there's cancer research going on all over the place — you'd almost wish they'd get together in one room and maybe we'd find a cure." Watch video clip via Twitter

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Security

U.S. Department of Commerce Issues IoT Advancement Guidelines


(image) Green Paper: Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things - January 12, 2017The Department of Commerce issues a green paper outlining guiding principles and ways to support the advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT). "The report, developed by the Department's Internet Policy Task Force and Digital Economy Leadership Team, finds that the increased scale, scope and stakes of the Internet of Things will lead to opportunities and challenges that are qualitatively different than prior technological advances."

The paper offers feedback on the April 2016 Request for Comment as well as a workshop that was hosted by the Department in September 2016. Included in the paper are four principles for guiding the Department's future IoT activities:

— The Department will lead efforts to ensure the IoT environment is inclusive and widely accessible to consumers, workers, and businesses;

— The Department will recommend policy and take action to support a stable, secure and trustworthy IoT environment;

— The Department will advocate for and defend a globally connected, open and interoperable IoT environment built upon industry-driven, consensus-based standards; and

— The Department will encourage IoT growth and innovation by expanding markets and reducing barriers to entry, and by convening stakeholders to address public policy challenges.

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More under: Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Policy & Regulation

Alphabet Shuts Down Its Solar-Powered Internet Drone Program



"Alphabet cuts former Titan drone program from X division, employees dispersing to other units," reports Seth Weintraub today in 9TO5Google: "In 2014, Google bought Titan Aerospace, maker of high-altitude, solar-powered drone aircraft. ... The Titan division was absorbed into X in late 2015 from the Access and Energy division during the Alphabet re-shuffle. ... We’ve now heard and Alphabet has confirmed, that the Titan group was recently shut down and engineers were told to look for other jobs within Alphabet/Google in the coming months. Over 50 employees were involved in the process."

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Ransomware Crime Bill Goes into Effect in the State of California


As of January 1, the delivery of ransomware is illegal in California as per Senate Bill 1137 going into effect. Cyrus Farivar reporting in Ars Technica: "The new law was signed in September 2016, but it did not take effect until earlier this week in America's most populous state. The maximum penalty for ransomware usage will be four years in state prison. Wyoming became the first state to pass a similar statute in 2014. ... According to the FBI, ransomware payouts in the United States jumped from $25 million in all of 2015 to over $209 million in just the first quarter of 2016."

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More under: Cybercrime, Law, Security

FTC Announces Internet of Things Challenge, Offers $25,000 for Best Technical Solution


The Federal Trade Commission is challenging the public to create an innovative tool to help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in the software of home devices connected to the Internet of Things. The agency in its announcement today has offered a cash prize of up to $25,000 for the best technical solution, with up to $3,000 available for up to three honorable mention winner(s).

— "The FTC is asking IoT Home Inspector Challenge contestants to develop a tool that would address security vulnerabilities caused by out-of-date software in IoT devices. ... Contestants also have the option of adding features such as those that would address hard-coded, factory default or easy-to-guess passwords."

— "Up to 20 contestants will be selected in the first round, where judges will only assess the contestants' videos and abstracts without the detailed explanation. Qualifying contestants will then move on to the next and final round where the detailed explanations will be considered for a chance to win the top prize of $25,000 or $3,000 for honorable mention." Submissions are being accepted as early as March 1, 2017 and are due May 22, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. Winners will be announced around July 27, 2017.

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More under: Internet of Things, Security

Over 50 Internet Shutdowns Reported in 2016


"Governments around the world shut down the internet more than 50 times in 2016 — suppressing elections, slowing economies and limiting free speech." Lyndal Rowlands reporting in IPS: "Several leaders used internet shutdowns to affect democratic processes, including elections. 'In Uganda in February 2016 there was a shutdown of social media networks by President Museveni and that again happened in Gambia (in December) surrounding the election.' ... In other cases, three governments chose to shut down the internet because they thought that it would stop students from cheating on their exams [see report] ... However governments do not seem to have taken into account the potential repercussions of the shutdowns, beyond the limits of free speech."

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More under: Access Providers, Censorship, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

Court Refuses Injunction in .africa TLD Case


"DotConnectAfrica's attempt to have ICANN legally blocked from delegating the .africa gTLD to rival applicant ZACR has been denied." Kevin Murphy reporting in Domain Incite: "The ruling by a Los Angeles court, following a December 22 hearing, means ICANN could put .africa in the root, under ZACR's control, even before the case comes to trial. ... ICANN was just days away from delegating .africa last April when it was hit by a shock preliminary injunction by a California judge who later admitted he hadn't fully understood the case."

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More under: ICANN, Top-Level Domains

Trump Names Former Bush Aide Thomas Bossert Chief Adviser on Cybersecurity, Counterterrorism Role


(image) "President-elect Donald J. Trump has named Thomas P. Bossert, a top national security aide under President George W. Bush, to be his homeland security adviser, the Trump transition team announced Tuesday morning." Michael D. Shear reporting in the New York Times: "Mr. Bossert will become assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position the transition team said would be equal in status to that of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, whom Mr. Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser."

— "We must work toward cyber doctrine that reflects the wisdom of free markets, private competition and the important but limited role of government in establishing and enforcing the rule of law, honoring the rights of personal property, the benefits of free and fair trade, and the fundamental principles of liberty. The internet is a U.S. invention, it should reflect these U.S. values as it continues to transform the future for all nations and all generations." –Thomas P. Bossert

— Since 2009, Mr. Bossert has run his own independent homeland and national security consulting business and served as a Senior Cybersecurity Fellow at the U.S. Atlantic Council.

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More under: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Security

China Says It Will Use All Means, Including Military, to Ensure Online Security


"Beijing vowed on Tuesday to use all necessary means, including military ones, to wipe out subversion and attempts to undermine its sovereignty in cyberspace." Zhuang Pinghui reporting in South China Morning Post: "A strategy document released by top internet regulator, the ­Cyberspace Administration said the use of the internet for treason, secession, revolt, subversion or stealing or leaking of state secrets would be punished. It also warned of penalties for working with 'overseas forces' for sabotage, subversion or secession. ... [President Xi Jinping] has urged the accelerated development of security systems to protect key information ­infrastructure. The strategy document said the global race to seize strategic cyber resources and take the initiative in cyberspace had become increasingly fierce."

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More under: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Security

Tom Wheeler Announces Resignation as FCC Chairman


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced he will leave the agency on January 20, the day of President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. Margaret Harding McGill and Alex Byers reporting in Politico: "His departure means the FCC will start the Trump administration with a 2-1 Republican majority, allowing the GOP to immediately begin dismantling Obama-era regulations. ... With Wheeler departing next month, chief among the GOP targets are Wheeler's net neutrality rules, passed last year.. The net neutrality rules as well as key proposals he advanced this year — creating privacy rules for internet providers and expanding the low-income Lifeline subsidy program to support broadband service — all passed in 3-2 votes without the support of the agency's GOP members."

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Net Neutrality, Policy & Regulation, Privacy, Telecom

Google Begins Publicly Sharing National Security Letters


In a note released this week, Google announced that it will begin publicly sharing National Security Letters (NSLs) it receives that have been freed of nondisclosure obligations either through litigation or legislation. As per the decision, Google has published eight letters received from the FBI. Google's Director of law Enforcement and Information Security, Richard Salgado, said: "In 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which allowed companies like Google to make more granular disclosures about National Security Letters they receive. ... the Act restricts the use of indefinite gag restrictions that prevent providers from ever notifying customers or talking about the demands. The Department of Justice (DOJ) must now regularly review disclosure restrictions in NSLs and lift those that are no longer needed. The United States Attorney General approved procedures to do this, and as we mentioned recently, the FBI has started lifting gag restrictions on particular NSLs. We are now making copies of those NSLs available."

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More under: Law, Privacy, Security

China Shuts Down Thousands of Websites for 'Harmful', Obscene Content


"China takes action on thousands of websites for 'harmful', obscene content," Reuters reports: "China has shut down or 'dealt with' thousands of websites for sharing 'harmful' erotic or obscene content since April, the state's office for combating pornography and illegal publications announced on Thursday. The office said 2,500 websites were prosecuted or shut down and more than 3 million 'harmful' posts were deleted in eight months up to December during a drive to 'purify' the internet in China and protect youth, the official Xinhua news agency reported."

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More under: Censorship, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Web

Google Signs Internet Deal With Cuba


Google has signed an agreement with the Cuban government allowing internet users on the Communist-run island quicker access to its branded content. Marc Frank reporting from Havana in Reuters: "Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc, signed the deal with Mayra Arevich Marin, president of state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. ... Whether because of a lack of investment or concerns about the flow of information in a Communist state that monopolizes the media, Cuba has lagged behind in internet usage. Only 3.4 percent of Cuban homes had either intranet or internet access last year, according to a U.N. agency."

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Internet Governance Forum Puts the Spotlight on Trade Agreements


width="644" height="362" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen style="margin-bottom:7px;">IGF 2016 / PLENARY – Trade Agreements and the Internet"This year was the first year in which the spotlight fell on the use of trade agreements to make rules for the Internet behind closed doors, and a broad consensus emerged that this needs to change," Jeremy Malcolm reporting today from EFF. "The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder community that discusses a broad range of Internet issues, and seeks to identify possible shared solutions to current challenges. ... In an unprecedented focus on this issue, there were three separate workshops held on the topic — an EFF-organized workshop on the disconnect between trade agreements and the Internet's multi-stakeholder governance model, two more specific workshops on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and on the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and finally a high-profile plenary session that was translated into the six United Nations languages and included on its panel two former trade negotiators, a Member of the European Parliament, and two private sector representatives, as well as speakers from EFF and Public Citizen." — Internet Infrastructure Coalition's David Snead: "I think if you look at the recent history of trade negotiations, we have this long string of failed trade agreements, and trade agreements that have been really vehemently opposed by a number of people, the last of which is TPP. What does that indicate to me? It indicates to me that as someone who believes very deeply in the potential for free trade and the fact that free trade is good, that the system isn't working. If we can't get people behind the trade agreements, if we have people in the streets opposing the trade agreements, we need to find a better way to address their concerns, and for me the primary issue is one of secrecy. I think we've gone way overboard in classifying trade agreements and trade agreement texts, and there need to be methods for opening those up." — Malcolm: "The attention now being given to trade at this important global forum comes not a moment too soon, as the intense push to ram Internet issues into international law through the TPP and TISA that we saw this year won't be dampened for long by the failure of the TPP." Follow CircleID on TwitterMore under: Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation [...]

AT&T CEO Confident Trump-Appointed FCC Will Scrap Net Neutrality Regulations


AT&T's regulatory problems are melting away as the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump draws near. Aaron Pressman reporting in Fortune: "AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson says he expects a Trump-appointed FCC won't push the net neutrality issue. And a Trump-led Department of Justice antitrust review of the Time Warner deal should lead to approval, he said. Pointing to the three people that Trump has appointed to his transition team overseeing the FCC, Stephenson said the agency should be much more amenable to industry desires."

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Internet Society Urges for Increased Effort to Address Unprecedented Challenges Facing the Internet


The Internet Society urged the global Internet community to redouble its efforts in addressing the wave of unprecedented challenges facing the Internet during the 11th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations-convened conference taking place in Mexico, 6-9 December. From a press release issued today in Guadalajara, Mexico: "With just under half of the global population expected to be online by the end of 2016, Internet growth rates are slowing, resulting in a deepening digital divide between those with access and those without. Deploying infrastructure, increasing usability and ensuring affordability are critical for expanding Internet access and globally eliminating divisions in society, as are the policy frameworks to enable this. In addition, issues such as blocking of content, privacy, mass surveillance, cybercrime, hacking, and fake news are all contributing to what is now a growing global erosion of trust amongst users."

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Censorship, Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Internet Governance, Internet of Things, Policy & Regulation, Security

Over $31 Million Stolen by Hackers from Russian Central Bank


Hackers have stolen over 2 billion rubles ($31 million) from correspondent accounts at the Russian central bank, the bank reported today — the latest example of an escalation of cyber attacks on financial institutions around the globe. Reuters reports: "Central bank official Artyom Sychyov discussed the losses at a briefing, saying that the hackers had attempted to steal about 5 billion rubles. Sychyov was commenting on a central bank report released earlier in the day, that told about hackers breaking into accounts there by faking a client's credentials. The bank provided few other details in its lengthy report.

Update, Dec 9: "Russian authorities arrested a large number of suspects in May in connection with the recently revealed electronic theft of $19 million from accounts held at the Russian central bank," Alexander Winning and Elena Fabrichnaya reporting from Moscow in Reuters. "Artyom Sychyov, deputy head of the Bank of Russia's security directorate, said the Federal Security Service, or FSB, and the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, had run a joint operation after the Russian heist, and that 'a large number of people were arrested'."

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Cyberattack Cuts Off Thousands of TalkTalk, Post Office Customers in UK


Thousands of TalkTalk and Post Office customers in the UK have had their Internet access cut by an attack targeting certain types of Internet routers, according to a BBC report on Thursday. "A spokeswoman for the Post Office told the BBC that the problem began on Sunday and had affected about 100,000 of its customers. Talk Talk also confirmed that some of its customers had been affected, and it was working on a fix. It is not yet known who is responsible for the attack. It involves the use of a modified form of the Mirai worm." Last week Germany's Deutsche Telekom reported close to a million of its customers had lost their internet connection as a result of the attack. Mirai was also involved in the historic October attack disrupting world's leading websites.

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More under: Cyberattack, DDoS

Gambia Criticized for Shutting Down Communication Networks on Election Day


(image) Gambia election day – Internet and international calls banned"Communication blackout shatters illusion of freedom during the election," says Amnesty International in a statement on Thursday. Amid blocks on the Internet and other communications networks in Gambia during today's presidential election, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa said: "This is an unjustified and crude attack on the right to freedom of expression in Gambia, with mobile internet services and text messaging cut off on polling day. Shutting down these communication networks shatters the illusion of freedom that had emerged during the two weeks period of the electoral campaign, when restrictions appeared to have been eased. ... Blocks on the internet and other communications networks amount to a flagrant violation of the right to freedom of expression and access to information. The same rights that people have offline must also be protected online."

— The election features three candidates, President Yahya Jammeh (APRC, Alliance for Patriotic Reconstruction and Construction), Adama Barrow (Coalition 2016, a coalition of opposition parties) and Mama Kandeh (GDC, Gambian Democratic Congress), in an election that will be won by whoever gains the most votes on 1 December. There is no second round and results are expected on 2 December.

— Govt of Gambia orders Internet blackout ahead of national election. Service down since 20:05 UTC on 30-Nov. Dyn Research / Dec 1


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