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Government/Defense News and Analysis

Following cyber order from Obama, CISPA is back

Secret Service probing breach at federal IT contractor

Credentials and email messages pilfered in a breach of a federal government contractor that could be used to access the contractor’s systems and those of its customers – including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – were auctioned off in a Russian cybercrime site in August, prompting…

Facebook hosts election security meeting between tech companies, intel officials

Executives from leading technology and social media firms convened with U.S. intelligence representatives yesterday to discuss ongoing efforts to shield their platforms and users from election interference campaigns. According to Bloomberg and additional news outlets, Facebook used its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters to host the meeting, which was attended by Google, Microsoft, Twitter and members…

Report: Dutch agency recruited Iranian mole to help U.S. and Israel plant Stuxnet virus

The 2007 Stuxnet virus attack perpetrated against Iran’s then-budding nuclear program was made possible after U.S. and Israeli intelligence coordinated with Dutch intelligence agency AIVD to recruit an Iranian engineer as a mole who could infect Iran’s enrichment plant near Natanz, Yahoo News reported this week. The engineer initially provided data that helped Stuxnet’s authors…

James Comey

IG: Comey violated FBI policy by leaking memos of Trump meetings

The Justice Department Inspector General (IG) had harsh words for former FBI Director James Comey, saying that by maintaining a set of contemporaneous memos detailing meetings with President Trump in early 2017 and leaking them, he violated FBI policy, though the IG report released Thursday found “no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any…

election hacking

Facebook releases more election security changes

In the runup to the 2020 presidential election Facebook shared additional steps it is taking to help ensure campaign ads are properly attributed and vetted. Katie Harbath, Facebook’s public policy director, global elections, said the changes include strengthening the authorization process for U.S. advertisers and showing users more information about each advertiser. This includes placing…

DHS program to fight ransomware attacks on 2020 elections

Concerned about cyberattacks on the 2020 elections after evidence that Russian hackers accessed voter registration systems in 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introducing a new program next month to protect the systems as well as voter registration databases.  “Recent history has shown that state and county governments and those who support them are…

Ransomware attack hits mostly small, local Texas government orgs

A wide-ranging ransomware attack has hit 23 government entities in Texas, most of them “smaller, local governments,” the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) confirmed Saturday. While the government won’t reveal the names of the organizations affected by the attack, which began Friday morning, the DIR said that state of Texas networks and systems weren’t…

Court orders Georgia to replace DRE voting machines with paper ballot systems by 2020 presidential primary

While a U.S. District Court judge has rebuffed attempts to move Georgia’s fall municipal elections to paper ballots, she did order the state to replace its direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines with paper ballot systems by its March 24 presidential primary. “The court prohibits any use of the GEMS/DRE system after 2019,” Judge Amy…

Def Con: Lieu, Langevin call on security community to help fed gov’t bolster cyber, harden election security

Despite having some policies in place, the U.S. government is largely unprepared for a large-scale cyberattack, though the white hat hacker community could help it identify weak points and harden security. “No,” said Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., when asked during the Def Con “Hacking Congress” panel whether the government was well-positioned to fend off attackers.…

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