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President Biden wants half of new vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2030

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President Biden is throwing more of his weight behind electric cars. Biden is signing an Executive Order that sets a target for half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 to have some form of zero-emissions driving, whether it’s a pure EV, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The move is meant to not only promote clean transportation and limit climate change, but help the US “outcompete” a Chinese car industry that’s quickly shifting toward electrified vehicles.

In sync with the order, the EPA and NHTSA will outline how they plan to undo the Trump administration’s rollbacks of emissions and fuel efficiency standards. The two agencies will collaborate using standards built on the “momentum” from an agreement between California and automakers BMW, Ford, Honda, Volvo and VW. The EPA’s proposed rules would take effect in the 2023 model year, while the NHTSA’s would arrive in the 2024 model year. The team-up would have the standards mesh until model year 2026.

The Biden administration has rallied support from domestic brands for the effort. Ford, GM and Stellantis have declared a “shared aspiration” to meet the 2030 target and otherwise support Biden’s vehicle electrification policies.

It’s a significant goal. EVs have represented about 2 percent of US car sales for the past three years, according to the International Energy Agency and Pew Research. While the pandemic might have played a role in limiting 2020 sales, meeting the 2030 target would fundamentally transform the US car market, not to mention the charging infrastructure needed to support it.

However, it might drag behind some states, not to mention car makers. California and Massachusetts will ban all sales of new gas-based cars by 2035. GM also plans to exclusively sell EVs by that year, while Ford will go completely electric in Europe by 2030. Brands like Volvo and Stellantis’ Fiat badge have also committed to full electrification by 2030. However ambitious the Biden plan might be, it could seem relatively modest in some respects.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/president-biden-2030-ev-target-134025373.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

The newest MAGA app is tied to a Bannon-allied Chinese billionaire

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On Tuesday, Guo Wengui, an exiled Chinese billionaire who runs a Chinese-language media network with Trump adviser Steve Bannon, posted a video on his site GNEWS reminding viewers to back up their social media posts on GETTR.

“Today I have to post this video on our G-TV to inform everybody that everything is fine, because the GETTR platform is adjusting,” he said in Mandarin, according to an English translation posted on the site. “GETTR is not ours, so we should follow the instructions. Right? GETTR is cleaning up all the data and accounts. Afterwards, everybody has to re-register their accounts.”

The site was then wiped.

Two days later, Donald Trump’s former adviser Jason Miller announced that GETTR — a Chinese-language site for dissidents opposing the Chinese Communist Party — would soon launch as a pro-MAGA free-speech social media platform.

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GETTR was announced as a brand new social media platform for Trump’s fans, a social media outpost where MAGA types could post freely and, through the mere act of signing up, stick it to Big Tech. It was billed as the logical extension of the former president’s monthslong battle with the major social media companies, two of which had booted him in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan. 6. And though Trump himself had not committed to being on it, it seemed like the type of place where he inevitably would end up after having launched a failed professional blog of his own.

There was one major question: Just where did GETTR come from?

A POLITICO review reveals that prior to it being revealed on Thursday, GETTR had existed for nearly a year as a Chinese-language social media network linked to Guo and G-TV Media, and on which anti-CCP content had been promoted on a regular basis.

Miller told The Daily Beast, which first reported the connection, that Guo’s “family foundation” provided GETTR with early funding. In a separate interview with POLITICO, Miller said that Guo had “no formal role,” had not “contributed any money” and was “not part of the business day to day.” Miller added that “his family foundation is part of the international consortium of investors who gave seed money.”

Previous advertising for GETTR had been posted online before news broke of Miller’s venture. And it included logos for several entities in the G-TV Media Group, a media company owned by both Bannon and Guo. One poster includes the logos for their subsidiaries, G-TV and GNEWS, two sites that have been flagged as vectors of coronavirus and anti-CCP disinformation. An account for GETTR on G-TV, which has the same torch logo as Miller’s GETTR, has been uploading content for more than a year, though much of it is content from G-TV.

Even before its announcement, the GETTR app on Apple had more than 1,200 reviews dating back months, primarily from users praising its anti-CCP stance. “Finally there is a platform for freely disseminating the truth. Thanks to Mr. Wengui who broke the news that the revolution has created such a free-sounding platform,” one user wrote in a review on June 17th.

In the months leading up to GETTR’s reveal, plans for Trump returning to social media frequently hinged on the idea of owning his own Twitter or Facebook-like platform. Trump associates previously told POLITICO that the quickest way to bring him back, and keep him there, would necessitate his owning a majority of the company, if not the entire enterprise. But given the steep cost of building a viable Big Tech competitor from scratch — Twitter, Trump’s biggest competition, burned through hundreds of millions of dollars from launch to profitability over nine years — people involved in Trump’s building of a network had aimed to buy a pre-existing network outright and rebrand it for a MAGA audience.

At face value, GETTR could have been that service. But the choice of Guo’s entity brought with it particularly thorny issues.

G-TV Media has had a rocky history, and was the subject of a federal probe into its fundraising, with the FBI and SEC investigating the company’s $300 million private fundraising round. The links between Guo and Bannon go back years. Famously, Bannon was arrested aboard Guo’s yacht in 2020 over fraud charges related to a separate crowdfunding project to help build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2019, it was reported that Guo was a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.

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Guo himself was an active promoter of GETTR, frequently posting daily video blogs onto the site over the past two months, titled “Miles Guo’s Getter” to share his views on China, the coronavirus pandemic and the Biden administration. Those GETTR videos were then cross-posted to GNews and translated into both English and French, according to the site.

In the days leading up to Miller announcing the launch of a MAGA-version of GETTR, several videos appeared on GNEWS and G-TV showing GETTR users how to save their data and eventually upload it to the new platform.

A Twitter user named Dicky Zhang, whose account identifies him as connected to G-TV and GNEWS, also reminded his followers that they needed to back up their GETTR accounts.

“Gettr will officially be launched on July 4th,” he tweeted in English on June 29th. “In order to build it into a multilingual & international platform, we will clear all the data on the platform on June 29th, Eastern US Time, including posts, photos & accounts. Sorry for the inconvenience. Save important information pls.”

Meridith McGraw contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/07/01/maga-app-bannon-chinese-billionaire-497767
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tina Nguyen

Bill Gates just released a plan for US leadership on climate change, including $35B in funding

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Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest men and most prolific philanthropists, has just released a broad new plan on how the U.S. could take the lead in the fight against climate change.

“[We] need to revolutionize the world’s physical economy—and that will take, among other things, a dramatic infusion of ingenuity, funding, and focus from the federal government. No one else has the resources to drive the research we need,” Gates writes. 

With a new Biden administration set to take over the reins of government, the timing for Gates’ suggestions couldn’t be better. The outgoing Trump Administration was singularly opposed to combating climate change, rolling back regulations, withdrawing from international agreements on climate change mitigation and sweeping aside science in favor of specious arguments from the industries that had the most to lose from a recognition of the threats of anthropogenic climate change.

Gates calls for a dramatic $25 billion boost in spending that would bring clean energy research spending to $35 billion a year (in line with medical spending from the government). Gates notes that this could lead to the creation of more than 370,000 jobs while boosting a clean-energy agenda.

Gates noted that Americans spend more on gasoline in a single month than the government spends on climate-related research.

Beyond simply spending more money on research, the Microsoft-made billionaire called for the creation of a network of “National Institutes of Energy Innovation.”

“This is the most important thing the U.S. can do to lead the world in innovations that will solve climate change,” Gates wrote.

Modeled on the National Institutes of Health, the largest financier for biomedical research in the world, Gates called for the Energy Innovation Institutes to comprise separate institutions focusing on specific areas. One would be an Institute of Transportation Decarbonization while others could focus on energy storage, renewables or carbon capture and management, Gates wrote.

Gates also suggested that each organization should be tasked with the commercialization for innovations that come out of the lab. “It’s not enough to develop a new way to store electricity that works in the lab — to have any imapact, it has to be practical and affordable in real-world settings. The best way to ensure that is to encourage scientists to start their research with an end-use in mind.”

Finally, Gates called for the institutes to be located around the country — just like the Department of Energy or the NASA have laboratories and research facilities spread around the country.

In addition to the research facilities and spending boosts, Gates called for a program of tax incentives and energy standards that could make markets for more clean-energy tools.

There are already pieces of legislation making their way through Congress like the the Clean Energy Innovation and Jobs Act and the American Energy Innovation Act that could help the federal government move toward a more nimble and focused setup, Gates acknowledged. But both of these laws have stalled. 

Gates’ climate plan comes as more than 40 major U.S. companies penned an open letter to the incoming Biden Administration to do more to address climate change.

“Our communities and our economy are enduring not only a devastating pandemic but also the rising costs of climate change,” the companies wrote. “Record wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other extreme weather are upending lives and livelihoods. And science makes clear that future generations will face far greater environmental, economic and health impacts unless we act now.”

And yesterday, the medical journal Lancet released a sweeping survey documenting the health impacts associated with environmental catastrophes, pollution and climate change.

Heat waves, air pollution and extreme weather increasingly damage human health, the report said. As National Public Radio reported, the report makes an explicit connection between death, disease and burning fossil fuels.

“Many carbon-intensive practices and policies lead to poor air quality, poor food quality, and poor housing quality, which disproportionately harm the health of disadvantaged populations,” the authors of The Lancet analysis wrote.

Even in a divided government, there’s much the Biden administration can do to make a significant dent in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

As TechCrunch reported, a large portion of any infrastructure-related stimulus could contain significant spending on climate change mitigation-related technologies.

“A lot of the really consequential climate-related stuff that’s going to come out in the [near term] … won’t actually be related to renewables,” an advisor to the President-elect said.

However, if the Democrats manage to wrest control of the Senate from Republican leadership in the aftermath of the January 2021 runoff elections in Georgia, then the possibility of a more muscular climate agenda — one that could incorporate Gates’ suggestions — could be on the table.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/03/bill-gates-just-released-a-plan-for-us-leadership-on-climate-change-including-35b-in-funding/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan Shieber

What social networks have learned since the 2016 election

On the eve on the 2020 U.S. election, tensions are running high.

The good news? 2020 isn’t 2016. Social networks are way better prepared to handle a wide array of complex, dangerous or otherwise ambiguous Election Day scenarios.

The bad news: 2020 is its own beast, one that’s unleashed a nightmare health scenario on a divided nation that’s even more susceptible now to misinformation, hyper-partisanship and dangerous ideas moving from the fringe to the center than it was four years ago.

The U.S. was caught off guard by foreign interference in the 2016 election, but shocking a nation that’s spent the last eight months expecting a convergence of worst-case scenarios won’t be so easy.

Social platforms have braced for the 2020 election in a way they didn’t in 2016. Here’s what they’re worried about and the critical lessons they’ve picked up over the last four years.

Contested election results

President Trump has repeatedly signaled that he won’t accept the results of the election in the case that he loses — a shocking threat that could imperil American democracy, but one social platforms have been tracking closely. Trump’s erratic, often rule-bending behavior on social networks in recent months has served as a kind of stress test, allowing those platforms to game out different scenarios for the election.

Facebook and Twitter in particular have laid out detailed plans about what happens if the results of the election aren’t immediately clear or if a candidate refuses to accept official results once they’re tallied.

On election night, Facebook will pin a message to the top of both Facebook and Instagram telling users that vote counting is still underway. When authoritative results are in, Facebook will change those messages to reflect the official results. Importantly, U.S. election results might not be clear on election night or for some days afterward, a potential outcome that Facebook and other social networks are bracing for.

Facebook election message

Image via Facebook

If a candidate declared victory prematurely, Facebook doesn’t say it will remove those claims, but it will pair them with its message that there’s no official result and voting is still underway.

Twitter released its plans for handling election results two months ago, explaining that it will either remove or attach a warning label to premature claims of victory before authoritative election results are in. The company also explicitly stated that it will act against any tweets “inciting unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession,” a shocking rule to have to articulate, but a necessary one in 2020.

On Monday, Twitter elaborated on its policy, saying that it would focus on labeling misleading tweets about the presidential election and other contested races. The company released a sample image of a label it would append, showing a warning stating that “this tweet is sharing inaccurate information.”

We may label Tweets, starting on election night, that make claims about election results before they’re officially called.

We’ll be prioritizing the presidential election and other highly contested races where there may be significant issues with misleading information. pic.twitter.com/BExhZdVMnB

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 2, 2020

 

Last week, the company also began showing users large misinformation warnings at the top of their feeds. The messages told users that they “might encounter misleading information” about mail-in voting and also cautioned them that election results may not be immediately known.

According to Twitter, users who try to share tweets with misleading election-related misinformation will see a pop-up pointing them to vetted information and forcing them to click through a warning before sharing. Twitter also says it will act on any “disputed claims” that might cast doubt on voting, including “unverified information about election rigging, ballot tampering, vote tallying, or certification of election results.”

One other major change that many users probably already noticed is Twitter’s decision to disable retweets. Users can still retweet by clicking through a pop-up page, but Twitter made the change to encourage people to quote retweet instead. The effort to slow down the spread of misinformation was striking, and Twitter said it will stay in place through the end of election week, at least.

YouTube didn’t go into similar detail about its decision making, but the company previously said it will put an “informational” label on search results related to the election and below election-related videos. The label warns users that “results may not be final” and points them to the company’s election info hub.

Foreign disinformation

This is one area where social networks have made big strides. After Russian disinformation took root on social platforms four years ago, those companies now coordinate with one another and the government about the threats they’re seeing.

In the aftermath of 2016, Facebook eventually woke up to the idea that its platform could be leveraged to scale social ills like hate and misinformation. Its scorecard is uneven, but its actions against foreign disinformation have been robust, reducing that threat considerably.

A repeat of the same concerns from 2016 is unlikely. Facebook made aggressive efforts to find foreign coordinated disinformation campaigns across its platforms, and it publishes what it finds regularly and with little delay. But in 2020, the biggest concerns are coming from within the country — not without.

Most foreign information operations have been small so far, failing to gain much traction. Last month, Facebook removed a network of fake accounts connected to Iran. The operation was small and failed to generate much traction, but it shows that U.S. adversaries are still interested in trying out the tactic.

Misleading political ads

To address concerns around election misinformation in ads, Facebook opted for a temporary political ad blackout, starting at 12AM PT on November 4 and continuing until the company deems it safe to toggle them back on. Facebook hasn’t accepted any new political ads since October 27 and previously said it won’t accept any ads that delegitimize the results of the election. Google will also pause election-related ads after polls close Tuesday.

Facebook has made a number of big changes to political ads since 2016, when Russia bought Facebook ads to meddle with U.S. politics. Political ads on the platform are subject to more scrutiny and much more transparency now and Facebook’s ad library emerged as an exemplary tool that allows anyone to see what ads have been published, who bought them and how much they spent.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter’s way of dealing with political advertising was cutting it off entirely. The company announced the change a year ago and hasn’t looked back since. TikTok also opted to disallow political ads.

We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought. Why? A few reasons…🧵

— jack (@jack) October 30, 2019

Political violence

Politically-motivated violence is a big worry this week in the U.S. — a concern that shows just how tense the situation has grown under four years of Trump. Leading into Tuesday, the president has repeatedly made false claims of voter fraud and encouraged his followers to engage in voter intimidation, a threat Facebook was clued into enough that it made a policy prohibiting “militarized” language around poll watching.

Facebook made a number of other meaningful recent changes like banning the dangerous pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon and militias that use the platform to organize, though those efforts have come very late in the game.

Facebook was widely criticized for its inaction around a Trump post warning “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during racial justice protests earlier this year, but its recent posture suggests similar posts might be taken more seriously now. We’ll be watching how Facebook handles emerging threats of violence this week.

Its recent decisive moves against extremism are important, but the platform has long incubated groups that use the company’s networking and event tools to come together for potential real-world violence. Even if they aren’t allowed on the platform any longer, many of those groups got organized and then moved their networks onto alternative social networks and private channels. Still, making it more difficult to organize violence on mainstream social networks is a big step in the right direction.

Twitter also addressed the potential threat of election-related violence in advance, noting that it may add warnings or require users to remove any tweets “inciting interference with the election” or encouraging violence.

Platform policy shifts in 2020

Facebook is the biggest online arena where U.S. political life plays out. While a similar number of Americans watch videos on YouTube, Facebook is where they go to duke it over candidates, share news stories (some legitimate, some not) and generally express themselves politically. And as we’ve learned the hard way, that makes it a tinderbox, especially during elections.

Still, there are reasons to be hopeful, particularly given some very recent decisions.

While Facebook acted against foreign threats quickly after 2016, the company dragged its feet on platform changes that could be perceived as politically motivated — a hesitation that backfired by incubating dangerous extremists and allowing many kinds of misinformation, particularly on the far-right, to survive and thrive.

But in the last few months, whether it was inspired by the threat of a contested election, federal antitrust action or a possible Biden presidency, Facebook has signaled a shift to more aggressive moderation with a flurry of positive policy changes. An accompanying flurry of election-focused podcast and television ads suggests Facebook is worried about public perception too — and that’s a good thing.

Twitter’s plan for the election has been well-communicated and detailed. In 2020, the company treats its policy decisions with more transparency, communicates them in real-time and isn’t afraid to admit to mistakes. The relatively small social network plays an outsized role in publishing political content that’s amplified elsewhere so the choices it makes are critical for countering misinformation and extremism.

The companies that direct the flow of online information learned major lessons from 2016.  There’s no way to know which of those lessons will serve us on Election Day and in the days and weeks to follow, but we can hope these were the right ones.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/02/2020-election-social-media-facebook-twitter-policies/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Taylor Hatmaker

Russia, China and Iran trying to hack presidential race, Microsoft says

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Russian, Chinese and Iranian hackers have mounted cyberattacks against hundreds of organizations and people involved in the 2020 presidential race and U.S.-European policy debates, with targets including the campaigns of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Microsoft said Thursday.

The report is the most expansive public warning to date about the rapid spread of foreign governments’ efforts to wield hackers to undermine U.S. democracy.

The perpetrators include the same Kremlin-aligned Russian hacking group whose thefts and leaks of confidential Democratic Party documents helped torpedo Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes in 2016, said Microsoft, which offers products designed to detect such attacks.

Targets this time include the Trump and Biden campaigns, administration officials and an array of national and state parties, political consultants and think tanks, as well as groups such as the German Marshall Fund and Stimson Center that promote international cooperation.

“The activity we are announcing today makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election as had been anticipated,” Microsoft said in a blog post. It added that its security tools detected and blocked “the majority of these attacks.”

The company did not answer numerous questions from POLITICO seeking more details about the attacks.

The revelations come amid a feud between congressional Democrats and the administration over what it knows about foreign threats against the election, in particular the Democrats’ accusations that Trump’s intelligence leaders are failing to alert the public about the Kremlin’s activities. Trump and his supporters have pushed a message that the Chinese are trying to help Biden — a claim not supported by intelligence officials, who have told POLITICO that Russia’s efforts pose the most active and acute danger.

An official intelligence community statement last month said China prefers that Trump not be reelected, that Russia is denigrating Biden and that Iran is undermining the president.

Some of the hackers’ targets confirmed Microsoft’s reporting, though none said the cyberattacks had succeeded.

“As President Trump’s re-election campaign, we are a large target, so it is not surprising to see malicious activity directed at the campaign or our staff,” said Thea McDonald, deputy press secretary for the president’s campaign team. “We work closely with our partners, Microsoft and others, to mitigate these threats. We take cybersecurity very seriously and do not publicly comment on our efforts.”

Likewise, the Republican National Committee has “been informed that foreign actors have made unsuccessful attempts to penetrate the technology of our staff members,” an RNC spokesperson said.

Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microsoft has also alerted SKDKnickerbocker, one of Biden’s chief communications and strategy firms, that Russian hackers had unsuccessfully targeted its networks, Reuters said early Thursday ahead of the report’s release. Those attempts also failed, Reuters reported. The firm did not respond to later requests for comment.

The attacks on the Stimson Center were first observed in May, spokesperson David Solimini said, and Microsoft notified the think tank about the nature and source in late July. He and German Marshall Fund spokesperson Sydney Simon both said they’d seen no evidence that the attacks succeeded.

Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Microsoft’s findings are “consistent with earlier statements by the Intelligence Community on a range of malicious cyber activities targeting the 2020 campaign.”

“It is important to highlight that none [of the targets] are involved in maintaining or operating voting infrastructure and there was no identified impact on election systems,” Krebs said in a statement. He added, “Everyone involved in the political process should stay alert against these sorts of attacks.”

The Treasury Department announced its own steps to combat Kremlin interference Thursday, saying it had designated the pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach for sanctions for promoting discredited allegations against Biden.

Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, confirmed that his group had been the target of apparently unsuccessful attacks from Chinese hackers, but cautioned that those did not appear election-related.

“It is not surprising that we would be targeted by China, based on the substance of our work,” Brookie said. “This appeared to be about information gathering and espionage as opposed to election interference of any kind.”

Among other details, Microsoft reported that:

— The hacking group popularly known as Fancy Bear, which is linked to Russian military intelligence and played a major role in the 2016 attacks on Democrats, has gone after more than 200 organizations in recent months. The targets include political campaigns, national and state party organizations, consultants for both parties and think tanks. (The group is also known as APT28, and Microsoft refers to it as Strontium.)

— A Chinese hacking group called Zirconium or APT31 has attacked high-profile people in Biden’s campaign and at least one prominent person in Trump’s campaign, the tech giant said.

— Phosphorus, an Iranian hacker group often called Charming Kitten, has gone after Trump campaign staffers and administration officials.

Microsoft’s blog post said that it had blocked the majority of the attacks.

The company’s analysis offered some new details on the hackers’ methods.

For instance, in 2016 the Russian group primarily relied on so-called spearphishing, which tricks victims into clicking on malicious email links to gain access to documents that it later released through outlets like WikiLeaks. But in recent months, Russia has shifted toward more crude “brute force” attacks and a technique called password spray, in which hackers input many passwords in a bid to guess their way into a system.

“Strontium also disguised these credential harvesting attacks in new ways, running them through more than 1,000 constantly rotating IP addresses, many associated with the Tor anonymizing service,” wrote Tom Burt, corporate vice president for customer security and trust. “Strontium even evolved its infrastructure over time, adding and removing about 20 IPs per day to further mask its activity.”

This is far from the first time that a company in the cybersecurity business, not the federal government, has been the first to go public with details about major attacks against their customers by nation-states. Previous examples include a landmark 2013 report by the cyber firm Mandiant on Chinese Army-connected hackers conducting cyber espionage against U.S. critical infrastructure like the electrical power grid.

Meridith McGraw and Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/10/russia-china-iran-cyberhack-2020-election-411853
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim Starks