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Homeland Security warns of a ‘critical’ security flaw in Windows servers

28952e10-fb67-11ea-befb-79e1462ebfccThe US government has a major server security headache on its hands. Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has delivered a rare emergency directive (via TechCrunch) urging government agencies to install a patch f…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/homeland-security-warning-zerologon-windows-server-flaw-175800739.html
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Hartford postpones first day of school after ransomware attack

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The city of Hartford, Conn., postponed its scheduled first day of school on Tuesday after a ransomware virus attack affected school systems over the weekend.  Hartford Public Schools announced …

Source: https://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/515446-hartford-postpones-first-day-of-school-after-ransomware-attack
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Justine Coleman

Secret Service bought location data pulled from common apps

13c03580-e0a9-11ea-b79e-c03c973e151cThe Secret Service paid a private company for access to location data generated by common smartphone apps, Motherboard reports. Internal documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that the agency spent $35,844 for a o…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/secret-service-bought-location-data-locate-x-165531624.html
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NSA and FBI warn that new Linux malware threatens national security

NSA and FBI warn that new Linux malware threatens national security

Enlarge (credit: Suse)

The FBI and NSA have issued a joint report warning that Russian state hackers are using a previously unknown piece of Linux malware to stealthily infiltrate sensitive networks, steal confidential information, and execute malicious commands.

In a report that’s unusual for the depth of technical detail from a government agency, officials said the Drovorub malware is a full-featured tool kit that was has gone undetected until recently. The malware connects to command and control servers operated by a hacking group that works for the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency that has been tied to more than a decade of brazen and advanced campaigns, many of which have inflicted serious damage to national security.

“Information in this Cybersecurity Advisory is being disclosed publicly to assist National Security System owners and the public to counter the capabilities of the GRU, an organization which continues to threaten the United States and U.S. allies as part of its rogue behavior, including their interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election as described in the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2017),” officials from the agencies wrote.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1698939
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Dan Goodin

Trump launches his salvo against social media — will it land?

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President Donald Trump’s attempt to punish companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias takes aim at the online industry’s most-cherished legal protections — but the shot could ultimately be a glancing blow.

Trump announced the action Thursday, signing an executive order that he said would “defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers” — tech platforms that have amassed “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

“We can’t allow that to happen,” Trump said in the Oval Office. He was accompanied by Attorney General William Barr, who said the administration would also push legislation to rein in the online companies.

Under the executive order, Trump said he is asking regulators to reinterpret a law that shields internet companies from lawsuits over content on their sites, a safeguard that has allowed Silicon Valley’s giants to generate some of the world’s biggest fortunes.

“My executive order calls for new regulations … to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” he said,

But any such action depends on independent agencies and state attorneys general agreeing with the administration’s stance, and would certainly provoke a legal fight that would last long past November’s election.

Trump told reporters he would gladly quit Twitter — the platform where he has amassed 80.4 million followers — if the mainstream media weren’t biased against him. He has frequently used the platform to attack publications and individual news reports he deems “fake.”

He also singled out Yoel Roth, the head of site integrity for Twitter, holding up his picture on the cover of the New York Post. Roth has drawn attacks from conservatives in recent days after people unearthed old tweets in which he appeared to disparage Trump and his supporters.


The executive order isn’t the end of the administration’s actions, Trump said. The Justice Department is drafting legislation that would target Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that shields online platforms from liability for content created or shared by their users. Lawmakers created the statute with the rationale that online sites are conduits of information, rather than publishers that pick and choose what content to offer — a principle Trump and Barr accuse the Big Tech platforms of violating.

Barr declined to provide details on the legislation, saying the department is still considering options, but indicated litigation was likely on the horizon as well.

“One of the things that I found has the broadest bipartisan support these days is the feeling that this provision, Section 230, has been stretched way beyond its original intention, and people feel that on both sides of the aisle,” Barr said.

An early draft of the text drew swift condemnation from both internet industry advocates and civil liberties groups, including some who regularly criticize Silicon Valley, after the language began circulating on social media and news reports. Some called it dangerous; some dismissed it as bluster.

“This reads like a stream of consciousness tweetstorm that some poor staffer had to turn into the form of an Executive Order,” said Daphne Keller, a former Google attorney who now leads the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

The order nevertheless adds more ammunition to a talking point that resonates with Trump’s online base and will appease some Washington conservatives who are skeptical of the tech industry’s influence over political discourse. And Trump’s escalation of the issue could have a chilling effect on internet companies weighing whether to make rulings on misinformation or other content as Election Day nears.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/28/trump-social-media-executive-order-287834
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Steven Overly

Senate passes FISA renewal bill, sends it back to the House

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The Senate approved legislation Thursday to renew a handful of key domestic surveillance powers, but only after civil libertarians attached language that the Justice Department warns would “unacceptably degrade” national security.

Now the bill goes back to the House for possibly more tinkering, leaving a cloud over its chances for swift final approval.

The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020 passed the Senate by an 80-16 vote more than two months after the House approved it by a wide, bipartisan margin. But Thursday’s vote came a day after Senate privacy hawks successfully amended the bill to expand legal protections for certain groups of individuals targeted by federal surveillance — a change that DOJ labeled unacceptable.

“We appreciate the Senate’s reauthorization of three expired national security authorities,” department national security spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement. But he said the amended bill “would unacceptably degrade our ability to conduct surveillance of terrorists, spies and other national security threats.”

President Donald Trump, who has accused a government “deep state” of misusing its spying powers, also has not indicated whether he would sign the bill.

The vote occurred mere hours after the announcement that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who in March argued passionately against letting the authorities lapse, will temporarily step down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee amid a probe into his stock trades.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t say during her weekly news conference Thursday when the chamber would take up the amended measure.

A Democratic leadership aide told POLITICO that it won’t be considered on Friday when the House convenes to vote on the latest Covid-19 relief package. The aide said the leadership was “assessing next steps.”

The FISA renewal bill includes new privacy protections that Attorney General William Barr had helped negotiate and would impose new requirements on the FISA court system. Those were inspired in part by Trump’s allegations that the Obama administration improperly used the spying tools to wiretap his former campaign adviser Carter Page during the initial probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The bill would also permanently end an already deactivated NSA program that had allowed the agency to obtain, with judicial approval, Americans’ phone records in terrorism probes.

Thursday’s successful passage came months after the House voted to reauthorize the authorities with modest changes. The Senate, however, couldn’t reach an agreement for quick passage of the House bill in March amid objections from the chamber’s privacy advocates. The chamber eventually adopted a 77-day extension as a short-term solution, but the House never took it up.

The intelligence tools the authorities enabled have remained offline ever since.

The measure now kicks back to the House, where progressives and libertarians could use the Senate’s changes as leverage to reopen debate on the legislation and try to amend it even further. That’s especially a possibility for those GOP members who have demanded that the chamber reopen for business as usual despite the pandemic.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) secured the amendment expanding legal protections, called the legislation a “good bill.”

“We got some good reforms here. They are consistent with many of the aims that House members who negotiated the last House bill had in mind,” Lee told POLITICO before the final vote. He had previously lobbied Trump to veto the measure if it reached his desk unaltered.

“I’m certainly not going to tell them what to do with it,” Lee added, though he suggested he might support something similar to a proposed amendment from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) that would have protected Americans’ internet browsing and search histories from federal surveillance. It came up just one vote shy of the 60-vote threshold.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the Leahy-Lee amendment “took us a step closer to properly protecting Americans’ civil liberties, and it’s clear we need to go farther.” She had successfully scuttled the House’s first surveillance package in February just hours before the House Judiciary Committee was due to mark it up.

On Thursday, she specifically cited the Wyden-Daines amendment, saying that “it’s now the House’s responsibility to curb this violation of Americans’ rights. I know it’s still within our grasp as lawmakers to push for the significant privacy reforms we need.”

Other House members also seem itching for a fresh surveillance fight.

“Although I am pleased that the Lee-Leahy Amendment passed, I oppose the bill without further amendment. If permitted by House rules, I will offer amendments,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) said in a statement to POLITICO. He and Lofgren co-sponsored an alternative renewal bill to the one the House passed.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/14/senate-passes-fisa-renewal-259064
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Martin Matishak

Bipartisan caucus set to hold ‘virtual Congress’ on Thursday

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The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is slated to hold a “virtual Congress”  on Thursday, providing lawmakers with the chance to remotely debate the next major coronavirus relief package remotely amid the COVID…

Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/496520-bipartisan-caucus-set-to-hold-virtual-congress-on-thursday
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Juliegrace Brufke