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The Cyber Brief
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MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2016
RESEARCHERS UNCOVER HANDIWORK OF SPYWARE DEALER
Apple quickly issued a security patch last week to plug several “zero-day” flaws in its iPhones and iPads after researchers discovered sophisticated surveillance software targeting a prominent dissident from the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed Mansoor. The spyware, which, among other things, is capable of reading text messages and emails, and tracking calls, contacts, and locations, was reportedly created by an Israeli company called the NSO Group that sells digital tools to governments.

Some analysts say that the news bolsters Apple’s case that law enforcement agencies like the FBI should not be able to force the company to create special access to its devices. Exploits like this from the NSO group already exist, and creating new ones would only add more risk, they say. (NYT, Reuters, Motherboard, Wired)
New York Times: U.S. authorities suspect hackers working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyberattacks targeting reporters at the New York Times and other U.S. news organizations. They say the intrusions are likely an attempt to gather intelligence from a broad array of non-governmental organizations that can give insight into the U.S. political system. (CNN)

Banking: The FBI and regulatory agencies are seeing new types of malware specifically aimed at mobile banking applications for the purpose of stealing account credentials. The malicious software typically gets onto a phone when a user clicks on a text message from an unknown source or taps an advertisement on a website. (WSJ)

Leslie Jones: The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the cyberattack against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones after her personal information and explicit images were leaked online. (Guardian)
Russian Hacker: Roman Seleznev, also known as “Track2,” was convicted in a Washington state federal court on charges that he engaged in a scheme to hack into U.S. businesses in order to steal and sell credit card numbers, costing financial institutions more than $169 million. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison. (Reuters)

Rural Broadband: Legal analysts say that a ruling this month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee, will likely halt the growth of municipal broadband networks, which are city-run providers serving residents where commercial networks have been unwilling to go. (NYT)

French Subs: Shipbuilder DCNS Group plans to seek an injunction from an Australian court to prevent further publication of information contained in 22,400 secret documents about stealth submarines built for India. The leaks have reportedly undermined confidence in the ability of French companies to protect classified information. (UPI)
Counterterrorism: The Obama administration is shifting its strategy to counter online terrorist propaganda, moving to empower third parties to create their own anti-extremist messages. Earlier efforts were criticized for having too much direct government involvement. (WSJ)
WhatsApp: The popular messaging service said it would start sharing users' phone numbers with parent company Facebook, marking a notable shift in its stance on privacy. However, the company said users could choose not to share account information. (ABC)

Cyber Industry Forum: Some cybersecurity companies that were shut out of the leading system for sharing information on malware, known as VirusTotal, are moving to reveal more about how their own systems work in hopes of rejoining the cooperative system. (Reuters)

Business Drones: The first detailed U.S. rules for flights of small commercial drones go into effect today, including nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and a ban on nighttime operations. (WSJ)

GE: The 124-year-old company is working on an operating system for factories and industrial equipment that its leaders hope will make General Electric a top software company by 2020. However, Silicon Valley veterans are skeptical. (NYT)
Singapore: The first driverless taxi began work in a limited public trial on the streets of the city state. The rides took place in a Mitsubishi electric vehicle, with an engineer sitting behind the wheel to monitor the system and take control if necessary. (Reuters)

Asia: Many Asian organizations are poorly defended against cyberattacks, a year-long investigation by Mandiant indicates. Asia was also 80 percent more likely to be targeted by hackers than other parts of the world, the report said. (BBC)

Must Reads
The iBrain is Here: "As the briefing unfolds, it becomes clear how much AI has already shaped the overall experience of using the Apple ecosystem. The view from the AI establishment is that Apple is constrained by its lack of a search engine (which can deliver the data that helps to train neural networks) and its inflexible insistence on protecting user information (which potentially denies Apple data it otherwise might use). But it turns out that Apple has figured out how to jump both those hurdles," writes Steven Levy for Backchannel.

Inside Facebook’s Political Media Machine: “Facebook, in the years leading up to this election, hasn’t just become nearly ubiquitous among American internet users; it has centralized online news consumption in an unprecedented way. According to the company, its site is used by more than 200 million people in the United States each month, out of a total population of 320 million. A 2016 Pew study found that 44 percent of Americans read or watch news on Facebook. These are approximate exterior dimensions and can tell us only so much. But we can know, based on these facts alone, that Facebook is hosting a huge portion of the political conversation in America,” writes John Herrman in the New York Times Magazine.

Relaxing the Drone Rules: “The new rules are still quite restrictive, particularly the requirement that operators keep drones within their line of sight. This makes sense for unsophisticated drones that require pilots’ constant attention. But it also limits companies from putting drones to many valuable uses, unless they get a special waiver. Amazon.com — whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Post — wants to use custom-built drones to deliver orders within half an hour,” writes the editorial board of the Washington Post.
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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, KAREN J. GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY, FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL
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