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  FEATURED STORY            

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

U.S. SANCTIONS NORTH KOREAN HACKERS

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on three prolific hacking groups allegedly linked to North Korea’s main intelligence service. The trio, known respectively as the Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andariel, are said to have stolen around $700 million from banks and other organizations in recent years, some of which has helped fund North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile programs.

Treasury said the Lazarus Group was involved in the massive WannaCry ransomware attack, which paralyzed hundreds of thousands of computers around the world in late 2017, and the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Though these operations may fund the hackers themselves, their sheer scale suggests that they are a financial lifeline for a regime that has long depended on illicit activities to fund itself,” said John Hultquist, director of intelligence analysis at FireEye. (WSJ, Reuters, Treasury)

  HACKERS                                          
 

SIM Cards: A telecom security company in Dublin said that hackers have been able to track the locations of certain cell phone users by exploiting a software flaw in the device’s SIM card. Perpetrators have reportedly used the so-called Simjacker technique for at least two years to monitor phones in Mexico, Colombia, and Peru. (WSJ)


  COURTS                                          
 

Email Fraudsters: U.S. federal prosecutors announced the arrest of 281 individuals in the United States, Nigeria, Turkey, among other countries, believed to be involved in a business email scam designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers. (Wired)

 

Selling Sex Online: U.S. authorities are investigating three websites--Rubmaps.com, EroticMonkey.ch, and Eros.com--for any connection they may have to human trafficking, prostitution, and money-laundering. The sites make money from escort advertisements or posting user-generated reviews of sex-related services. Investigators believe Swiss businessman David Azzato is connected to all three. (WSJ)

Facebook: A San Francisco federal judge allowed most of a nationwide lawsuit against the social media company to proceed, ruling that plaintiffs could seek damages against Facebook for letting third parties like Cambridge Analytica access their private data without consent. (Reuters)


  ON THE HILL                                    
 

Tech Antitrust Probe: The House Judiciary Committee has asked top executives at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google for all their communications, including personal emails, as lawmakers investigate the companies for any anticompetitive practices. (NYT)

 

Online Extremism: Reps from Google, Facebook, and Twitter are set to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on their efforts to remove violent content from their online platforms. (Reuters)

Israeli Spying: Sources say the U.S. government has concluded that Israel was likely responsible for the placement of cellphone surveillance devices known as stingrays that were found near the White House and other locations around the capital. The devices are said to have attempted to spy on President Trump and his top aides, however the United States has reportedly not rebuked Israel for these alleged actions. (Politico)


  PRIVATE SECTOR                             
 

Microsoft: Company president Brad Smith said that big tech companies are likely to change how they moderate their platforms in response to new laws passed by foreign governments, regardless of whether Washington acts. For example, other countries such as New Zealand have passed laws in the wake of events like the mass murder in Christchurch, which was broadcast live on social media platforms. (Reuters)

Facebook: On World Suicide Prevention Day, the company announced it will stop allowing images of self-harm on its platform, and said that such content would be harder to search on Instagram, its photo-sharing app. (Reuters)


  THE WORLD                                     
 

Australia: The country’s intelligence service reportedly concluded that China was responsible for a cyberattack on its parliament and largest political parties before the general election in May. However, the reporting authorities are said to have recommended keeping the findings secret in order to avoid disrupting bilateral trade relations. (Reuters)

UK: The use of facial recognition technology is rekindling a debate over surveillance in the United Kingdom, a country long-accustomed to the placement of security cameras in public places. Last month, in a closely-watched case, a British High Court ruled against a Welsh man who sued to end the use of facial recognition by police. (NYT)

MUST READS

Host Violent Content? In Australia, You Could Go to Jail: “Australia is pitching its strategy as a model for dealing with the problem, but the limits to its approach have quickly become clear. Although penalties are severe, enforcement is largely passive and reactive, relying on complaints from internet users, which so far have been just a trickle. Resources are scarce. And experts in online expression say the law lacks the transparency that they say must accompany any effort to restrict expression online,” writes Damien Cave in the New York Times

 

Is Google Making Us Stupid? “[Maryanne] Wolf worries that the style of reading promoted by the Net, a style that puts ‘efficiency’ and ‘immediacy’ above all else, may be weakening our capacity for the kind of deep reading that emerged when an earlier technology, the printing press, made long and complex works of prose commonplace,” writes Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic.

We Need a Moratorium on Facial Recognition Technology: “When considering facial recognition technology, we need to debate not only what is lawful, but also what is ethical. In order to have that conversation, we should press pause on the further rollout of the technology. Companies should adopt a voluntary moratorium on using it. There is an impressive precedent for this in the insurance industry,” writes Carly Kind the Financial Times.

 
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