Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama omits cyber in final State of the Union

Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We're here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry wrap their arms around cyberthreats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you're a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we're here to give you ...

THE BIG STORIES:

--TUESDAY'S GONE: President Obama this year omitted the word "cyber" from his State of the Union address for the first time since 2011. While Obama's Tuesday evening remarks touched on a number of technology issues, such as net neutrality, computer science education and terrorists' use of the Internet for recruitment, no variation of "cyber" was mentioned. The exclusion, while expected, ended a four-speech streak of mostly increasing attention to the emerging topic in each year's address. Starting with the 2012 State of the Union, Obama often had a cybersecurity proposal to promote during his speech. To read our full piece, click here.

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--COME ON UP FOR THE RISING: The U.S. government has seen a rise in cyberattacks that penetrate industrial control systems, a top cybersecurity official said Wednesday. "We see more and more [cyberattacks] that are gaining access to that control system layer," said Marty Edwards, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), Reuters reported. Industrial control systems are part of the large computer network that supports production for critical utilities such as electricity, water, oil and gas. The ICS-CERT warns companies of potential cyberattacks on these networks. Homeland Security's branch recently came into the spotlight when it alerted companies it was helping Ukraine investigate a recent cyberattack on the country's power grid that left roughly 700,000 people without power for several hours. To read our full piece, click here.

--FILL IN THE BLANK: Democratic Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken to make first public appearance since resignation Overnight Cybersecurity: Fallout from Comey memos | IG reportedly investigating memos over classified info | DNC sues Russia, Trump campaign | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security Why Smokin' Joe leads the pack of 2020 Democratic hopefuls MORE (Minn.) has Google in his sights over allegations that the company mines the data of students who use its suite of applications for schools. Franken sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday asking him to "provide more information on Google for Education products and services and how the company is addressing issues of student privacy and security." "Given the sensitive nature of student data, all parties involved, including the school administrators, teachers, parents, and the students, should have a clear understanding about what data are shared by schools with EdTech vendors, what data are collected by those vendors, how long the data are stored, and how they use the data," he said. In the letter, Franken asks Google to provide information on the services -- including on what happens when a student linked to a Google Apps for Education account is logged into their account but not using one of the applications. Google also produces inexpensive laptops, called Chromebooks, for schools. To read our full piece, click here.

 

AN UPDATE ON POLICY:

--ON THE LOOKOUT. Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators chart path forward on election security bill Comey memo fallout is mostly fizzle Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel MORE (D-Va.) and House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) are expected in the coming days to introduce their bill to create a national commission to study security and technology in the digital age.

The commission would examine how terrorists use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread radical propaganda. It would also look at how criminals and extremists are using encryption technology to hide their communications from authorities.

Warner alluded to the measure in his response to Tuesday's State of the Union, which touched on some of these challenges.

"I believe that we can and we must find a thoughtful way to balance the imperatives of safety, security and privacy in protecting Americans from terrorists using 21st century technology and social media platforms to avoid detection," Warner said.

To read more about Warner's remarks, click here.

To read more about the upcoming bill, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK:

--IT NEVER GETS OLD. From The Onion: "Biden Urges Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanLieu rips Ryan after Waffle House shooting: ‘When will you stop silencing us?’ To succeed in Syria, Democrats should not resist Trump policy House Republicans prepare to battle for leadership slots MORE To Check Out Nude Scene From 'Porky's' On Phone."

"Hey Paul, you gotta get a load of this," said Biden, who gestured for the GOP congressman to take a good look at the video clip from the 1981 sex comedy, the audio of which, sources confirmed, could be faintly heard beneath the sound of the president's address.

More here.

 

A FEATURE IN FOCUS:

--FROM WHENCE WE CAME. The demonization of encryption is a new phenomenon, according to Gerhard Strasser, who has spent decades tracing the history of cryptology through the Middle East and Europe.

Early examples of encrypted messages include a recipe for a highly-coveted pottery glaze circa 1500 B.C.

Arab cryptographers developed the fundamental tenets in the 800s, and it took the West centuries to catch up.

Read on, here.

 

WHO'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

--TABLOID HACKERS. Claimants in a case against the publisher News U.K. are arguing that the daily tabloid The Sun -- not just a single journalist -- was involved in hacking their phones and publishing the findings in two newspapers.

The claimants, which include several U.K. television actors, are seeking the disclosure of records from The Sun.

Five of the 16 claimants allege they were targeted by The Sun, while the others say they were targeted by the now-defunct News of the World.

The hearing comes over a year after former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks was cleared of all charges related to phone hacking at News of the World.

Read on, here.

 

A LOOK AHEAD:

THURSDAY

--Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will speak at 10:30 a.m. at the opening of Visa's cyber fusion center in Ashburn, Va.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.

Hackers protesting the sentencing of two Myanmar men in Thailand have struck for the second time this year, disabling many sites associated with the Thai court system. (The Hill)

The United States has long banned federal contracts for foreign companies that sell monitoring or blocking technology to Iran, but the U.S. government has had difficulty identifying such firms. (The Hill)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) praised President Obama's attention in his State of the Union address to the technological challenges facing America. (The Hill)

The Hacking Team breach helped security researchers find a zero day exploit. (Wired)

Israeli cyber security firm Check Point Software Technologies is in talks to buy smaller provider CyberArk Software. (Reuters)

Shape Security raised $25 million in funding, which it plans to use to fuel its expansion into China. (The Wall Street Journal)

The majority of security organizations received more alerts than they can handle and don't have a way to spot stolen credentials, according to a survey released today. (CSO Online)

 

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