Overnight Cybersecurity: Defense bills beef up cyber oversight | Senate passes updated Russia sanctions bill | Trump, Putin to meet at G-20

Overnight Cybersecurity: Defense bills beef up cyber oversight | Senate passes updated Russia sanctions bill | Trump, Putin to meet at G-20
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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 try to counter the rise in cyber threats. 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 STORY:

--DEFENSE AUTHORIZATIONS: The House Armed Services Committee late Wednesday completed a markup of its version of an annual defense policy bill, which saw many victories for cyber-minded lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The House's fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) gives the Pentagon $8 billion for cyber operations, representing a an increase of $1.7 billion over current levels. The bill specifically allocates $647 million for U.S. Cyber Command operations, a 16 percent increase. The bill also includes language aimed at boosting congressional oversight of sensitive military cyber operations by requiring the secretary of Defense to notify congressional defense committees of the operations within 48 hours.

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--...OVER IN THE SENATE: The Senate Armed Services Committee also marked up its own version of the defense policy legislation behind closed doors. According to a summary released by the committee Wednesday evening, the bill includes a number of provisions related to cyber. It also creates a new chief information warfare officer position, described as "a presidentially-appointed and Senate confirmed position reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense that would assume responsibility for all matters relating to the information environment of the DOD, including cybersecurity and cyber warfare, space and space launch systems, electronic warfare, and the electromagnetic spectrum." The bill also makes it a policy that the U.S. use all instruments of power to deter and respond to cyberattacks that are meant to "cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the U.S. Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure it relies upon, or achieves an effect ... comparable to an armed attack or imperils a U.S. vital interest."

--KAPUT-ERSKY: The Senate version also contains a provision that bars the Pentagon from using software developed by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian-origin cybersecurity firm, "due to reports that the Moscow-based company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence." The company has long denied having any ties to the Russian government despite scrutiny often directed at its founder Eugene Kaspersky, who was educated at a KGB-backed school. On Thursday, Kaspersky tweeted, "Not right any govt to sanction tech firms-either for meritless speculations or as retaliation [to] another country." Russia has reportedly not ruled out taking retaliatory steps against the U.S. if the company is banned. On Thursday, a Senate Armed Services Committee aide told reporters that the committee does not have specific data on the business the Pentagon has done with Kaspersky but noted that intelligence leaders said they did not trust the company during a May hearing.

 

A POLICY UPDATE:

REVAMPED RUSSIA BILL:

The Senate on Thursday easily cleared a deal on legislation slapping new sanctions on Moscow, overcoming an unexpected roadblock that stalled the bill for weeks in the House.

Senators sent the House a technical fix to the sanctions bill by unanimous consent, sidestepping the need to have a formal vote that would eat up limited floor time and further delay the measure.

"The Senate has now transmitted to the House of Representatives the technical changes requested," Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTax Foundation: Senate reform bill would cost 6B GOP senators raise concerns over tax plan Dem House candidate apologizes for saying it 'shouldn't take brain cancer' for McCain to show courage MORE (R-Tenn.) said in a statement. "I had a good conversation with Speaker [Paul] Ryan [(R-Wis.)] last night, and I am hopeful the legislation will be considered in an appropriate and timely manner."

The move caps off week of back-and-forth negotiations after the Senate passed the Russia sanctions bill, which also includes new penalties for Iran, in a 98-2 vote earlier this month.

Senators signaled earlier Thursday that they were nearing an agreement to try to overcome the hurdle that was threatening to leave the bill stuck in limbo as lawmakers leave for the weeklong July 4 recess.

Corker and a Senate Democratic aide confirmed earlier Thursday that the agreement was being "hotlined," a fast-track process that allows senators to skip lengthy floor debate.

The bill had hit a brick wall in the House after Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care: Initial Senate tax bill doesn't repeal ObamaCare mandate | 600K sign up for ObamaCare in first four days | Feds crack down on opioid trafficking Overnight Finance: Senate GOP unveils different approach on tax reform | House tax bill heads to floor | House leaders eye vote next week | AT&T denies pressure for CNN sale GOP tax bill clears hurdle, heads to House floor MORE (R-Texas) said it had been flagged by the parliamentarian as a "blue slip" violation -- a requirement that revenue bills start in the House.

That excuse has drawn heavy skepticism from Democrats, who worried that the bill was being delayed amid reports of pushback from the White House.

The fate of the Senate's bill remains uncertain in the House even with the technical hurdle fixed.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

YOUR DAY IN PETYA / NOTPETYA:

--YOUR FRIENDLY, NEIGHBORHOOD CYBERCRIMINAL: The anonymous creator of the "Petya" ransomware that has been used to attack computer systems since 2016 resurfaced Wednesday to offer help combatting a new global malware epidemic that's based in part on the original Petya code. Janus Cybercrime Solutions, the name used by Petya's original creator or creators, tweeted that it was "havin a look" at NotPetya and seeing if it could be cracked. The new attack that has ravaged systems in the United States and Europe since earlier this week, dubbed "NotPetya" for its similarity to the ransomware, is believed to only pose as ransomware while it destroys data. It's not clear whether NotPetya is similar enough to Petya for the original ransomware's creator to hinder its spread, if they wanted to.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

--DECRYPTION NEVER COULD HAVE WORKED: During a video conference Thursday, Kaspersky Lab researchers noted that an ID code printed in the ransom note, supposed to be used to request a unique decryption key for each infected system, was not connected in any way to the decryption key. There was never a point where paying the ransom and using the ID code to request the key could have worked. Earlier reports noted that the master boot record could never be recovered, and the email address to send the ID and information to verify paying the ransom had been deactivated.

--AND A UKRAINIAN POLICE OFFICIAL IS PRETTY SURE IT WAS TARGETED AT THEM. Via Reuters. But you can get a sense why here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK:

WHY DID WE LIKE THIS THING? Joanna Stern tries, fails, to live off an iPhone for a week.

 

A REPORT IN FOCUS:

MEXICAN POLS HIT BY SPYWARE:

Three Mexican politicians were targeted by spyware that is sold to governments last year, according to new research.

The Toronto-based Citizen Lab reported Thursday that the politicians -- all associated with Mexico's conservative National Action Party -- had been sent text messages with links that would provide access to cellphones if a target followed the link.

The spyware is developed by the NSO Group, a cyber company based in Israel that sells smartphone surveillance software to governments. While it is unclear who targeted the politicians, previous reporting indicates that the Mexican government has done business with NSO.

According to Citizen Lab, the targets included Ricardo Anaya Cortés, the president of Mexico's National Action Party, Senator Roberto Gil Zuarth and Fernando Rodríguez Doval, communications secretary of the National Action Party.

They are said to have been targeted with the spyware between June and July of last year.

To read more, click here.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

TRUMP MEETING PUTIN AT G-20 MEET: President Trump plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, their first face-to-face encounter since Trump's inauguration in January.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters Thursday the two leaders plan to meet. A spokesperson for Putin previously said the meeting would take place on the sidelines of the summit.

"There is no specific agenda. It's really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about," McMaster said.

Asked by reporters on multiple occasions whether Trump would bring up Russian interference, McMaster refused to say.

The top aide said that Trump would address "irritants" in the relationship as well as potential areas of cooperation.

Trump irked the national security establishment in Washington with his routine praise for Putin during the campaign. He spoke about brokering a deal with Putin to form a closer U.S.-Russia relationship.

Many in his own party have urged Trump to take a tougher line against Moscow for its military intervention in Ukraine and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

As president, Trump launched a cruise missile at a Syrian military installation in April in response to a chemical weapons attack the U.S. and others blamed on Assad. The move sparked a tense diplomatic situation with the Kremlin.

Trump also has meetings scheduled with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, among others.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wonders why the acting FBI head hasn't recused himself on Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsCurtis wins Chaffetz's former Utah House seat Overnight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny FBI can’t unlock Texas shooter’s phone MORE. (The Hill)

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) is pushing to keep the Election Assistance Commission - slated for demise by the end of next year. (The Hill)

In an effort to curb fake news, Facebook will no longer let users edit link previews. (The Hill)

House Dems want the DOJ Inspector General to look into AG Jeff Sessions. (The Hill)

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) argued that State Department cuts would only aid Russian disinformation efforts. (The Hill)

Senators released their chamber's version of the Cyber Hygiene bill. (The Hill)

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE slated intelligence veteran Susan Gordon for an ODNI post. (FCW)

Facebook gives itself full access to all suspected terrorist accounts. Is that too much? (ZDNet)

Homeland Dems. launched an election security task force. (Homeland Dems.)

 

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