Overnight Cybersecurity: States fight DHS over election targeting claims | Equifax chief apologizes for breach | Senate Intel Dem rips Twitter over Russia briefing

Overnight Cybersecurity: States fight DHS over election targeting claims | Equifax chief apologizes for breach | Senate Intel Dem rips Twitter over Russia briefing
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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 STORIES:

--STATES FIGHT DHS OVER RUSSIAN TARGETING CLAIMS: California election officials are accusing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of giving them "bad information" about Russian efforts to target the state's election systems ahead of Election Day last year.  The charge comes days after Wisconsin also said it received misleading information from the federal department, which notified 21 states last Friday of Russian efforts to target their election-related systems The department told California officials that Russian actors "scanned" the state's internet-facing systems last year, according to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who serves as the state's chief election officer. But Padilla, a Democrat, said that DHS's conclusions were proven "wrong" after further requests for information. He also criticized the department for providing the information a year after the fact.  "DHS confirmed that Russian scanning activity had actually occurred on the California Department of Technology statewide network, not any Secretary of State website," Padilla said in a statement on Wednesday, later adding, "Our notification from DHS last Friday was not only a year late, it also turned out to be bad information," Padilla added.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

--...SIMILAR TO WHAT HAPPENED TO WISCONSIN: California was the second state to clash with DHS over the issue. Earlier this week, The Associated Press reported that DHS initially told Wisconsin officials that Russian actors unsuccessfully targeted its voter registration database, but later told the state that the IP address affected belonged to Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development.

To read more on Wisconsin, click here.

 

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--...DHS STANDS BY CONCLUSIONS: The DHS, though, is standing by the assessments, saying they were "based on a variety of sources, including scanning detected from malicious IP addresses and intelligence information that cannot be publicly disclosed." "DHS has made an effort to respond quickly to questions and requests for further information from states following Friday's calls, and we have provided additional information and clarity to a number of states," a DHS spokesman told The Hill. "The Department stands by its assessment that Internet-connected networks in 21 states were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure," the spokesman added.

Read more here.

 

--TWITTER FOUND OVER 200 RUSSIAN-INFLUENCE ACCOUNTS: Twitter announced on Thursday that it found 201 accounts on its platform linked to potential Russian interference in the 2016 election on its platform. The company said that 22 of the accounts were linked to Facebook pages and profiles that Facebook had turned over as a part of its analysis of foreign influence on its social media platform. Twitter noted that it immediately deleted the linked accounts that were not already suspended. Twitter said that of the remaining 179 accounts, it "took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules." None of the 201 accounts were registered as advertisers on Twitter, according to the company. Twitter also shared that Russia Today, a Russian propaganda news outlet that distributes content in the U.S. and other countries, had used the platform to buy advertisements targeted to U.S. markets in 2016. Twitter met with Senate and House Intelligence Committees on Thursday to brief lawmakers and staff on the company's findings in regard to potential election interference by foreign actors.

Read more here.

 

--...BUT THE TOP DEM ON THE SENATE INTEL COMMITTEE IS NOT HAPPY WITH TWITTER'S TESTIMONY. The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday ripped Twitter over a closed-door briefing to committee staff that the senator called "deeply disappointing" and "inadequate on almost every level." "I am more than a bit surprised in light of all the public interest in this subject over the last few weeks that anyone from the Twitter team would think that the presentation that they made to the Senate staff today even began to answer the kind of questions that we'd asked," Warner told reporters. "Their response was frankly inadequate on almost every level." Warner called for the company to testify on the matter publicly, adding that he is considering subpoenaing company representatives to appear. The committee has issued an invitation to Twitter, as well as Facebook and Google, to appear in an open hearing on Nov. 1.

Read more here.

 

--GRASSLEY MEETS ROSENSTEIN AMID TENSION OVER PROBES. Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley wants to subpoena Comey, Lynch after critical IG report Senate Dems call for Judiciary hearing on Trump's 'zero tolerance' Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt MORE (R-Iowa) met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday as the Judiciary Committee seeks testimony and documents in its probe into former FBI Director James Comey's firing and Russia's election interference.

Grassley told reporters after the nearly hour-long sit-down that the meeting was about "oversight communications and getting updates and stuff like that."

As he left Grassley's office, Rosenstein separately declined to respond to questions about whether the talks included a discussion about the committee's push to speak with two FBI officials about Comey's firing.

Grassley has been increasingly frustrated with the Justice Department and intelligence community for withholding information and potential witnesses from the Judiciary Committee's investigation.

The senator sent Rosenstein a letter on Wednesday about the committee's request to meet with two senior FBI employees, Carl Ghattas and James Rybicki.

With Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMigrants told they’ll be reunited with children if they sign voluntary deportation order: report Christie: Trump 'enormously ill-served' by DOJ on 'zero tolerance' policy 'Occupy ICE' protests emerge across the country MORE's recused from the Russia investigation, which also includes potential contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Rosenstein is the top DOJ official with oversight of the FBI's Russia probe.

Read more here.

 

A REGULATORY UPDATE:

FACEBOOK CAMPAIGNED IN 2011 FOR CAMPAIGN AD DISCLOSURE EXEMPTION: Years before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's promise last week that his company would soon require political ads to come with a note explaining who paid for them, the social media giant lobbied the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for a waiver from such a requirement.

Facebook asked the FEC in 2011 for a waiver to the law requiring all political ads to include a note about who paid for them, CNN reported Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Facebook revealed that it had sold $100,000 in political ads to fraudulent accounts suspected of ties to the Kremlin. In response to the uproar that followed and amid criticism that its advertising practices are too opaque, Zuckerberg announced reforms that he said would bring more transparency to political advertisements.

"Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook," Zuckerberg said during a live stream announcement last week.

In 2011, the FEC split in a 3-3 vote on whether to grant Facebook the waiver to the disclosure laws, effectively allowing the company to go forward with displaying political ads without any disclaimers about who paid for them.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: 

ALLEGED DARK WEB 'HELL-RAZOR' FACES HAIRY SITUATION, CLIPPED ON WAY TO BEARD CONTEST. He's a guy with a beard who was arrested, is what we are saying. Police goatee'em. (Miami Herald).

 

A REPORT IN FOCUS:

MALWARE EARNS $60,000 MINING CRYPTOCURRENCY. ESET reports that malware designed to mine cryptocurrency has so far earned $63,000.

Cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and others, are initially distributed to users who solve complex, computer-intensive math problems. Solve one problem, earn one bitcoin. Computers can autonomously solve these problems - a process called mining. The idea is that introducing a cost to generate each coin establishes a value.

Though the malware used the cryptocurrency Monero (not bitcoin), the mining process is similar. The malware discovered by ESET steals processing power from computers it infects to use in mining. Read more here.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

KUSHNER, HIS EMAIL ACCOUNTS AND WHAT HE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE INFORMED THE SENATE INTEL. COMMITTEE ABOUT: President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner didn't reveal the existence of his personal email account when he met with Senate Intelligence Committee staff last month, according to CNN.

The two leaders of the committee, Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Senators hammers Ross on Trump tariffs | EU levies tariffs on US goods | Senate rejects Trump plan to claw back spending Senate Intel requests more testimony from Comey, McCabe MORE (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Virginia Dems want answers on alleged detention center abuse Wray defends FBI after 'sobering' watchdog report MORE (D-Va.), sent Kushner a letter via his attorney Thursday, calling on him to check that the documents he turned over to the committee included those from the personal email address.

"The Committee was concerned to learn of this additional email account from the news media, rather than from you, in your closed staff interview," Burr and Warner wrote.

"Please confirm that the document production that you made to the committee... included the additional 'personal email account' described to the news media, as well as all other email accounts messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used."

CNN says it obtained the letter sent by Burr and Warner from an email prankster who had previously tricked Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, into believing he was Kushner.

The news organization said when Lowell attempted to forward the Senate Intel committee's letter, his email auto-filled the email address of the prankster's fake Kushner account. The prankster then sent the letter to CNN.

Lowell told CNN that the committee was informed about the existence of the account when Kushner spoke with them.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

Equifax's interim CEO apologized for his company's massive breach and outlined new policies in response to it. (The Hill)

Meanwhile, the old CEO will receive $90 million in salary despite stepping down. (The Hill)

Obama era DHS officials pitched election fixes to a Democratic voting task force. (The Hill)

The GOP is setting itself up for charges of hypocrisy over the Kushner email situation. (The Hill)

The U.S. and Russia might team up on the moon. (The Verge)

Russia is using facial recognition to track citizens on the street. (Bloomberg)

Amadeus, an airline reservation system, fell offline. (The Register)

The wellness blogger who faked having cancer was fined more than $300,000. (Motherboard)

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