Overnight Cybersecurity: Top Dems seek data from GOP analytics firms | Georgia election server wiped after lawsuit | Corker says Trump officials implementing Russia sanctions

Overnight Cybersecurity: Top Dems seek data from GOP analytics firms | Georgia election server wiped after lawsuit | Corker says Trump officials implementing Russia sanctions
© Camille Fine

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:

--TOP HOUSE DEMS WANT TO KNOW IF ANALYTICS FIRMS HELPED TARGET LEAKS: Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Oversight slams TSA after report says officials 'interfered' in disciplinary case House Dems accuse Republicans of stalling Russia probe to protect Trump Rep. Cummings hospitalized, wife suspends gubernatorial campaign MORE (Md.), the top Oversight Dem, and Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersWoman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in US hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE (Mich.), the top Judiciary Dem, sent a letter to several former Trump campaign consultants to see whether they colluded with the Russians in their attempts to influence the election, according to a Thursday press release. Companies addressed in their letter include Cambridge Analytica, Giles-Parscale, TargetPoint Consulting, The Data Trust, and Deep Root Analytics. Their letter comes after The Daily Beast reported Wednesday that the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that worked for Trump's campaign, reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about locating Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE's missing emails.

--...'EXTRAORDINARY PRECISION:' Cummings and Conyers are interested to see if any of the consulting companies "engaged with known hostile foreign actors such as Wikileaks, cooperated with foreign governments, or used misappropriated data during the 2016 election," according to a Thursday press release. "This targeting appears to have been executed with an extraordinary level of precision that suggests a deep familiarity with American voter preferences and habits and exceeds the reported capabilities of foreign cyber operations," the top two Democrats wrote in the letter, pointing to the Kremlin's use of social media platforms in their disinformation campaign.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: 

RUSSIA SANCTIONS: Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics MORE (R-Tenn.) on Thursday said that the Trump administration is moving forward with a new set of sanctions targeting Russia, a step that comes after weeks of delay.

Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that the State Department will soon identify entities in the Russian intelligence and defense sectors in line for sanctions. 

The GOP chairman said that the administration's move "is a good first step in responsibly implementing a very complex piece of legislation, and I appreciate Secretary Tillerson's attention to this important issue."

"Congress will expect thorough and timely consultation until full implementation is complete," Corker added.

The statement from Corker, a vocal critic of President Trump, comes a day after he vowed to get answers from the White House on why the sanctions had been delayed.

"I'm going to get on the phone with someone," Corker said Wednesday.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began demanding answers from the Trump administration after the White House missed an Oct. 1 deadline to identify Russian targets for the new sanctions.

Corker has feuded with the president since announcing that he will not seek reelection next year.

To read our piece, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: 

TIPS ON EMAIL IMPERSONATION FROM THE TOP EMAIL IMPERSONATOR. Learn to defend yourself. Please don't be a jerk.

 

A REPORT IN FOCUS :

NEW DEMOCRAT COALITION OUTLINES AGENDA: In a broad discussion with reporters, Reps., Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerWest Coast Dems lead call to fund early warning system for earthquakes Overnight Cybersecurity: Top Dems seek data from GOP analytics firms | Georgia election server wiped after lawsuit | Corker says Trump officials implementing Russia sanctions This is the best first step to stop Russian meddling in our politics MORE (Wash.) and Jim Himes discussed their new white paper outlining cybersecurity priorities, released Thursday afternoon. Himes chairs the New Dems coalition, with Gotteheimer and Kilmer serve as two thirds of its cybersecurity task force (with Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) as the last part of the trio).

--WHAT'S IN THE PLAN: The Congressmen boasted about how achievable the white paper's goals were, with many principles that match priorities already held by both Democrats and Republicans. A federal service program that will forgive student debt in exchange for posts in the federal government, as the New Dems propose, is similar to a legislative priority of Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), creating a "cyber national guard," that pays for education in exchange for weekend service. Both Hurd and the New Dems also support making job descriptions consistent from agency to agency to better track in-demand skills.

--BUT THERE ARE NEW IDEAS, TOO: The New Dems pitch a National Guard division for rapid response to local cyber incidents. "There is an enormous gap right now not being filled," said Kilmer, noting that his home state of Washington successfully helped fill that gap through guardsmen largely culled from the state's tech industry. "That type of capacity doesn't exist in every state."

--FEDS SHOULD HELP STATES IN ELECTION SECURITY:  A number of states were hesitant to allow federal agencies to aid in security during elections, constitutionally the purview of localities. The New Dems hope that some of that trepidation as it relates to election cybersecurity will have passed now that the Obama administration is gone -- a number of the states most concerned about federal incursion into election security were under Republican leadership. "This is a threat that is so dynamic that it's an all hands on deck situation," said Himes.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

--GEORGIA ELECTION SERVER WIPED AFTER HACKING LAWSUIT WAS FILED: Days after activists filed a lawsuit over the security of Georgia's election systems, the university housing the servers at the center of the case wiped them of all data. The servers had been in the possession of the Center for Elections Systems (CES) at Kennesaw State University, which had been contracted to maintain Georgia's election systems. "It looks bad for them," said Marilyn Marks, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, who filed the Freedom of Information Act requests to retrieve the files. "But what we really wanted to have was a forensic investigation to see who accessed the server other than Logan Lamb. Now we don't have access," she said. The state ended its relationship with Kennesaw State in July.

--...SECRETARY DISAVOWS: Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) said in a statement his office had opened an investigation into the files being deleted and was working with the FBI to retrieve copies of the hard drives made when the bureau investigated the original announcement of security vulnerabilities. Kemp said Kennesaw State did not inform his office they planned to wipe the drives. "The Secretary of State's office had no involvement in this decision, and we would never direct someone to take such action," he said.  "This pattern of reckless behavior is exactly why we are ending our relationship with KSU and the Center for Elections Systems and moving functionality in-house," he continued. Kennesaw State University declined to comment to The Hill, citing the pending legal matter.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

McAfee will not let governments review its code. (The Hill)

The current and former head of the DNC claimed not to have been aware of the Democrats role in the Trump dossier. (The Hill)

Fractures are forming on the Senate Judiciary's Russia probe. (The Hill)

Maxine Waters believes Russian bots are targeting her. (The Hill)

Twitter is banning ads from Russian state media outlets (The Hill)

...But not before RT's editor said Twitter pitched the Russian outlet an election ad buy. (The Hill)

...one they may not have told Congressional investigators about. (The Hill)

An anonymous researcher says Equifax security was worse than previously reported. (Motherboard)

Trump's pick for Homeland Security CIO is in: Pentagon acting CIO John Zangardi,

WhatsApp is still having trouble with European privacy regulators. (The Register)

Former voice for encryption issues for the House Homeland Security committee, Matt Ballard, is taking his talents to Burson-Marsteller. (Burson-Marsteller)

If you'd like to receive our newsletter in your inbox, please sign up here.