Overnight Cybersecurity: CIA pushes back against WikiLeaks | Feds open probe into doc dump | Comey says 'you're stuck with me'

Overnight Cybersecurity: CIA pushes back against WikiLeaks | Feds open probe into doc dump | Comey says 'you're stuck with me'
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

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 ...


--CIA BUCKS WIKILEAKS: The CIA on Wednesday pushed back against WikiLeaks's release regarding the agency's hacking programs, insisting it never acted unethically, unconstitutionally or illegally. "It is CIA's job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad. America deserves nothing less," the CIA said in a statement. The agency said it would not comment on the authenticity of the tranche of documents describing hacking techniques, a European cyber operations hub and more. It did, however, claim that it would be on solid footing to have participated in the described activities. The CIA said the real outrage should be that the documents were allegedly stolen from a secure network and released to the public. "The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community's ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries. Such disclosures not only jeopardize US personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm."

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

Some experts say WikiLeaks exaggerated the contents of the leaked documents. For more on that story, click here.

--MEANWHILE, FEDS INVESTIGATE: Federal officials have opened a criminal probe into the WikiLeaks document dump, CNN reported, citing anonymous U.S. officials. The investigation is being coordinated by the FBI and CIA, who are looking at how the site came to possess the documents, and whether they may have been leaked by an employee or a government contractor. WikiLeaks claims to have more CIA documents to release, and officials are reportedly worried that the site could publish computer code showing how hacking operations are conducted.


--APPLE SAYS SECURITY FLAWS ALREADY FIXED: Apple says it has already fixed many of the iPhone and iPad security flaws mentioned in the WikiLeaks dump of CIA hacking strategies and other files. "While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities," the company said in a written statement on Wednesday. "We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates."

To read the rest of our piece, click here.


BILL WOULD ROLLBACK BROADBAND PRIVACY REGS: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus Senate Judiciary to vote on subpoena for Twitter CEO next week MORE (R-Tenn.) will introduce her own bill to block the Federal Communications Commission's 2016 internet privacy rules from going into effect.

Blackburn's spokeswoman confirmed to The Hill that the chairwoman of the House Commerce Committee's technology panel would be introducing a resolution to use Congressional Review Act (CRA) authority to invalidate the privacy rules on Wednesday afternoon.

The CRA is a tool that allows Congress, with presidential approval, to eliminate regulations that were recently passed by government agencies.

The privacy rules limit what internet service providers can do with consumer data without permission.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.


A humorous take away from the WikiLeaks CIA hacking tools dump, via XKCD.


TECH THINK TANK FINDS FED SITES FAILING: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released a study on Wednesday finding that over nine-in-10 of the federal government's most popular websites do not meet basic benchmarks for security, speed, mobile friendliness, or accessibility.

The study's authors reviewed nearly 300 federal websites, finding that 92 percent of them failed in at least one of these categories. The sites rated were also given a composite performance score. Among the highest performing federal government sites reviewed was WhiteHouse.gov, while poor-performing sites included those for the International Trade Administration and the Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

"Despite years of progress in digital government, a striking number of federal websites do not even meet many of the U.S. government's own requirements, let alone private-sector best practices," said Alan McQuinn, a research analyst at the think tank and lead author of the report. "Considering that many constituents rely on federal websites to interact with government, it is incumbent upon the new administration, supported by Congress, to make websites more convenient, accessible, and secure."

To read the full study, click here.


FBI DIRECTOR COMEY: FBI Director James Comey on Wednesday signaled in a light-hearted joke that he anticipates serving his full 10-year term.

"You're stuck with me for another six and a half years," Comey said during his opening remarks at a cybersecurity conference in Boston.

He moved on quickly from the remark and declined to take questions from the press.

Comey has been under fierce pressure from Democrats to reveal whether the bureau is investigating alleged links between President Trump's campaign and Russian officials -- a silence notable given the director's public accounting last year of the probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's Valadao unseats Cox in election rematch MORE's use of a private email server while secretary of State, critics say.

Some have suggested that Comey, who was appointed by former President Obama in 2013, should step down over his handling of the investigation.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.


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

Researchers find flaws in encrypted chat app popular among White House staffers. (The Hill)

Senators introduce bill cracking down on robocalls. (The Hill)

Hacker who targeted Steubenville football fan site sentenced to two years in prison. (The Hill)

Senators ask Justice, FBI for any warrant applications for Trump wiretapping. (The Hill)

WikiLeaks dump fuels debate of national security versus cybersecurity. (Washington Post)

Comey says 'there is no such thing as absolute privacy in America.' (CNN)

Stephen Hawking tells London's The Times that technology 'may destroy us all.' (USA Today)

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