Overnight Cybersecurity

Overnight Cybersecurity: Kushner says no collusion, improper contacts with Russia | House poised to vote on Russia sanctions | U.S., Japan to beef up cyber cooperation

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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 …




–KUSHNER SAYS NO COLLUSION, IMPROPER CONTACTS: President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said Monday in remarks at the White House that all of his actions in the 2016 campaign were proper and that he did not collude with Russia during the presidential campaign. “The record and documents I have voluntarily provided will show that all of my actions were proper and occurred in the normal course of events in a very unique campaign,” Kushner, a Trump adviser who rarely speaks publicly, told reporters in a brief statement outside the White House. Kushner returned to the White House to make the remarks after an interview behind closed doors with Senate staffers investigating Russian meddling in the presidential race. “Let me very clear: I did not collude with Russia nor do I know of anyone else in the campaign who did so,” he said. Kushner has become a key figure in the political frenzy surrounding Trump’s campaign and Russia, particularly after it came to light that Kushner attended a now-infamous meeting between Donald Trump Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a woman described as a Russian government lawyer offering dirt on Hillary Clinton.

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–TRUMP JR., MANAFORT AVOID PUBLIC HEARING: Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reached a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee to avoid appearing at a public hearing, lawmakers announced Friday. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement that they would not immediately subpoena President Trump’s eldest son or his former campaign chairman to testify at the Wednesday hearing. “Both Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, through their attorneys, have agreed to negotiate to provide the committee with documents and be interviewed by committee members and staff prior to a public hearing,” the lawmakers said. The committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday for a hearing focused on oversight of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and attempts to influence U.S. elections. News broke last week that Trump Jr. and Manafort were slated to testify, with the two committee leaders threatening to subpoena them if they did not comply. On Friday, Feinstein and Grassley left the door open to subpoenaing either of the men in the future if they stopped cooperating.

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–TRUMP UNCONVINCED RUSSIA MEDDLED IN ELECTION, SCARAMUCCI SAYS: Newly-minted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci indicated Sunday that President Trump is still not convinced that Russia tried to use cyberattacks and disinformation to influence the U.S. presidential election. “He basically said to me, ‘Hey you know, this is, maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it,'” Scaramucci said on CNN of a recent conversation with Trump. The president has repeatedly cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the presidential election, as the federal investigation into election interference and whether there was coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow has dogged his first months in office. Trump says he pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the matter twice during a recent meeting in Hamburg, and that Putin was firm in his claims that Moscow had nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, Dan Coats, Trump’s own intelligence chief, said Friday that the intelligence agencies uniformly agree that Russia attempted to interfere in the election. “There is no dissent, and I have stated that publicly and I have stated that to the president,” Director of National Intelligence Coats told NBC News anchor Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum.

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–HOUSE POISED TO VOTE ON RUSSIA SANCTIONS: The House is slated to vote Tuesday on bipartisan legislation to limit the Trump administration’s ability to lift sanctions on Russia. The White House had urged lawmakers to water down the provisions limiting its ability to lift sanctions. But the legislation is expected to head to President Trump’s desk without the requested changes. Procedural hangups had stalled the legislation in the House for weeks after the Senate passed it by a vote of 98-2 last month but negotiators reached a deal that was unveiled on Saturday. The legislation will be considered under an expedited process that requires a two-thirds majority for passage. That also means it’ll pass by a veto-proof majority. In addition to imposing new sanctions on Russia, the legislation allows lawmakers to vote to block the Trump administration from making changes to sanctions policy. Over the weekend, the White House sent out mixed messages on the president’s thoughts on the bill. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC that the administration  “is supportive of being tough on Russia, particularly in putting the sanctions in place.” Meanwhile, Scaramucci said on CNN that Trump “hasn’t made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or another” but later backtracked.

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HOUSE PANEL TO CONSIDER DHS CYBER BILL: The House Homeland Security Committee will consider legislation this week that would reorganize and elevate the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity branch.

The draft bill, from committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would replace the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) at DHS with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

NPPD is currently responsible for the department’s cyber and physical infrastructure protection efforts. The new agency would be headed by a director who would report to the Homeland Security secretary, a post now held by John Kelly. NPPD is now headed by an undersecretary.

The new agency would have a cybersecurity division led by an assistant director as well as an infrastructure security division.

McCaul has long been pushing for a reorganization of DHS’ cybersecurity responsibilities, an idea that has advocates in and outside the department. The Texas Republican introduced similar legislation last year that advanced the panel but never went to the floor for a full House vote.

McCaul has been engaging with the Trump administration on the legislative effort, submitting a draft to DHS earlier this year in order to receive feedback. McCaul described the administration as “fully supportive” of the effort during a forum in May.

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Apple’s Siri has a new face. (CNBC)



‘NEW APPROACH’ TO POLICE REQUESTS FOR CROSS-BORDER DATA: A technology think tank argues in a new paper that the United States needs to take the lead in developing a new strategy for international law enforcement to make requests for data stored across borders.

The report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) released Monday lays out six recommendations for U.S. policymakers, which include working with other governments to draft new language for what are called mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs), through which allies typically handle evidence stored across borders. The paper also encourages the U.S. to push back on foreign data localization requirements.

The issue of law enforcement access to cross-border data for investigations has taken center stage following a landmark case last year in which a federal court ruled Microsoft did not have to turn over electronic data stored in Ireland in response to a warrant from U.S. officials. The Justice Department has appealed to take the case to the Supreme Court.

U.S. lawmakers have expressed the need to update current laws governing cross-border data access for law enforcement investigations.

“This case exposed the cracks in the foundation of the current framework used by law enforcement agencies to access digital information and determine jurisdiction on the Internet. Moreover, attempts to resolve this dispute risk either hamstringing law enforcement efforts or distorting the global marketplace for digital services,” the ITIF report states.

“This report explains the problems with the status quo, describes the limitations of existing proposals, and offers an alternative framework to resolve these issues along with a set of recommendations to operationalize this framework not just within the United States, but globally.”

To read the full report, click here.



U.S.-JAPAN CYBER TALKS: The United States and Japan said they recognize the need to cooperate against “large-scale” cyber threats, particularly those posed by botnets, at a recent bilateral meeting on cybersecurity.

The meeting, which represented the fifth joint U.S.-Japan cyber dialogue, took place in Tokyo late last week and explored areas where the two countries can further deepen information-sharing and cooperation to protect against and respond to cyberattacks, according to a joint statement released by the State Department on Monday.

In particular, officials from both countries discussed the need for cybersecurity cooperation between Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

In May, the Japanese government inked an agreement with DHS to join an information-sharing program called Automated Indicator Sharing that allows for the two-way exchange of cyber threat indicators.

That followed the first official meeting between President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February, during which the two leaders agreed to expand bilateral cybersecurity cooperation.

The first discussions between U.S. and Japanese officials on cybersecurity cooperation took place in 2013.

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

Two-dozen Democrats urge Tillerson to keep State’s cyber division. (The Hill)

Controversial cybersecurity figure John McAfee alleges an attempt on his life. (The Hill)

Senate panel subpoenas co-founder of firm tied to controversial Trump dossier. (The Hill)

Microsoft using lawsuits to thwart Putin’s hackers. (The Hill)

Speaker Ryan: Mueller is ‘anything but’ a Dem partisan. (The Hill)

NSA Director Mike Rogers says it’s not ‘the best time’ for a joint cyber working group with Russia. (Reuters)

State and local governments are still using software from Kaspersky Lab despite new federal prohibition. (Washington Post)

The British government is pressing forward with new rules on drones. (Engaget)

Blackstone Group is reportedly in talks to buy a part of Israeli cyber firm the NSO Group. (Reuters)

New York exhibit shows artists ‘anxious‘ about tech. (New York Times)

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Tags Chuck Grassley Dan Coats Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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