Overnight Cybersecurity

Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate panel invites Facebook, Google to testify in Russia probe | DHS says Russia didn’t hack Wisconsin election systems | Sonic Drive-In investigates credit card breach

Getty Images

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 …



–SENATE PANEL INVITES FACEBOOK, GOOGLE TO TESTIFY IN RUSSIA PROBE: The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a request for Facebook to testify in an open hearing to examine how foreign actors may have used social media companies to influence the 2016 election, The Hill has learned. Committee leaders have also invited Twitter and Google to testify at the hearing set for Nov. 1, according to a source familiar with the matter. Facebook confirmed Wednesday that it has received the invitation to appear at the hearing, but it is not clear yet whether the company will accept. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said that it’s not important to him that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or other top executives necessarily show up. “I think it’s more important that we get the person who’s most capable of talking about the technical aspects of what they need to do to identify foreign money that may come in and what procedures if any need to be put in law that make sure elections are not intruded by foreign entities,” Burr said. The Senate panel has been probing Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, including alleged attempts at mounting an influence campaign using social media. Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the panel’s top Democrat, has pushed for such a hearing since August, after Facebook revealed that the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm with links to Kremlin allies, had purchased $100,000 in political ads during the 2016 presidential campaign. “This is the tip of the iceberg,” Warner said after the revelation. “There’s going to be I think much more.”

To read the rest of our piece, click here.


–TRUMP THINKS FACEBOOK COLLUDED WITH MEDIA AGAINST HIM: President Trump on Wednesday seemed to suggest that Facebook had colluded with the news media against him during the 2016 presidential race. The president’s comments come after the social media platform told investigators it discovered that thousands of political ads published on its platform over the past two years were linked to fake accounts based in Russia. “Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News @nytimes (apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?” the president tweeted. He added: “But the people were Pro-Trump! Virtually no President has accomplished what we have accomplished in the first 9 months-and economy roaring.”

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

MORE PROOF RUSSIA IS TAKING ALL OF OUR ENERGY: The chair of the House Science Committee is investigating whether Russia has purchased advertisements on Facebook and other platforms to influence the U.S. energy market. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is pressing Facebook, Twitter, and Google for information and documents on any Russian entities that have purchased anti-fracking or anti-fossil fuel ads. The letters are part of the committee’s broader oversight of “what appears to be a concerted effort by the Russian government to influence the U.S. energy market,” Smith wrote in letters to the tech giants’ CEOs this week. “In light of Facebook’s disclosure of over $100,000 in social media advertising associated with Russian accounts focused on the disruption and influence of U.S. politics through social media, it is likely that Russia undertook a similar effort using social media to influence the U.S. energy market,” Smith wrote. The Republican chairman is looking for any and all information “regarding Russian entities purchasing anti-fracking or anti-fossil fuel advertisements or promotions” dating back to 2010.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.



NEW FBI CHIEF ON ‘GOING DARK:’ In his written testimony for a Senate Homeland Committee hearing Wednesday, new FBI head Christopher Wray reiterated the FBI’s long-held stance that tech companies use of strong encryption is a key problem for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was a reversal from the position he took at his July hearing, when he called for “balance” between civil liberties and security.

“[W]e are seeing more and more cases where we believe significant evidence resides on a phone, a tablet, or a laptop — evidence that may be the difference between an offender being convicted or acquitted.” Wray wrote.

“Some observers have conceived of this challenge as a trade-off between privacy and security. In our view, the demanding requirements to obtain legal authority to access data — such as by applying to a court for a warrant or a wiretap — necessarily already account for both privacy and security,” he later added.

Under former chief Jim Comey, who deemed encryption’s thwarting of investigations “going dark,” the FBI asked lawmakers to mandate some mechanism to circumvent device security for use when the FBI had a warrant to investigate a device.

Former CIA and NSA head Michael Hayden, a House working group on encryption, nationally recognized encryption experts and others argue that so-called “backdoors” are hazardous for reasons that have nothing to do with civil liberties. Instead, they argue, creating backdoors introduces new ways for hackers to steal data.



Flight RTM27 to Facebook is ready for boarding.



SONIC DRIVE-IN MAY FEATURE HEAVILY IN 5M CREDIT CARD BREACH: Sonic Drive-In restaurants suffered a breach in its credit card processing systems, possibly contributing as many as 5 million credit card accounts to a dark web criminal marketplace, according to independent journalist Brian Krebs.

Krebs’s sources purchased samples from a newly listed archive of credit card accounts on an online criminal market. The sample accounts appeared to be linked to recent purchases at Sonic. 

It is unclear if all the credit cards in the archive were stolen from the fast food chain.

A representative from the company told Krebs it is still investigating the extent of the breach. 

The cache of cards is being sold under the name “Firetigerrr” on a popular marketplace at a higher-than-average cost per account, something Krebs chalked up to the freshness of the data for sale.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.



STATE VOTING SYSTEMS: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Tuesday that it made an error when it notified the state of Wisconsin that Russian hackers scanned the state’s voter registration system.

The Associated Press reported that the agency initially thought hackers accessed systems operated by state election officials, but told those officials Tuesday night that hackers instead accessed the state’s Department of Workforce Development.

“Based on our external analysis, the WI IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission,” a Homeland Security official wrote in an email.

A member of Wisconsin’s Elections Commission expressed outrage to the AP in an email, accusing the Trump administration of possibly organizing a cover-up.

“Either they were right on Friday and this is a cover up, or they were wrong on Friday and we deserve an apology,” Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen said.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.



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

Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks the media overreacts to the Russia investigation. (The Hill)

NIST will release a revamped risk management framework for public comment on Thursday. (The Hill)

Is Reddit the next Russian influence target? (The Hill)

Russia is ordering secure communications app Telegram to decrypt messages. (Meduza)

Facebook says it deleted multiple accounts to protect the German elections. (Reuters)


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

Tags Jeff Sessions Mark Warner Richard Burr

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video