Overnight Cybersecurity

Hillicon Valley — Twitter confirms a bug was exploited  

Twitter confirmed on Friday that a bad actor gained access to personal information through a vulnerability discovered by the social media giant earlier this year. 

Meanwhile, Meta said it took down a Russian troll farm that tried to prop up support for the country’s invasion into Ukraine.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Hacker exploited a Twitter bug  

Twitter announced on Friday that a hacker exploited a bug in its system and was offering to sell personal data they had obtained. 

The bug in question allowed an individual to submit an email address or a phone number and learn which specific account was associated with the information entered. 

Twitter said that the vulnerability was first discovered in January but was quickly fixed, adding that there was no evidence at the time suggesting that personal information was compromised as a result of the bug.  

However, in July, Twitter was notified that someone had potentially exploited the vulnerability and was attempting to sell personal information. 

Read more here

Meta took down Russian troll farm 

Meta on Thursday announced it took down two cyber espionage operations in South Asia and a Russian troll farm that sought to prop up support for the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Meta, which owns platforms like Facebook and Instagram, announced the findings in its “Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report,” also detailing its efforts to combat coordinated schemes in places like Greece, India and South Africa. 

The company in particular highlighted its mitigation of a troll farm operated from
St. Petersburg, dubbed “Cyber Front Z,” that it said was linked to individuals associated with past activity by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), a troll farm that led the effort to spread disinformation around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

Meta said it began taking action against Cyber Front Z in March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, and it took down the network in early April. 

Read more here.  

FEC SAYS GOOGLE CAMPAIGN EMAIL PLAN IS LAWFUL  

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) said in a draft opinion published Wednesday that Google’s proposed plan to help keep campaign emails out of spam folders does not violate federal campaign finance law. 

In the draft opinion, FEC lawyers said that Google planned to offer a pilot program to test new Gmail design features, which include allowing campaign emails to bypass automated spam detection. 

“The Commission concludes that the proposed pilot program would be permissible under the Act and Commission regulations and would not result in the making of a prohibited inkind contribution,” the letter read. 

The FEC will vote on the draft on Aug. 11, according to commissioner Sean Cooksey. It must vote to adopt the opinion in order for Google to move forward with the plan. 

Read more here.  

HBO MAX, DISCOVERY PLUS TO MERGE 

The head of Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming services announced on Thursday the company is merging HBO Max and Discovery+ into one streaming app next summer. 

During an earnings call, JB Perrette, CEO and president of global streaming and interactive for Warner Bros. Discovery, said launching HBO Max and Discovery+ as one packaged streaming service “was the only way we saw to make this a viable business,” according to Variety. 

“HBO will always be the beacon and the ultimate brand that stands for television quality,” Perrette said, but merging it with Discovery+ would ensure “there’s something for everyone in the household.” 

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Time to finish: Congress needs to direct a space junk clean-up mission 

Notable links from around the web: 

What’s in a name? If the name is Meta, a lawsuit. (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky) 

Sex Workers Struggle to Get Vaccinated Against Monkeypox (Motherboard / Samantha Cole) 

📺 Lighter click: The real-life dramatic saga  

One more thing: Scenes from the Jones trial  

Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered by a Texas jury on Thursday to pay the parents of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre
$4 million as part of a years-long legal battle stemming from his false statements about the shooting.  

During a trial that dominated news headlines this week, lawyers detailed how Jones had for years spread falsehoods about the mass killing on his online show and profited from them.  

The proceedings also featured a number of dramatic courtroom moments and unforeseen twists. 

Read about the moments here.  

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week.

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