Overnight Cybersecurity: Three plead guilty to developing cyber weapon | Deputy AG sees no cause to fire Mueller | Kaspersky hits back over ban | Hurdles remain for Trump tech push

Overnight Cybersecurity: Three plead guilty to developing cyber weapon | Deputy AG sees no cause to fire Mueller | Kaspersky hits back over ban | Hurdles remain for Trump tech push
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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 ...

 

THE BIG STORIES:

--GUILTY PLEAS FOR MIRAI CONSPIRATORS: Three defendants have pleaded guilty to charges involving Mirai, a tool used to throw websites offline that was released to the public and eventually used against Twitter, The New York Times and Netflix. Paras Jha, Josiah White and Dalton Norman pleaded guilty in Alaska last week to charges stemming from Mirai, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday. Mirai launches distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, coordinated floods of traffic so large they overwhelm victims' servers and force them to crash or severely slow. Mirai generated the traffic by creating networks of hacked internet-connected devices, such as security cameras, and having them all contact a target at the same time. The trio later launched a "click fraud" botnet, designed to scam online ad networks through simulating clicks on advertisements. Several ad networks offer a small sum to website owners per ad clicked. The most famous victims of the Mirai attacks were security journalist Brian Krebs and the internet infrastructure company Dyn. Dyn, which serves as a switchboard that connects users with sites such as Twitter, The New York Times, Netflix, Etsy and others, brought its clients down with it.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

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--ROSENSTEIN: NO REASON TO FIRE MUELLER: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday that he has seen no good cause to fire Robert Mueller from his role as special counsel in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rosenstein faced tough questions from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday amid revelations that FBI officials on Mueller's team had exhibited political bias. President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE's allies have seized on the reports to discredit the investigation.  "Have you seen good cause to fire special counsel Mueller?" Nadler asked Rosenstein. "No," Rosenstein replied. Later, when asked what he would do if he were directed to fire Mueller, Rosenstein replied, "I would follow the regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there were no good cause, I would not."

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A REGULATORY UPDATE:

Beleaguered Moscow-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab says it is the victim of bias against "the location of its headquarters" after a law signed Tuesday banned federal use of its products.

While media reports have said Russian operatives may have reconfigured Kaspersky Antivirus to search for classified documents in addition to viruses, Kaspersky has denied knowingly participating in any government scheme.

"All software, including various products more widely deployed in government networks than Kaspersky Lab software, can have vulnerabilities exploited by a malicious cyber actor," the firm said in a statement Wednesday.

"Yet, Congress failed to address this fact or take a comprehensive look at federal IT sourcing policies to determine what improvements, if any, Congress could make to existing statutory and administrative authorities related to protecting government networks."

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: 

ONE IN FIVE MEN WOULD IMPLANT THE INTERNET INTO THEIR BRAIN. Corollary: Four in five men have seen what's on the internet.

 

A REPORT IN FOCUS:

A FOX IN ANDERSON'S COOP: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper's Wednesday tweet labeling President Trump a "pathetic loser" was the result of someone accessing his assistant's phone, according to the network.

A person took the smartphone belonging to Cooper's assistant, the only other person with access to the anchor's Twitter account, after he "left his phone unlocked and unattended at the gym early this morning," a CNN spokesperson told multiple media outlets.

"Geolocation tools confirm that the tweet in question was not sent from Anderson Cooper’s phone. Anderson was in Washington, and we have proof the tweet was sent from New York, from a phone belonging to his assistant," reads the statement given to The Hollywood Reporter.

Trump on Wednesday morning tweeted that GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore worked hard in the Alabama special election, but that the "deck was stacked against him."

"The reason I originally endorsed Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeAnn Coulter believes Kushner wrote anonymous op-ed bashing Trump Mulvaney: Trump regularly asks why Roy Moore lost The Hill's Morning Report — General election season underway with marquee Senate races set MORE (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!" Trump tweeted.

Cooper's account tweeted in response: "Oh Really? You endorsed him you tool! Pathetic loser."

Following the tweet, CNN Communications tweeted that someone had gained access to Cooper's account. Cooper said he had not sent any tweets in the past few days.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

 

WHAT'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

UPGRADING GOVERNMENT TECHNOLOGY: President Trump signed an annual defense policy bill into law on Tuesday that includes a provision pushing agencies to upgrade their old technology.

"To go implement this, it will take all hands on deck," said Tony Scott, who served as Obama's federal chief information officer.

The defense policy bill authorizes nearly $700 billion in spending, but lawmakers have yet to pass a comprehensive budget for the fiscal year. Last week, Congress passed a short-term resolution to fund the government for two weeks and now is faced with a Dec. 22 deadline to hash out a funding agreement. MGT calls for $250 million for the general modernization fund in both 2018 and 2019.

"At the end of the day, success will depend on getting the appropriations," said Tom Gann, vice president of government relations at McAfee. "Everyone needs to keep their eye on that ball. I'm confident the administration is going to make that a priority."

To read the rest of our piece about the MGT challenges ahead, click here.

 

The White House released a report Wednesday on modernizing the government's information technology, urging agencies to move to cloud storage.

The report also outlined general steps the government should take to ramp up its modernization efforts. The recommendations include bolstering security for the highest risk and most valuable technology, consolidating networks to save money and adopting broader tech tools that aren't agency-specific to save money.

"It is imperative for the Federal Government to leverage these innovations to provide better service for its citizens in the most cost-effective and secure manner," the report says.

To read the rest of our piece about the report, click here.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

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

The New York Attorney General alleges two million Net Neutrality comments were fake, posted with stolen identities. (The Hill)

Yet another Russian hacker loses Kremlin-backed bid not to be extradited to the United States (Reuters)

Researchers say they informed DirecTV six months ago its hardware is easy to hack. Still no patch. (ZDNet).

A Barclays employee will go to jail for laundering cybercriminals' funds. (The Register).

MIT is working on glowing plants. (Motherboard)

 

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