Hillicon Valley: US, allies blame China for Microsoft Exchange Server hack | Biden walks back criticism of Facebook COVID-19 misinformation

Hillicon Valley: US, allies blame China for Microsoft Exchange Server hack | Biden walks back criticism of Facebook COVID-19 misinformation
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Welcome and Happy Monday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

The Biden administration, along with a coalition of allied nations, took a major coordinated step in calling out China for its behavior in cyberspace, formally attributing the Microsoft Exchange Server attack to Chinese-linked hackers. The move is likely to increase tensions between the two nations, which have been high under both the Trump and now Biden administrations.


Meanwhile, President BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE also took steps Monday to walk back his criticism of Facebook last week for allegedly “killing people” with COVID-19 misinformation, and a new poll showed that Republican confidence in big business and technology has dropped.


CALLING OUT CHINA: The United States and several allied countries on Monday publicly blamed hackers affiliated with the Chinese government for the Microsoft Exchange Server hack that left tens of thousands of organizations vulnerable to compromise earlier this year.

The move to publicly identify the hackers as linked to China is part of a broader effort by the U.S. and its allies to publicly call out Beijing's government for malicious behavior in cyberspace.

The U.S., European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and NATO on Monday criticized China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) for using criminal contract hackers to conduct cyber-enabled extortion, "crypto-jacking" and other schemes.

The U.S. government has with "high confidence" formally attributed the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange Server application to malicious cyber actors affiliated with China’s MSS. Other nations also attributed the cyberattack to Chinese government-linked hackers.

Read more here



TENSION MOUNTS: The decision by the Biden administration to call out China for its involvement in the Microsoft Exchange Server hacking incident is putting new pressure on China.

The public rebuke of China promises to further escalate tensions between the U.S. and China, which have not eased with the transition from the Trump administration to the Biden administration.

“We’ve crossed the line on what can be tolerated anymore, China is more aggressive when it comes to espionage,” James Lewis, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Hill. “This is to make sure that the Chinese don’t think we forgot about them and they had an open door.”

Read more about the fallout here.


BIDEN WALKS IT BACK: President Biden on Monday softened his criticism that platforms like Facebook are "killing people" with misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, saying he wishes the company would do more to stop the spread of inaccurate information.

"Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation. Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It’s killing people. It’s bad information," Biden told reporters after giving remarks about the economy, referencing a study that showed a dozen accounts on Facebook are responsible for the majority of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine seen on the platform.

"My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally, that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine," Biden added. "That's what I meant."

Read more about the president's comments


NOT TECH’S BIGGEST FAN: Confidence in big business and big tech among Republicans has fallen somewhat according to a new survey released by Gallup on Monday.

According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents that identified as Republicans said they had a "great deal" or "some" confidence in big business, indicating a drop of 20 percentage points from when the same poll was conducted last year.

The drop was even steeper when it came to big tech, with just 52 percent of Republicans expressing confidence in this sector, showing a drop of 25 percentage points.

Read more about the poll


QUICK BUY: Zoom reached an agreement Sunday night to acquire the cloud contact center Five9 for $14.7 billion.

The all-stock transaction is subject to approval by stockholders and is expected to close early next year.

The deal will expand the offerings that Zoom, which saw its video communications platform explode in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, can offer its customers.

“Enterprises communicate with their customers primarily through the contact center, and we believe this acquisition creates a leading customer engagement platform that will help redefine how companies of all sizes connect with their customers,” Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan said in a statement.

Read more.



What we’re watching this week:

-The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing Tuesday on the threat of ransomware attacks.

-The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on strengthening the cybersecurity of small businesses.

-The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to examine cybersecurity vulnerabilities impacting critical infrastructure. 


An op-ed to chew on: NASA should be aware of Critical Race Theory 


Lighter click: Political debate is alive and well



This online marketplace for people of color is making wellness more accessible (Protocol / Megan Rose Dickey)

How Washington power brokers gained from NSO’s spyware ambitions (The Washington Post / Drew Harwell)

Job-Hunters, Have You Posted Your Résumé on TikTok? (New York Times / Taylor Lorenz)