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Hillicon Valley — Ukraine war propels US cyber agenda

The war in Ukraine has pushed the United States to expedite its investment in cybersecurity amid constant — though so far unrealized — warnings of Russian cyberattacks on government agencies, election systems and critical infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, former President Obama is campaigning against the spread of disinformation after failing to “fully appreciate” the issue while in office.  

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 KlarChris Mills Rodrigo and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

Ukraine war expedites US cyber agenda

The war in Ukraine has pushed the United States to expedite its investment in cybersecurity amid constant — though so far unrealized — warnings of Russian cyberattacks on government agencies, election systems and critical infrastructure.  

Following the invasion of Ukraine, federal agencies have invested millions in cyber technology, seized and sanctioned hacking forums, charged Russian cyber criminals, and issued almost weekly warnings on the latest threat risks.  

Even lawmakers in Congress have stepped up their efforts, with the introduction of several cyber-related bills, and the passage of a new law requiring companies in critical sectors to report significant cyberattacks within 72 hours and ransomware payments within 24 hours. 

“The war in Ukraine is sort of a focusing event for getting some legislative initiative and momentum, and getting some public support that this is an issue that their representatives should care about,” said Jason Blessing, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. 

Read more here.

Obama campaigns against disinformation

When former President Obama gave an hourlong speech on disinformation last week, it wasn’t just a one-off, sources around him say. 

Those close to Obama said the speech was a particularly important one for him and explained why he devoted so much time to the topic.  

“These big speeches are rare. He hasn’t done a ton of these in the post-presidency,” one source close to the former president said of the speech. “He’s really trying to move the needle on it.”  

The source said he views the topic as falling under the umbrella of democracy and the speech was part of an ongoing conversation the former president plans to continue in the coming months. 

Read more here.


Russia’s approach to cyber warfare against Ukraine has proved more subtle so far than many expected. 

This week’s Microsoft report on the operations reveals that Moscow-backed hackers have launched more than 200 cyberattacks against Ukraine, including nearly 40 destructive ones that targeted the country’s government organizations and critical sectors.  

Cyber experts say the analysis suggests hidden depths to Russia’s cyber operations in Ukraine because although it has the capability to launch more damaging cyberattacks, it has chosen to inflict less harmful ones for the moment.  

“The Microsoft report illustrates the complicated, nuanced role of cyber operations in the Russian-Ukraine war,” said Michael Daniel, president and CEO of Cyber Threat Alliance. 

Read more here.


Workers at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, N.Y., have voted against unionizing, the first loss for a nascent campaign to organize the e-commerce giant’s American locations. 

Of the roughly 1,600 workers at the LDJ5 sorting facility, 618 voted against being represented by the Amazon Labor Union. Three hundred and eighty voted to unionize, with two ballots determined to be void. 

“We’re glad that our team at LDJ5 were able to have their voices heard,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel. “We look forward to continuing to work directly together as we strive to make every day better for our employees. 

Read more here.


Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal fielded heated feedback from employees during a Friday meeting over Elon Musk recent purchase of the company, according to Reuters

The feedback came during an internal town hall, which Reuters gained access to. 

“I’m tired of hearing about shareholder value and fiduciary duty. What are your honest thoughts about the very high likelihood that many employees will not have jobs after the deal closes?” one Twitter employee asked Agrawal. 

The CEO responded that the company always worked to care for employees and the impact its platform has on the world. 

Read more here.


An op-ed to chew on: Polling shows both sides of the aisle support reining in Big Tech 

Lighter click: The things we take for granted 

Notable links from around the web

The Wikimedia Foundation has stopped accepting cryptocurrency donations (The Verge / Emma Roth) 

ICE spends $7.2 million to increase facial recognition and location tracking of migrants (Insider / Caroline Haskins) 

Grindr User Data Has Been for Sale for Years (The Wall Street Journal / Byron Tau and Georgia Wells) 

Hacking Russia was off-limits. The Ukraine war made it a free-for-all (The Washington Post / Joseph Menn) 

Nobody knows where the red line is for cyberwarfare (Bloomberg / Katrina Manson)

One last thing: Twitter fight

Elon Musk and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Friday got into a bizarre Twitter exchange after the latter posted a veiled tweet criticizing the tech billionaire. 

The social media interaction came after Musk reached a deal earlier this week to buy Twitter for $44 billion. 

“Tired of having to collectively stress about what explosion of hate crimes is happening bc some billionaire with an ego problem unilaterally controls a massive communication platform and skews it because Tucker Carlson or Peter Thiel took him to dinner and made him feel special,” the New York congresswoman wrote in a tweet. 

“Stop hitting on me, I’m really shy,” Musk tweeted back with a smiley face. 

Read more 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 tomorrow.


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