Hillicon Valley: Federal agencies warn hackers targeting U.S. hospitals with ransomware attacks | Cyberattack targets networks of Vermont, New York hospitals | Big tech companies report massive earnings amid pandemic
Hillicon Valley: Oracle confirms deal with TikTok to be 'trusted technology provider' | QAnon spreads across globe, shadowing COVID-19 | VA hit by data breach impacting 46,000 veterans
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ORACLE SEALS THE DEAL: Oracle on Monday confirmed a deal with TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, to become a "trusted technology provider."
The proposed arrangement was submitted to the Treasury Department over the weekend.
Oracle's confirmation of the previously reported deal comes just ahead of the deadline for divestiture set by the Trump administration in an executive order.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Monday morning that the government plans to review the deal this week.
"I will just say from our standpoint, we'll need to make sure that the code is, one, secure, Americans' data is secure, that the phones are secure and we'll be looking to have discussions with Oracle over the next few days with our technical teams," he said.
A spokesperson for TikTok confirmed that the proposal was submitted, which "we believe would resolve the Administration's security concerns."
"This proposal would enable us to continue supporting our community of 100 million people in the US who love TikTok for connection and entertainment, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small business owners and creators who rely upon TikTok to grow their livelihoods and build meaningful careers," the spokesperson told The Hill.
Details about what Oracle's role as a "trusted technology provider" would mean in practice have not yet been shared.
HAWLEY HAS CONCERNS ON TIKTOK PROPOSAL: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) urged the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) on Monday to reject a proposal in which Oracle would become TikTok's partner.
The two companies over the weekend submitted a deal with ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, where Oracle would be the short-form video app's "trusted technology provider" to the Treasury Department.
CFIUS, an interagency body that deals with national security concerns stemming from transactions involving overseas companies, will now have to review the deal before approving it.
The deal with the wildly popular social media app was forced by two executive orders blocking American companies from dealing with ByteDance and pressing for the divestiture of TikTok's U.S. operations.
The justification for President Trump's executive orders was the nebulous national security threat posed by TikTok's parent company being based in China.
Hawley raised concerns in Monday's letter that the proposed partnership - details of which have not been made available - would not address the threat of the Chinese government accessing user data or pushing messaging on TikTok.
"China's repressive intelligence laws, which allow the seizure of data from Chinese companies like ByteDance if the Chinese Communist Party comes knocking, still remain in force," the Missouri lawmaker wrote. "And that is why any corporate shell game that leaves TikTok in the hands of ByteDance will simply perpetuate the original problem, leaving U.S. national interests and everyday users at serious risk."
Hawley argued that the phrasing of the agreement suggests that ByteDance has "no intention whatsoever of relinquishing ultimate control of TikTok."
CONSPIRACY THEORIES ON THE RISE: The QAnon movement is spreading around the world, turning an outlandish conspiracy theory revolving around President Trump into one of the nation's most dangerous exports.
Flags and banners brandishing one of the conspiracy's mottos - "WWG1WGA," an acronym for "where we go one, we go all" - dotted the crowd at a rally against lockdowns in Germany last month.
And when Trump visited Japan in 2019, he was greeted by cardboard cutouts of the letter Q.
These aren't just isolated instances either. Researchers have found large QAnon communities in more than 70 countries.
The original conspiracy theory was tightly focused on an alleged cabal of "deep state" figures and Hollywood elites running child trafficking rings that Trump was working with the military to expose. But it has since evolved into a meta-conspiracy theory that pushes its anti-institution and anti-Semitic strains more explicitly.
Experts who spoke with The Hill about the theory's spread said it has become worse because of the coronavirus, which itself is the subject of many conspiracy theories. This helped create a perfect storm fostering distrust in established government and public health institutions.
"Pandemics fuel a lot of questions and make people very skeptical, especially in cases when what we would consider to be credible and trustworthy institutions all of a sudden themselves don't seem to have the right answers or are not aligned on how to manage the situation," Anna-Sophie Harling, head of media evaluation startup NewsGuard's Europe team, said in an interview.
"Conspiracies are rooted in the idea that we're all being lied to by some greater authority or voice and QAnon perfectly ties into that."
The hyper-viral short documentary "Out of the Shadows" fueled baseless theories linking the coronavirus's origins to Bill Gates, 5G towers and the World Health Organization, Alex Newhouse, digital research lead at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute, told The Hill.
And as institutional distrust grew, QAnon, which pushed a lot of the disinformation in the first place, was able to grab a foothold.
VA HIT BY DATA BREACH: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced Monday that the personal information of around 46,000 veterans was accessed in a recent data breach.
The news came after the agency's Financial Services Center discovered that an unauthorized user had accessed an application used to help veterans pay for medical care and diverted funds meant for community health providers.
The individuals behind the breach used social engineering tactics to access accounts, according to the VA, along with exploiting authentication protocols. The VA noted that access to the breached system has been disabled until the agency's Office of Information Technology is able to conduct a review.
The agency has begun sending letters to veterans impacted by the breach as well as next-of-kin notifications for those who are no longer alive and is offering free credit monitoring to those whose Social Security numbers were compromised.
The VA did not provide details on who was behind the hack or how many Social Security numbers were potentially compromised.
HOUSE APPROVES SECURITY LEGISLATION: The House on Monday passed legislation to improve the security of federal internet-connected devices, with the bill garnering bipartisan support.
The Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act, passed unanimously by the House, would require all internet-connected devices purchased by the federal government - including computers, mobile devices, and other products with the ability to connect to the internet - to comply with minimum security recommendations issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The legislation would also require private sector groups providing devices to the federal government to notify agencies if the internet-connected device has a vulnerability that could leave the government open to attacks.
The bill was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last year. Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said on the House floor Monday that the bill would help address the "silent war" that the U.S. government faces from hackers on a daily basis.
"Currently there are no national standards to ensure the security of these connected devices," Maloney said. "Protecting our nation from cyber threats is an ongoing, interactive process that requires established, baseline standards and constant vigilance."
EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR: Amazon said Monday that it will hire another 100,000 workers, its fourth such run of hiring this year.
The positions will include part-time and full-time positions in both the U.S. and Canada, according to Reuters. The retail giant is opening 100 new warehouse and operations locations in September, and several of the newly-created positions will reportedly be at the new locations.
The company has thrived during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers increasingly rely on home delivery. Amazon saw its revenue shoot up by 40 percent in the last quarter and it recorded high profits.
"We will continue to deploy technology where appropriate, starting from a safety perspective [and] where we can improve our overall operation," Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon's vice president of global customer fulfillment, told Reuters.
Boler Davis declined to say whether automation will mean fewer workers per warehouse are needed.
"We don't look at it as an 'either/or,'" she told Reuters.
The announcement comes the same month that the company announced 33,000 job openings, primarily in its corporate and technology divisions. Earlier in the spring, Amazon also announced a total of 175,000 new operations positions.
LEFT THE BUILDING: President Trump for a second day in row aimed criticism at Matt Drudge and The Drudge Report on Monday, claiming all of his supporters had abandoned the pioneering conservative news aggregator.
"Our people have all left Drudge. He is a confused MESS, has no clue what happened," Trump tweeted Monday. "Down 51%. @DRUDGE They like REVOLVER and others!"
It was unclear what the 51 percent figure referenced, but on Sunday Trump tweeted a blog post claiming traffic to The Drudge Report had declined 40 percent.
While Drudge was a major figure in the development of the online conservative media ecosystem, Trump and his allies have been increasingly critical of him.
Lighter click: Who told you you're allowed to rain on my parade
An op-ed to chew on: Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
'It's out of control': How QAnon undermines legitimate anti-trafficking efforts (HuffPost / Jesselyn Cook)
'This is f---ing crazy': Florida Latinos swamped by wild conspiracy theories (Politico / Sabrina Rodriguez and Marc Caputo)
Facebook is turning a blind eye to global political manipulation, according to this explosive secret memo (BuzzFeed News / Craig Silverman, Ryan Mac and Pranav Dixit)
How 'Cuties' is fueling the far right's obsession with pedophilia (Rolling Stone / EJ Dickson)
'I have blood on my hands': A whistleblower says Facebook ignored global political manipulation (Buzzfeed / Craig Silverman, Ryan Mac, and Pranav Dixit)