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Hillicon Valley: Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack | $7 billion for broadband in end-of-year package | Apple to close California stores

Hillicon Valley: Barr says Russia appears to be behind massive hack | $7 billion for broadband in end-of-year package | Apple to close California stores
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

BARR SAYS RUSSIA LIKELY BEHIND HACK: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBiden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Justice Department renews investigation into George Floyd's death: report Putting antifa and Black Lives Matter on notice MORE on Monday joined Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina labels human rights criticism 'groundless' Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same MORE in saying Russia is likely behind the unprecedented hack into multiple federal agencies — despite remarks by President Trump that pointed the finger at China

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The attorney general said that he agrees with the assessment by Pompeo that the Russians were likely behind the hack into the third-party software developer SolarWinds that allowed access to government agencies and raised fury in Congress over whether such an attack amounted to an act of war. 

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ICYMI: ROMNEY CALLS FOR HACK RESPONSE: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called for a response to a cyberattack on U.S. government systems on Sunday, and said that Russia should face consequences for its alleged involvement.

During an interview with CNN's "State of the Union," the GOP senator echoed concerns raised by other members of his party about the hack, which affected systems at the Treasury and Commerce departments, among others.

"What Russia has done is put in place a capacity to potentially cripple us in terms of our electricity, our power, our water, our communications," the senator said.

"This is the same thing you can do in a wartime setting, so it's extraordinarily dangerous, and an outrageous affront on our sovereignty and one that's going to have to be met with a strong response," Romney continued, adding: "Not just rhetorical, important as that is, but also with a cyber response of like magnitude or greater."

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ICYMI: KREBS URGES CAUTION: Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) chief Christopher Krebs in an interview on Sunday poured cold water on lawmakers' calls for retaliation in response to a cyber intrusion at numerous government agencies believed to be carried out by Russia.

Speaking with CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," Krebs said that lawmakers such as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah,) who called for "a cyber response of like magnitude or greater" earlier on the program, should be "cautious." 

“I’d be very careful with escalating this," Krebs responded.

"We need a conversation among like-minded countries" about what are acceptable forms of cyber espionage, the former U.S. cybersecurity chief added.

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BROADBAND GETS $7B: The coronavirus relief package deal finally came together on Sunday, and when text was released a day later it included $7 billion in funding for broadband internet access.

The sum also includes a new $3.2 billion program that will provide $50 per month for broadband to low-income families.

It's not the only language related to tech that is in the massive package, which the House and Senate are set to approve Monday night. It also includes $1.9 billion to remove equipment built by Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE from American networks.

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CALIFORNIA CLOSURES: Apple is temporarily closing its stores in California amid rising coronavirus cases, according to a spokesperson. 

The tech giant is shutting all 53 retail stores in its home state as California reaches record numbers of COVID-19 cases, an Apple spokesperson confirmed to The Hill. 

“Due to current Covid-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible.”

Apple also closed all stores in Tennessee, two stores in Mexico and Brazil, and stores in London, according to the spokesperson.

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AMAZON SHUTS NJ WAREHOUSE: Amazon is closing a warehouse in New Jersey until Dec. 26 after an increase of asymptomatic coronavirus cases was detected through the company’s in-house testing program.

An Amazon spokesperson said workers will be paid for all shifts they miss and the company is not expecting any delivery delays as a result of the temporary closure at the warehouse known as the PNE5 facility.

“Through our in-house COVID-19 testing program, we detected an increase in the number of asymptomatic positive cases at our PNE5 facility in northern New Jersey and have proactively closed the site until December 26th out of an abundance of caution,” Amazon spokeswoman  Leah Seay said in a statement Monday to The Hill.

Seay did not respond to questions about how many Amazon workers tested positive at the warehouse or whether the company is planning to temporarily shutter any other facilities.

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Lighter click: Something something Dune

An op-ed to chew on: SolarWinds is the perfect storm attack on the US

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NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Why Is This Woman's Left Ass Cheek Following Me Around the Internet? (Motherboard / Kate Dries)

The Antitrust Case Against Big Tech, Shaped by Tech Industry Exiles (New York Times / Daisuke Wakabayashi)

Unfair ratings cost some Instacart shoppers hundreds a week. Here’s what’s happening (Los Angeles Times / Johana Bhuiyan)