Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Grid security funding not included in Biden’s infrastructure plan | Russia fines Twitter | Lawmakers call for increased school cybersecurity


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Experts this week were disappointed that President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure package did not include specific funding for securing the electric grid against cyberattacks, although the White House is working on a separate initiative to protect the grid. Meanwhile, a Russian court fined Twitter on Friday for failing to remove certain posts, and two Democratic lawmakers pressed the Education Department to protect K-12 institutions from malicious hackers. 


GRID INSECURITY: President Biden‘s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan does not include any funds to protect critical infrastructure against cyberattacks, even as the threat grows against targets such as the electric grid.

Experts say it was disappointing to see there were no funds set aside to defend systems critical to everyday life from hackers, particularly as the proposal does including things such as $100 billion for improving grid resiliency, the creation of new jobs and developing more clean electricity.

“It is a bit of an eyesore of not seeing a more prominent listing of cybersecurity in this, but I think there will be more to come,” said Tobias Whitney, vice president of energy security solutions at Fortress Information Security, which works with grid operators.

The cybersecurity of the grid has become an area of increasing concern in recent years as hackers have ratcheted up efforts to target critical systems. Those efforts accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A National Security Council spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday that the administration “is committed to safeguarding the cybersecurity of U.S. critical infrastructure from persistent and sophisticated threats” and has “launched a 100 Day Control Systems cybersecurity initiative, working closely with the private sector that manages much of this critical infrastructure like those for electricity and water, to improve cybersecurity.”

Read more here.


TWITTER FINED: A Russian court fined Twitter Friday for not removing posts that encouraged minors to participate in protests, The Associated Press reported.

The court’s ruling comes after Russian telecommunications watchdog pressured the platform to remove the content or be blocked. 

The court found Twitter guilty on three counts of violating regulations on restricting unlawful content, ordering it to pay three fines adding up to 8.9 million rubles, or about $117,000, the AP reported. 

Read more here


SCHOOL INSECURITY: Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) on Friday urged the Department of Education to prioritize protecting K-12 institutions from cyberattacks, which have shot up in the past year as classes moved increasingly online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the two lawmakers highlighted concerns that cybersecurity threats to school have spiked during the pandemic, and urged Cardona to issue guidance to educational institutions to help navigate these threats.

“As the U.S. continues to battle the ongoing pandemic, the Department of Education will play a critical role in supporting American families as they navigate the challenges of distance learning and prepare to reenter the classroom safely,” Matsui and Langevin wrote.

“To help ensure schools are keeping pace with the demands of the modern classroom, we urge you to issue guidance that will allow K-12 schools to make needed investments in increased cybersecurity measures,” they added. 

The letter was sent after a year in which school districts were hit with a wave of cyberattacks and other online interruptions as K-12 institutions were forced to hold classes online during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read more about their concerns here.


INTERNET DOWN: Myanmar’s military is shutting down wireless internet access in an attempt to quell protests that have erupted throughout the country since the military takeover on Feb. 1.

The military has been shutting off the internet overnight for weeks, but the Ministry of Transport and Communications told internet providers Thursday that “all wireless broadband data services be temporarily suspended until further notice,” Ooredoo, a local internet provider in the country said, according to the Associated Press.

Companies are also no longer allowed to offer high-speed internet to Myanmar’s citizens as the military is now only offering fiber optic cables that give internet access at slow speeds.

The decision comes after Myanmar’s deadliest week of protest as the Myanmar military has now killed more than 500 pro-democracy protesters.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK’S FRAME: Facebook on Thursday launched COVID-19 vaccine-themed frames for profile pictures.

The company said in a statement that it developed the frames in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It said in the coming weeks users can see a summary in their News Feed of those who they follow who are using the profile frames.

Users have the option of choosing between frames that feature banners that say “I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine” or “Let’s Get Vaccinated.” The frames feature logos that say “We Can Do This” in either magenta or blue.

Read more here

Lighter click: Just your typical broadcast

An op-ed to chew on: Science is rescuing us from COVID — it’s time for the US to return the favor


LexisNexis To Provide Giant Database Of Personal Information To Ice (The Intercept / Sam Biddle)

Advanced hackers used Fortinet flaws in likely attempt to breach government networks, feds warn (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Why cable hates Biden’s $100B internet plan (Axios / Margaret Harding McGill)

How America’s surveillance networks helped the FBI catch the Capitol mob (Washington Post / Drew Harwell and Craig Timberg)

Same as the old boss: How Amazon honed its anti-union bent at a Seattle call center 20 years ago (GeekWire / Mike Lewis and Todd Bishop)

DOE watchdog detailed its cybersecurity state amid SolarWinds hack (NextGov / Mariam Baksh)

Tags Doris Matsui Jim Langevin Joe Biden Miguel Cardona
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