Hillicon Valley: Biden administration kicks off 100-day plan to secure the grid | Daily Mail owner files antitrust suit against Google

Hillicon Valley: Biden administration kicks off 100-day plan to secure the grid | Daily Mail owner files antitrust suit against Google
© Getty Images

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. 

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

The Biden administration on Tuesday kicked off a 100-day plan to secure the electric grid amid mounting threats. Meanwhile, the parent company of the Daily Mail is suing Google over allegations that it maintained a monopoly in the ads space, and Apple unveiled a new tracking product that is raising concerns. 


PROTECT THE GRID: The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it was kicking off a 100-day plan aimed at protecting the electric grid against cyberattacks.

National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said Tuesday that the effort will be led by the Department of Energy in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA) and the electricity sector.

Horne noted in a statement that the plan was “a pilot of the Administration’s broader cybersecurity initiative planned for multiple critical infrastructure sectors.”

“The Biden Administration is taking steps to safeguard U.S.critical infrastructure from persistent and sophisticated cyber threats,” Horne said.

The rollout of the plan comes weeks after the administration took heat for not including cybersecurity initiatives to protect critical infrastructure in the president's $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal.

Read more about the plan here. 



GOOGLE’S LATEST LEGAL CHALLENGE: The parent company of the Daily Mail is suing Google over allegations that the Silicon Valley giant has illegally maintained a monopoly in the digital ad space that has hurt the newspaper’s ad-supported business model, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. 

The newspaper hit Google over its market power in the digital ad space, and accused the search giant of using its power to “punish publishers that do not submit to its practices.” 

The complaint seeks unspecified compensation and injunctive relief to restore competition and add safeguards for news content. 

A Google spokesperson said the Daily Mail’s claims "are completely inaccurate."

The Daily Mail’s lawsuit is the latest in a line of legal challenges Google is facing — including from the Department of Justice and coalitions of states attorneys general — over its market power. Google has defended itself against the other accusations of anti-competitive practices, as well. 

Read more about the lawsuit


‘AIRTAGS’ ADD TO APPLE'S ANTITRUST WOE’S: Apple on Tuesday unveiled a new tracking product that is drawing renewed antitrust concerns.

Apple's Tuesday launch event comes one day before a company executive is set to appear before a Senate panel – along with a representative from the company accusing Apple of stifling competition.

The Silicon Valley giant on Tuesday unveiled its new AirTags locators that will help users find lost items.

The Coalition for App Fairness, which brings together a group of apps of varying business sizes, slammed the announcement of Apple’s AirTags which is drawing similarities with the company Tile.

Last year, Tile’s general counsel Kirsten Daru testified before the House antitrust subcommittee about Apple’s alleged anti-competitive behavior. Daru and Apple’s chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, are both scheduled to testify at Wednesday’s Senate antitrust subcommittee hearing on competition in app stores. 

Read more here



ANOTHER BIG HACK: Federal authorities announced Tuesday that hackers breached multiple government agencies and other critical organizations by exploiting vulnerabilities in products from an Utah-based software company.

“CISA is aware of compromises affecting U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and other private sector organizations by a cyber threat actor—or actors—beginning in June 2020 or earlier related vulnerabilities in certain Ivanti Pulse Connect Secure products,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said in an alert.

The agency, which is the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity arm, noted that it had been assisting compromised organizations since March 31, and that the hackers used vulnerabilities to place webshells in the Pulse Connect Secure products, which allowed them to bypass passwords, multi-factor authentication, and other security features. 

The agency wrote that Ivanti was developing a patch for these vulnerabilities, and that it “strongly encouraged” all organizations using these products to update to the newest version and investigate for signs of compromise. 

Read more about the incident here. 


GEICO CUSTOMERS EXPOSED: A Geico data breach that lasted over a month earlier this year exposed customers’ driver’s license numbers to hackers, according to a notice filed with California’s attorney general earlier this month. 


The filing, first obtained and reported by online newspaper TechCrunch on Monday, included a message sent to an unspecified number of Geico customers, stating that “between January 21, 2021 and March 1, 2021, fraudsters used information about you — which they acquired elsewhere — to obtain unauthorized access to your driver’s license number through the online sales system on our website.” 

“We have reason to believe that this information could be used to fraudulently apply for unemployment benefits in your name,” added Geico, the second-largest auto insurer in the country. 

Read more here

Lighter click: The news of the day

An op-ed to chew on: Why you should care about the semiconductor chip crisis 




They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War (Wired / Andy Greenberg)

Republican tech skeptics are flirting with progressives' choice for antitrust chief (Protocol / Ben Brody)

A Global Tipping Point for Reining In Tech Has Arrived (New York Times / Paul Mozur, Cecilia Kang, Adam Satariano and David McCabe)

There are hundreds of posts about plans to attack the Capitol. Why hasn't this evidence been used in court? (NBC News / Ken Dilanian and Ben Collins)