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Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — EU calls out Russian hacking efforts aimed at member states

Today is Friday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.

The European Union publicly put its foot down against Russia on Friday, with a top official issuing a statement accusing Russia of being behind recent hacking efforts directed at multiple member states.

Meanwhile, a top executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei reached a deal allowing her to return to China after being detained in Canada for years, and China's central bank took a hardline stance against cryptocurrency transactions. 

Follow The Hill's cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

Let's jump in.

Russia in the hot seat ... again

A top European Union official on Friday called out Russia for its involvement in recent hacking efforts directed towards the governments of multiple member states, describing these efforts as "unacceptable."

"Some EU Member States have observed malicious cyber activities, collectively designated as Ghostwriter, and associated these with the Russian state," Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement Friday. "Such activities are unacceptable as they seek to threaten our integrity and security, democratic values and principles and the core functioning of our democracies."

Borrell noted that the attackers had targeted "numerous members of Parliaments, government officials, politicians, and members of the press and civil society in the EU" through gaining access to networks to steal data.

"These activities are contrary to the norms of responsible State behaviour in cyberspace as endorsed by all UN Member States, and attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and processes, including by enabling disinformation and information manipulation," Borrell said. 

Germany is not happy: Borrell's comments came two weeks after The New York Times reported that the German federal prosecutor's office was opening an investigation into a recent spate of Russian-linked phishing emails aimed at German lawmakers ahead of the country's election this month. 

Read more here.

 

A MESSAGE FROM XEROX

Huawei executive gives a little, gets a little 

U.S. prosecutors have reached a deal to allow an imprisoned Huawei executive to be released from prison. 

Major official: Federal prosecutors in New York informed the court of a hearing on Friday in the case of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, according to court records.

The parties will "address with this Court a resolution of the charges against the defendant in this matter," prosecutors said.

It was unclear from the documents what the parties agreed to, but according to The Wall Street Journal, Meng is expected to admit wrongdoing in exchange for prosecutors deferring and ultimately dropping wire and bank fraud charges against her.

Time to go: Meng was arrested by Canadian law enforcement in 2018 at the request of the U.S. on charges of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by misrepresenting Huawei's dealings in the country. She's been in Vancouver undergoing a trial over an extradition request to the United States.

Read more here.

CHINA SAYS NO TO CRYPTO

China's central bank announced Friday that all cryptocurrency transactions are illegal, citing price volatility and potential national security risks.

Ten other government agencies also pledged to maintain a crackdown on all trading in the country.

Banks and non-banking payment institutions in the country will be barred from providing crypto services.

The People's Bank of China's lengthy statement said that cryptocurrency has disrupted the financial order and been a breeding ground for "illegal and criminal activities such as gambling, illegal fund-raising, fraud, pyramid schemes, and money laundering."

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM XEROX

 

 

 

CYBER NINJAS ON CAPITOL HILL

Key House Democrats are asking Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan to testify on the company's role in the Arizona election audit.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the chairman of the committee's civil rights subpanel, in a letter asked Logan to testify to Congress next month and faulted the company for not providing documents related to its audit of the 2020 presidential election in Arizona. 

"This request follows your repeated refusal to produce documents requested by the Committee regarding this largely privately funded audit," the two lawmakers wrote in the letter dated Thursday.

"As a result of your obstruction, your participation in a Committee hearing is necessary for the Committee to advance the investigation of the questionable audit your company performed and to examine whether this audit is interfering with Americans' right to vote free from partisan interference," the two continued.

Read more here.

 

PUBLISHERS UNDER PRESSURE

The largest book publishing companies in the U.S. are facing pressure from Democrats over e-book lending contracts with libraries that advocates and librarians have criticized. 

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) sent letters to the publishers, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, on Thursday asking for detailed responses about the contracts and any restrictions on deals made with libraries for e-book licensing. 

"Many libraries face financial and practical challenges in making e-books available to their patrons, which jeopardizes their ability to fulfill their mission," the lawmakers wrote. "It is our understanding that these difficulties arise because e-books are typically offered under more expensive and limited licensing agreements, unlike print books that libraries can typically purchase, own, and lend on their own terms." 

Read more here.

 

INCOMING WALLET APP UPDATE

Apple will soon allow users to upload their COVID-19 vaccination card to the Wallet app to provide easy access to proof of vaccination.

Like using metro cards and credit cards, showing vaccination through the Wallet app can be utilized by businesses or venues as a form of verification, USA Today reported.

Users will be able to show proof of vaccination through a QR code. However, full details of the vaccination card will not be visible until the user unlocks their phone to protect privacy. 

Third-party apps are also subjected to restrictions and encryption.

Read more here

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Webb: Big Tech won't change; the tech sector can

Lighter click: Deepest apologies to everyone else then

Notable links from around the web:

A Teenager On Tiktok Disrupted Thousands Of Scientific Studies With A Single Video (The Verge / Rafi Letzter)

Lawmakers want humans to check runaway AI. Research shows they're not up to the job. (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

Exposed ransomware negotiations shed light on cybercrime, but complicate things for victims (CyberScoop / Tonya Riley)

How Facebook's 'metaverse' became a political strategy in Washington (The Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin, Cat Zakrzewski and Nick Miroff)

One last thing: Deep in the heart of Texas

The Port of Houston, a major U.S. port, was targeted in an attempted cyber attack last month, the Port shared in a statement on Thursday.

"The Port of Houston Authority (Port Houston) successfully defended itself against a cybersecurity attack in August," the statement reads. "Port Houston followed its Facilities Security Plan in doing so, as guided under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), and no operational data or systems were impacted as a result." 

The attempted hack involved a password management program called ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus, according to The Associated Press.

In a joint statement last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency along with the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard said that the vulnerability in the software creates a serious threat to critical infrastructure companies, defense contractors, and others. 

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 Monday.

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