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Today’s Russia hearings actually revealed something new and important

March 30, 2017

A blockbuster scoop in today’s New York Times reports that two White House officials helped House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes access intelligence reports showing that President Donald Trump and his associates were subject to “incidental collection” as U.S. intelligence agencies conducted routine foreign surveillance. This is significant, because it shows Nunes may have had White House help in his ham-handed efforts to buttress (sort of) Trump’s false claim that former President Obama wiretapped his phones, and later, after admitting that didn’t happen, that Trump and associates were subject to U.S. surveillance. Nunes apparently cited the info he’d been given to suggest that Trump may have been wiretapped, though he later backed off of that assertion. If the White House provided that info, it adds to the case that Nunes is functioning as a defender of Trump rather than exercising oversight, by running his committee’s probe into Russian meddling and possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Russians took Trump’s side in GOP primary, too, expert tells Senate panel

March 30, 2017

Before Russian propaganda and fake news targeted Hillary Clinton, it went after Republican opponents of Donald Trump, including Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Lindsey Graham, as well as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, according to a cyber security expert who testified before the Senate Thursday. Clint Watts, of George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, said during a break in a rare Senate Intelligence Committee public hearing that the one constant of the Russian campaign was “pumping up Trump.” Watts was one of six experts brought before the committee Thursday as Congress’ efforts to investigate Russian election meddling moved to the Senate after 10 days of drama and chaos in the House Intelligence Committee’s probe that appeared to freeze that investigation.

US, UK Electronics Ban al-Qaeda, IS bombs are on focus: experts

March 24, 2017

The prohibition on carry-on electronics for certain flights to the US and Britain shows both the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda remain able to mount potent threats to civil aviation despite tighter airport security, experts say. On Tuesday, US authorities ordered a ban on laptop computers, tablets, cameras and other items larger than cell phones in passenger cabins of direct US-bound flights from certain airports in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan. Britain imposed similar restrictions on flights from six countries, while France and Canada said they were considering their own measures.

Tech and terrorism experts question Trump's airline electronics ban: It 'makes absolutely no sense'

March 21, 2017

After the Trump administration announced a ban on carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone in the cabins of US-bound airplanes coming from eight Middle Eastern and African countries, experts were left questioning whether such a ban would actually be effective in preventing terrorist attacks. The US Department of Homeland Security announced the ban, which applies to nonstop flights originating from 10 airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, on Monday evening. Passengers will have to place all electronic items larger than a cellphone in their checked luggage so the devices cannot be accessed in-flight.

Bill proposes letting victims of cybercrime hack the hackers

March 13, 2017

When investigating hacked networks, FBI agents have long told company executives that they can’t share information on what was stolen and who took it. “Sorry, that’s classified,” was all the victims got. And for years, this has frustrated companies and victims that wanted to hack back. That could entail, for example, identifying and crippling computers behind a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack (a service some security firms have in fact marketed), or perhaps launching an attack from servers situated offshore (the FBI has investigated banks for such activities). Hack backs aren’t exactly what you’d call legal, regardless of such actions being justified as defensive maneuvers. In fact, such actions run afoul of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the US law that criminalizes unauthorized access to a computer.

Who and why, twin mysteries behind leak of CIA’s cybertools

March 12, 2017

It’s not just who did it, but why. WikiLeaks’ release of nearly 8,000 documents that purportedly reveal secrets about the CIA’s tools for breaking into targeted computers, cellphones and even smart TVs has given rise to multiple theories about who stole the documents and for what reason. Perhaps it was a U.S. spy or contractor who felt jilted. Maybe the CIA was exposed by a foreign country that wanted to embarrass U.S. intelligence. Could it have been a CIA insider worried about Americans’ privacy rights?

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