August 14, 2022

Review and News

Meta says 50,000 Fb customers could have been spied on

Today is Thursday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech...

Today is Thursday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here:
Follow The Hill’s cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.
Meta took a massive swipe against surveillance-for-hire companies on Thursday, cracking down on seven groups using Facebook and Instagram as part of operations that targeted around 50,000 individuals in over 100 countries. 
Meanwhile, concerns are growing around the potential that Russia may turn to cyberattacks to help accomplish its goal in Ukraine, while Uber is under the microscope for not taking responsibility for the recent death of a driver who was shot and killed while working. 
Let’s jump into the news.

Meta cracks down 
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, on Thursday announced that it was taking action to crack down on seven surveillance-for-hire companies that had attempted to target around 50,000 users.
Massive targeting: The company detailed its concerns around the surveillance groups in a threat report released Thursday, noting that it had disabled accounts used by the groups, shared its findings with other platforms and security researchers, issued cease and desist warnings to six of the groups, and was warning impacted individuals in over 100 countries. 
Those targeted included journalists, human rights activists, government dissidents, families of opposition members, members of the clergy and many others.
Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of Security Policy at Facebook, told reporters ahead of the report’s release that the online surveillance industry is akin to “indiscriminate targeting on behalf of the highest bidder.”
“Cyber mercenaries often claim that their services and surveillance ware are meant to focus on tracking criminals and terrorists, but our investigations and similar investigations by independent researchers, our industry peers, and governments have demonstrated that the targeting is in fact indiscriminate,” Gleicher said.
Context: The report was released amid ongoing fallout over the addition of Israel company NSO Group on the Commerce Department’s “entity list” last month.
The move effectively blacklisted the company, and the step was taken over allegations that its Pegasus spyware had been sold to foreign governments that used to crackdown on dissidents and other groups. Since then, NSO Group has been in freefall, with The Wall Street Journal reporting earlier this week that executives were considering selling the business.
Read more here.

See also  Omicron Variant Places Corporations on Understand This Vacation Season

Keep an eye on Russia 
The increase in tensions between the United States and Russia due to Moscow amassing troops on the border with Ukraine is raising concerns Russia may not only put boots on the ground but also turn to hacking operations to put pressure on the U.S. and Ukraine. 
Those concerns are underlined by massive hacking efforts by Russia against Ukraine over the past few years and the ransomware attacks linked to Russian hackers against critical U.S. organizations.
“This is a Russian calling card,” Mark Montgomery, senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Hill Wednesday. “I do worry that they will use their cyber and disinformation tools to try to undermine the stability of the Ukrainian economic security and national security.”
Business as normal: Ukraine is no stranger to Russian aggression in cyberspace and has often been viewed by experts as a testing ground for Russian cyber capabilities, with attacks ramping up after fighting broke out between the two nations in 2014. 
In 2015, hackers later linked to Russia took down portions of Ukraine’s power grid in an attack that resulted in almost a quarter million Ukrainians losing power and heat in the dead of winter. A similar attack against companies supporting Ukraine’s power grid took place in 2016.
Read more here.

Afghan refugee Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, who drove for Uber, was resting in his car after giving rides around San Francisco when he was shot and killed in the early morning of Nov. 28.
His family is now demanding that the rideshare giant take some responsibility for the death by providing for his family and improving working conditions for other drivers.
In a letter sent to Uber executives Thursday shared with The Hill, Yusufi’s family is asked for $4 million in assistance to the late Afghan refugee’s wife and three young children.
“Only my brother work[ed] in the family… his wife, she cannot drive nor speak English,” Mohammed Yusufi, Ahmad’s brother, told The Hill in a phone call. “[Uber] needs to take care of them.”
A spokesperson for Uber said the company is “saddened by this senseless act of violence that took Mr. Yusufi’s life.”
“Our hearts go out to his family during this difficult time,” they added.
Read more here.

See also  Elon Musk’s Bot Drawback on Twitter Is Atypical

Google let dozens of ads run on articles denying the science behind global warming despite a new policy against doing so, according to a report released Wednesday.
The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate identified 50 climate denial articles with Google-run ads active on them published after November 8, the day the new policy kicked in.
Google initially announced it would add climate change denial to the list of topics it limits or restricts advertising alongside in October.
“In making their initial announcement, Google appears to recognise that they have played a part in making climate change denial a profitable business, and yet they have not followed through with real action,” Imran Ahmed, head of the CCDH, said in a statement.
Read more here.


Happy holidays to hackers 
Senior Biden administration cybersecurity officials warned business leaders Thursday to be on guard against cyberattacks during the upcoming holiday season, noting that hackers are often more active when Americans are taking time away from work.
National Cyber Director Chris Inglis and Anne Neuberger, the national security advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, sent a letter to corporate executives and business leaders highlighting the need to be on alert against attacks in the next few weeks.
“The holidays are an opportunity to spend time with our loved ones and enjoy some well-earned rest,” Inglis and Neuberger wrote. “Unfortunately, malicious cyber actors are not taking a holiday – and they can ruin ours if we’re not prepared and protected.”
The warning was the latest of several from the White House put out in advance of recent holidays, including ahead of both Labor Day weekend and the week of Thanksgiving this year. The alerts were put out after a series of major hacks earlier in the year all took place during or just ahead of holiday weekends. 
Read more here.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is writing a book that will include “a critical examination of Facebook,” after revealing what critics say is damning information about the social media giant.
Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of the publishing house Hachette Book Group, announced on Thursday that it will be publishing Haugen’s book.
The title and release date for the book have not yet been determined, according to The Associated Press. The imprint did not reveal any financial terms of the deal.
“During my time at Facebook I realized a devastating truth: almost nobody outside of Facebook knows what happens inside of Facebook. They operate in the dark,” Haugen said in a statement, according to the AP.
Read more here. 

See also  Writer industry team backs expenses focused on Apple, Google monopolies

An op-ed to chew on: To compete with China in 5G, America must solve its spectrum problem
Lighter click: Happy holidays, Ruckus 
Notable links from around the web:
Internet outages point to web’s concentration of power (NBC / David Ingram) 
The Harvard Job Offer No One at Harvard Ever Heard Of (The New York Times / Jeffrey Gettleman, Kate Conger, and Suhasini Raj)
Lasers and molten tin: Inside Intel’s plans for the world’s most advanced chip-making process (Protocol / Max A. Cherney)


One last thing: Apple delays return to office 
Apple is again delaying its planned return to the office after months of pushing back the date, a person familiar with the announcement told The Wall Street Journal.
Apple told employees on Wednesday that offices would not reopen as planned in February, but failed to give a future date for the move.
The company also announced that three retail stores in Florida, Maryland and Canada will be closed due to a spike in COVID-19 cases at the locations. 
“We regularly monitor conditions and we will adjust our health measures to support the wellbeing of customers and employees,“ Apple said in a statement, according to The Journal.
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 Friday.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); = id;
js.src = “//”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));


Hillicon Valley — Meta takes aim at spyware companies appeared first on