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Friday Cyber News, December 23 2016

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 12/17 - 12/23:

1. Obama is thinking through the implications of using the US's cyber arsenal against Russia: what actions would be subtle enough to not provoke escalation, while not so subtle as to go unnoticed, and where is Russia's line when it comes to retaliation? As an example of how Russia might respond, Stanford's Herb Lin analyzes the Russian cyber attack against French satellite TV. How sure are we that Russia is responsible? A CrowdStrike report on the DNC hack shows how attribution decisions are made, in this case by analyzing parallels with attacks on the Ukrainian military. [NY Times; Lawfare; WSJ]

2. Privacy groups have filed an FTC complaint against Google for its violation of a 2007 promise that it would keep ad-tracking browsing data separate from search data, a condition of its purchase of the DoubleClick ad platform. [WSJ]

3. If you think, as I do, that Turkey's trajectory over the past year holds grim warnings for the US, the past week in Turkish internet activity will be particularly interesting: A Turkish bank suffered a cyber attack via the SWIFT network that will cost $4M, Turkey blocked access to Tor, and intermittently blocked Facebook and Twitter after ISIS released a video online of Turkish soldiers being burned alive. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed by an off-duty police officer, and Apple has been asked to help unlock the man's iPhone 4s (a 4s? That should be a piece of cake for law enforcement...) [Reuters; BBC; TechCrunch; AlJazeera; 9to5mac]

4. Tools for good: How the Citizen Lab polices digital censorship. How a tool developed by Indiana University maps the spread of fake news online. How Signal makes encrypted messages look like Google searches in countries that seek to block encrypted communications. [CS Monitor; Motherboard; Wired]

5. Evaluating the threat of data collection and retention: how data has assisted genocides, from Rwanda to the Holocaust. Similar: how Saudia Arabia's pretense of tech investment is masking the use of those tools to advance its totalitarian ends. [Engine Room; Concourse]

6. No, we're not letting up on Facebook just because it's the holidays: Their bizarre rules of what can and can't be posted on their platform include a suspect definition of what constitutes a protected class ("migrants are dirty" - allowed. "Tall girls are freaks" - allowed. "Don't trust boys" - not allowed), and a misguided view of what makes an image inappropriate (it's the caption, apparently). Facebook is also using the fake news problem to promote its misguided vision of itself as a walled-garden replacement for the open internet. [SZ; NY Times]

7. The Congressional Encryption Working Group's year-end report comes out against back doors (yes!) and re-characterizes "going dark" as "going spotty". Meanwhile, negotiations to amend the Wassenaar Arrangement to make it easier to export surveillance and security software have failed, meaning that security researchers may need to obtain an export license to share security software across borders. [Cyber Scoop; AP]

8. An Android phone with hidden surveillance software was used to create a movie about a cell phone thief, and I think we can assume that police departments are using similar techniques to track suspects, right? [TechCrunch; CS Monitor]

9. This week in commerce: Russian cyber forgers make fake websites and fake internet users to steal real millions in internet advertising revenue. The blockchain-for-business market was $2.5B this year, and is projected to grow to $19.9B by 2025. The White House issued a report on the economic impact of AI, including displaced jobs and the need for investment and training. [NY Times; Cyber Scoop; Inside Privacy]

10. This week in cyber dystopia: Knitting is Turing-complete, and malware can be encoded into scarves. The Financial Times on Twitter's role in political unrest (scroll to "Jack Dorsey"). "Besides a weak-tea cultural liberalism and support for skilled immigrants, Silicon Valley has rarely displayed any genuine progressive instincts, much less a cohesive political program." Happy holidays. [Ars Technica; FT; Baffler; Jim Benton]

Year-end prognostication exercise: What will be the biggest cyber news story of 2017? What will be the trends, economic indicators, or new products? What will the cyber dystopia bring? Give us your cyber predictions for 2017, and some will be featured in the Cyber Initiative's end-of-year newsletter. The most accurate prediction wins a prize in December 2017! Tell us here.

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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