Skip to content Skip to navigation

Friday Cyber News, July 20 2018

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 7/14 - 7/20:

1. Two weeks before his inauguration, the President "was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election." On Monday, he publicly accepted Putin's denial of doing just that. He is wrong. [NY Times]

2. The House Judiciary Committee heard from Facebook, Google, and Twitter representatives how the platforms make content removal and content filtering decisions, and pressed them on their incentives to remain unbiased and responsive to users. Relatedly, in an interview with Kara Swisher, Mark Zuckerberg brought up, unprompted, his support for the free speech of Holocaust deniers on Facebook. It's almost as though he's trying to make an opportunity for himself to step down... [Washington Post; Recode; The Hill]

3. If the threats to coral reefs, polar bears, islanders, and sea lions haven't prompted us to seriously address global warming, maybe the possible sea level-rise-driven corrosion of the fiber-optic cables that support the internet will? [NPR]

4. In a blog post, Microsoft president Brad Smith encouraged Congress to study, and regulate, facial recognition technology. Smith proposed restrictions on law enforcement use of facial recognition, notification requirements, legal protections, and design controls against bias and racial discrimination. [NY Times]

5. Congressman Mike McCaul proposed that the US respond with offensive cyber operations if Russian meddling is detected in the upcoming midterm elections. Meanwhile, the NSA and Cyber Command are coordinating to counteract Russian interference attempts despite a lack of White House backing. This concentration of efforts is timely, as the Russian troll networks that targeted the 2016 elections are registering new sites and testing the waters of the 2018 midterms. [Cyberscoop; Axios; AP News]

6.​ Russia detected 25 million attempted cyber attacks during the World Cup, and Finland detected a massive increase in malicious traffic, most of it from China, during the Helsinki Summit. Russia's vulnerability database was analyzed and found to publish 61% of the exploits used by state-sponsored hackers, and to be a good source of insight into what systems and software Russian infrastructure uses. Russia also attempted to access files related to Scotland Yard's investigation into the Novichok poisoning of the Skripals. [Infosecurity Magazine; Defense One; Recorded Future; Telegraph]

7. At an AI conference in Stockholm, a group of prominent researchers pledged not to develop lethal autonomous weapons. [The Verge]

8. Egypt has passed a law allowing the regulation of social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers, treating such accounts as media outlets. [BBC]

9. The media research that exposed the web of fake news on YouTube and Facebook was conducted by Jonathan Albright, a researcher at Columbia. [Wired]

10. "Female network will deter cybersecurity threats," promises the headline of this article. The network to which it refers is the old-fashioned one of women working together in computer security, not the implied Siri-as-mainframe protecting our data. [US News]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

(To suggest an item for this list, please email You can view news from past weeks, subscribe, and unsubscribe at