Skip to content Skip to navigation

Friday Cyber News, March 17 2017

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 3/11 - 3/17:

1. Three Russians and one Canadian (et tu, vicinus?) were indicted in the US for orchestrating Yahoo's recently revealed massive cyber breaches. The US indictment of a different Russian cyber criminal for espionage, fraud, and a range of other computer crimes provides a detailed look at how the FBI and FSB address cyber crime. [Cyber Scoop; NY Times]

2. Attempts to sabotage North Korean nuclear weapons prior to launch by using cyber weapons ignore important differences between cyber weapons and nuclear weapons, argue UCSD and University of Toronto researchers: cyber weapons are less effective as threats than as tools, and can alter the balance of power in obfuscated ways. And, of course, our nuclear weapons are also vulnerable to cyber attack. Chaser: "how not to freak out about cyber war", basically by worrying instead about all the cyber threats that don't reach the level of 'war'. [Washington Post; NY Times; New Yorker]

3. Tim Berners-Lee identifies three problems with the current internet: a lack of control over personal data, the ease of spreading misinformation, and the lax regulations for political advertising online. [Web Foundation]

4. Support for cyber: Rob Joyce, former head of the NSA's TAO division, will be the new White House cyber coordinator--a well-qualified choice for the position. The proposed federal budget also provides DHS with $1.5B for cybersecurity, part of a 6.8% increase. [Fifth Domain; The Hill]

5. Encouraged by the ACLU and other civil liberties proponents, Facebook announces that its developer policy will expressly prohibit the use of Facebook or Instagram data in surveillance tools. [Techcrunch]

6. Despite earlier research from Stanford showing that anyone can become an internet troll under the right conditions, a Norwegian filmmaker's global look at internet trolls and their personal lives will not alter your preconceptions of who leaves nasty comments online. [Stanford; The Guardian]

7. Commodity ransomware is now available for $400, by a group hoping to make deploying ransomware as easy as possible for non-h4xx0rs, and the package includes a "mercy" option, a type of killswitch if victims' pleas are suitably convincing. [Krebs]

8. The largest group of Bitcoin miners is threatening to transition to a new protocol known as Bitcoin Unlimited, which would remove a limitation on the processing speed of transactions but also cause a hard fork, splitting the community of miners. [Bloomberg]

9. Airports' use of facial recognition technology may be an example of automation removing jobs; will they be less discriminatory when "randomly selecting" passengers for additional screening, as well? Researchers are also developing a lip-reading based biometric, that can be reset by changing the verification phrase spoken. [Economist; Naked Security]

10. Best of this week's security products: Can't choose between Android and iOS? Now there's an iPhone case that is also an Android phone, doubling your chance of getting hacked, or offering the perfect level of customization. An artist used salt road-marking lines to create a trap for self-driving carsKaspersky appears to have launched a perfume (or just an ad campaign), named "Threat de Toilette", to raise awareness of hacking. If this is real, and you've seen the perfume in the wild, please point me toward obtaining a sample. [Gizmodo; Kottke; Fox]

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