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Friday Cyber News, November 10 2017

Cyber technology-related news and links from around the web, for the week of 11/4 - 11/10:

1. Sean Parker, former president of Facebook, described Facebook, and social media in general, as "exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology", noting that "the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people [are that] it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other ... It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains." Similarly, James Williams, a doctoral student at Oxford University and a former Google employee, now claims that “digital technologies increasingly inhibit our ability to pursue any politics worth having.” [Axios; The Economist]

2. The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance the USA Liberty Act, designed to reform Section 702, which expires at the end of the year, by requiring a court order to view Americans' conversations collected by the NSA under the program, but not requiring a warrant to search the database of collected communications, as privacy advocates would prefer. [The Hill]

3. The proliferation of algorithmically generated and often disturbing children’s video content points to a lack of adult supervision on the internet, and a general problem with platforms that spawn iterative content faster than it can be monitored. [Medium]

4. Ex-NSA director Keith Alexander cautions against allowing companies to hack back, over worries their actions could start wars, giving the example of a hypothetical Sony retaliation toward North Korea. Instead, Alexander points to the “common defense” provision in the Constitution to argue that the government should bear some responsibility for defending industry from hackers. Meanwhile, the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (the “hack back bill”) gained seven new Representatives as sponsors. [Motherboard; Cyberscoop]

5. A bug in a library function for cryptocurrency wallet provider Parity led to the indefinite freezing of approximately 500,000 Ether—which, while frozen, cannot be transferred or withdrawn—and an uncertain future for contracts that used the buggy function in question, including multisig wallets created after July 20th of this year. Notably, this dates back to the day after the previous widescale Parity bug was identified. [EthNews]

6.​ The Senate Commerce Committee issued a subpoena for former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to testify about Yahoo’s historic data breaches, alongside both the interim and former CEO of Equifax. Mayer alluded to the inability of private companies to effectively defend themselves against state-sponsored hackers, leaving open the possibility of governmental assistance for companies facing such threats. [The Hill x2]

7. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein is using the Texas shooter's phone, which the FBI is unable to access, as an excuse to bring up the encryption backdoors argument, though the likely reason for the phone being accessible is that the FBI waited more than 48 hours to request assistance in accessing it, meaning that TouchID could no longer be used (via the deceased shooter's fingers) without a password. [The Hill; WSJ]

8. Property insurance and kidnap and ransom insurance underwriters are feeling pressure to offer cyber coverage, as losses from data theft and ransomware are being brought up as claims under existing policies. [Insurance Journal]

9. Cambridge Analytica scrapes any publicly available data to build behavioral and psychological profiles of everyone who might be a voter, and target campaign communications accordingly, in seven to nine elections per year. [TechCrunch]

10. Bjork’s new album is an ICO; it can be purchased with cryptocurrency, and comes with AudioCoins. [Fast Company]

Thanks for reading,

Stanford Cyber Initiative

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