Monday, July 06, 2015

OpenStack 07/07/2015 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, legislation, CISA, cyberthreat-reporting, emails

    • Imagine you are the target of a phishing attack: Someone sends you an email attachment containing malware. Your email service provider shares the attachment with the government, so that others can configure their computer systems to spot similar attacks. The next day, your provider gets a call. It’s the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and they’re curious. The malware appears to be from Turkey. Why, DHS wants to know, might someone in Turkey be interested in attacking you? So, would your email company please share all your emails with the government? Knowing more about you, investigators might better understand the attack.

      Normally, your email provider wouldn’t be allowed to give this information over without your consent or a search warrant. But that could soon change. The Senate may soon make another attempt at passing the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill that would waive privacy laws in the name of cybersecurity. In April, the US House of Representatives passed by strong majorities two similar “cyber threat” information sharing bills. These bills grant companies immunity for giving DHS information about network attacks, attackers, and online crimes.

    • Sharing information about security vulnerabilities is a good idea. Shared vulnerability data empowers other system operators to check and see if they, too, have been attacked, and also to guard against being similarly attacked in the future. I’ve spent most of my career fighting for researchers’ rights to share this kind of information against threats from companies that didn’t want their customers to know their products were flawed.

      But, these bills gut legal protections against government fishing expeditions exactly at a time when individuals and Internet companies need privacy laws to get stronger, not weaker. 

    • Worse, the bills aren’t needed. Private companies share threat data with each other, and even with the government, all the time. The threat data that security professionals use to protect networks from future attacks is a far more narrow category of information than those included in the bills being considered by Congress, and will only rarely contain private information.

      And none of the recent cyberattacks — not Sony, not Target, and not the devastating grab of sensitive background check interviews on government employees at the Office of Personnel Management — would have been mitigated by these bills.

  • Chipping away at the First Amendment. 

    Tags: surveillance state, legislation, social media, mandatory-reporting, terrorists™

    • Social media sites such as Twitter and YouTube would be required to report videos and other content posted by suspected terrorists to federal authorities under legislation approved this past week by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

      The measure, contained in the 2016 intelligence authorization, which still has to be voted on by the full Senate, is an effort to help intelligence and law enforcement officials detect threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.


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