Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — World leaders call for enhanced cooperation to fight wave of ransomware attacks

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International debate on how to combat ransomware attacks was front and center Wednesday morning, with the White House kicking off a two-day summit convening cybersecurity leaders from around 30 different countries to discuss the threat of ransomware. The officials painted a grim picture of ongoing attacks on Wednesday, and called for greater international cooperation. 

Meanwhile, Facebook announced a new policy to strengthen protections for certain public groups that it is now deeming “involuntary” public figures, and Apple campaigned against the idea of downloading apps from outside the company’s App Store. 

Follow The Hill’s cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

Let’s jump in.

Ransomware attacks gain global attention 

A coalition of leaders from around 30 nations kicked off a White House-led summit on countering ransomware attacks Wednesday by calling for increased international cooperation to fight these incidents. 

The summit comes as several nations have been left reeling after cyberattacks. 

US leader weighs in: “We know very well, all of us who have gathered here today, that we cannot do this alone, no one country, no one group can solve this problem,” Jake SullivanJake SullivanIran and China at top of agenda in joint meeting of US, Israel and UAE Israeli PM calls for UN Security Council to act against Iran over nuclear program North Korea’s Kim rips US, promises ‘invincible’ military MORE, national security adviser to President BidenJoe BidenHouse votes to raise debt ceiling On The Money — House kicks debt ceiling standoff to December Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — Progressives: Medicare benefit expansions ‘not negotiable’ MORE, said during a plenary session to kick off the two-day U.S.-led ransomware summit. 

“We view international engagement as foundational to our collective ability to deal with the ransomware ecosystem, to hold criminals and the states that harbor them accountable, and to reduce the threat to our citizens in each of our partner countries,” Sullivan said. 

Top cybersecurity officials from countries around the world participated in the opening plenary session, which preceded two days of closed-panel discussions around ransomware focused on resilience, disruption, virtual currency and diplomacy.

Healthcare concerns: Several of the nations participating detailed recent disruptive ransomware attacks, including an ongoing attack in Israel against one of the nation’s largest hospitals, in emphasizing the urgent need for enhanced collaboration to face down ransomware threats. 

Read more about the discussion here.

One country not invited by the Biden administration to the ransomware summit was Russia, which has been accused in recent months of harboring cybercriminal groups involved in major ransomware attacks such as those on Colonial Pipeline and JBS USA. 

Read more here.

A MESSAGE FROM LOOKINGGLASS

In 2021, LookingGlass observed 170,000 instances of DIB assets acting as C2s for malware. Learn how LookingGlass can provide a global attack surface view to better protect critical infrastructure.

 

Facebook tightens protections 

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would enhance protections for journalists and activists, as the platform now deems them “involuntary” public figures. 

The social media platform is more lenient toward critical commentary of public figures compared to that of private people. But journalists and “human rights defenders” will be granted added protections, as Facebook says their public criticism is by virtue of their job and not a larger persona, according to initial reporting from Reuters. 

The platform’s policies surrounding how public figures are treated include generally allowing users to call for the death of a public figure so long as they are not tagged in the post. Users are not permitted to call for the death of private users, a policy that will now extend to journalists, Reuters reported. 

“It’s important that everyone on our apps feels safe to engage and connect with their communities,” Facebook Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis said in a blog post announcing the change to the platform’s bullying and harassment policies. We do not allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does happen, we act.”

Read more.

NEW SIDELOADING WARNING

Apple is making the case in a new white paper on Wednesday for why it says device downloads should not be allowed from outside of its App Store. 

In this case, it is making the argument against “sideloading” as both European Union regulators and American lawmakers consider forcing Apple to allow it.

Sideloading refers to the process of downloading applications onto a device from anywhere other than the manufacturer’s proprietary store. That could mean downloading apps from third-party stores or directly from web browsers.

“If Apple were forced to support sideloading, more harmful apps would reach users because it would be easier for cybercriminals to target them – even if sideloading were limited to third-party app stores only,” Wednesday’s paper from Apple reads.

Critics have argued that Apple’s walled-garden approach to its devices gives it a stranglehold over app developers that it can exploit to charge exorbitant fees.

Read more.

NETFLIX BACKLASH

Some Netflix employees are reportedly planning on staging a walkout in protest of the streaming giant’s release of Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, which has been criticized for its transphobic material.

Transgender employees and their supporters are organizing a walkout for Oct. 20, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The planned effort will come a day after a virtual event “open to all staffers [to] discuss the Chappelle special’s impact on the trans community,” according to the paper.

The move comes as Chappelle’s stand-up special, “The Closer,” ignited a firestorm of controversy over the Emmy Award winner’s remarks.

Using crude terms to refer to a transgender person’s anatomy, Chappelle says in the show, which debuted earlier this month, “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact.”

Read more.

 

A MESSAGE FROM LOOKINGGLASS

 

Protect critical infrastructure with an outside-in approach and actionable threat intelligence. Learn how LookingGlass can help mitigate vulnerabilities, exposures, and threats before an attack occurs.

NEW BITCOIN BOSS

The U.S. has overtaken China as the largest bitcoin center after Beijing tamped down on cryptocurrency mining in recent months.

At the end of August, the U.S. controlled 35.4 percent of the global hash rate — the power of computers connected to the global bitcoin network — the largest percentage of all countries, according to data published on Wednesday by Britain’s Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and cited by Reuters.

Kazakhstan and Russia had the second- and third-largest hash rates, respectively, according to Reuters.

China’s hash rate dropped significantly over the past few months, falling from 44 percent in May to zero in July, Reuters reported. In 2019, it had reached as high as 75 percent.

Read more.

 

SNAP DOWNED

Popular social media app Snapchat was down on Wednesday in an apparent widespread outage, with many users facing issues sending and receiving messages. 

According to monitoring site DownDetector, almost 40,000 users reported outages on Snapchat, with the reports peaking at 8:48 a.m. ET. 

Snapchat users took to Twitter to complain about problems with the app, including trouble sending pictures.

The photo-sharing app tweeted that it was aware of the issue and users should “hang tight” while they deal with the problem. 

Read more.

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: To lead in AI, the US needs a dedicated workforce policy

Lighter click: A cult classic 🙂

Notable links from around the web:

The Crime-Tracking App Citizen Sent Staff to the Capitol Riot for Clicks—and That’s Just the Start (Mother Jones / Lil Kalish)

​​If you’re paying influencers, the FTC has a warning for you (Protocol / Ben Brody)

Amazon copied products and rigged search results to promote its own brands, documents show (Reuters / Aditya Kalra and Steve Stecklow)

Romance scammers exploit Apple’s developer program to spread fake cryptocurrency apps (CyberScoop / Tonya Riley) 

One last thing: New tenant at the Newseum

The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies on Wednesday announced plans to launch an advanced academic program focused on the intersection of cybersecurity, technology, intelligence and international affairs.

The program, called the Alperovitch Institute for Cybersecurity Studies, is named after the co-founder of the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, Dmitri Alperovitch.

In 2016, Crowdstrike was the first company to say the Russian government was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee ahead of that year’s presidential election. 

The institute, which will formally launch in September 2022 and is expected in 2023 to be housed in the building that formerly was the Newseum in Washington D.C., will provide Master’s, PhD and an Executive Leadership program to look at issues of cybersecurity policy.  

Read more here. 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you Thursday.

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