December 10 2021

This Week in Washington

CNBC Senate confirms FCC Chair Rosenworcel to another term, narrowly avoiding a Republican majority
The Senate voted 68-31 to confirm Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, the first woman to hold that title, to another five-year term, narrowly avoiding a Republican majority at the agency once her current term was set to expire at the end of the year. Rosenworcel gained the support of key Republicans, including Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

The Hill Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill
Legislation mandating cyber incident reporting for certain critical organizations was left out of the compromise version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that the House is set to vote on Tuesday. A cyber incident reporting provision, which established a new Cyber Incident Review Office at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) was included in the version of the NDAA passed by the House in September.

FedScoop CISA ordered to automate collection of cybersecurity metrics by April 2022
The White House is calling on the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to establish a strategy for automating the collection of federal agencies’ cybersecurity metrics by April of next year. In new FISMA guidance issued Monday, the Office of Management and Budget also orders CISA to set timelines for collecting the data. By December 2022, OMB expects to begin grading agencies with a compliance scorecard based on the data.

Protocol The FTC’s AI advisers are fighting a White House plan that could boost cloud giants
A talk at an October meeting hosted by the U.S. National Science Foundation led by Google Cloud’s Andrew Moore was exactly the sort of conversation that critics of a government push to facilitate large-scale AI projects are worried about. Moore, vice president and general manager for AI and industry solutions, talked about AI testbeds, the environments used to simulate how AI and deep learning systems will operate when let loose to run in real life.

FedScoop Biden administration again looks to increase AI R&D funding at civilian agencies
The Biden administration proposed once again increasing funding for artificial intelligence research and development at civilian agencies, in a supplement to its fiscal 2022 budget request. At $1.7 billion, the requested funding represents an 8.8% increase over enacted fiscal 2021 civilian AI R&D investments of $1.5 billion.

The Hill Senators turn up the heat on Amazon, data brokers during hearing
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spearheaded attacks at e-commerce giant Amazon during a hearing on data privacy and competition Tuesday, while other senators on the panel voiced concerns over data brokers harvesting user information.  Warren, chair of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth, centered her time on accusations that market power of tech giants is driving up prices and creating inhumane conditions for workers.

Article Summary

Microsoft Official Blog Protecting people from recent cyberattacks
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group that we call Nickel. In documents that were unsealed today, a federal court in Virginia has granted our request to seize websites Nickel was using to attack organizations in the United States and 28 other countries around the world, enabling us to cut off Nickel’s access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks. We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organizations.

Yahoo Finance Why Microsoft avoided antitrust scrutiny that plagued other tech giants in 2021
The Big Tech reckoning gained momentum in 2021, as U.S. regulators accused behemoths like Google and Facebook of abusing their market power to gain an illegal edge over competitors. But one major name in tech avoided not only the ire of the public but also the reach of antitrust regulators in 2021: Microsoft, Yahoo Finance’s Company of the Year and the second-largest company in the U.S. by market capitalization after Apple.

Washington Post Cyberattack freezes Maryland health department
A cyberattack took Maryland’s health department offline this weekend, as officials worked to assess the extent of the intrusion. “The Maryland Security Operations Center is investigating a network security incident involving the Maryland Department of Health,” Andy Owen, a department spokesman, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Certain systems have been taken offline out of an abundance of caution and other precautions have and will be taken.”

Harvard Business Review Hybrid Tanked Work-Life Balance. Here’s How Microsoft Is Trying to Fix It.
If there was a word that has defined the year 2021, it would be “overwhelmed.” After a year and a half into the pandemic, with overflowing inboxes and back-to-back meetings, people are tired. People are also searching for an answer to this digital exhaustion — including me. As the head of Microsoft’s people analytics function, I spend a lot of time exploring this problem by looking at the data.

The Verge 5G now means some flights won’t be able to land when pilots can’t see the runway
Verizon and AT&T are hoping new swaths of C-band cellular radio spectrum will help make the 5G hype closer to reality, but the big mid-band 5G rollout may have a side effect. Airplanes rely on radio altimeters to tell how high they are above the ground to safely land when pilots can’t see, and the FAA is now instructing 6,834 of them to not do that at certain airports because of 5G interference.

AgriNews Bayer, Microsoft enter into strategic partnership to optimize and advance digital capabilities
Bayer announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to build a new cloud-based set of digital tools and data science solutions for use in agriculture and other industries, bringing new infrastructure and foundational capabilities to accelerate innovation, boost efficiency and support sustainability across value chains.

Space News Microsoft expands Azure Space ecosystem
Microsoft offered further proof of its intent to play a growing role in the space sector by unveiling new Azure Space products and announcing partnerships with Airbus, Kongsberg Satellite Services, STE iDirect, Orbital Insight, ESRI and “Microsoft is serious about space, and we are expanding our partner ecosystem and innovation,” Steve Kitay, Azure Space senior director, told SpaceNews.

Washington Post The troubling new void in local journalism — and the nonprofits trying to fill it
The number of newspaper reporters dedicated to covering statehouses has been declining for decades, dropping by 35 percent between 2003 and 2014 and outpacing overall newspaper job losses over that time, according to Pew Research Center survey. And that was before the more recent blows to the newspaper industry, with nearly 6,000 journalism jobs and 300 newspapers vanishing between 2018 and early 2020, according to a University of North Carolina study, even before the pandemic worsened their economic picture.

Tech Podcast of the Week

Afternoon Cyber Tea with Ann Johnson

  • Podcast on Rising Ransomware Risks
    Rinki Sethi; Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer for Twitter joins Ann Johnson for this conversation focused on the recent rise in cybercrime. Rinki talks with Ann about the significant uptick in ransomware attacks, what she enjoys most about her career in cybersecurity, best practices when raising consumer awareness, and Twitter’s approach to cybersecurity. (The Rising Ransomeware Risks – November 16, 2021)