July 9 2021

This Week in Washington

CyberScoop DHS hails cybersecurity hiring blitz that puts dent in thousands of vacancies
The Department of Homeland Security is touting its “most successful cybersecurity hiring initiative” ever after bringing on nearly 300 pros, with job offers extended to 500 more. It’s a figure significantly higher than the goal of 200 hires established under a two-month “Cybersecurity Workforce Sprint.” But it’s also still just a dent, going 12% of the way toward filling the more than 2,000 vacancies, by DHS’s own accounting.

Nextgov House Panel Approves DHS Bill with ‘Historic’ Funding for Cybersecurity
A bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security now heads to the full Appropriations Committee in the House after passing unopposed through the related subcommittee with $2.42 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “As the nature of the threats facing the country changes, the missions and investments of the Department of Homeland Security must quickly adapt and respond. This bill makes historic investments in cyber and infrastructure security,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security.

Multichannel News FTC Rescinds Antitrust Enforcement Guidance
The Federal Trade Commission has signaled it is rethinking its enforcement principles regarding its Sec. 5 authority to prevent unfair methods of competition, saying under the current FTC guidance, the commission “has doubled down on the Commission’s longstanding failure to investigate and pursue ‘unfair methods of competition.'” In a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, the Democratic majority of commissioners rescinded an Obama era (2015) bipartisan policy statement on its antitrust enforcement.

The Hill Rep. Jordan releases Big Tech agenda
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) unveiled his own strategy for taking on Big Tech companies Wednesday after voting against the bipartisan proposals that were approved by the panel last month. The document — which opens with the unsubstantiated yet popular claim that tech companies are “out to get conservatives” — includes some modest antitrust proposals aimed at empowering courts and state attorney generals to expedite cases.

Article Summary

Yahoo Finance Microsoft and Amazon could both come out on top now that Project JEDI is dead
Microsoft suffered a seemingly serious blow to its future earnings on Tuesday when the Department of Defense announced that it is killing off its controversial Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud-computing project. But it’s not the end for Microsoft’s connected defense ambitions.

The Washington Post Ransomware attack struck between 800 and 1,500 businesses, says company at center of hack
The software company at the center of a major ransomware attack said Tuesday the hack affected between 800 and 1,500 small businesses, potentially making it the largest ransomware attack ever. Kaseya, which sells software to help other companies manage their computer networks, confirmed hackers broke into its system through a software vulnerability in its code.

The Associated Press In crosshairs of ransomware crooks, cyber insurers struggle
In the past few weeks, ransomware criminals claimed as trophies at least three North American insurance brokerages that offer policies to help others survive the very network-paralyzing, data-pilfering extortion attacks they themselves apparently suffered. Cybercriminals who hack into corporate and government networks to steal sensitive data for extortion routinely try to learn how much cyber insurance coverage the victims have. Knowing what victims can afford to pay can give them an edge in ransom negotiations.

WKRC Ohio legislators put large chunk state’s operational budget toward bridging digital divide
The divide between who has internet access and who doesn’t is being bridged by Ohio legislators. Broadband Ohio was the state’s plan to expand broadband services, and in July, lawmakers agreed to support the plan by putting $250 million of the operational budget toward the program. The Broadband Expansion Program was a bill by state Rep. Rick Carfagna introduced five years ago. Then, the pandemic exposed just how big the divide was, and in May, House Bill 2 passed to increase residential access to broadband.

The Washington Post Hackers demand $70 million to unlock businesses hit by sprawling ransomware attack
A hacking group that experts said was behind the sprawling ransomware attack that hit hours before the beginning of the July Fourth holiday weekend is demanding $70 million to unlock the thousands of businesses affected by the hack. REvil, the same Russian-language group that was behind the attack on meat processor JBS, posted the demand on a dark-Web site associated with the group.

Think Tank / Tech Trade Association Highlights

Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

  • Blog on Antitrust and Competitiveness
    When it comes to technology and the economy, the U.S. is grappling with two contradictory goals: competing with China in advanced technology industries and ramping up antitrust enforcement against leading U.S. tech companies. As Rob Atkinson writes in The Wall Street Journal, antimonopoly advocates argue that we can have our cake and eat it too. Go ahead and break up big tech, they say; we can still compete with China. But there is a long history of U.S. antitrust actions against technology companies, and the results suggest regulators should exercise caution. From RCA, AT&T, to Xerox, antitrust regulations have given the leg up to European and Japanese firms, reducing U.S. competitiveness.  (ITIF Blog – Antitrust Can Hurt U.S. Competitiveness, July 6, 2021)

The Brookings Institution

  • Blog on Vaccine Passports and Data Privacy
    Vaccination rates are on the rise and several countries, including the United States, are relaxing public health restrictions as they steer toward a full reopening. Digital health certificates, or vaccine passports, are part of these efforts as a number of organizations are requiring proof of vaccination, including commercial airlines, employers, colleges and universities, and retail establishments. But while digital health certificates may facilitate a safer reopening and faster economic recovery, technological solutions to vaccine verification also raise valid concerns about the privacy of personal health data and their potential to exacerbate racial and socioeconomic inequities. If implemented without needed privacy protections, the vaccine passports could foreclose economic and social opportunities for those without immunization proof. (TechTank – Vaccine passports underscore the necessity of U.S. privacy legislation, June 28, 2021)