March 11 2022

This Week in Washington 

NextGov CISA Warns of Ransomware Gang, Issues Indicators of Compromise
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Executive Director Brandon Wales emphasized the importance of small and medium sized organizations preparing for ransomware attacks in the wake of a warning officials issued to be on the lookout for a threat actor known as the Ragnar Locker gang, which appears to avoid Russia-related entities. “These issues that you’re addressing and bringing together the small- and medium-sized businesses on are absolutely essential,” Wales said, “both given our current threat environment and because we know that these issues are front of mind, for business leaders throughout the country.”

New York Times Chinese companies that aid Russia could face U.S. repercussions, commerce secretary warns
Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce, issued a stern warning Tuesday to Chinese companies that might defy U.S. restrictions against exporting to Russia, saying the United States would cut them off from American equipment and software they need to make their products. The Biden administration could “essentially shut” down Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation or any Chinese companies that defy U.S. sanctions by continuing to supply chips and other advanced technology to Russia, Ms. Raimondo said in an interview with The New York Times.

Wall Street Journal Biden Enlists Business Executives to Push Bill Countering China Tech Threat
President Biden is enlisting top executives and governors of two auto-industry states to push Congress to resolve differences and pass legislation aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness with China. The legislation includes $52 billion to boost domestic silicon-chip manufacturing, a provision supporters say is needed to ensure a steady supply of computer chips for electronics, autos and other industries in the U.S.

Bloomberg SEC Weighs Four-Day Deadline for Firms to Disclose Major Hacks
The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules that would require publicly traded companies to disclose a cyberattack or other hacks within four days, under a plan supported by the commission’s three Democrats. The proposal, which is now open for public comment, would be stronger than current SEC guidance that does not specify a timeline for reporting an attack, and would also require companies to disclose in their annual reports how they manage cyber risks.

NextGov House Committee Approves Cybersecurity Training Bill 
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Homeland Security advanced several new bills to the chamber floor late Tuesday, including one that focuses on training the public sector workforce on best practices in cybersecurity. Along with three other bills, the House committee passed the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act of 2021. First introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas., and Patrick Leahy, D-VT, the bill passed the Senate on March 7 in a 403-19 vote.

Wall Street Journal Amazon Flagged to Justice Department for Possible Criminal Obstruction of Congress
The House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate Inc. for potential criminal obstruction of Congress during the ongoing investigation into the company’s competitive practices, according to people familiar with the matter. The letter accuses Amazon of refusing to provide information to the antitrust subcommittee, which it alleges was the company’s way of covering up lies it told elected officials about how it treats third-party sellers, a charge the company has previously denied.

Article Summary

CNET Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Amazon and Other Tech Companies Stop Sales in Russia
A running list of tech companies that have stopped sales or service in Russia.

Fierce Telecom Comcast boosts broadband speeds for subs in 14 states
Comcast customers in more than a dozen states across the northeast are set to benefit from faster broadband following a move by the operator to increase download and upload speeds by as much as 50% on a trio of service plans. Speeds on the operator’s Extreme Pro plan will rise from 800 Mbps down and 15 Mbps up to 900 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. Downlink and uplink speeds will jump by 50% on both its Blast and Performance Pro plans, with the former now providing 600 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up and the latter 300 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up.

Reuters Ukrainian websites under ‘nonstop’ attack – cyber watchdog agency
Ukrainian websites have been under nonstop attack from Russian hackers since the Kremlin launched an invasion of the country last month, Kyiv’s cyber watchdog agency said on Saturday.

Washington Post Three cybersecurity companies to offer free protection to U.S. hospitals and utilities amid concerns of hacking attacks
While a growing number of U.S. companies are breaking business ties with Russia, three major cybersecurity companies are volunteering to protect U.S. utilities and hospitals free amid concerns about retaliatory hacks. Though no surge in cyberattacks on American companies has been reported, the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has urged U.S. organizations to lock down their systems in case the Russian government or private hackers take action as the divide between Russia and the United States grows.

New York Times U.S. Health Officials Plan to Share Covid Technology With Other Nations [Paywall]
Top federal health officials said Thursday that they intended to begin offering low and middle-income nations access to the technology developed by government scientists that might be used to prevent or treat Covid-19. They did not specify which technologies might be included, but hinted that the policy could eventually apply to the Moderna vaccine if the Biden administration won a patent dispute with the company.

Seattle Times Big Tech pushback can’t deter antitrust fight [Opinion]
As antitrust efforts ramp up in Congress, Big Tech is fighting back, unleashing an army of lobbyists, enlisting business groups to apply pressure and engaging in fearmongering to avoid critical regulation. Regardless, lawmakers must forge ahead and support legislation that reins in the tech giants’ worst impulses, ensures fair competition and protects consumers and small businesses.

New York Times Microsoft’s Pursuit of Climate Goals Runs Into Headwinds [Paywall]
Microsoft’s carbon emissions were up 21.5 percent in the 12 months through June 2021, after small declines in 2020 and 2019. The increase was almost entirely driven by emissions from energy used to build data centers and make devices — like the Xbox and the Surface tablet — and from the power that Microsoft estimates its products consume when people used them. How SpaceX got Starlink up and running in Ukraine: report
SpaceX worked for six weeks to bring Starlink satellite internet service to Ukraine ahead of a formal request from government officials of the besieged country. “We had been working on trying to get permission — landing rights — to lay down capacity in Ukraine,” Shotwell said according to SpaceNews, saying the company was working on this due to planned expansion of Starlink services in Europe and other locations. “We had been working with the Ukrainians for a month and a half or so.”

KGW8 A southern Oregon newspaper lost its entire reporting staff, creating a ‘news desert’
The entire news staff of the Herald and News, a newspaper in Klamath Falls, left their jobs this week, leaving a virtual news desert in the Klamath Basin. The area of southern Oregon is dealing with the state’s worst drought (anywhere from “extreme” to “exceptional” drought according to the Oregon Drought Monitor), frequent wildfires and tense conflicts over water use. Losing local journalists means that a community loses the people willing to sit in meetings, read hundreds of pages of documents, spend hours doing research and ask questions of elected leaders and people in positions of power on behalf of people in the community who are affected by decisions made by those leaders.

Tech Podcast of the Week 

The Journal.

  • Podcast Interview with Ukrainian Tech CEO
    Since the Russian invasion, Ukrainian tech CEO Vitaly Sedler has been organizing efforts to move employees from conflict zones to safety. His company, Intellias, is one of Ukraine’s biggest tech companies and is part of a burgeoning tech sector in the country. Sedler talks to The Journal about what it’s like to run a business in a country at war. (A Ukrainian Tech CEO Reckons With War – March 1, 2022)