Earlier this week, Microsoft released its fourth annual Digital Defense Report, which looks at trends in cyberattacks and defenses from July 2022 through June 2023. The data shows a rise in several types of attacks—and a growing number of targets—with an increase in espionage activity conducted by nation-states. Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt notes that, “In the coming years, innovation in AI-powered cyber defense will help reverse the current rising tide of cyberattacks.” You can read his overview of the Report in this blog post.
Below, our tech policy news roundup includes stories on cybersecurity, broadband expansion, and AI, as well as coverage of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s testimony at the Google antitrust trial. Thank you for reading.
This Week in Washington
- The Washington Post: A short-term funding agreement narrowly avoided a government shutdown and temporarily averted a potential cybersecurity disaster: during a shutdown, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) would be forced to furlough about 80% of their employees.
- Nextgov: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo says a government shutdown in November would “massively disrupt” the department’s critical funding in the CHIPS and Science Act to boost semiconductor research and development in the U.S.
- Fierce Telecom: The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Federal Communications Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks for another term of service. The FCC is complete for the first time in years with a 3-2 Democratic majority, and will remain full for the next few years.
- FedScoop and Nextgov: The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Modernizing the Acquisition of Cybersecurity Experts Act (the MACE Act) in a bipartisan 394-1 vote. The legislation aims to expand eligibility for the federal cybersecurity workforce by relaxing some educational requirements for jobs. One of the original sponsors of the newly passed legislation, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), is also seeking support for the Federal Cybersecurity Vulnerability Reduction Act of 2023, a bill that would require federal contractors to implement a Vulnerability Disclosure Policy, inviting ethical hackers to discover and report vulnerabilities in their systems.
- Fierce Telecom: Recently introduced legislation, the CLOSE THE GAP Act, aims to streamline the broadband application process and simplify cumbersome permitting for broadband infrastructure projects on federal land.
- CyberScoop: New regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require vendors of medical devices to create processes that find and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities before products are sold, and they empower the agency to refuse to accept devices that don’t meet cybersecurity guidelines.
- Broadband Breakfast: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced more than $37 million in additional Emergency Connectivity Funds to close the ‘homework gap’ – providing devices and connectivity for students without broadband access who can’t complete homework assignments outside of school.
- The Washington Post: The Supreme Court announced it will consider laws passed in Texas and Florida that restrict social media companies’ ability to moderate content.
- The New York Times: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella became the most high-profile witness in a landmark antitrust trial against Google, stating that Google’s power in online search is so far-reaching that even Microsoft has trouble staying competitive.
- Bleeping Computer: Sony experienced a data breach that exposed the personal information of many current and former employees and their families.
- Reuters: European Union lawmakers voted in favor of tough media laws requiring large online platforms like Google and Meta to carry news content for at least 24 hours before taking it down if it breaches their moderation guidelines.
- CNN: NATO is addressing cyber threats to its unclassified website after SiegedSec, a politically motivated hacking group, leaked documents covering topics such as hypersonic weapons, drone threats, and testing procedures for radioactive waste on the social media platform Telegram.
- Telecompetitor: The Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) awarded $58.9 million in rural broadband grants this summer, all of which went to communications union districts (CUDs). Vermont now has eight CUDs, which are made up of at least two rural communities that have come together to gain high-speed internet, under construction.
- NPR: To address their housing problem, the Los Angeles County Department of Health is turning to AI to predict who is most likely to land on the streets so they can step in to offer help before that happens. The pilot program tracks data from seven county agencies and develops a list of those considered to be the most at-risk so caseworkers can reach out for intervention.
- CNBC: As organizations look to address the growing cybersecurity skills shortage, they may begin to turn to AI as a tool to help ease the skills shortage. AI can work as a tool to help train cybersecurity analysts, act as an on-the-job training tool, or even be present as a virtual team member in some capacity.
- Tools and Weapons with Brad Smith
As a young child, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama developed his confidence and leadership skills through video games, which sparked his passion for history, strategy, and problem-solving. Today, he’s putting these skills to use as the first in the world to hold a cabinet-level position on AI as the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications in the United Arab Emirates. In this episode of Tools & Weapons, H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama highlights how the region’s rich history and its aspirations for the future shape its embrace of AI. He shares how the elements that make a great game apply to leading transformational change. And he emphasizes the importance of AI education programs for government decision-makers, not just school kids. (His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama: The journey from gaming to government – October 4, 2023)